Being Your Own Health Advocate: Food

I can see a series of posts taking form on this subject, since I don’t want any of them to be overly long. I’m going to keep coming back to the subject because my passion is growing…

It’s fuel.

I don’t cook for fun. I cook because people have to eat. It’s more about fuel for life than what it used to be – for me anyway.

I didn’t used to think about food very much at all in my younger years. If it tasted good, I ate it. I knew about the rudiments of nutrition and ate what I thought was good for me, along with other things that I knew probably weren’t. My philosophy was that happiness was like a medicine, and if a food made me happy, it was probably canceling out any poor nutritional qualities. I had the benefit of growing up on a farm where my family grew/raised a lot of unprocessed food too. I was seldom sick and never had a problem with weight control.

For a few years in the early 2000’s I worked for the FNP, Food and Nutrition Program, of the University Extension Service of the University of Florida. I started taking the Food Pyramid, dictated by the government food police (kidding) into elementary schools and teaching it to youngsters. I taught Nutrition and Food Preparation to young mothers in a Head Start program. I started becoming aware of the problems Americans were having with food. Obesity at young ages, hyperactivity and ADHD were prevalent in so many schoolrooms.  Even when presented with a decent school lunch, children were turning up their noses and throwing away the most nutritious foods. Often families in trouble with Social Services were being court ordered to learn how to prepare meals to feed their children properly.

By default, people were eating the Standard American Diet, acronym SAD, and it was sad. When I started having health problems that I could relate to diet and lifestyle, I started getting a bit more serious about what I fed myself.  The overweight husband also developed problems with blood pressure and needed medicines which were hard to regulate. Friends and family members started getting diagnoses of GERD and cancer and diabetes. Time started wearing out our natural defenses. I began to hear more about food as therapy. I also began hearing about how many times nutritional advice was influenced by factors other than benefits to health – like, who decides what the Food Pyramid looks like and funny how it keeps changing…

I guess what I think now can be illustrated with the example of a machine, say a really nice new car.  If I take it in on schedule to be serviced I’m doing good. But, the thing that I do most often, and that will make the most difference, is to put fuel in it. Different cars have different fuel requirements that are important to follow. If I put in a grade of gasoline other than what is recommended for clean burning, I’m going to see problems after a while. Waste products build up in the engine.  The car gets sick.

Friends, readers, we are that complex, finely designed machine. Our computer, our emissions systems, our energy production equipment, our whole body is affected by every little thing we put in our mouth.

We are designed to take a lot of nutritional abuse – there are buffering systems, safeguards of all kinds in place – but sooner or later those back-up systems will have taken all the abuse that they can. If we don’t want to be sick or prematurely dead, we must study what’s happening in our “machine” with the fuels we use.

This was the beginning of my journey into food research and the resulting health trends. I don’t have to spend hours at it. I don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. I don’t have to wait until I’m sick with a serious problem. I don’t have to ask my doctor for every new pill I see advertised in the media.  I eat every day, and that is where the changes should, and can, start.

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I’m not necessarily recommending any of these older books – some of the best and newest information is free on the internet, or at the library.

I started by saying that I don’t cook for fun, when I actually do have fun doing it sometimes. But fun is not the main point anymore. Getting the best fuel possible has become the point, just sayin’…

 

 

Being My Own Health Advocate: Stem Cell and Platelet Therapy

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might… Ecc. 9:10

That’s been my mode of operation for physical activity pretty much all my life. As a result, I have hands that are wearing out a little faster than the rest of me. I didn’t realize how serious a matter this was until recently when both of my hands were too painful to use for much regular activity. Count the number of joints in your hands and fingers and that’s how many sources of pain you can have if those joints are inflamed or worn. We use our hands for nearly everything we do and yet hardly ever give them a thought, until they hurt. Even something simple like holding a book and turning the pages can be too painful to bother.

