“Doing what you like is freedom, …

…liking what you do is happiness.”

I’m sorry for not having posted during the last few weeks. Honestly, I’ve been very busy. Not only was I trying to get very comfortable but also it didn’t take long until I got loads of new tasks and challenges. In the first few days, I thought, I will have an easy start and also will never be extremely stressed. I thought, I will have every week at least half a day time to write for my website. But that was only, what I thought. The reality was completely different. Nowadays, I write as soon as I find some minutes. Once for example, I wrote while my motorbike got cleaned or once when we had to stop filming due to rain. And now since I’m sick, I have time to upload it.
I’m sure, many are asking now, what I do day in, day out. Let me tell you.

Time management
During two meetings with Sophal and ND Strupler, the leading couple, we talked about what they would expect from me and also what they would like me to do here.
Working itself got an wholly new definition. All in all, I may manage the time by myself. Most important is, that I finish the things I have to within the time limit. This is great in terms of flexibility but brings also some difficulties, since I’m not at all used to it. In the beginning, I struggled with finding out how to use the time effectively. Like the locals we work 6 days a week (and sometimes even 7).

Weekly appointments
– Celebrations – church services: 3x on Sunday, including briefings, food and fellowship, prayers, …, the day starts in church around 7am until 9pm the earliest. We have a break for about 3h in the afternoon.
– Meetings
__with all leaders: 2x for about 2h each
__with my team EVENT: at least 1x for about 1h
– Smallgroup: 1x, at least 2h
– Khmer lessons: 2x for 1h each plus a lot of self-study

Full house on Sunday

Full house on Sunday

My activities

My team “EVENT”
Before I came, we had four different sorts of events and all got organised by another person. My task is it now to build a team with these four as well as to teach them how to organise, make a budget, plan in advance, … . They do not know a lot about strategic planning yet, thus I work out a concept, a check list and give them many tips. Furthermore, we have almost weekly an event which we organise together and which we discuss looking back. Our events have two main causes: Firstly, to enjoy some free time with people from church, to have fun and to connect with each other. Secondly, we encourage them to invite other people, so they get in touch with us and our church and might even become interested in believing in the one and only god. We’re sure, that they notice our joy and love which they don’t experience from too many places.

I want to describe these four events briefly:

Sport event with Kimlong
We rent some sport fields, play football, volleyball or so together, have a tournament.

Volunteer pool party with Mouykea
We meet on a Saturday afternoon, eat lunch together, play some games inside and outside the pool, swim. As the name says, this event is only for the team from ICF.

Fun ride with Dara
We usually meet early in the morning and ride to a certain place where we play some games, race, have lunch, enjoy the community and finally ride back.

Some impressions from the last fun ride:

Fun day with Sopheap
This event is supposed to be interesting for everybody. In order to that, we try to make it as special and fun as possible. We meet in town and then either cycle or ride a motorbike to a lake or a waterfall or so, where we then have a great programme: we eat, play, swim, enjoy, take photos, … … …
Last time was a huge challenge: Sopheap was on vacation that’s why I had to organise it more or less by myself even though I’ve never done something like this before. We also had lots of unnecessary discussions in our team and those didn’t make it easier at all. But all in all we made it and it was a great day. Convince yourself:

Smallgroup
For three weeks, family Pink were on vacation back in the USA. During that time I was responsible for leading the smallgroup while two Khmers helped me. I’ve never done that before, neither have I been to one in Switzerland thus this was an entirely new experience for me. Smallgroup is what we call a gathering every Wednesday. About 20 people would usually join. First we eat dinner together, then play a game, worship, watch a short clip with the preacher from past Sunday speaking and then I talk a bit about it. The second part is then to split into minigroups of 3 or 4 and delve deeper into the theme.

Signs
One of the coolest job I got is to put the signs for ICF on different spots next to the street. It is hard work since they are not light and it’s always hot – however what makes it extremely special, is the car I can use for it (picture). In Switzerland, or even whole western world, it probably wasn’t allowed to drive anymore. There is no door, no window, no seat belt, no perfectly working brake, no display for speed, … . In Cambodia the rule is: As long as it moves, you may drive.

