Saturday, December 31, 2011

Family Holiday Cooking Fun Photos part 3

sister making sushi rolls

Not pictured - lots of potatoes, mangos and Christmas cake, Christmas pudding

Family Holiday Cooking Fun Photos part 2

 Cooked pizza with brother

Family Holiday Cooking Fun Photos part 1

Mint toffee made from the mint in the garden

Sister making dessert


Cooking cambodian food with husband and brother

Friday, December 30, 2011

Musical chairs with food

by digitalart
Over the last there have been so many arrivals and departures of siblings (75%) and their families, as well as lots of food!
  So many "firsts" this year* as I mentioned on Jan 23.  And to add to that list this is:

-Soeun's first Christmas staying with Aussie family
-my first Christmas in Australia being in the middle generation rather than the 3rd/youngest (my grandparents have all passed away now, and now my parents are the grandparents- very weird!)
-first Christmas with no siblings in high school

First time to....* into Sydney in 9 years. Thai since I was in high school. in Australia not as a student since I was 5. as a married couple in Australia. on campus as a student's wife.
(I've lived on campus as a student in Australia, as a teacher in China and as a teacher's wife in Cambodia.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

is it an inner problem? it a migraine?!..its an inner ear migraine!!


This month I enjoyed getting to know some of our FOCUS students as we went to a conference together, and then served together afterwards at a Chinese church.

Reading the Bible with FOCUS friends (at conference)
Two of our students prepared their testimony to give at the Chinese church. Although I couldn't understand the final product, as it was in Chinese, it was really encouraging to watch them prepare for this.

Pork, preparing to feed lots of people at a Chinese church , part of the Christmas outreach
 One of the jobs the church we worked with gave us was to shave pigs belly. Apparently when you buy pork in bulk you need to get a cleaver and scrape off the hair before you cook it. We found this quite amusing, it was the first time any of us had done it. I also enjoyed smashing the hard boiled eggs to make tea eggs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

training event over, off to mission

Just spend the last few days at a Christian training event, it was great it lots of ways! Now we're all on missions, ie helping out in different churches. While we were at the training event we had to help usher everyone into the dining room. That wasn't part of the official training (we were there to learn about God and how to teach his word etc) but on our first night of mission the first thing our church explained to us was about how they want us to usher at one of the events.

Friday, December 02, 2011

never thought i'd be used to..

Pork, rice and pickled veg for breaky in Phnom Penh
 I never thought I'd get used to eating rice and meat for breakfast, but the last few years I ate pork almost every morning! I never thought I'd get used to having cold showers, but now I'm fine with it (I don't like doing it in Aust though as the water here is so cold). I wonder if I can get used to other things too?
Bible school students sleeping area on college mission 
It would make life easier for us if I didn't mind sleeping on hard wooden surfaces. I always try to find a mattress to sleep on if I can, and i'm always so happy to get back to my own bed ("a proper bed" i would call it) after travelling in Cambodia. I can't imagine ever choosing to lie down on tiles or wooden planks to sleep, I sometimes have to do it but I don't like it.

Thats how it used to be with cold showers and Asian breakfasts... but now I would choose them.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Happy, noting enjoyable things

Tonight cooking Cambodia food to eat with our housemates! It will be similar to this the dish we photo-explained here.
It might not be genuine Khmer food as Soeun won't have his usual cooking implements and surfaces, you can compare the photos here with an Aussie kitchen, a litte different.. anyway, it will be cooked by a genuine Cambodian. (more photos of the spices here)

Soeun has finished studying for the year. I borrowed a stack of ancient history related dvds from the local library for him, currently watching Time Team , its nice to hear him laugh.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sad, noting what we miss

The college campus we live on just had their end of year events, and now many of the students have left, others are here doing work around the college such as painting.

Seeing the students enjoying their end of year events, such as performing songs etc, and showing funny videos they made ("tribute preacher" so funny!!) reminded me of how fun it was when we were both students here before, and fully involved in campus life. I couldn't help but feel strongly how much Soeun has missed by being sick this year.

He doesn't have regular classes, so it was never going to be like the first time around anyway, but this week we've been feeling sad thinking of the relationships, music and sport he could have enjoyed if he hadn't been sick. (...and all the while he is also missing Cambodia, double missing this year- what we've left behind and what we expected to have).

As I walked around campus yesterday I saw lots of students doing painting and sanding etc, working for the college. That also made me feel sad, as Soeun had hoped to get a job in his summer break like last time, but now he can't.

Anyway, we're going ok generally, I just thought I'd make a note of these. There are lots of things we are thankful for this year, but it has been very different to how we expected.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

out of synch (did i say this already?this time last semester)

at this time of semester most of the students are finished exams so there are end of year events happening, like lawn mowing and library closing early...its weird for us as Soeun doesn't finish until the end of the week

cooking and eating with students

Dinner with students last night
 Last night hung out with students, cooked and ate together at their place. Today hung out with a Cambodian friend/student, cooked and ate at our place. Soeun came home for lunch and made himself soup, so I guess I was hanging out with 2 Cambodians- yay!
Cooking with Khmer people today
Soeun is not eating college food these days but cooking his own food to see if he can stop his dizziness that way. Its often tricky to time our food at the same time so it feel like we hardly eat any meals together. Sometimes we eat the same food, but we have already paid for the college food so I try to eat that as much as possible, and bring back bits that he may be able to eat (trying to stay away from preservatives, so plain fruit and veg is ok).

