The Tuk Tuk drive HOME!

dianne with maggiemaggie's familyedna & mayEdna & May my girls!

teaching in Shulin Shulinthe Taiwan troops

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

We have been home almost a week and still find it difficult to really fathom where we’ve been – the miles we’ve covered, the people we’ve met along the way….the journey wasn’t always easy (especially the challenges of going from country to country) and the pain of leaving behind people we came to know and love was difficult…but it was worth every Tuk Tuk drive, every bug bite, every “different” food, & every mountain climb challenge we met!

Anita once said to me “every head is a world” (which is SO true!) and I misquoted it by saying “every head is awhirl” (we found that it was on MANY occasions on this adventureJ) A very special retired teacher we met & loved (she truly was an angel!) then quoted to us “every flower is a world”… It was in the little things that we truly found the miracles along the way!

“My three sons” taught in Taiwan years ago (the children they taught now in their teens) & their mothers not only met us at the airport but arranged for an apartment for us and took us around Taipei – they fed us delicious Taiwanese food, arranged for trips through museums, their friends took us (inJ) & hiking, & we toured every nook & cranny possible to see in their beautiful country! We were then treated like royalty by Maggie’s family and blessed by ALL there in the south we met… please come visit us in Canada!

A trip truly to be remembered in our hearts forever! I will add 4 countries in less than 2 months might be too challenging for other Gogos but “to know one culture is to know no culture” so we would challenge you to get to know a new Canadian (or work such as Prison Fellowship Cambodia) from another culture and experience the beauty of life through their eyes!

“He delights in every detail of OUR lives” Ps 37:23

…every flower, every individual we meet, every challenge, every tear!

Thanks for following us on this LONG Tuk Tuk drive…HOME never looked so GOOD!! And THANKYOU to all the ones who showed us kindness along the way…what a BLESSING you were in our lives…we MISS YOU! Chris & Dianne

jon teaching in 2008 every flower is a world!

“Every Flower is a World!

Even Gogos can hike up mountains!

the 6k+ hike!hiking up bukit kembara

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”          Martin Luther King Jr.

Already it seems months ago that we were teaching at “the Centre” in Cambodia with Rotha and Sinath and working with Prison Fellowship Cambodia with many we have come to know and love so well there!

We can only hope that we not only remember, but continue to help them in their need there with the many obstacles they face. They are a people that have had so much to recover from, and yet are so very gracious and gentle and forgiving; truly a people that we can no longer “become silent about”!  Our travels took us through Malaysia where we had a few days to sort out some visa problems and though at times exhausted from it all we again found the people there welcomed us warmly into their hearts & home.  We hiked up the beautiful “Bukit Kembara” and toured around Kuala Lumpor with the Yap family (friends of the Lau family back home) who were so very kind to us – taking us out for Malaysian & Indian food & making us feel at home!

larry & teacher nathan!Nate's students Teagan & Larry!

“teacher Nathan” with Larry at Shulin School…and now – seven years later!

“Reunions are so delicious”! Bethany Rule Vedder

That about sums up the warm reception we received as we were met by the students and their mothers May & Edna at the airport in Taiwan so many years after Nathan taught them here in Shulin! We have been shown the most incredible TLC possible to give including delicious Taiwanese & Japanese food, massage, tours of the City, and accommodation by friends of Jonathan & Maggie (Masoud & Carina) as well as a retired teacher who has taught school & lived here for 40 years!  Mu Lan (“Magnolia”) has also arranged for us to teach from grades 7-9 in a school close by – Yulin.  What a privilege to be here and experience the life & heart of the people in this country!

 

the %22hockey gang%22 & dinner with Judy!%22dang bing%22 with Masoud & Carina

Dianne has travelled to Hsinchu (visiting the son of a friend from home working here) with Mu Lan today (Chris is home sick but did get a chance to learn how to play Mahjong with Mu Lan:) We will then be heading to kaohsiung for a week with Maggie (Jon’s girlfriend’s family) before heading back to Canada via Bangkok on April 20th!

So ends the saga of the Tuktukagogo “grandmas on the go”!  What an adventure for two retired Grandmas…our “Gogo” days have only just begun:)

Thankyou to ALL of our faithful followers & FB “likers” – such fun to have you travel with us! We are truly blessed to have you beside us all the way…

“He…set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps & establishing my goings” Ps 40:2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuk Tuk a Gogo is on the Go Again!

“It takes so little to make a child happy that it is a pity in a world full of sunshine and pleasant things, that there should be any wistful faces, empty hands, or lonely little hearts” Louise May Alcott (“Little Men”)

the Centremarket shopping today!

