January 25, 2014

Cambodia Trip Six Photos!

Posting pics as we take them so you can follow along "real-time" as we're over here in Cambodia! I'll keep this post at the top, so check back often often for new images!

  • Some of our students were able to meet us at the airport when we arrived, and they made a sign for us and our church team! I cannot think of a better way to come back to Cambodia than first seeing our students' faces and hearing their voices!
  • The ride to our apartment, full of giggles and laughing!
  • It's SOOOOOOO nice to see this view from our apartment again!
  • Karen and I took a crew of Cambodia first-timers to one of our favorite spots in Phnom Penh, Jars of Clay Coffee Shop. Had a great time with everyone, and I must admit that I am EXTREMELY proud of them for holding out for so long! It was a long first day for them, and they did an awesome job of staying awake, haha!
  • Christmas play at Lvea Sar!
  • Live band!
  • Robbi made some English students happy playing an alphabet game!
  • Took a crew to get our favorite hamburgers in Phnom Penh! It's such a blast to hang out with these folks! LOVING IT!
  • Craft Time at Lvea Sar!
  • Craft Time at Lvea Sar!
  • Craft Time at Lvea Sar!
  • Craft Time at Lvea Sar!
  • Craft Time at Lvea Sar!
  • My coloring parter, Theary, is back again this year! She's the cutie on the right.
  • We were blessed to have some of the church team break away and come with us as we looked for fabric for our upcoming Summer clothing line. We got ALL our fabric picked out in ONE DAY thanks to the awesomeness of this group! We love LOVE everything we selected, and can't for y'all to see it!
  • We were blessed to have some of the church team break away and come with us as we looked for fabric for our upcoming Summer clothing line. We got ALL our fabric picked out in ONE DAY thanks to the awesomeness of this group! We love LOVE everything we selected, and can't for y'all to see it!
  • Lunch with our awesome Threaded Leaf Project Fabric Crew!
  • Patiently waiting for the decisions to be made, haha!
  • We were blessed to have some of the church team break away and come with us as we looked for fabric for our upcoming Summer clothing line. We got ALL our fabric picked out in ONE DAY thanks to the awesomeness of this group! We LOVE-love everything we selected, and can't for y'all to see it!
  • Massen-Girls!
  • Lvea Sar chmaa.
  • Meagan with the girls that attached themselves to her all week, Neeta and Theary.
  • Me and Karen with one of the girls we sponsor, Phany, and one of the littles that attached herself to me throughout the week, Leesa.
  • Me and my buddy Leap! We've been buds for a couple of years now, and it's always fun to hang out with him. He doesn't talk as much as some of the other kiddos, but he always manages to find me and come give me hug. As we waited for the ferry on the last day, he came over, hugged me, grabbed my hands, and turned to face the water with my hands over his shoulders. We just stood there for a while together, and it was great.
  • Some of the crazy-fun village kiddos we got to hang out with again this year! My coloring partner from last year, Theary, Neeta, Leesa, and more!
  • Carol and some of the pastors that came to the conference at Lvea Sar.
  • Karen and I took a big crew to another one of our favorite spots, Will's Brunch Cafe.
  • Karen and I took a big crew to another one of our favorite spots, Will's Brunch Cafe.
  • Oh, Paul's BreweHouse, it's so good to be back in Cambodia so I can each your delicious food and drink your delicious coffee!
  • Half of the church team enjoying lunch at Daughter's Sugar 'n Spice Garden Cafe.
  • Bopha got a new machine to give us even more options for our Threaded Leaf Project clothing line!
  • Moto!
  • A beautiful day in Cambodia...
  • Bopha always spoils me with her delicious tea, fruit, or iced coffee!
  • Sorphea, Sam, and David surprised me with some gifts for our BPF Team! I have scarves for everyone, each sporting the Threaded Leaf Project logo which was screen printed by Sam (Sorphea's brother). All kinds of colors, too! SOOOOO thoughtful of these guys! THANK YOU!
  • On a tuk tuk to the airport, picking up friends! We would LOVE for YOU to the next group we pick up!
  • Cracked open the Big Gun today: 4 pounds of Creamy Jif Peanut Butter. BOOM!
  • Another beautiful day in Cambodia!
  • Cruising around Phnom Penh with friends on a gorgeous day! Doesn't get much better than this!
  • When we went to Bopha's tonight, I showed Travis where I go to work while Karen and Bopha are working on clothes.
  • Katherine got to spend time with Sreypov tonight, and Katherine gave her a top-quality, super-cute — and pink — stethoscope of her own as Sreypov works through nursing school!
  • Katherine got to spend time with Sreypov tonight, and Katherine gave her a top-quality, super-cute — and pink — stethoscope of her own as Sreypov works through nursing school!
