John has been in the States for 2 weeks now visiting with our church team, talking with various groups, spending time with both sets of our parents, and seeing many friends. While Luke and I have been “holding down the fort” in Cambodia, we have had lots of macaroni and cheese for dinner (Luke’s request) and managing ok since John’s been gone. But this week I caught some type of stomach bug along with all the symptoms… fever, vomiting and diarrhea, on and off for 3 days.
Today, I am feeling much better. I wouldn’t say ALL my energy is back but better. Looking back on the last 4 days, I am very grateful for our community here in Cambodia. From friends who took Luke to school in the mornings and others who brought him back home in the afternoons, to people who went to the store for us and others who offered, to my wonderful colleague, and friend, who covered my class on Thursday and Friday (my 2 busiest days of the week)… and not to mention all the people who texted to check on Luke and me.
Last week in class, I was teaching the students about what it means to be the body of Christ and to serve others. I saw the body of Christ clearly working together this week. Having the extra help this week reminded me to reach out to people, just a simple message or an act of kindness means the world 😉
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Many of you were also praying in the States. Thank you for praying for a fast recovery! Our Father knows just what we need!
Would you consider giving a special year-end giving gift to support our family and the ministry in Cambodia this Christmas? Each month we rely on the gifts of God’s people, especially as the year comes to a close. Thank you for your consideration and partnership in the Gospel!
In the US, the weather is getting cooler, the leaves are turning colors and shops and homes are being decorated for Christmas. As a Christian, we understand the reason for the season and although not all people that own the shops and homes are Christians, they might have heard the gospel at sometime in their life.
Contrast this with Cambodia; the weather is the same as usual, the leaves are the same as usual, but shops and homes are being decorated for Christmas. What I truly find interesting is seeing businesses such as KTV’s (karaoke bars and fronts for prostitution) with Christmas trees and Christmas lights all over them. People seem to enjoy decorating for Christmas and even wearing a Santa costume, but they don’t truly under the reason for the season. Please join us this Christmas season in praying for the Cambodian people to hear and understand the real reason to celebrate Christmas.
Regarding our family, Ashley recently returned from a professional conference in Malaysia. Luke is learning long division and keeping his mother on her toes in the classroom. I am two weeks into my new job with Agape International Missions. My title is Special Projects Coordinator, but really it’s a catch all for big ideas or jobs that don’t seem to fit in any category. I think of the role like a baseball utility player. The team from 121 recently returned back to Texas after about two weeks in country. It was great to meet new people from the team and some veterans.
On a more personal note, many of you like to make end of the year contributions and give “Christmas donations” to charity… would you consider making a donation to us through our financial organization IOM? The donations are tax-deductible and can be made online or through a check in the mail using the address on their website.
The Phifer Trio (John)
Looking back over the last 9 1/2 weeks, we have a lot to be thankful for. We are thankful for God’s provision of our garage sale at the beginning of the summer, thankful for family and friends we were able to spend time with, and all the fun activities we did!
The plane trip back was a little rough… we only slept about an hour on the first leg, a little less than an hour at the Seoul airport and about an hour on the last leg. I ended up throwing up (due to lack of sleep and motion sickness) on the airplane at the end of each landing. When we found our bags in baggage claim, the zipper on one of our travel totes had broke (see image below) and the bag was all taped up. Nothing is missing that we know of, they did a good job taping it up.
After getting settled in our house for the night, I think it was around 11:30pm or so, John and I slept decently but Luke had a hard time getting to sleep. He went back to sleep and I had to wake him up at 12:15pm on Friday. Crazy! Gotta love jetlag/time change….
We are excited to get started with our ministries. I start training at the school this Monday, August 6th and the kids come back on Monday, August 13th. John will start back full-time when Luke goes back to school. Luke will be in 4th grade this year and I will be his teacher (please say a prayer for us!). He is excited to see his classmates after the summer break.
Just a little update from Cambodia. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts! Love you guys!
Thanks to your generous end-of-the-year donations and monthly pledges, we had enough money to buy plane tickets home to Texas this coming summer. We will leave the last day of school, May 25th, and be home for about 9+ weeks. We are thankful for a “longer break than normal” to refresh, reconnect and refuel for the upcoming 2018-2019 year.
We would like to meet up with you this summer. We will be alternating between my parents house in Hurst and John’s parents house in Arlington. Please let us know if you would like to go out to eat, hang out at your house or go somewhere special.
We have been gone for 4 years, so we are excited about visiting with you guys and share what the Lord is doing in our different ministries.
Please email us if you want to meet up. We are still looking for a vehicle to use this summer while we are in Texas. Please us know if you have a lead!
Ashley – firstname.lastname@example.org
John – email@example.com
Look forward to hearing from you!
Happy New Year Friends and Family!
If you are looking for an end-of-the-year giving or donation opportunity, please consider us. We are currently saving for airline tickets to come home this coming summer for a 10 week visit. We are needing about $2,500 more to purchase these tickets.
Simply go to our homepage and click on the donate button.