I am aware that I must be my own health advocate, and I’m trying to encourage others to do the same. I’ve been researching what’s new in treatment of joint pain. Since I view surgery as a last resort, and never without its own bad consequences, the new information on stem cell therapy caught my attention. I’m convinced it’s worth a shot and I want to share the information with any readers who struggle with any level of arthritis or joint damage.

I’m scheduled to begin therapy next week, and I’ll be recording what happens as the days unfold. It’s not an immediate process since it involves healing over time. Here’s the basic outline of stem cell therapy, as I understand it without getting too technical.

We all have stem cells, lots of them when we are born and fewer as we age. They are produced in bone marrow and that’s where most of them are concentrated. Adult stem cells are the template from which other more specialized cells are made. The body signals when and where stem cells are needed to regenerate and heal damage. It’s pretty simple and it’s part of the awesome way we were designed.

These are not stem cells from human embryos, and no babies will be harmed in the publishing of this post. Much controversy has been raised over the use of embryonic stem cells, and rightly so. But, as I said, we all have our own stem cells and don’t need to use anyone else’s.

I happen to live in an area where there is a stem cell therapy practitioner. I had an initial appointment where my hands were tested and viewed with ultrasound. I am a candidate – both of my thumb joints are lacking the lining that makes things move smoothly. I have chosen the first level of treatment, mostly because it’s the one I can afford right now. Because this therapy is new, my insurance does not cover it. Technically, it’s better to call it PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.

I will go on Monday to have blood drawn, and they will extract my platelets from the blood. On Tuesday those platelets will be injected into the joint, guided by ultrasound for accuracy. Platelets in large numbers signal stem cells to get on the job. Hopefully I have enough of them to respond and make a difference. Meanwhile the doctor has recommended a new brace for me. I have had it for several weeks and it has made a lot of difference – the best one I’ve ever tried and I recommend it highly.  It is small enough to allow full use of my hand, doesn’t have to be removed when I’m doing wet things, and can be washed easily.

After treatment I will be sore for the rest of the week but that will wear off. The hoped for results are that the joint will be strengthened, and possibly some of the lining will be restored. I do want to tell about the other two levels of treatment too, but not today. Check in again for tomorrow’s post. It’s fascinating stuff.  More information at this link Regenexx.

 

 

Dawn’s early light, twilight’s last gleaming…

I’ve always been in love with light. 

I was looking out on the oneacrewoods this evening as a storm approached. The house started to creak and pop as the metal roof contracted. That’s always my first sign that it’s cooling off and something is about to happen. We were surrounded by trees, large oaks that covered most of the sky and left only peep holes to show how dark the sky had become. When the wind came, like a moving wall, the trees went wild, grabbing at each other. It always looks scary to me – I can’t believe those large limbs can move so violently and not break. It passed rather quickly without raining. Dramatic but dry.

But it left the sky looking glorious in every direction. We saw it as we went out for our evening walk. My Instagram is full of #eveningwalk pictures because of the light. It’s the light’s fault. The evening light, call it twilight’s last gleaming if you want, is magic. It has that in common with the dawn’s early light, which also comes in sideways, horizontal to the things it touches. Things that aren’t really shiny, shine. Leaves glow green like they are electrified, lit through and through, more translucent than you would ever think.

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Even the fence went reflective with tiny points of light.

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We seemed to be right under a “cloud hole” with the fading evening sky above us. Tall billowing stacks of white were outlined in the west with the setting sun dancing through them, and eastward the departing blackness of the storm, with a rainbow. Every direction showed a different sky picture, all dramatic and compelling and picturesque. Even after the sun was no longer visible, it’s light was reflecting off the cloud cover and lighting our way with an eerie, amber cast.

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With all this to look at, and more, my phone/camera ran out of battery. So, as I walked, I started thinking about how my fascination with the late light, and the early light, fit right in with Independence Day and the words to the national anthem. What that must have been like to have been there seeing the flag through the twilight’s last gleaming. Seeing it all night by the light of rockets being fired in battle, and then to see it still there in the dawn’s early light – probably a bit tattered and the worse for wear, but still in place.

