Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Setting up a new life

We made it! We feel like the last several months of preparation for our move has been so emotional. Packing up our home in Shanghai, saying good-bye to friends there, the "last" time we did so many things in the city we'd come to love so much. Then there was the joy of spending time with our families, seeing them interact and enjoy time with Wes, making fun memories together. We hated the fact that we had to say good-bye, but after a month in PA and a month in ON we didn't want to wear out our welcome. ;) It's been a long time of living out of a suitcase, but the end has come! We packed our bags on June 28, and now, on October 1, we're in the process of unpacking the last of the suitcases. Praise the Lord for the blessings that He has given us as we've made the transition! We know this is where He has called us and we are welcoming each day with excitement and anticipation as we begin this new phase of life!

This was the day that we'd been dreading. The long series of flights from Toronto to Vancouver (5 hours) to Seoul (10 hours) to Phnom Penh (5 hours) for a total transit time of 29 hours. That's hard on anyone...let along a small child who is used to regular nap times. Thankfully Wes slept (although not as much as we'd expected him to!) and did very well throughout the entire process! By the time we were on our last flight, I was falling asleep sitting straight up, and Wes was literally doing somersaults in the empty seats of the airplane. The more tired he got, the more silly he got! We're so thankful for a baby that travels so well and finds joy in each situation!

Our gate in Vancouver had a nice play area for Wes to enjoy!

And  here is Wes in Seoul enjoying smoothies and some running around time. His first time to Korea! (although I don't think the airport counts. We'll have to come back again, for sure!)

Each detail of our trip fell perfectly into place. One of Joe's colleagues was waiting for us at the PP airport...with food, flowers, and a van to take us to the apartment we had rented for a couple of weeks. We were so thankful to have a place waiting for us upon our arrival!

And so the house-hunt...and getting over jet lag... process has begun!

Here is Joe and Wes watching some good ol' American football together! We're pleased with the variety of channels we can get here (compared to China!! haha)

Why does Wes have so much energy in the middle of the night????? ;)

Joe rode his bike around the city, up and down streets, looking for houses in neighborhoods he thought we might enjoy, writing down phone numbers if he saw houses for rent. He then had a Khmer colleague set up a time to go through the house with the landlord, and with Joe. If the house had potential, he would arrange a second viewing with Wes & I. 
We went through several houses, prayed a lot, and did a lot of negotiating. 
Here is our tuk tuk driver, Samule, who drove us to all of these places!

Just to give you an idea of the scenery in our neighborhood, I snapped some photos while were were in the tuk tuk. You can see a lot of variety in the landscape. Some poor, some rich, some in between. Wes and I both love riding around by tuk tuk!

local convenience stores

a beautiful housing area

some local homes with their stores in front

stores that sell trees and potted plants

more convenience stores 
(iced cold drinks are sold in the orange coolers)

uh-oh...look at those storm clouds rolling in!
The area where the Bible School is, and where we'll be living, is on the out-skirts of the city where it is still being built up and developed. As they build, roads are wider, buildings are newer, and things just seem better designed. The result is that some roads are quite muddy and some roads are sparkling new! Such diversity.

Yep! And here comes the rain!!! 
Usually about once/day this time of year there will be a big rain storm. It usually lasts about an hour, but it can cause quite the flooding in some streets! I LOVE IT. To me, rain is so beautiful (when it's not cold or windy) and refreshing and cleans the air and is so soothing. I am thoroughly enjoying this hot/rainy weather!!!!

We're still visiting various English church services in the city, praying about which one to call "home" for us. After walking to church one Sunday, since it was so close to our apartment, we stopped at a little restaurant for lunch. Wes had been sleeping, so was so hot! He loves his refreshing smoothies...now a daily indulgence!

And of course, Joe's indulgence is the AMAZING iced coffee they make here. 
We just can't get enough of that stuff.

Wes and I always have so much fun just playing together!

This photo was taken on the day that marked 12 days of us living in the little apartment. I was discouraged because the house we thought we were going to get, fell through. We were back at square one looking for a place to live, and it was already almost 2 weeks that we'd been here! 
When we saw this rainbow (and snapped this photo!) I was reminded that God had a place for us that was especially chosen by Him for us and that He was going to lead us to it. 
Little did I know that the next day was the day we would find our house!

Wes loves the popcicles I make for him! I'm so glad I was able to find these popcicle molds right before we left Canada! What a great treat for him!

Signing the contract to rent our new house!

It's pretty big, even though it's narrow. 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and a big roof-top patio. Plenty of room for Wes to play--especially compared to our 100 sq mt place in Shanghai

Here is the video-tour we promised you. Sorry, the camera ran out of battery before it was quite finished and we never got around to re-doing it. Hope it works!