We didn't end up going to church on Sunday, Sundays always seem a really low part of the week. He asked me to give him gos kchol and then when back to sleep (no vomiting this week, although he felt like he was going to.)

one year since the stampede

Monday, November 21, 2011

FOCUS leadership team!

One of my favourite things about this year has been working with the other FOCUS leaders, some staff, some students. Today we had our first meeting with the team for next year. Both exciting and a bit sad: sad as some of the people we worked with year are leaving so aren't part of the team anymore (starting next year) and exciting starting to form our new team and get to know new team mates!! We had Indonesian food for lunch.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

sick of sickness...

At the start of the year we were going to have a get together at a friend's church, so we could catch up with our friends and supporters as we had just arrived back in Aust. We ended up cancelling it and have a low key thing near where we live because Soeun was sick. I remember thinking, "When Soeun gets better we'll be able to do stuff, get started with everything here properly."

Well, that  was about 9 months ago.....! Still waiting. Some things I've settled into, like my job (although with less commitments that originally planned). But other things like church, feels like we haven't really starting participating in yet.  I went to our Bible study group once, and I go to the morning service most Sundays, Soeun hasn't been for ages (about 2 months). I'm finding it really hard each Sunday morning waiting to see if he'll be feeling well enough to go, then the disappointment finding he isn't.

Today we decided to go to a service in the afternoon instead, see how that goes. I'm sad I missed church this morning, but at the same time relieved as I've begun to dread Sunday mornings (the leaving sick hubby at home by himself part of it).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Water festival?

The river changes direction, flowing the opposite way at this time of year in Cambodia. Phnom Penh gets really crowded as people come from all over the country to race boats and celebrate Water Festival/ Bon Om Touk. We usually do a huge food shop before hand and stay home away from the crowds, the last few years we've been flooded in anyway.

National boat races happen every year in Phnom Penh at this time of year.
Last year a few hundred people died in a stampede during this crowded festival. Someone we knew was caught up in it, they got out alive, but with a really horrible story. Here is the link to what I was blogging at the time, as the news unfolded.

Our street in Phnom Penh this time in 2008, instead of motorbikes, floating things became preferred method of transport. Fishing was also popular. 
Giving Soeun a lift to work during "floody season".
The Phnom Penh Post had this article yesterday:

"The annual Water Festival is reviving memories of the hundreds of people killed last year in the stampede on the bridge to Diamond Island. Many survivors say they cannot block the images of tragedy from flashing in their minds and creeping into their dreams... click to see all

I'm not sure what festival is like this year, normally its a big celebration, not sure if that will still be the case? Also we heard that it might have been going to be cancelled due to the bad flooding this year. Hard to imagine?
oh stop press, just found this article which says its still on but not as big as normal

Sun never sets on Little China

I went to small shop down the road to buy eggs. I couldn't  see them so i asked the girl at the counter. "Do you have eggs?" she said "what?" i said "eggs". "what"? "eggs"? finally i attempted to say it in chinese (ji dan) and she understood me and said "oh, you mean eggs!"
A Facebook friends suggested "Maybe we all need to learn Chinese?" 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

limping, brick dump, laughing

Sunday morning we were feeling so sick of Soeun being sick, feel like we are limping through this year. Felt disappointed he wasn't coming to church again (due to his sickness), esp as the last 2 weekends I was out all weekend without him, each time he couldn't come out it was disappointing, and then we get to the end of the weekend and feel like I've been out the whole time and he's been home sick by himself. Almost didn't go to church as I'm so sick of going out while he is at home feeling unwell.

Then in the afternoon we found out some stuff which felt like a huge load of bricks had been dumped on us, felt stressed, maybe started to feel a bit anxious again. Neither of us slept well on Sunday night.

But very thankful we both had lots of fun yesterday. Soeun played soccer in the rain. It was great he was able to play and it didn't make his dizziness worse (almost 2 weeks not eating college food, a suspected trigger). In Cambodia he played soccer or volley ball about 5 days a week.

I had a great day at work, really enjoy my colleague's company (lots of laughing) and the stuff in staff training is so interesting. It was a really refreshing break from thinking about anxious stuff and sick stuff.

And today I had an exhilarating walk home in the rain too!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

cooking photos

Snails flavoured with a Cambodian curry mix, photos from when we made it in Cambodia see here.
And from today, Soeun cooked some pork flavoured with a similar mix of herbs and spices, it here on our food blog.


Some enjoyable things about being in Aust:
 As soon as I open the door I can smell these small white flowers. I don't remember ever seeing them before, but these days they seem to be every where.
 Green and walkable spaces in the city! Phnom Penh is like one big construction site. Parks and walk ways don't make money so I think they are considered a waste of space so we are enjoying walking around the city in Australia. (Also in Cambodia it's either too hot or pouring rain or flooded.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

a great day!

Thanks for those of you who have been praying for us.

Recently we had a nice day out, a meal paid by someone else and time together enjoying footpaths and parks, something we miss when we are in Cambodia. With ongoing unwellness and everything a lot of the time we're not really happy to be here, so it it was nice to have a day when we both felt really happy and enjoyed Aussie things!

Straddling two worlds

A story on the news explained that some people in Aust. had their water pressure reduced. A lady was interviewed and she said it had been hard to have a shower and use the washing machine.

I felt like laughing. When the lady turned her shower on to show the so called low pressure it didn't look that bad to me. In Cambodia our water pressure was so low sometimes no water came out at all. We must have been used to it cos we only really noticed it when Aussie visitors discovered it for themselves and asked us why the water stopped while they were showering. 