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I think it’s a little ironic in these days when we are dependent on so many things beyond our control, that we can still find meaning in the word independence. We almost worship the concept, without really thinking of the good aspects of dependence on the right things. This holiday is a good time to review the freedoms we have, to review who and what we should depend on, and to celebrate the outcome of that long ago conflict.

Happy July to all, and an early Happy 4th!

 

 

Your Best Advocate

Of course I’d like to be a better writer. For a while, as I try to be better, I’m going to at least try to be prolific. They say that if you write a lot, you have a much better chance that some of it will be good. If you write seldom (or not at all), none of it will be, so be writing. That’s my goal.

 

You have to be your own health care advocate. If you find that impossible, make one good choice – someone you trust to advocate for you. This is not a new revelation to me, but newly reinforced by my recent wellness checkup with my primary care office.

I’m somewhat of a rebel, offspring of a family that believed that 99% of what’s wrong with us heals itself if not aggravated by medicine. This mindset was pretty well in place in my high school years so I don’t know what made me choose nursing as a career. It was mostly that I was fascinated by how complex human anatomy, biology and physiology were, and because someone gave me “Cherry Ames, Student Nurse” for Christmas one year. Cherry was the medical world’s answer to Nancy Drew.

Nursing has given me an inside look into the strange reasons why some things are done the way they are. The reasons are many and complex. You can’t always figure them out. What’s more, sooner or later, what’s good for you is going to come into conflict with what’s good for someone else. It’s nice to know at that point if you have options and what they are.

The husband and I are at the age where we have more time to devote to our physical condition, and it’s a good thing being that it’s also the age where there’s some new thing going wrong every week. We are still moving around under our own steam and able to read so we are researching. I read to him in the evenings, after we walk, and we discuss health issues and diets, sleep, exercise, medicines – all of that.

Without going into too much detail in this post, suffice it to say that we see a lot of new research that flies in the face of traditional thought about these issues. It seems that what we’ve been doing traditionally for the last half century or so has created an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Oh, and Alzheimer’s dementia. Oh, and autism. Oh, and autoimmune disorders. And cancer. At some fundamental level, we are a very sick country.

Having decided to get smarter about simple things we could do to help ourselves avoid as much sickness as possible, we are starting with eating differently.

I was sitting with the PA who was doing my wellness questionnaire and telling him some of these things. I told him how I was limiting carbohydrates by cutting out most bread and sources of sugar. I mentioned ketogenic diet and how I’d lost ten pounds on it.  I told how it was a high fat, moderate protein, lo-carb diet, and that I was feeling pretty good overall. He nodded and appeared to be listening (how do I know what he’s thinking…). We talked about stress relief and I told him that I dispelled it by writing for my blog. Then he wrapped up the interview with “Okay, just keep doing what you’re doing and keep on that low fat diet.” Sigh.

Traditional advice is not always for everyone. Sometimes, it’s not even true or based on real evidence. I’m going to end this post in the same way I started it. You have to be your own health care advocate because no one doctor or health professional can concentrate on what’s good for you. You are it.

More to come on this and related subjects.

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Blood pressure gradually creeping up – that’s what first caught my attention. Just sayin’…

I Fell for It

I did it.

You know those ads that you see all over Facebook these days – the ones where a person’s wrinkles and bags disappear in the space of minutes while they fan their face? It’s all due to the fabulous cream they dab on in minuscule amounts. I’ve watched several of these “shows” over the past few months and decided it was time to see if they were giving me the straight scoop. I have good enough skin for someone my age but there are times when I’d like to make a few things go away. I ordered some.

But I waited until I got a good deal – a free sample with the only cost being the shipping and handling. I will try anything (not really) for $5 if it’s compelling enough. And then I left the country for two weeks where I couldn’t get on the internet easily and the husband, at home, was left in charge of the mail.

“Hey, you got a box with some skin creams or something in the mail.” Along with “There are some charges on our credit card that are strange. Did you order something from Beauty Store Online?” It was hard to deal with it from the other side of the world so I made a mental note to self. Self, when you get home, make sure these charges aren’t more than postage, and figure out what the strange part is.

