Cambodia Cleft Exchange

In one of my recent posts I shared about my growing interest in Cambodia.  I believe the Lord put the country and its people on my heart years ago, then suddenly started feeding and growing it within the last year.  I’ve been reading books, watching documentaries, searching websites….  I joke (semi seriously) with Keith about us moving there long-term….

A few weeks ago my Love Without Boundaries superior mentioned me going on the next Cleft Exchange, which will be LWB’s first in Cambodia.  I didn’t know if she was serious and tried not to think about it too much, not wanting to be disappointed if it wasn’t a real invite.  Within a few days I learned it was a real invite, and it all started to make sense.  The Lord was growing this passion in me and guiding me to go on this cleft exchange.  This is a rare opportunity for someone like me – a stay at home, homeschool mom with no real medical background, but with a desire to love on and help change the lives of orphaned and impoverished children, especially in this area of the world.

So, I’ve committed to go.  And I read and prepare more and more now.

Although I’ve been on several mission trips – including a 9 month stay in Siberia, and the 2014 Cleft Exchange, I know that this trip will expose me to poverty I’ve never seen before.  Although this excites me, it also brings fear up within me.  I worry about hygiene and safety, my own heart breaking…. and of course leaving my family for almost two weeks.

So, here’s the plan:

Step 1 – Fund raise.  LWB is partnering with Smile Cambodia to provide surgeries for more than twenty children during one very busy week.  Funding is needed to make this possible – from travel for the families and their little ones hoping for surgery, to medical supplies, to medication and more.  If you would like to donate, I have a campaign on LWB’s site.  Donations through this link are tax-deductible.

Step 2- Gather.  We will be gathering no-nos (arm restraints), handmade bibs (cleft kiddos drool a lot after surgery), and other items to take with us.

Step 3 -Immunize.  The CDC website recommends the Typhoid vaccinations, along with Hep A and B.  I’ll also ask about Malaria pills.

Step 4 – Learn Some Cambodian (Khmer) Phrases.  I had been working on my Mandarin, but I don’t think it’s going to do much good in Cambodia.

Step 5 – Pack

Step 6- Say Goodbye to my Family (dreading this one!).  This won’t happen until after I’ve written each of my children special notes should I die on this trip!

Step 7- Pray my way through 20+ hours of travel on October 9th and 10th. This will bring me through Taipei (where I will meet several other team members) and into Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

Step 8 – Travel to Poipet. Our small group will travel northeast by plane, bus or boat, to visit LWB’s programs in the rural villages near Poipet (which is on the border of Thailand).  This is a high trafficking area, where poverty is intense and children are in great need.  I am excited to visit the beautiful children in our foster and education programs, but this is also the part of the trip that will confront me with harder things than I’ve seen before.

Two of the precious ones I hope to get to meet.

Step 9 – Visit Siem Reap.  This isn’t set in stone yet, but our small group may visit the Temples of Angkor and do a little sightseeing for a day or two before heading back to Phnom Penh.

Step 10 – Go back to Phnom Penh and prepare for the arrival of children for the Cleft Exchange.

Step 10- Cleft Exchange – this will take place October 15-21, with 5 days of surgery and two days of intake and discharge/visits.  We are partnering with Smile Cambodia and already have four children on our list for surgery – adorable little ones.  I will learn more about my role as the team comes together, but I expect to be documenting the happenings of each day, and taking photographs of all the wonderful children, in order to share that info with LWB’s sponsors.  I expect to help soothe and care for children, and to build relationships with our Cambodian staff and volunteers.  We may even get to visit some local hospital, boarding schools and orphanages in the area to continue to build partnerships for LWB.

Step 11 – Travel Home a Changed Woman – I plan to fly home on October 22nd, but this isn’t firm yet.

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Cambodia

My heart is really growing for Cambodia.  Love Without Boundaries, the organization that I LOVE volunteering for, began working there late last year and as I see the photos of the children and hear about the suffering, my heart has been breaking.  I’m reading books, watching documentaries, listening to books on CD, scouring websites…. to learn more about the country, it’s people and what might be done to help.