  • Nurse sisters!! So glad they were able to finally meet and spend time together!!
  • You're too good to me, Paul's Brewehouse...
  • Katherine and Travis surprised me with these goodies from the USA! ANOTHER POUND OF PEANUT BUTTER CUPS! The rationing can STOP!!
  • Work work work!
  • Katherine and Travis at Psaa Thmey.
  • Karen, Katherine, and Travis at Psaa Thmey.
  • Celebrating Katherine's 50th in Cambodia and with our Threaded Leaf Project students and friends!
  • A GORGEOUS Birthday cake made by the awesome team at Bloom Cafe, Phnom Penh!
  • The newest members of our growing Threaded Leaf Project Family! Sovern, Sarat, Piseth, and Sarun! They will be starting University soon, and we can't wait to walk alongside them on their journey! Thank YOU for helping us help these students!
  • On our way to Living Stones Church!
  • Sisters!
  • At Living Stones Church!
  • Working on something cool...
  • Two of our new students, Sovern and Sarun, registered for Chenla University today! Let the journey begin!
  • One of our new students, Sarat, registered for University today at the Faculty of Medicine and Pediatrics! Let the journey begin!
  • Updated and redecorated upstairs Study Room at our Threaded Leaf Project Girl's Home!
  • Updated and redecorated upstairs Study Room at our Threaded Leaf Project Girl's Home!
  • Updated and redecorated upstairs Study Room at our Threaded Leaf Project Girl's Home!
  • "Threaded Leaves" on the balcony door and window.
  • Updated and redecorated upstairs Study Room at our Threaded Leaf Project Girl's Home!
  • Little Liviya wearing her cool glass on the way to dinner!
  • Karen and Sorphea working!
  • On the way to visit the homeland of six of our students!
  • Field Trip!
  • Sorphea making us a DELICIOUS lunch!
  • This is one of the rice fields their village plants and harvests from. They all share the work and the rice, but it's not usually enough to feed everyone.
  • Sorphea's family recently started to raise chickens, and it was lunch time for them!
  • The banana trees planted in the back yard.
  • Family and friends came together to cook this wonderful lunch for us.
  • We had great conversation with Sorphea's Aunt about some possible Threaded Leaf Project work we can do in the village with the kiddos.
  • This is the church in the village where several of our students and their families attend. There are no trees or plants on the property, because they can't afford a fence yet. Without a fence, cows and pigs will eat anything they plant.
  • This is the inside of the church.
  • Sina's Mom, her little brother, and Sina!
  • Piseth and his family. His Dad is a Pastor, and his whole family are Christian. I just have to say, his middle sister is so CUUUUTE!
  • Sovern and her family. So sweet! Her little sister (on the left) was crying because she was so excited to have foreigners at her house that spoke English. She is studying English, and finally had a chance to use it with real English speakers.
  • We all got a big laugh as Karen and I tried to walk up and down the ladder-rung steps into their house. You could tell we'd never done it before!
  • Sovern, Sarat's Mom, and Sorphea!
  • Sarat and his Mom! The only time that beautiful smile left Sarat's Mom's face was when she told us her story. In short... Sarat's Father died when Sarat was 3 years old, and the family has struggled ever since. Since he was little, Sarat dreamed of being a Doctor to help children, but higher education was never a possibility. She told us she has prayed for years that Sarat could go to University, and now, her prayers have been answered. What a blessing to be part of it!
  • Sarun and his family! Sarun's Grandmother was so sweet and cute! She is 80 years old, and had never seen a foreigner in person before. She was so excited and just couldn't stop staring at Karen!
  • I thought our students were bad about taking pictures, but Sarun's Grandmother was every bit as bad! She wanted pictures with us so that we could print them and give them to her to look at! She was so sweet!
  • Sarun's Grandmother and Karen, who she said looked like a doll.
  • Sarat's Mom wanted a pic, too, so she scooted-in for a shot!
  • Sreypov and her family! her sister and brother in law are farmers, and they work to help support her by sending food, money for clothes, etc. Just a beautiful, sweet, loving family!
  • Walking around the village, visiting family...
  • A local preschool, waiting for people to come teach. They also want people to come short term to teach English and computer to folks in the village. How long is short term in their minds? One to two weeks. How long have I been thinking people could come over and work alongside us? For one to two weeks. Hmm...
  • Sorphea's Uncle, who maintains and operates this preschool. He has big — but VERY realistic — plans. We want to help, and we want you to help us!
  • Group shot!

