bonk

If one of us had to struggle in the heat, I’d much prefer it’s me rather than Stacy. I’m chivalrous like that.

We got some decent rest yesterday evening, but I just had that feeling of not getting rested and being exhausted. Fell asleep Skype-ing with the kiddos even. I made it through an hour of church this morning but then left to find a place to lay down. Not violently ill and still upright but just difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Thinking back over the years this generally happens around day 7-9 for me. The stress of planning for months, global travel and unfamiliar heat just adds up. I hate it because I pride myself on being fit and healthy but it’s a good reminder in where I need to find my strength.

It’s sneaky here because the locals are wearing fleece sweatshirts and knit caps and the missionaries are talking about the cool season and how wonderful it is. However it’s telling when an 84 degree home feels nice and then I think about how hot it must be everywhere else.

A few days ago it was so much fun to see faces that I recognized from years past. The last few days it has been a bit sobering. It’s no big deal for people to wear the same pair of glasses for more than 2 years, but it hits home that there aren’t any other good options for many of these folks.
Tomorrow we take the local van to Siem Reap. All day with our new Khmer friends who probably know zero english. It’s cool; we were the only white “big noses” in the Banlung market too. I love that it doesn’t even bother us anymore. In fact I think it’s great to be somewhere where you’re the outsider and people really do stop and stare.

Enough of that off to some pictures:

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Did we mention it’s kinda dusty? Fortunately Kevin is a professional dry season driver. I think he uses sonar to traverse through these dust clouds. 

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For my Aunt Pat and little brother

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Stairs into the church. Always amazed at the blind old Grannies who make it up and down.

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Some of those fishies still flopping around

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I think that’s a bat. Either way tasted like chicken

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Our seamstress and her husband. She remembered us from a few years ago. Her glasses just broke so she was quite happy that Jenny will be delivering a new pair.

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It’s like an anatomy lesson right there at the restaurant

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“Woof woof”

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Kids being kids

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Here’s what they are throwing at each other kinda like dodgeball. It’s a cross between a hacky sack and a badminton thingamadoodle. Rather than kicking it to each other (normal way to play with it) they’re throwing it at each other. At least it’s not a wrench.

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blind in one eye and can’t see out the other

Kind of an unfortunate recurring theme today sprinkled amongst the hundred patients we saw.

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This fellar lost his left eye years ago. We gave him they old one glance “sorry ain’t nobody aside from Jesus gonna help.”

So then we decided to make do with what he has. Turns out his good eye is crazy near sighted. -5.00 for those keeping score at home. Big E on the chart? Ha. Not even close.

But holy smokes did he light up when we started working on glasses. It wasn’t “clear” vs. “blurry” but he was saying “light” at first which was awful confusing since it sounds like “blurry” in Khmer. Side note: I speak just enough Khmer to confuse the translators into them thinking I’m understanding what the patient is saying.

Anywho here’s one crazy part of these trips: we get back to our room and I ask Stacy “why did I ask you to take a picture of this guy?” His incredible story gets lost in the sheer numbers, high heat and car sickness 🙂

So after a morning at the health center we headed further into the jungle.

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Picnic lunch. His brother was delicious.

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Thank God for amazing people who heed the call to be missionaries to unreached peoples. This is the Olsons’ village home.

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Heading up the Sesan River

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Village life along the Ho Chi Minh Trail

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Have eye chart will travel

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Strikingly similar to the first gentleman talked about today. He came to us using his hands to feel for obstacles (no red canes here). Unfortunately this guy needs more than just glasses. What many of us would consider uncomfortable, cosmetically undesirable and disturbing to our vision has caused near blindness in this third world country.

A pterygium is due to wind, dust, sun (chronic irritation) so you and I could: wear sunglasses, use lubricating drops or medicated drops if it got bad enough or if it really got bad enough go have surgery. Unfortunately he would now need bilateral corneal transplants they are so far advanced. We got him some glasses so he can hopefully tend to his fields but he won’t have his sight for long.

It’s heartbreaking but I have patients back home who no one this side of heaven can fix. And sometimes we think “goodness if you would have just come in when this started we could have saved your eye.” So it’s not always a simple case of being born on the wrong continent. We’ll continue to hand out drops and sunglasses to try and protect the next patients from getting to this stage.

Thanks for the prayers. This cool season business of about 95 in the shade is for the birds.

Eye Clinic at Tavang Health Center

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I’m not the only one who finds my lovely bride irresistible. We stopped counting bites at a baker’s dozen.

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Our trusty steed was hissing at us. #betterwitheyesthan4Runners

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The beauty that is Ratanakiri province in Northeast Cambodia. Jungles, mountains and more red dirt/dust than can be imagined.

 

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Our home for the day. Trying to open doors with local officials. Good thing too. Most of the workers at the clinic needed fairly strong reading glasses but didn’t have ’em. Yikes!

