Joy Comes In The Morning

7:16 am (Eastern Time).

I’d been awake for 17 hours, eyes falling shut as I hurried home on the cracked sidewalks, stopping only for traffic lights and the occasional garbage truck on it’s morning route.

The cool morning mist surrounded me, a sort of ethereal fog blanketing the quiet streets, muffling the sounds of the traffic, the crispness of the morning making itself known as my breath formed a frozen cloud in front of me.

Passing by several blocks of brick-framed houses and doors with chipped paint, navigating puddles and hearing the occasional crunch of some leftover snow beneath my feet, I crossed the second-last street before home, entering the park, knowing my destination was close.

And all of a sudden, as I entered that park, my awareness of my surroundings began to shift.

The cool air, the mist, the hazy fog remained.

But suddenly these were joined by a canopy of empty branches, tall trees reaching for the sky, housing birds that sang and chirped and crowed, filling my ears with their morning chorus.

My feet, before hurried and occasionally stumbling, began to slow.

My eyes, before drooping and fatigued, began to open.

My heart, before tired and worn out, began to lift.

I stopped on the sidewalk, taking it all in.

And as that glorious chorus of bird song filled my ears, and the fog wrapped around me like a comforting blanket, I smiled.

The morning was here. He was here.

The song that had been in my head all week ran through again; pieces of lyrics and truth swirling in my brain;

…And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You…

I stood in wonder, amazed at the beauty of the morning and it’s Creator.

And as I pondered, I thought of those times when I’d experienced similar feelings, been in similar awe of the beauty of our world, laid before me like a glorious canvas.

That time in Cambodia, at the top of the highest mountain, surrounded by green grass and fog and massive rock, and tips of mountains peeking through in between.
That time in Hawaii, at the edge of the ocean looking out across the vast horizon of water and sky, surrounded by glorious colour and cloud and the beauty of a sunset like I’d never seen before.
Those times in the Beatton Valley, close to home, seated on the tip of one of my favourite hilly ridges, surrounded by the sound of the rushing river and the wind filling my ears, looking out at the vivid green trees and hills, contrasting against the stark blue sky or the starry night or the rippling clouds or the fading sunset. I’d been there so many times, and each felt just as new and just as beautiful.
That time in Tumbler Ridge, as we crested the tip of a ridge deep in the alpine, and were greeted with blue-hazed mountains and valleys and lakes, endless vistas stretching to the edges of the horizon in all directions, so still you could hear yourself breathe.
That time in northern Alberta where on a drive home we were brought to a stop by the sight of the black skies suddenly breaking out with dancing green aurora, flitting across the sky like ballerinas across a stage, oscillating and curving and stretching and lighting up the sky in a light show unmatched by any created by man.

The list goes on and on.
Cambodia. Hawaii. The Beatton Valley. Tumbler Ridge. Northern Alberta.
and now Ontario.

I was reminded, not for the first time, that 

whether I sit or stand,
whether I rise or fall,
if I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there His hand will guide me.
even there His strength will support me.

He is with me.
Through all my life, through all my travels, in all the places I call home.
He is faithful.
Through all the ups and downs, through all the uncertainties, in all my doubts and fears.
He is good.
For though weeping may last through the night, joy comes in the morning.
He makes all things work together for my good.
Through all the long nights and joys and tears and adventures and deep breaths and new steps.

He knows me. He is right there with me.
He goes before me and behind me, hemming me in on all sides.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

And just like David’s response after God had brought him across miles and years of journey, and so clearly revealed His love to him day after day, making and fulfilling promises all along the way,
I remain amazed.

Who am I, Sovereign Lord, that you have brought me this far?
What more can I say?

For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to Your will, You have done such great things and made them known to Your servant.
How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears…

No matter where I go,
No matter what I do,

I am so thankful.

For He is with me.
And He is faithful.
And He is good.
And He makes all things work together for my good.

Oh, how I need Him.
And I am so thankful that He reaches down to me.

I love the Lord, for He hears my voice.
Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

And I have no doubts that this is not the last time I will stand amazed in His presence.
For He is good, and His love endures forever.

<3

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful

.::.

References: 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 30:5, Psalm 116:1-2, Psalm 139
and “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher

life is good. crazy… but good.

Alright, I’ll admit it. Lately, I have stunk at blogging. In the words of the Grinch… “Stink, Stank, Stunk!”