And when we visited friends and family outside of Phnom Penh there wasn't any water pressure to worry about when showering as there was no shower and certainly no washing machine.

But it is a problem here in Australia, the news went on to explain how it effected businesses and fire safety. 

I guess this is one of the many things I struggle to get my head around as a person trying to straddle a rich and a poor country.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Just in the last few days I've started describing Soeun's undiagnosed sickness as chronic and debilitating. It's helped to have words to describe it. Other than that we don't really have a name for it. This makes  it hard to explain it to people, and we need to explain it as it impacts our life here so much.

So we need to start planning in the light of that, not going against the flow thinking, next week will be better, next week.. next week, we'll start XYZ when he gets better.

(Yesterday we were explaining to a friend all the ways it has impacted out life and he said- it sounds debilitating. And i thought of chronic a few days ago when I realised it had been about 8 months.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Bloggers impression of how Soeun see Australia this year (from this site)
My poor husband has been feeling unwell all year, I've hated to see him often dizzy and not able to either relax or study. (And the bad headache in June was terrifying.)

I've also just recently realised that one thing I find hard about this is that it's almost like he has a different personality this year. Due to the sickness he hasn't been able to be himself, I miss him! When will I get my husband back!?

I miss seeing him laugh and hearing other people laugh at his jokes.

As he got sick just when he got to Australia he hasn't had the chance to really get to know people, so I feel like the communities we are part of this year don't know the real him. I was so looking forward to this year in Australia as a time when we could really be part of a church together, and when we could visit my family and get to know them etc etc, but it has been so different to how I had hoped.

The Real Kimsoeun (pre 2011)
His sickness has also meant it's hard to plan ahead and make and keep commitments. It depends on the day how his health is. Like last Sunday we were invited to visit a church to share about Cambodia. We said that we would go, and we planned what we would do for our spot in the service, but on he day he didn't go. Disappointing! And frustrating for him.

I actually feel ok about it today, some days are ok, some even more than ok (like May 7) but this is the general pattern of the year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Soeun went to another doctor today, a different gp. We went over his whole medical history from this year, now have some ideas of what to investigate.


I was on a bus with a group of people and we ended up going to the beach. I felt a bit bewildered and annoyed as I hadn't know we were going to the beach so I hadn't brought any beach stuff. It seemed like everyone else was prepared, how come I didn't know about it?

When I woke up yesterday and realised it was a dream I was so relieved. But I guess thats the feeling I've had all year since coming back to Aust. I feel like everyone else knows what to do and its assumed I do too, but a lot of the time things are surprising.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

home. comfort. confused.

Would you rather live in an apartment that has....

.... hot running water,
                 or one with cold only?
.... a stable electricity supply,
                or one where the power randomly goes off for hours at a time throughout the week?

I would have thought I would go for the first option but still really missing the house we lived in in Cambodia. Even though here I can use the washing machine anytime and have hot showers, even after about 8 months here, still really really missing our place in Cambodia. Before we left I wrote this about it, and back in May I noted that I was missing having a place that felt like home (see here.)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

When I was in high school I was starting to think about being a missionary, but there were two big scary things I couldn't imagine doing, seemed like hurdles I didn't think I could get over.

They were:  learning and functioning in another language, and support raising (ie not getting paid by an employer but living off what other Christians give you).

At this point in time I have a very different experience of these 2 things compared to what I thought it was going to be like.

Not only have they not been hurdles, they are actually 2 ongoing parts of my "job description" that I actually really enjoy!

We've recently made some visits to Bible study groups and its been a really encouraging time. I guess when I was starting out in support raising I was just wondering how on earth I would get enough money to live on. That hasn't been a problem at all, and there is so much else to support raising, or partnership development.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tonight for dinner I'm eating pizza i just made, and Soeun is eating chicken wings (with rice) he just marinated. We often eat different thing, although last few days we have been eating the same dishes.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Last weekend we got to do lots of things I was wishing we could do last semester. So great we can finally be doing this stuff. We visited a Bible study group from our church and got to share, following up on our visit to that group last July, we went to visit a nearby church with some newly arrived Chinese students, I got to catch up with a Chinese girl who I used to meet with, etc etc.

Monday, September 19, 2011

FOCUS, home away from home

Recently I was with a group of native English speakers. I said something that is usually greeted with laughter, but these guys just looked at me really weirdly. I realised its the sort of joke that works when I'm in Cambodia with a group of Cambodian, or a work (FOCUS) with a group of international people.

FOCUS, home away from home

That's how we label our student ministry, hopefully it is a place international students can feel at home while they are away from their home country. I really enjoy spending time with the FOCUS community- international students, local students who come to help and the other staff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"narrow heart"- language fun!

I think I learnt a new Khmer phrase recently! I was having lunch with a Cambodian girl and she was describing some people, she said in Khmer that they are narrow hearted. I think it means something like selfish. Later Soeun told me that "wide heart" means something like generous. That reminded me of my other posts such as this:

In Khmer to encourage someone is to lift up their heart, 
and when your
 heart is down it means you are sad. 
Its pretty similar in English, but other heart phrases are opposite.

If you have a
 big heart in Khmer it means you are proud, 
whereas in English is to do with kindness.

Someone with a
 hot heart is a bad person, but in English a warm hearted person is someone you want to be around.

A heavy heart in Khmer means you are persevering, while a light heart means you aren't standing your ground. Maybe like a feather in the wind, it is light so it gets blown around easily, while a heavy rock will stand firm. 

