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!

~Ashley

Furlough thoughts

Our time in America is coming to an end.  We will be leaving Friday morning and heading back to Cambodia for another two years.  For the past seven weeks we have done so much.  We acted like tourists and visited all the theme parks, museums and zoos in the surrounding area.  We ate amazing food and way too much of it.  We also got to meet with family and friends.

As I reflect on our time here, I realize the number of things I am so grateful for here in Texas, but also grateful for the things we have in Cambodia.

Food – I love having dozens of selections of all my favorite foods including BBQ, burgers and Mexican food. But the price shock was considerable just in the past two years since we have been here.  On the other hand, we have learned to love the food in Cambodia, and my lunch costs $1.50 per day.  Try to find a full meal including drink in Texas for the same.

Air Conditioning – It’s everywhere; in all the rooms of your house, in your car while you drive and in every building you enter.  But on the other hand, I have somewhat gotten used to being in the heat.  I was able to go golfing with three guys a few weeks ago at about 2:30pm in the afternoon.  The temperature was about 95 with a heat index of 101.  This is a typical temperature for Cambodia and while it was hot, I did not have the same level of heat exhaustion typically associated with spending 4 hours outside.  My normal “9-5” is outside without air conditioning, so I am “maybe” getting acclimated to the heat.  Who knows…

Driving – New completed toll roads, entrances and exits and all different forms of construction.  People stay in their own lanes and drive at a considerable rate of speed.  For the first few days driving 70mph down the highway felt like flying.  A typical highway drive in Cambodia is about 45mph for short intervals until you hit the next town or run up behind a slow moving truck or moto.  But driving here was orderly.  Although it was orderly, we actually had to stop at red lights even though no one was coming.  We also had to watch for pedestrians and faster moving vehicles.

Shopping – Walking down the chip or cereal aisle in Wal-Mart is an amazing thing.  I can choose from 200 different types of chips or cereal.  Back in Cambodia, my selection of “western” chips or cereal is limited to six flavors, maybe ten of Pringles.  But we have learned to adapt and find all the things we need.  Buc-ee’s!  Wow, that place is cool.

All Forms of Generosity – the use of vehicles, staying in parent’s houses, donated wakeboard gear, visiting/hanging out at ShredTown, lunches and dinners with friends and family, an AMAZING garage sale,  time volunteered, monetary donations, prayer

All in all, it was a wonderful summer. Thankful for our time here in America but am looking forward to the next two years in Cambodia. Thank you guys!

John

Garage Sale – June 3 and 4

Hello guys, we are 6 days away from boarding the plane for America. Just wanted to send out a final request before we leave. On Friday, June 3rd and Saturday, June 4th, we are having a garage sale at Vince and Sharon Rice’s house to raise money for our health insurance and a little bit more for our monthly living expenses. The health insurance is due once a year in the summer time and the numbers can be overwhelming when we receive the email. If you are in town and are free… come by, SHOP and visit with us! Hope to see you guys soon!

Well, it’s about that time!

Well looking at the calendar, we have about 19 days before we depart for furlough in Texas for June and July. We are filled with mixed emotions… excitement, nervousness, anticipation, tiredness, happiness, just to list a few 😉

Our hope is to re-charge and renew ourselves for two more years of serving God in Cambodia. We want to do this by spending time with family and friends, spending time in God’s Word and worshiping with our fellow believers at 121 Community Church. While we are home, we also need to fundraise for the next 2 years of serving in Cambodia. Ashley does get a small paycheck from Asian Hope to help cover housing and electricity. But many other bills need to be covered as well (health insurance, US taxes, couple other house utilities, just to name a few).

As we ready our Cambodian house to be away for 2 months, we also ready our hearts for this upcoming time away. Please pray for us. Please pray for traveling mercies, protection, and renewal while in Texas.

Hope to see some of you soon!

March Update

Hot season has officially arrived.  The past few days reminded me how nice it is to sit in the shade with a breeze or take a rest in the hammock after working.  Temperatures here are pushing 100 daily with a heat index around 108.  Good times.

For those that are not aware, we will be heading back to Texas at the end of May for a two month furlough.  We will be staying mostly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area until near the end of July, then heading back to Cambodia for another two years.  Our hope over the summer months would be to see family and friends, refresh, recharge, and fund raise.   We would love to visit some life groups from 121 over the summer, so if anyone is interested in that, please let us know.

Kam-Air has been doing well recently.  Our customer base is growing and our revenues are growing along with it.  One of our main goals as a business as missions business is to be self sustaining.  We are getting closer and closer to this number each month.  Khmer New Year is the second week of April and we are hoping to have a big week as most shops and businesses are closed that week and everyone is off work. Also, pray for Alf and I as we have several decisions and potential partnerships that have presented themselves to us recently.

Alright folks, talk to you again soon.

