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..and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:12


How liberating has it been for you to tell your story? In our home culture back in Australia we have abundant opportunities to tell our personal stories; to explain where we have come from, how we got to be the person that we are and what motivated us to do crazy things like to relocate to Cambodia. In an individualistic culture like Australia, where it is unexpected to live in the same suburb as you are born, or to be limited to one career, we expect to have to explain our history.

A Khmer lady recently shared her life story with Deb. She began crying when she realised that she had never told her story before. The village where we live near Siem Reap is a close-knit intergenerational community. Many members of the community move home no more than a few metres from their birthplace. This lady went on to say everybody here knows her story. She has grown up with everyone knowing her and knowing her story.

But to have someone listen to her sharing her story, she was moved deeply. Deb is thankful for the privilege of listening to her story and that the act of listening brought release to this lady. Sometimes do we drown out the voices of the poor and oppressed by our well-meaning words and solutions, rather than first letting their voices be heard? James 1:26-27 challenges us: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongue deceives themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the (corrupted) world”.

Please pray that we would be good listeners, so that when we speak and act that we would be truly bringing invitations to increased wholeness, wellbeing and justice that makes sense to those we are in community with.

Last month we shared that the COVID-19 situation in Cambodia was becoming concerning. At that point the government were just starting to introduce restrictions mostly in Phnom Penh. Since then, the infection level has risen by 30,000 people and we have moved in and out of various restrictions. Siem Reap province has had much fewer COVID-19 cases than Phnom Penh, with only 118 positive cases recorded locally.

This week the main wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Siem Reap has been closed after one of the stall holders has been selling coffee in the market for two weeks after contracting COVID-19 in Phnom Penh. This wholesale market services the fruit and vegetable supply of most of the city and surrounding areas of Siem Reap. Both sellers and buyer in this market live in communities throughout the province of Siem Reap.

We intently follow the unfolding situation here in Cambodia and seek to be careful to follow government health advice and act wisely in our duty of care to those around us. Schools have been shut most of the last year. Businesses and people who live off meagre earnings when they can by trading goods, are severely impacted by lockdowns and curfews. The situation is very difficult for many Khmer.

This is the COVID-19 safety message in Cambodia. There are 3 do’s and 3 don’ts

3 Do’s: 
Wear a mask properly
Wash your hands frequently with soap and sanitise.
Maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others.
3 Don’ts:
Do not go to places that are crowded or poorly ventilated.
Do not touch others, shake hands or hug.
Don’t travel unnecessarily, to help stop the spread of the virus.

Thanks for staying tuned and cheering us on; you truly influence us as together we share life in the fullness that the Father offers among the Khmer of Cambodia.
For our print friendly newsletter pdf please click here to open

Snappy Videos Clips For The Visually Inclined: A video Rob and Deb share insights into what God’s Kingdom building looks like in “Cambodia the Kingdom of Wonder”. A video capturing the focus of our team here. A video here Deb welcomes you into her Khmer friends flower and vegetable gardens. A video where Deb shares how Mother’s Day influences us all in different ways.

Tropical trails on our bicycles leave us joy fueled.
Amazing resilience for all involved. The city of Siem Reap roadworks 🚧 have been unfolding for most streets all at the same time over last 12 months. Photo credit RM
Makeshift bridges of planks of wood or bamboo are connections to the outside world.
A cultural Khmer form and tradition.
Sharing rice 🍚 together is special and is a way to share how we welcome Father into our daily lives.
Finding a village treasure of a bee 🐝 hive in our garden. Honey 🍯 is a luxury item here and used for medicinal as well as consumption; so was beaut to share in this hungry season with folk in the village. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
Sharing together in every season paves the way to share Father’s love.
Special opportunity to be altogether in person (two young ones resting so not in photo) for the first time with the current Team Cambodia.
Sharing Father’s hope amid the seasons of Covid19 here among the Khmer people.
For the beginning of the wet season and the relief from heat that it brings.
For team families now returned from Australia.
The opportunity to be all together as a team for the first time.

For wisdom for all those working hard to deal with the realities and impacts of COVID-19.
That we will keep listening and deepen our cultural and language understanding.
For our children and their families to flourish in their lives as we grow together in different places.
For one family preparing their family, themselves, and the relationships established here among the Khmer of Cambodia for their first home assignment back in Australia.

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Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hands of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 


We wish you a Happy Easter.

What are your favourite ways to celebrate Easter? As a family we would always have a supply of hot cross buns on Good Friday. Easter eggs emerged on Easter Sunday and provided a lot of joy to our children when they were young; so much so that they even liked to have multiple Easter egg hunts with the same batch of eggs!

Back in Cambodia this year there is little evidence around us that Easter is here at all this year. A bakery that some of the local foreigner’s visit is advertising specials on donuts this weekend. So, it appears that they have forgotten about this weekend being Easter and possibly are missing a marketing opportunity to sell hot cross buns. To our delight one of our local team mates did cook a batch of hot cross buns on Friday and dropped us off a couple!

As a family in Australia, we often went camping at Easter. Travelling to have special time together with family is also something that our Khmer friends like to do to be with family. They usually work 7 days a week all year, but once or twice a year they like to go back to their place of birth for 2 or 3 days and celebrate together Khmer New Year (this year in the middle of April) and another festival called Pchum Ben (in October).

Last year Khmer New Year was cancelled for COVID-19, and this year the festival whilst not cancelled at this point is going to be very subdued, due to heightened fear of the current COVID-19 outbreak and a lack of money in the local economy.

The capital city Phnom Penh has introduced a curfew between 8pm and 5am to reduce the threat of COVID-19. A more virulent virus strain began spreading in Phnom Penh on the 20th of February and containment efforts have not been successful since with 11 provinces now having infections and the 7-day average is currently 79 new cases per day. This might not sound high by international standards, but we know that many people are frightened to get tested when they have symptoms, there is limited infrastructure to treat patients and there are no reports of local contact tracing to give confidence that the virus will be contained. There are now regular reports of people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s dying.

In the midst of our village friends living in fear, we are imposing our own personal restrictions on mixing with people from outside the village where we live. There is no curfew or lock down at present where we live, but out of concern for vulnerable people in our community, we are staying clear of the city and places where people are mixing widely with others such as cafes and brought all of our meetings with foreigners to online meetings again. Our neighbours have expressed their thanks for caring for them in this way.

Thank you for the many messages at Easter and other times of love and encouragement you have sent our way.

Here is the print friendly newsletter PDF copy Click here to open

When we were allowed to attend a Khmer wedding. All gathering like this have now been banned.



Being in our friend’s gardens colours our conversations.

There are many ancient temples near to where we live and throughout Cambodia. They each have a different style and tell a story.


Rob and a Khmer friend exchange gifts of a shirt from their country. Rob was loaned glasses as his friend wanted Rob to be matching for the photo.


Growing in school garden and in Khmer culture.

Sunrise symmetry of equinox. The equinox is a phenomenon when the sun rises upon the middle summit of Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia. It is an astronomical event in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the Sun. This event happens twice per year. We went later on that day, photo credit to a friend.


That hot season power blackouts have been short in duration.
For the delightful influence of creation in the tropics.
For progress in team families returning to Cambodia in this season.
For wisdom and protection for all those involved in dealing, treating and seeking eradication of COVID-19 from Cambodia and around the world.
For a balance of rest, energy, hydration and exercise in the hot season.
That our Khmer friends would have sufficient income to maintain their families needs through this COVID-19 season.

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So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

What is the riskiest thing you have done this year? Possibly the riskiest thing we normally get to do in Cambodia is ride our bicycles/motorbike on a Cambodian road, but international travel feels like it also seems to be a risky activity these days. It isn’t so much that aircraft are dangerous, but as many have discovered during a pandemic that we can’t take for granted that we can buy an airline ticket and expect to get onto an aeroplane and fly to anywhere we think we need to go.

This month we managed to take a quick trip back to Australia. It felt like such a risky activity that we didn’t tell too many people outside our immediate family until God smiled on the occasion and the dust settled.

There is the risk that the place you are heading has a virus outbreak and flights get cancelled, or you get bumped from the plane by a new restriction of permitted arrival numbers.

There is the risk that the airline decides the route you are booked to fly is no longer viable and pauses flights to that route.

There is the risk that your insurance or health documents are rejected and you are denied entry into a country, or that you will be denied approval to leave.

There is a risk that you will get infected with COVID-19 and not be permitted to fly or leave quarantine! These were some of the risks that we had to consider this month when we attended our daughter Miriam and Wesley’s Adelaide wedding.

Thankfully we got to fly and get out of quarantine, so that we could be present for such a treasured occasion. It was a relief just to arrive back in Australia and to be a part of ceremonies and celebrations with Miriam, Wesley and our expanded family. We are now in our 14 days of hotel isolation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and feel the risks and significant personal expense was all worthwhile. Despite being again confined to a small one room with bathroom, (we have had two months like this in the last 12 months) we feel strangely liberated and blessed to have had the experience. Knowing in Christ we are free indeed!

Many people have asked us about the current COVID-19 impacts in Cambodia. Before we arrived back, we read about a new outbreak in the nation’s capital Phnom Penh, nicknamed the ‘February 20th event’. Cambodia has mostly escaped community transmission of the scale of nearly every country, but this outbreak is of a scale that has already threatened to overwhelm the capacity of hospitals and services. The virus has had a devastating impact on the country’s frail economy and that flows on to the lives of its people. As of February 27th, there have been a total of 262 people tested positive connected to the February 20th event community transmission cluster. Cambodia to date has recorded 766 cases and officially no deaths to COVID-19.

With no international tourists at present almost 3000 tourism-related businesses have been closed, causing the unemployment of more than 45,000 people. Hundreds of factories and other businesses across the country have closed down resulting in more than 100,000 garment factory workers being unemployed.

At a village level we sit with many who are hugely impacted by significantly reduced income. Some have had to sell assets like a motorbike to pay for medicine for a sick family member.

In adversity and in taking risks there can also be opportunity and growth. We can report growing relationships, opportunity to help, bless and share God’s hope together with our Khmer friends.

Our growing family.
Wholesome produce from Bek’s garden.
Sharing meals and hearts.
Marriage ceremony bringing family together.
Delighted to share in person.
Sharing joys in life.
A Khmer friend gave this gift a Khmer hair pin for the occasion.
Creating their own bouquets 💐.
Walk of respect preparing to give God’s gift.
Treasuring coming together
For sharing together in person with family around our daughter’s wedding.
For ways to share our lives among the Khmer people.
For lessons learnt from 8 weeks isolation (in a one room with bathroom. no access to outside) over the past year.
Wisdom for officials dealing with a current COVID-19 community outbreak.
For Khmer people to know God’s richest blessings.
For God’s leading upon each member of our team.

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6


Have you ever planted a garden and seen it grow to produce flowers and fruit?

When we moved to the rural village home where we now live in Cambodia, we were keen to see the bare earth that surrounded our home to be transformed to be covered with lawn and have flowering plants added to the scattered fruit trees. Plants can grow quickly in the tropics and the garden in front of our home is admired by our neighbours as ‘sa-ardt’; a Khmer word that describes something being clean, pure, or beautiful.

This garden graced by butterflies, birds, lizards and the odd snake has bought much delight to us and our Khmer friends of how things grow in the tropics, but also to a plethora of insects and fungus that we are not as familiar with that equally enjoys the garden; obviously for different reasons.

Our friends have given us cuttings and seedlings to add to the garden. Last year we planted some trees with a friend Mr S. One of these trees is already taller than us both. Some plants are fast to grow and produce fruit, such as the pineapple that can bear fruit in 18 months. One of our Jackfruit trees was planted 7 years ago and only this year will produce its first fruit. Being in our garden gets us thinking about our relationships in Cambodia.

Some of our friends here came into our lives with almost instant connection. Others have taken a lot longer to see that we now have a friendship that has grown deep roots. Unlike Westerners, Khmer don’t divide up their lives into physical, emotional or spiritual parts. It is usual to start a language lesson with a prayer and seek help for things like Rob being quick to remember what he is learning.

Rob’s friend and language nurturer Mr S was beginning a language lesson with Rob this past week with a prayer. Mr S is a devout Buddhist and was a monk for 7 years of his life. He prayed though on this occasion that God would give him peace in his heart, peace in his family and peace in Cambodia.

Mr S was a small child in the civil war that followed the Khmer Rouge coming into power and causing the deaths of possibly a quarter of the Cambodian population at the time. He is familiar as a child with the sounds of gun fire and bombs exploding in the forests of Battambang province. He even carries the scars of what as a curious young teenager he did that resulted in an unexploded ordinance blowing up in his hands and face. The people of Cambodia know something about war and peace. During the last national election, the prime minister told the electorate that voting for him was the only way that they could have peace in Cambodia.

Some of our activities in Cambodia can have near instant results (like the planting of tropical grass runners in our lawn), other activities as intercultural workers may take a lot longer to bear fruit (like the Jackfruit in our garden). We thank those of you who pray with us that the people of Cambodia would know genuine peace, not just in a political peace. We seek that our friends will encounter wholeness, completeness and wellbeing; that their prayers of peace in their heart, peace in their family and peace in Cambodia will be answered.

Bas relief on ancient Khmer temple; captures life giving stories and a sense where where the Khmer people have grown from.
As language nurturers gathered with one of our team member’s; our Growing Participator Facilitator to retreat in a province most had never been to before for just under a week; they grew stronger as a community.
Growth shared together with Khmer friends of seasonal rice crops.
Growing families through the gift of new life.
Growing ផ្លែខ្នុរ jack fruit enjoyed by all.
Growing in new skills of singing Khmer carols with nurturers playing musical instruments altogether.
For schools re-opening across Cambodia.
For opportunities opening up as our team refines strategies of purpose and engagement.
For sharing the seasons of life as a family through different contexts.
For all team families to be reunited in Cambodia.
For the wellbeing of local Khmer friends whose struggles are real, constant and intense.
For tourism and employment opportunities to return soon as COVID-19 is contained.


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So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:7

Can you stand on one foot for more than 9 seconds? Can you walk up and down stairs without help, or draw a person with a body? Congratulations you have passed some of the age milestone tests of a four-year-old child! This month we passed the milestone of four years since making our home in Cambodia.

For the past four years we have been learning to speak and read the Khmer language, understand the social cues and rules of relationships of our host culture. The Khmer people are extraordinarily patient and complimentary of our often-awkward efforts to ‘grow up’ in their world. We have also had a few lessons in life perspectives.

One of the most important lessons has been to grow in humility. In our lives before Cambodia, we had some challenges along the way, but on the whole, we had been praised and encouraged in the day-to-day exercise of our competencies professionally. We could give advice and have our egos stroked regularly. Then four years ago we came to Cambodia and we didn’t even know how to ask where the toilet was!

Another life lesson has been to treat our inter-cultural lives with respect. It is an honour to be invited as a guest into another person’s home or another country. As Westerners with a set of qualifications and skills, it is easy to act as if people are fortunate to have us. We may have definite skills, but we are not God’s gift to another country. We are reminded in this season that we are not the gift, but God is. We are thankful in this season for the many privileges we have and even for the numerous ‘growing pains’ that remind us to respect what we have been given and the gift that we can share together.

One of the privileges we have as an accepted outsider in the village we call home is to be invited into the celebrations of people’s milestones like weddings, rice harvests, festivals and funerals. This month we participated in the largest funeral we have ever attended.

The elderly local Buddhist monk from the village where we live passed away. On the day of his cremation at least 2000 people gathered (all wearing COVID-19 safety masks) for the funeral procession. Over 500 monks lead the procession followed by hundreds of school children and the rest of the gathering of people from all over Siem Reap. Sharing in this walk through the village provided a way to express our care for our Khmer friends and seek to honour and respect them and what they see as important in their culture.

What an honour to be a four-year-old in this intercultural life in Cambodia. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged us, supported us and prayed for us through this growing process.

We are blessed to live with the people here.
These ancient temples are wrapped in jungle beauty.
Monk Om B last time sitting to share with us.
The funeral procession complete.
Everyday Deb’s friend Mrs J prepares several batches of filtered coffee ready for customers to her families rice shop.
For the Cambodian community cluster of Covid-19 currently being contained.
For this season to reflect on the true gift in our lives.
For your support over the past four years; sharing lives and love among the Khmer people.
For all team families to meaningfully share Christmas far from family.
For Cambodian team as we stretch in flexibility to meet both Australian & Cambodian governmental parameters.
For Godly wisdom in all our relationships, conversations and attitudes of the heart.

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..and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the...
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