A Chinese friend shared this with me after reading the previous one on Khmer hearts:

In Chinese, if you have no heart means you are careless; 
if your heart is small means you are careful; 
if your heart is black in colour means you curse someone; 
if your heart is open means you are very happy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

building bathroom part 2

Mum's well, now with pipes going to the house!

 Under the house they now have a toilet room, and a washing room. Kimsoeun also installed a pump upstairs so they can have water in the house without having to carry buckets up there.

Khmer house

 Typical things you might find under a Khmer house:
*something that looks like a bed but isn't used for a bed
*something that doesn't look like a kitchen but is used for a kitchen
*random stray dog

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Village life

Lots of bananas in Cambodia, but bathroom cupboards are really a thing. 

Family's house where the Christians meet on Sunday

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

learning the Christian culture here

Since I got back from Cambodia and re joined the particular type of Christian community here some things have stood out. One is that there are so many conferences and conferences type things, going away with other Christians to hear talks seems like its the norm.

The other is that there are certain names of famous Christian teachers who everyone seems to know and listen to/read/ quote etc. Some of them I had kind of heard of before but I didn't realise that people talked about them all the time.

Things have got a bit hysterical this week. At least one famous name is speaking at some conferences. There are about 3 big things in a row- one on the weekend, one early this week, and then a one night thing. Its such a big thing at least 2 Bible colleges have adjusted their classes to fit around them.

Christian teaching is great, but as a semi outsider it's slightly amusing and confusing getting back into the Sydney thing. I guess this is one of the reasons we came back to Aust, Sydney a place to "refill", so many good resources like this for us to take advantage of as we prep for Cambodia.

new friends and goodbyes (revised)

So I've been in Australia for about half a year now, at the start of the year we did big goodbyes to old friends and old places, then big hellos to new friends, places and activities. So by now I shouldn't have to say "Hi my name's Katherine" multiple times a day, right?


 My FOCUS small group is made up of mainland Chinese students who are new to FOCUS, many new to Australia this month. Also usually a meal time at home involves people asking me who I am.

So still getting to know new people, and I've just had another round of goodbyes too. About 7 of the people I saw throughout the week last semester have left (2 have left Sydney, the others gone back to Asia, most were students in my small groups and one colleague).

And soon one couple will move out of our house and a new couple will move in (they're Asian! our house will be half Asian)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

old friends

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend from 2005. It was nice to spend time with someone whose known me longer  than half a year! As we were talking I realised she knew lots of old friends of mine (some she had just heard about, but asked me questions about how they were and stuff). It reminded me of a whole other world!

on Wednesday at FOCUS...

Met people from the province I lived in in China! I've met stacks of Chinese people in Aust, but these are the first ones from that province.

Monday, August 22, 2011

more refreshment

On Saturday went to a supporters afternoon tea for a girl in my  Bible college year. As I said in an earlier post, quite a few of my year left for overseas just a few months before I got back to Aust. It was very kind of J to wait until I was back so I can be part of her sending off time! ;) It was great to have the time and energy to go, and an interesting experience to be sitting down listening to someone else talking about their OS plans.

"Don't panic, but.."
was something I heard someone say just before the afternoon began. I'm pretty sure that phrase will have the opposite effect on the hearer.

This weekend I also had the opportunity to do some recreational cooking at home. Usually the place I live is my favourite place to be to relax and recharge, but this year struggling with that. Making cinnamon twists and choc choc  chip biscuits helped.

And today I happily accidently bumped into a Cambodia girl I've recently been getting to know. She shared her Indian curry lunch with me- possibly my first time to eat indian food cooked by a Cambodian? I gave her a choc chip biscuit. Hopefully one day we can visit and cook together. In Cambodia I had an English class that morphed into a cooking group in the holidays, I tried to teach foreign food in Cambodian language. One of the fun things I realised I miss as we talked today.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Recently I've had the opportunity to do some things I thought I would have already done by now. It's great to finally be doing these refreshing things! This week I had dinner with a friend who also recently came back to Australia. We swapped re- entry stories and talked about all sorts of losses.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

questions international students ask me

Australia is known as a rich, stable government, why do they treat refugees and indigenous people so badly?
Why don't people in Australia have a sleep after lunch?

Friday, August 12, 2011


Today I ate lunch with the people I live with! It was nice to chat.

 Mostly we only talk when one of us is on our way in or out, so there's not time to stop for long.

The rest of our communication is when we are trying to use the kitchen at the same time (3 couples, one fridge), or when I'm asking them to turn the TV down (our bedroom is right next to it), or by way of white board notes.

Today was our 2nd time this year to eat together- although I missed most of the first time as I was at work.

It's been hard all year having limited freezer space (Soeun and I were allocated the freezer door). So we wanted to buy a small chest freezer, but we couldn't just go out and get one as the college has to give us permission, so we needed to wait for them to have a meeting.

We recently found out that they worked out the freezer capacity per person for those of us in this type of housing. It turns out we have much less freezer space per person, so much so that it sounds like the college will buy a freezer for the house.

This is what my freezer in Cambodia looked like.
I kept it full of bread, meat and meals that I'd cooked. I'm mostly preparing food for 1, maybe 2 so it works out really this year I've found it hard. End up throwing out lots of left overs, so feel next time buy take away, but that feels wasteful too...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

natural light!

