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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is Don Bosco Mad?

Is Don Bosco Mad?

The topic for our Good Morning talk this morning, which I really enjoyed.  I believe it really showed the true spirit and life of Don Bosco.  It was in Khmer, but luckily I had a wonderful translator and I also read a bit of it the day before in English helping to explain to the teacher giving the talk this morning.
But so back in the early days of Don Bosco's Oratory, he didn't have much, many of the other priests and people thought he just might be a little crazy.  Seriously.   Stories of boys leaving school and saying they were going to Oratory and the elders telling the children things like, "You know Don Bosco is sick, you probably shouldn't go out."  Bosco had a deep passion and this grand dream of faith in his mind and heart, but regardless of what he had in front of him concretely, in his mind it was all he imagined. 
It got to the point that one day two other priests came to visit and were actually planning to take Bosco to a mental institution, so the books say.  He could tell something was up when the two arrived and then said they wanted to take him somewhere.  He agreed but asked if they were going as well and they nodded.  So he agreed, offered to let them into the carriage first and after they were in, shut the door and told the driver to go the institution.  The doctors there knew they were expecting a priest but surprised to see two.  Bosco won that one, I think 

Don Bosco was a man that was never considered anything more than poor as a child, but throughout his life, it seems that he not only struggled, but found far more riches than many of us dared to dream.

Although so many thought he was crazy and there were low points where he, himself was starting to believe that he might just be crazy, look at all he created by truly believing in his dreams and living out his faith.  Such a beautiful, yet light-hearted message to reflect on for my Thursday.  It helps to illustrate that all us have desires and dream and that they are possible, but you will have to fight to make it happen, something Bosco did daily for years on end, he lived his life for the youth and throughout the WORLD, people, young and old look to him to create opportunities and inspire. 

As I was sitting listening to this story, I look around and smile about the system and many, many schools that he has helped to create.  Don Bosco always strived to create in one atmosphere: 4 things: School, Church, Playground and Home and although there are sometimes little things within the schools that are frustrations or problems, I truly believe that we have all 4 and to listen this morning about how many people saw Don Bosco as insane, but to be living out his dream many years later, out in one of the many countries that he dwells.

So in true Good Morning/Night fashion: the moral or what to take from this is to definitely to think and reflect on what is it we want to do with our lives, are you afraid to share because others will think you are crazy?  Well in the way of Don Bosco, it seemed to all be alright in the's not always easy but if you are genuinely working for the good of others you will see results, regardless of if they are exactly what you imagine.  

Good night, yall!  Sub bun da alll (Sweet Dreams)

Saturday, January 12, 2013


“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

I came across this quote one year ago, today as I was packing up the last of my stuff, saying terrible goodbyes and leaving everything comfortable to me.  I found this quote quite noble and extremely relevant to come across the day I am leaving to come to Asia.  I had it saved on my phone and it looked at it occasionally.  I stayed with it for many months, I will go home with such a sense of who I am and I am being with these girls, my friends.  At first I kind of took this as my anthem, my words for ‘mission’ and my time here.  Then several months later I looked at these same words and was not too impressed, actually a bit disgusted, not at Gandhi, of course but of me, for thinking of this experience of something for myself.  I hated that I had this quote that spoke of finding myself rather than talking about the others.  I kept thinking, I am here, to be here, to serve, to enjoy, hang out and teach with these girls, I’m not HERE to learn about myself.  And that has stayed with me solidly since also, putting my wants aside, and yes, hello I’m not always great at it, HUMAN…but that being here as a volunteer isn’t only about teaching English, but living with them.  Now, one year after I wrote and stuck to this quote, I do understand it a bit more, I think.  Now I am still with the idea before of me not being solely here to find myself, but as I reflect on this last year, I don’t think “finding yourself” comes to you all at once, but I do definitely see the losing yourself part.  I lost a bit of just about everything, PRIVACY-sharing what I call my HOME with over a hundred others, them asking me what I was doing up so late if they can see my light still on at night, being asked to remain silent by the Sister as I am headed to my room multiple times, CONFIDENCE-not being able to communicate at times, not teaching effectively, questioning every little thing, PRIDE-learning to say Yes, Sister and helping in ways I am not necessarily qualified or even good at but I try, sarcastically WEIGHT-due to the little critter that tagged along in my stomach for a while, and also losing myself in so many other ways.  Have I enjoyed every single moment?  No, there were moments, minutes, hours and rarely but sometimes days of frustration, but I am truly happy I chose to come and to stay a bit longer. Coming home in June, YALL.