Today was the day. Perusing our credit card statement, I found there were actually five charges, from three different company names, with three telephone numbers. Two were around $100 and three were $5 and under. So I started called the associated phone numbers to find out what was going on. At three of the numbers the same recording was played followed by some waiting music and then a hang up. At the fourth number, I connected with a real voice, from India most likely.

Fortunately, I could understand his English pretty well. And he could understand mine well enough to find my account and verify the charges. Next, he heard me ask for the account to be closed and the charges taken off. According to script, I’m sure, he offered the following information:

They didn’t have sample sizes, and the product needed to be used for longer to see results, so of course, they sent full size product. Didn’t I want to see results?

Next, I hadn’t responded to tell them how I liked the product so they had charged me for it. But since I was only expecting a sample (as stated in the ad) they would give me a chance to buy more at 50% off.

Next, okay if I didn’t want more. They would close my account and send me email verification. I would only pay for the product received.

Next, in my case (and only my case, mind you) they would take 50% off the price, since I was so upset.

Next, by special permission they would take 75% off the price.

As I was once again, calmly, telling them to close the account and take all the charges off or I was going to file a dispute with the credit card company, the connection was lost. Actually, I was kind of surprised that I stayed connected as long as I did. Almost every call I make gets dropped at least once, thank you Verizon.

Do you ever get surprises like this? I guess I deserved it. Most of the time I ignore ads, knowing that life can get complicated pretty quickly over the internet, with credit cards, and unproven companies. Yeah, I deserved it. Thankfully, the credit card dispute person was very helpful and compassionate and I ended up with no doubt that the whole matter will be resolved to my satisfaction.

I’m a Mary Kay girl and am sticking with what works (I even sell it – shame on me for experimenting). I’m going to work on loving my wrinkles and taking good care of them. Just sayin’, buyer beware….

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Cute containers, but the stuff smelled a little strange.

Loss Happens

Loss happens. To everyone, and more than once. In fact, life could be seen as a progression of things we gain and things we lose and leave behind.

I’m not priming you for a sad story. This tale is one of those inconsequential, odd things that happens to me every now and then, but catches my attention a little more than usual. It’s another earring story, of which I have quite a few.

Several years ago, shopping in a second hand shop in Alachua, Florida I noticed a display of earrings on a rack at the checkout desk. They were probably handcrafted and were all Swarovski crystal in various combinations, drop earrings with pretty silver hooks. The pair I decided to get were several clear crystals with some blue crystal beads on top. I got them because I wanted something blue.

Since then I’ve worn them a number of times without incident. They are nice but I would call them unremarkable. Yesterday I had them on during my visit to the doctor’s office and as the young child (or so she appeared) who took my blood pressure laughed at them and said “Oh wow, you’ve got snowmen earrings. How cute.”

“No, you’ve got it all wrong. They’re not snowmen, they’re just geometric shapes. Not snowmen.” To be truthful I couldn’t even envision what they looked like at the moment, and it had NEVER occurred to me that they looked like snowmen so I couldn’t understand why she thought so. Later, I looked at them and had to admit that they could look like snowmen, if you’re one of those people to whom everything looks like something else. There are people like that.

Today, I’m wearing blue again and decided to stick with the same earrings. At lunch, my friend Char looks at me and remarks about my snowman earrings. Obviously, since it’s summer in Florida and 90 degrees in the shade, everyone is thinking snow? Maybe? I don’t know, but I had to tell her she was the second person in two days to come to that conclusion, after several years of no one ever settling on that. We laughed.

After lunch I did several errands, including being called to pick up the husband at work. He had donated blood and was feeling not so well and wanted to be driven home. His office is only a short distance away so I decided to bike over and drive his truck home too. I am a good girl and wear my helmet all almost all the time and don’t like to wear dangling earrings with it. But, there was only one to take off.  Somewhere since lunch, one of my snowmen must have melted, or something. Lost.

