Our vision for our time in Cambodia is to be given to whatever the Lord has for us. The invitation so far has been to support existing ministries at Hard Places Community. For Aaron that looks likes coaching and discipleship of the 55+ national staff. However to do that I feel really strongly that I need to be able to go to deep places in their heart language; Khmer, which requires an advanced level of language speaking ability. To get to that level, I am looking at one to two years of study and practice.
In September I started part time language class through Gateway to Khmer (G2K) international language school. I am in level one of four, with 5 other students. We meet twice a week in the evenings for a couple hours per class. So far we have learned basic greetings, questions, numbers, and job titles. Some of the other students are teachers at an international school and the others are working at various NGO's. The class primarily is focusing on vocabulary so far, but is well run and I am learning pretty well in that format. My current class goes for 10 weeks, after which I will start level two full time.
Last week I also started meeting with a language helper. The goal is to accelerate my language learning by learning more topics than just what they are presenting in class. I also wanted to get time with someone who has no teaching experience but speaks fluently so that I can learn the correct way to pronounce things without any presupposed ideas on how to teach. I learned some language learning activities when we went to culture school in Colorado in June. My language helpers name is Annuch. She recently graduated high-school and is volunteering full time in the Library with Megan to practice her English and get job experience before she starts university in November. She didn't have any prior experience and has been enthusiastic about doing my activities with me and answering lots of questions. So far I have been learning directions, locations, vehicles, times of day, personal pronouns, and how to form past tense and present tense sentences related to transportation. I am really enjoying this one on one time and am getting a ton out of it! Yesterday in our session, among other things, I was able to tell her that: others and I went to a school and market the day before yesterday on a bike, all in Khmer with correct syntax. My time with Annuch amazingly is free, and in return for her help I am spending some time every session helping with her English. She already speaks very clearly, but we are focusing on her reading and writing skills.
Annuch starts at the university in November, but has offered to keep meeting with me if she is able. Either way I'm very grateful for how quickly I am learning because of her help; and will look for another helper if she is not able to continue working with me.
Language learning is an important part of our life and ministry here in Cambodia. I am very blessed by the training and opportunities I have. Its not always easy finding time to practice right now outside of class and time with Annuch, but I know that every minute spent learning gets me closer to loving and journeying with HPC Khmer staff; and that makes it more than worth it. Thank you everyone for you prayers and encouragement as we continue on the wild journey with the Lord.
This blog post is a copy from our quarterly newsletter which was sent out a couple weeks. I wanted to post it here for anyone who doesn't receive our newsletter. I will start posting new weekly updates here next week.
We are in Cambodia!
We have been in Cambodia for almost two months already, the time has flown by. Thank you to everyone for all of your amazing prayers as we traveled from California and have transitioned to living here. We have seen God do many things already:
It’s been a long 6 months as we traveled to Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and California to say goodbye to all of our family and friends. But it was an amazing blessing to see everyone we did and to be sent so well. We have also been welcomed very well by our team here in Cambodia. Some of them met us at the airport and helped us get all our stuff to where we were going to be staying.
After two and a half years of preparation it has been surreal to finally be back in Cambodia. Some things are the same, but many things are also different. We had friends drive us around and show us different places to shop and the kinds of things available here. This was all really helpful to us getting some of the basics as we transition to our new life here.
We started off staying at a friend’s house the first two weeks. He was amazing, his home was really nice, and it helped us transition here. But it also felt a little like limbo as we looked for our own place. We finally found a home to call our own, and moved in three weeks ago. We love it! We got a nicer house than we thought we could , for cheaper than we thought we would be able to, and in the exact area we wanted. Prices have been going up around here, but our friends who have been living here all say we got an amazing deal. We have started meeting our neighbors who seem great and would love to continue building relationships with them.
We also have amazing landlords who have gone way above and beyond preparing the home for us, and fixing things for us. Those things are not normal around here, most landlords don’t do anything to fix their homes or accommodate renters. It has taken us some getting used to only having one hot plate and now a toaster oven for cooking, but over all we love the home. We really feel like it was God who blessed us with the home and our whole situation here.
The girls started school 5 days after we arrived. The school is amazing, they both have great teachers, and are making friends. Harper is a social butterfly and is really thriving at school. Ember is making friends and enjoys classes, but it also wears on her emotionally being away from her sister and parents for such long periods. Harper is in class 5 days a week; while ember has Mondays and Thursdays off.
Our support has been short of our budget, but the Lord blessed Megan with an interim Librarian position at the girl’s school through December when the Librarian returns. It doesn’t cover all of our remaining needs, but it is helping a ton! She started work last week and is really enjoying getting connected with everyone at the school.
Aaron starts language school next week. He will be doing night classes two nights a week through December. That schedule allows him to watch Ember Mondays and Thursdays when she is off from school. Aaron also does most of the grocery and household shopping, cleaning, and cooking. However, he is excited to get going on learning the language. Aaron also is going to get a part time language helper as soon as we can afford it, which will accelerate his learning.
There are many amazing churches here in Phnom Penh. We have been to a couple, including an assembly’s church, a Kingdom Cities church, and an Anglican church. We are also going to visit a local new life campus near our home. We wanted to visit several churches to get a feel for the different communities, make connections throughout the city, and see where God leads us to put down roots.
To find out more about why we are in Cambodia and what we will be doing go to the homepage on our website: www.holmeslove.com
Here's a few prayer request highlights:
If you'd like to write us a post-card or send us physical gifts, our permanent address is Megan’s mom’s house; and she will send things with people coming to visit us:
Aaron and Megan Holmes
3664 Sunwood Drive
Redding, CA, 96002
We no longer have our old phone numbers. If you would like to contact us please email hardplacesaaron@gmailcom, or use any of our other social media listed on our website to connect with us www.holmeslove.com/contact.
Thank you to all of you who have been so amazingly generous with our family. We literally wouldn’t be here without you. Besides our monthly budget we raised $4000 towards our moving costs.
Some items we used the moving budget to pay for include:
We would still like to raise $3500 for the remainder of the expenses to fully setup our new life in Cambodia. We also need to raise about $500 more a month right away to get us through December. Partner with our family and go to www.holmeslove.com/donate
All donationations are tax deductable and greatly appreciated!
Thank you for partnering with us!
Megan, Aaron, Harper, and Ember Holmes