I recently stayed somewhere that has windows with trees and sky on the other side! I felt happy and relaxed to wake up and eat breakfast in natural light! It's so nice to see grass and sky! In Cambodia our house had windows with grass and sky outside, so it was a nice place to relax. Frosted windows and brick walls aren't quite as nice.

Monday, August 01, 2011

poo soup

I was recently informed by my beloved husband that I ate poo soup last March! I tagged along on a Bible school trip to visit the Pnong people in Mondulkiri province, you can see some photos etc here. (may need to scroll down)

One of the people we were staying with had gone out and came back with a deer to eat. The part I didn't know was that they cooked and served the intestines without cleaning them!


On Saturday we had lunch in the unexpected sunshine with some new students from a few different countries. It was great to get to know some people who just arrived here last week, and hear their impressions of Australia and see them learning how to do things in their new environment.

A Cambodian girl came, and it was so great to spend time with her! It was so fun to have a Cambodian at a FOCUS event. When she told me she was coming I was excited of course, but when we were actually spending time together it was even better than I had thought it would be, familiar. Someone asked me if it made me miss Cambodia  more, and it kind of did, but in a good way. Somehow being around her and the familarness of relating to a Cambodian reminded me that Cambodia is still there and I'll be going back one day.

I think maybe I have been missing Cambodia and feeling like it has all gone forever, cos at the moment I'm in a totally new environment. But spending time with her reminded me there's still 14 million people living in the Khmer Kingdom!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


"yes..yes..yes..." is what I kept saying to my mother in law on the phone last night. She was talking a lot and I wasn't really trying to understand (remember she's not speaking my native language). Later I was told I had agreed to giving her 5 grand children.

Friday, July 29, 2011

must have got used to it

I spent all those years in Cambodia feeling irritated and sore cos Cambodian usually sit on hard backless surfaces. Usually people don't have couches, rather they hang out on a flat wooden platform that looks like a bed (and sometimes is a bed). Or sitting on tiled floors. I was always looking for some where to rest my back, or find something soft to sit on.

But yesterday I had a work meeting in a tiled room. Once the meeting started I realised that I had chosen to sit on the floor (with nothing to lean back on) even though there was an empty chair next to me and an empty couch on the other side of me. ???? strange but true

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Church visit almost over

This afternoon I sat in on an ESL class the church runs, before going to church where I had the opportunity to share what we are up to, as well as to re meet lots of old ppl and see their grown up kids, and meet new people. Its been a great and exhausting week, I think I shared at about 10 groups and 2 services so far, 2 more tomorrow. It's been great to get to know some of the people who are here now, and see what is happening, some exciting things and some hard things such as sickness and saying goodbye to a member of the staff team.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

going the opposite way

A few of my my Bible college classmates from 2005 have just gone to live in  various parts of Asia.
It's been interesting for me to read their newsletters as they adjust to Asia, while I'm re adjusting to Australia. A particular newsletter had a paragraph about ants that made me laugh out loud as recently a community I'm part of here in Aust had a battle with ants. 

Being just back from Cambodia I didn't really get why those Aussies were doing what they were doing (battling ants), but when I read my the newsletter of a Aussie who has just moved to Thailand I understoond a bit:

✴ants are not considered a pest, even if 
they are crawling everywhere in your 
house.  My host family didn’t worry about 
ants in their food at all and just ate them. 
In fact they were bemused when I fished 
them out: ‘oh don’t you eat ants?‘ 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

week away visiting church

I'm spending this week with the church I grew up in. I'm staying with a family, and visiting different Bible study groups and things each day. It's exciting to see what's happening here, the holiday kids club seems to be bigger and better each year, young people getting trained, youth group thriving. Its been great for me to remember how I was feeling this time last year, (I visited last July too)- we were planning to come to Australia for a few years but it was really scary. It felt like jumping off a cliff as we kept making plans in that direction but still didn't know how we were going to pay for it. Its great that this has all worked out!

This afternoon I had afternoon tea with about 15 or so older ladies. It was a bit of a cross cultural experience for me- fancy tea cups and lovely baked goods. I got there 15 min early as I was sharing, but i found they were all already there!!!!! Lots of talk about grand kids and whether or not they would be having any more of them.

This evening I visited the older youth Bible study, it was quite a contrast to the afternoon tea. Lots of loud laughing and no tea cups in sight. Hot dogs for dinner, and study on being sexually pure.

Also some sadness this week, one family has some major health things happening now.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Out of synch

Out of sync (photo from here)
 Have you ever been in a 3 legged race that wasn't working? We feel a bit like that sometimes this year.

One of the things is that we live with students but both of us have quite different time tables normal full time students. So when they are stressed with exams we're not, when they are on holidays we are approaching deadlines.  I'm not a student at all, and although Soeun is a full time student he doesn't have exams, or holidays and rarely has class. So we often feel like we don't know what is going on. We have to keep reminding ourselves of what everyone else is doing, as what is happening on campus and in our house effects us too.

Recently Soeun tried to take a week off study (at the same time as I had a week off work), but he ended up getting sick again, as he was earlier in the year. It was frustrating for both of us as he didn't get any study or rest that week, mostly in pain and spent a lot of time at doctors and hospital. By the end of it we were quite exhausted! I was not refreshed and ready to go back to work!

This happened to be at the same time as the students had just finished exams. I found it hard being outside as everyone was running around changing bedrooms as they have to at the end of semester, and celebrating the end of exams and the start of holidays.  You can imagine how it was for us when people kept saying to us "have a good break, bye!" and the campus went into holiday mode, people playing music a bit louder and longer than they normally would.

