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Setting Up Shop, Teams, and Wrapping up a School Year

So we're into our new center and have been hard at work getting everything underway.  In the last couple months we've cleaned out a massive amount of old garbage, chopped down a number of trees, and had teams coming in and out from different organizations to lay down gravel and provide manual labor.  First we had a team of young men from The World Race lay down 5 metric tonnes of gravel for us and then more recently a team of college students from Concordia Texas come out and literally camped on-site while they helped to lay down 3 more tonnes of gravel, build a vegetable garden, and put in concrete borders around the pathways at our center.  It seems like everyday this new space is looking better and better and all our students are loving the new space, especially because we get lot of free mangoes from all the trees around!

We also recently were able to have many of our kids' teeth checked out recently by Kyle and Jamie Klepaki who come out every year with a team from Shepherd of the Hills, the church I grew up at.  They set up shop at Ray of Hope to do dental checks and then trucked in to our center to do VBS activites recently.  

For anyone who may every wonder whether a team is useful or not, just being there with us means a lot.  Yes, it can take a lot of energy to keep you safe, but when you are there with a heart to be in fellowship with us and serve one another, we appreciate it a lot, no matter what you do or don't do.  Our kids love that someone is there to play with them when no one else seems willing to do so.  Our staff appreciates when some is there loving them too.  And I appreciate all the help getting manual labor done because our ministry can't afford to pay someone else to do a lot of it.  So we do love teams and volunteers who come out with a heart to truly serve God!

Finally, we also ask that you pray with us as we are getting close to finishing our 5th full school year in July!  Sometimes it can be difficult, especially for me personally, when kids drop out for whatever reason, but it also helps to see what a difference is being made in the lives of kids when we have them.  Our oldest students will be finishing the 5th grade and moving on to 6th grade while our smallest kids in preschool will be starting 1st grade.  And June is also when we start the selection process for new kids. 

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is, "How do we select new students?"  Each year our staff distributes applications to the families we work with who can share them with others.  As many parents may be illiterate, some of our staff will go out to the street communities and help them fill out applications but then, usually in early July, our staff will sit down together and consider all the applications and look for the kids who need our program the most.  We are looking for the kids who may not have the best home support and who will almost certainly not go to school without our program.  Often we know that the families will struggle and be uninvolved with what we do, but we still look for the kids that we hope we can make a difference with.  Please pray with us as this year we will be looking to fill 3-4 empty slots in our ministry and that God will lead us to the children and families who need His love and our help.

Turning in a New Direction

So last newsletter I told you about how we've had to let go of our plan to start a farm and that we are looking at new opportunities for sustainability.  Little by little I'm starting down that path and as I seek God's direction I'm starting to see where I at least think God is pointing me.

In his own missionary journeys the apostle Paul often found local employment to help support himself while he was with various churches.  When he was in Corinth in particular the Bible tells us he worked as a tent-maker, and thus we get the term tent-making when missionaries work locally to earn income and support their ongoing efforts.  I have been praying fervently about what I can do that I can do well, Sinuon can help me with, and where I can possibly provide job opportunities to some of the youth from the Street Children's Program.  The direction we're leaning is toward a garden business as I already spent over a year learning about plants and farms, grow tons of  flowers, trees, and vegetables at home, and have sufficient space for such a business on the back of my own property.  I don't believe we can earn enough to meet our full needs from this, but I do hope that we can earn enough to offset the rising cost of living in Cambodia and provide work opportunities for the older kids from Crossing Cambodia.

I also ask that you would please pray as I look for other mission projects.  As I've been praying and considering what gifts God has given me I am also looking at what has made Crossing Cambodia such a success.  A big part of it has been having Sokly really be able to take the ministry and develop it in such a way that she can keep it going even when I cannot.  My gifts lie in connecting with people, supporting new projects, and uplifting others.  Because of my American passport God has given me the freedom and ability to travel internationally and seek donors for projects, while He has not gifted me to manage a project day in and day out.  Knowing this Sinuon has prayerfully been encouraging me to look at what else is being done in Cambodia and to find other local Christians who have ideas to help their country, who can run projects, and whom I can get behind to help develop their ministry for a time and step back when it is really going on its own.  Please pray with me as I explore this opportunity and seek God's guidance as I look in this direction.