John

 

New Year, New Update

Goodness…. I can’t believe it’s already January 2016. Where has the time gone? Luke will turn 7 in March and is in 1st grade. I am in the middle of my 9th year of teaching. John has been out of the “cubicle farm” for over a year and a half. Time flies…

Who would have thought the Lord would have us serving in Cambodia in the year 2016? Who would have imagined we would be living half way around the world in a country where we don’t know the language and only came here knowing a couple of families? Who would have known John would be serving at a wakepark along side of a guy we “knew of” but didn’t really “know” and learning how to wakeboard? Who would have guessed I would be teaching children from a variety of countries American curriculum, Canadian Science, World Social Studies and the Bible in Cambodia? The Lord has been so faithful and provided what we need when we need it. He shows us He is bigger than what we can even imagine.

Being transparent for a second… I was sitting in my classroom last Thursday before the kids came in when the state power went off, we could only run the generator. I thought to myself, “Well, it’s not quite the way I wanted to start a Thursday morning, but it will probably only be off for about 10 minutes or so.” So I started my school day, the children came in and we all started sweating. For the first time this school year, I opened up the windows and doors in hope to get some sort of breeze… but it was still hot! This was the first time since we moved here where I had one of “those moments”. The moment when you look around and think what in the world did I say yes to. Why did God send me to a place where they only have two “seasons”, dry  or wet, but it’s always hot and humid. After being frustrated for several hours, I knew I still had a job to do and the children were still going to learn whether it be hot or not (side note – the state power was out from 8am until 2pm or so that day), so we moved on with our day.

God has called us to Cambodia to serve Him, to be His hands and feet, and we are here until He calls us home. Someone asked me the other day, “Are you ready to go back home?” and I simply replied, “God’s work is not done here.” So with a joyful heart, we are happy to say, we are staying for at least another 2 school years (through May 2018). John will continue to serve at the wakepark, I have signed on for another 2 years with Logos International School where Luke will attend 2nd and 3rd grade!

We would love that you want to continue to be a part of our ministry here in Cambodia. Our prayer is that you would continue to lift us up in your prayers to the Lord, asking him for strength, guidance and wisdom as we go throughout our days. If you would like to support us financially, we would love for you to do that as well. Half of our monthly budget is paid for by Asian Hope (Logos International School) but the other half is donations we receive through people like you. Thank you for your prayers!

Love ~Ashley

November Update


This post is mostly going to be about Kam-Air.  If you are not already following us on Facebook, I recommend that you do.  For those of you that don’t “like” liking things on Facebook (cough, cough, you know who you are) then this will be a recap.

Near the end of September, things were going well for Kam-Air.  We had booked the next six Saturday’s in advance and we were actually close to breaking even on our monthly expenses with the increased business. Then we came across an electrical issue that plagued us for the next four weeks.  The crazy thing about this is during this entire process, we were preparing Kam-Air to have four professional wakeboarders help us with a grand opening of the park.

Flashback – In early August, Bill Yeargin (CEO of Correct Craft and Nautique Boats) came to Cambodia for a quick five hour tour of Phnom Penh and Kam-Air Wakepark.  At the time, he brought up the idea of sending a team to our park to help us out.

Fast forward to early September and we got the news that six people would be joining us in Cambodia near the middle of October;  Shaun Murray, Bob Soven, Emily Durham, Raimi Merritt, Brian Sullivan, and Ryan Malone.  The first four names listed are professional wakeboarders, Brian is the director of marketing and Ryan is the director of Aktion Parks.  Feel free to Google or Youtube those athletes, go ahead, I will wait…………………………..

Ok, now that you see how awesome those folks really are, you will get a little bit of perspective on how Alf and I felt going into that month.  Now onto the week of the big event on October 17th.  Up until this point, we had spent over $1,000 on our electrical issues that just didn’t see to get fixed.  The team would be arriving late Wednesday night in Cambodia.  On Tuesday, less than 48 hours before we would be hosting this team, our system still didn’t work.  To say that Alf and I were kind of freaking out would be an understatement.  We were out of money, out a time and out of solutions.

All of this buildup simply so that God could show how awesome He really is.  The team arrived safely Wednesday night and we got started first thing Thursday morning.  We took the team to Svay Pak (directly across the river from Kam-Air) which used to be titled “Disneyland for Pedophiles.”  Great strides have been made in this area through NGO’s working to stop trafficking and abuse.  We then moved on to the local brick factories which employ individuals in a form of bonded labor.  Nautique provided money to feed about 150 families living in those factories. 20151014_Cambodia_0888 Later that afternoon, we held a small private wakeboard clinic with several of the local missionary kids living here in Cambodia.111-38  What a special treat to have these pro’s pouring into the lives of the kids here.111-24  Oh yeah and guess what, if you didn’t already know that God was awesome, the system performed great.  48 hours prior it was a wreck and Alf and I walked away and gave it to God.  That afternoon it ran like a champ.

