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St John's Cathedral

Our Link with Diocese of Toungoo


Over the past year, St John’s Cathedral and the Anglican Diocese of Toungoo, Myanmar have formed a partnership for mutual learning and support through exchanging visits and prayers for each other.

In February 2016, a delegation led by The Very Revd Matthias C. Der, Dean of St John's Cathedral, went on a fact finding trip to Toungoo. In October, St John's welcomed four guests from Toungoo. Included in the group were The Rt Revd John Wilme, the Diocesan Bishop, The Very Revd Canon Yo Shia, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Toungoo, the Revd Jimmy Aung Khaing Nyunt, Principal of St Peter’s Bible College and Miss Elizabeth Ei Hnin Phyu, delegate of the Anglican Young People’s Association.

This year, to further strengthen the bond between the two communities, our parishioner Debbie McGowan has offered herself as a volunteer teacher in Toungoo for 8 weeks starting from late January. The Cathedral is greatly encouraged by this forthcoming mission trip.

Debbie has been financing her own expenses but is asking for donations for educational materials and for the building programme of the Diocese of Toungoo.  


Weekly Prayer for Diocese of Toungoo:  

We pray for for Bishop John Wilme, his priests and people. We pray for the evangelistic and mission work conducted throughout the Diocese.

Pray also, for Debbie McGowan as she concludes her trip to teach English in the Diocese of Toungoo. May God bless her and all whom she teaches. 

Updates on Debbie’s trip (27th Mar 2017):  

What a fabulous Myanmar trip! It was Debbie’s last lesson in Toungoo on 25th Mar. In her last week of teaching, she paid a site visit to where the new youth hostel will be built.

The new youth hostel will be located at Leik Tho, two-hour drive from Toungoo. The Diocese of Toungoo is converting the dilapidated priest's house into the hostel, since it is easier for regulations and planning approval.

‘As the funds are here, they are totally confident it will be finished by mid-May with 20 children, ages 11 to 14, moving in ready for the start of high school at the beginning of June. Their prospects without education is grim ..... Turning hopes into reality, thanks to you!’ Debbie said.


Debbie paid a site visit and she was helping out at the site!

Returning back to St John the Baptist’s Church and St Paul’s Cathedral, Debbie has been showered with praise, blessings, gifts and flowers by her students, co-workers, congregation members and local friends in farewell parties. 


Saying goodbye to the pre-school children and the teachers...


Showered with flowers and gifts

In the last few days before her departure, Debbie also presented gifts together with certificates to her students. She said, ‘Thanks to my lovely St John's Cathedral Choir friends, who generously donated lipsticks, make-up palates, packs of playing cards (none of the students here had ever seen a pack of cards before I introduced them), chopsticks and bookmarks. Thanks also to Rita!’


Her students love these gifts.

After further exploring Yangon for several days, Debbie will be flying home, coming back to Hong Kong and join the Cathedral congregation again very soon.


Updates on Debbie’s trip (17th Mar 2017):  

The graduation for St Peter’s Bible School was successfully held this week. Bishop John was thankful for Dean Matthias’ congratulatory message, which was read out at the ceremony by Debbie.

It will be Debbie's last week of teaching from 20th to 24th March. The time has gone very quickly and her students continue to be very enthusiastic in her lessons. 

This week, Debbie has attended the graduation and thanksgiving service for St Peter’s Bible School on behalf of the Cathedral, and read the Dean’s message out at the ceremony in English, which was then translated into Burmese.


‘Being called by God to serve him is a great privilege. None of us deserve to be called and yet God has called you and me to be his co-workers in extending his Kingdom. As you go forth in his name, you will face both joys and challenges. Always remember that Jesus Christ is with you. Humble before Him and love the people you are called to serve. God will use the gifts he has bestowed upon you to serve him well.’ The Dean’s message was read out by Debbie.

Bishop John has expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Dean and the Cathedral. He said, ‘Thank you very much indeed for your very encouraging greetings. Thank you for your care, concern and support. It means to us a lot and very encouraging because we know that you and St John's Cathedral are with us. Debbie is doing well with busy schedule.’ 


In the coming week, Debbie will be presenting St John's Cathedral bookmarks to all the pre-school classes and to the St Paul's Cathedral Sunday School children. Her adult students will also be receiving certificates and a variety of gifts, generously donated by the St John’s Cathedral Choir.