Three legged race
Since then it hasn't been so bad. I've been spending my weekdays in the library on campus- with all the students away its nice to have the library to myself! And although we share our kitchen and living room with 4 others who have been on holidays, they haven't been having lots of late night loud parties or anything!
Deadlines and changes later this week, can't decide if I hope this week would go slowly or fast.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Lunch cooked by Bengali friend

  When a friend from Bangladesh invited me over and said she would cook lunch I wasn't sure what kind of food to expect, never having been to her country. Here is what she made for us to eat! yum! Maybe i should go to Bangladesh, this food is yummy!

Creamy pasta and garlic bread

Thursday, July 07, 2011

FOCUS events

Last night we went to kareoke and then to a Korean restaurant. It was really fun!I was the only non-Asian so it was fun to try to sing Chinese songs  (I wouldn't have been so brave if my non-Asian colleauge had been there, he actually knows Chinese, which means I look less impressive when the only charcters I can read in the song are "I", "You", "no" etc).

 Lots of people have asked me what my job involves, and I've been meaning to blog about if for ages. This month the students are on holidays so we have weekly holiday events. Last night was the first one, and next Wednesday I'll be doing a seminar about the whole Bible and how it fits together.

Here is a rough idea of my Semester 1 timetable (the semester that just finished).

Staff equip- like a mini Bible college session for others who do the same job as me on two different campuses
Putting up posters around uni to adverstise our events
Staff meetings

Public meeting and prayer meeting for all of the AFES group (local students)

Public meeting for international students, FOCUS, lunch together and FOCUS leaders meeting

Thursday and Friday
Small groups for Bible study with Christian and non Christian international students. Training session for small group leaders. Meeting with a student to help her with her English. Meeting with people one to one, to pray etc.

Friday, July 01, 2011

from drought to flood

I'm not talking about Australia's natural disasters, rather my experience of Christian friends at church. Over the last 5 years church has been hard- its all in a language I only understand a little of, so its always and exhausting day (Sundays), so getting to know people take a long time. I really missed the fellowship aspect of church when I was in Cambodia.

Now, I go to a church that is so big. There are lots of strangers but also lots of friends , old and new. So I'm really thankful for that, and I really enjoy it. But also finding it really hard, having gone from one extreme to another. Sundays are still so exhausting but for a different reason.

(btw thanks if you emailed me recently, don't be offended if i haven't emailed you back, i have a few extra things to do this week than i expected less access to a computer at the moment)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Soeun's health summary/update- now waiting

Soeun was sick all last week, we have been to the doctor many times over the last few months and ended up going twice last week and spending a day in hospital. The cause of symptoms is still unknown but many things have been ruled out.

Our next step is to wait and try the migraine medicine he just got on Saturday, and also to wait for his appointment with EarNose Throat doctor on July 8th. Please pray we can find the cause and manage his pain.

Thankful for all the people who have been helping us throughout this time, and being patient with us. If feel like there are lots of things we have said we will do/ and have wanted to do, but we just don't have the capacity to do.

Feel tired and stressed about this.

His sickness could also be due to a combo of allergy/stress/change in diet and environment. These are harder to pinpoint.
So after the events of last week Soeun and I are having trouble getting into this week. He has been trying to read for his essay which is finally wrote a question for, that his teacher was happy with, but the whole being sick going to the hospital thing is taking awhile to get over. I'm having trouble concentrating or something, I don't know know how to describe it, but yesterday was better than Monday so hoping today will be even better.
My laptop seems to have died, it is about 7 years old and spent time in heat and dust, so no surprise. Just means Soeun and I have to take shifts on the one laptop.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

hospital part 2

We only had to wait half an hour in emergency before we saw a doctor. And everything was bulk billed!


Spent the day in hospital, from 9.30 to 5.30ish. Exhausted, neck and head sore, feel a bit disoriented or something. Its a whole other world in there, its weird being out......and I wasn't even the patient and I didn't even get bad news. I can't imagine what it would be like if I was, it was a weird enough day as it was.

Soeun had a ct scan, and it turns out there is nothing scary lurking in his brain according to the neurologist.

He's feeling mostly ok, headache finally seems to have gone, a bit gross from the stuff he had in him for the scan etc, and his back seems to have got sore since he started the new meds but doctor said not to worry.

So after a rest tomorrow he will hopefully be healthy enough to finally get into the 4000 words he is going to write over the next few weeks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

this evening is much better

thanks for your prayers and concern!

i spent the afternoon wondering if we should go to the hospital and go to emergency (actually i 've been thinking that since yesterday morning), stressful


for the last hour or so Soeun has been sitting on the couch, said he felt the pain had eased, not quite back to normal but heaps heaps heaps heaps better.
So maybe the migraine meds are working????which could mean we are at the end of our search .... or it could be the natural end of his headache, they don't normally last for more than a week and its been about a week... or it could just be that its the evening, so far it seems like its worse in the mornings


He doesn't have all the symptoms of migraines but the doctor said to try cafergot and meto something, if they help then it is a migraine , if not it still could be but might not be.

Went to the doctor again

So thankful this morning Soeun was able to get out of bed, we saw the doctor around 10am.

We came away with a form for a ct scan and prescription for migraine meds (2 diff ones).

He took them at 11.30, then he vomited 45 min later on the way home.

I was a bit worried about that but he put an ice pack on his head and went to bed.

he finally ate some rice around 2/3 and had another capsule.