I remember stepping away from the counter at the bank and saying “Did I drop something?” But it was one of those sixth sense things that makes you think you might have heard something, even though nothing is in sight. I probably should have looked harder, but no, and I’m not going back either.  It’s not that I have anything against snowmen – on the ground, in the winter.  Not in the summer, not on my ears, just sayin’…

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NOT a snowman, right?

Going Again: Cambodia, the Conclusion

It’s early and still dark outside, but I’m getting up. I’ve been looking at the clock every hour thinking surely it is morning now, and it has not been. I’m going to call this jet lag and hope that it will resolve in a few more days. I’m home once again, suitcases are unpacked, everyday life has resumed.  I can finally see my ankle bones again after losing them during the 20 hours of sitting in an airplane. The journey to Cambodia and back is over.

The last few days of our trip were full of relational activities, decisions about our financial gifts, a medical clinic outreach to the Prek Eng community, and, for me, computer problems that made it hard to complete the story I was telling.  I had hoped my “devices” would last the trip without malfunctioning and they almost did.

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Flubber!

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The relational activites were our nights with the PE4 and PE5 houses. Traditionally we have spent an afternoon and evening with each house, talking and playing with the children and having dinner with them. It’s an opportunity to introduce a craft or a new toy. This year it was “flubber”.  One of Trish’s friends had sent along the materials to make this interesting, goofy stuff and she ended up making four batches at each house, and sending the leftovers around to all the other houses. Now everyone knows what “flubber” is. Laughing, talking, making music, coloring, paper crafts, eating, and the final act – a dance performance by the kids – made the evenings so full. We finished with our tuk tuk rides home, courtesy of Long our favorite driver, and gratefully tumbled into bed.

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As I mentioned before, one of the significant pleasures for me when I visit the kids, is to find a project not covered by regular monthly support and see it get done. It’s just plain fun to see 100% of the funds going toward a good end. The project of filling in the ditch started immediately after we agreed to it (always surprises me how quickly director Savourn can act), and I’ve since seen pictures of the finished results. All together, we were able to furnish seven bikes for each house for the children who have to ride to public school, closets for PE5 children and staff, and some furniture, a whiteboard, and guitars for the university student dorms. They move ahead without some of these conveniences and comforts, but are very grateful when they can be provided. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

You might wonder where the gospel fits into my trip to Cambodia, since I don’t mention it often. I don’t do a lot of preaching (not my strong point) when I’m there. I do loving. But I’m also enabling others to talk about their faith and present the gospel. One of those opportunities was the medical clinic on our last day. The word was out in the community and people began lining up at our location early on Friday morning. It is primarily a triage effort, sorting out problems that can be helped with an over the counter medicine, and ones that are more significant and need to be referred to a doctor. Everyone got their vital signs taken, their blood sugar checked, a consultation with our midwife nurse Bora or me, an offer of reading glasses, and a chance to talk with the Cambodian house parents about their faith. Since they live in this community and rub shoulders with the people in it, the house parents are able to follow up with those who want to know more about faith in Jesus Christ.

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The eyeglass station at the medical clinic

One of the people coming through our clinic was Long, the tuk tuk driver. We have had contact with him for a number of years and used his services almost exclusively for our rides to Prek Eng and elsewhere. We all have his telephone number and love to see his cheery smile and hear him saying “ba, ba, ba” when he understands our requests. He takes care of us, and last year when his moto blew a gasket, Hunsaders helped take care of him with assistance in getting a new one. This year, Long wanted reading glasses so he could read the Bible he had just gotten. It’s an example of how God works with some people through repeated, loving contact. It was encouraging to us all.

So ended this trip to Cambodia. It was rewarding, interesting, rigorous, thought provoking in many ways, and at its end, reminded me of how different life can be for those living in faraway places. I always come back with awareness of how much I have been given in this country and how grateful I should be, and also how much my blessings are taken for granted. Gratitude is a healthy attitude and feels good.