Debbie will also be visiting the site for the new youth hostel being built with the money she raised in the UK, Hong Kong and through the Cathedral. ‘It is you support that has turned hopes into reality, thanks to you!’ Debbie said.

The fund for Debbie's mission is still open for donation. Contributions are welcome and can be given to the Cathedral office.  


Updates on Debbie’s trip (10th Mar 2017):  

Debbie has visited the areas of Inle Lake and The historic plains of Bagan.




Updates on Debbie’s trip (3rd Mar 2017):  

Great news – The funds Debbie raised in St John’s, Hong Kong and the UK have arrived in Toungoo. The work on building a new youth hostel is expected to start soon.

The funds Debbie raised in St John’s, Hong Kong and the UK have arrived in Toungoo. ‘Thank you all for your contributions, so much appreciated! This means that the work on building a new youth hostel will probably start before I leave here and Bishop John will take me to see the site in the next few weeks. Turning hopes into reality, thanks to you!’ Debbie said.

Another good news was one of the pre-schools (that Debbie is teaching in) had their graduation ceremony on Tuesday, to which Debbie was invited. ‘I think the pre-school graduation is an important milestone for not just the children but also the parents. There are some key messages said at the graduation ceremony about bringing up children in a Christian way.’


Last week, Debbie also went to a graduation ceremony at St Peter's Bible School.  She will attend the graduation of the senior class of St Peters on 14th March.



Updates on Debbie’s trip (24th Feb 2017):  

Debbie is getting into a good routine in Toungoo by now.

Debbie has a packed teaching schedule at the pre-school. However, from 17th to 20th Feb, whilst the teachers were on retreat, the pre-school was closed.  So instead, Debbie spent her time teaching English to thirty-two students at St Peter’s Bible School. 


At her leisure time after school, she gets to know learn more about Toungoo. Last weekend, she went to a local market and took some colourful pictures!  


Debbie has been staying in Toungoo for nearly one month, and she still hasn’t seen a cloud in the sky since her arrival. ‘If you want winter sun, November to February in Myanmar is the place to be!’

Updates on Debbie’s trip (17th Feb 2017): 

Debbie has been welcomed into the community of Toungoo with open arms.  In the third week of her stay, she was invited to a local wedding.

Most things continue to be great in Toungoo. Debbie is teaching English classes from Mondays to Saturdays, and Sunday School classes on Sundays.

On a brighter note, she is being fed very well by the Bishop’s wife, Elizabeth, who provides lunch and dinner every day. On 11th Feb, she attended a wedding in the Baptist Church and was asked to sit at one of the top tables at the wedding breakfast. ‘They are spoiling me. Don’t think I’ll be losing much weight!’ Debbie said.


Left: Debbie is feeling blessed, flanked by two Bishops, John (right) and his predecessor George (left)

Right: This is just for Debbie – Potato cakes, prawns, fish, spinach, pork, chicken soup, then a bowl of fruit for dessert!


Left:  The local wedding in the Baptist Church

Right: Beautiful girls – the younger one is in one of Debbie’s classes 

Updates on Debbie’s trip (10th Feb 2017): 

The friendship between Hong Kong and Myanmar firms up, with gifts from the St John's Cathedral Sunday School, carried by Debbie, being gratefully received by the children at St Paul's Cathedral Sunday School, in the Diocese of Toungoo 



Updates on Debbie’s trip (3rd Feb 2017):

Let the adventure begin!

After being commissioned and blessed by Dean Matthias at the Cathedral on 29th Jan, Debbie managed to fit her survival kit and everything in her baggage and arrived in Toungoo safely on 31st Jan!

Her hotel is only five minutes away from the school that she is teaching at. As a welcoming school, one of the teachers picks her up on a moped every morning. There is also an arrival room where she can sit between lessons.

Good luck Debbie for her first week in Toungoo!


(Left) Dean Matthias commissioned Debbie and gave her a blessing.  (Right) Managed to fit everything in!

The arrival room at the school 


Myanmar Drop-in (25th Jan 2017):

Groups of people interested in our link with the Diocese of Toungoo and Debbie’s trip were warmly welcomed at the Harold Smyth Room. With Debbie sharing her vision and devotion, attendees got to know more about Toungoo, her trip and ways to support.




More information on Debbie's Trip: