Rainy season has arrived in Cambodia. Over the past week nearly everyday around 3pm the rains have come.  In some ways it has been a welcome relief from the heat, however when it rains here it rains heavy and many of the streets flood quickly which can make travel difficult.  The situation in Cambodia related to COVID-19 has not changed much over the past few weeks.  Some more places are reopening and others are choosing to stay closed.  Schools are still shut with a potential start date of November being talked about.  This is not easy for the children, as I am sure it is the same for many families across the world.  Learning online is not the same as in classroom learning and many of the children here have expressed to me that they really miss school.  They miss their friends, teachers and the routine of the week. Please pray for these children that they will continue to be able to cope with the changes and difficulties these present days bring.

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Elim Cambodia News

Last week one of the girls in Be Free graduated.  She had come to the end of her programme and we were able to have a small gathering to celebrate her.  She was very emotional as we prayed for her and talked about her future.  She has a young daughter and we are praying that her next step will be secured soon as this has been difficult to confirm because of COVID-19 and the problems it has caused.  There are now more spaces available for new girls to join the programme.  It is difficult to get new girls at this time because many organisations are not operating in the same way as before. Please pray that in God’s perfect timing the girl’s who He has chosen to come to Be Free will.  The girls and staff in Be Free are continuing to study English and every day they have devotions where they worship God and share prayer requests with each other. Each of the girls are glad of this normality and routine that has returned to their lives.

The ELC staff continue to be busy in making weekly videos to send out to the families and children.  These range from songs, story telling, English teaching and showing the parents how to use various educational resources.

Phnom Penh Elim church is continuing to meet in small groups to share fellowship on Sundays. We all miss meeting together with all the church family but we are thankful that we can still see each other and most of the church members live close to each other so it is fairly easy to check in and see how families are doing.

Recently the Church Planting team took a trip to visit leaders that they had connected with during the vision casting seminars that took place last year and early this year in Phnom Penh.  The team began their journey in Kandao Chrum village, in Tabong Kamom province where they met with one pastor, Pastor Saren who attended the “One Village, One Church” training modules and is actively promoting it’s vision. The team delivered 45 plastic chairs as a contribution to Pastor Saren’s house church hall. His desire to serve God brought him to make an extension of his house to accommodate 30 people or more. His main focus is for prisoners and their families, but his desire is to have lots of Timothies who will continue to spread the Good News.

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An amazing story has come from the province of Ratanakiri. Ratanakiri is in the North East of Cambodia and is on the border with Vietnam.  Previously the team had visited this area in January. This area is a minority area and the people here speak their own dialect and not the common Khmer language.  They had met with an elderly lady who was 80 years old.  She was not a Christian but invited the team to her home for dinner. At the time everyone felt this lady would be significant in the future for this village and for this area.  The team prayed for her and believed in God’s ability to break through in this situation.  When they visited again last month, this lady had not yet received Christ but the members of her immediate family had.  The team were invited again for dinner at her home and later the lady joined in worship and prayer with the team. Amazingly that night she became a Christian!! This lady is an important person in her village and the team are praying and believing for more great things to come from this area.

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Please be praying for these people mentioned in the stories, for the Pastors and leaders, and for the Elim Cambodia church planting team. Pray for the advancement of God’s work within the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Please pray for me as I began to study Khmer again last week. This had been put on hold because of COVID-19 but I was happy to resume learning online and I was very impressed by the teaching and resources provided by my teacher.

I would like to finish by wishing my parents a huge congratulations as they just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.  My parents are both wonderful and have done so much for me in my life.  They are always there to support me and my brother and we are both so thankful for them.

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Mum and Dad 35 years ago

 

 

 

 

May in Cambodia

Life in Cambodia in some ways is slowly opening up again.  The roads are a lot more busy and many of the restaurants and shops that had closed have reopened with fewer hours and others just offering take away food options.  Here the government have announced that 6 countries who had temporary bans from entering Cambodia have now been lifted. They have said that anyone entering the country has to spend 14 days in self isolation and they must have a medical certificate to prove they do not have covid-19.  There are still limited flights in and out of the country and like many countries around the world we are a long way off life returning to normal. Schools are still closed here for the foreseeable and religious gatherings still unable to meet. During these past few weeks I have started to cycle more and have enjoyed the exercise and time to get outside for a bit.  The following photograph was taken near my home and shows you that the traffic has began to be extremely busy again. I love seeing the hustle and bustle of life here.  We are all still being cautious and as safe as possible as just this week 2 new cases of covid-19 were reported in Cambodia.

