Monday, December 14, 2009

Going Home & The December 2009 Newsletter

We are planning to take the 4:30 PM train back to Bangkok tomorrow.  After arriving we will take a taxi to the Cambodia border which is a five hour drive.  If the family travels well, God willing, we will pickup our car and drive back home (another 5 hour drive).  Please pray we will arrive safely and enjoy returning to our work in Cambodia.

Also, Jennifer’s mom left to go back to Texas this morning.  We were so happy to have her help and her company for the three weeks that she was with us. She was a blessing.

 The Hales!  Katherine, Me, Jennifer, and Isaac.

Finally, Pastor Chheng sent out a newsletter to give an update on the ministry.  It has lots of information that will help inform your prayers for the work.  Here it is:

December 2009 Newsletter




Saturday, November 28, 2009

It’s in the DNA

We have been looking at Isaac and talking about who he looks like, me or Jennifer?  Then we opened up some pictures of Katherine when she was a newborn to see if there were any similarities.  Here is what we saw:


They look almost exactly the same!  Same chin, mouth, nose, eyes.  So we concluded that they must have the same mommy and daddy! 8-)

Things are going well here.  We are enjoying the cool weather here in Chiang Mai.  Last night it was 61 degrees at night which felt downright cold to us.  In Cambodia it feels cool if it gets to 75 at night. 

Isaac is still learning how to play during the day and sleep at night!  We hope he learns quickly so we can sleep at night too.

Take Care,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Man Cub!

It is with great joy and thankfulness to God that I tell you, "Isaac has been safely born into the world." Jennifer went into labor this morning at 4:00 am. We went to the hospital and little Isaac was born at 8:30 AM on his due date. He weighs 7lbs 13oz and is 19" tall. He is healthy and doing well. Jennifer did great too and she is also doing well. We left the hospital the next afternoon and are now resting in our guest house. Thanks for all your prayers...the delivery went very smoothly.




The next step is to get his birth certificate translated into English, establish his USA citizenship, then apply for his passport.  We are hoping to get all this done by Dec 15th so that we can return to Cambodia ASAP.  Please pray that all the required steps would get completed, according to the will of God.  We are so thankful for your interest and prayers, both for our family and the ministry in Cambodia.  May God bless you and keep you!



Thursday, November 19, 2009

We’re All Here!

We arrived safely on the 12th and Jennifer’s mom, Martha, arrived yesterday, safe and sound as well.  We are enjoying the reunion and the comfortable setting.  We have met with our doctor and seen the hospital and both are going to work out well.  Isaac is officially due to come on the 24th and it is an exciting time.  Thank you for your prayers!

I told the ladies that we need to have a man child around here to help out with the hormonal imbalance of our apartment.  8-)

Here are a couple pictures of the Juniper Tree:



The Lord Jesus Reigns,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Traveling Across Asia

Hello again!  We are making our way across Asia and have one more leg to go in our trip.  We successfully drove from Prek Ambel to Koh Kong on the edge of the Cambodia – Thailand border.  It was some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in Cambodia.


We arrived in Koh Kong around 5:00 PM.  We stayed in the home of some missionaries who are currently on furlough in the USA.  Here are a few pictures of their home.



We had a restful night of sleep and in the morning we headed out to cross the border into Thailand.  The border paperwork was very easy and we had crossed the border which is right next to the Gulf of Thailand by 9:00 am.

Here are some pictures of the border crossing:




Next we headed on to Bangkok to drop of our friend Kara and her son Noah.  She is planning to have her baby in Bangkok two days after Jennifer.  Our taxi driver was great and we stopped two or three times over the course of the trip to get snacks and use the bathroom which made the women happy!  We arrived in Bangkok at 3:00 PM and had a few hours to rest before our train left for Chiang Mai. 



Here is Kara and Noah along with Jennifer and Katherine at her service apartment.


