Saturday, December 31, 2011

Week of Dec 26th

When I look back at this week we got a lot accomplished! We have now cooked the entire menu. Yes there are some things we need to work on, but I am sure that we can prefect them in the next 5 weeks. I wanted to see how the girls felt about the menu, so I gave them each a copy and asked them to write down everything they didn't feel confident in making. Each girl only had one or two items on their lists. I think that is pretty good since we have 20+ items on the menu.

Each week I have introduced something totally new, that we really focus on, like costing menu items, or staying busy. This week was table service. Monday and Tuesday I would write it then show them, then have them practice. On Wednesday I asked them to show me what they knew without using their notes. To say the least they had retained very little. I want to fuss but I knew it would do no good in this situation. I gave them something to do while, as I tried of a different way to teach them. Then it hit me it’s not like in America where we go to restaurants all the time and people serving. Yes the girls have been to a couple of restaurants here, but I don’t think they ever paid attention to the server and what all they did. I went to the girls and said get in the Tuk Tuk, we are going to Café Eden. Café Eden is one of the best places to eat in Battambang, it is set up like a American Café. Anna, the owner of Café Eden, had lived in Cambodia a couple year, then wanted to do more to help the street kids. She opened Café Eden to give them a place to work, improve their English and teach simple life skills. She has doing a wonderful work. This coming week they are celebrating being open one year. Anna has been lots of help to me and CGI. Anytime I have a question, or had a rough teaching day Anna is there to answer and encourage. Anyway, on the way to the café I tell the girls we will be ordering a coffee drink or smoothie, but the main reason I want them to watch and see how the server interacts with the tables. When we got there, one of the best servers (who knows me now) greeted us. I explained to us why we where there. She did a wonderful job, after she took the drink order; she came and talked to the girls about what is important. She also told them all about what she has learned in the past year. This was great for the girls to see someone who was in their shoes a year ago and how she has succeeded. As we were about to leave Anna came in and took the time to talk to the girls. She explained to them the differences in Cambodian culture and what foreigners expect. Since I have only been here a month I didn’t know all about the culture to explain this to them. I am so blessed to have a colleague like Anna.

I think just really helped. The next day as we had alittle down time as stuff baked, they asked me if they could practice, of course I say yes. They are doing much better. Chris and 5 other people are coming this week, I hope to set up like the restaurant will be and let some serve and others cook. This will give me a better idea of where they are and what we need to work on.

Friday the girls had off, since I had to go to Thailand. It was an experience, but I got everything worked out. I now have a 3 month visa, which we will be able to change to a NGO visa. This will extend it for a year, and I am able to come and go from the country as I need to. While in Thailand I saw able to see snow. Well at least the closest thing to snow I will see this year.  

For New Year’s Eve I have spent the day making drinks and lots of them!! Yes you read correctly. I have spent the day in the kitchen working on the drink menu. We will be having a coffee and fresh fruit smoothie bar (no alcohol) at the restaurant. I needed to write down recipes so I will be able to teach the girls. My favorites would be Mango, Banana Coconut, and Blended Carmel Coffee. Others that will be on the menu are Gingered Apple, Passion fruit, and Watermelon Basil Freeze.
Blended Carmel Coffee 

Banana Coconut 

Please be in prayer for:
Chris and the group coming with him, that they will have a productive trip.
Me, to be able to see what we need to work on and the knowledge to teach those things and t build the relationships need to follow God’s plan.
For the girls, as things are changing they are able to learn and improve, that they will understand that sometimes love comes the discipline.

I wish everyone a Blessed New Year, which we all are able to come closer to God and truly live out the great commandment. Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I am living the Dream


It hit me today I'm living the dream. 
I have a driver to take me anywhere I need to go. It might not be in a Cadi, but its in the nicest tuk tuk on the streets.
I have a big ex chair. It might not be a lazyboy, but it has arm rest big enough for my liter water bottle, an the perfect angle to use my remote. 
Thats the remote to my air condition this is rarely on.  
I drop my laundry off at the end of the day it's folded/ironed. Not washed by the newest front loading Washer and Dryer, but hand washed by a hard working women. 
I don't have to wake up to the awful noise of an alarm clock. I'm awakened daily by wedding music at 5am. Or I get to snooze, for the roster get me up no later then 6:12.
I go to the open air market daily. There are chefs who would pay big money to be able serve meals that was as fresh as the day is old. 
I get to use my talents daily, as I teach cooking. All the students are eager to learn, which most teachers would love to have. 
I'm living in a place that people care about other, they will sit and talk to you for hours, even if they get behind for the day or it makes them late for an appointment. Its so stress free, (once I let go of the American way).
I have a support system who will be there no matter the time I call, day or night (since there is a major time difference).
I know that this is what Has been planned for me, and knowing that its so freeing!

