We spent our own “golden week” during China’s “Golden Week”
(which meant school vacation) exploring some neighboring countries (Cambodia
and Vietnam).  Within a week we were in
three different countries with three different alphabets with three different
tone systems and three very different histories (I’m including China). 
And I don’t ever want to forget the golden moments that made
up that adventure of all adventures that are now woven snuggly into the
tapestry of our family.  Every now and
again I looked around at my family, all of
gathered around me and my heart almost burst with gratitude that we
got to do this together.
Sure, it was not all golden sunshine and light.  There were the crazy moments wrapped tight
right in there amidst the wondrous ones. 
Things like how one day we realized in horror that we left Elle back at
the hotel after an hour on bumpy dirt roads in pouring rain (we were separated
into two different vans and both thought Elle was in the other).  And the sickening feeling that grips all of
our hearts when we realize just how much Lucy can’t see, sometimes even in
broad daylight as we helped her maneuver up and down countless over-worn,
ancient stairwells.  There were the
little squabbles and the stinky clothing re-worn over and over in heavy, humid
But as always, the golden moments win out.  They blanket the sad and annoying ones with a
thin muslin of distortion and they all wrap up, the yin and the yang, into a
beautiful package that we will always remember.
(Yes some of our kids are young, but I don’t know how any of
us would be able to forget even if we tried when we have three photographers
grappling with our cameras non-stop.  Ha!)
I will only share a fraction of those pictures (which will
still seem like a lot) because mostly I want to remember the “moments” from my
notes I scribbled down each day.
Things like how the sunlight looked filtering through
incense smoke at the entry of Angkor Wat and how one lady singing from her
whole soul at church where we didn’t understand one word, filled my heart to
As we prepared for the trip, I added some maps to our
calendars at our house and gave the kids some assignments:

One of my “moments” was watching them take those assignments
seriously…even coming up with power-points to help report what they learned to
the family.

Little nuggets of knowledge that they would build on during the week.

And here begins my record of moments from my journal:
Waking up to the sound of a torrential downpour outside and
the voices of our neighbors from the desert in the hallway (we had flown in
late the night before).  Joyous reunion
at the complimentary breakfast where the kids’ eyes sparkled with wonder as
they piled their plates high with chocolate-laden waffles and croissants.
Trying the delicious traditional Cambodian breakfast of rice
noodles with chicken.
Loading in the rental vans in the pouring wetness of the rain, kids in one van, adults in the other, in awe of the flooded roads and how people still got around just fine.

Even with vans loaded to the very hilt and then some with supplies of everything imaginable.

A road-side stop to eat tarantulas. 
For real.
We all tried the legs.
Surprisingly not so horrible as you would imagine, but the
little tarantula hairs remaining in the mouth for a long while after that were
a little bit on the queasy side for us usual-non-bug-eaters.
There were all kinds of other things for sale we didn’t venture to try…

Maybe next time…
Watching Grace make friends with these cute local girls, trying to communicate with little language understanding.

Lots of delicious pineapple from these girls:
The grumbling sound of the motor of our river boat, the
happy smiles of children waving at us from their homes that lined the
river.  Women washing clothes, dogs
barking, children splashing.

The feeling of the air in Cambodia.  I can almost smell it now as I write.

Church in all that thickness, not just the air, but the
spirit…smiling, gracious members.
A giant grasshopper keeping the kids entertained in the
window, loving singing along in English as they sang out loud and clear in
Khmer (Cambodian).
Not understanding one word but feeling so much love in that room.
Watching Max and the missionary sitting translating next to
him smile in unison when something funny was said.  Pondering where he will be a couple years
from now, possibly doing the same thing for someone else. 
Air got thicker.
Smiling kids in primary and youth classrooms.
Talking to the sweetest man who pulled me aside as we were
leaving…he had lived through the Khmer Rouge all those years ago.  Heartbreaking things.  Broken but so whole after finding the gospel
and letting it change his life for the better.
Khmer dinner and hours driving back to the
city over even-more-bumpy-from-the-morning-downpour Cambodian dirt roads.

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