Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Eighth update

hmmmm - another long break between updates.  I was way too relaxed while I was away and I barely got out the computer other than to Skype Gra and Mum.  Our time away was so beautiful I can't even put it into words!...I am hoping to add a few photo's to this update.  Kep is an amazing place in so many ways.  There are beautiful green trees and mountains protruding out of the earth like the glasshouse mountains in QLD.   The accommodation is what many would call basic, but for me it was perfect.  Gorgeous little 'bungalows' set in amongst greenery.  Not much of a view but the lovely cool more than made up for it.  I woke early every morning (had a furry little friend similar to a squirrel appear at about 5.30am every day)....once I worked out what it was I wasn't worried so just got up and listened to my book, prayed or just 'was'.  It was really lovely and refreshing....and only $40per night incl a yummy breakfast!  The 2.5hr ride there and back wasn't bad either.  I got to see many different sights around Cambodia from the comfort of an air conditioned car.  Katrina desperately needed the break and the girls spent most of the time in the pool.  We all got rather burnt because there is little shade around the pool ..... so we spent a lot of time IN it!  I must say we saw some sights on the of the most amazing was a guy on a motorbike with a block of ice that would have been about 2 metres wide and about 30cm square!...not to mention pigs and roosters/chickens by the dozens hanging from bikes!

When we arrived Katrina organised a Tuk Tuk to take us for a look around.  We looked at the most amazing sunset...with a lovely cool breeze over us.  We then took in some of the houses in the many are derelict and have been since Pol Pot.  Hard to believe.  They would be so valuable if they were bought and done up.  Right near the seaside in an area that will, undoubtedly, become a popular tourist location in years to come.....but so sad to see the devastation of the times.

We were all a bit sad to come home on Monday....but you can imagine our joy when we woke on Tuesday morning to the news that a beautiful baby girl had been born at 5.30am!  Katrina called me when she arrived at the office and I packed up my daughter and my gear and we picked up Katrina and headed to the hospital.  What a privilege to be able to photograph this precious new life.  Her mum's story is so sad though.  She lost twins at 6 months gestation, then she had a baby boy who she had to hand over when he was on 7 months because she couldn't provide for herself, let alone her son.  Now she has the sweet little girl, but she is really struggling because she just wants her son back.  (He is almost 3 now and in foster care).  She feels she can't love this little girl, but of course Katrina is moving slowly with her but encouraging her in her love for her daughter. 
I was able to take photographs when little "November" as she's called (born 1/11/11) was only 4.5 hours old!  What an amazing opportunity for me. 
Sadly the state of the hospitals there are disgusting to say the least.  Katrina managed to move this mum from a room she shared with 8 other women - to a 2 bed room.  Katrina had to use alcoholic wipes on all she could but she said she wouldn't even use the toilets there!  I was aghast!...I said if I had one place that I would choose, if asked, to use a toilet in Asia - it would be a hospital....but NO definitely not :)
Another thing that really knocked me around was driving past the children's hospital and seeing the lines of families waiting out in the heat.....apparently for have their children treated.  I wish I could have got my camera out in time....but sadly I couldn't.  We really don't know how good we have it.
Tuesday afternoon I was called in to photograph another mum and her 4mo baby boy.  Didn't go so well because the timing was very wrong for photography and the little man just cried and cried.  Oh well, not to bad an average really!
Wednesday I stayed around home until I met Katrina for lunch (or should I say 'we')...then took Autumn and Eb to a place called 'Elsewhere' which has a pool that is free if you buy a drink or something there.  The girls had fun for a few hours while I skyped with Gra and then planned to do some editing until I realised my battery on my computer was too low!
Katrina and Elijah and Josiah joined us for a while, then we took them all home, fed them, put them to bed and Katrina shouted me an hour massage ($10 per person except Katrina had 1 free voucher so it cost $5 per person)!  She really needed it after a tough day and I just simply enjoyed it!

Today I decided to do the photographs of some t-shirts for a friend of Pauls who is partners in an organisation called 'Justees' which are t-shirts for justice.  I'm doing it as a gift for their organisation...but it ended up taking me almost 2 hours!  I should be editing :)  Then met Kat for lunch again and then a quick trip to the Russian markets then Paul bought Eb and I home and here I am!

