Christmas News From The Capons

Dear family and friends,


Well what a momentous year this has been! But despite being in a different country and a different culture, the evidence of God’s grace is still very much around us, and in fact even more so as we see first hand the difference that the love of God has brought to so many lives here. Even though Christmas Day is not a holiday here and not recognized by those in authority here, there are many beautiful celebrations of Christmas all around the city.


Since our Christmas letter last year, we have sold our house in Canberra and moved all our belongings – a much-reduced pile of stuff – into a storage container. So home is now very much in Phnom Penh. We arrived early in February and quickly found accommodation in the top floor apartment of an old house. It was chosen partly because of its close proximity to the WEC office, but then the office moved! Along with the office move, our job descriptions changed somewhat, but you very quickly learn here in Cambodia to go with the flow!


So rather than give you a month by month update of our activities, we will just share some of the special things that makes this place unique. One of the things we have really appreciated is the number of public holidays. They pretty much have a holiday for everything they can think of, including anniversaries of the King’s death and the internment of his ashes! We’re not sure what happens after the next King dies. So for some of these holidays which are three days in a row, we have been able to travel and see some other parts of Cambodia.


One of the major attractions of this place is the people. They are so kind and caring. No matter how little they have, they will always share it. We have both been blessed by the students we teach. Sometimes they defer to expats too much and it is hard to convince them that we are all equal. Unfortunately they are not business people and too much of the new businesses and developments are owned by other countries.


The other great group of people are our team members. We have been richly blessed by each one of them. Representing every continent, and a wide range of ages, we have a common interest and passion and this makes for a wonderful workplace.


The traffic is interesting. Basically mayhem, but after a while you realize that it is mostly considerate chaos, as everyone gives way to anyone bigger than them. There is no road rage, you just inch forward and take your turn. It’s quicker to go by moto than car, but not as comfortable. Helmets are supposed to be compulsory for the driver, but very little policing of this. Quite common to see 4 or 5 on one moto. We still travel mostly on our push bikes.


Weddings are an experience. We were invited to our first wedding last weekend and it was a great experience. A wedding tent takes up the whole street, blocking off other houses entry and exit. Huge amounts are spent on very elaborate decorations and costumes. The bride changes 4 or 5 times during the wedding which goes on over 2 days. The main part starts very early on the second day right through to the end of that night. Our bride got up at 2 am to start the elaborate process of hair and make-up before the first ceremony at 7 am. Make up is done to make the bride look as white as possible, whereas we are more used to young people going to tanning salons so that they look brown! What a crazy world!


The weather has suddenly become delightfully cool over the last week. All of a sudden we have a bit more energy and enthusiasm, especially for things like cooking. Long may it continue! The hottest months of April and May were a bit of a challenge.


Our language training continues. Although we know many words and phrases, it is still hard to follow local conversations. Of course they speak to fast ….. just like us!


We especially enjoyed visits from Rachel, Chris, Ashley and Lex, as well as Marty. It was great travelling around with them and showing them the sights. We have also hosted a few short term WEC’ers and enjoyed learning about their home countries.


The WEC leaders here have asked us to stay another year, which we have agreed to do. We are going to come back to Australia though to see family and friends and we have chosen April and May to do this, so that we avoid the worst two months weather-wise. So we hope to be able to see many of you then. We will visit Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart, New Zealand and Port Macquarie.


We hope that this finds you all well and that you have a blessed Christmas, celebrating our Saviour’s birth.


With love, Geoff and Shirley xx


Emails: Geoff:





Franzen Family visiting in Phnom Penh








Outside the recent wedding before we dressed up





The beautiful Maya





How people travel in  Cambodia








On our bikes





Anthony and his winning design at the Melbourne Cup





Marty, Rachel, Ashley, Lex and Geoff in the pool at Siem Reap.h