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Busy streets near my home

This month my brother and sister in law celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary.  I want to send them all my love again and it is crazy how quickly that year has gone. This time last year I was in Northern Ireland making my plans to come to Cambodia for this year and now we are nearly at the end of May.  All of this has reminded me that time is really precious and that I need to make the most of each day as no one knows what tomorrow will hold.

Elim Cambodia Updates

The staff at the Early Learning Center have continued to work half days but still without the children.  Just this past month we have started to record weekly educational videos that are being sent to the parents.  Some of the videos have been songs, teaching English words with flashcards and demonstrating how to read books to the younger children. The parents have appreciated this extra help and we hope that it continues to show the children and families that we love and miss them.

Be Free has been busy this month.  Again the girls and staff are only working in the mornings but there has been a lot happening. One of the girls in the programme will soon finish her time in Be free. We went with her to see a potential work opportunity for her when she finishes.  Please pray for her as we wait to hear about her future as it is not easy to secure these decisions with the virus continuing to impact local organisations and businesses.  The girls are continuing to study English and have been meeting for daily devotions and a bible study on Friday mornings. One of the girls recently celebrated her birthday and Sokim presented her with a cake from everyone at Be Free. “S” was very emotional when she was given the cake and Sokim explained this was very special for “S” as she may not have had many birthdays celebrated before in the past.  Please continue to pray for Sokim, Chantha and Sophea who are the staff in Be Free. Everyday I see beautiful reminders of how valuable and important this ministry is and how it means so much to each girl who comes through the Be Free programme.

 

 

Even with the current restrictions due to covid-19 the church planting team have been able to continue some work.  They visited Kep early in May and distributed food packages to needy families there who had been greatly impacted by the current situation. This week Pastor Chamnap and some of the church planting team have set off to lead another vision casting meeting for potential future partners in the provinces.  They plan to share the vision of Elim Cambodia to have one church in every village. These men and women have such passion to share Jesus with the people of their country. Please pray for their protection and safety as they travel and do this.

Recent outreach in Kep

 

I was speaking with a few friends this week and one of them said that in their country it is amazing because despite lockdown and so many restrictions people are still coming to Christ. People are in need and looking for help at this time.

I want to finish this newsletter by showing you some of the adventurous foods I have been able to try this month. As we have been able to meet more often we have shared food together and I have got to try some new things.

The first picture is frogs and the second is rats.  Both tasted very like chicken!

 

Love from Cambodia,

Sophie

Highs and lows

The past two weeks have been filled with great highs and very difficult times. As I am writing this I should be joined in Cambodia by my brother and sister in law.  Sadly they were unable to make this trip because of the world situation of covid-19.  We have each expressed our sadness at not being in Cambodia together at this time.  We pray and believe that God will bring them here another time and we will get to experience Cambodia together.

Last week I celebrated my 29th birthday.  I was not really sure what the day would look like but I was absolutely blown away by the amount of kindness and love I was shown.  A friend invited me to her house to have lunch and fellowship.  They also had a birthday cake for me.  In the afternoon I was able to enjoy going to get my nails done and that evening my Elim family had a lovely dinner at the centre for me.  Again I was given another birthday cake.  I received lots of lovely presents, and many many messages from home.  I felt very loved from here and afar.  One very special call was with my good friend Gillian who shares the same birthday as me.  Even though we missed celebrating together this year we were so thankful to be able to talk on facetime.  I feel very loved and excited about what this new year of life holds.

The current situation with covid-19 in Cambodia seems to be improving.  People are still being encouraged to be vigilant, wear masks when out and continue to keep good hand washing patterns and encouraged not to meet in big groups.  In light of this some restaurants have opened as of yesterday with limited seating and reduced opening hours.  This past week at Elim we have returned to work for half days.  The ELC and church are still unable to open but we can go to the centre and do some work there while being mindful to keep distance from one another.  I was happy to be able to see the ELC staff this week and the Befree girls and do some English with them in person and not just on the phone.

I want to take some time to honour and share about the life of a friend of mine that  passed away last week.  An elder in our church lost his dear father last weekend. His father used to sit outside the house where I live here and he was always so friendly to me. He always asked how I was and invited me to his family’s house for dinner. He said I was like his daughter and I always said he was my Khmer Granda.  I got a phonecall last Saturday afternoon to say that he had sadly passed away and to come to Elim as soon as possible.  When I arrived his body had already been brought to the church from the hospital. Over the next few hours his family began to gather at the church and plans were being made to hold a service for his life that night. I must say that I have never been more proud of the Elim family at this time.  On their Saturday afternoon each of them came to the church and wanted to help in whatever way they could. They all rallied together and within a few hours they had organised food, flowers, a coffin, a visiting pastor to help with the services and a black and white tent that is normally used here for funerals.  They all came together in such a beautiful, supportive way.  Over the next few days different services were held to remember his life.  A few different pastors shared and challenged the family and congregation about the importance of knowing where we will spend eternity.  That we have decisions to make whether we will be with God for ever or separated from God. Please continue to pray for this family as they continue to grieve the loss of their father.  We are very thankful that he is now free from pain and is with Jesus.  Pray that the family will be impacted by what was shared at the funeral and that they will be challenged about their own lives.