The only downfall is some of the people closest to my heart are not here with me!!

Dec 14 and 15

Dec 14
I meet with a guy about Internet for the house, he also sales pos systems, we will need one of these when the restaurant opens. He took me to a restaurant to see how theirs works.

I went to one of the orphanages where some of the girls stay, meet with the director about them growing us vegetables.

The builder came and dropped off stuff and will start tomorrow. I had let his wife try some stuff when I meet with them the last time, she placed an order for a party she is having next week.

We worked on French fries, chips, and mac n cheese. I also taught math and how to price a recipe.
Chips- Need different seasoning, But were great!

 Mac N Cheese



Until I got home and sat in my chair did I realize how draining today was. I'm not really sure why today. It's not like today was a bad day, actually it was prob one of the best so far. We made meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It wasnt Carolyn Carries but it was pretty good. We found the perfected ripeness of the bananas for banana bread. Once the girls learn how to do something, they ask to make it all the time. The talk with one of the girls that I was dreading went much better than expected. Went to cafe Gecko for dinner and down time. Which was wonderful!! I had the red chicken burrito and a lime mint freeze. It was a nice night not too hot with a slight breeze. Since I was really enjoying sitting there read a book, I ordered a Oreo blizzard (more like a milkshake but really good).  After getting quite a bit of reading done, I finished the day by picking up my wonderfully washed, dried, and folded laundry!! Most of you know my love for laundry ;) haha. This alone would make a bad day become good. So all that combined it was a really good day. Now you understand why I'm confused about why I feel the day completely draining.


Lime Mint Freeze- One of the best things I have had here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Toy

So I know I need to find better use of my time when I found myself disappointed, after walking around the house and can't find any mosquitos. Last week when I was at Holly's place for dinner, she had this thing that looked like a tennis racket that killed mosquitoes. I have been looking for one the past week. Well today I found it :) Three dollar bought me relief for bug and seemingly countless hours of fun! How the racket work is you turn it on and swing it, when you get one, it zaps it! Lots of fun. I carried it all around the house. When I went to the bathroom and didn't get any bugs I was upset:) Instead of normally I would have been excited. It's the little things that make the day!!
Today was pretty good. I got to teach pricing a recipe, how to set menu prices and finding food cost. It was challenging at first, because the girls do not have good basic math skills. After a hour of blank stairs, I let them use a calculator. We made great progress after that. I told them they could use the calculators, but every morning before cooking we will have 10 basic math questions todo. Yup, math is important in cooking and in succeeding in life. This is why I will be putting this into practice. We will start with multination tables, and add/subtraction big numbers tomorrow, then work on division, then decimals. It might not be good for them that I really enjoy math and numbers. But they were very eager to learn once I showed them profit one he menu item. I have found they are very stimulated by money, like many Americans.
Tonight I had Holly over for dinner. It's nice being able to connect with other Americans through out the week. Holly has been working with a NGO here for the past four years. She's able to share advice, while laughing at those "I've been there moments."
Well I better head to bed I have an early math lesson in the morning, plus it will give plenty of time for the mosquitoes to replenish ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cold Season