This is the living room. The mirrors at the top are one-way glass. We'll put our office up there so we can still work as well as keep an eye on things down below!

Here is the kitchen! The same day we signed the contract, we went out and bought a fridge, stove, washing machine, TV, oven, some fans, and a bed for the master bedroom! We're all set! :)

Here is the roof-top patio. We plan to create a little garden of flower boxes up here, put up a table and chairs, and enjoy our evenings out here, or a cool place for Joe to study. Oh, the plans we have! ;)

Here is another view of the front. Ours is the one in the middle with the truck.

A glimpse of the street. The houses are all in a row, making for very close contact with neighbors. Thankfully, with Wes, we fit in very easily and very well! There are lots of kids on the street, and he's made a lot of instant friends! He loves to play with children, and all we have to do is walk out our front door! This is a no-through road, so it's nice and quite and everyone plays with each other's toys and looks out for each other's kids. Such a blessing!

On one side we have Korean neighbors. 
One hot day after the girls got home from school, they had fun hosing each other down with the water hose!



They also have two little puppies, which Wes LOVES to play with!

Here are some of our Khmer neighbors playing with Wes.


We got Wes a bicycle seat so we can all ride around town together!!!
This is us on our way to church one Sunday. He fell asleep! I had to snap a photo.

With all of the amazing fruit grown and sold here year-round, smoothies are a regular for us. 
Have you ever tried durian fruit? If you haven't, you won't like it. I'm convinced you have to grow up eating it to have an appreciation for it. Described as pleasantly fragrant, it's really the world's smelliest fruit! Here is Wes drinking a smoothie with durian fruit in it. I wasn't sure if he'd like it, but he does!!! He'll be a "western" baby with "eastern" taste buds.

Here is Wes exploring other parts of our neighborhood! They're building a new supermarket and a gym inside our little gated community! This is him checking out the progress.

Bath time! 
We don't have any hot water heaters yet, but the cold showers feel surprisingly GOOD after a hot, sweaty day!

We still have a lot of work to do in our house, especially once all of our boxes were delivered from Shanghai! But little by little we'll get it done and turn this house into a home. 
It's a fun process to do together!

Some kind of Buddhist ceremony in the house across the street.

Wes loves to play outside in the rain. 
This is the rain coat and rubber boots Auntie Michelle gave to him for "Christmas" in August when we were visiting family in Canada!

When we were kids, we would always fight over who got to lick the beaters after mom was finished mixing up the cookies. In this house, I think it will be a fight over who gets to chew on the mango pit!

Curtains make a house a home! 
I'm so glad we brought ours from China with us! 
This is the kitchen window, with my apron (thanks, G!!!) hanging in the corner, ready for use.

And here is the living room! Nothing in it, but at least it has curtains!!! :D

Which can of refreshing beverage would you open first? 
Lychee Drink? or Soursop Juice? or Titin with ginsing?

Here comes our furniture!!!! 
I was amazed. One couch, two arm chairs, a coffee table, two foot stools, a kitchen table, and four kitchen chairs...all arrived on the back of a tuk tuk!!!
(the pink and white drapes in the background is the neighbor setting up a tent, preparing for a house-warming party they were throwing themselves! A huge tent with tables and chairs, catered meal, and live music...all outside our front door! It was fun to watch! (but a little loud!)

Wes testing out the new furniture!

My kitchen table. Joey surprised me with flowers and baguettes! what a nice addition to my banana/mango fruit basket!

Silly baby. Today we couldn't go to church because our air conditioners were being installed in the bedrooms. Starting before 8 AM and not finishing until after 4 PM, it was an all-day event! Every time we laid Wes down for a nap he was awakened by a loud drill, or workers going in and out of the room he was sleeping in. So, this is Wes on Sunday operating on lack of sleep. haha!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!!!
On Sunday (Sept 30), after the workers left our house, we enjoyed moon cakes, noodles, popcorn, jello, tapioca pudding with coconut, fruit, and FUN on the roof under the moon!

our moon cakes disappeared in a hurry!

We found a big beautiful (free!) playground not far from our house! 
What a surprise and blessing that will be for us in the months to come!!

I hope you enjoyed the introduction to our new life/home in our new city!
We can't WAIT to have visitors, so start looking at tickets! :) 

Thanks for such an amazing summer. We already miss you! 

Joe is starting at the Bible School this week, so we're excited with what God will be doing there in the months/weeks to come. I'll try to post more regularly so the posts don't get so loooong and far-between. ;) 

hugs from us to you!

Joe, Nica, & Wes

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