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!



Falling in Love

The other day I was going past one of the embassy’s and saw a small group outside.  While the parents were waiting in a line, the kids were having a blast imitating and following the security and police in the area.  The guards were very patient with them and one was leaning down to hear what the child was explaining to him.  It was a sweet sight.  Not long after, at the market I saw a man without legs begging from a wheelchair, a common sight here unfortunately.  A young man came over an gently helped him up and arranged a shirt behind him to make him more comfortable.  I was struck by his kindness.

The longer I’m here, as things are finally coming out of the whirlwind of being in a new culture and into the focus of settling in, I am struck by how warm and friendly the people are in Cambodia.  Even though we don’t speak the same language [YET], they are quick to offer help to a complete stranger.  The Khmer are a loving and wonderful people and I am excited to get to know them better.


Market Day Practice!

Just about everything you can imagine can be found at a market somewhere in this wonderful city, but on Tuesdays, I need groceries!  That means I head to my favorite fruits and veggies market that a friend introduced me to when we first arrived in Cambodia.  I’m starting to get to know the women a little and can carry on brief conversations in Khmer.  When I go up to a stand, the lady hands me a shallow, plastic basket which is used to carry what I want to get.  Broccoli, carrots, you name it.  When I have what I want, I give her the basket back, she takes it all out and weighs it, tells me a price and bags it.  Often she looks at my veggies or fruit and adds a little something she thinks would go well with what I bought.  Most often it’s a little green onion and tiny red chilies, something without enough weight to bother.  My favorite veggie lady is quite generous and must think we love spicy food!  Into my backpack it goes and on to the next stall!

The best part is the bartering though and that is all in Khmer! If you start bartering in Khmer the prices drop really fast, simply because you know the language a little (especially at a more “touristy” market)!  It’s best to try to bargain before putting everything in the basket.  The Khmer are very relational so the more you go to the same people and stop to talk with them, the better the prices.  Market day is also social day and not to be done in a hurry.

Some of my favorite peeps at the market (whose names I cannot yet spell):

Veggie lady – she is always excited to see me.  She also has eggs, which at first I thought was random but this is Cambodia so it really isn’t.

Passion Fruit lady – Very opinionated and if she doesn’t think the ones I grab look good, she simply switches them out.  I found huge avocado here too!

Jackfruit lady – I don’t know how she does it, but she has the best!  She has a wicked looking knife to cut the jackfruit.

Apples and Oranges – I swear she has at least six different kinds of oranges from six different countries.  She is also opinionated (pretty common theme here) and will switch out my oranges if she doesn’t approve.

The nut lady and the kitchen lady – these ladies are so much fun!  I love visiting them with Ian because while he is off getting a bowl or cutting board, the nut lady always wants me to try all her nuts and dried fruits!  So tasty!

There are plenty more for mien, dragon fruit, mangoes, bananas, everything you could want!  I am really enjoying getting to know this women and practice my Khmer with them.  This week I learned how to say, “May I please take your picture?” so I’ll try out that phrase next week!


Oops! :P

Cross cultural living and studying a new language, is full of moments that make us (and the Khmer around us) giggle.  I figured it was time to share a few of our fun moments…

  • Ian accidentally asking the pharmacist for “arson spray” instead of “burn spray”. (We have been advised, between motos and cooking stir-frying food, that burn spray is a must for Khmer families.)
  • Going to school and having my teacher tell me I was wearing a style skirt worn primarily by high school girls.
  • Neighborhood kids very interested in trying cereal for the first time with Ian.
  • Being told my husband must be very handsome because he has curly hair. The word used most often for curly hair also means lettuce.
  • Not realizing just how awesome Ziploc bags are.  Then working with a 2-year-old to make sure I won them in the white elephant gift exchange.  In exchange, I had to help her get the Cheerios, also a hot commodity in Cambodia.
  • Trying to explain “-ish” and “hand-me-downs” in the English language
  • Being asked why Texans’ own guns. Also why Americans don’t all drive motos.
  • Lots of questions about snow.
  • Watching gibbons playing in the electrical wires. This is known to cause traffic jams as everyone stops to watch them.
  • That chewy peanut incident.
  • Sounding like we have the hiccups in class as we try to pronounce some of the Khmer vowels.  Some are quite abrupt sounding!
  • Being told (with a totally straight face) that to be good children, we need to go to America and see our fathers every Sunday. (sorry dad!)
  • Trying to avoid the calculator. Negotiating prices in a loud market is tricky for newcomers — add in some slang, and the mental math to pay with a mix of dollars and riel, and it can be really hard. Most Khmer are patient and will repeat themselves once, but if they’re tired, they’ll just type the price into the calculator to show you.
  • Realizing just how many words to describe “pretty” in English.  There is only one in Khmer and it’s also the word for “clean”.
  • Figuring out who is working at the restaurant, and which ones are family members or friends just hanging around. Mistakes were made!

Living here is never a dull moment and we love it!  Thankfully the people here are kind enough to laugh and enjoy these instances with us.  We are thankful to be in such a friendly culture!