Today when we went to the market the girls were freezing. We when through and got all the meats and veggies we need for the week. The girls told me we needed more rice. We decided to save money and buy a 50K bag. Normally the girls carry the bags and won't let me, but this time they were more then willing to let me carry. Since it's heavier then some of them. When I got to the tuk tuk the girls were not behind me. As I waited on them I bought my first street food. It was mashed banana that is deep fried. It was tasty, but didn't agree with my stomach :/
When the girls returned this is what I saw. They had gone to buy hats and scarfs, since they were so cold. I asked how much they cost, 1,000R (or $0.25). If anyone would like one, I can send it to you. Once we got back to the school, I looked up the temp. Any guesses on how cold it is. The low for the day is 21C and high is 26C (70-80F). Yup and they are dressed as if we're going to snow. I have to say I was a little cold this morning.
After the market, we went to see the bread man. I needed to taste and see if he can make some of the breads we need. I think we will buy some of the bread and make some, then after we get the hang of things make it all. We also stopped by the place to get Internet for me. By the time we got back to school it was almost time for lunch. So I decided to let them just cook What they wanted for lunch and move all the plans back a day. While a few girls worked on lunch, Nimol and I worked on bread. She loves making bread and is good at it. I'm thinking about having her be my bread maker once the restaurant opens.
Last week we did a lot of cleaning. I told them they if they work hard and keep the place clean, I would take them to get ice cream today. Which they did. So at lunch I explained what the rest of the day would look like. Clean up lunch, study English while meet with the builder, then go get ice cream. The builders got here about 20mins after lunch, I went to talk with them. When I finished, I went over to the area where they study english, but no one was there. I start looking around and find them in the room asleep. This was very disappointing. So being typical me, I then knock on the metal door. They wake up quickly. All I say is I thought we were studying English, this doesn't look like that. I go and sit in the area we study. About 20mims into Buth la teaching they ask isn't it time to get ice cream. I ha to reply to have to finish the english lesson first. They were silent.
Just a note, before I come they always took nap after lunch for a hour or so. Last week I let them do this, cause I normally had meetings and thought it was a Cambodian thing. When I asked Threay if this was tradition, she was like no, they are just lazy. So I had told them no naps from now on, and they understood why. Hence my disappointment.
After the English class finished, I took then to get ice cream. I had planned on taking them to a place where we could sit and eat, but since we didn't have much time we went to the market to get it. We got 9 cones for $3.75.

Funny story of the day. After We get back from ice cream it's time for the girls to go. I brought on computer today since the Internet isn't working at the house. I'm sitting in the dinning room working as one Solykasi came in and asked me if she could have me empty water bottle. Last week I took my nalgene of water every day, but since that was normally gone by 10:30, today a took 2 litters. I tell her yea she could have it. Then she starts to explain to me why she wanted the bottle. It went kinda like this. "I want to be fat, if I drink 2 litter of water every night like you I will be fat." With a straight face I say "So drinking water will make you fat?" She smiles and says "Yes I want to be like you."
Hahah I have to love the cultural differences.

I am debating if I want to cook dinner tonight or if I want to go eat. I need to cool for erica and holly, since they both have cooked for me. Its only fair.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Lot to Learn

I have learned a ton in just a week.  First off I think I worried a little much about Chris and the video guy.  It was alright. The girls didn’t talk much, so then they wanted me to. Which is alright but I have never liked being in front of a camera. I think he was able to get some good shots of the girls cooking.
This week I spent most of my afternoons and mornings before class meeting and talking with builders. We have alittle bit of work that needs to be done on the site before the restaurant can open. Some of those things are an inside bar area, this will be in the dining room. Smoothies and coffee drinks will be made at the bar; there will also be stools around the outside, like a soda fountain shop. We also have to create outdoor seating. Then in the back of the lot there are some restrooms that need some work. I was able to choose a builder who I feel is right for us. We wrote up a contract Friday, will pay deposit on Monday and building should start Tuesday or Wed. I will post pictures of the progress!!
As far as cooking and teaching the girls, it’s going great. Last week we made Chorizo, Crepes, banana bread, Slice Bread, Biscuits and gravy, French toast, pancake, tortillas, chips and salsa. Most of these things were review from other chefs, who has came in to teach. I wanted to see how much they retained. I was very surprised they remembered most of it. I mentioned in my last update that there was some trouble with the first time we made biscuits. That story is we were making several breads that day, once the dough for each of the breads was made, I asked the girls if they knew how to bake each of the breads. They ensured me that they did, so I needed a few things from the market. I left them to continue. When I returned about 15-20 minutes later, I found perfectly bakes white bread and banana bread. I started looking for the biscuits, and I find them over bake almost rock like. When I asked them what happened they just looked at me, so I asked again. I was told they forgot them. They had been outside messing around instead of being in the kitchen keeping track of what was in the oven. This was the first time I had to fuss at them. I explained that we had to focus and we would be doing them over the next day, but we were still going to eat the overcooked ones J Friday the biscuits turned out great and were a lot more enjoyable at lunch.

I think me fussing at them was a great point of building relationships with them. Ever since they have much more open, smiling, and wanting to know more about me.  It’s a slow process, but a vital part!!