IMG_0817

There are also many other things I do, like writing for the website and newsletter for sponsors, self study of leadership and the language and other things which I don’t want to mention all now. As soon as I do have more time (probably after the Grand Opening) I’ll most likely start learning the letters, which they have loads of.

Grand Opening
We all have been extremely busy within the last weeks because the Grand Opening is on the 7th of September. Until then, ICF will have been here for 1 year. It will be the official kick off and also an opportunity to show the city that ICF is here and even more important we hope to make people curious about God and Christianity. All of us got several smaller and bigger tasks.

Countdown
Last year, I made this one: Countdown 2013. Since that was a real success, ND decided to choose me again for making a new one. The “rules” are now a bit different and so is the way to work: I get supported by our video team (all locals), that means, that they ask people to participate and explain them what we want (easier like this because they know the language) and also invite them for the Grand Opening. My part is to tell them, where we go, who I want how in the film, to give ideas, to lead them and finally to encourage them to bring their own ideas. It’s important, that they grow in their independence which they’re lacking a bit. Once, it was pretty much in the beginning, we asked two ladies and they first wanted to do it but since my team discussed the action too long they finally left because they didn’t have time to wait. My team became very disappointed and ashamed that we missed the opportunity and they also blamed themselves for it. One guy then told me that from then on they would only listen to me and do everything I say. I answered, that this is exactly the opposite of what I want. I wanted them to bring their own ideas, to ask me “how about this idea with that person” … We were a bit “low” but after a quick prayer and a coke they forgot about it and were even better than before. More and more they came with ideas even when we ate dinner. They couldn’t stop and wanted to film there, too.
In addition to that, another big difference is, that we have motorbikes which enable us to go to many different places and even outside the city.
I will then edit and cut the clips. For that I first need to get to know the programme. Youtube is my awesome teacher 🙂

Some impressions from working:

Spotlights
I will also be in the photo and video team on the event itself. For a photo booth and to illuminate other things we need some spotlights. We do have a stand, mounting and spotlight themselves already, however we need more of them. To find all these things was a great adventure: For the stand I drove the main road up and down and asked in many shops. I found three which had and prices ranged from $35 to $50 (!) for a set of two. I could finally get a discount of $2 at the cheapest place.
The thing which we would put on the stand and on which we would hang the spotlights were pretty easy to get: I simply went to one of many welders and asked them to copy it. They made it even with the cable and plug. He asked me until when I needed them and I said whenever he’s ready. He then told me that he couldn’t make it very fast, probably not on the same day anymore but for sure until the next day. Well, that left me speechless – I had expected that I would have to wait about a week or so…
The spotlights were also not too difficult to buy. I only had to find a place with lights first. I asked them to put a cable plus plug on it which came out very Cambodian-style-like. The Spotlight itself might be IP65 (good protection), however where they put the cable together is not much security anymore. Well, I will fix that somehow. Additionally, they tried to cheat me: they gave me 9x 3000K and 1x 6500K (these are different light colours). Unfortunately for them, I used to work with light and thus I pay attention to such details. Nevertheless, I loved the shop, they had all different kinds of lamps, heaps of old ones too – even the good old light bulb!
This all might sound quick and easy, however you shouldn’t forget that this is still Cambodia and everything takes a lot of time: finding a shop, negotiating the price, …

Free time
Right now I do not have much time for doing nothing. Soon, I will buy a bicycle because I want to do some sport (became very lazy here). Furthermore, I agreed with ND, that we would start at a 10km-race in November. Great, what I brought on myself late in the evening when my brain was already turned off and we had enjoyed one or two sips of wine… For that I should also train, by the way. And shoes would be advantageous – I don’t think that I can make it with Flip Flops. 😉

I actually love, that I have so much to do. It sure is exhausting but also fun at the same time. I love all these challenges every day. I love working with Khmers even though sometimes it can be very tough. I love being here!

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”

I am definitely both, free and happy!

  • ND Strupler

    Great post. I’m looking forward to the 10k with you. You are doing a great job here.

    • ViV

      Thank you! I appreciate that a lot. 🙂