So - hopefully the photo's will appear...and hopefully I'll get to update again in a few days!

love as always xxx  *I've just spent ages trying to download a photograph (1 of 28 I re-sized to put on here!) and it's taking forever so I'll have to do it when I get home xxx

Friday, October 28, 2011

Seventh update

I'm  so sorry this has taken so long. 
It seems it's been such a busy few days...I can't believe it's actually 5 days since I updated.
Sunday I went to Church which was so lovely and refreshing.  Some of the people staying out our Hotel came along after I told them about the Church which was lovely.  It was a very special message actually...but that's for another day.
After Church we headed to meet Lee for some lunch and then Eb and I had a bit of downtime until our photoshoot that was scheduled for 3.30pm.  Sadly things got a bit mucked up and mum and bub didn't arrive until closer to 4.30.  Not their fault and we just had to work with the fading light.  Still got some good shots thank the Lord.
Sunday night we went out for dinner at 'Friends' restaurant - another lovely story.  It was quite special.  Just Lee, Eb and I.
Monday we had couple of photo shoots in the morning and then we headed home for some editing...although we didn't get back until quite late.  Monday night we went out to a 'Khmer' restaurant with the Gliddon family for Lee's last night.  Mothers Heart gave Lee a beautiful 'lotus flower' embroidery that I know she will cherish.

Tuesday was Lee's day to head home.  We all had to book out - but thankfully we had a morning to just relax before we checked out at midday.  We met Katrina for lunch and then picked up the children from school and headed out to say goodbye. 

I have so enjoyed my time with Lee, I was just a bit sad to see her leave...but happy that she was going home where she belongs with her family.

We came back home via a few stops and I unpacked and we settled in for the night.

Wednesday I decided I needed to just spend some time with Eb.  We did meet Katrina for lunch, but basically had a very low key day.

Today I had to be up and at 'em ready to be in a tuk tuk with Eb by 7am for an early morning family photo shoot.  I was nervous but excited.  It went quite well.  I then had a couple of things to do before I got a call from Katrina saying there was a baby to be photographed at the office!  Off we went.  Katrina and I went and purchased a few props....then had lunch and then back to the office.  I was hoping NOT to do this one because the time of day made the lighting terrible and I needed to be in the right head space to do another personal photo shoot with a family at 3.30pm.  It did all get done and over the next few days I have a LOT of editing to do.

We are heading to 'Kep', just Katrina, Autumn, Eb and I tomorrow and I feel so much like I just need the break.  It is SO steamy and I'm having 2-3 showers a day if I can.  Coping OK but still really feeling it.  Mum and Tez you just could never consider it!  it was ok in the Hotel, but here it is hard.

Eb seems to be settling in really well.  Has her times of utter defiance - but mostly she's good.  She loves time in the tuk tuk and she is having an absolute ball with the children.

The power seems to be going out almost every single day....and it can go out for hours at a time.  Then it is extra hard.

Anyway - I hope to be able to do a bit more of a catch up from Kep.  ....maybe even from around the pool.  Oh my gosh - I would give almost anything to be able to jump in a cool pool at this very moment!
3 hours drive ahead in the morning...but it will be worth it.

Sadly - dentist on Monday :(

***Daddy we looked back through some photo's of you and Eb at Beechworth for Fathers Day last night and your little girl said 'I miss my daddy mummy'....melted my heart and I'm sure it will yours xxx

lots of love xxx

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sixth update

Lovely, peaceful day today! Autumn stayed overnight. I woke at about 6am and Autumn woke about 6.30. Eb lasted antil after 7 which was great. Katrina arrived at about 11am and we headed to 'Bloom' ...a little oasis in Cambodia There we enjoyed a morning together before Paul picked Katrina up and they headed off to have a dangerous mole removed from Paul's chest. Bloom is an amazing cake shop that we wen to last time we were here for my birthday in 2010. They take women from the street and teach them the skill of cake decorating....and boy what skill it is. They are extraordinarily talented. Ruth, from Brisbane, who....along with her family have started Bloom has a heart to help these women. One of Katrina's 'girls' is now cleared of the Mothers Heart program and is actually a manager there! What a success story. We are photographing that girl and her daughter (who just turned 1) later today. Tez this is for you.....I asked Katrina about placing many women in the offices rather than outside in the community. This will be a bit long winded I think but Katrina's program is one of only 5 organisations in Cambodia that equip the women to go back into a community. Her feeling is very strongly that if she were to house them at the offices she would become like an orphanage or 'home' for these mums. It doesn't teach them how to live normal life and it means that staff would need to be trained and paid to stay on site to care for them. She actually started out on that road - she even received funding - and then pulled out. The more research she does the more she sees her 'model' as being the right one for these women. She now has 5 women who have 'graduated' from her program and are living normal lives in a community and working. How amazing is that? She is totally against orphanages and sees foster care as the way forward rather than having babies and children stuck in orphanages. I hope that all makes sense. I am starting to see how right her thinking is - I just needed to adjust my vision to meet hers and now I'm a total convert. Now for the rest of our day. Eb started to really show major signs of tiredness at Bloom so we grabbed the tuk tuk (lee, autumn, Eb and I) and we headed to do a couple of things for Lee then left Lee to do some shopping and we went in and I managed to get Eb a 2 hour....much needed sleep. We then went with the Gliddons, to the FCC for dinner. Gorgeous old place (Foreign Correspondence Club - for all the reporters many years ago to get together). It overlooks the river. We then went for a stroll along the river on a very warm and balmy evening. So that was our day off! Another day with photography tomorrow! All our love xxx

