Yesterday, I had ACL Reconstruction and Anterior and Posterior Meniscus Repair. I’m 39. I guess that as I approach 40, the wheels on the bus are trying to come off. So, I got my mashed up knee unmashed by Dr. Selesnick, the Miami Heat Orthopedic Surgeon. He was incredible. But, I’ve got some serious work ahead of me to get back in cycling shape.
Anyway, this is why I was unable to ride with Jake Stum, Tyson Black, and the 423forhope.com team in November.
My ride partner, Hector Picard and I have been re-aiming for a March 2013 ride across SE Asia, finishing up in Siem Reap. But, that date is even feeling pretty ambitious now. Because of the meniscus repair, I’m supposed to have 0% weight bearing on my lift leg for 30 days. So, that sets my timeline back hard. Even if I’m ready, it seems like it would put a dent in the fundraising aspect of the ride. I didn’t anticipate that. So, I’m kind of in a wait and see mode right now.
Will Ride for Hope started as an idea. It ended as an amazing journey. And, the journey is just beginning!
We’ve got some fantastic next steps in the cue, which will allow people all over the world to participate in local runs and rides to raise money and awareness for particular projects:
- water projects,
- the Build a City project in Andong,
- floating medical clinics on the Tonle Sap, and many more.
And, while we’ve got more ride opportunities, the goal isn’t simply for me to do a bike ride and raise money. The goal is to empower people to have experiences like mine right in their own communities to raise resources to change lives around the world! The possibilities are limitless!
We’ll be announcing the launch of this next phase soon. I’m very excited about that…and the prospects of a movement of:
- people who leverage their passion for athletic events to do good.
- people who have a passion for doing good to improve their health.
SOMETHING I DIDN’T EXPECT
I expected to fall in love with Cambodia again. How can you not when you’re received with generous hospitality by strangers on the side of the road? I expected that. And, those expectations were exceeded. I’ll never forget 82 year old, Rat (Raid), his beautiful wife, children and grandchildren who received us warmly between Kampong Thom and Kampong Chom.
I didn’t expect to fall in love like I have with so many incredible people who were doing work here in Cambodia. I can’t name everyone. That would really make this blog long. But, it’s an extraordinary list of extraordinary people…people I’ve grown to love…people who I believe will change the world. I wish them all ridiculous, unexplainable success!…pray that as they grow and prosper others would mimic their personal creativity and generosity to change the world in unique ways.
A FINAL CHALLENGE FOR LIVING
I would like to encourage you to stay engaged: to honor our Creator by blessing His creation. You are the hands and feet of God. Use what you have to make the world a better place. Be a force for goodness. You are the solution! Live like it in the extraordinary moments…and in the mundane moments. Everything you do expresses what you value. Change the world!
A FINAL CHALLENGE FOR GIVING
If you’d like to make further contributions to Will Ride for Hope, you can still do so. We will remain engaged in the Build a City project for at least the next three years…until it’s completion. You can give at either place.
Also, I’d ask you to pray for the future of Will Ride for Hope/Will Run for Hope. I believe this has the potential to be a next level movement. We should steward it well. Please pray that the momentum of many people will be channeled well and that the future would be incredibly bright.
There are no words to adequately express the gratitude I have for your partnership and engagement in raising money & awareness for PCL through Will Ride for Hope. So, I’ll simply say, thank you for joining me on this amazing journey.
Build a City Ground Breaking
5:15 AM. That’s when I got up. Showered. Downstairs for breakfast. I hammered papaya, pineapple, an egg, a slice of bread, and coffee. I also finished the previous day’s blog.
At 7 AM, we were all on the bus en route to Andong for the Ground Breaking ceremony. Remember the 2 dozen weddings I passed on the Saturday riding through Cambodia? Well, we had the same basis for setup: colorful tents, covered chairs, banners, and flags. Between 1,000 to 1,500 of us gathered to commemorate the launching of the city.
Dr. Fred Garmon, Dr. John Gregory, the Vice Governor, and various government officials spoke. Then we toured Andong, saw the PCL training center there, and reboarded the bus.
Lunch at Malis
After the Ground breaking (which I tweeted), we went to Malis, which is owned by Szolt Luka’s girlfriend, Pip. Authentic Cambodian Cuisine! It was beautiful and delicious. The sour soup was my favorite! Over a great meal, we had some great laughs, told some personally embarrassing stories, and spent some great time.
We were on our way to the hotel from lunch when we got a call from the governor’s office that they were moving the ceremony up. Quick refresher at the hotel. Back in the bus. Drive to the Office of the Council of Ministers.
We were all seated at formal tables facing each other. Cambodian government officials on one side. The People for Care and Learning entourage in the other. Roaming around the room were a dozen and a half reporters with cameras and video cameras.
Eventually, the signing ceremony began. Decrees were read. Comments were made by John Gregory. Fred Garmon. Fred mentioned past instances where the government and PCL had worked together and acknowledged respect for the Governor, Keb Chutema. He said the basis for their relationship was integrity and credibility. Dr. Fred introduced his guests who represented donors all over America. And, he made mention of Will Ride for Hope.
When His Excellency spoke, he made many good comments. But, the one that struck me was something he said while talking about solutions for the poor in Cambodia. ”I wish I had a magic wand like Harry Potter…a wand I could wave and make everything better.”
First, I loved that the Provincial Governor made a pop culture reference that caused the whole room to respond. Secondly, he said because he didn’t it was critical to have the partnership of People for Care & Learning. I loved that moment.
The Governor was very warm. After more comments, the Governor invite Dr. Fred and John Gregory to the signing table where they signed the Official Memorandum of Understanding. We toasted the signing. The Governor then gave John and Fred gifts and gifts for everyone.
And, so…Build a City is official!
This experience is coming to an end. I’m richer for it, more in love with the Cambodian people, and have added a few friends to my life.
I’ll do one wrap-up blog entry tomorrow. And, this series of blogs will come to an end. It’s be a privilege.
Today was long. And, I’m tired…really sleepy. Our wakeup is at 6 AM for the Build a City Groundbreaking and official government escort. So, there won’t be much to the blog tonight. Just this:
Very difficult. Unspeakable atrocities. The last time I visited S21 (Tuol Sleng, I also went to one of the Killing Fields. That was a lot to handle. Then, when I arrived at the Killing Tree, a tree depicted in one of the artist renderings, I just stood there….struggling to believe how a socialist/communist or a human of any stripe could ever lead boy soldiers into grabbing babies by their feet and slamming them into a nail on a tree. Senseless. But, that’s exactly what happened to the people of Cambodia, resulting in the deaths of some 1.5 million-3 million people.
And, s21 is one of the prisons where many of those people were detained, interrogated, tortured, and cataloged
Chin Somnet, S21 Survivor and People for Care & Learning Staff Member
One of the redemptive aspects of our trip to Tuol Sleng and one of the things I look forward to and share with everyone I can when talking about PCL’s work here is a lady by the name of Chin Somnet. During our tour through these terrible rooms, there is a picture of a 19 year old girl. Beautiful. Her photo pose was identical to everyone else. She had a number. She was on the wall of everyone else who’d been shipped off to the killing field outside of Phnom Penh to be executed.
Though she’s been listed as a casualty by the Khmer Rouge, she escaped. Now, she works for PCL in Phnom Penh. I met her son yesterday. I saw her detention paperwork. She showed me the date and order for her execution. She now brings hope to the people of Emmanuel Village through the Management Institute.
House of Hope Children’s Home.
We were loved by some handsome young pups…highlight of the day!!! You can sense the culture of excellence in everything PCL does. The Children’s Home is no different.
House of Hope was utterly clean, organized, and well run. The kids were loving, gracious. They showed us around their rooms, showed off their talents. In fact, one of the little girls designs clothing for barbie dolls….amazing dressers on hangers. UNBELIEVABLE! There designs are so good, there are people actively looking for manufacturing in the US to distribute her designs. Her learning track is in design. She is typical of these children. House of Hope is making a difference. I wanted to stay there.
Lunch at KFC. That’s funny! Kelly and I had a Zinger Max, fried chicken sandwich. Now, that’s funny!
Interview with the Princess of Cambodia on 90.0 FM.
She cancelled her appearance at the last second because of her involvement in her cousin’s wedding. We still did the interview at 90.0 FM at Pannasustra University. We had a lot of fun with that. The callers and questions via text message had us working overtime. Dr. Fred carried the day. During the interview, we learned that he is a real romantic.
Dinner with the crew.
After the interview, we got to hang with our 8 or so regular crew. However, SZolt Luka from CBS and his girlfriend, Pip joined us. Szolt and I had gotten to know each other a little bit via Facebook. So, chatting with him was great. Good sense of humor and easy to be around.
Now, bed. See you tomorrow!
BANGKOK to PHNOM PENH
We’re back in Cambodia after an Air France flight from Bangkok (that’s a heck of an airport). The last time we were here, we were being processed through the Poipet, Cambodia/Thailand boder on the longest cycling day of www.willrideforhope.com. We did right at 132 miles and we did those miles fast…felt like I could’ve done 200 that day.
I was ecstatic about that day…also sad. We left Date Won, our Cambodia guide at the border. By the time we reached Thailand, Date felt like my brother. I thought it’d be a long time before I saw him again…
Anyway, back to the flight. We landed in Phnom Penh and were greeted by Bien and the Children’s Home from Phnom Penh. These were some handsome young pups…and sweet. They had incredibly fragrant leis for each of us. It felt like heaven for a moment!
From there, we boarded the bus, cleaned up at the hotel, and headed out for dinner at the historic Foreign Correspondents Club, which overlooks the Mekong River in downtown Phnom Penh. We’re rolling with a large group now. So, we sat on the rooftop and had great conversations.
REFLECTING ON GOD NOTICING ME
Kelly and I had a real privilege of talking with Richard Baker for a long time and hearing his love for children in some 37 orphanages around the world, about his own children, and about his time in Guatemala (when he and his wife had some 14 infants living with them in an 1,800 sq. ft. house. That was good…and challenging…just the conversation I needed!
OK. Now, backup to before dinner. Remember when I told you I thought it’d be a long time until I saw Date Won again? Well, I’m riding in a tuk tuk with Kelly, Dr. Fred, and Shirley Garmon in the middle of downtown Phnom Penh, a city of 2 million people. And, I look over…and Date Won drives by us. I jumped out of the tuk tuk, ran up the street, and jumped in the van with Date…BIZARRE! That’s how this whole trip has been…providential!
The cool thing is that I had something I meant to give Date before we parted. I didn’t think in a million years we’d have the chance. I knew he was going out on another tour. He doesn’t even live in Phnom Penh, and he couldn’t even make it to the Build a City ground breaking because of his work schedule.
Fred, Shirley and Kelly thought I was crazy. It was insane…still floating on cloud 9 because of it.
So, we’re sitting at the Foreign Correspondents Club, finish dinner. I’m sitting alone looking out over the city. And, I’m reflecting on things like this moment in the middle of a chaotic city bumping into Date, the ride, all of the people that have given (and continue to give to Will Ride for Hope), my wife, my kids, and generally how good God has been to me…and I have this sense that God is aware, He notices, and has listened. Things aren’t always perfect. And, I’ve had my share of challenges. But, it is an incredible feeling to know that God hears and is paying attention.
After dinner, Dr. Fred, Shirley, Jeff and Jordan, Scott and Sarah, and Kelly and I go for a walk making a few stops at some of Dr. Fred’s favorite spots. We had some good laughs…some really good laughs. In the middle of all that, I kept showing Jordan, Sarah and Scott videos of my kids dancing and playing baseball. I’m missing them a lot right now…can’t wait to scoop up my three little jokers and squeeze them really good.
Anyway, the night is over. We’re back at the hotel across from the US Embassy. Tomorrow is going to be a full day. We start out at Tuol Sleng Prison (S21) where tons of Cambodians were imprisoned, cataloged, and shipped off to the Killing Fields where Pol Pot wiped out generations of Cambodians committing terrible atrocities.
PRINCESS OF CAMBODIA
When you consider all of the attention by some pretty amazing people being directed in on this Build a City project, you have to know it’s going to be the start of an amazing story!
