A hand-picked winter melon from her garden. A few juicy limes off his tree. A shirt in one of my favorite colors. New fruits we have never tried before. A bag of rice from their field.

Gifts from our neighbors are special because they come from the heart. Often, they come from those who don’t have much to begin with, but they’re so generous and kind. We have been utterly blessed to move into a village that has welcomed us with open arms. We feel loved here, and they tell us they miss us whenever we’re gone. Sometimes they come over just to hold my hand and listen to me speak broken Khmer with them. “I’m so happy, Carly. You speak Khmer so well. I love to talk with you.” They ask questions out of concern, wanting to make sure we’re doing well. “Do you have enough rice to eat? Do you need any rice?”

One of the hardest parts of leaving everything you know to become a missionary is leaving behind family and friends—your whole support system. You step into a new world, and sometimes it’s hard to make friends at a time when you most need friendship and support. We are so thankful to have made friends quickly and easily who hang out with us, chat with us about life, and make us feel loved. God provided a good friend for Eric who speaks some English and is a companion to him while he learns Khmer. God has blessed me with enough language skills to be able to have long conversations with my friends without running out of words. We still miss our friends back in America, but God has provided us with companions to help us not be so lonely in our new home, and that is a gift.

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