Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Home: Haktrana Apartment, Unit 503, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We’re here! Today is Day 11 in Cambodia.

Our family with Pastor Greg -- in our new apartment!!

Since arriving, we’ve really had one mission: to find an apartment and get settled. After four days and thirty apartments, we finally found the right one - an apartment that is suitable for our family, and is in a good location for ministry!

If you’re interested in a street view of our area, click this link a satellite view: Google Maps

 If that doesn’t work, search “17, St 480, Phnom Penh” on Google maps. Neither is exact, but it gives you an idea!


We are within 2-3 minutes walking distance of some great spots including a supermarket “Super Duper” where I can buy toiletries, produce, groceries, etc. Prices are higher than your traditional market, but the store offers convenience, security, and US brands! Everything is packaged in smaller sizes/quantities - wisely so because fridges, cupboards (if any), and portions are significantly smaller here than in the States.


We are also very close to Tous Les Jours - a bakery and coffee shop with a wide (and delicious!) selection of breads, pastries, and drinks. I visited yesterday and bought two varieties of sausage croissant, a cheese and basil baguette for myself, and two sugar donuts for our dessert. There are two nearby pizza places, one with a kids play place, which also delivers, and many other Khmer (and other) restaurants, coffee shops, and businesses.


There are children frequently playing in the street just 30' beyond our front gate.  Right across the street, there's a family selling drinks and snacks in front of their home, and two more down the street. On the corner, tuk-tuk drivers are always waiting for passengers.  Two blocks away, sits a large yellow landmark: the Australian Centre for Education (ACE) - "a leader in the provision of English Language Teaching services in Cambodia and in the South East Asia region."

I look forward to becoming more familiar and learning more about what and who is around us!

A view of our apartment from a nearby hotel balcony

Our apartment is on the fifth floor of a new building - Haktrana Apartments - and we’re only the second to move in! There are eight floors - each floor has one two-bedroom unit, and two one-bedroom units. As the view grows broader, the price increases on each floor. In other apartment buildings without elevators, the opposite is true as the lower units are more appealing.

On Sunday morning, the landlord’s young son was playing with a soccer ball on the lower level (think “parking garage”) and he was very excited to learn that we had moved in the day before. The landlord told Titus he is very “particular” about the tenants in this building. We’re praying that despite the landlord’s choosing, that God would send us both Christian neighbors and neighbors who will be ready (even if slowly!) to hear the Gospel Message! Please pray that God would give us wisdom and boldness as we step out to build relationships with those around us!

And now, more pictures of our apartment:

Laundry drying on our balcony

Looking at the street from the ground level (parking garage)

Ratana shoe racks by the front door

Looking into the parking garage (elevator on the left)

A view of Phnom Penh from the 8th floor (we live on the 4th)

Clean water, little fridge, and rice bucket (which has since been moved to the cabinet under the sink because Chamnab won't leave it alone)

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Equipping

On August 6, we moved to Union Mills, North Carolina to attend a four-week “Equipping for Cross-Cultural Life and Ministry” training with Center for Intercultural Training.


If you have ever given to support our family and our ministry in Cambodia, then our time of growth and learning at CIT has been a gift afforded by you. Thank you for this gift! By no effort of our own, other than showing up with an open heart and mind, CIT has already proven to be a powerful experience of significant learning and growth - learning and growth that we believe will enhance our ministry and better our family, especially in our transition.


It has been a great experience to learn and to live in community with others who have also received this missionary call. We’ve made friends here from across the US - friends who are preparing to move to many, many corners of the world. Sophear has sang and swam, painted, performed, and played in the mud with new friends heading to England and to Ecuador. Chamnab is learning to walk with Hannah, a friend he made at WGM Orientation Camp a few weeks ago. We’re being taught by veteran missionaries who have decades of experience - from suffering to success. They’ve become vulnerable before us, investing themselves in our family and in our ministry.