But,  I’ll have you know that it wasn’t for lack of interesting things to blog about.

My last post was innnn….. May?
Let’s start there.

May: Spent the month in Cambodia, running village clinics with the bomb-diggity-est team of people ever. Flew to Korea. Travelled to Korea for a day. Flew to Hawaii. Spent a week in Hawaii re-capping all of that six-month medical missions adventure. Flew to a different island of Hawaii. Reunited with a future sister-in-law (although that wasn’t confirmed quite yet ;) ), vacationed.

June: Vacationed in Hawaii for two weeks. Flew home. Reunited with Canada after six months away. Swung on the swings and laid on the grass at my old elementary school with three of my best girls and just soaked it in. Flew to Montreal to see the handsomest, most amazing man I know (also known as, my future fiancé, although that wasn’t confirmed quite yet ;) ), and ventured around the city with him for a week. Flew home. Laid low for a while. Drove tractor and baler. Made a few hundred bales. Went to a wedding. Visited people.

July: Laid low for a while. Drove tractor and baler. Made a few hundred bales. Went to a wedding. Visited people. (see a theme here?) Worked as a camp nurse for a week. Drove tractor and baler. Applied for jobs. Washed my car. It rained. Had a job interview.

August: Picked up the handsomest, most amazing man I know (also known as, my future fiancé, although that wasn’t confirmed quite yet ;) ) at the airport. Tried on some bridesmaid dresses for my other future sister-in-law’s wedding (which was confirmed! still is ;) ). Visited people. Went on a date. Got 14 free nursing textbooks. Had some pizza. Got kidnapped by a wild group of girl campers. Thrown in a water pool. Thrown in the back of an ATV. Tied to a tree. Rescued by a wild group of war-painted boy campers, led by the handsomest, most amazing man I know. He got down on one knee. Got engaged. Played some soccer. Laid low for a while. Had a birthday. Visited some people. Had a job interview. Got hired. Simultaneously hiked a mountain and had engagement photos taken. Dropped off the handsomest, most amazing man I know (also known as, my future fiancé, which was confirmed! still is ;) ) at the airport. Realized August had only been around for 17 days. Realized it was one crazy month. Bought a wedding dress. Started working full time. Baked some cookies. Visited my pregnant friend. Visited some other people.

September: Continued working full time. Slept. Hung blackout curtains. Slept. Took blackout curtains down. Continued working full time. Made some Skype calls. Went to a wedding. Visited people. Laid low for a while. Read a good book. Continued working full time. Took a course to save tiny people’s lives. Visited some people. Continued working full time.

Aaaaand now it’s October.

Oh, my life.

No wonder I’m tired.

My apologies for not carrying through on promises made, like “I’ll post more once we get back to Kona and my life isn’t strewn all over my hotel room,” or “I’ll have to blog about that later!” or “It’s a long story… I’ll write a blog about it.”

Maybe someday I will write about those things. Then again, maybe I’ll tell them to you in person over a good pair of chai lattes.
For now, I’m going to go drink some egg nog and eat a cookie and read a book (I’ve got three or four on the go at the moment) and go to bed.

And I will leave you with this:

My life has been a seriously-amazing-crazy sort of crazy over the last few months. But I’ve come to realize, as Grace Hopper and/or John Shedd said, ” A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.” And the thing about being a ship out of harbor and out of my comfort zone is that no matter where I go, not matter what comes, I have an Anchor that will never let me go (Hebrews 6:19) and for that I am more thankful than ever before.

Peace and blessings.

Jenn

 

Outreach Week Eight: The Grand Finale

And just like that…. outreach is done.

Did all of that really just happen?!

Our team spent week eight continuing to drive all over Cambodia (mostly to the south, to Kampot and Kap, right near the Gulf of Thailand), continuing our ministry in villages running clinics, children’s ministry, and health teaching. We also were given the opportunity to visit two orphanages, and were so blessed to spend time with the little ones there.

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(Medical check-ups were a frequent part of village clinics! This little one at a clinic a few weeks ago was so adorable. I remember wishing I had a photo of this moment and then lo and behold, somebody got one. :)

During our travels we also visited several churches and a couple schools, one of which was established in the middle of a slum. The day we went to that school was a really, really hard one for me; I have an incredible story about a little baby and his mom that I cannot wait to share with you… but it’ll have to wait until I’m not so jet-lagged and my stuff isn’t strewn all over the room. A girl has to have priorities. ;)

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(The area surrounding one of the schools we visited. Tough to see, and even tougher to meet some of the patients and see the circumstances they lived in and their resultant health problems.)

