Meet the Team, Updates

Meet the Team — Nivo

Nivo is another new member of our team here in Cambodia.

He comes to fill a major role as our first architect, and highly recommended at that! Nivo has been a critical part of big projects for organizations across Cambodia in the past few years — hospitals and schools. From design to coordinating on the ground — Nivo knows how things get done in Cambodia.

But it’s his heart that has us most excited about adding him to the team. A lot like many of the others, Nivo wrestled with reconciling his faith and his future during his teenage years. He wanted to serve God — but knew that being a pastor wasn’t the right fit. Architecture was, but through school and into his early career, he held on to a promise that his life would have impacts around the world. Now, with EMI, he’ll be a part of exactly that.


Please join me in welcoming Nivo and his family to the EMI Cambodia team!


Housing Hunt

Our lease is up this summer and the search for housing brings with it a new level of learning about Cambodia. We were told to begin several months in advance to allow for time to have furniture made (you don’t typically just pick something up from a furniture store) and any upgrades like air conditioning put in.  We are moving so we can be closer to the office, now that we know where it is.  Here are a few things we are learning during this process:

  • The first step for any house is to ask about flooding. Phnom Penh is known for severe flooding in rainy season, which can either make your bottom floor very soggy, or make it difficult/impossible to drive on the streets in the neighborhood.
  • Zoning is not a thing in Cambodia.  It’s very common for your house to be surrounded by businesses and shops.  It’s even more common and a selling point to have a shop on the ground level of your house.
  • The price difference between apartments and houses.  Apartments often have air conditioning, appliances, might be furnished, security, etc.  As a result, a 2 bedroom apartment might be twice the price of a 4 bedroom house.
  • Houses are tall, skinny and often connected.
  • Balconies everywhere!  I have to admit, this is my favorite part!
  • Yards with grass? No.  Concrete pads? Yes.  Lots of plants (even trees!) in pots?  Of course!
  • The Khmer can work wonders with luxury wood and it’s incredible to see some of the floors, ceilings and furniture.
  • Realtors?  Might be selling the house themselves.  We are thankful our favorite tuk tuk driver is going around with us to check out everything.  We trust him!  Plus he has a great sense of humor.  Yesterday I brought my Khmer words coloring book (thank you Amy) and there was much gesturing and pointing.
  • Closets?  Haha, no.  They do not exist.  Pinterest, without closets you are not nearly so much help!
  • Cambodia is very relationship based.  Your classmate’s landlady’s best friend’s cousin knows of the perfect house for you?  Of course we will check it out!  Most likely it will be a great house too!

The process of finding a place to live is fascinating to me and we have barely scratched the surface.  Above all we want this house to be a safe place in the community, a place where people can come and learn about God.  We want a community where we can let His light shine brightly.


These Rugs

Items we had no idea were missing from our household – these rugs. These rugs are made out of sweatshirt material and are about $0.50 in the market (or $0.75 if you are bad at negotiating). They are everywhere! No two are identical and they come in every color imaginable. We have a stack at the office to use for putting on the motos to keep the seats from getting hot. We put a blanket on one for Geordi under the desk and that’s where he sleeps while I am doing homework.  Have a spill on your floor?  No problem!  Just slide a rug over to mop it up and throw it in the laundry.  Someone told us when we moved here we would want a few and I definitely believe them now! I have a feeling that when wet season begins we will find even more uses for these rugs…


Khmer New Year

This week has marked our first Khmer New Year in Cambodia. This is one of the biggest  holidays celebrated in Cambodia, with lots of celebrations and parties. And games — they love to play group games! Many aren’t too different from those we played as kids. In the games we’ve played so far, I’ve recognized elements of spoon races, shuttle races, bocce, even one that’s a lot like a piñata.

There’s also dancing — some serious, some silly — and a lot of good food of course.

Cambodia has a lot of public holidays (28 this year) — but KNY is special for us. Opposite of the Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) in November, many Khmer return to their ancestral home villages to celebrate the new year with their families. And in a culture that values working really hard (most work between 5½ and 7 days a week), KNY is set aside for rest (even if one told me “rest so that you can work hard next year”).

Rest. When we were preparing to come to Cambodia, we were told several times that rest was critical. As in “ignoring rest will either burn you out or kill you” critical. And as we’re approaching a more normal lifestyle after living in Cambodia for 6 months — that same draw to just add one more event to the schedule, just help one more person, just postpone rest for a few days has come back hauntingly.

Thankfully, the warnings stuck. And we have come to understand what rest really means. Rest is trusting and honoring God. When we rest, we acknowledge our place in the world. When we rest, we re-affirm our relationship with God. When we rest, we rely on Him to be more than we can accomplish on our own.

So this weekend — we’re resting.

And celebrating! Happy New Year!


Becoming Home

“Hey, look over there!” We were in a tuk tuk headed to a teammate’s house on Saturday when suddenly Ian starts pointing out the side excitedly.  I looked over and by the side of the road I see a couple people with huge grins standing beside an orange juice cart.  My first thought is, “those people look familiar,” followed by, “wait, those are friends from church!”  Sure enough, some friends of ours have an orange juice stand on the entirely opposite side of town.  We asked our driver to pull over and stopped to chat and of course, have tasty orange juice made from Khmer oranges!  (Khmer oranges are very different from what I am used to, including the fact that they are green, not orange. But the juice is still delicious!)

Events like this are starting to happen several times a week.  In addition to this one, Ian is going moto shopping with another friend from church this week.  I had a girl from school pull up while I was walking and gave me a ride to school.  I guess it’s suddenly hit me just how many people we are getting to know here.  It helps make Cambodia feel even more like home!