A Fresh Start

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!


Koh Kong Guys Trip and introducing Luke-a-Tron

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 many others…

Good evening,

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…


The Phifers

Hard being away during times like these….

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.


Summertime… seeing the Lord provide

Well our summer is halfway over. There are 2 more weeks until all the teachers are expected to be back at school for orientation and training. Luke has 3 more weeks left of summer break and John has been working on and off (waiting on village chief and Cambodian Ministries) all summer long.

I have to admit, at the beginning of our summer break, part of me was dreading it because we were not going to the States for a visit, our friends/neighbors were permanently returning to the States, there was no summer school and John/Luke’s health insurance bill was due.

John and I had planned 2 mini getaways this summer (which we had a great time in both locations), but overall I wasn’t looking forward to the break. I truly enjoy being at Logos, working with the kiddos, serving alongside fellow Christian teachers and the parents are so gracious. So the thought of being away from school for 7 weeks did NOT sound good. Well, the Lord knew what I needed. He provides. He continues to work even though it isn’t exactly what we had in mind.

Our close friends, the Moon family, who lived across the street from us moved in the middle of June to return to the States. Luke LOVES their boys and played with them everyday. I enjoyed walking across the street to talk and share food with each other. The Lord provides. One week later, the McCulloughs came back to Cambodia and moved into the Moon’s old house. Luke misses the Moon family, but has enjoyed playing with the McCullough girls everyday.

The Lord has also brought sweet times of fellowship with different families who stayed here this summer by having play dates at our house, having dinner at friend’s houses, going swimming at Dyvith hotel, potluck lunches, going to the Logos library, playing baseball on the Logos soccer field, etc. The Lord has provided opportunities to be in community with different families this summer.

Then about a week ago, we received a text message saying that one of churches who prays for us was sending us money to pay for John and Luke’s health insurance and some of our Sending Team from 121 also gave money for their health insurance. The Lord provides!

So just when I thought this summer was going to be hard because we weren’t going back to the States, we were going to be lonely and stuck at the house all summer, the Lord has provided!



Kam-Air Update

Hey gang, John here.  I wanted to give you all an update on Kam-Air.

To catch everyone up, we have been without a location since November 2016.  Our entire wakeboard machine and equipment was packed up and moved into a storage facility.  We have been looking in and around Phnom Penh since that time for a quality lake at a reasonable price.  We have finally found it!

I can’t yet share more details about the location, but we have a long term contract in place with clean water, fresh air, and more land than we had before.  Over the next few months, Thy, Tha and I will be working to prepare the location to reopen.  With this new location, comes additional expenses.  If you are interested in a tax deductible donation to Kam-Air, click here.

On a personal note, I have finally upgraded my moto to a clutch bike.  Bye bye Vespa, hello Honda FTR.


Hot season has arrived….

Gosh, I didn’t realize we haven’t written since December. Where has the time gone?

Well, hot season has officially arrived in Cambodia and the mangoes are ready for harvest. John has been eating them like crazy! He absolutely loves them. Luke doesn’t like them at all and I could take them or leave them. But yes, hot season has officially come. You step outside the air-conditioned classroom or room into a sauna. When you come back in, you realize you need another shower! But then again, everyone is in the same sweaty boat, so you just deal with the damp shirt and sweaty armpits until bedtime.

Through all the heat, there are still times where we feel the cool “breeze” of God. Luke’s behavior and choices continue to improve at home and at school. Kam-Air has found a new location for the wakepark they are considering and looks promising. I am seeing fruits of my labor when a fellow co-teacher tells me stories of students I had last year who are continuing to ask questions about what it means to follow Christ while living with a Buddhist family.

At Logos this week, it was Teacher Appreciation Week. Jen Sain did an amazing job organizing and setting up something wonderful for everyday this week to make sure the teachers and staff at Logos felt appreciated. She worked hard and everyday was wonderful. One of the best things from this week was receiving letters and cards from some of my current students. The things they say and notice about me in class make me smile. One of my students brought me a fancy Chinese type fan because she said I was always hot. A lot of students brought chocolate (which isn’t cheap here) and goodies to eat! They know me oh so well!!!!

Earlier this week, we also had the awesome privilege to meet our new CEO, VP and the VP’s wife. They came out to Cambodia to visit and meet the staff of Asian Hope. The CEO shared his vision and encouraged us. It was great to meet him and am excited to see what happens with Asian Hope in the future.

During these hot, humid times, the Lord reminds us He is good and faithful. The work of our hands doesn’t go in vain. The Lord brings along people, events, situations to bring that cool “breeze” and refresh us for the next things in our life. Thanks be to God!


Much Needed Time

Have you ever hear the saying, “You don’t know much you need something until you have it…”? I think that’s how I have felt these past two weeks. Mom and dad arrived from Texas a couple of weeks ago and ever since then we have had a lot of time together. They come visit a couple times a year, but I always forget how much I treasure the time we are together until they get here. As their time is winding down, I would like to reflect on the time we have had together through photos!

The first full week they were here, we traveled about 6 hours to the providence of Mondulkiri. We stayed in wood cabins and cooked most of our meals on a propane stove we borrowed from a colleague at school. We were able to see some amazing things, do some amazing things and just be together.


Bousra Waterfall in Mondulkiri


Feeding the elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary in Mondulkiri

Feeding the elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary in Mondulkiri


John and Luke were able to "swim" with the elephants :)

John and Luke were able to “swim” with the elephants 🙂


When we came back, we have just been hanging out together and doing things at our house and around town.



Mom loves to decorate Ninjabread cookies and is so good at it!



Mom and I at Starbucks while the boys went to see Rogue One for the second time 🙂



The guys building Legos in our living room.



We treated our tuk-tuk driver and househelper out to dinner for Christmas!


I have truly enjoyed our time together this holiday season! School starts again on the 4th and I am starting again with a full heart 🙂


October Update

Flooding.  Wow, it’s been extremely rainy the past few weeks.  Almost every day in the afternoon it starts raining and doesn’t stop until well into the night.  The streets in front of our house and around our neighborhood have been flooded the past several days.  Luckily, we have a truck to get around in when needed.   Normally Ashley drives the truck to school each day and I drive the moto.  I got caught out in the rain a few times, but I have a heavy rain parka for that. Continue reading

Back in the Saddle

Well, we are “back in the saddle again”. It’s nice to be home. Routines and schedules are back in place and things seem to be settling down. Luke and I are starting our 3rd week of school tomorrow and John has been back at work for 3 weeks now. Luke is back to staying in his room all night, after a couple of days of consequences for getting out of his room for kisses or hugs in the middle of the night… I guess he forgot we do that all BEFORE bedtime 😉 John is back to driving his moto to and from work each day. I am back to fighting off a cold virus one of the kids brought to school this week… Everything is back to normal!

This summer was good for all three of us. We ate WAY too much food, went to all of our favorite play places and spend time family and friends. By the 7th week, we were all ready to get back to Cambodia but thankful for our time in Texas this summer.

As we are getting back in the swing of things, here are a couple of things you guys can pray for. For John, you can pray for discernment and wise decision making regarding a new location for Kam-Air Wakepark. For Luke, please pray for his attitude to be respectful and sensitive to others around him. He tends to not think before he speaks, which in turn hurts others. For me, pray for my 26 students this year. Pray for them to work together as a team and to treat others the way they want to be treated. Pray I can lead them and train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)

We are glad to be back. We can’t wait to share with you awesome stories of what God is doing here in Cambodia!