I remember learning in nursing school about the 12 health determinants, or circumstances that affect a person’s health, for better or for worse. This definitely put a whole new meaning to the determinants of “income and social status,” “physical environment,” “employment and working conditions,” and “healthy child development.”

In addition to doing some more nursing, I also got the chance to “intern” a bit with my favourite pharmacist! Bless is from South Korea and has an incredible heart for the hurting, as well as a lot of knowledge about so many things, including medicine. She’s taught me so much! And, I admire her ability to provide patient education in Khmer… “muey-grab, bee-grab…” and her love for every patient who came through her pharmacy. :)

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(Bless and I set up the pharmacy in front of the stage in one of the churches we visited.)

In the midst of a long week, we were blessed with a day off, and I was part of  a group who traveled to Bokor Mountain, close to Kampot and a beautiful drive and view! It was so refreshing to be in the midst of the mountain air, touch some clouds, see some beautiful fog, and enjoy the scenery and fresh air.

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(Near the top of Bokor Mountain. B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.)

Our team’s eight update can be found here (Outreach Update Week 8) for your perusing pleasure!  Many more details and photos of our last week of outreach in Cambodia.

Our team has now arrived in Kona again safe and sound after two red-eye flights in a row sandwiching a 14-hour layover in Seoul. So thankful that all of our luggage made it intact, and that even though we almost missed a bus, had some trouble checking people in and working out visa information, not a single flight was delayed and no other complications with travel! As Casey would say, PTL. ;)
I’ll be blogging more on our last few days spent in Cambodia to debrief our adventures there and what we have seen God do in us and through us these past two months, as well as a bit about our time in South Korea for the day!

Our next few days will be full of debriefing with our team and also the rest of our Medical DTS group, who spent the last two months in Iraq and Israel for their outreach, then will be packing and graduating!

What a journey it has been.

But all in all, I’m so, so glad that it happened. Thank you, Lord, for being such a good God and a faithful Father.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Jenn

Outreach Week Seven: There And Back Again

Now I know how a nomad feels.
Or maybe like a hobbit on a grand adventure, looking forward to the return home (hence the Tolkein reference above, heehee).

Safe to say, week seven was a little bit exhausting.
See, Cambodia is a beautiful country. And it’s been so amazing to be able to see so much of it… but packing and moving and unpacking and packing and moving is getting a little bit tiring.

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(A map of Cambodia for a bit of a reference for all of these travels!)

This week saw us travelling first 5 hours from Phnom Penh northwest to Kampong Thom, where we stayed for one night and ran two clinics at local villages.
We then packed up again, drove another 3 hours northeast to Preah Vihear, a BEAUTIFUL area where we were blessed to stay at a gorgeous guest house and ran a clinic right in a health center. So blessed by our accommodations!

Our travels then took us south to Kampong Cham, a gorgeous city right along the Mekong River, where we stayed for three nights and first enjoyed a day off, renting bicycles for $2 and riding around the city and then across a rather sketchy bamboo bridge to an island village right in the middle of the river!

It was so much fun to be out in the open air and enjoy the sunshine, even if it meant paying for it with a sunburn and a whole lot of sweat!

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(Bamboo bridge connecting Kampong Cham to the island village we visited. No large vehicles are allowed on the bridge, only mopeds, bicycles, or pony-drawn carts. I will never forget bicycling along, avoiding little piles of pony poop, and being passed by mopeds driving wayyy too fast as the bridge creaked and groaned. Not sure if I’d ever prayed that hard in my life! But yes, Mom, I made it safe and sound. ;)

When we were planning our outreach, there were many options presented to us for our time here in Cambodia. When reading all the options over, I really, really felt drawn to visiting villages and running clinics there. It was one of those things I’d never done before, but felt would agree with my heart. And, oh, how I love it. The people I have met and the experiences I have encountered have left such a mark on me. I love that nursing is nursing, and people are people, whether they’re in a bamboo hut in the middle of a Cambodian forest or in a hospital bed in a northern Alberta ER. This is my passion.

