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Cambodia – Days 7, 8, 9 & 10 – 20, 21, 22 & 23 July


Angie and I rejoined the team last night.  The team also increased by 5 additional members, with Ann, Kristen and Abby joining the team last yesterday afternoon, and Nathan and Jorge joining us early this morning.

With the addition of 5 more team members and trips to open schools today, tomorrow and Saturday, we moved from our 25 seater bus to 8 SUV’s.  Since it is wet season, the staff were concerned about the condition of the roads.

Today we headed out to Tatrei School to officially celebrate the opening of the 20th school built in Cambodian by Samaritan’s Purse Australia.  This official opening ceremony opened both Tatrei School and Prey Changha School.

When the group of supporters who funded Tatrei visited earlier this year, the children had all written letters for the team and gave these letters along with small gifts, eg flowers, half a packet of chewing gum, etc, to the team.  I’m not 100% sure of the exact words, but the letters all read the same, something along the lines of “Thank you for our new school. We would really love to have a library”.  With generous hearts and spirits, that group of donors asked Samaritan’s Purse how much it would cost to add a library to the building and then committed to coming home and raising the additional cost…..which they did.  When we opened the school this morning, they not only had a new school building, but added at the end of the building was a room specifically to be used as a library…..and the children were only too happy to show us how the library is to be used.

The villagers provided lunch for us and would not sit and eat themselves until we had finished eating.

After lunch, some of the team headed back to the hotel to rest and the remainder of the team headed over to Prey Changha for a community celebration.

After dinner and debrief the team helped pack the shoulder bags Marg, Neil & Keira had brought from The Hub Preschool to give to the kids at Bos Thom Preschool on Friday.


It was another early start today…..downstairs for breakfast at 6.00am.  Today I’m rather excited as we are finally opening the Bos Thom Preschool.  Bos Thom School, it’s Principal, teachers, children and community have a special place in my heart and it was an honour to be asked to speak at the official opening ceremony on behalf of Samaritan’s Purse.  My friend, Margaret Livingstone, representing The Hub Preschool, had the honour of speaking on behalf of the donors, while Samaritan’s Purse staff member, Arne Olander accepted the medal on behalf of Samaritan’s Purse.

Here we have pictures of the old school building which last year was being used as a preschool, and below it is the new preschool building which the children are very excited to be able to start using now.


After lunch we visited a Church which Samaritan’s Purse helped build.  This church grew out of The Greatest Journey program.


Today we opened the last of the schools for this trip, this time at Kantrong School.  It was another amazing time of celebration as we celebrated with the school and the wider community.

After lunch at the Yellow Mango in Siem Reap everyone seemed ready to rest for a few hours before heading to Red Piano for dinner and then some shopping at the night markets.


DAY 10

Our final morning in Siem Reap saw us leaving the hotel around 6.45 am to head to Angkor Wat for some sightseeing.  Angkor Wat itself is an amazing structure and as our tour guide kept reminding us, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World.  My favourite temple is Ta Prohm.  This is the temple where Angelina Jollie taped a scene for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, although the scene is not 100% accurate, as there is actually no corridor behind this door where we she jumps out and we posed for a team photo!  The main reason this is my favourite temple is because the trees have overgrown the temple and nature is taking back.  This other photo of the team shows how large some of the trees actually are.

We finally headed back to the hotel to shower and change and then eat lunch before heading to Siem Reap Airport to begin the long trek home.

It’s been an absolute pleasure and honour for me to be a part of this ministry and I am definitely going to miss the friends I have made in Cambodia, as well as the people of Cambodia who have been so gracious and generous on every trip I have been on to visit their beautiful country.  Thank you all for your interest in what Samaritan’s Purse is doing in Cambodia and other developing nations.  It’s been a pleasure sharing this journey with you.



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Cambodia – Day 4, 5 & 6 – 17, 18 & 19 July


Monday started uneventfully with an early breakfast and then we loaded up the bus for the 5 hour drive from Kampong Thom to Sisophon.  At our first stop for gas, a couple of hours in to the trip, I was advised that one of our team members wasn’t feeling well.  I had a chat with her and she assured me she was doing okay, but by the time we got to Sisophon and had lunch she was in a pretty bad way.  She and I stayed at the hotel while the rest of the group went off to build biosand water filters.  Apparently they had a pretty amazing time!

While the team were out making biosand water filters, Ange’s illness worsened and by Tuesday morning it was decided that Sophoin would accompany Ange and myself to Seam Reap so we could get her medical attention.  We arriverd at Angkor Paradise International Hospital around 9.20 am and they immediately put Ange on IV fluids and antibiotics.  After blood test results it was decided to keep her in hospital overnight, which meant we both had a restless night (she in the hospital bed and me on the sofa), as they kept waking her up to change the IV fluids, give her antibiotics, check her blood pressure, or take blood.   By Wednesday morning she was feeling a lot better and after she was released Wednesday afternoon we were able to travel back to Sisophon and rejoin the rest of the team.


While we were went off to Siem Reap, the rest of the team headed off to visit a school construction in the morning, along with the ‘We Can Read, We Can Write’ and ‘Better Teachers, Better Education’ programs.