Since, I posted the blog yesterday, we received in some more great donations! If after hearing what’s going on around this story and see the pictures of the beautiful children of the Phnom Penh Children’s Home, you feel compelled to give, you should give. It certainly isn’t too late.
And, because of an incredibly generous matching gift to Will Ride for Hope, which benefits People for Care and Learning and the Build a City project, any contribution you make is doubled. Just go to www.willrideforhope.com and make the gift right now…it’s super easy!
The official total raised for Will Ride for Hope is $21,544.92 (as of yesterday)! Coupled with a matching gift by a substantial donor, our total raised is $43,089.84!!! You guys are awesome!
More good news?
Jake Stum from People for Care and Learning informed me that 9 people have called in since Will Ride for Hope to run in half marathons and other running events to raise money for PCL!!! Once the new http://www.willrideforhope.com website is designed, that will be able to happen seamlessly all over the world!
Well, today, we got up and went exploring Bangkok with the People for Care and Learning crew and some of the other leaders here in Asia. We met up, took the sky train, and got on a boat on the Chao Phraya River.
There we met up with Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd from CBS’ Big Brother and Amazing Race, as well as, Scott and Sarah Bragg from Between Pixels. Scott is the creative genius behind the new PCL videos. They’re spectacular to say the least. Check them out at Build a City!
We all visited the Grand Palace in Bangkok. We had to rent some clothes (no shorts allowed). As you can see, the palace was killer. What better place to get a good picture Tebowing than here?!
From here, the Cambodians broke off and went to catch a movie in one of the most impressive movie theaters I’ve ever seen. They had a blast. Then again, they’re always having fun, being witty, and so much fun to be around.
Then, Fred and Shirley, Jeff and Jordan, Chuck and Sherry Quinley, and Kelly and I had a ridiculous amount of food for dinner to celebrate the end of a successful conference, the bike ride, and the kickoff of the Build a City project.
Kelly and I really connected with Chuck and Sherry…leaders I’ve really admired from a distance for quite some time. It was nice to sit at dinner and talk about raising kids, doing life, and leading churches/ministries.
Jeff and Jordan were a heck of a lot of fun too. I ate Jeff and Fred under the table…though they gave me a run for my money. We found out that Jordan attends Central Church of God in Charlotte. That was pretty cool, since I have a lot of friends there. She likes it because Loran Livingston tells it like it is. <-true! They were super easy to be around…my kind of people. And, I look forward to hanging more this week.
The night was over.
Tomorrow, we fly to Pnomh Penh, Cambodia for the ground breaking of Build a City. A lot is happening in the next couple days. I know it’s going to go by fast.
BTW, we received more donations today for Will Ride for Hope! It isn’t too late. And, every dollar is worth $2….doubled in value because of the matching gift!
Visit and give at www.willrideforhope.com
THIS IS NOT THE LAST ENTRY. The end of the bike ride is only the end of the bike ride…not the end of this project. In fact, this is just the beginning. Stay tuned, especially over the next few days as we:
- GET THE EXACT FIGURE RAISED AND REPORT IT TO YOU!!! As of this moment, including the matching funds gift for the Build a City project, well over $40,000 was given! THAT’S RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING!!! Thank you! Remember, you can still give…and tap the matching funds offer. So, $1,000 given now (1 house built) will actually be worth $2,000 or 2 houses in the BUILD A CITY project!!! You can do that at www.willrideforhope.com!
- Tour Bangkok with some amazing young leaders from SE Asia.
- Fly to Pnomh Penh, Cambodia with Dr. Fred Garmon and Jeff & Jordan from CBS’ Big Brother/Amazing Race.
- Meet with the Princess of Cambodia for an interview with her, Dr. Fred Garmon, and Dr. John Gregory.
- Ride in an official State escort to the ground breaking of the Build a City project.
- Attend the much anticipated ground breaking of the Build a City project!
- Meeting to initiate the second phase of the Will Ride for Hope project, which I can’t wait to share the details with you (I ment
After that, Kelly and I will be getting home. Thank you for joining us on this journey. And, if you haven’t done so yet, partner with us and make a donation at www.willrideforhope.com.
If you’ve already given, you guys are absolute rockstars and are the foundation of something ridiculously good!