When we arrived at the train station to board the train which we thought was leaving at 7:00 PM we found out that it actually left at 6:00 PM and that we were too late to take it.  So we stayed the night in Bangkok and are planning to take today’s 6:00 PM train.  So we will be arriving a day later than we expected but that’s just fine.  We were a bit wiped out from travelling and the extra rest was good.  Our hotel is right next door to the train station and is very convenient.  Neither one of us has ever ridden on a train before and we both think the train station is a cool place.



Please pray for us to successfully complete the last leg of our trip and arrive safely in Chiang Mai.  The train ride is 14 hours.


God bless,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

We're Going to Thailand!!!

Hello you guys! We are doing well here. Things are good in the church and we are at peace which is a good thing. Katherine recently celebrated her birthday and she is now two years old. It's hard to believe possible. Here are a couple pictures of her little party.

We are leaving for Thailand tomorrow morning for the birth of our second child, Isaac. We are going to a city called Chiang Mai. Last time we went to Bangkok but it was too big and busy for our tastes. Chiang Mai is supposed to be more quiet.

Please pray for our travel and the delivery to go smoothly according to God's will. The trip will be in three parts. The first part I will drive our car to a town called Koh Kong which is on the Thai border (approx 5 hours). We will stay the night there at a team of missionaries' home. They are working with Mission to the World. We will leave our car with them and cross the border on foot the next morning. The next part will be a taxi ride from the border to Bangkok (5 hours). Then the third part is a train ride. The train is a sleeper train. It leaves Bangkok at 7:00 PM and you travel while you sleep. This part of the trip is like 11 hours! The train goes pretty slowly I think. And God willing we will reverse the order on the way home.

In case you are wondering, we didn't fly because 1)The cost and 2)The airlines have changed their rules regarding pregnant women flying. They have to be earlier than 34 weeks to fly. That was just too early for us. We both teach at the PATC and have many responsibilities around here and we didn't want to be gone for over two months. So we decided to go over land.

Also, please pray for the Thai Government to process the paperwork needed for Isaac to come back with us to Cambodia quickly. This can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to get his birth certificate and citizenship processed. We are hoping for the 2 week version. 8-)

Finally, please pray for things in Cambodia to go smoothly in our absence. We have many people setup to help out and we are thankful. Please pray for, Daniel, my substitute for the first two weeks. He is a PATC student who is ready to graduate in 6 months. Pray for Soda and Allison Chheng. Soda is pastor Chheng's son and he and his wife are coming for a visit from November 20th to December 10th. Pray for the Kris Pate family. The whole family is coming for a visit; Kris, his wife Julie, and their four kids. They plan to stay a month from December 10th to January 10th. Pray they would be effective and enjoy their stays!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ministry Update - Part 1

Over the last several months we have seen a season of harvest in the ministry.  I suppose this should not come as a surprise because Jesus said that problem is that there are not enough workers to reap the harvest, not that the harvest is too small.

 DSC05555   DSC05554

Katherine helping me make a cabinet

While Chheng was visiting in the USA, we started a new effort to share the gospel in the Prek Ambel area.  We decided to follow a road headed west out of Prek Ambel.  The plan was to follow it for about 8 km until we had shared with most every house.  The evangelist’s were consisted of the PATC students who decided to stay for the summer, church members, and two days a week me (I was and still am working to correct and revise the 1689 Baptist Confession that was translated a few years ago).  This went on six days a week in the morning from 8:00 to 10:30 for around four months.

A further word about the church members that joined with us.  All of them are busy everyday.  Many of them have cows and to feed one cow they have to go and cut grass for 1.5 hours.  This is per cow.  Some of them have 2, 3, 4, or even 5 cows.  If you do the math you will see it’s not a quick job.  Also, they are busy doing things by hand that you would normally use a machine for.  A Washing machine, a stove, a shower, a toilet.  All these things take much longer for the average Cambodian.  They wash clothes by hand, make fires for cooking (and chop down wood), walk to the river to bath, and look for a quiet spot for a bathroom.  Yet, week after week, I watched these folks coming to the church to participate in the work of the gospel.  They didn’t come everyday but nearly every time we went out we had someone from the lay membership join us.  Many of them are not good speakers.  Many of them weren’t sure how they would start conversations.  But they stepped out in faith.  It really encouraged me to see them taking the gospel to their neighbors and families and friends.  And I hope you know that often times these folks are the hardest folks to share with.  Please follow their example!  Share with those around you!  If they can find time so can we.