He's got an appointment for the scan on friday, i wish we could get it done sooner though, he's head is still bad and this is the 7th day. I rang the doc when we got home, as I was worried as he seemed to be getting worse. The doctor said to go to emergency at hospital if it gets worse, but we should wait a bit as he vomited only 45 min after taking meds.

Friday, June 24, 2011

end of the day update

This morning was scary and painful, but the rest of the day was less "exciting", just kind of yucky and confusing. We have an appointment with the same GP tomorrow morning. We only just saw him on Monday, and up until today thought we should just be waiting to see the ENT next month.
But this mornings headache was a bit alarming, and he also vomited.
Please pray Soeun will be well enough to get there tomorrow, and for the doctor to be wise.
almost 2 hours after taking med, he is out of bed, still has headache and doesn't want to go out, but seems a bit better than before, hanging out to see ENT doc and see if he has any clues
Soeun seems to be in more pain today than before, I can't really tell cos he's not really talking. The only thing he's said was in response to my question "our housemate said she can drive us to emergency room at hospital", he doesn't want to go- i don't think he even wants to get out of bed. As he has already seen a few doctors he doesn't see what seeing another one would do. I think we are hanging out for the ENT appt next month.
He took some stranger drugs and is going back to sleep.

Soeun is into his 6th day of headache- not happy? What can he take? Is panadine ok? Why didn't the chemist want to sell me any?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

eating chocolate - yay!
 husband has headache- boo!
watched confronting tv show on sbs click here

Monday, June 20, 2011

still dizzy

Went to the doc again today. Still don't know why Soeun is dizzy. He doesn't feel like eating sometimes cos he feels like he will vomit (he did vomit when the dizziness started in March), and feel like someone is blowing into his ear, as well as ringing in his ear. All the tests he has been having over the last few months haven't shown any reason why he would be dizzy , although we have found out other things we need to keep an eye on. But he's sick of being dizzy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

one semester down

Well I keep meaning to write about my typical week to give you an idea of what my job involves. People often ask me, so I thought my weekly timetable would be a good thing to put on here, so watch out for that soon. Although now students are doing exams so my timetable will be all over the place for the next month or so, but I'll post my semester 1 timetable.

I'm starting to feel a bit anxious about June and July, without the structure of semester time, I've got all this stuff to do, will it fit into the time i have?

 I think this year any sort of change makes me feel a bit stressed, I was just getting into the swing of things and now its all changing again!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

tired, even though all i did last 2 days was sitting down in the same room, a staff mtg on thurs and a FOCUS mtg today

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

toilet update

Well, it turns out my mother in law won't be getting a toilet anytime soon. It cost more than she thought, and its hard to build at this time of year anyway. Its rainy season, so the ground is too full of water to dig and install pipes or whatever. It will be rainy until around November.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Imagine not having a toilet

A common type of toilet, often manual flush

My mother in law is having a toilet built out the back of her house. She moved to her new house in a village about 4 months ago and hasn’t had a toilet all this time. I couldn’t imagine living in a house with a toilet, but for many people that’s the norm. We visited that village a few years ago, we didn't stay with a family there as we didn't know anyone with toilet. When Kimsoeun visits by himself, he doesn't mind staying there, but when I went we stayed in a guest house in a near by town.

Although she's past the Cambodian life expectancy age, she gets her water by pulling it out of a well in a bucket, and they don't have electricity either. 

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Can I study the Bible?

Last week I had my last Friday small group of semester, and today I had my last Thursdays ones. On Friday we had about 7 people in the group, but both my groups only had one student each today, both from China, and (unusually) both Christians.

After one of them, a girl I had never met before came over to me. She was studying at a nearby table and I guess she had heard us talking about 1 Thess. She asked me if I knew where she could study the Bible from the beginning.

It turns out she is also from China, and happens to have the same (Chinese) name as the girl in my small group today.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

small groups ending, exams looming

This week most of us finish up our small groups for this semester. I just dug out a photo of my first ever AFES small group that I was part of when I was in first year. I’ve moved 12 times since then, and I still have the photo!

Monday, June 06, 2011

general update

I had a really encouraging and fun weekend at a work conference, was feeling heaps less anxious- but then once I got back to where we live I was reminded of the things I'm finding hard. But generally things are heaps better than before. Soeun has been able to adjust some things to make it all more doable. I've found people to talk to.

Anyway, some fun things, been reading books and watching DVDs from the library. Such as Jeffery Archer's Cat O'Nine tales and Executive Stress. Also we walked around and looked at lights the other nights, part of Vivid Sydney.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011

uncomfortable everywhere- unformed thoughts from today (written on monday)

I feel uncomfortable in Cambodia because I'm so rich.

And I feel uncomfortable here in Aust as I'm not sure how to cope when I'm relating to other rich people who don't seem to notice they are rich. I even feel a bit bad writing that sentence as it could come across as arrogant. I guess I've had particular experiences that they haven't so its logical that I will have a different perspective.

Australia doesn't feel like home, yet I know I'll always be an outsider in Cambodia. So maybe I'm always going to feel uncomfortable where ever I am, perhaps one aspect of this is to do with being rich.

I find it uncomfortable being so rich. In Cambodia I'm so so rich. This morning in staff training we were talking about the uneven distribution of wealth in the world, and how we are in the top minority, we're the rich people of the world.