Wow, went in a flash.  I love the season of advent, the readings, the preparation, the waiting, it was so neat to sit in mass remembering this time last year as we were preparing for Christmas and I was preparing to come and to see it all one year later.  But at school we had a Christmas Bazaar- a fundraiser for the school, the students all had some sort of program whether dancing, singing or a skit, then they were in a group of selling food and then all of the oratory girls had games to get a bit of money as well.  We had many, many people and the girls had a blast and made a bit of money also. The day before one of our teachers got married. Then one week later we had a Christmas play, a Khmer, businesswoman version of A Christmas Carol.  Then all the girls headed home for our week of Christmas holidays.  Christmas in Cambodia was a bit strange.  First off, Buddhist country so the day wasn’t even a national holiday, kids were at school and people at work, it was warm, definitely no snow here and the house was so, so quiet as all the girls were home and us volunteers and the Sisters were spending some time talking to family over the computer.  We did have a grand meal together and mass Christmas morning was simple, but beautiful, but so different than any Christmas I have experienced.    

As always, some pictures!

This is my lovely uniform and some of the girls at our Christmas party at school.

Our Christmas gifts!

Add caption

Staff Party

Christmas Day!

Goin' fishin

Playing Bingo

After the Christmas Play with the ghosts!

such attitude

one of the models in the fashion show

Tr. Borey's wedding


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cross Cultures

Greetings everyone!

So this time cross cultures isn't referring to me in my foreign land, this has become a beautiful home in every meaning of the word, but this time my parents coming to visit me in my foreign land.

I cannot describe my excitement to see them.  I arrived at the airport I was meeting them in much earlier, so I went around exploring Guam, a new place for me also, with a lovely old couple who I had become friends with on our overnight flight.  They picked me up from my hotel and showed a big part of the island and even dropped me back off at the airport at the end of the day, so I didn't have to pay for a taxi.  Then I anxiously paced, took the escalator up and down and then around the time, I went to meet them as they came out.  Silly me I made a sign as if they wouldn't recognize me or something, but as I was waiting I would go through spurts where I thought I was going to start crying (typical, I know), then I would get so giddy, I was just bouncing around, but when they finally came through those doors, I just had a huge smile on my face, but for the most part I played it cool.

We visited two islands within Micronesia, incredible diving, authentic people and the easy life with Ma and Pa.

Then after a few minor problems, we arrived in Cambodia.  As we were sitting in the tuk tuk, watching all the life pass by on such tiny vehicles around us, I couldn't fit it into my head that they were here with me in a place I have now made a home.  We saw the sights, showed them my tricks to haggling and taught them a few words in Khmer and they quickly learned the traditional greeting, hands together at heart center,  even found Dad a fabulous Cambodian-style shirt and shared some beautiful meals with some of the people that have made my journey so beautiful.

They got to see the colors of the city and the many fruits, the devastation of the killing field and Khmer Rouge, the heart of the school and the people inside and clash of people within the city and the love felt by all those we encountered.

My absolute favorite part was the dinner with my students, I had just arrived back in Phnom Penh and trying to get in contact for some of the girls to meet us for dinner, PIZZA. (Random Fact:  Cambodians eat pizza with ketchup...I guess they think its best just to fit all the 'barang' food together)   Continuing with my story, I didn't have all the numbers and about half way through the day ran out of money on my phone, but the contacts I had made I told them to get ahold of as many as they could.  We walk into the pizza place, not sure how many would be there, with ~20 smiling faces greeting my parents and acting all shy.  We drank our Cola Cola, ate our pizza along with our tuk tuk driver as well, the more the merrier, right.  My mom and dad surrounded by my students asking about their feel for Cambodia and if they recognized me after nine months.  One of my students had on her bracelet that my mom had made and sent for graduation and she made to point it out and say thank you.  They ended the evening by singing a song of thanks for dinner and for meeting them and then followed our tuk tuk for a bit on their motos.

I know I didn't share a lot, but most of the time, the pictures tell it all, so here you are.

My kind, kind friend that showed me around Guam

Yap, Micronesia--this is a meeting house

Mama and some stone money...they still use these between villages, but only for very important things

Trying some bettelnut

Chewing it

after effects

Palau, Micronesia--this is supposedly the island they filmed Survivor on for a while
good looking people


the big one, curse is lifted...check these guys off my list
baaa dummmmmm

my mother, so fierce this pictures make her look

tuk tuk in Thailand

getting our fish massage was quite comical

Dad was really trying to get into the mindset