Our week started off with another trip to the airport. Megan and Rebecca who had been with us for two weeks were very excited to be collecting their parents who would be spending a few days in Phnom Penh. Although Chris, Elim’s International Missions Director, has been in Cambodia quite a few times this was the first visit for his wife Hope and we were looking forward to spending time with her. Their plane arrived in first and after greeting them, we waved them off in the tuk tuk while we waited for Rebecca’s parents to arrive. An hour later Kelvin & Nicola arrived and once the introductions were made we drove them to their accommodation. This was also their first time in Cambodia and they were amazed at the traffic and the contrast of immense poverty and immense wealth. One of the hardest things when you return home after a mission’s trip is sharing what you have experienced with your friends and family, Rebecca and Megan were blessed to have their parents with them to see for themselves what Cambodia is really like.
While our new guests settled in and unpacked, the rest of us drove to the centre to check on the preparations for the opening ceremony scheduled to take place the next day. Or that’s why we thought we were called to the centre by Nita. When we arrived we were completely surprised with the staff presenting us with flowers, cards and of course, cake for our anniversary! The staff had stayed in work over an hour later to wait for us to arrive and we were so touched by their thoughtfulness. We weren’t really needed to inspect the preparations and the team had everything under control as they always do.
The opening ceremony of the Elim Centre was superb! The programme had to be altered slightly as we had originally planned for the children of the Early Learning Centre to take part but as all schools and preschools were temporarily closed due to the virus affecting under 11’s this wasn’t possible. The good news is Nita was informed just before the ceremony began that we are allowed to re-open again on Monday. Thank you for your prayers and please continue to remember the families of those who lost children through this illness that they will be comforted at this sad time.
So much planning and preparation had gone in over the last number of months for this special occasion and we want to thank everyone who took part either upfront or behind the scenes. There was a traditional Khmer dance performed as a blessing, a mime to the song ‘Power of your Love’ and the drama that blew us away when we watched it for the first time during our Easter service. In my speech which was specifically to talk about the Early Leaning Staff, I thanked them all for making me cry three times. I sat in the front row so proud of the talent God has given each and every one of our Khmer staff and church family and simply thanked God that they are in our lives! David shared for a few moments on the church and ministries thankful for everything God is doing and Nita brought a report on the Early Learning Centre. Chris concluded the speeches and presented the ‘real boss’ with a bouquet of flowers – Nita. We were thrilled that Hope was able to accompany Chris on this visit to Cambodia and as guest of honour cut the ribbon officially opening the Elim Centre in Phnom Penh. We were delighted that some of our friends were able to join us as well as quite a few parents of the Early Learning Centre for this special day in the life of Elim in Cambodia.
It was unfortunate that in the last week of the girls visit the Early Learning Centre was unable to operate but on the upside it allowed the staff to undergo some training workshops. Rebecca who will be commencing her final year at university studying to be a primary school teacher spent two hours with the staff going through preparing lesson plans, teaching techniques, and introducing games into the classroom. This was hugely beneficial and all the staff were taking notes thankful for what they learnt. Zumba was also introduced both at the Youth group on Saturday night and with the Early Learning staff. This was a huge hit and think we could be commencing a new ministry within the centre!
At this point we would like to thank the parents of Megan, Rebecca, Rachel and Emma (who is with us for a longer period) for entrusting their daughters into our care. They were a joy to be around, nothing was an issue and they embraced the Khmer people and culture with love and compassion. We joked with the Khmer people that they were our four daughters, even though they all speak with different accents. We will be praying for each of the girls as they commence and continue their studies in university and they know they are welcome to visit us anytime in the future. Thank you for choosing to come and for the difference you made in the lives of the children and adults you met during your time here, God bless you!
In closing I want to give a special mention to my mother-in-law Sandra who celebrated her Birthday on Friday, sorry we weren’t there to spoil you and share your cake but know you are in our thoughts and prayers every day, we love you with all our heart!