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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.