I will end with this lovely picture of our ELC staff who wanted to send something to all the students this week and show them that they are missed so much.  It reads, “All the teachers really miss all the children.  But please take care and we will meet again soon. Our heart is with all the children. God bless you.”

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Happy Easter and Khmer New Year

Happy Easter and Happy Khmer New Year to all my friends and family here in Cambodia.  This week should be the biggest Cambodian holiday of the year.  Wisely the government have advised that Khmer New Year celebrations should be put on hold to help stop the spread of covid-19.  Last week it was also announced that inter country travel would be stopped for this week so that people were not able to travel from province to province.  I was sad to miss the Khmer New Year celebrations as this would have been my first time in Cambodian to celebrate this time of year.  In the midst of the change and quiet I have enjoyed my own personal Easter celebrations. I have been able to join my church at home online and I have been able to listen to different sermons and join in worship times which have been special.  It has been a very different Easter time in so so many ways but I have been aware of God’s presence with me and comforting me at this strange time. Thank you to everyone who has messaged to check in on me I really appreciate you all.

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This is outside the big Pagado near Elim centre

Last week before the travel restrictions were put in place we went to visit one of the recent Befree graduates at her home province.  She just recently moved back home.  This month a team of men from the church went to her home and helped to build a small shop for her.  This was what she wished to do after finishing at Befree.  She wanted to run her own shop and sell food and every day household products. Through money that was gifted to her family they were also able to build a toilet out the back of her house.  Thank you to Bangor Elim Church who made this possible.  It was a great day going to see her.  With all the sadness and anxiety of these current days it was nice to see what GOOD things God is still doing in people’s lives.  We all felt very proud of her working in her shop and we were able to buy some cold drinks to cool down in the sun.  Please continue to pray for ‘K’ as she settles back into life in her home.  We all miss her in Phnom Penh but pray she will be an influence and light with her family and in her province.

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New toilet for ‘K’ and her family

This past week we also prepared homework for our preschool Early Learning Centre children.  We have all been missing the children and we wanted to send some resources for them to work on at home.  Included in the homework resources were Easter pages. We felt it was important to remind the children that this is such an important time of year.  We wanted them to know about Jesus and remember what he has done for them.  Most of these packs have now been collected by parents from the centre.  Please continue to pray for our children and for their families. We know it is a difficult time for children across the world as their normal daily routines have been totally changed.  We pray and look forward to the day when the Early Learning Centre can open again and we get to see all the lovely smiling faces of the children as we enter the centre.

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Sokhom with the homework packs

Over the past few weeks I have been able to do some teaching online.  This is a whole new experience for me but I am so glad to connect with the Early Learning Centre staff and continue to help them learn English. We are trying to do 2 calls per week and I continue to ask questions about their well being.  The last lesson we did we talked about what they and their families would normally do over Khmer New Year and we shared prayer requests with each other.

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Our first online English class

It is difficult to listen and watch everything that is happening around the world. We are all experiencing challenges and difficulties because of covid-19.  Hearing of more and more sickness and deaths is so hard.  I am praying and will continue to do so for the nations that this virus will end soon and that there will be comfort for all those who have been deeply impacted by it.  I know of people across the world who have lost jobs due to this current situation and I am praying they will be supported at this time.  I am so glad that I know Jesus.  Some days are so difficult and my thoughts can run away with me.  I am thankful that he is my anchor and that he never changes.  So in this time of great uncertainty for so many I am thankful that I can turn to Jesus in the midst of everything that is going on.   Please continue to pray for Cambodia. Pray for us here that we will be protected and that the virus will not spread more.  Pray for those who are experiencing financial difficulties, for those who are sick, for those who are concerned about their families and their future.  Pray that God’s hand will continue to be upon this nation.  I love this country and the people here. Please pray for me as I live here and support my friends and as they support me. Please keep my family in your prayers as it is extra difficult to be so far apart during this time.

 

Love Sophie x

 

 

 

 

 

Homework for ELC – easter pages

 

“Be still and know that I am God.”

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been for me, and not just me but the whole world.  The title of this newsletter has always been one of my favourite verses but now more than ever it means so much to me.

