Khmer New Year

This week has marked our first Khmer New Year in Cambodia. This is one of the biggest  holidays celebrated in Cambodia, with lots of celebrations and parties. And games — they love to play group games! Many aren’t too different from those we played as kids. In the games we’ve played so far, I’ve recognized elements of spoon races, shuttle races, bocce, even one that’s a lot like a piñata.

There’s also dancing — some serious, some silly — and a lot of good food of course.

Cambodia has a lot of public holidays (28 this year) — but KNY is special for us. Opposite of the Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) in November, many Khmer return to their ancestral home villages to celebrate the new year with their families. And in a culture that values working really hard (most work between 5½ and 7 days a week), KNY is set aside for rest (even if one told me “rest so that you can work hard next year”).

Rest. When we were preparing to come to Cambodia, we were told several times that rest was critical. As in “ignoring rest will either burn you out or kill you” critical. And as we’re approaching a more normal lifestyle after living in Cambodia for 6 months — that same draw to just add one more event to the schedule, just help one more person, just postpone rest for a few days has come back hauntingly.

Thankfully, the warnings stuck. And we have come to understand what rest really means. Rest is trusting and honoring God. When we rest, we acknowledge our place in the world. When we rest, we re-affirm our relationship with God. When we rest, we rely on Him to be more than we can accomplish on our own.

So this weekend — we’re resting.

And celebrating! Happy New Year!

Meet the Team

Meet the Team — Neth

As I mentioned in our last email newsletter, we’re excited to begin introducing our Khmer team members. Back in January 2017, five families from North America stepped off their planes and began lives in Cambodia. Laura and I joined them later that year. But the goal was never to have a bunch of westerners living and working in Phnom Penh by ourselves. From the beginning, we knew that we both deeply desired and really needed to find Khmer team members with the same heart for using design to serve God’s people.

Enter Neth (pronounced Nate).

Neth has been a part of our team for several months now, and I can honestly say we wouldn’t be anywhere near as far along as an organization without him. He’s officially our Office Administrator, which means he does everything. Whether it was navigating the legal documents we needed, helping find and prepare the office (including pulling lots and lots of network cable), being our go-to cultural and language expert, or literally dozens of other things, he’s been a huge help!


But beyond how critical to the team he has been, Neth and his wife Ata (plus daughter Natasha) are fantastic people as well. The faith, joy, and devotion that shows in their lives is unmistakable. I really hope we’ll get a chance to tell their story in another blog post.

I’d be remiss not to mention that Neth and Ata both have a big heart for worship music, and lead worship teams at a thriving church here in Phnom Penh. They actually just released a new album — here’s one of the songs:


Kingdomcity Phnom Penh

In our last newsletter, I mentioned the fact that our church here in Phnom Penh had a big weekend recently. But I haven’t written much about the church itself.

When we first arrived, getting connected to a church was a high priority item. We wanted to find a church that was actively loving people in the community, one that was nearby and accessible and one with a small group structure. And we wanted to find a church that was culturally accessible for Khmer. (There are several great “expat churches” in PP, which we’ve attended and fully enjoy — but we wanted our home church to be a place where it’s apparent just from looking around the room that Jesus came to save Khmer and westerners both).

We attended Kingdomcity our second day here and never looked back.


Kingdomcity started in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) almost 12 years ago. (In fact, some of my good friends from college have been attending KC-KL for several years). But as is reflected in the name, Kingdomcity is intentional about spreading God’s kingdom throughout the world. They’ve planted churches in 7 different countries across Southeast Asia and around the world. Four years ago, that included a church in Phnom Penh.

Services are in both Khmer and English — most songs go back and forth from chorus to chorus, and sermons are translated (often in very impressive fashion by the pastor himself). The youth program and a leadership academy are full of passionate young Khmer diving deep into knowing and trusting Jesus. During an event last year, over 400 people were mobilized from Kingdomcity churches around the globe for a week of service, prayer and evangelism in Cambodia. And we’ve connected with so many great Khmer and expat friends even in our few short months here.


This past weekend, Kingdomcity Phnom Penh moved into a new building — a warehouse that has been converted with two auditoriums, a greeting area, office spaces, and all of the equipment that makes running services that much easier. During the grand opening, nearly 1000 people came for the service on Friday night (plus several hundred on Sunday) — regulars, curious visitors from the community, and local dignitaries alike. It was a great time of worshiping God together and celebrating what He has done.

And that’s just the start — we’re excited to see what He has planned for 2018. Further up and further in!



Prayer — January 2018

Hey all! It’s been a while since we’ve put up a prayer update — that’s really just a reflection of how routine our days are right now. Routine or not though, we so value your prayers — so if you’re new to the group or just haven’t seen one of these yet, here are a few ways you can be praying for us and for EMI around the world!

  • Please pray for the Cambodia office as we meet over the next few days to make decisions for 2018 (including launching the physical office, our next hires, and the projects we’ll be involved with). Pray that we would make decisions in unity and wisdom — that the decisions made would honor God and our neighbors.
  • Please pray as we restart language studies after a break over the holidays. Pray that we would be able to absorb everything and that our studies would enable conversations with our Khmer friends and neighbors.
  • Please continue praying for Laura’s health as we continue the treatment. Progress is slow but steady.
  • Please pray for our teammates as many of them are moving to new apartments and renewing their visas in the next few months.
  • Please pray for our office launch as we submit the legal documents needed to form the company in Cambodia.

Also, here is the EMI prayer calendar for January — highlighting different prayer requests each day for EMI around the  world. (Click for full size versions)

We pray for all of you too — both in general and specifically for one family each day. If you have any specific ways we can be praying for you, feel free to let us know!