Going Again: Cambodia, Rest at Veranda

Why do we rest here? As Trish put it “It never disappoints.”

I took many pictures the last time I stayed at Veranda. It was raining, which made the stone walkways clean and reflective with water, great for photos. This time the weather was perfect for sitting at the pool, taking a hike, thinking and writing in beautiful places.

The jungle is lush and full of noises around our bungalows. A trailing vine is lodged in our bathroom skylight, along with a few small lizards that call it home. Birds fly around in the rafters of Secret Restaurant, accustomed to sneaking into the morning breakfast buffet for some rice or whatever else they can steal. There are so many good views with comfortable seating that I have trouble deciding which one to enjoy.

What makes a place restful? For me it means some things which are decidedly Western, but I am who I am and cannot fool myself into thinking I love to “tough” it all the time.  I like:

  • Reliable wifi, easy to access and in lots of places
  • Security, room locks that work, a safe, reasonable amount of privacy
  • Cleanliness – clean, clean, clean
  • Good maintenance – my air conditioner was leaking water and a man with a ladder was here within minutes, at night, to fix it. Things work that are supposed to work.
  • Good food – there is regular delivery of organic produce, although I don’t know what that means over here
  • Simplicity – the natural stone and wood materials are found everywhere here, the colors are lovely and restful
  • Peaceful people – soft spoken, helpful and courteous, all

Veranda has all this and does it with a difference that clearly reflects the Cambodian culture. It’s not exactly like any place else that I’ve ever been. Love to rest here. Thank you  Cambodia.20170611_170727

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I don’t usually do a lot of bathroom pics, but isn’t this lovely?

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Going Again: Cambodia, Jungle Hike

I’m supposed to be in training for a hike this fall, but this trip to Cambodia has meant a lot of sitting, and only a few walks around the city markets. Every day my activity app messages me “I see you have not met your daily activity goal…”. Okay, so quit it! I’m going for a walk in the jungle.

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View up mountain from Secret Restaurant, Veranda Natural Resort
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View down to the coast at Kep, from Veranda Natural Resort

Veranda Natural Resort is built on the slope of a mountain, as it rises from the coast. Behind the resort the mountain continues to rise and it becomes Kep National Park. The trail entering the park is wide enough to be called a road, although at some points it only allows a moto to pass. The entrance is guarded by a “ranger” in a small hut who collects a dollar from me and returns to his mat to lie down. I head out, armed with a bottle of water and my phone (with only half battery life, oh no…).

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Park pass with a purpose – “contripution health take care of environment Kep National Park”

I have gone only a few steps when I come to a restaurant! Who would expect to find Breton Pancakes and homemade ice cream up here? The Cambodians are opportunists. But I do not stop.

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small symbols on the sides of signs are squirrels – you’ll see why

The trail is shady and the grade is gradual so it is very comfortable walking. I do have to watch my feet though because there are rocky areas and tripping or turning an ankle is a possibility.  I stop whenever I have to take in the view or read a sign, like this one telling me what lives along this jungle trail.

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I don’t know if this was informational only, or a warning. Have to watch out for those durian “smelly fruit”.

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I’m  not sure how national parks in Cambodia compare to ones in the U.S. but I am pleased to see that they do have markers on the trail telling me how far I have gone, and the elevation. And as the trail climbs there are benches at scenic overlooks with the name of what I’m seeing painted on the back of the bench.

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I’m trying hard to stay in the middle of the trail and look out for things hanging from the trees (insects). There is a pleasant breeze up the side of the mountain and as the trail winds steadily upward, around clefts and ravines there are a lot of unfamiliar noises. I recognize bird calls, an insect noise almost like a fire alarm, and something that could be a monkey, or maybe just a large lizard.

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Thank you Squirrel Association! Heading off to find the Remarkable Tree.

At 2.5 kilometers I find that the trail is maintained by a number of organizations and clubs, including the Squirrel Association. I conclude that they don’t hunt for fancy names for their groups here. I decide to continue on, hoping to get to the Remarkable Tree in 690 meters.