January 24, 2014

Cambodia Trip 5 Pictures

There are 100 pictures from Cambodia Trip 5 ready to view!

Cambodia Trip 5 Pictures

Visit our Photos page to see pictures from our other trips, as well!

July 19, 2013

A New Student

Tuesday was one of our best days so far. We went to our student Bible Study, and about halfway through, a young girl arrived and joined the group. After we finished BIble Study, we all sat and ate rambutan and talked, laughed, hung out — then Sorphea asked everyone to leave so we could talk with the girl that arrived during the study.

Her name is Thavry, and she's super sweet, kind-hearted, and speaks English really, really well. She goes to church with Sorphea and our other students. She's studying to be a doctor, and she's just finishing-up her fourth year of school — with four more to go. She lives at the school's dorm, where she helps as a resident assistant, allowing her to only pay $5 each month for rent. She's a full-time student, but she works here and there helping translate for various groups and organizations where her busy schedule allows. This helps her have a little money for food.

As we see with a lot of students, the support from her family has run its course for now. Her parents are farmers from the Provence, and very poor. This was to be her last semester in school so that her parents could spend all of next year saving as much money as possible to hopefully be able to pay for school again. Not only would this take its toll on the educational momentum Thavry has built up over the last four years, it would also mean that when (and if) she was to return to school, she would have to pay a higher tuition amount — and that, alone, could mean the end of her higher education. As long as she maintains her status as a full time student, she is guaranteed her current tuition amount.

As she told us her story and her struggles and fears, tears welled-up in her eyes, and she was just wrought with desperation. We could all feel it. It was as if we could sense her feeling her whole life collapsing around her — she was losing hope, and feeling like the last four years of her life would be wasted, and her dream of being a doctor to help poor Cambodians would be lost. She said Sorphea had told her about our organization, and she just wanted to talk to us and see if we thought we could help. I answered: "we will help you."

When I said this, she broke down and wept like we've never seen a Khmer person weep. Emotions are heavily guarded in Cambodia, even among the younger generation, but she just wept uncontrollably for a few minutes, covering her sweet face, and we could feel the weight of her anxiety and fear lifted. We all had tears in our eyes, and we all felt hopelessness get kicked in the gut. It was a good feeling, that.

And the timing? All God. He knew we would be in Cambodia. He knew we would be at Bible Study. He orchestrated Sorphea telling Thavry about us, and getting her to come to the house while we were there. Just when she was at the end of her rope, He allowed our paths to cross.

She practically floated out of the house, excited to tell her family about this huge relief. We did, too.

Life change. BE-ing here. BE-ing where He needs you to be. BE-ing His hands and feet and attitude. We are so blessed to be able to do this work, and that He's chosen us to walk this path. We simply cannot imagine doing anything other than this.

April 29, 2013

2013 Spring Event — Meet Bopha!

You are invited to attend Threaded Leaf Project's debut of our Spring 2013 Liviya clothing and Jariya accessories lines. We will also have a VERY special guest for you to meet! Our Head Seamstress, Bopha Choup, will be flying in from Cambodia — her first trip to the USA. Come meet Bopha and hear first hand about the work of our seamstresses in Cambodia.

This is also a man-friendly event, so guys, come on and hang out with the Threaded Leaf Project men!

Hosted by True To Life Ministries, 105 This Way, Lake Jackson, TX 77566

Refreshments: 6:30–7:00
Main Event: 7:00, with shopping to follow

April 18, 2013

Cambodia Trip 4 Pictures

Here are loads of pictures from our 4th Cambodia Trip!