Friday was another humbling day with the athletes.  We hosted a second wakeboard clinic but this time it was with about 15 girls who they had seen in Svay Pak the day before.  These girls don’t get to have fun like this often and all of them had never even heard of wakeboarding before.  But this day, they learned to wakeboard from the pro’s.  Later that afternoon, Thy, Tha, Alf and I got a chance to have our own special time on the water with the athletes.

Then came the big event. 111-5320151016_Cambodia_214220151016_Cambodia_209720151016_Cambodia_101720151016_Cambodia_2159 Cambodia’s first ever wakeboard competition and event.  The athletes showed off their stuff to about 100 people that packed the side of the lake.  Then the youth and adult competition started.  Trey (Alf’s son) won the youth portion of the competition and Thy (our employee) won the adult portion of the competition. 20151017_Cambodia_2333 Mike’s Burger House came out to serve food and it was a blast. 20151017_Cambodia_2366 The system performed well all day and God got the glory for it.

That evening, the Nautique Cares group headed out and we couldn’t say enough about how awesome it was to have them with us for those days.

All in all, it was amazing.20151017_Cambodia_2288

Coming to a better understanding… the classroom and the culture… I’m still a work in progress!

So the school year has gotten underway, actually 5 weeks of it! Over these last couple of weeks I am starting to better understand 2 things… the classroom and the culture.

I’ve heard parents with multiple children tell me, often times you can’t raise your children the same way. Each child is different and sometimes what you did with the first child doesn’t work with the next child. You have to find out what works for each child and do that. I am starting to feel the same way about last year’s class and this year’s class. I’ve tried to require the same things and have the same expectations from both classes and it hasn’t worked. I have had to adjust my way of thinking and what I’ve allowed this year in the classroom. I have had to get creative, I have had to find ways to relieve stress, I have had to remind myself that I cannot do this on my own… God already knows what is going to happen and He loves each one of these children and has formed them in His image! I can only depend on Him for help… but I have had to remind myself of this daily.

I have also come to a better understanding of what Buddhist parents think about “Christian” education. They send their students to Logos wanting their children to get a good education and if they hear about Jesus and Christianity on the side, that’s just part of it. Part of my understanding came this week when one of my students received a progress report because he has low grades in Language Arts and Bible. I asked him what his dad would say about this report. My student said his dad would be upset about the Language Arts grade but not the Bible grade. After we spoke for a moment, he said his dad didn’t care if he memorized his weekly memory verse because his dad was not a Christian. I told my student I respected his dad and will continue to pray that God will draw him to Himself. We then had a great talk about how memorizing things helps us in the future, it’s a great skill to have. We will use this skill throughout our entire lives. If the Lord leads you to pray for my students, please do. I don’t think he is the only student who struggles with wanting to learn about Christ but not getting any support at home because the families don’t believe in Christ.

Please pray for me to know how to support my students spiritually, socially and academically. Even though this is my 9th year of teaching, I am still growing and learning more everyday. God is shaping me and molding me, sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s easy… but these first few weeks have been hard.

Ashley

August Update (No catchy title)

It’s going to be a busy next few months for the Phifer Phamily here in Cambodia.  School just started for Ashley and Luke.  Ashley has a full 25 kids this year and Luke just started 1st grade this past week.  We have people from Texas planning visits during the months of October, December and February.  How awesome is that!  While I am on the subject, if anyone that reads this blog wants to come for a visit, reach out to us and we can help answer any questions you may have.  We love showing people our side of the world.

Kam-Air is going strong.  We have had two months of solid revenue generation. We held two weeks of Summer School with Logos, teaching about 12 kids to wakeboard over that time period.  We have also booked up the past three Saturday’s in a row and have several additional groups booked moving forward.  We were also recently featured in a Khmer language magazine, Sabay. Both Alf and I feel this momentum that is carrying us along right now and it’s awesome!  Their are many exciting things happening in the near future for Kam-Air and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Our two employees, Thy and Tha, started English classes and are progressing well.  For those that don’t know who they are, see the following links Thy and Tha. Thy spent time studying English and does all of our translation work we need.  This is the first time for Tha to study English, so it’s a tough job for him, but we are confident in him. Over the past several months Alf and I have watched Tha and we feel he has a gift for hospitality.  We feel that giving him his first shot at learning the English language will help him in future business opportunities in his life.  Here at the end of August, they will finish their first three months of class.

We have had several generous people step up and pay for their classes through the next semester.  If that is something you might be interested in, get in touch with me.

I have also been studying Khmer two times per week and its not easy.  I have mainly been focused on speaking the language compared to reading and writing it.  I have about four weeks of class left in this section and then I will start learning to read and write (good times).  Although it’s difficult to learn a language in your 30’s, I am committed to it and will keep working hard each week during my class.  I feel it’s important to learn the language as we plan on being here at least three years, maybe more.

That’s all for now folks.  Have a good week!