News from the Portela family, serving in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh - May-Jul 2020
Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:20b

Comings, Goings and Stayings

As we have continued to watch world events unfolding from the relative safety of Cambodia, we are upholding our friends, family and supporters in prayer as they deal with the unknowns facing their countries, governments and leaders in these trying times. We feel very grateful that Cambodia seems to have been able to contain the coronavirus, and while we still face some uncertainties in the future, many aspects of life have been able to return to some semblance of normality. 

We succeeded in surviving thirteen weeks of online and home-schooling, while Taara also taught her secondary music classes and David oversaw two terms at IRTC. It was a challenge to maintain this delicate balance, and we were all looking forward to the summer break. The final week of school was filled with some special events and videos as we celebrated our graduating students and tried to finish the year well. These unusual circumstances have really caused us to think about the importance of closure, proper and meaningful farewells and finishing well. Our staff farewells were particularly important this year as many of our staff found themselves leaving much earlier than anticipated, so our farewell event was a combination of Zoom and in-person prayers and goodbyes. We know that as Christian brothers and sisters, we are not saying “goodbye”, but “see you later” - in this life or the one to come, and what an encouragement and comfort that is. 

After three months of “sheltering in place” in Phnom Penh, we were glad to get out of the city to take a short vacation to Kep, a town on the coast of Cambodia. We traveled with some good friends and enjoyed the time to get out of the mindset of school, rest and relax and enjoy God’s creation. We saw the sun set over the gulf of Thailand, walked through lush forest and spent some time at a butterfly garden. So far this summer, God has kept us accident-free (Elena is fully recovered from her fall in Thailand, last year).

We will most likely spend the remainder of our summer break at home in Phnom Penh, and since a few things are opening up, we should be able to keep our kids entertained! 

Cooling down after a visit to the Butterfly Garden (left).
Gorgeous sunsets over the Gulf of Thailand (right).

David is preparing for this year’s third term at IRTC, helping students to choose classes and ensuring lessons and teaching materials are properly configured in the distance learning management system. At the same time he continues leading Bible studies with Asian students and providing counselling for young men. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic it doesn’t look like he will be able to go to Nepal in September, like he did last year. There he would have been teaching two classes to prepare church planters who work in Nepal’s provinces, a region thirsty for the Gospel and in dire need of labourers. We are hoping that as the virus is globally contained and countries open up once again, this important event and others will be rescheduled.

Looking ahead, we are anticipating that Hope International School campuses will be able to reopen in August. Following our request to reopen, we praise God that our inspection on July 14th went well and we are expecting official permission this week to reopen towards the end of August. Please pray that this will go ahead as planned. Our children are ready to go back to school!  

Pray for our staff and families, that they would be able to re-enter the country. Currently, a $3000 deposit is required for foreigners upon entry to Cambodia (to cover costs of COVID tests and possible quarantine, should any other passengers on the flight test positive). A single individual might just be able to handle such a requirement, but for families with children, things can add up quite quickly!

Pray for health for David, as he juggles his many hats at IRTC. Staying inside has not helped boost his immune system, and he has currently had a debilitating cold for a week (no fever, so no cause to worry...yet).

He Is Always With Us

In Genesis 28, while Jacob is fleeing from Esau and making his way towards Laban, God speaks to him in a dream and tells him (v15): “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” With due care not to take this verse out of context, it still teaches us several powerful truths about our unchanging, eternal God:
  • Our God is with us always and will never leave us. Amidst social isolation, we are comforted in knowing that His presence is as near as it was before. He is with us in each moment and is involved in all of our affairs. He promises not to leave us or forsake us. (Joshua 1:9; Psalm 145:18-19; Matthew 28:20)
  • Our God watches over us. Nothing can touch us if it is not in His will. This may be difficult to believe in times like these, but Scripture tells us God is good and works all things for the good of those who love Him and for His own glory. He promises to be our refuge and to give us strength. (Isaiah 12:2, 1 Peter 5:7, Romans 8:28)
  • Our God will bring us where He wants us. God has a purpose for each of our lives and will see it to completion. We can be assured that if He wills it, He will open the doors so that we can make our way to where we need to be. He promises that if we trust in Him and acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths. (Psalm 37:23-24; Proverbs 3:5-6; Ephesians 2:10)
  • Our God will fulfill his promises. Just as He did for Jacob, so will He do for us, fulfilling all the promises mentioned above and the thousands of others in His Holy Word. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Job 42:2; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 46:10; Philippians 1:6)
The trials and difficulties of this year are far from over, and we cannot know what lies ahead. Yet we know God is with us, and that He is sovereign over all of creation. We pray that you will feel His presence and trust in His love and goodness, through the days and weeks ahead.

Dwelling in Him,
David, Taara, Lucas, Elena, Lisa and Leila
This group of explorers gets a well-deserved rest after their “mountain” hike.

Prayer Requests:

  • For Cambodia to be able to continue to “contain” coronavirus cases - if a larger outbreak were to occur, the health system would very easily be overwhelmed.
  • For the fruit of the Spirit to be manifest in our family during this time of close-quarters living.
  • For our family members who are far away, some of whom are in the group most at risk.
  • For future plans as we wait to see how the new school year unfolds in August. 


  • Health for our family so far this year.
  • A safe and comfortable home to “wait out” the pandemic.
  • The ability to continue carrying out our various ministries.

Specific Needs:

Monthly support: Since the Cambodian economy functions in US$, we've been hard-hit by the drop in exchange rate for currencies such as the Canadian Dollar and the Brazillian Real. Please consider partnering with us financially to help us make up for these shortfalls.

Contribute by check (US$ only):

[Designate Portela Fund Code #53]
World Outreach Ministries
P.O. Box B
Marietta, GA  30061

Contribute online (US & Int'l Cards):

For Online Donations or to set-up automatic monthly gifts: see our page at World Outreach. USA & International Cards accepted.

Copyright © 2020 David and Taara Portela.

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