Also, with this in mind we continue to pray and seek support for another vehicle so that I can have the ability to pick up teams and volunteers, move supplies around, and connect with other small ministry projects around Cambodia.  Ideally this would be a small truck with a 4 door cab, but a reasonable vehicle for this purpose may cost up to $15,000.

Please pray with us as we seek to follow God's calling in mission here in Cambodia.


So the big news, of course, is that Elena is 1 year old now.  We had cupcakes with cinnamon frosting because I know that's probably the most exciting aspect of a birthday dinner for a 1 year old.  But otherwise, we're just happy parents and want everyone to know that.

The other important news though is that we finally got our plane tickets to the US arranged and we're working on the travel schedule!  We wish we could get around to visit everyone but that's looking more and more difficult as we plan everything out and as we only have 5 weeks in the US and a chunk of that time is committed to being with my parents at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

We will be in the US from June 20th until July 25th.  In that time we will be visiting churches in California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  Our first stop will be in California where we will need to either borrow or rent a minivan for a week, and then we'll fly out to the midwest were we'll need a vehicle for almost a month.  If anyone in California and/or the midwest has a vehicle we could use we would much appreciate it and promise to take good care of it.  

Also, a need we ask you all to pray about is that we are seeking a teacher/nanny to come out and help us part time.  We very much want our children to continue attending a local school and learning Khmer as they themselves are Khmer, but the English language standards are definitely not on par with the US and the school schedule very much limits their schedule for family time or other activities.  Sinuon has limited formal education and I personally am not terribly great at teaching or tutoring, thus we really are hoping to find some help.  We are submitting applications to a number of mission agencies seeking help, but if anyone knows someone willing to come out for a stint to help with this we can at the very least provide room and board for them.  

I also want to shout out to my friend Abby Gerold who visited us and went on a date with Sinuon and I.  Just a hint for anyone going on a mission trip, offering to babysit or take a missionary couple out for a nice dinner is something we really really appreciate.  Living abroad we don't get opportunities like that often and it does a lot to keep us going sometimes.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our family and we hope to see many of you this summer!

  • God's blessings on the new Street Children's Center and thanks for all the teams who have been helping us make it amazing!
  • God's guidance for both Greg and Sokly as they take on new ministry challenges.
  • That God will provide us with the individuals necessary to better improve our communications.
  • God's blessings on the many teams and volunteers that will be partnering with us in 2018!
  • For a vehicle that the Holz family will be able to use in June and July.
  • Sufficient financial support for both the Lobato Family and the Holz Family.


Supports center operations such as rent, utilities, transportation, repairs, etc.
Supports a child's tuition, meals, supplies, etc.
(Click here to learn more.)
Supports Greg Holz and his family with their costs of living as missionaries here.
Thank You
If you've read all the way to the bottom of this newsletter I just want to express my gratitude to you for taking time out of your day to read about our ministry and pray for us here in Cambodia.  I know that I personally am not the best communicator over email and social media so it means a lot that you continue to support our small ministry endeavors through prayer and financially.  Ministry is not about what one person can do in Christ but what Christ does through His church and so your support means a lot to us.

Please keep praying that God will help me to improve in this to be more consistent or that He will provide us the human resources to get newsletters, social media updates, and thank you letters out in a more timely fashion. 

Thanks and God's blessings to you!

This is just a small after-note and not a priority, but I'm asking for your help because any help is always greatly appreciated.
My smartphone was recently stolen.  With all my travelling and sometimes limited internet access, this is my primary device for communicating with just about everyone around the globe.  Its also the main way I get pictures and videos of our ministry to share with everyone.  I've ordered a replacement, but on a missionary salary a decent phone is hard to afford because unlike in the US, phones are not subsidized by the carriers.  And in Cambodia we need unlocked phones to make use of the local carriers.  Any donations to help offset the cost would be much appreciated.
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