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(Wound care in the middle of a village, surrounded by palm and fruit trees, a captive audience, my shoes covered with dirt, and my patient sitting on a wooden bed frame covered with a woven mat. I’ll miss this! Once I’m home, ask me about this lady… it’s quite the story! There are more pictures of her arm… but definitely not for the faint of heart. ;) )

After a couple more clinics in the Kampong Cham area, we packed up again and drove a few hours south, back to Phnom Penh, completing our first loop of village tours during our last few weeks here.

Week Eight (soon to be blogged, as I’m a bit behind…) saw us travelling wayyyy south to the city of Kampot and then to the village of Kep, eventually ending up only 12 km from the Vietnam border before returning to Phnom Penh! I feel like I’ve been all over this country… backpack and stethoscope and all.

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(The sunset view from one of our guest houses in Phnom Penh… absolutely breathtaking.)

For more on the happenings of our week, check out our team’s update here (Outreach Update Week 7). Full of more photos and lots of information on our travels and experiences!

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(Before hitting the road in Kampong Cham, I snuck off to a fruit market and bought some delicious lychee. Only $2 a kilogram… I couldn’t really say no!)

For an authentic ” Cambodian road trip” experience… have a little listen to some of what I’ve been playing while on our many bus travels! I’ve discovered Josh Garrels, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. ;)
Josh Garrels – Rise

Though they may surround me like lions 
And crush me on all sides 
I may fall, but I will rise 
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords 
Only through, your love, my Lord

Take courage sons, for we must go under
The heart of darkness, and set them free
But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers
There’s no measure for, the faith we bring
It’s given us, to overcome
If we run, where the spirit calls us on
The greatest things, have yet to come
With the dawn, we will rise

Stay tuned for next week’s update… the last one of outreach! Good grief… where has the time gone?

Praise God with me for seeing His heart and His blessings during my time here. He has given me such strength and so much of His love and compassion for the Cambodian people! His resources are indeed so limitless. :)

<3

Love, Jenn

Outreach Week Six: On The Move

A green and yellow 25-seater bus. Rice three times a day. Bamboo huts and plastic chairs.  Gummy bear vitamins sandwiching albendazole tablets.  Tuberculosis patients. Tuk tuk rides. Finding oatmeal cookies in a tiny mart on a muddy street. Three different guest houses in four days. Hand-washing laundry in a sink the size of a juice jug. 
Put it all together, and what do you have?

Oh, just another week of outreach.


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(All packed up! My trusty backpacks are getting a lot of use lately as we are moving a lot these days, typically every two or three nights we travel to a different part of Cambodia. Tiring, but so neat to see different parts of the country!)

Our week saw us travelling first to the south west of Cambodia to several different villages, running clinics and learning from two local men about their ministries and their dreams for the villages they live in. I was blessed to meet some incredible people, including patients, translators, contact people, and even a fellow Canadian who works with YWAM and actually knows some people from Fort St. John. So cool. :)

One of our contacts was a young man who was a tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, saving for his future with one tuk tuk ride at a time, when he drove for some mission teams and started asking them questions with his limited English. They taught him some English, introduced him to Jesus, and got him connected with a church. Nobody in his family had ever been a Christian, and he was curious as to why these foreigners would come to another country to serve Cambodians.

Fast-forward six years.

Over time, that young man became a Christian, sold his tuk tuk to pay for a YWAM DTS, moved back to his village, started a school for local kids, and began to pour his life out for his family, his village, and the Lord.

Within a year of starting his ministry and school, 25 people in his community became believers.

Since then, he has built two churches, an even bigger school, a group home for boys, a coconut oil business for community members to work in, and has plans for a mercy clinic and university in the village as well. So many people in his family are believers, and they have been so blessed and prosperous.

All because of one man’s curiosity and subsequent obedience to the call of God.

He has an amazing story, and it was such a blessing to spend time with him and his family this week, and run clinics at two villages he works in, to bless the people there and provide some sort of  basic health services that they otherwise have to travel hours to access.

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(Me and that young man’s grandmother – and in the background, one of the huts we ran our clinic in. She literally glowed with joy. When our team pulled up to her place to run a clinic, she met us at the van door with huge hugs and a big smile, and never stopped grinning at us the whole morning. Even though she didn’t speak a word of English, communicating with my limited Khmer taught me that she was so sweet and had such a lovely heart.)

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(The view from one of the villages we visited. Ahh, mountains. How I have missed you. :) All that was missing was a cow or two to have the stereotypical “Cambodia” photo.)