So back to the evangelism.  For the first few weeks we didn’t see much response.  Some people said they would come to visit the church but didn’t.  Many people just plain rejected the idea that Jesus could be a substitute for the sins of his people.  But by God’s grace we pushed on.  Then we started to see fruit.  A man openly repented of his sin and wanted to follow Christ.  Then he brought his wife and kids.  Then several children started attending that we met while on the road.  Then two women started coming to the church and every week more and more new faces were joining our services.  Many of theses faces we had never shared with but the Lord brought them.  We had so many new visitors that we decided to buy a church van to make a pickup run on Sunday mornings before church.  I became the driver (though two church members are in the process of learning to drive) and on my first trip I had 31 people in a 12 passenger van. 


Since then, the Lord has continued to bless.  My young adult Sunday school class has grown from 25 to 45 students in the last few months.  The children’s class has been separated into four different groups because it had grown too large.  And the Church service has gone from 70 people to around 100.  Several times we ran out of chairs and had to borrow chairs from the PATC center.  What a blessing!

to be continued…


A New Car!

Well, it’s new to us.  It’s actually a 1996 Toyota 4Runner. 

It has like 11 inches of ground clearance and a 4x4 on the fly system.  We’re ready to go beyond the regions beyond now!  We are very thankful to the Lord for his provision and to the First Baptist Church of Parker, Texas.  We are thankful for our old car too!  It was a 1987 Camry and it served us well.

I’ll post a bigger update on the ministry soon.  The Lord has been blessing and there is much news to share.  God bless you all.



Friday, July 17, 2009

How to Burn Corn

A couple of weeks ago Sopheak’s family invited everyone over to eat the first fruits of their corn crop.  Sometimes direct translation from Khmer doesn’t carry the same idea in English.  I was hoping this would be the case when she invited us to eat “burnt corn.”  It wasn’t.  The description is accurate in both languages, but the golden/blackened ears drizzled with a green onion sauce made good eatin’.  More importantly, it was a good time.







You know, they cooked A LOT of corn, all of which could have been sold.  But they love the Lord.  They love the brethren.  Their priority was to be a blessing. 


God bless,


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sometimes We Let Ourselves Down

So, about, I don’t know, a month ago maybe, Bill asked me to post something on the blog because it had been a while since we’d posted anything. And I said, “Sure.”  So, here I am, putting away my bon-bons and doing just what I said I’d do…

Since that time, we met up with Joseph and Rachel Weyel and their 4 children at the airport.  They have moved to Cambodia to work with an orphanage in Kompong Tom, and we followed their taxi-van up to Siem Reap to help them get settled.  They have met with one trial after another since arriving, and are currently in Thailand where their eldest daughter, 8 year-old Beth, is in the hospital with very serious and (to my knowledge) still not-completely-diagnosed health problems. Please pray for them

Our lives have been pretty low-key.  Bill and Daniel continue to work on translating 4 days per week.  They’ve put one book on hold to revise the 1689 London Baptist Confession that was previously translated.  They hope to make the wording more clear, and therefore, the book more widely useful.  Then on Friday and Saturday mornings he joins the students and other church members in evangelism. 

Katherine and I keep the home fires burning, as it were.  I have returned to the Flylady’s method of housework management.  I’m not as strict as I could be, but I try to embrace her advise to aim for “progress, not perfection.”  Which is really kind of a big deal for me. 

