Ton Le Sap Lake, Cambodia

Tuesday, November 26

Happy thanksgiving week friends:) 
I just love this season. I flew home to northern California on Saturday
and my mom and I spent a glorious day shopping and oohhhing and aaahhhing over all the gorgeous Christmas decor!
{and may or may not have busted out some Christmas carols in the car, accapella!}
I am now spending my days snuggled up by the fire, drinking tea,
and editing the festive family photo shoots i've been taking the last few days! 

But today, I thought I'd share with you our pictures from Ton Le Sap Lake in Cambodia! 
Who knew that the largest lake in SE Asia was located in Cambodia? I sure didn't! 

The same day we wandered out into the countryside and saw the Lotus pond,
was the same day our driver brought us to the shores of Ton Le Sap. 
Besides being the biggest lake in SE Asia, it also is home to over 7,000 people! 
Yes, they actually live on the lake.
They are called the floating villages. 

Our guide, a 23 year old boy who grew up on the lake, shared the history. 
Durin the Vietnam war, many refugees sought refuge in Cambodia, and many of them could not afford to live on land, so they reverted to residing in homes on the lake…ie: house boats! He told us it is extremely difficult to live on the lake. For starters, you have to take a boat if you want to go anywhere. you'll see in these photos below that some people get mighty creative in how they travel, some rowing themselves out in big cans! 

Kevin and I were fascinated by this "floating village" and the people who lived there. 
It was amazing to see how resourceful they were:) 

Ton Le Sap lake is about a 30-45 min drive outside of Siem Reap. I would absolutely recommend coming here if you have time! 
It was a highlight of our trip! 

Enjoy the pictures:) 
love Katie 
 {oh hey there little 3 year old with a PYTHON!!!!! around your neck. like!!!}

i've seen too much freedom to live any other way.

Thursday, November 21

 the big question since we got home has been where to live. 
to rent? to buy? to stay with Kev's parents? 
oh my stars! how does anyone make these grown up decisions so easily? waahhhh!!! 

it's a question that at times has 
reduced me to tears, 
made me a stalking freak on, 
and has forced me to get on my knees and pray to the only one who knows the perfect house for us! 

and in this whole process of figuring out where to live,
i've realized that the deeper question Kevin and I have really been asking ourselves 
is how we want to live. 

and what we've come up with is that we want to live
with purpose. 

On all accounts it would be easy to just slip right into a cozy little house
and allow the world to revolve around us.
Some people might even pat us on the back and say things like "after living in Nepal, you deserve this peace and quiet".
And we might actually believe that. 

So Kevin and I talk about it.
A lot of late night chats have ensued as we lay in bed.
Conversation that generally follows this pattern:
Katie: babe, where do you want to live? 
Kev: in the "neighborhood"….you?
Katie: ya, me too. 

that neighborhood where we saw God moving,
felt the love of Christ from our neighbors,
and carried each others burdens.

that neighborhood where we saw poverty
but where we experienced people pull together in a communal spirit
like nothing we had never experienced before.

that neighborhood where kids and friend stopped by our house each day,
because community was more important than personal space.

yeah, that's the neighborhood we can't shake...

just last week I got a call from a friend who lives in the neighborhood…

B: can we use your in-laws pool for a baptism?
me: ya…when?
B: um…tonight. Miguel (*not his real name) is recommitting his life to Christ
and wants to get baptized, like now. 
me: yes, absolutely. 

So a group of guys came over that night to Kev's parents house (not to far from the neighborhood). 
Miguel shared why he wanted Christ to be his everything. 
And then they said those words…
"death to sin"
"alive in Christ". 

and I sat there with tears streaming down my face
as I witnessed these boys from this rough place,
embracing Miguel in these manly hugs, tattoo on tattoo.
Speaking words of life over him.
Replacing the lies with truth everlasting,
and I thought why? why would I ever choose to live somewhere else
when I get to witness the living God right here in this place?
Watching one boy, precious in the eyes of God, give his life to the Creator. 

a few days later, another boy from our neighborhood wrote this on his FB status…
When I started high school I was a F student now I'm in the honor roll and with As and Bs getting 100% on my test funny how god helps you. 

 Ummm…can we talk about why this is such an epic statement? 
Welp, because Jesus CHANGES LIVES. 
straight up…from and F to an A. 

And I can choose to position myself in a place where God can use me for his everlasting work,
or I can choose to position myself in a place that goes no where, forever. 

no matter how tempting the most gorgeous areas in Southern California may be, 
God's invitation to love and be loved by our neighbors is in our DNA. 
It's in our DNA because IT IS HIS DNA. 
And if HE lives in us, then we are carriers of this important mission. 
To share the gospel, to live the gospel, to bring the hope of Christ to all around us. 

I've seen too much freedom to live any other way. 
The neighborhood is for us through and through.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Wednesday, November 20

Siem Reap was an absolute delight to the senses! 
Kevin and I were there for 3 days and it wasn't nearly enough. 

Siem Reap is the home base for visiting the epic temples 
of Angkor Wat, the Cambodian countryside, and Ton Le Sap Lake,
and before we arrived we thought it merely that, a home base. 

but Siem Reap is an incredible place all on it's own. 
It has the BEST markets i've ever been to, 
warmest and smiliest people
delicious food, 
great lodging, 
and above all…cheap prices! 

we rented bikes one afternoon and biked all around the city.
it's big enough to have a lot going on,
but small enough to be cozy and warm and completely "explorable".
we biked outside the main tourist drag and found a Cambodian market,
where we were the only tourists to be found. 
we had a blast trying local flavors,
and being quite surprised at other local delacacies we were not so brave to try! 
{you'll see what I mean below!!}

we also stayed in the absolute BEST place ever on the planet,
i'm not joking. 
scroll down as I relive the amazingness of this fabulous hotel!!
 {kev being his very adventurous self and trying a "home-made" drink!}
 {exploring the markets!}
 {prepare yourself for some very "exotic"cambodian delicacies!}

We stayed at the Golden Temple Villa.
I'm not kidding friends, if you are in Siem Reap, you would be a fool not to stay here! 

First of all, this place is only $12 a night…
i know…I know! 
Secondly, the minute you arrive, you are greeted by the most friendly people
and ushered into their fabulous restaurant for free drinks and a snack! {like legit drinks & snacks}
and then…yes it gets better…you get to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour massage! 
Kev and I got our massages side by side in their relaxing massage room…it was heaven!
Not to mention the gardens, and the hammocks we did our quiet times on each day! 
so lovely! 

and their restaurant…to.die.for.
Every day I ordered their fried spring rolls {gluten free too!!}
because they were only $2.50 and soooo yummy! 
rarely would I choose to stay at a hotel's restaurant, but all i wanted to do was eat here, 
it was that AMAZING!!! 

ok…i could go on and on and on…but I think you get the point:) 

happy wednesday friends:) 

love Katie