The cooking plan for next week is.
Mon: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Tues: Mac N Cheese and Vinaigrettes
Wed: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Thurs: Fries and Chips

At night I have been able to meet with some local restaurant/café owners. They have been very helpful in learning where to find products or equipment. Also sharing how to deal and relate to the girls. Most of these cafes are doing the sometime we are doing, taking the under privileged and give a hand up. I have a few more places I need to hit up this week.

So yesterday I was informed today that all the girls I'm working with come from a Buddhist families. I was unsure if any of them were Christian or not. Tradition and following the ways of the family is very important to Cambodian people, which makes the transformation to Christianity is even more difficult. A positive to this is unlike in America when someone 'becomes a Christian' then do well for awhile then fall away, here once the decision is made they become a follower for life. 

I knew that I have my work cut out for me in the cooking/restaurant side of this, but now my eyes have been opened to the spiritual side of things!! Please be in prayer that I will not pass up any opportunity and that I will be a constant reflection or Jesus' love. Also that I do not let myself get in the way and I'll fully rely on the Holy Spirit to work!!

 Slice Bread and Banana Bread

Fire where we roasted Hotdogs

 Nimol learding how to sharpen a knife

 Sapona Birthday Cake

Sapona with her Birthday gift.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Home Home

After arriving in Cambodia I sent the first day in Phnom Penh. I met Katy and Allen; they are also working with CGI in country. They are very nice and its wonderful having them as connections here. The next morning Chris and I have a wonderful breakfast at the Imperial Hotel then headed out to Battambang. After five hour bumpy ride (the road is quite washed out because of recent flooding) we arrive to beautiful smiling faces. Once we greet everyone we got straight to work taking thru the layout of the dining room and smoothie/coffee bar. Then we get in ‘my’ Tuk Tuk to see my apartment/home.          

The Tuk Tuk is super nice, this will be the way I get around town.  The door on the left will be my room, the one on the right is currently a second apartment that we will use for guest. We are hoping the owner will let us open the two units up and make a larger space. This would give me more room, have separate bedroom and living room, and will still have room for guest to stay.
After looking around, we make a list of everything I need and set out to find them. First buy, a fridge.

As I begin to adjust to Cambodia culture, I quickly figure out that we would not be able to shop for everything in one day. For those of you who feel people in the south move at a slower pace then you need to visit here. No one gets in a hurry and time is somewhat irrelevant.  We took the fridge back to the apartment I meet my new neighbors, Erica and Holly. So I could start to get to know them we invited them to dinner at Café Eden (you will hear lots about this place). Chris and I decided to order what Erica order. It was a bowl of rice with carrots, bamboo shots, homemade pickles, beef, and a few other things topped with a fried egg. After adding the chili jam that accompanied, it was quite tasty. We all sat and talked for awhile, then walked back to the hotel for a early night.
Today we planned to get up and so to church at the Rapha House, but as Chris realized how much he and I needed to cover before him leaving for Phnom Penh at 1, we figured it would be best to not go. This means I will get to go next week and meet everyone there!! Chris and I went back to Café Eden for coffee, breakfast and lots of talk and planning. This was a very productive time. After lots of discussion and a few changes in circumstances we decided to change plan of what/when I will be doing the task I set out to do. We will be taken the girls who have been in the program since February and opening the restaurant with them as employees. The target date for grand opening is Feb 1 2012, if not before. Then fine tune the restaurant until July. In July we will have 12 new girls enrolled and teach them the full culinary training. So my tasks from now til Feb is to get the restaurant site ready for business, while getting the girls ready to cook and serve the menu.
Once we got all this figured out, we set out for some more shopping. We were very successful, finding couch, chairs, table, clothes closet, bath shelf, trash can, water, and a few snacks. Then back to the apartment, to make a house a home.

There are a few pictures of my place as I get it setup.
Sitting area I might move it around but this is what it looks like now.


Kitchen, I need a hot plate, dishes and a few things like that. I will be doing most of my cooking at the restaurant, so a lot isn’t needed.

Bathroom. Yes you see the toilet (left), shower (center), and sink(left). They are about multi tasking here J

The outside

 Well I better wrap things up. I’m going to eat dinner at Holly’s then need to plan for the week.
Thanks for all the love, prayer and support!!
Love Ya, Ry

Things to be in prayer for:
My health, I expect to get sick soon, just that I get over it quickly.
The Girls, as thing are about to change quickly, also that relationships will start to form quickly.
Buth La and Ly Pula (house parents) for us to come together, in work and commutation.
For me to be able to manage and understand time here.