Thursday, May 28, 2009

Family Devotions, 4-Year-Old Preachers, etc.

To give a glimpse into our family life, I wanted to share on the theme of family devotions. Though our devotions schedule is far from regular, spending this kind of time together has proved to be be a special and enjoyable for us. It's a challenge to keep them meaningful for the adults and relevant for the kids. So, what's it look like? Well, we often have a short time of reading a Bible story, singing a couple songs together, and prayer. We are currently using a children's Bible story book and then each night one of the three oldest members of the family gets to choose a song (usually from a CD) that we sing along to. We don't sit around and solemnly sing, however. Most times we're burning off some of our supper calories by dancing around together. Juliana and Kai love to move to the music.

Bethany reading and Juliana checking out the pictures.

Daddy loves singing and dancing with his two little ones.

Other recent tidbits about the kids...

Juliana recently got a hair cut, a pretty significant one too. In the hot weather, having her hair off her neck will help to prevent the heat rash that she's often had in the past.

The new and improved Juliana!

One of Juliana's recent pretend activities has been leading church services. It's kind of a one-person show. She plays the roles of moderator, worship leader, and preacher.

"Testing, testing; is this on?"

Juliana makes a joyful noise and leads "the congregation" in one of her imaginative praise songs. Lyrics often include phrases that go something like this: "Jesus, you are the Christ; no one can do it. You are the one. Praise the God of the Lord!"

Though I have never heard her preach about being a peacemaker, I recently saw her practice it in her play. She was pretending to be the third of the "Three Little Pigs" and I was the "Big Bad Wolf." When I was tired of huffing and puffing at her brick house, I told her I wanted to come in so I could eat her. Her response surprised me; instead of taunting me or preparing boiling water under the chimney, she invited me in for a meal. She said something like, "Don't eat me. I'll make you some food." The Big Bad Wolf received her generosity, but was a bit baffled when he heard that both menu items were primarily pork products. (Maybe that explains what happened to the 1st and 2nd little pig...)

The third little pig with her delicious spread of "moo-suki ham sauce drink and too-ie vegetable drinking sausage ham"
Juliana and Kai wearing our motorbike helmets just after Bethany and I returned home from Khmer language class. Perhaps they will need some time to grow into them...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ahhhhhh..... Family Vacation!

After the SEAARetreat, we took an overnight train across Thailand to Chiang Mai, to spend four relaxing days in Chiang Mai at the Juniper Tree, a resort for Christian missionaries/workers. We had our own Thai-style, wooden-stilted, two-room "cabin" to sleep in, and meals were served family-style in the main dining hall, where we got to know other workers over delicious Asian and Western food (and more amazing, homemade bread!). We swam in the pool, read, watched Veggie Tales, ate ice cream, went to the Maesa Elephant Camp as a family, and to the mall on a date as a couple. In other words, in was a wonderful vacation!!

Here are some excited, first-timers on the overnight train. After settling in, we watched a DVD on the laptop, and once our beds were made up, tried to sleep as much as we could with the many stops and starts of the train over the 13-hour trip.

Our first-class cabin was cozy, with two bunk beds which were about 30 inches wide. Juliana and Ryan were on the top bunk, with Bethany and Kai underneath. It wasn't the most restful night!

At the Juniper Tree, Juliana and Kai loved to play on the slide in the indoor play area of the dining hall.
Visiting a guinea pig on the property. It made us lonely for Dad/PaPa Umble. : )

The opening elephant parade at Maesa Elephant Camp, about an hour away from the resort.

The elephants were taught to paint with a brush held in their trunks, and were really good artists (for elephants)! Paintings were on sale from 1500-6500 baht ($42-$185). And the highlight was getting to actually ride an elephant for a half-hour, up-and-down-hill trip! It was a really fun experience, except that I was afraid Kai would fall out of my arms on the way down - he kept slipping off my lap due to the steep incline. Thankfully, no mishaps!

And a taste of Lancaster County in the Central Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai, Thailand!! On our date (Thanks, Debbie Coats!) we found an Auntie Anne's Pretzel shop and indulged in sweet, buttery goodness. Mmmmmmm!


We recently spent a week and a half in Thailand. The first 6 days were to join other missionaries and workers serving in Asia at the SouthEast Asia Anabaptist Retreat, or SEAAR. (The rest of the time was family vacation; more on that later.) We gathered an hour south of Bangkok at Baan Phu Waan, a Catholic training/retreat center, a beautiful campus on which to spend time connecting with new and old friends from six different agencies. Our theme was "Becoming a People of Prayer" and a highlight of the time was the worship and prayer times we had as a group. Childcare was provided by a short-term missions team (RMM's REACH) from the US serving in Thailand, so Juliana and Kai had fun making new friends too.

A time of prayer ministry for Julia Bange, missionary to the deaf in Philippines (DOOR), interpreted by her translator, Tina.

Storytelling with the youngest MKs.

Juliana's group cooled off one afternoon with water balloons and a hose. (White spot in foreground is J's balloon in mid-explosion. : )

Our family in the dining room, where we enjoyed many delicious meals, including the most amazing, homemade, raisin-nut-wheat bread!

- Bethany

Wedding Season

We'll be doing some catch-up posts, since while traveling and vacationing recently, we took a break from real life - including our blog. : )

It's that time of year... In April we attended two weddings in one week. On Saturday, April 25th, we attended the wedding of Sokheang and Rotha, friends from Phnom Penh Mennonite Church. Sokheang also directs the Men's Dorm. The wedding was held at the bride's home in Kompong Chnang, a province we'd never visited before. It was a good trip, with several Khmer friends joining us on the trip, and even more hitching a ride on the way home.

Weddings are a fun time to get REALLY dressed up and made up and socialize. Here's a table of friends having a good time at the nyam kaa (reception).

Here's a family photo from the day. Children don't usually get as decked out for weddings as the adults, and it was a good thing we didn't go to a lot of bother for Kai's outfit, since half of it came off as soon as we were done eating! It was a very, very hot day, but fun to celebrate with the newlyweds! Many blessings on your marriage, Sokheang and Rotha!