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity here in Cambodia – which correlates to the way everyone drives as well!  In a city of 2.2 million we sometimes feel rather vulnerable in our little Tuk Tuk and are so thankful we have Jeer driving (and not us!)  He seems to know when to cross over 3 lanes of traffic into the oncoming swarm of scooters, Tuk Tuks, and motorcycles (with a family of 4 or 5 on board), and wagon loads of everything imaginable piled high! The odd lexus swerving through the midst of it all honking threateningly,but with little effect on the crowds, overloads the senses!

a night on the town in our Tuk Tuk with Jeer!

We have been kept busy by the Lauers – Stephen and Beth – who warmly welcomed us into their home for meals & birthdays and to share in the lives of the people they have come to love and serve over the past 4 years.  With them we enjoyed visits to the Orussey and Russian markets and along the banks of the Mekong River (great shopping – thanks Beth!) Refreshing lime tonics were a favorite at the various cafes which support women by offering “alternative employment for victims of sex trafficking” through training in cooking & crafts (our favorite being “Jars of Clay”!:)

Orussey Marketthe riverside

We taught English as a Second Language classes in the prisons through Prison Fellowship Cambodia and interviewed the social workers who are working with the prisoners and their children. These little ones are so vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, and neglect, and the stigma which is attached to “children of prisoners”.  PFC offers prisoners hope through their many programs in  “education, reintegration, foreign assistance, basic needs, and the “Freedom project” for their children.   A new initiative “restorative justice” (which has seen huge success in in NA) has helped many prisoners find forgiveness for themselves and their families.

We have met a dynamic couple Rhota and Synat who have dedicated their lives to a work they have built over the past 10 years in “the Centre” – a community center which teaches English to children of factory workers from the ages 3 to 13 as well as the parents of these children.  Their focus is on mentoring and social enterprise through “handmade and one-of-a-kind cards” which pay for expenses of renting and running the facility.  See their Facebook site called “Brothers and Sisters All” where individuals are encouraged to put their hands together in unity and integrity, dedicating their skills and gifts to one another, and those around them.  Education and learning are key and it has given a country, once devastated by genocide, the tools to “step by step” overcome adversity.

What a privilege it has been to be a part of these two life-changing NGO’s!

Our next leg of the journey will take us to Taiwan!  Although we will not be riding in “Tuk Tuks” we will take you with us as we travel via Kuala lumpur to Taipei and south to Kaohsiung – the hometown of Maggie (Jonathan’s girlfriend:)  We hope to arrive back home Easter weekend to a lovely spring day – and NO snow! …two tired Gogos!

 

Tuk Tuk A Gogos Arrive in Cambodia!

Cambodia – Siem Reap – March 14th – 19th

“Do one thing every day that scares you” Eleanor Roosevelt

We arrived in Cambodia the evening of March 14th after two flights & a lengthy process through immigration (make sure you have $20. U.S. & a proper passport photo with you when you come)!  We were met by a very cheery Tuk Tuk driver named Kosal (we had thought maybe a bus or van would be nice but they had heard we were Tuk Tuk gogos I’m guessing:) After proceeding through the congested, dusty streets of downtown Siem Reap for almost an hour we arrived at the Evergreen Hotel at 11p.m. & with a quick look around fell exhausted into bed!  It is a lovely little oasis in a rather rough neighbourhood that Stephen & Beth Lauer had recommended.

Cambodian girl selling dragonflies

The next day Kosal was back to take us on a tour of Siem Reap which included the countryside and Tonle Sap Lake where a lot of the people live on the floating villages – an extremely poor area of Siem Reap.

Tonle sap lake - Siem Reap

Angkor Wat  was the main attraction in Siem Reap as it is the 7th wonder of the world.  It was built in the first half of the 12th century & first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. It is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world.  Words can’t describe the magnificence of the structure we toured which was re-discovered by a missionary in the 1800’s overgrown by the jungles of Cambodia.  The various temples included a depiction of life at the time with incredible art work wall to wall in Khmer architectural style and Dravidian architecture.  We even toured the “Tomb Raider” movie setting!  We ended the day climbing a mountain Phnom Bakheng where we watched the sunset over Cambodia – a very long but rewarding day …and climb!