Thank you in advance!
John, Ashley and Luke Phifer
It’s time to start a new chapter in Cambodia. I (John) have signed on as the “financial consultant” with Hard Places Community (HPC). To learn more about HPC and the specific group I will be working with, Punlok Thmey Men, click the link. Financial consultant is a big title kind of like “Chief Financial Officer” at Kam-Air. Titles are not everything. My new job will be to help the group start a business as mission restaurant in the Russian Market area. I will handle accounting, finance, and also mentor one of the full-time Khmer employees who has a degree in accounting. My goal for him will be to take over my job in the not too distant future. HPC took possession of the location in early December and then began renovations. Things are proceeding on schedule for a late February or early March opening.
Also in Cambodia, it’s like 65 degrees outside. What? The in-laws arrived about a week ago for Christmas. I think they brought the cool temperatures with them. It’s been downright gorgeous outside. The Last Jedi arrived in theaters this past weekend and we have seen it a total of three times already. 3D is big here in the “Bode” so it’s difficult to find it in 2D the way God intended movies to be watched. We finally broke down and went to the one movie theater on the opposite side of town and paid three times the normal ticket price to watch it in 2D. We were not disappointed. I am not a movie critic nor that elegant with words, so read this for a solid take on it.
Merry Christmas from the Phifers!
In early November, Luke and I took a guys trip to a secluded area of the country known as Koh Kong. I have wanted to get out of town with Luke on a more regular basis, just dad and son. I have known other dads in my circle that do this on a regular basis and I feel that it helps Luke and I grow ever closer. While on the trip we have plenty of time to talk about life or whatever is on each other’s minds. As Luke gets older, my prayer is that he will want to continue these trips and we can remain open and honest about life, girls, school, or anything else.
In Koh Kong, just over the bridge is the border with Thailand and it’s about a five hour drive from our home in Phnom Penh. The first three hours of the drive is the typical “highway” driving in Cambodia. Speeds can range from 10mph to 50mph depending on the area you are in, and small villages and homes are plentiful. Once we reached Road 48 we took a hard right turn and followed it for another two hours. The view changes completely once we got about 30 minutes past the 48 junction. It turns into hilly roads with tall trees and not a soul in sight. Every now and again we would see homes or villages but they were few and far between.
Luke has talked in the past about starting a YouTube channel. We made a short “Luke Perfect” movie and posted it to Facebook a few months ago but we decided to vlog our trip. Below is Luke’s first entry as “Luke-a-Tron” and my first entry into video editing. Enjoy!
Upon reaching Koh Kong town, I realized that it felt like a small east Texas town. The town has two main roads that run perpendicular to each other and a few side streets in between. That’s about it. Friends from our church in Phnom Penh graciously opened their home to us to spend the night and fed us heartily while we stayed with them. On the next day we drove over a long bridge to get to the Koh Kong Resort. The locals refer to it as “The Casino.” We arrived and spent nearly four hours swimming in a huge swimming pool and only saw two other people the entire time. We packed our lunches on the trip so we had peanut butter sandwiches and Pringles by the pool. It only cost us $4 to get in. Later that day we visited a smaller beach a few miles away from the resort. Back in town, we stopped and visited the McKong Ice Cream shop which is run by a local Christian pastor.
The next day we visited the Ta Tai Waterfall which was back up the road towards Phnom Penh. It was a gorgeous waterfall but difficult to get to. The entrance fee was $1.25 and it was about a mile to the waterfall from the entrance. We were in four wheel drive the whole way going over rocks and small streams. Once we got done we jumped back in the truck, had lunch, and drove back to Phnom Penh. It was a quick trip but Luke and I had a wonderful time.
Please pray for us and the people in our area with no electricity. It went out Sunday morning for a couple hours and then was off and on all day. Then it was consistently on from 3am-7am Monday morning, then has been off ever since. Many of you reading this know what that feels like because of the hurricanes and severe weather the States has been experiencing this year. Looking at my sweet students trying to learn while sweat is trickling down their faces reminds me how the Lord asks us to do things that are hard as well. During these time, we strap on good attitudes and gracious hearts, but it’s still hard.
Please pray for our family, and many others, as we persevere through these next several days without power. They say wires at the power plant caught on fire and will take several days to fix. We are thankful for our small generator at our house and at school to run fans during the day and at night. But man… it’s hot…
A few weeks ago we received a message that John’s grandmother had been put on hospice. She started refusing food and liquids. John’s parents didn’t know when she would pass. A few days later, she left this world to be with Jesus. Receiving messages like this one while living overseas are hard. Hearing a friend’s mother died and you weren’t there to go to the funeral, someone had a baby and you can’t hold the little one, you can’t be there to take a meal to someone who is sick… times like these make it hard to be away.
During this time, it is easy for me to sit around and mope about not being in the States. Then the Lord gently reminds me of other people around me who may also be hurting. People who are lonely or sadden by a loss. When we allow the Lord to open our eyes, we can truly “see” people. Have you opened your eyes lately? I need to have mine opened more often.