This week we also began a new chapter of outreach, ministry with a fellow named Phillip, a Korean man who with his wife Grace pastors a church and runs a sort of group home in Phnom Penh for young Cambodians from faraway villages to come and stay while studying university.

We’ll be travelling all around Cambodia with Phillip quite a bit over the next two weeks, travelling to the villages of his students!  It’s so neat to get to know the students (studying medicine, midwifery, nursing, and seminary/bible teaching), and then get to see their roots and meet their families.

For more information about our ministry here, check out our team’s update here ( Outreach Update Week 6 ) as it contains more photos and information about our adventures in Cambodia!

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(The view out the back of our tuk tuk of the traffic congestion in Phnom Penh. It’s definitely a good place to hold tight onto your bag, and to look both ways a few times before crossing the street!)

It’s hard to believe that there are only two weeks left in this beautiful country; our time here has just flown!

Praise God with me for an incredible burst of energy, enthusiasm, and joy this week! Somebody out there must be praying for that for me, so thank you. It made a huge difference in my ministry and in my heart. :)
Please pray for me to finish the race well (2 Timothy 4:7) and to keep my eyes and my faith fixed on Jesus as outreach starts to come to a close.

Thanks so much for your encouragement and your prayers! Looking forward to hearing from you. :)
Jenn

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(Welcome to outreach in Cambodia, “elephant pants” and Mekong River and all. :) )

Outreach Week Five: Here, There, and Everywhere

I know I probably say this every week… but what a week it has been.

This week saw me hugging tiny Cambodian children, teaching about hand-washing and tooth-brushing to a group of little ones, examining infected skin wounds and enlarged lymph nodes, washing lice-ridden hair, teaching CPR to a group of staff, walking through a red light district in Phnom Penh not once, not twice, but several times, getting my nails done at a salon that teaches women sustainable skills to get them out of prostitution, and teaching about breastfeeding in a tiny church in the middle of a slum area.

This week was fast and furious, but God really poured hope and strength into me when I was overwhelmed, filled me with refreshment and rest when I needed it most, provided me beyond what I could imagine, and taught me so much about waiting on Him.

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(Teaching a tiny little Cambodian girl how to write the letter “I” during English classes at her preschool program. She was much more interested in scribbling. We compromised. ;) )

I got to tap into my heart for knowledge, emergency nursing, and health care by teaching a basic CPR course for several staff members who work with a ministry in a red light district in Phnom Penh. It was so much fun! They were such excellent students, full of joy and enthusiasm for learning. And it was good to brush up on my own CPR skills! Gotta stay up on that, after four months away from the ER.

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(Amazing how easy it was to teach something so familiar to me! And I was sure thankful for those many, many CPR classes I had to take for nursing school! Sure is a lifesaver here. Har, har. :P )

My week ended with a wonderful day off on Saturday to spend several hours with just my journal and some music and some sunshine, catching up on all my thoughts and all the action over the last little bit! A few of us also went to the Russian Market here in Phnom Penh (strange name, I know, but apparently Russians used to live there. Who knew?!), where we browsed the stalls and enjoyed the chance to see some local culture, make some new friends at a pottery stall, drink the acclaimed best iced coffee in the city, and snag some good deals.

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(Tapping into my “Nurse Jenn” side at a clinic this week, seeing patients and preparing medicine, in this case for a pregnant momma almost 6 months along! Such a wonderful experience.)

If you’re interested, check out our team’s update here (Outreach Update Week 5). It contains a few more photos, more intel on the happenings of our week, and was even written by yours truly. :)

Thanks for your encouragement, lovely people. I miss you!
Pressing into Jesus to finish well for these last three weeks in Cambodia,

Jenn

Outreach Week Four: Khmer New Year, Kids, and Clinics

What a week! Full of clinics and village kids and cleaning and finding out new ways to love people and traditional Khmer dancing and saying goodbye to the sweetest puppies and the sweetest people in Siem Reap as we finished up our week there and planned the remainder of our outreach in Phnom Penh.

This week some of the highlights included seeing traditional Khmer dancing and music at the Angkor National Museum, as part of the Khmer New Year celebrations, put on by the young ladies and young men at a local orphanage. I met my new friend, Neat (in yellow below) at a local cafe and she and I and Dani (one of my teammates) became fast friends as we got to know each other! I’ll sure miss her and her sweet smile!