We’ve talked about transitions, effective teams, mindstyles, culture and tools for cultural awareness, spiritual warfare, marriage and singleness, cross-cultural communication, worldviews, contextualization, and more. In our small groups - “Heart of the Missionary” - we’re equipping the heart and mind to be servants, dependent on the righteousness of God, stripping away our own self-righteousness.

As we live in community, we’re learning to be intentional about building relationships and practicing hospitality as we invite people into our home to share life stories. We’re practicing here and now because once we land and settle in Cambodia, hospitality will be a ministry to our neighbors.


On Friday afternoon, two of Sophear’s friends stayed with us so their parents could attend a worship service relative to their host culture.


On Saturday, we drove an hour away to Spartanburg, South Carolina to visit a Cambodian Buddhist temple. This was to fulfill a requirement for CIT. One of our classmates (Alyssa), a missionary to Thailand, met us there. Titus, Sophear, and Alyssa spent some time inside interviewing one of the monks, while I kept Chamnab out of trouble outside (pagodas are very far from “baby proof”) and toured the beautiful 6-acre property. It was a neat experience for us to see and interact with Cambodian culture here in the States!


Below is a group picture from Monday during the solar eclipse. Most everyone on campus is included - staff, facilitators, children’s teachers, children, and us (the new missionaries!)  In front of me and between Titus and I (front left) are Sophear’s two teachers and Chamnab’s two teachers. We believe God was smiling on us when he gave Chamnab a Filipina teacher and a Vietnamese teacher! These four ladies have been wonderful with Sophear and Chamnab and we are so blessed that they are here investing in our children so that we can fully participate in our classes.

Sophear's first "report card"
We’ve been here 17 days and have 10 more days. Thank you for praying for us as we learn and grow, and as we seek to be intentional in building relationships - relationships that we hope will last well beyond September 1.  Thank you for praying for our new friends - Marina, the Goods, Patrick & Tressa, the Hocutts, Catie, Michael & Carrie, Drew, Ben & Lauren, Shelby, Victoria, Joel & Mallory, Launa, Azlyn, the Meyers, Joe & Ladaere, Alyssa, Seth & Kayla, Cory, Clark & Val, John & Charlene, Logan, Bill & Amy!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The reality of our transition is growing every day


Last week, we moved our family and a week's worth of stuff into a guest room at The Abbott Center, a building on the campus of World Gospel Mission Headquarters in Marion, Indiana.  Packing for a week away was a great opportunity for a "trial run" before we pack for a MONTH away in North Carolina next month.  We quickly realized that we need a better strategy for packing our things into  luggage (read: luggage not multiple small bags!) and then into the trunk and beneath Sophear and Chamnab's dangling feet.

I already miss Pam! (Seated on the floor beside me)
At the Abbott Center, we joined four other missionary units going to other WGM fields as well as various WGM leaders including the regional directors for Africa, North and Central America, South America, and Europe/Asia/the Pacific (that's us!)  Like us, the other four families were there because they have a team of awesome people behind them, championing their cause and their ministry on the American Indian Field, at Tenwek hospital in Kenya, and in Peru.  They've worked hard and long to raise support and, like us, they're ready to transition to their fields in September or October.

Chamnab and new friend, Hannah (MK to Kenya)
Titus and Jesus (Cambodian missionary to Cambodia and Peruvian missionary to Peru)
The week was called "Orientation Camp" and we attended more than 20 sessions on 20+ topics including WGM's history, policies and procedures, as well as family challenges, cultural adaptations, second language acquisition, child protection, safety, and more.  We are grateful for the knowledge and experiences shared with us by our regional directors, who combined have more than 100 years of experience in Bolivia, Honduras, Kenya, Japan, and their regions.

Lots of learning! (And lots of notes!)
We left on Friday afternoon feeling better prepared for the impending transition and challenges, empowered (despite being the only WGM missionaries in SE Asia), inspired by our veteran regional directors, supported by our WGM family, commissioned to serve, and simply blessed to spend a week with people who have faced or are facing what we're facing.

