Most of you may know about the colossal events that have happened in my life this past year. But for those of you who don’t know, here the bullet points since my last blog post….

• I quit my 15+ year career in the salon in America.

• I sold everything I own.

• I moved to Cambodia indefinitely.

Yup. You read that right. I moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to help build a salon and teach Cosmetology School full time with THE TRADE. It was a decision I didn’t come to lightly, but it was a decision I felt that was already made for me long before I stepped foot on Khmer soil.

I’ve been teaching with The Trade for 4 years now and something struck me differently about Cambodia than the other places I’ve been to. It was hotter then Africa, more humid than Brazil, and dustier than Mexico. On paper it seemed as though this would be the last place I’d ever want to come back to. Yet, despite all its negative qualities on paper, I saw beneath the surface and I truly came to love this place. This country is full of history, charm, and love. Every other place I’ve traveled to has these same qualities, but for some reason Cambodia got under my skin and nuzzled right up to my soul.

I first came to Cambodia in August 2013 to teach beauty school to 8 beautiful girls who all desired to have a career in Hair Styling. They each craved opportunity they didn’t otherwise have. Upon coming home from that first trip, all I could do was count down the days until I got back. MELISSA LINGO and I shared dreams of Christmas in Cambodia and the possibility of “one day….” but as much as we dreamed, for the mean time that’s all it really was. We went back in February 2014 and I knew my calling was upon me. We both knew. It was as if all the life we had lived up until now had been preparing us for this. Funny how God works like that.

On November 11, I boarded a plane with my life packed tightly away into three suitcases and didn’t look back! I’ve been there for two months now. In this short time, I have seen two of my incredibly talented friends, Brett Wagoner and Nate Prusso, build an upscale salon out of crocked 2×4′s, wrapped 1×8′s, and no Home Depot, eaten a tarantula, bought a moto, crashed a moto (more than once), landed myself in the hospital as a resulted of infected wounds from said moto crash, transported furniture on the back of Melissa’s Pepto-pink moto, worked all day on Thanksgiving, met some amazing people, met some not-so amazing people, breathed in a questionable amount of lead paint, fought spiders and mosquitos from destroying our clothing, battled red fire ants from eating all of the food in our kitchen, been to Thailand and back, fed street kids on Christmas, cut off Melissa’s hair, gotten more bug bites, scraps, and bruises than I care to count, laughed, cried, and everything in between.

To be honest, Cambodia has kinda beaten me up. I’d have to be an idiot to think moving from the most affluent of first world countries to one of the most impoverished of third world countries would be easy. I just never knew how hard it will be until I did it. Losing people I thought would always have and gaining friends I never thought I would. It’s hard everyday. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically. All of the above. This life isn’t for everyone, but I know its for me. For now at least. And I couldn’t be more thankful.

NGO workers turned furniture deliverers…

Some amazing people….

Some not-so amazing people….

Under construction….

The craftsmanship of Nathan Prusso…

 ….. and Brett Wagoner.

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