After lunch the team did a second Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution at a school in the Banteay Meancheay Province.  Again, the faces of the children tell it all!



On Wednesday morning, the team headed off to visit another school, this time a school

which needs to be rebuilt.

In the afternoon it was off to see some of the projects Samaritan’s Purse does in the safe migration and anti-trafficking project.  This involves things such as raising chickens and pigs, growing mushrooms, micro finance and banking.

By the time the team arrived back at the hotel after dinner, Ange and I were back in Sisophon and happy to be back ready to attend the school openings on 20, 21 and 22 July!








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Cambodia – Day 1, 2 & 3 – 14, 15 & 16 July 2017

We arrived in Phnom Penh on 13 July and spent the night a The Frangipani Hotel near the Royal Palace.Friday morning we were up bright and early and after breakfast headed off to S.21 (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum), one of 179 detention and interrogation centres from the Khmer Rouge days. There are two men who sit thee everyday with books and DVDs for sale which detail there time as prisoners at S.21. They are now the only 2 living survivors from S.21. After S.21, we visited one of the more than 300 Killing Fields in Cambodia.

After lunch at Jars of Clay, it was ime to commence the long drive to Katie, our base for a couple of days.


Saturday we took a ferry ride across the Mekong River to visit a birthing centre built by Samaritan’s Purse Australia with the assistance of some very generous donors.

We were blessed this morning to visit with a young mother who had given birth on Friday to her second child, little by they called Yamin. We were able to gift her some baby clothes and even an elephant baby rattle! We then  had a look at the old delivery room and the water system put in by Samaritan’s Purse Australia. It’s good to know that the villagers are now able to come to the Health Centre and fill up a gallon container of clean water for just 12.5 US cents.

After a quick look aound the village it was then time to head back across the river and for lunch.  However, once we had backed the van on to the ferry, the ferry decided to break down.  We then had to wait for a much smaller boat to come and tow us to the other side of the river.  This was an interesting eandeavour as they had to allow for the current and tow us far enough upstream to allow us to float back down to the landing area.

We ate lunch at the Jasmine Boat Restaurant, which serves a variety of Cambodian and Western foods, and has a very interesting sign in the rest rooms, reminding everyone “Do Not Stand On The Toilet”!

During lunch a storm hit, with torrential rain and very strong winds.  We were due to go back across the river to another village and look at a health and nutrition project. It was decided this wasn’t a good idea due to the weather, so instead we headed off to visit a local pastor who Samaritan’s Purse Australia has helped with an income generation project.  The pastor was supplied wity some wire mesh to build a chicken pen, as well as 5 female ducks and 1 male duck.  He purchased his own chickens and was also assisted with the building of a compost bin.  He now gives away 50 chickens and ducks at a time to his neighbours to help then get started.



Sunday morning we packed up the van and headed to a House Church in Kratie Province. Unfortunately, the service had finished by the time we arrived, but we were greeted by around 100 very excited children who were eagerly awaiting their Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxers.  The children sang us a song in Khmai and then we sang them a few songs, with Elise leading us in Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, Our God is So Big and The Chicken Dance.  We also played a game of Stand Up/Sit Down, with Wayne leading in Khmai.  After hearing from one of the local pastors, it was time to hand out the shoeboxes and then play with the children.



After the shoebox distribution was over, we headed back in to Kratie town for lunch at the Jasmine Boat Restaurant where we experienced another downpour before jumping back on the bus to take the looooong drive to Kampong Thom were we stayed on Sunday night.

And so ends Day 3!


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Prayer is the key that opens all doors

I drove past a church the other day and saw these words on the sign out front. My first thought was, “What a great sign!” However, as I drove on I began to feel there was something wrong with that sign. As I repeated the words it hit me.  What bothered me about the sign was the world ALL.  It’s such a tiny word – just three little letters. So why should it bother me so much? It’s simple. Prayer does not open all doors.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that prayer isn’t important. In fact, I agree that prayer is the key God uses to help us find answers and direction for our lives. And prayer does open some doors.  However, God doesn’t always answer our payers in the way we want. In fact some doors remain permanently locked no matter how many prayers we say.

If we want people to respect us as Christians then we have to be honest with them. Telling people that prayer unlocks all doors is not honest.  It’s misleading. Let’s be honest with them. Let’s be honest with ourselves.

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The Christ Child’s Love

Christmas is coming

and traditions abound,

Mistletoe and holly

and trimmings all round

Frosty and Rudolph

play out in the snow,

while Santa and the elves

are kept on the go.

The wreath’s on the door,

the tinsel is hung,

Jingle Bells and White Christmas

have all been sung.

The tree’s in the corner

and the presents are wrapped.

The pudding is cooked

and I’m feeling trapped.

If one more tradition

finds its way through the door,

I think that I’ll scream,

and beg “PLEASE, NO MORE!”

Whatever happened

to our Christmas season?

Have we all forgotten

that He is the reason?

We need to remember

the story that’s told,

of the birth of our Saviour

a long time ago.

Let our traditions reflect

the Christ Child’s love –

A gift sent to us all,

from the Father above.

Margaret Holahan

4 December 2008

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