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fifth update

Today we woke knowing that we had a whole morning free...and part of the afternoon.  We didn't need to begin photographing until mid afternoon.

....then the phone rang and it was Katrina saying that the twins had arrived at the office!....quick change of plans.  I so love what I'm doing, but I so needed this morning off.  Poor Eb has been dragged out of bed every morning and I've had to tread very lightly with her to get her up, dressed, fed and ready.  We started of well, but then I had to push her again.  She really did well and now, at the office, she has developed a bit of a rapour with the staff and she seems to have a wonderful time with them.  We arrived there, started to set up and then thought we needed a new location otherwise all the photo's would start to look the same.  So we decided to take the twins back to our hotel.  We all loaded into a tuk tuk and headed there.  Sadly, I had trouble with my camera and couldn't work out what was wrong...but thankfully, later in the day Lee was able to help out.  It did mean that I barely got 1 good photo of the twins....but the upside is that we are re-shooting them on Monday because they were just not up to the task this morning.  Still not 100% well we don't think.  The setting here at the hotel is so lovely, so the mum is meeting us here at about 9am on Monday and that should work well.....if it isn't raining.

When it rains here - it rains!  it is raining as I type and it's so beautiful to listen to.

The afternoon shoot was at a small 'community' just on the outskirts of Phnom Phen.  We left this busy, dirty, dusty street and turned into a kind of commune.  We drove (only a short distance) through mud, big puddles, rubbish, wooden houses and lots of local folk....until we arrived at our destination.  A gorgeous (in our eyes only) timber hut ...or room actually...that houses this mum, her mum and her baby girl who is almost 1.  Of course I needed to use the bathroom which was nothing short of interesting in a small village like that!
The baby was totally gorgeous of course and many of the village folk came out to see what was going on!  I think the mum probably felt similar to what we would feel like to be a movie star for an hour or so!
We just get settled in and met the family when Katrina called to say that one of her girls has gone into labour - so it meant we needed to rush the photo shoot - but that's life.  The girls who came with us to translate needed to be there to help off we went a bit to soon for us.

And that's really the sum of what was meant to be our not so busy day.  Autumn came to spend the night with us last night and Katrina, Paul and the boys met us back at the Hotel for a nice quiet drink together.  Tomorrow and Sunday are days off - so I'm hoping we can get in some R&R.

I've added photos of Eb and Autumn xxx


Thursday, October 20, 2011

4th update

I'm so exhausted I'm not sure what to say tonight. Getting more confidence with my photography - did another two shoots today. Both Lee and I were exhausted after the first but we soldiered on. The babies and mums are so amazing but I know I've said that already. Can't wait to share a few photos when I can! We have another two tomorrow and then two or three on Friday. Had dinner at Paul and Kats tonight. Kids are fine, Paul a bit stressed and Kat stretched but they're hanging in there. We were meant to photograph twins today but one was quite sick so have to put that off til Monday I think. I'm just blown away by all that is going on and all that Mothers Heart are doing. I'm getting some figures together to give you an idea and hope to post that shortly It's amazing how the Lord is blessing the work of MH but the pressure is enormous. As Katrina said tonight though. She does all she can to not worry. Because she knows that ultimately our God (of the last minute) provides. It's not her place to worry. Such wise words to leave you with xxx