Katherine is making nice progress on learning to use the potty.  (If you had to wash cloth diapers by hand, I think you would take your 20 month-old to the potty 15 times a day, too.)  And we have just dealt with our first case of lice.  As if I needed any more reasons not to want to drop what I’m doing and sit in the back yard to supervise Katherine playing with the neighborhood children whenever they drop by.  I’m almost ready to insist on a washing machine. 

Katherine taking life in stride

I actually feel rather guilty about the neighborhood children issue.  Here they are: the dirty, neglected, third-world masses right on my doorstep (looking through my windows, actually).  And do I greet them with smiles and cookies?  No.  I either resign myself to not having the diapers washed in time to dry before it rains and try to seem nice on the outside, or tell them Katherine can’t play. 

So now I have to learn to love the children who have given Katherine lice (and will again; Bill said she can’t become the Bubble Girl), and be intentional about “making the most of every opportunity” with them.  How useless would it be it to move to a third-world country, deal with third-world issues, and yet not “be ready in season and out of season”?  And not proclaim Christ in exchange for every trial?


Thursday, July 2, 2009

It’s a …

After many weeks of anticipation and questions from our family, friends, and neighbors we finally know the sex of the new baby; it’s a little boy.  Jennifer and I are both thrilled.  But we honestly were just happy to have another child; we didn’t care whether she was a girl or he was a boy.

We have decided to name him Isaac Earl.  We both just like the name Isaac and Earl was Jennifer’s grandpa’s name; he was a neat guy and we are pleased to carry on his name.

The doc says everything is going well and little Isaac is growing according to schedule which was good to hear.  The due date is now set at November 25th.  Many thanks for your prayers regarding the health of Jennifer and the baby. 


Take care,


Monday, June 15, 2009

Ashamed of the Lord?

This topic is not as relevant in the Unites States because the dominant religion in the culture in Christianity.  But in Cambodia it is an issue that often needs addressing.  The dominant religion is Buddhism and as such Christians are often thought foolish, strange, and even crazy.  When they go to the market the people know they are Christians and stare at them and even laugh at them.  Business owners are often afraid to let it be known publicly that they are Christians in fear they will be hated and their businesses will fail.

Often young men and women are afraid to be visible Christians because it will be hard to find a wife or husband.  If 95% of all people are Buddhist then finding a spouse becomes difficult. 

But the Bible is very clear that we should not be ashamed of the Lord Jesus.  And why would we be ashamed?  Our God is wonderful…gracious, kind, just, and powerful.  There is no good reason to be ashamed of Him or His word (Mark 8:34-38).

Yesterday was the third and final time for me to preach, Lord willing, while Chheng is gone.  I felt compelled to teach on this subject.  Click the play button below if you want to listen.

As the Lord leads, please pray the believers in Cambodia would not be ashamed of Jesus or his words but that they would let the light of God in them shine for all to see.

Grace and peace,


Monday, May 25, 2009

How Beautiful Are the Feet

Things are going well here.  Brother Chheng has been in the United States now for almost one month.  We have been working to share the Gospel in his absence.  We have split into three groups and start in the morning at 8:00.  Most houses will listen to us and we usually spend about 30 minutes with each family.  We have heard many responses to the Gospel message but the most common by far is the denial of Justification by Faith.  Cambodians believe that each person’s future state depends on their “good” works outweighing their bad works.  They do not believe that someone else can justify them.  It’s a sad situation to see so many people living in sin and refusing to repent and believe in the God who will save all who do.  To many we are an aroma of death.

But thanks be to God, to others we are an aroma of life!  By Gods grace alone!  Since we started sharing two weeks ago we have had 6 visitors come to our Sunday services as a result of hearing the Gospel.  It’s too early to tell if they truly believe but we have been encouraged greatly and have been praising God for these folks.  Please pray for us to do this important work with a spirit of gentleness and in truth.

Also, as you know already, I have been sharing preaching responsibilities with Bro Chheng away and this week was my second turn.  With all the discussion about good works and how they relate to our justification before God, it seemed good to teach on the subject.  It’s available on-line if you wish to hear it.  Just click the play button below.