Sophear playing outside with the big boys!
We began our support-raising journey at WGM with a week-long orientation in January 2016 and now we are approaching 100% and the culmination of our support-raising and our big transition to Cambodia.  So much has happened since our first orientation.  God has taken us on an incredible journey of faith.  We have spoken at more than 40 churches and venues and met many wonderful people.  Many people have gotten us to this point - giving generously, praying over our family, hosting us, and advocating for our ministry.  Our team is growing and we are thankful for each one supporting our ministry in Cambodia!  Thank you for your partnership!  Thank you for sending us, for walking beside us, for going with us!

Sophear and Chamnab's "classroom"
The reality of our transition is growing every day.  Yesterday, as I was unhanging our wedding portrait and framed vows, I paused to reflect on the last 5.5 years of marriage.  When Titus proposed on December 26, 2010, we both knew God was calling us to return to Cambodia.  We're finally here - packing, preparing, and watching ticket prices.


We’re at 78%!  Would you prayerfully considering investing in us and in our ministry to Cambodia? We’re almost there, but we still need more help! Visit wgm.org/romdenh or click the button below.

Support us financially!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Two colliding journeys and one mission

The week of January 11, 2016, my family and I began two very important journeys. First, we attended a week-long orientation for beginning our support-raising journey as missionary disciples with World Gospel Mission. On Tuesday, January 12, BI-5527 Christian Character and TH-5525 Theological Foundations for Biblical Interpretation opened - my first two Masters in Applied Biblical Studies courses at Moody Bible College. (I was also plagued with morning sickness that week, but that’s not important for this conversation.)


Yesterday, I started one of my final courses: BI-6618 Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature. This means that I’m finally in Revelations, the last book of the Bible and my last content course for my masters degree! After finishing Apocalyptic Literature, I have one week to submit a portfolio and then an 8-week capstone course and I’m done on October 9!

It has been a very challenging journey to mange coursework on top of many other responsibilities including family, work, housework and cooking, and support-raising; but the Lord has been faithful and has given me a supernatural strength way beyond my own strength. With God’s help, I functioned many days on five hours of sleep. The two coinciding journeys has been one of emotional and spiritual growth, of gaining knowledge and becoming empowered.


On Sunday night, we’re moving back into a guest room at WGM for a week-long orientation on life as a WGM missionary! We’ll be talking about boundaries, relationships, family challenges, cultural adaptations, child safety, networking and resources, medical care, etc etc etc. We’ll be there with four other new missionary families, as well as several WGM leaders. Like us, the other four missionary families here are here because they have a team of awesome people behind them! Thank you for being our team of awesome people! Thank you for your faith in us! Thank you for empowering us to be obedient to God’s call to “Go and make disciples!

We’re at 76%. Would you prayerfully considering investing in us and in our ministry to Cambodia? We’re almost there, but we still need more help! Visit wgm.org/romdenh or click the button below.
Support us financially!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Friday, June 16, 2017

Our Cambodian Family

Many of you have asked about Titus' family - Where do they live?  What do they do?  Etc.  Here, we introduce you to Titus' parents, five younger brothers, sisters-in-law, and nephews - our beautiful family in Cambodia, who we miss very much and pray for daily.


Dad's name is Romdenh Chamnan (in Cambodian culture, the family name is before the given name).  Pak (Dad) is a hard-working man who is currently working as a foreman in a rural province more than five hours from the rest of our family in Phnom Penh.  He has skills in architectural engineering, but it became difficult for him to find work in Phnom Penh when computers began to replace hand-drawings.  Earlier this week, Pak was very, very sick and we were afraid we wouldn't see him again.  While there is still risk of complications and a reoccurrence of his sickness, he is now recovering at home and we have hope that he will greet us when we return to Cambodia soon!  "Ta" is the Cambodian name for Grandpa, and Sophear loves her Ta!  Pak's family is Catholic.

 Mak on left; Aunt on right
Mom's name is Hem Sokly (in Cambodian culture, women do not take their husband's name).  Mak (Mom) has always been a stay-at-home mom, raising six sons and caring for our home.  Mak's family is Buddhist.