The first book I read was First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung.  It is about a young girl who lives through the Khmer Rouge of the late 70s, looses her parents and some siblings during the war, and comes out scared and hurting.  She becomes a refugee in the US.  I then read her 2nd book about adjusting to life in the US and reunifying with the rest of her family left behind in Cambodia many years later.  Now I’m in the 3rd book, about her life as an adult.  They’re making a movie for Netflix based on her life.

I’m listening to In a Rocket Made of Ice by Gail Gutradt when I get a childless chance to in the car.  It’s about Wat O Pot – a community for HIV infected children and young adults in Cambodia.  Also very good.

And, the documentaries I’ve found educational and eye-opening are Finding Home, The Storm Makers, Small Voices, and The Pink Room.  Of those my favorites were The Storm Makers (where you see several young women get sold into slavery, and one tell her story once she is free), and Small Voices (an organization that is rescuing kids from the street).  Look for these on Netflix.

I also enjoyed this family’s story.

I’m dreaming of going to Cambodia some day, but for now I’ll learn and listen to the Lord’s guidance as to how I can help the children of Cambodia.

 

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One Year

I can’t believe how quickly the last year has flown by!  A year ago today we landed on US soil and our baby boy became an American citizen.  What a gift he is!

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I’m sorry I left you hanging back in May, right after Micah’s palate surgery.  Thankfully, his palate healed nicely (Praise God!!).

Micah turned two in August and with that has come typical two-year-old behavior.  He throws some lovely tantrums – falling on the floor and rolling around.  Usually it is when he doesn’t get what he wants or when it’s time to come in after playing outside.

img_3048My boy is all boy – likes to get dirty, will pick up bugs and frogs, makes messes in an instant, loves physical play and is busy, busy, busy!  He makes vehicle noises now and is particularly into boats and motorcycles.  He also makes some animal noises including cat, duck and bear.  Although he still doesn’t have many words – probably about 15 words plus another 10-15 signs, he understands what we say.  He loves to be helpful and wants to wipe things down with me, or help carry in the groceries.  It’s super cute when he does so because he still is super tiny – only about 20 lbs.

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A new battle we are fighting is that he can quickly climb out of the pack n’ play.  We were hoping to move him to the crib in the kids’ room in August but within the first few minutes in it at bed time, he climbed out.  So, he was back in the pack n’ play in our room for another week or so before he figured out how to climb out of it too.  It wouldn’t be so bad if we could trust him not to get into things he shouldn’t.

img_3376We are trying to transition Micah off of his cleft bottle.  He does now have the ability to suck but he just doesn’t drink as well through sippy cups.  He is also getting more picky with food.  He’s definitely a fruit kid and not into meat.  This makes it harder to put weight on him.

Koen and Li Li are doing well.  We started homeschooling again earlier this month.  It’s been a really hard transition for me.  Although Micah made homeschooling harder last year, this year he is at a whole new level of distraction.  And, because Koen and Li Li are older (5th and 3rd grade now), the work load is a little more each year.  Our schedule is very full right now too.  Li Li is doing level 4 gymnastics, which is 4 hour practices three times a week, and both kids are doing soccer.  Koen is also doing swim team twice a week, but I think we are dropping it next month for my sanity.  Both kids are also doing a Chinese class and Rosetta Stone, plus a science class, on top of our normal Tuesday Classical Conversations co-op.  Oh yeah, and I’m also teaching the co-op class this year.

img_9766The last few weeks I’ve been thinking that it’s going to have to be a long time before we adopt again.  I just feel like I’m at my limit right now.

img_3275Summer trip to Crater Lake, OR with Grandmas

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Cleft Exchange 2016

Oh the Love Without Boundaries Cleft Exchange is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  I’ve been involved since 2012, and even got to attend it in China in 2014.  This year it was back in the same city I traveled to, Kaifeng, and 35 children received surgery.  About half of the children are orphaned children and half are in families who can’t afford their child’s medical care.  Half of the children received lip repairs and half received palate surgeries.

The transformations are amazing!  You can read more on the LWB blog.

Alina-B-and-A-square Daniella-B-and-A-border Charlie-B-&-A Mary-Beth-B-&-A-2 Ray-B-&-A-Border-smAnd some of these cuties really sneak into my heart quickly!

Omar

Omar

Samuel

Samuel

Spencer

Spencer

Charlie

Charlie

Stephanie

Stephanie

Brad

Brad

Joy

Joy

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