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3rd update

I want to talk a little about all Katrina is doing, I am struggling to come to terms with just how much things have changed in 19 months. I don't want - for one moment - to give the wrong impression. Things are hard and the need for funding is VERY obvious. But it is so wonderful to see how God is at work. The building that now houses Mothers Heart is amazing. 4 floors in total. The ground floor is mostly for the 'clients' as well as a storage area and kitchen. The second floor has an office and a counseling room. The third floor has a board room and more offices and the top floor has a room that is used to sleep/house clients and staff where necessary. The rent alone is some $600 per month. Then there are the amazing baskets of goodies each new mum gets .... The medical care .... The hospital care ... The wages.... The much needed and used tuk tuk driver/s (I've never spent so much time in a tuk tuk as this visit!) ... The water that is consumed ... The meals that are provided ... The computers and necessary office equipment ... The utility bills ... The medication ... The phone bills ... Gosh the list goes ...BUT nothing compares to seeing .....let alone having the privilege of photographing.....these beautiful, healthy, bundles of love. To see such young mums who almost aborted or gave away their child express so much love and to see them care so tenderly for their child has brought more tears to my eyes than I can tell you. What an amazing testament to the love of a mother for her child. No matter what the circumstances of the child's conception these mums have that amazingl ability to love beyond their tragedy. I have been trying to photograph through tears on many occasions. Have I said enough for one post? I could go on for such a long time....but I won't. Eb has been better today - only a minor meltdown before bed - but such a relief after the last 3 nights I can tell you. Had breakfast and dinner here at the Hotel and lunch at 'Jars of Clay' which was yet another very cheap place with amazingly yummy food. Tomorrow we have twin girls to photograph and a small 4 month old boy who is only about 9lbs. I can't believe it's only been 3 sleeps so far - it feels like we've been here a week already. Lee is doing great and is a delight - so relaxed and easy to be with......and so comfortable in Asia after having lived in Singapore for a few years! It has been very steamy and the power has gone out on both days at the office which means no air-conditioning....but we're JUST surviving :). Feeling it more this trip than last - but that could be nerves too.. Love always xxx Jen and Eb xxx

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2nd update

3 nights have passed since we arrived. We woke on Sunday - early - so had a yummy (provided) breakfast here and I decided we'd go to Church. Lee went out for a walk and I came back and text Katrina. I was feeling really headachy and tired and in the end she was under pressure to get there and it was all hard so she suggested we have a quiet morning and they came and picked us up at 12ish and took us to 'the blue pumpkin' for lunch. It was a beautiful little oasis that has a toy shop amongst we barely saw the children! After lunch we chatted a bit about a plan and the the 5 girls headed to the market to buy some textiles as props for the photo shoots. When we arrived back at the Hotel we went and had dinner Eb didnt want anything at first then she did and it took 1.5hrs for hers to arrive for some reason (!). In the end I asked them to deliver it to our room so i could start to get her ready for bed After she ate she had another meltdown so I had to put a screaming child in in the bath for a second night. It's so exhausting when I'm so tired myself. I had a bit to do after she went to sleep and then she was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5am! Needless to say yesterday was a tough day. Not for her - she seemed fine (until another meltdown at bedtime). She played all day and was mostly fine - but I had a really hard day. I absolutely loved doing the photography but I feel so inadequate. Lee is so much more experienced than me and I'm having to push down feelings all the time when I'm so exhausted. Had a bit of a meltdown myself at one stage. I'm hoping I'll feel much better today since I've had better sleep (and Eb is still asleep - which will mean over 12 hours for her). I had to rock and !sing! Her to sleep last night. I haven't done that for a few years! I cried myself for her and in my own exhaustion and emotions. There were two women we photographed yesterday. Lee took one and I took the other. The gorgeous girl I spent time with is 22 and her little son is 2.5 months. She is by far the most shy of the girls. She just had her hair cut and it's the first time Katrina had seen her face properly in all the time she has cared for her. Yesterday Katrina saw the first glimpses of some confidence in her. I cried a few times as I met the girls and although mostly we don't understand each other we sure can communicate. It's amazing. The work Katrina is doing has me blown away. The organization she has developed shows me just how God can equip His people. Eb has just woken and we need to get ready for another big day so I'll do my best to continue soon. Love, Jen and Ebby xx

