Even though I'm 8,000 miles from Columbus, Ohio, returning to Battambang always feels like coming home.
After church on Sunday in Phnom Penh, we packed all of our bags and all six of us into the car Savorn graciously lent me, and we drove to Battambang. I made the five hour trip in just four, but we were still too tired to make it out to the campus. We relaxed at our hotel for the evening, and had a nice breakfast in the morning.
We ran some errands, grabbed some lunch and headed out to Asia's Hope Battambang in the early afternoon. What a joy to see old friends and family! Many of our BB1 kids are already grown, and I had the chance to see 24-year old Phearum, who was visiting from Thailand and spend time with 23-year old Chhem, who is finishing her undergraduate degree at a local university. We also had the pleasure of meeting the 25 new kids from Battambang 9! They are still a little apprehensive, but they're getting more comfortable with their new families every single day.
The campus is looking great. It's been two years since Kori has been in Battambang, and she was amazed to see the progress. At her last visit, we had only four homes on the campus. Today, we have nine. We've expanded Hope Fellowship Church, built a learning center with three classrooms and a silversmithing lab, and added a sewing center where more than 30 of our girls and a handful of our staff are learning the art of tailoring. The footers have been poured for BB10, and construction pace will pick up as the rainy season subsides.
Our campus is taking shape as a safe and affirming neighborhood for our Asia's Hope families. When BB10 is complete, we will have almost 300 children and 50 staff living there full time! It's like a little preview of heaven, where the poor are fed and clothed, and the orphans are placed in families. Amazing stuff, and an honor to be a part of it.
We played in the hot sun for about 6 hours and finally headed back to the city for a late dinner and bed.
We drove this morning about a half hour outside the city to ancient Banan temple for some sightseeing and a picnic lunch with our Battambang home parents. I love these guys. They work so hard. They welcome and care for the children as if they were their own. Theirs are 24-hour a day jobs, and it was an honor to be there guests for a traditional Khmer meal -- grilled chicken, wild boar, rabbit, dried fish and rice.
We're taking a quick break at the hotel before heading back out to the campus for some more fun and games with the kids. We probably won't push ourselves as hard as we did last night, as we're hoping to stay healthy so we can enjoy the next two weeks with our Cambodian family.
Enjoy the pictures -- they can't adequately capture the beauty of our experience here, but maybe they can give you a little taste.