new normal picSince arriving in the kingdom of Cambodia on January 12th of this year, you might say that a few teensy things have changed for us.  We call it the new normal….

barefoot all the time- teaching, church, friends, home
roosters, stray cows, filthy dogs, roasted pig heads, geckos, snakes, mosquitoes!
rice 3 times a day at least
no sour cream,  Starbucks or Chili’s chips and salsa
2-3 showers a day
can fill up our moto tank for $1.50 every 2 weeks
unlocked I-Phones FINALLY
data on my phone for $1 a week
sounding like a 3 year old when speaking
year round school with children in uniforms
tuk-tuks, cylos, mopadops, and motos
gorgeous fruits and vegetables- rombatans, lychees, pomelos, dragon fruit
filtered and bottled water
dust, dust, dust, dust, dust, dust
air conditioning ONLY AT NIGHT
Spraying your whole body with OFF before you jump in bed
Bug bites everywhere
kilometers and kilograms instead of miles and pounds
wishing you had paid better attention in math when they discussed the metric system
no mail
3 English speaking channels- America’s Top Model, American Idol and BBC CNN
no Ohio State football
Whole series of Downton Abbey for $1.25
beautiful, colorful weddings that last for days
even longer funerals with monks chanting round the clock for days
pepperoni  pizza is “hot dog” pizza
right hand turns from the farthest left lane ignoring opposing traffic
being pointed and laughed at
very patient Khmer teachers and co-workers
language tutors who speak better English than you do
red lights and greens are merely suggestions
being  the only one stopped by the police amidst hundreds of Khmer on motos
banged up knees and elbows
learning to submit to husband when riding a moto at 59 years old
will we have internet this week?
getting up in the middle of the night to see our kids and grandkids faces on Facetime
power outages
no hot water- everything washed in cold
no dryers- hard crunchy towels
helmet hair
wanting to take home every child sex trafficked
poverty, filth, trash, sewage, decay
pleading with God every day to deliver this nation from sin and pour out His salvation
did I mention, Ohio State football?

What does 3rd world mean?

third world map2Cambodia is a 3rd world country and the United States is not.  Why?  What is the meaning of this term that is tossed out when referring to many mission locations?

Actually there is not one term, but three.  During the Cold War the United States and its non-Communist allies were deemed the First World, the Communist bloc was defined as the Second World, and nonaligned nations, which were predominantly poor, were designated the Third World.

Today, 3rd world usually refers to areas of the most impoverished countries and regions of the world, serving as a blanket term for characterizing the political and economic life of Latin America, Africa and Asia – Cambodia where we now live.  One might also use this term to describe extreme destitution in otherwise affluent countries.

The TEFL Academy which certifies and trains teachers all over the world outlines 20 characteristics that generally apply to most Third World countries.

1. Low life expectancy is encountered in these countries due to the lack of money allocated to health services, and because people have less access to quality medical care.
2. Low standards of education.
3. Poor health care. Over 11 million children die each year from illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
4. Unemployment.
5. Poor nutrition. 824 million people go hungry or have a very limited food supply while an additional 500 million suffer from serious malnutrition.
6. A lack of clean drinking water. In excess of one billion people do not have proper access to clean drinking water, 400 million of which are children.
7. Overpopulation.
8. Poverty. About one in four people have no means to live on, and millions of people live on less than $1 a day.
9. Economic dependence on more developed countries.
10. Their economies are devoted to producing primary goods for the developed world whilst providing markets for finished goods manufactured in the developed world.
11. The ruling elites of most of these countries are extremely wealthy.
12. Corruption is endemic in a lot of these countries.
13. Control of major economic activities such as mining and cultivation is often retained by foreign firms.
14. The price of their goods is often determined by the developed countries.
15. Trade with developed countries is practically the only source of income.
16. Human rights are less protected.
17. A total lack or inadequate national electricity grid- 1.6 billion people live without electricity in these countries.
18. Although some of these countries, such as Venezuela and Nigeria, are rich in natural resources: very little benefit is felt by the ordinary people.
19. These countries are often ruled by dictatorial regimes, or corrupt ‘democratically elected’ governments.
20. HIV/AIDS is a serious problem in some of these countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Much of this list describes our precious Cambodia and the environment where we work. Understanding the living conditions of the people is essential in showing them to Christ.  Pray for the Khmer people and those caught up in the ravages of sex trafficking.  Only Christ can be their hope!  These too are God’s precious people and He is setting them free!

In some ways, these third world folks understand the love of Christ that first world folks just can’t.  We are privileged to be working with them and seeing God work through them to show the world how to set captives free.

Note: TEFL is an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.  TEFL academies are all around the world.


The most frequently asked question to this new Cambodian missionary is, “Where is home?” I can honestly say I just don’t know how to answer that question anymore.

Is it the shop house where we are now staying temporarily while local missionaries are on furlough? Is it our new apartment in Tuol Kork into which we move March 1st? Is it Jefferson City, Missouri where we raised our last 3 kids and our most recent US address? Is it Oklahoma City where we raised our 7 children and lived 13 years? Is it Grand Rapids or Lansing, Michigan or Cincinnati, Ohio, or Doylestown, Pa? (Yes, we’ve lived in all these places) Is it Columbus, Ohio where Pete and I grew up, went to school and married?

Steel top cityNone of these seem to be the right answer. While I have loved all these locales, I believe there is something new in my heart – a longing for a real home which makes all these others seem like wonderful temporary stops on the way to home in with Christ.

We must live vigorously in each “home” God calls us to for the advancement of this Kingdom; yet the older I get there is that unsettling reality that knows there’s more.

Scripture tells us this is true…

Philippians 3:30, For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…”

2 Corinthians 5: 1, For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.”

Hebrews 11:16, instead, they were longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. That is why God is not Boat houseashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared a city for them.

I thought maybe it was just me. After all, here at 59 and 60 years old Pete and I have made an around the world cross-cultural change uprooting everything that was comfortable and “normal” in order to assist others in the elimination of sex trafficking.  Wouldn’t that make just about anybody feel a little out of sorts?

But, as I have pondered and prayed through this angst, God has delivered sweet revelation though His Word by His Spirit. My home isn’t supposed to be here: it’s ultimately supposed to be with Him someday in Heaven. My longing is natural and right.

Farm houseSo, where’s your home?





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