I've heard people say that missionaries feel rich when they are in their adopted country, but then feel like poor people of the society when they return to Australia, as Aussies are so rich. In someways we do feel that, as our living space in Cambodia was much bigger (teachers accommodation, our own kitchen, spare bedroom etc whereas here we live in student dorm type place, not allowed to have ppl stay over, share a kitchen).

But at the moment I'm not feeling poor at all- even though my support level is only at 40% I'm actually feeling really rich. I think maybe it's due to things like

-being able to go to the doctor and have blood tests without paying a months wages, and worrying why am I spending so much on this when my family and friends who I interact with each day could never afford such a luxury - I think I've mentioned on this blog before- I LOVE MEDICARE!!!

-free drinking water out of the tap!!

- nice public toilets, private, with toilet paper and a tap to wash your hands- even soap and towel/dryers

-libraries, being able to borrow books and dvds for free (its hard for me to things to read for fun in Cambodia) i really want to read stuff so i find myself buying books from a second hand books shop, but i only ever read them once, and when i move have to get rid of them anyway, so it feels like a waste of money

-rich generous Christian friends who help us, eg giving us clothes, doonas, rice cooker etc etc

- my "normal" food isn't expensive foreign food, milk, breakfast food like corn flakes are considered basics by many here, if i were to eat them at my mum in laws place she may wonder why i was spending so much money on food!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


We own no furniture, white goods etc, but have about 14 bags

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Church weekend away

The water was so clear Soeun captured this fish (on camera).
Our church spent the weekend together by the water! We went for the Saturday. It was great to have time with people from church as we are excited about getting to know people and getting involved. It was also frustrating for me, as many things are these days. I feel like I've had an arm chopped off. I'm used to being able to do things like get to know people but these days I don't have that capacity (scroll down my other re entry blog posts if you want to know more).
The other simile that came to mind was that it was like being at an all-you-an-eat buffet but with a tummy bug, so not being able to enjoy the food. I've since found out that another church was at a nearby conference centre, and heaps of them are still recovering from the weekend as they have been vomiting!
We were hanging out on this jetty thing, and Soeun was changing his SIM from his local one to the one he uses to call overseas. He dropped the overseas one and it fell through the cracks and into the water. It had about 8$ on it so he went into the icy water after it. He rescued it and it still works!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A day off the treadmill and a helpful question

Excited to see this sign- in Cambodia usually you are not allowed on the grass.
These photos are from last Saturday. We went for a walk in the city/botanic gardens. I think it was our first nice day since we got here!!!     Thanks to everyone who has been praying for us. I feel like people keep suggesting we should have a holiday, but Soeun doesn't have time or energy for that this semester, but we did have this one day holiday. 
               "What do you most miss about Cambodia?" I was asked recently by a returned missionary. After thinking about this and talking to Soeun about it, I feel a lot less stressed, in some ways. I realised I've lost something I really really like, so of course I'm sad etc.

Walking on the grass!!

To answer the question: Rewind 4 years, back to when we first got married, a few months before I started this blog. We moved into a duplex house in Phnom Penh. I was SO SO happy to know I'd be living with the same person in the same house for four years, in the country that I plan to live.

The years between when I finished school/left my parents home and when I got married I lived in many different places in 3 different countries. I was always living some where for 6 months- 18 months, just to do something and be on my way to something else.  Felt really unsettled and homeless. And its very emotionally exhausting living with different people all the time.

But when we got married I felt like I could really settle down and invest emotionally. We plan to live in Cambodia long term, so as well as having a "permanent housemate" I had a country to live in and learn about, knowing that the hard work of learning now would be worth it in the long term. Before that I had always felt like I was waiting until I move to whatever country I would be living in, it was hard to feel at home anywhere.
So great having green space in middle of city!
So now that we have packed up our house, and left Cambodia for a few years, the happiness of feeling at home and settled is gone. Mostly Australia is a place we come to do some things, once we get our list ticked off we can go back and set up home again. At the moment I feel as if we are living out of a bag, rather than unpacked and living here. For example last week Soeun bought some preaching books. They were on special, and they will be a good resource for him in the future. But I felt anxious when I saw them. I don't want to start accumulating things here. We just got rid off all our stuff back in Cambodia, it was hard and it took ages to chuck stuff/sell stuff/give stuff away and try to find places to store his books etc. I know if a few years time we'll have to do that all again here. I'm so sick of having to move countries, the less stuff we have the better is my feeling at the moment. I think later on, the memory of getting rid of stuff will fade and I'll be more willing to get stuff.

So right now I'm really missing the feeling of being at home. As well as trying to adjust to this new environment: new space to live in, new people to relate to, and new ways of relating and a billion other different new things both visible and invisible.  Mean while Soeun is also trying to cope with being overseas and being sick, having some big responsibilities back home, new study, sickness. So both of us going through all these things together has been quite hard. Hopefully one day it won't be this hard.
And a lot of the time I feel like we shouldn't feel this stressed. I've been here for more than 3 months now, I should feel normal by now. So then I start feeling even more anxious because I'm worried about why I feel anxious.....Last week Soeun and I talked to a couple about all our stresses. It was great having some one to listen to us and pray for us. One helpful thing for me was being told we are going through a stressful period, so of course we feel stressed.

Often in casual conversation with the many people I see each week, I feel like people think we should be settled now (maybe that's my own expectation, not sure anyone has actually said/thought that). I guess it's hard/inappropriate to acknowledge/explain in small talk that we are going through something really big. If our house had burnt down, it would be as easier thing for people to understand. (I'm really glad our house hasn't burnt down- that would be horrible!)
Just to prove we're in Australia!