Grace and peace,


Monday, May 4, 2009

The Cost & Reward of Following

Our pastor here in Cambodia, Bro Chheng, is visiting in the states right now. He asked me to fill in for him and preach the message this week.  Maybe you would like to hear it.

I have a translator with me so it is a good chance to hear the Cambodian language and also to hear what it’s like to use a translator.  My translator’s name is Daniel.  He has translated for me over three hundred times and is becoming a very good translator.  My Khmer has improved greatly but for preaching I still don’t feel proficient enough to go at it alone. Though, I did give the church announcement in Khmer!



God Bless,

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Long Trip and An Overdue Newsletter

Greetings in the Lord!  There is not too much to report this time.  The PATC has been off for a week due to the Khmer new year (April 13-17).  We decided to take a trip to Battambang Province, which is a six hour drive from Prek Ambel, to see the town and meet with some of our students’ families.  Six of our students are from the area.  We took only three with us because that’s all our car could hold.  We stayed in the area four days.  It was a blessed time.

cambodia-map-large (1)

We traveled along Road #5 out of Phnom Penh

Some interesting points along the way.  On the second day, we visited Keng’s home (Keng is a PATC student) which is close to Pailin City (another two hours away!).  His whole family was there, which was over twenty people including uncles, aunts, and cousins, and we shared a meal together.  Keng really wanted me to meet his family and share the Gospel with them.  He has shared with them in the past but he wanted me to throw some more seed and compel them to come to Christ for forgiveness.  They all gathered round and I asked them if I could share my testimony with them.  They consented and I began to tell them of my drunken ways and wicked heart before I believed upon Christ and the great work God has done in my soul and in my life since.  I pleaded with them to think about their sin and their helpless and hopeless end before God without the Savior’s help.  Afterward, the floor was opened for questions and Keng’s mother said, “I don’t have any questions…I am just a poor, foolish woman.”  I encouraged her, “Jesus came to call the foolish, the poor, and the sick.”  He came for someone like her.  More on their reaction in a minute.

We then left Keng with his family and returned to Battambang.  The road was a really bumpy, gravel road and we had to take it for two hours.  We thought our little car was going to fall apart!  But thank God it held up ok and we arrived safely.

Something happened next that has never happened to me.  We went to a restaurant for dinner that was supposed to have great western style food.  We walked in and the waiter, an Aussie, looked at us a bit funny and said, “Yes?”  We said, “We want to eat.”  So he took our order and then brought our drinks.  He then started to ask us questions.  “Where do you guys live?”  We said we lived in Cambodia.  “Oh, where in Cambodia?”  We said in Kandal province.  “What do you do there?” he asked.  We said we were teachers at a small Bible school.  He quizzed, “You are missionaries?”  We answered, “yes, we are.”  At this time he walked away from the table and said, “We don’t serve missionaries!  You will have to leave.”  I thought he was joking at first but he wasn’t kidding.  He refused to serve us.  We got up from our table and we told him, “no problem at all.”  We left and for about two or three minutes I wanted to hate him in my heart.  We had had a long day and Jennifer and Katherine were really hungry.  But the Spirit within us both told us to be thankful for being persecuted.  To repay good for evil.  To pray for those who persecute you.  I can say honestly that we prayed for his soul and that the Lord would forgive him for mistreating His people.  We ended up eating hamburgers at a different place.  It’s pretty funny that we come to a nation of Buddhists and get refused service by an expat.

Back to Keng’s family.  There is not a happy ending to this story, at least not yet.  When we met with Keng again, I asked him if his family had anything to say about what we shared.  He said no one spoke about it again except that his sister was pretty upset that Keng didn’t participate in the idol ceremonies of the day.  She even threatened to not allow him to study at our school anymore.  She sends him money once a month and is in general a kind young lady.  I shared with him that sometimes those who are in great opposition to the Gospel end up being saved and God is glorified greatly.  He said in English, “I hope God choose her.”  His grammar was off but his theology was on.  Keng is only twenty years old but he has a good grasp of what it takes for a sinner to come to Christ.  Thanks be to God!