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  Another highlight was getting to attend an Easter service at a local church! Easter is not a holiday nationally celebrated in Cambodia, so it was so strange (for the first time in my life) not to see Easter bunnies in the stores or dye eggs before Easter Sunday or hear anything about the Easter story other than within our own team. So going to church and hearing a message in English (no translation!) and singing songs I actually knew just made my heart swell. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice for us and for your resurrection – You are Lord, no matter where we are! So good.

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(Easter service with a Scottish pastor… sitting next to people from Cambodia, France, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, the Philippines, Africa, America, and many other countries. Truly a multicultural experience! 

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(myself, Priscille from France, Dani from Germany, and Rosie from Austria all dressed up for Easter Service! Love these ladies!)

I also tried something new at a clinic this week, becoming a pharmacist in training! We try to rotate roles in our clinics so this was my day to take care of the pharmacy along with Casey. It’s not all that high tech… or pretty… but it is the best pharmacy we’ve got and we love it. :)

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(Pharmacy station while Charm, our team doctor, sees patients in the background with our friend Nary translating)

This week we are back in Phnom Penh, where we will be until the end of outreach in just one month. Time is flying, but we’re glad to be here!
Here is our latest update from our team (Outreach Update Week 4) . I’m hoping to post another blog this week about how missionary life and I are getting along… so stay tuned for that :)

Hope to hear from you soon!
Jenn

Outreach Week Three: Cockroaches, and Cold Showers

Okay, I have to say that this week I encountered some of the “not so nice” things about living in a more tropical country.
But I’m also proud to say that I squared off with a rat… and lost. Or won? I’m not sure, since he was the one who scurried away.
I’m also proud to say that I was not eaten by the massive tarantula that scuttled out from under a chair during one of our clinics, and I am forever grateful to one of our brave translators, Kimlang, who killed said tarantula with a broom… and tried to ignore a second tarantula who hung  around the entire day on the wall above my head.

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(My girl Casey and I with our faithful translators, Rany (L) and Kimlang (R) . They were fantastic translators for the two of us at many a nursing station over the past two weeks!

I also got to meet the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen, take a shower with a proper showerhead (cold water is THE BEST thing to beat the heat here!), visit an orphanage where some new friends of mine live, see the famous Angkor Wat and surrounding ancient ruins and temples, cuddle some two-week-old puppies here on base, meet and get up close and personal with an elephant, and play Settlers of Catan in a five-star hotel’s restaurant area.

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(Sunrise at Angkor Wat before a full day of adventuring)

It’s been a busy week, but we’re quickly realizing that outreach itself is busy, and goes by quickly. After all, “three weeks down, five to go” means that this coming week is “hump week” or the infamous “halfway” mark. I’m praising God for what He’s already done in me and through me in Cambodia so far, and am looking forward to the good things He’s going to do in the coming weeks as well.

Here’s our team update for this week (Outreach Update Week 3), which includes more photos and highlights. Enjoy!

In addition to what’s listed in the update, I would really, really appreciate your prayers for me, for energy and encouragement. We learned early in the lecture phase of our DTS that “our ministry flows from our intimacy with God” so I’d been trying to be intentionally making time with the Lord to continue to build my relationship with Him. However, among other challenges this week, with the sometimes hectic schedule of outreach plus being with the team 24/7 and the heat causing a lack of energy, it was challenging to find time or energy for what I like to call “introvert time.” I’m glad to say that things are improving in that area, but I could certainly use some prayer warriors on my side for this :)

I’d love to hear from you! We occasionally find a cafe with wifi and reading your updates from home always making me smile.

‘Til next time… keep fit and have fun!
(Bonus points if you know where that phrase is from, heehee)
Love, Jenn

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Outreach Week Two: Beginnings in Siem Reap

What a week it has been!
But time flies when you’re having fun.

From travelling 9 hours on a bus to navigating the wonderful world of tuk tuks (a Cambodian taxi, basically a motorbike with a two-wheeled trailer) to putting my nursing skills to work with our first three clinics, it’s been a tiring but incredible week.

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(One of my first, and most elderly, patients. The average age in Cambodia is somewhere around 29, so seeing elderly people is a rarity and such a blessing!)

I’ve quickly discovered that the more I pour out on Cambodian people, the more blessed I feel in return. Like taking a couple minutes to chat, laugh with, and pray for some elderly ladies at our first clinic, or teaching my translator new English words as he teaches me new Khmer words, or meeting some sweet girls who work at a local coffee shop, or giggling with little kids who are getting lice shampooed out of their hair, I have had so many moments this week where I felt so incredibly blessed.

