Real kids. Lots of love.

Day two in Cambodia starts, well, now. It’s 6:09 a.m. and I have finally given up the struggle to stay in bed. Jet lag is a bit harsh, no matter how many times I travel. I suppose that there’s some consolation to be had in the knowledge that it’s much harder on the return trip.

But, hey. I’m not complaining. The trip thus far has been a-okay! My kids are getting along well, the team from my church is having a blast, and the food has been just outstanding. Most important, however, we’re back “home” in Cambodia, visiting with some of our favorite people in the world.

Yesterday afternoon Kori, the kids and I made a brief appearance at our school – just long enough to confuse the students and staff about why we didn’t arrive earlier than 10 minutes prior to dismissal. We got a few hugs, shook a few hands and handed over Chien, Pak and Xiu Dan to the kids from the Prek Eng 2 children’s home. Hand-in-hand, they walked the 700 or so meters home, carefully avoiding traffic on the improved, but still treacherous road from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City.

Kori and I, finding ourselves momentarily de-kidded, hung around for a few minutes longer and then hopped into our car and promptly got lost. So much has changed in and around Phnom Penh in the last year – new roads, new buildings, new signs – it’s quite easy to take a wrong turn, even if the destination is less than a mile away. We quickly corrected course and arrived at Prek Eng 2 to find Jamie, Teddy, Ben and Sarabeth fed, watered and chatting with Narun and Sophal, the home’s parents.

After the kids arrived home from school, they changed out of their uniforms – the white shirts and blue pants or skirts that every student in Cambodia wears – and we began to play. Teddy, Chien, Pak and some of the older boys got into a spirited soccer match (so spirited that Teddy tore a piece of his foot off on the pavement), Xiu Dan played on the swingset with some of the girls, Jamie, Ben and Sarabeth did ‘Simon Says’ and ‘Duck Duck Goose’ and Kori and I hung out on the front porch and chatted with the kids who tired from the various activities.

The pictures can tell the story better than words: this is a place of joy. It’s a place of hope. Real kids, real parents, real struggles and real needs. A real family that, blessed by some miracle of multiplication — akin, perhaps to Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand — has accumulated so much love that they can afford to give it away freely to me, my family and my friends.

This morning’s activities — a visit to the tailor shop, an massage appointment for Jamie’s aching back, another fantastic meal — all of these are interesting in their own right, but compared the opportunity to share another wonderful afternoon with the kids, they seem pretty routine despite the unusual locale.

Apparently this is a public album, one that you can see without logging on to Facebook. But hey, why not become a friend of Asia's Hope on Facebook? 

Prayers before dinner

Pay reads from the Bible

Sarabeth and her admirers.Some of my favorite girls.Is Pay really that small? Is Ben really that big? Jamie, completely in her element.Home sweet home

Banana chipsHandmade noodles in Phnom Penh

Delicious phở in a streetside cafeXiu Dan and Chien in the Columbus airport