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View of Butterfly Valley

But I don’t make it. I do cross over the summit and find another valley, and as the road descends there are a lot of remarkable trees but I’m not sure which one is actually named that – unless it is this one with a sign I can’t read.

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Are you the Remarkable Tree?
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Remarkable!
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Also remarkable.
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Quite remarkable as well.

I did only a short portion of this trail, since I didn’t have enough time to complete the loop. But now that I know it’s here, maybe next time!

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Going Again: Cambodia, at Kep

Phnom Penh is an inland city, full of people, noise, traffic, trash, heat, commerce… in general, it’s the kind of place everyone needs a break from once in a while. Many people here go southwest on Highway 3 (there are no numbers above 5 for their major roads) to the coast for access to the sea. There are beaches, resorts and other opportunities to enjoy nature and “get away from it all”.

One of the highlights for our team, and all the Asia’s Hope families is our outing to Kep, one of the seaside communities. Our team raises enough money to take children and staff from all six homes for an overnight stay at Rock Royal Hotel. It is a short walk from Kep Beach for ocean swimming, but also has a large pool.

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the sea, the pool, our buses – all from the balcony at Rock Royal Resort

On Saturday morning, we packed up and left Phnom Penh, traveling in three busses. There apparently is no seat belt law, or limitation on how many people can be packed into a bus. Two families in each bus, plus our team, and some university students, meant that people were standing, sitting on other’s laps and using the middle aisle. The children love being together with us and each other like this and some of our best conversations happen on the bus rides. It is a two hour trip, more or less, depending on road conditions. There are some very nice roads being built now but often “road conditions” refers to how many cows are on the road, how deep the holes have gotten, etc…

We arrived close to check in time. The families carry their own food with them because it is immeasurably easier and cheaper to feed everyone that way than to try to descend on a restaurant with 150 hungry kids. After eating they all headed to the pool for sun and fun (and the resulting exhaustion).

Our team had lunch at the Sailing Club, one of our favorite spots on the water. This is the oft photographed dock which we all have in our picture banks.20170610_130024

Our evening meal was with the house parents at a restaurant that they love, Kimly Seafood Restaurant. They are such a great group and have a lot of fun conversing and eating, and watching us order and eat (and laughing at us). We often do not know what to order since everything that sounds familiar to us turns out to be quite different, except for French fries which, surprisingly, are the same everywhere. I often opt for vegetarian dishes, or chicken. This night I got adventurous and ordered fish and chips. The French fries were exactly what I expected, the fish was totally different ( also as expected).

We all met together after dinner for a message and worship time and entertainment for those who weren’t too tired to stay awake. Julie and I weren’t among that group so I’m sure we missed some good things but we got some much needed sleep.

The next day we were up early enough to beat the crowd to the breakfast bar. That was part of our plan since we were familiar with what happens when 150 hungry kids wake up and descend on the buffet. We made it just in time.

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The little ones reportedly had not gone swimming since last year’s outing, so they had a blast in the kiddie pool.

Afterward our whole group met for worship and a message one more time. Then the kids loaded on the buses for a short jaunt to the beach. Some swim, some just enjoy the sand and sun. The men and boys had a “soccer” game on the beach. Since the bus drivers don’t allow wet, sandy people on the bus, they left to go back to the hotel while the beachgoers walked back. It was check-out time. The retreat was over except for the ride home.

This break from their normal routine is a much needed respite. That being said, it is also a common experience to all of us that going on vacation entails some work. The fact that they approach their work so calmly and efficiently is always remarkable to me. The helpers shop for food, pack it up and take it on the bus. The children are instructed to be ready on time, and they are. They pack up their suitcases (which most of them have purchased on our trips to the market) and take them to the bus themselves. They go around to all our team and say thank you and give goodbye hugs. They pose for pictures, and take plenty of their own.  The buses leave for Phnom Penh.

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some team members and children of Asia’s Hope