In just over a month, we’ll be getting on a plane to Siem Reap, Cambodia. As things start to wrap up for us in Australia (Zoe finishing work, final nights at youth group and church), we’ve been reflecting on the journey that has brought us to this point as well as looking forward with much excitement and anticipation. To give you a bit of an insight, we’ve worked through five big questions we’ve encountered along the way…
Why are we moving overseas?
Since the day we met, we’ve had a yearning to live overseas as a couple, but it started in us as individuals before we met in 2011.
For Simon the call to live and work missionally overseas wasn’t always a part of his life. Upon finishing high school, he was looking to join the army for a year. Through a series of events including a bout of Glandular Fever and some long term injuries flaring up, he ended up studying a Certificate IV at Morling Theological College to help him gain access into higher learning. During that year at bible college, he was introduced to the phrase ‘Missio Dei’ in an Old Testament class. Simon had a moment of realisation that his life up until that point had been focussed on him only doing what he wanted to do with his life. He latched on to this idea of ‘Missio Dei’ and started to search for how he could be involved in God’s mission both locally and internationally. That led him to spending 10 months serving with Global Interaction in Cambodia. That Certificate IV was a catalyst for him that drastically changed his direction in life.
Zoe grew up living with her family in the inner city of Sydney. Her father was the director of HopeStreet and she grew up engaging with those on the margins of society. At the age of 5 her parents took she and her sister to Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe to see if their family could move there long term as missionaries. Zoe recognises this trip as the beginning of God giving her a passion for serving Him overseas. Zoe has a degree in Development and has been involved in many internationally focused campaigns and organisations in Australia such as the Make Poverty History Roadtrip in 2010, an internship at Micah Challenge and embody.
So when we announced that we were going to be moving overseas it wasn’t a shock to our close friends. Although we feel this is a strong leading from God, God is in no way dragging us kicking and screaming to Cambodia!
Simon lived in Poipet, Cambodia for almost a year in 2012 with Global Interaction. Zoe visited him toward the end of his stay and really enjoyed her time there. Cambodia has been on our radar for a few years. We find the people and culture very welcoming and we have both already made some strong friends in the country. We’ll be writing a blog about the country and people of Cambodia soon.
After we got married in January this year (2014), everything in our new life together was going really well. Off the back of a crappy 2013, we were excited to have just been married, moved into a great unit in Westmead, gained full time work, and immersed in a thriving young adults community at church and youth group… so much to be thankful for!
In the midst of all of this, we still had the desire to move overseas sometime in the next 5 years. March arrived and we headed down to Victoria for SURRENDER:14. We were energised by people sharing their stories of serving God and His people overseas. We met several people who had spent time in Cambodia. God began to nudge us again. Why don’t we go sooner rather than later? It might seem counter-intuitive to move your life to another country when things are going so well, but we knew that if we got too comfortable, our dream and call to live overseas was less likely to happen. We left SURRENDER raring to go to Cambodia.
How long are we going for?
It’s open-ended! Which is both exciting and scary! We have a plan to stay in Siem Reap for at least 12 months initially to learn the language and culture, get settled in a home and local church community and start researching for our cafe project.
What will we do over there?
Simon has lived and breathed coffee for the past 6 years, and after being positively impacted by his time spent with a social enterprise café as a teenager, he has for the past few years wanted to open a café that would help young people. When he was in Siem Reap in 2012, he noticed a lack of good coffee in the city. He also did some training with a small cafe called Kinyei in Battambang and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. So with Zoe’s skills in the kitchen and Simon’s coffee knowledge and passion we thought that Siem Reap would be an ideal place to open a successful café enabling positive change in the lives of those who interact with it. Our desire is to train and employ young people in hospitality, as well as building personal and life skills. We hope the cafe will be people-centred rather than money-centred, for both staff and customers. We have both seen first hand the positive influence that regular work and place to call your second home can have on a young persons life and want to offer that to young people in Siem Reap.
We’re acutely aware that the cafe will not start overnight, and that a huge amount of work is needed to start a business. This means we don’t want to rush it. When we arrive, we’ll start working in regular jobs (Simon in hospitality and Zoe teaching English) while we get to know Siem Reap. Although we’ve been there before, we know there’s a big difference between being a tourist and moving in! We’re lucky to know some great people in Siem Reap already, and we look forward to meeting many more who will become part of our lives there.
Ways to support us:
– Our preparations over the next few weeks
– Health and safety
– Our language learning
– Opportunities for connection in Siem Reap
– For Cambodia
Keep us accountable and encourage us
– Make sure we’re not just having a holiday!
– Check in with us to see how we’re going
– Anytime! We’d love to see you in Siem Reap some time in the future.
So stay tuned! We’ll be sharing our thoughts and stories on this blog and we’d love you to journey with us!
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S + Z