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(These little cuties had the BIGGEST smiles when I shampooed their hair. So adorable! Just made my heart swell.)

It’s good to be here, but not without it’s challenges. The heat plus a really busy schedule has left most of us exhausted, so with a couple days off this coming week we’re looking forward to getting some good rest!

I’m really thankful for the team I’m with, and for the opportunities we’ve had so far and the beautiful people we have met. Just two weeks into our outreach and it’s already been unforgettable, so I can’t wait to see what the rest is like. ;)

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(One of the pharmacies we shopped at while in Phnom Penh. Seriously, most pharmacies here are like this, and it’s the perfect picture of the health care situation in Cambodia. Packed to the brim with medications of every imaginable type, that anyone can walk in an purchase without a prescription (even things like diazepam, digoxin, amlodipine… sort of sketchy) and based on a “pharmacist’s” recommendation (I’m pretty sure the guy who slept on a hammock in the middle of his “pharmacy”  wasn’t a pharmacist…) the patient will take pretty much any medication to try to feel better. Oh my. But such an experience to shop at!)

Our team’s weekly update can be found here (Outreach Update Week 2).
I would love to hear from you!
Otherwise, ’til next week, keep cool! And if it’s too cool where you are… I wholeheartedly would LOVE to send you some Cambodian heat. ;)
Love, Jenn

Week Twelve: Ready for Liftoff

Houston, we have cleared the “lecture phase” preparation and are now headed for the launch pad.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to what YWAMers love to call “transition week.”

Transition week is a magical time where leadership ever so slowly and gently encourages YWAMers to look back on their lecture phase experience, take a long time to process and consider what they have learned, perhaps take a few days off to relax and recuperate and regain from energy after a grueling lecture phase, and then begin to pack a few things in preparation for outreach, which is completely scheduled and perfectly prepared for.

Just kidding.

Transition week goes something a little more like this:

Evaluations, commissioning (Did I mention Loren and Darlene Cunningham personally prayed for and sent out all the outreach groups on base? So cool!), gifts, packing, meetings, phone calls, cleaning, photocopying, shopping, planning, more packing, e-mails, Skype calls, more meetings, hunting down lost items, writing notes, work duty, and maybe even a little sleep in there.

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Dani and I with “Mr. YWAM” himself, Loren Cunningham, earlier this week. He and his wife, Darlene, were founders of the organization more than 50 years ago, and both still plays an active role. Such inspiring and wonderful people!

It’s been busy.

Honestly, I usually like busy.

But since Saturday, this has been a four-day week of a never-ending “to-do” list, and it’s only finally reaching completion.

Our weekend set the tone for the next few days, with our last two days of work duty in the kitchen!

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Serving up muffins to a hungry crowd early Saturday morning.

Us Medical DTS’ers worked with Heartbridge Performing Arts DTS members, and they were such awesome teammates and crew members! We learned so much from them and were so blessed to get to know them!

Heartbridge had an even busier week than we did, with a full theatrical performance on Monday evening before they head out for outreach to New Zealand and Korea on Thursday! Their performance was fantastic!! So much talent and heart in this group.
If you happen to be in one of those nations in the next few months, check them out! :)

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Our work duty crew, minus one who happened to be feeling ill. LOVE these fine people!

I also got the chance to celebrate the end of lecture phase with my beautiful roommates!
All 8 of us have lived in a space about 35 feet by 15 feet for the past three months. And when you’re that cozy in quarters, you start to really get to know each other.
Knowing each other’s likes and dislikes, each other’s silly habits and sleeping patterns and snack preferences.
You also get to know what annoys them, and what about them annoys you, and sometimes it ends in disaster.

But I was incredibly blessed to live with 7 women who have been full of grace, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

They have been my sounding board when I need to vent, my prayer warriors when I need help, my professional huggers when I just want to cry, and my co-conspirators in laughter.

I love them so much, and am so thrilled that I get to be on outreach with three of them!

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Roommate finale dinner at Huggo’s On The Rocks, a little restaurant with an ocean view. 

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My girl Jenny and I celebrating with a Pina Colada (yes, Mom, it’s non-alcoholic), sand between our toes, and ocean breeze in our hair.