  • Phany (phaa-nee), Thaudy (taw-dee), and Chan performing a traditional Khmer dance.
  • The choir at the church.
  • The Triplets Karen and I love so much! We were able to sponsor them, and it's so great to be able to watch them grow!
  • Some of the boys performing "This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made" for everyone.
  • Greg delivering a message on the Prodigal Son to the folks gathered at church.
  • The orphanage was packed for church!
  • Coloring with the kiddos.
  • Coloring with the kiddos.
  • Teaching English.
  • Coloring with a Triplet!
  • Singing and dancing with all the kiddos!
  • Waiting at the Ferry Landing the next day.
  • Two of the three Triplets, posing in our bejeweled crowns. The one is rubbing her face against my beard then breaking out in hysterical laughter. =)
  • Face painting!
  • Triplet piggy-back ride!
  • Yes, me and another triplet.
  • After the orphanage, we took our translators to BROWN Coffee.
  • Korm and Lackena working on patterns. That's Bopha's husband, Sokren, in the background.
  • Kathy and Sokren.
  • One of the many thread shops we buy from.
  • A moto packed with bags of fabric!
  • Pastor Sokhom and his family.
  • Kathy and Greg.
  • Me (Maury), Karen, and Tamara.
  • A shot of a street vendor.
  • Boats along the water.
  • A Dad and his kiddo on the road to the orphanage.
  • Karen and Tamara walking to the orphanage.
  • Little Mary.
  • Volleyball!
  • Chan.
  • Phany.
  • Sokyen giving a beautiful smile!
  • Sophana, Thaudy, Phany, and Mean.
  • Pigs, hot off the ferry.
  • Glow in the dark bracelets for the kiddos! They loved them!
  • Glow in the dark bracelets for the kiddos! They loved them!
  • We like to stop at the Bayon Bakery on the way out to the orphanage. They have some AWESOME sugar-coated donuts!
  • Our girls! Channy, Sorphea, and Chantha! We are SO SO SO proud of them, and we love them!
  • The streets of Phnom Penh.
  • The streets of Phnom Penh.
  • The streets of Phnom Penh.
  • The streets of Phnom Penh.
  • Browsing fabric.
  • Karen's style book, where she keeps all her notes, fabric snippets, etc., for her designs.
  • Halfway through the shopping day, we stopped to grab an awesome lunch at Daughters of Cambodia — one of our favorite shops/restaurants for the food AND the amazing cause they serve.
  • On the way to BROWN, tuk tukking down Street 174.
  • Bopha and Karen finalizing thread selections to match the scarf and clothing fabrics. Kathy did an AMAZING job helping organize all these details!
  • Our favorite hamburgers in Phnom Penh are at Freebird (not Freebirds, mind you — Freebird, as in just a single, free bird).
  • It's ever so hard to tuk tuk down (or even near) Norodom street and not grab ice cream at Toto Home Made Ice Cream.
  • This is Bopha, our Head Seamstress.
  • This is Lackena.
  • This is Vern (pronounced vuhn).
  • Korm and her daughter.
  • This is Heng.
  • This is Samnang.
  • We had a great lunch with our seamstresses today! Can't wait to do it again!
  • The Scarf Cheat Sheet.
  • Bopha and Sokren's adorable daughter, Mathena.
  • Karen and Bopha working on thread matching for the scarves.
  • The view from the seat of Dara's tuk tuk.
  • Motodops (moto drivers) at the Russian Market.
  • Browsing through the Russian Market — one of my favorite places in Cambodia!
  • One of the moto parking lots outside one side of the Russian Market.
  • The fresh meat area in the Russian Market.
  • Some Cambodians are shy about getting their picture taken — some are not.
  • A tailor on Tailor Row in the Russian Market. Got something torn or in need of a repair or hem change? They'll do it here, and they'll do it WELL.
  • This little kiddo was DONE. Totally stone-cold snoozing, having put her self to sleep playing with the backpack strings.
  • Fresh vegetables.
  • The "food court" in the Russian Market.
  • The "food court" in the Russian Market.
  • Moto parts for sale.
  • Heading out to Bopha's for the evening, taking pics with my 50mm lens in the heavy traffic. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!
  • Heading out to Bopha's for the evening, taking pics with my 50mm lens in the heavy traffic. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!
  • Bopha and Sokren's youngest daughter, Liviya — the namesake of our clothing line. She is growing so fast from the last time we here just a few months ago!
  • Found a new all-day breakfast eatery right by the Russian Market. Most excellent pumpkin spice pancakes, and FOR SURE the best chocolate chocolate chip pancakes. It's called Sisters, and we'll take YOU there when you come with us.
  • We needed to make dinner quick to head out to Bopha's, so we hit our old standby: The Pizza Company.
  • Two of my favorite ladies on Earth, both of which keep Threaded Leaf Project moving forward! Karen and Sorphea, you guys are awesome!
  • Bikes and motos! For those unfamiliar with Cambodian homes, some are setup like you see here: the front area of the ground floor is the garage. Car owners with this type of home will sometimes pull their cars inside at night. The main doors you see here close and lock (of course), and they can also be opened all the way wide. When you leave for the day, there's another door that can be pulled down from the outside (like an American garage door) that we then lock.
  • Some serious strategy was going down!
  • Me and Veasna on our way to check a new housing opportunity for him.
  • Karen, Sorphea, and our new friend, Laek. She goes to school with Sorphea, and she will hopefully become a new housemate.
  • Bopha met our favorite tuk tuk driver, Sok, several years ago, and he's our main mode of transportation between our hotel and Bopha's house. He's learning more and more English, and he's also been teaching us Khmer. He's a gracious, sweet, wonderful family-man, and he always brings a smile to our faces.
  • This is Sok with his new tuk tuk! He's had this one for about 4 months.
  • Karen and Bopha!
  • When Sok isn't taking us to Bopha's, we use one of the 4 regular tuk tuk drivers that work outside our hotel. The two main guys are Mr. Mau and Mr. Teng. Both guys are really nice (to us, at least), speak English really well, and know all the spots we like to visit.
  • Photo of the trip! Karen and Jariya walking back to Jariya's house.
  • After 30 days, I was needing a haircut. On Street 51 (one of the main streets we take to get just about everywhere), there are always a couple of "Street Barbers" setup. While Karen was working, I had one of our tuk tuk drivers (Dara) take me to these guys. I should have stood back and taken a picture so you could see it better, but it's literally just 2 tables, a couple of mirrors, and an awning overhead. This is my barber finishing-up the guy in front of me.
  • In the chair! I became quite the attraction several times, as people would walk by or come "in" for a cut, and see a big white guy sitting there. We also had some laughs about the chair, as it was not designed for a guy my size! All in all, I received an excellent trim, making me nice and sa-aht nah for the flight home! The cost? 5000R, or $1.25.
  • Veasna! He's studying his basic English courses, and hopes to go into business management after he finishes his basics.
  • Our newest friend, Sreypov! We are SO glad we finally got to meet her tonight!
  • Channy! She's grown so much since we first met her. We're so proud of her!
  • Sopheak again! We're working to help him find his fit, and with Sorphea on the job, we're confident she'll find a place for him!
  • Vichet again! We are so excited to be part of her next step as she begins University in just under 2 weeks!
  • Sorphea! She's our engine in Cambodia, taking care of all our student-related work on the ground. From Bible studies, to helping students find a church, to weekly and routine meetings with everyone and our seamstresses -- she's awesome! She is truly His hands and feet!
  • Chantha and Sreypov!
  • Chantha! What a beautiful young lady, inside and out!
  • Me (Maury) and our group!
  • Karen and our group!
  • Sokren and Bopha!

