Putting Down Roots
The Staunton Family, Cambodia
Despite all that is going on in the world, over the last couple of months we are pleased to have had the chance to put down some roots here in Cambodia in order for us to be able to branch out in the near future.
The Mystery Fruit!
It has been very exciting over the past month to settle into our new home. Our house is on a small plot of land carved out of surrounding rice fields. As with most Khmer houses we have no backyard but a front driveway, small garden and front patio. Khmer people do most of their living in these kind of spaces where it is often cooler than inside. Cooking and eating is almost always done outside. Subsequently life becomes quite communal as life occurs in sight of the rest of the neighbourhood. One of my favourite things to do is to sit on the front porch, particularly with a morning coffee, and watch the life around me.
Cows wandering past on the way to pasture, a Khmer lady selling breakfast noodles from the back of her bike, last night's dishes being washed, a house rapidly being built across the road, children buying drinks from the local drink stand, motorbikes coming back from market laden with the days supply of fruit and vegetables and a couple of ice coffees hanging from the handle bars, nearby fields being ploughed and smaller plots of dirt being planted out in perfect rows of seedlings.
We are thankful that our landlord planted a small patch of grass in our front yard and a collection of fruit trees, including a mango, longan and pomegranate tree. She also put compost on our trees that are now growing well. One morning when I was watering and watching and drinking coffee I noticed a small vine growing from the compost at the bottom of our new tree. Thinking it was a cucumber vine I was excited to train the baby vine up our ugly wire fence to create a vertical garden. To my delight, with the tropical humidity and rains my vine grew rapidly.
The kids watched expectedly as small fruit began to form, until one day a neighbour came and asked why I was growing a watermelon vine on my fence and not on the ground! I explained I thought it was a cucumber plant. But by this time, it was too late, the whole village was laughing at my gardening prowess and my vine was firmly wrapped around my fence! Later on that day she came with little hammocks she had made for my baby watermelons to sit in so their weight would not break my vine. We are now all excited for that first watermelon to be ready so we can cut it up and share it with our new neighbours!
This is our place in TaChek Village
We are blessed to have been able to find a house to live in long term which suits our family's needs in an area 15 minutes out of town. Our flat roofed house has a rooftop where we can sit in the late afternoons to catch the breeze and watch the storm clouds roll in. As we enter the wet season after the hottest months in Cambodia we are so glad to receive rain!
School is still closed!
In early March all schools in Cambodia were closed due to Covid-19. While there have only been a small number of cases of Covid reported here, the Government is concerned about a second wave and has announced schools will remain closed until November when the Khmer academic year begins. Our kids have been learning online and are doing considerably well, however it has meant they have been unable to develop more than just few friendships here. On the flip side there are many children who live and play in our street who we encourage them to engage with.
- As we gain more understanding of our context and the Khmer language we are hoping our Gardener, our faithful God, will nurture and hold us up as we branch out to those around us. We are unsure of the fruit that may be germinating right now as we ask God, what do you want for us here? How could you possibly use us?
But we pray that the Spirit will faithfully guide and sustain us and those we live amongst as we commit to reflect and act and wait for the mystery fruit to grow.
Feel free to join us in this prayer!
- Please pray that Charlie, Ruby and Hugo can find ways to connect with their new neighbours, despite language barriers. Please also pray for Khmer children who have no access to online learning and for the education system here, that it can find ways of educating Cambodian children, despite its lack of resources, during this time.
Our kids attend international school so will began the summer break recently. The hope is that International Schools will be able to open in August at the start of their academic year.
Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers as things slowly return to a new kind of normal in Australia. Take Care!
Andy, Cathie, Charlie, Ruby and Hugo