December 29, 2011


Two days ago our group of nine crawled out of bed early to catch a bus to Siem Reap.  It was a six hour bus ride including a stop for lunch that was less than appetizing.  Let's just say that Nathan practiced trying to catch a fly with his chop sticks the entire meal.....and he had many victims to choose from.

We arrived in Siem Reap a little unsure of our agenda.  All twelve orphanages under Asia's Hope in Cambodia were going to be here and the goal was to spend some more time with our kiddos from Vista.  We got here a day before the kids so we had some time to explore Angkor Wat along with other famous temples.  Apparently it's amazing to see Angkor Wat at sunrise so we got up at 4 a.m. and made our way by tuk tuk in the dark to this historical location.

I know very little about these temples.  I did zero research before going and we opted out of getting a guide which was fine with me seeing as how I can get impatient with Scot for reading an informative sign never mind listening to someone talk about carvings for an hour.  As it turned out, we spent ten hours exploring, climbing, and coercing the kids with promises of pool time and snacks.  I took hundreds of pictures and was overall amazed with all we saw.

Marla and I were both fighting off stomach issues this day.  We never did figure out what caused it in either of us, but my guess is that whatever found me to be tasty enough to bite me over 40 times may have caused my fever, nausea and vomiting all afternoon and evening.  

I opted out of dinner retreating under my covers alternating between swearing off food for the rest of my life, wanting to take a bristle brush to my legs, and freezing from fever.  Marla checked on me when they got back and informed me that all twelve orphanages would be having a Christmas program in the morning and we were invited to join.

There was NO way I was going to miss out on my last chance to see the kids.

Oh my.  There are zero words to express how much this morning meant to me.  A room full of kids and their house parents all dressed in costume and with props since each orphanage was going to have a chance to perform.

The feeling of being recognized by our kids and having them run to us and proudly lead us to seats in the front row.  The feeling of all those sweet arms wrapped around my neck.  The feeling as we watched the kids perform.

The Most Adorable Award went to these cute kids dressed as lambs.

While we were at the guest house in Phnom Phen we had the opportunity to meet two young men in their 20's, Jarod and Chris, that recently moved to Cambodia to help a local church.  I asked a ton of questions and found out that Jarod's family supports at least one of the orphanages.  His family is also responsible for gifting all the kids with the trip to Siem Reap.  His parents were flying to Cambodia in time for the Christmas program. I have to say that watching Jarod's dad while the kids from the orphanage he supports sang on stage, was almost more than I could take.  He grinned and cheered on the kids and his wife cried through the entire thing and I was a huge mess.  The kids sang Worthy is the of my all time favorites....and I could barely contain myself.

Then it was time for our kids.  We hooted and hollered and clapped as they went on stage to perform a fishing dance.  I couldn't resist the picture of Sovern, the house dad, as he recorded his kid's performance.

It ended too quickly and I was dreading our good-byes.  We gathered together for one last group photo......I'm hidden in the middle surrounded by the kids.  Absolute heaven.

Sovern let them know we were leaving and we started hugging the kids.  I was holding it together until I saw this....

very quickly followed by this.....

but the damage was already done and I was a goner.  I was hugging and promising to visit again and trying to keep some composure.  I looked around for Scot and saw that he wasn't doing much better than I was.

This is certainly nowhere near the most attractive photo ever taken of us.  But what I see when I look at this picture is not a girl with a swollen nose from crying or red eyes or hair that needs to be washed....what I see is a couple who has been challenged and changed by a group of 22 orphans, 4 young adults trying to make a difference at the Boy's Center, and the incredible Taviano family.

I am amazed at how much life we have lived in the last 8 days and it was possible because of the vision and passion of Marla and her family.  They worked tirelessly as a family for a year to raise the funds to get here and I am humbled by the depth of their love for the people in Cambodia.

I had never met Marla in person and we had no idea what was going to happen when our families joined together in some difficult situations, 24/7, for eight days.  In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined it being any more perfect than it was.  Marla and I were instant real life friends, our husbands got along great and our kids were inseparable.

Our families said good-bye to each other tonight and there were lots of tears.  I just don't want it to be over.  It makes me smile to write that sentence remembering how I felt just a couple of weeks ago.  Wow......things have changed!

I know this post is super long and I'm sure that's against some sort of blogging rule but I am at a loss for how to wrap things up.

Let's just say that I am speechless.

Except for this.....

God is so, so, so very good.


  1. Extraordinary!! I have read this twice and found myself wishing I could have been there. I don't know the whole story of "your" kids but I do know they are all beautiful!! The photos are just awesome. I think my favorite is the one (I am assuming)of Jarod's father. I am always so inspired when I read of the pure & selfless giving of others! This had to be a huge expense for this family and yet I can see only joy (& love!)upon his face. Clearly is the beauty of this mans spirit so revealed in his countenance. Thank you for sharing your story and for making my day!

  2. The joy of the Lord.....that would be my caption for all of these pictures:)

  3. Joy Joy Joy for you is what I felt when reading this blog! So happy you had one of the best Christmas's of your life. Your pictures speak the words for you :-)
    ~ Patty Rand

  4. Hey Keri...I love reding your posts. What a blessing God is clearly giving you and your family through these amazing experiences. Thank you for sharing. Of course, I am captured by your photos...they are amazing. I love the one of the girls dancing and their colorful fans are all blurred. I can only imagine how excited they were to perform for everyone. I bet you were as much a blessing to them as they were to you. I am sure....many of them are speechless....over your obedience to love and honor them with your presence. Take care and give Scot a hug from us. Kelly Hendricks

  5. Oh my. No words for how much I love this post. I woke up several times in the middle of the night with a real, physical ache in my heart from already missing you guys. This morning was tough too. Yet I wouldn't trade the joy of knowing you and experiencing this week with you for anything in the world. Love you four!



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