March 4, 2013

New Scholarship Student!

Time to meet our newest Scholarship Student, Sreypov!

For the last 2 school years, Sreypov (pronounced sray-POHW) has been studying to become a nurse at one of Phnom Penh's medical schools. Her tuition is paid at the beginning of each year in one lump sum, and up until now, her family has been able to afford her school fees and dorm cost.

Due to the very limited income her family receives from their work in the country, this was going to be the last year Sreypov would be able to go to school. Not only that, her family was unable to continue sending money for her to stay in the school dorm — so she was in urgent need of a place to stay while she finished this school term.

Our Cambodian team member, Sorphea, knew about Sreypov's struggles, and she connected us with her while we were in Cambodia in January — and we started looking at options for helping Sreypov continue on her educational and vocational paths.

Her schedule is Monday through Saturday, working volunteer (clinicals) at a local hospital each morning through to lunch, then she has class all afternoon. Beginning in April, she will stop clinicals and be in class all day, six days a week. It's a VERY intense schedule to say the least!

So imagine what she must feel like — imagine what her family must feel like. All this time and investment, and now they are seeing it all about to come to an end. Her dreams, her family's dreams of her breaking out and doing big things — all just months away from stopping.

Thankfully, Threaded Leaf Project was able to step in and help this sweet, determined young student! She is now living in our Girl's Home, and she knows she can continue to focus on her future and her educational goals!

She attends the same church as Sorphea and many of our Khmer friends, and she is very passionate about helping others (one reason she wants to be a nurse). Her references confirm what we saw in her: she is kind, gentle, and a hard worker.

We have high hopes for Sreypov, and we're excited to be able to walk alongside her as she continues to work toward a brighter future!

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