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Looking right from front of health center

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…and left

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A repeat patient! Incredible to remember faces from 2 and 3 years ago.

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He’s a little nearsighted

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About 90 minutes of this view today. Love it!

Ride along from Phnom Penh to Banlung

What does a journey from Phnom Penh to Banlung look like. Here’s a few pics:

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One of the nicer ones

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Not even the largest bicycle load we saw today

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Yeah that slowed us down a bit

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A tad dusty on the ole highway

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Working the fields….by hand

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Traveling in luxury. Of course we could feel the rear wheels hit the frame over every bump. Shocks were gone about 180,000 miles ago.

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argh….more dirt highway

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Dry season = time to burn the fields

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Cassava is sliced and laid out on the road to dry. Once dried, it is stuffed in those bags to be taken to market or sent off.

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Praising God for no fiery death!! It’s kind of tough to see but that’s a huge propane tank in the trunk.

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We made it to Banlung! Now off to to see a two year old missionary kid with an eye that turns in.

What did we not include? Stacy puking her guts out x 5. Good news: we think it was mostly from her dumb husband giving her ibuprofen on an empty stomach vs. being some horrible infection or longterm illness.

Bummed that Kevin got a call tonight about one of the villages we planned on providing care for. They are closing their village gate tomorrow at 9am for 4 days in order to conduct village sacrifices. No one in or out 😦

Hamster Brain

Yep feels like me noggin is doing circles on a hamster wheel.

Up at 4am. Again. Saw over 200 patients in the past couple of days.

No pictures as we’ve been working in areas that require 100% confidentiality.

But the stories. Oh the stories that just won’t leave.

The simply amazing…..”those two young gals over there with the short hair (probably 6 and 8 if I had to venture a guess) somehow escaped a brothel. That never happens. As they were running down the street they ran into a motodup rider who happens to know about AIM. Now here they are at our Restoration Center…” Nothing short of miraculous.

The simply heart wrenching…..”we’ve worked with these students and teachers for going on three years now and to tell them that we have to discontinue classes……”

The blood boiling….overheard during a conversation about pornography: “Christians/non-Christians I’m gonna tell you it’s the same.” Boiling because this wasn’t a troll on the Internet but a wildly successful multinational businessman/entrepreneur expressing an opinion formed over years. Come on guys!

Tomorrow we’re off to Ratanakiri province.

Back in the saddle

24 hour recap: picture quality bad due to low resolution as WiFi speed is classified as functional.

Pretty sure this had something to do with no bags. At least Stacy got her personal escort.

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Praise God for bags! I may never know the full extent of why the bags were delayed but I have a handful of hunches….and they’re all excellent reasons 🙂

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“It doesn’t pick itself up big boy…”

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Our church is amazing! School supplies and gifts galore….yet no icy hot for sore muscles.

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My main man Sarouen. Best interpretor evah! And my bestest best friend, the beautiful Stacy macy.

 

What we didn’t capture in photos:

-today’s low this morning was in the upper 60s. People were freeeeeeezing! We had to borrow the gals’ SUV to go get luggage (Beverly Hillbillies amount of stuff) so poor Kim and Rachel nearly froze to death taking a tuk tuk to work. Around 1pm (probably in the low 80s by then) we met up with a couple of missionaries and the husband was still wearing a leather jacket and his wife had on a thick wool sweater. I can’t imagine what the locals were going through.

-actual work. We saw AIM staff, kids in the emergency foster care system and some family members of the staff. It is incredible to recognize so many faces. And so much fun to bring 3 pairs of glasses for this little guy.

And for same random Cambodia:

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Not sure when empty holsters became a thing….but there were a bunch so apparently it is.

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No mashed taters as a side. Rice of course

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Some may call these clams. I’ll simply call them Hep A inoculators but boy are they delicious.

Cry, Laugh, Scream?

Probably none of the above is the proper answer. So the airline lost our bags. It happens.

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So disappointing though when we hear “we need to call the staff and tell them not to bring their families in tomorrow” and other such logistic figuring outing. That’s part of the deal though with limited time. We always knew it was a real possibility. And now it’s here.

I told Stacy Friday night, “I’ve done this enough to where now I’m stressed about making it happen. Before I could say ‘we’ll do what we can and call it good.”‘ But now we’ve seen the dozens and dozens of patients who’ve been helped; so I started to think about what it would actually mean to not have the equipment. Dozens and dozens who won’t be helped.

Sheesh. I’m tired. And jet lagged. And emotional. And literally just got a Facebook message from Jen as I am typing

“….Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me…..”
Isaiah 30:15 MSG

so I’ll stop 🙂

Please join us in prayer for the gals here. A tough day upcoming tomorrow (unrelated to this) is weighing on them. For good reason. But guess what? They’ll depend on God just like we will.