Chamraun is 33-years-old and drives a motorcycle taxi (called a moto dop).  When we visited Cambodia with Sophear in October/November 2015, Pou (Uncle) Raun was Sophear's favorite uncle because he gave her the most/best attention.  When we went to Angkor Wat for family vacation, Sophear spent most of the 7-hour drive on Chamraun's lap, and when we were touring the temples in very hot weather, I was very grateful for Pou Raun and all the uncles who had fun carrying her!


Chamnieng is 31-years-old and is married to Bopha and has two sons, Chamroat and Reaksmey.  Chamroat is maybe 13-years-old and Reaksmey (pictured) maybe 9-years-old.  Chamnieng washes dishes at a restaurant and Bopha is a garment worker (makes clothes in a factory).  They want to have a daughter one day!

Chamrong is 30-years-old and is married to Chantharet.  Chamnong and Chantharet have a little boy, Sovannareth, who is just 9 months younger than Sophear.  Chamnong and Chantharet also hope to have a daughter one day.


Chamnong is 27-years-old and is a very hard worker.  He was recently awarded "Employee of the Month" at V Hotel Phnom Penh, where he is working as bellman.


Titus' youngest brother, Chamnob, is 20-years-old and was born on Titus' 14th birthday.


Titus' family lives in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.  Although Titus spent some years living in a rural province, at least three generations of his family have called Phnom Penh their home.  When we move to Cambodia, we will also live in Phnom Penh.  Phnom Penh is 262 mi2 and is home to more than 1.5 million people.  We're not sure how close we'll live to our family, but we're excited to share life with them again!

As you can see, it is a family of BOYS!  Titus parents have six sons, four grandsons, and SOPHEAR!  She's a pretty special girl!

Please pray for our family - Pak and Mak, Chamraun, Chamnieng and Bopha, Chamrong and Chantharet, Chamnong, and Chamnob - because they are not Christians.  We pray that God will use Sophear, Chamnab, Titus, and I to open their hearts to Christ.






To see Christ glorified in our family
and in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Monday, June 12, 2017

You're the God of this city

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city

God has called us to ministry in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.  Watch this testimonial from Titus' May trip.



To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

Friday, June 9, 2017

Cambodian Buddhist Tradition of the Dead Body

Cambodia is a Buddhist country. In Buddhist culture, it is tradition to cremate the dead body. After death, the body is kept in the home in a closed coffin for two to four days. Lucky paper is burnt at the foot of the coffin. When the monks visit the body for a chanting ritual, the coffin is opened so the spirit can listen, but the face remains covered with a white cloth. After 2-4 days, the body is taken to the Buddhist temple (pagoda) for cremation. At the pagoda, the body is exposed for a farewell look, but the face remains covered. The body is cremated at the pagoda, the ashes are placed in an urn, and the urn is placed in a stupa on the pagoda’s property or sometimes at home. A white flag is displayed outside the family’s house for one week, and children of the deceased shave their heads and dress in white.

Phirum's stuppa

Pagoda
On Sunday, May 7th, after preaching at a fast-growing church plant in Phnom Penh city, my aunt (Phirum’s mother) and I rode in a taxi to Kompong Som province (140 miles, 4 hours drive) where Phirum’s wife and son live. We spent Monday morning at Phirum’s stuppa. Phirum’s wife asked me to burn incense - a gesture of paying one’s highest respects to Buddha or as an offering to Buddha for His blessing. I told her that I am a Christian, so she lit the incense on my behalf and placed the sticks in an incense pot. Phirum’s mother cried throughout our entire visit. She was quiet except for talking to the picture of her son displayed behind his urn.




Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 
John 11:25-26 

This is one of the reasons why we go back to Cambodia, we want the Cambodian people, who are living in the darkness of Satan's deceptions, to know and understand that religious belief cannot save them from their sins. God's grace alone can save them from their sins.


We are grateful to be called sons and daughters of the Living God! We know that one day we will see Him face to face.

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab