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Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. Mark 4:32

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS OCTOBER 2020   What are you growing? Is a question that Rob receives sometimes multiple times in the space of an hour, volunteering at the local Khmer public school.

The space that the vegetable garden occupies is undergoing an expansion at the request of the new school principal, who also wants the school to become more attractive than just a space of concrete, bricks and grass. To support her cause, she has brought flower bulbs and seeds from her home to create an attractive border around the fruit and vegetable space beside the school front gate.

At this time ‘what are you growing?’ does not have a straightforward answer. The wet season in Cambodia is soon coming to an end, but typically September and October are the wettest months.

The school garden for some of this year has resembled a tangled rainforest jungle when the wet season arrived during the school COVID-19 closure. With the help of a community of school children returning and team mate Luke, the garden has been transformed, but with the exception of vegetables. A few hardy lemongrass plants and a pineapple survived, but not enough dry days has allowed sowing seeds in the often-saturated raised beds.

‘What are you growing?’ is a fascinating conversation starter. Children and the rest of the school community offer their suggested favourite vegetables and the discussion generates a sense of mystery around what we might soon see growing.

What is growing in the muddy school soil isn’t really the purpose of a school garden anyway (even if some fresh long beans and corn may be more nutritious than the high sugar snacks and drinks that are sold outside the school). Much more important is the relationships that are formed throughout the surrounding village. Since returning to Cambodia we have seen more of the effects of alcoholism, family breakdown and financial hardship present. Seeing the fruit of wholeness, wellbeing and peace is at the heart of what motivates us to be ‘gardening’ here in this part of the province of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sharing some hopes and plans of a fruitful school with the new school principal.
High in a tree in our home front yard sharing some laughs and a climb for ripe custard apples.
Luke with Rob in dryer days, midway in the extension and transformation of the school garden area.
For the invitation to expand the local school garden where Rob volunteers.
For some good rains to finish what has been a couple of dry years in Cambodia.
For reopening of many schools in Cambodia.
For standard Khmer public schools to expand the availability of schooling and reengagement of children.
For Deb’s successful renewal of her Cambodian midwifery registration sitting a Khmer written exam.
For the Cambodian Global Interaction team growth and discernment for the next stages of strategy development.

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For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20
GRIFFITH GLEANINGS SEPTEMBER 2020   ***Please note Deb has a new email address: if you reply to this newsletter it automatically is sent to Deb’s new email. Deb has not been able to access “ALL” her emails in the last six months, because her old email address was compromised. So if you missed hearing back from Deb please try again.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone” is the line of a popular 1970’s song, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. This season of COVID-19 has visited many with a realisation of this human condition of failing to value what we have taken for granted.

As we write this update we read about protest and arrests of people in parts of Australia that have gathered illegally to protest about restrictions of movement. Freedom to gather with friends and family when desired is something many people in the world take for granted. The freedom to gather hasn’t always been a reality for Khmer people in past decades, but as a communal society it is an important part of life for our Khmer friends.

Pchum Ben is the Khmer festival that has begun to be celebrated here in Cambodia that literally means to gather together and eat rice. It is also an opportunity for Khmer families to honour their parents and ancestors before them.

To date in Cambodia there have been no deaths linked to the COVID-19 virus and no community transmission. There have certainly been some precautions put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread. Schools have stayed closed since March and tourist visas are not being issued to foreigners.

Just this month there are signs that restrictions are easing. Some schools have started to physically open with restricted class sizes and temperature checks of every person arriving. With many public schools like the local public school where Rob volunteers, it is hard to see how class size restrictions and hygiene requirements will be met. 50 to 60 students in the past would pack into small classrooms, with insufficient teaching staff numbers and infrequent running water or soap.

Last month the government symbolically gave a holiday to government works and some businesses that compensated for the Khmer New Year holiday being cancelled in April. The current Pchum Ben festival is the other occasion in the year when Khmer families travel from wherever they now live, to return to their place of birth and family to celebrate and gather together.

While there are still formally restrictions in place about certain types of gathering and restrictions at certain public events to hand sanitise and wear a face mask, very few restrictions are expected for families gathering and attending the temple together this festive season.

We don’t remember seeing any ‘big yellow taxi’ in Cambodia. There are less Tuk Tuks, on the streets of Siem Reap since the COVID-19 pandemic and livelihoods connected to tourists have been hit hard here in Cambodia, but gathering together this month will not be something Khmer people take for granted, it will be celebrated. Gathering is one characteristic of a communal culture that Western culture could learn from. We count it a privilege to be gathered here during this season.

Gathering and celebrating traditional Khmer festivals all look different in this COVID-19 season.
Sharing a picnic in a field where rice will soon be growing, is one way we have reengaged with our Khmer friends. This picnic was equipped with a large loud speaker, so we can share listening to our gathering singing Khmer karaoke songs.
The joy in the engagement of our youngest adult child Miriam to Wes Milne.
Renewed 12 month visa’s for both of us.
For our work permits which are now approved.
For energy and capacity in this season to get out and about building and renewing relationships.
Our local friends are recovering/recovered from significant mosquito borne illnesses.
For the lessons learned daily from humble Khmer people who open their language, culture, hearts, lives, and families with us.

For schools to meet COVID-19 requirements to reopen for both International schools (where our team families children attend) as well as the standard Khmer public schools where meeting challenges of hygiene and physical distancing in classrooms will be difficult to meet.
For wisdom for Khmer families as they move through this season of change and challenges.
For the Cambodian Global Interaction team strategy development while two team families remain back in Australia.

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS AUGUST 2020   As a young child Rob has a memory of returning home from a family holiday to a home break-in. A thief had broken a window and stolen one of his most precious possessions. The family’s collection of Commonwealth Bank metal money boxes had been stolen. All of Rob’s savings were gone! As a child it was a significant violation.
This week we have read several articles that describe the cost imposed by COVID-19 and compared the losses as similar to a thief, or a destructive storm. Thankfully the authors didn’t just focus on the costs of this world changing pandemic, but prompted ways to count the losses and to progress to thankfulness and next steps.
For many of us the way our life has been changed or restricted has been more than unsettling. While in Australia we had to cancel many appointments, were restricted in movement around the country and lost the opportunity to meet with some family, friends in person and say many physical farewells. But all was not lost.
The past eight months has been full with connections with many generous hearted people. People who welcomed us, prayed for us, physically provided for our needs and farewelled us. We left Australia with full hearts, and who would have known a year ago that so much of these connections could be on video calls?
Before our departure a week ago we were able to schedule many goodbyes and with our South Australian based children this could even involve a physical hug.
In that final week we witnessed quite a few miracles to gain a visa, flights, US money and necessary documents to satisfy entry requirements to Cambodia.
COVID-19 has not taken everything. Just like Rob’s childhood coins and money box that was eventually replaced and the window was repaired. A virus has cost a lot for many of us, but one day it will become a distant memory. Now is a good time to begin naming the losses, but also discern and plan your next move. We have the wonderful privilege of doing that now in Cambodia.
Thank you 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 to all of you who helped us to return here with such full hearts ❤️.
Listening to Khmer musical instruments evokes many senses as a story is played by the musician. This Khmer musical instrument known as the Tro Ou is a traditional bowed string instrument. Its body is made from a special type of coconut covered on one end with snake skin, and it has three strings.
Visitors in the village
Welcome to our kitchen, after three negative Covid19 tests we are reunited with visitors (initially physically distanced through a flyscreen door) bringing encouragement and even gifts of Khmer food.
For goodbye season embracing technology.
For the privilege to be reunited in the village with our in country Global Interaction team and Khmer friends.
For opportunity to utilise home isolation to discern next steps.
For encouragement and support from the Khmer community of South Australia.
For adjustments as our family re-learning living life apart.
For renewed annual visas and work permits.
For wisdom across the team in making decisions for their family needs.


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Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-1


During this past month we have had some rest and adventure that has taken us from bicycle tracks and rock art in the Flinders Ranges, walking trails in the Lincoln National Park and whale watching at the head of the Great Australian Bight. What a great privilege we have had these past six months to visit such amazing places as well as eat bread together with so many of our Aussie family and friends in the places where they call home. We are ready within ourselves to return to Cambodia for the next three years. As we write these words we do not know if our return to Cambodia is weeks or months away, but we do experience peace as we seek to make the most of each day we are given, whether or not we remain here in South Australia longer than expected.

To return to Cambodia we require the Australian Government to agree to an exemption to travel, additionally in Cambodia we need to satisfy the Cambodian Government that we do not carry COVID -19 virus infection, that we have medical insurance to a minimum of $50,000 USD and provide a deposit of $3000 each for our potential virus testing and quarantine expenses. And of course our agency seeks to make a wise and careful decision that now is a safe and responsible time to return.


  • Our four children in their different situations are thriving despite some challenges in this unusual COVID season.
  • The generosity of our supporters blessing us in more than just financial ways.
  • For opportunity for us to take rest and leave recently.


  • For wisdom for our leadership and the board of Global Interaction making many decisions in this challenging, changing season.
  • For a smooth transition to re-engaged with language learning online back with our language nurturers from the Khmer village where we live.
  • For continued patience and creativity around remaining in Australia longer than planned.
  • For doors to open for the unknown length of time of accommodation and connect within the Khmer community of Adelaide.

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run the race with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 


“IN LIFE, IT IS NOT WHERE YOU GO, BUT WHO YOU TRAVEL WITH” is the caption of a popular Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schultz. In this season of traveling parts of Australia meeting together with new and old friends, this cartoon captures some of the essence of the life we have been honoured to journey this past six months.

Six months ago, we arrived on mainland Australia and began criss-crossing state borders, visiting many lounge rooms and chapels, walked some bush trails and seen sunrise and sunsets over beaches, but where we have journeyed is far less impactful than who we have been with. A highlight has been the stories we have shared with cross-cultural workers and their families from decades past who inspired us and treated us like close family members. Many cross-cultural workers and their supporters shared their passion with us to see true peace bring transformation to people of other communities and cultures.

One story of William and Millie Wilson (affectionately known as Bill and Mill), when they first went to the live cross-culturally, they were well into their 70’s. Bill and Mill were the answer to many needs for team support in the place where they served. The team leader of the time later confided with Bill that he had been hoping for younger team members. However, in the first month of their arrival Bill beat the then team leader at both tennis and squash. Together we learn and grow from sharing stories.

We are now ready to return to Cambodia, but there are a few hurdles that have emerged due to the impacts on international travel from COVID-19. As well as the Australian government placing a ban on overseas travel, there have been considerable restrictions on availability of flights and restrictions on arrival and transfers between many countries. We are encouraged however to hear in the past week that Cambodia has removed a number of restrictions on arrivals of people from certain countries and their neighbour Thailand has signalled it is removing restrictions on passengers arriving and transferring on flights to places like Cambodia by the end of June.

We have heard predictions of months to years that will pass before international travel will get moving again, but we are becoming more hopeful that there are signs that parts of the world like Cambodia will be cautiously opening their doors to international arrivals soon.

In the meantime, we have returned our primary attention to Cambodia and are putting in place increased hours of Khmer language lessons, team Zoom meetings and are considering a physical move of our current Australian home base to be living within a Khmer community north of Adelaide. We are excited about these opportunities before us.

Thank you for your partnership with us. Thank you to those who in the past few months have increased, maintained or begun their financial support of us. We are humbled in the knowledge that many of you have remained generous in your support despite finding this season bringing amplified financial and other difficulties. The work we are a part of in Cambodia is only made possible by your generosity. If you would like to contribute either a tax-deductible pledge of a regular amount, or a once off donation please be in touch, or click on the ‘Support Rob & Deb Griffith’ orange box below