%22Tomb Raider%22

We were up bright and early on our journey by Giantbus for 7 hours where we arrived in Phnom Penh & warmly greeted by Stephen & Beth Lauer – again by our Tuk Tuk driver Jeer (or “moto kang bai” as it’s called here) and taken out for a green beer in honour of St. Patrick’s day & all the Irish heritage around the table! sacred cows

The last few days have been orientation & “settling in” to what we are to help with here – teaching English with some story writing & first aid.  We met with the lovely staff of Prison Fellowship Cambodia, had lunch with Rhotha, Beth & Vi at the Lauer apartment (where we heard about the “Centre” and the beautiful card-making project you can view & order from on Facebook), toured the Russian Market, and went through the Genocide Museum – very impactful & life changing to say the least…  hopefully our pictures say it all!  much love from afar…

“If you judge people you have no time to love them”  – Mother Teresa

Please pray that though we miss you all so much our love will be for each individual we meet and “wherever we are we will be ALL there” Jim Elliot

 

The Travelling Gogos

Week 2 -Phuket – March 8th – 14th

“A Grandmother’s (Gogo’s) heart knows no distance”!

“He delights in EVERY detail of our lives”  Psalm 37:23

Ten days later and our body clocks have finally adjusted to the time change.  Instead of 1 or 2 a.m. we are “sleeping in” until 5 or 5:30 a.m.  When you consider we are 12 hours ahead (13 now that you have gained an hour on your side of the world) and have travelled over 8530 miles (30 hrs) I guess these Gogos are doing not too badly!

Yesterday was yoga, beach and market day all rolled into one glorious, mindboggling, “bee” breathing, breathtaking day from sunup to sunset! We are attempting to travel on a shoestring so the market was a necessity for delicious fruit (papaya, watermelon, mango, grapefruit, bananas & rice cakes which tasted like rice krispie squaresJ )  Cheese & yogurt were bought from the local 7/11 store…the Phuket Market

Today was our 2nd “solitude” spa day and the Thai massages have released all the tensions we carried around with us from the North American culture we left behind…  Someone commented they had been here two weeks and saw no sign of road rage – we haven’t even heard the honking of a horn!  The delicious roselle and ginger teas added to the ambiance of the treatment and we can feel our blood pressure lowering!sunrise in Phuket

Another beautiful sunrise at the Mangosteen & we are on our way to Phi Phi Island.  Here we cross the rough waters of the Andaman sea & land on Monkey Beach, snorkel at Hin Klang in the great coral reef, enter the unique lagoon of Maya Bay that inspired the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo Dicaprio, fed the monkeys at Pileh Cove, and ended up onBamboo Island!

Maya Cove

 

A day etched on our memories forever – Dianne was humming “how Great thou Art” as we walked along the beaches amidst God’s splendid creation!

the Viking cave carvings - now swallow nests with valuable eggs!

Tomorrow we are off to Cambodia – 2 flights to Siem Reap and then on to Phnom Penh by bus where we will be practicing our English as a Second Language teaching skills and meeting with our good friends Stephen & Beth Lauer.  We are truly thankful for this wonderful opportunity & all of your kind words of encouragement from NA, Africa & wherever you emailing us from!  Kapunka (thankyou) & hugs from afar…

 

Tuk Tuk A Go Go!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”

-Mark Twain

March 2nd 2014 two retired grandmas (gogos) set out on a rather wild adventure that was not just exciting in its inception but wildly alive with experiences that will be fun to reminisce about as time goes by! They will “rock & ramble” for years afterwards to their grandchildren & fabricate a bit about it in their retirement homes 🙂 But …these are the facts as they (a retired nurse & recreation director in their 60’s) are now living them:

After surviving the almost 30 hours of travel time including a night at the Nest Boutique in Bangkok we settled into the Rustic Hotel in Chiang Mai & met wonderful hosts Nick & Nan. Nick has an Australian accent from spending years in Australia but grew up right on this street (Rachawong Rd.) He introduced us to a little restaurant around the corner where we had Tom Yum Kung soup. Lovely accommodation in the heart of the marketplace!

tuk_tuk

The week (including today) was packed from beginning to end with Tuk Tuk rides, ox cart jaunts, river rafting on the Mae Taeng river, watching elephants painting murals, playing soccer & taking us for a river hike, Temple visits (loved the Wat Gate Khar Rnam with all the dogs at the gates) and market shopping.

natka_the_elephant

The Thai people are lovely people — friendly and smiling and gracious they warmly welcome you to their country of orchid beauty with hands clasped together and a gentle bow. Sensory stimulation overload sets in as the day winds down…tomorrow, our last day to explore and we are off to Phuket!

rafting_Mae_Taeng

Our precious families are here with us every step we take & have given us the courage to “dream, explore & discover”. We are so thankful for this opportunity and the many blessings we have received! A text from one of our daughters “live it up Mama” says it all! Kapunka (thankyou) to you all for your encouraging notes & comments. God is so Good!