Today I also said goodbye to a wonderful woman who has become not only a mentor but also a dear friend.
Ruth-Ann was my “one on one,” a staff member who became my sort-of mentor during lecture phase, encouraging me and challenging me when I needed it. We laughed, we cried, we discussed deep things, and we baked a lot of cookies.
I’ll miss her conversations, her wisdom, and her heart a lot, but I’m so glad she’s praying for us as we head out!

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Ruth Ann and I just outside our classroom, next to the preschool on campus.

And now that goodbyes have been said and my Osprey pack lays waiting for me, all packed and tightened up and ready to travel, it’s time.

My team leaves tomorrow, and there’s still so much left to do.

But then I remember… WE LEAVE TOMORROW!!

And then I start to get excited.

Cambodia, here we come!

Tomorrow after some final packing, cleaning, and turning in our keys, we’ll hop in the YWAM vans and head for the airport to catch a red-eye flight and a couple connections to Phnom Penh.
We’re expecting to arrive local time Friday morning, and from there we’ll meet YWAM contacts in the area, and get oriented to the culture and the nation. After a few days of museums and tours and picking up a few things, we’ll head to the northeastern city of Ratanakiri, where we’ll meet up with some locals and begin our work.

During our time in Ratanakiri, surrounding villages, and then back to the city of Phnom Penh and surrounding area, we expect to be doing a lot of health education, children’s ministry, health clinics, community outreach, and encouraging local churches and communities of believers.

It looks like it’ll be a busy schedule, but I think our team is up for the challenge.

There’s 12 students and 1 leader, broken down into:
10 women and 3 men.
2 married couples.
1 pharmacist, 1 doctor, 5 nurses, 1 occupational therapist, 1 teacher in counseling, 1 pre-med student, 1 navy medic, 1 oilfield worker, and 1 artist.

We have a diverse and energetic team, and as we get to know each other, we’re becoming closer and closer.
I love these people, and I can’t wait to see us all in action together, and how God works in us and through us in Cambodia!

We hope to be sending home weekly updates to keep you all posted on the happenings, but in the meantime and as we travel, we would love to have your support in encouragement and in prayer.

Some things we would love to have you join in praying for include:

1. Safe travels. With 13 adults, passports from 6 different nations, 14 different bags, 3 connections, 17 time zones, and over 18 hours of travelling, we will be one tired bunch. Please pray for our travels to be safe and for us to get adequate rest, and that we make all of our connections on time!

2. Prepared hearts. Please pray that we would have energy and enthusiasm for the trip, for compassion and love for the people of Cambodia, for peace and joy as we are faced with many obstacles and potential discomforts. Pray that we open our hearts to where and who God is leading us to, and that we would have willing hearts for what is to come.

3. Team unity. We want to be a team who loves God and loves each other first and foremost. It’ll be a tough couple of months, so pray with us that we would face challenges with positive, forgiving, humble attitudes, that our team might become stronger and stronger as time goes on.

4. Logistics and Communication. Cambodia is quite notorious for having communication problems, and knowing how difficult it’s been to plan our outreach, when we’re there it might be tough to schedule and communicate as well. Please pray for schedules to fall into place, for the right contacts to be made, and communication to be clear and effective. Communication is a great prayer point within our team as well, as we have 4 different languages floating around at any given time, with or without translation. Unfortunately, none of those are Khmer, but slowly and surely we’re learning that too. We love multiculturalism :)

5. Cambodia. Please continue to pray for this nation and the beautiful people who live there. Pray with us that their hearts would be softened by the Lord, their broken hearts would be comforted, their wounds would heal, their mourning turned to gladness.
Isaiah 61 is a passage we’ve felt pressed on our hearts for Cambodia, especially the first 3 verses:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

We want to bring joy and love, and be the hands and feet of Jesus in Cambodia.

We definitely cannot do it alone, and I’m so thankful God is with us, going before us and after us, hemming us in on all sides.
For if we are on the Lord’s side, we cannot fail.

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Also, Internet will be sketchy in Cambodia. If I don’t post, it’s not that I don’t love you… It’s just that I’m probably hugging a Cambodian child or checking an older lady’s blood pressure. I’d love to read your note a little later, though! Promise I’ll check my email (jenniferzingre@hotmail.com) now and again to see if you’ve written me. ;)

Love you all! Thank you for supporting me on this crazy amazing adventure. Your support and encouragement (yes, YOURS!) means so much to me.
Signing off with Aloha from Hawaii for the last time,
Jenn

See you on the other side. ;)