Support Rob & Deb Griffith
Jim & Marilyn Kime
Jim & Marilyn Kime shared stories, even songs with us from three different countries they served in and the years of volunteering with the same mission agency Global Interaction.
Ros Gooden
Ros Gooden shares her heart for history. She has served both overseas since 1965 for 18 years and then in the head office 21 years, and volunteers currently all with Global Interaction.
Five Barley Loaves
From Five Barley Loaves: Australian Baptists in Global Mission 1864-2010 Edited by Tony Cupit, Ros Gooden and Ken Manley.
We highly recommend this book to read and re-read many inspiring stories.
For all the many creative ways you have expressed support for the Khmer people. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
For the pandemic inspired opportunity to reset rhythms and be still more than usual.
For the wisdom and inspiration received from the many who have blessed our journey.
For wisdom for our agency as they navigate changes and transitions together.
For our family as we cheer each other across significant distances and borders despite all being in Australia.
For discernment to live within the Khmer community of South Australia.
For adjustments to online learning with our Khmer language nurturers from the village community where we call ‘home’.


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Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Philippians 2:2
GRIFFITH GLEANINGS APRIL 2020   What does a pandemic look like in Cambodia?

With the Australian media saturation of COVID-19 coverage focused mostly on how Australia is coping compared to places like America and Europe you might be wondering how somewhere like Cambodia is managing. Cambodia has had officially a total of 122 cases of positive COVID-19 infection, with no reported deaths. This week marks more than 2 weeks having passed without an official new infection.

It sounds like pretty positive progress when Australia is approaching 90 deaths to COVID-19, but there have been reports of air travel passengers departing Cambodia receiving positive tests on their port of arrival, so the Cambodian testing activity may have some ‘blind-spots’ to the actual levels of infection.

The response to the disease has had a huge impact. When the first case of virus infection was recorded in Siem Reap the government closed all schools. Government schools have no capacity to take classrooms ‘on-line’ with most teachers not having access to a computer and most families not even having a smart phone, unless they are relatively wealthy. Siem Reap being a tourist city has had a lot of the tourist dependant businesses close. Without a social security safety net, there will be knock-on effects to thousands of Khmer workers in the tourist sector and their families. Many rely on their income to have loans to repay motorbikes among other things. Due to concern around COVID-19 this past month the Cambodian government cancelled the holiday for Khmer New Year (which would be a bit like a Western government cancelling Christmas). And to cap it off the principal of the school garden where Rob volunteers reported that the strawberry plants are all dead!

Thankfully in the village we usually call home our Khmer friends report that everyone is healthy. Many of the Khmer have modified some of their activities and will often wear homemade style facemasks, but the more novel way of protecting their family is to place a scarecrow looking effigy outside their home to confuse the bad spirits to infect the effigy instead of their actual family members!

Being based back in Australia for the past 5 months, we very much miss living in Cambodia. Had there been no travel restrictions, we would have been preparing in the next month to soon be back in our Cambodian home. With some talk of international travel being the last restriction to be lifted, we are in for an unknown waiting period. Meanwhile we have started back working on our Khmer language learning and revision. Our focus is shifting to returning well; prepared for our next 3 years in Siem Reap province Cambodia.

Thank you to those who have supported us to share God’s love in Cambodia. Thank you for those of you who have encouraged us and shared stories with us in recent weeks about how Jesus changes everything. We know that these are uncertain and difficult times for many.

Here is a video we prepared for you:

Global Interaction has prepared a lot of May Mission Month resources that you can also check out here:

The work we are a part of in Cambodia is only made possible by your generosity. If you would like to contribute either a pledge of a regular amount, or a once off donation please be in touch, or click on the ‘Support Rob & Deb Griffith‘ orange rectangle below.

Support Rob & Deb Griffith
Learning that the discipline of playing the piano can be used to bring joy to many, as it bought Deb deep joy in listening.
Skipping like we have never seen. Yes, God uses all aspects of our skills, character and our story to touch the lives of others.
For good health among our Khmer friends and families, our team and own families.
For ease of access to communicate with our Khmer friends and our family.
For you and all supporters who are faithfully supporting and upholding us, and our family.
Discernment for all families/individuals experiencing new stressors and changes.
For clarity of our message as we share God’s heart for mission with many.
Wisdom for our team families based in Cambodia that they can know and share God’s peace.

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