Finally, here is a link to the April newsletter.  Enjoy!


In Christ,


Friday, April 3, 2009

Is It a Boy? Is It a Girl?

It is with a thrilled heart that I tell you Jennifer is pregnant with our second child.  We were hoping and praying for another child so we are very thankful to God.  She is almost 6 weeks along and the baby is due in early December.  Please pray for God’s watch care over Jennifer and the baby, that they will both be healthy (according to God’s good pleasure) and that He would teach us how to care for our growing family.

DSC05182(Katherine – 17 months)

Also, please pray for our school here in Cambodia.  We are in need of additional teachers and now that situation will be exacerbated.  We have a couple students who are nearing completion of the program that we are considering as candidates for teaching positions (low level English and Computer). We are also open to filling the positions from outside the school and even outside the country.  Pray the Lord would lead us to the right path.  If you want to learn more about our school, here is the web link.


God bless,


Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Trip to Wat Kandal

On Sunday afternoon Bill kindly stayed home with Katherine so I could accompany the students to Wat Kandal.  Putee had told me that it was an hour away by moto, but it only took maybe 30 minutes.  He must not find it an interesting ride. 

This is what the traffic was like.  You can see the edge of one of the cows on the right.


And here was my ride.  I only knocked Srey Roat on the back of the head with my helmet twice.


Below are the PATC students and their respective classes.  The children in attendance said many of their classmates were absent because they had to help their families with the rice harvest.

This is Saveuet (there’s really not a good way to write his name in English!)




Srey Roat (pronounced “roe-ought”)


and Vanak


The school has five classrooms with broken windows, a thick layer of dirt on the concrete floors, and piles of dirt, broken glass and a few wrappers swept into the corners.  It is located beside the river on the grounds of the village wat.  I actually asked where the wat was when we arrived, because typically even in poor areas the wat is large and extravagant.  But this one was a small wooden building/covered porch more in keeping with the area.


Inside are idols representing Buddha.


This is where the monks live, across the grounds from the wat:


None of Savee’s students showed, so we went to talk to the monks.  He helped me ask them some questions about Buddhism.  I was asking them about how they know what will happen to them when they die; how they know if they’ve done enough good to earn a favorable reincarnation.  The typical answer is, “you don’t.”  And I was waiting for that answer so that I could reply with a resounding, “Then, have I got good news for you!” 

But I learned something new.  If you do good works AND, when you are dying, think about how you led a good life, then you will have a good reincarnation.  But if you focus on your bad deeds, you will have an unfortunate new life. 

After some discussion about that idea, we opened the floor for them to ask questions about Christianity.  In general, I don’t think I handled the let-me-listen-to-your-ideas-and-then-I-can-tell- you-about-mine approach to evangelism very well.  The discussion remained genial and respectful (with the exception of the one monk who snickered the whole time), I just think it was obvious that my primary purpose was not to learn about Buddhism, and they were humoring my questions. 

Nevertheless, they asked some good questions about Christianity (though they, too, were not primarily interested in learning about Christianity, but were obviously seeking to leave us unable to answer or confirm the validity of our faith).  For example, “How can you say Jesus created everything when he was only born 2000 years ago?”  “If everyone is born with sin, how can you say Jesus was born without sin?”  And “if God loved his people, why did He curse them and the world and animals with them?”  Good questions.

So for over an hour, 10 monks continued to initiate questions, receive biblical answers and hear the clear message of God’s justice and mercy from our well-prepared students of Systematic Theology.  (Saveuet and Vanak had joined us after their classes were over.) 

We then left Wat Kandal and went to Stung, where Sopheak’s family lives and a she and Srey Roat each teach another group of children.


And play games with them.


This is Sopheak’s mom (standing), working in the field behind their house.  She was thinning their patch of diakon radishes. 


She has been a strong and faithful member for a long time.