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cambodia here we are

After some 22 hours Lee, Eb and I finally arrived in Cambodia. I don't think I've ever had such a stressful lead up to going away.....but we made it. Left home at 7.45pm on Friday - headed to the Airport via a stop at McDonalds. I felt nervous and sad all the way in the car and cried when I said goodbye to my man. I don't think I'll ever do something like this again without him. Airport was frantic and we waited in a LONG cue to check-in only to find things have changed and I had to go and kind of repack and then had to pay excess baggage! Not happy. Flight took off on time, then we hit terrible turbulence about an hour out of Melbourne. Worst ever for me yet I coped really well. Both flights had rough patches worst fears lived out (well maybe not my worst!,) Arrived in KL on time and got to the Hotel by about 8am. Had a lovely breakfast then a swim then a lovely shower then back to the Airport (after a panicked look for my phone...which was tucked in my bag and couldn't be heard because it was so well packed....and which all left me wanting another shower!) Then it was off to Cambodia. Flight actually got in about 15mins early and it was so lovely to see the Gliddon gang. We checked into our Hotel then we went to the good old Himaware for a drink by the river (which is incredibly flooded - couldn't believe the flooding as we flew in and was totally unaware of all that was happening here. Many homes and lives lost - so sad). Eb did amazingly through the whole 'adventure'. Barely a bad moment until we were about to land in Phnom Phen. Then played hard with the Gliddon children when we were out (all on very minimal sleep) - but when we were dropped back at the Hotel the 'chickens came home to roost' as the saying goes.. She stood outside the door of our room saying she didn't like the smell and I had to bring her in forcibly then try to undress-bath and then settle a totally distraught child. She finally fell into an exhausted sleep in my arms on the couch and it was only minutes before I carried a comatose child to bed. She slept about 12 hours - I didn't fare so well and feel quite yucky today but I know I'll be fine with a good sleep tonight. Love to all who read xx

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A girls weekend in Sydney

I have so looked forward to these couple of days.

Just a couple of nights with a gorgeous girlfriend and her gorgeous daughter.
Eb and Sarah spend quite a bit of time together and get on well (well most of the time!)
there is about 16 months between them, but they have a ball together!...

We left on Sunday after Church a flew from Albury to Sydney. We arrived at about 3pm at the Hotel and then had a little bit of time to fill in before we got ready to go to Mary Poppins.

We had dinner on the way to the cinema in a sweet little Thai restaurant.

Eb and I went to Mary Poppins back in Feb - but it just didn't go well for Eb...and I had no idea how much I had actually missed by sitting as far back as we did. We were up in Dress Circle (even though the tickets were cheaper than the Melbourne show!) and we saw EVERYTHING. I loved it! Ebony enjoyed it too (although this time I DID take snugly for her!). She did spend a bit of time on my lap...but all in all she remembers a lot more. It was an earlier start too...and it wasn't such a stressful lead up!

After the excitement of the show we walked back to our Hotel on a beautiful mild Sydney night!

We finally got the girls to bed....and then to sleep (actually Eb went to sleep almost immediately - poor Sarah struggled to settle after the excitement!).

The next morning we got up (early!) and headed down to breakfast in the Hotel. I'm so glad we took some stickers/colouring books for the girls - it filled in their time beautifully and we could enjoy our breakfast!

Then - we excitedly headed off to Taronga Zoo! I have wanted to go there for years.
We walked to the Mono Rail and - just for the fun of it for the girls - we jumped on for the short journey to Darling Harbour. It was such fun for them!....

Then we arrived at Darling Harbour where we boarded a 'Captain Cook Ferry' bound for Taronga Zoo via a couple of stops...

I was in awe of all the beautiful sights on the boat...but then just as in awe of the sights from the Zoo!

I adore this photograph...even though it's through the glass, it shows an amazing relationship between a mother, her child and, we think, another sibling...

I love this photo of Sarah...

After the Zoo we made our way back to Darling Harbour where the girls had an absolute ball in all the water features!

Then we went back to the Hotel and had a delicious dinner at the Hotel before getting 2 exhausted little (and big!) girls off to sleep

Tuesday we headed down for a yummy breakfast again and booked out by 10am before making our way to the gorgeous "Chinese Gardens" in the heart of Darling Harbour - what a beautiful, tranquil, peaceful place it is

and I just love this one of Eb's hand enjoying another water feature. We filled in time around Darling Harbour again before we headed back to the airport for our flight home!

What a wonderful, fun couple of nights we had....all of us!