Just over 2 weeks ago I returned from a short trip to Northern Ireland.  I was able to go home and enjoy time with my family and celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday.  I had a restful, encouraging time.  I was able to catch up with some friends after being away for 7 months.  Another special thing was that my dear friends David and Kirsty had their second child while I was at home so it was amazing that I was able to meet little Isaac and get a cuddle before coming back to Cambodia.

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With my Mum and Dad

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Northern Ireland

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Baby Isaac

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With special friends

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With my brother

At the time I was leaving Northern Ireland there were concerns and worries about Covid-19 but no where near the level that we find ourselves in today.  I was able to travel through Thailand with no issues and made my way back to Phnom Penh with a smooth journey.

The day after I arrived back a team from Bangor Elim Church came to Cambodia.  I was happy to see good friends that I have known for years and also meet new people on this team.  The team got involved in all areas of Elim Cambodia life and blessed lots of people while they were here.  On the Saturday of that week the government announced that all schools in Cambodia would close indefinitely to try and stop the spread of the virus.  This impacted some of the activities at Elim for the rest of that week.  The ELC has now closed until further notice and my English classes in the evenings have also been put on hold. The Bangor team were thankfully able to safely fly back to Northern Ireland last week.  Thank you again for everything you did to serve the people of Cambodia.

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Bangor Elim Team

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Some of the team helping to build beds for the new Befree homes

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Doing a kids club at the village

On Tuesday last week it was announced that all religious meetings and gatherings are also now on hold.  It has been a strange week. Some things are carrying on as normal but most things are very different.  Our once very busy streets are now much easier to travel through without the presence of much traffic. Many people have traveled back to their home countries and some countries have requested that their citizens come back.  Many Khmer people have also gone back to their provinces.  The market stalls near my home are quiet and very few people are selling items.  As of yesterday, we at Elim Cambodia will all be working from home.  We have set up different online groups so that we can continue to communicate and do our work from home.  Please pray for us as we figure out how this looks, as we find ourselves in the same situation as many people across the world.

At this time it is very difficult to be so far away from my family.  Obviously I have concerns for them and for their well being.  This week more than most in my life I have really felt God’s Peace.  Everything is out of my control and I don’t know what each new day will hold, but thankfully He does know. He is in control and knows about all our fears, doubts, worries and concerns at this time.  I know now more than ever I have to put my trust in God that he will continue to look after me here in Cambodia and pray also that he will look after my family and loved ones back in Northern Ireland.

Please pray for the Khmer people.  Like so many across the world this is not an easy time for them. For people here who already live in really difficult circumstances this current situation is greatly impacting their daily lives.  People are worried about their salaries if they can’t work and how they can continue to provide for their families.  Please pray for God’s peace and reassurance for them at this time.

Please pray for me that I will keep my eyes on God.  That in this time I will be a source of light to people when they are afraid.  That I will also stay strong in God.

I am and will continue to pray for each of you at this time.

 

Love Sophie

Guest blog by Esther Allen

What a joy to return to my second home Cambodia 174 days after David and I waved farewell to our amazing Khmer family to begin a new chapter in Southport in the UK.

The reunions that took place were just so sweet and my squeals of delight when seeing precious loved ones are moments I will treasure.

For almost two weeks I served alongside the team of Lakeside ladies followed by 4 days with three ladies from our Missions office in the UK and my heart has been blown away with how incredible the Elim Cambodia team is.

 

In August 2018 we shared with our Khmer family and community that we felt God was calling us back to the UK and it was time for them to lead the work we were privileged to be such a part of. David shared about how young eagles learn how to fly by spreading their wings and jumping out of the nest. It was time for them to leave the nest and soar to new heights. And boy, have they done that! I am immensely proud of Pastor Chamnap and his leadership of all the ministry within Elim Cambodia.

Each day there have been so many highlights and I have shed tears of joy observing how each person is thriving and flourishing in their ministry. The church planting team are breaking into new ground in so many provinces with their vision of ‘one village, one church’. To sit in a home meeting a family whose lives have been so amazingly transformed since they met Jesus through one of our church planters listening to God during a morning walk and stopping at their home is a day I will never forget!

 

During the first morning in Be Free having devotions with the ladies tears rolled down my face as we sang ‘God sent His son they called Him Jesus, He came to love heal and forgive’. As I listened to their sweet voices singing in Khmer I was overcome by God’s love and all He is doing in and through each of these precious young women. They haven’t always known love from their families but when they enter the doors of Be Free they are loved by the staff, fellow trainees and come to know the love of Jesus who transforms their life, giving them hope and a future.

I met with Sokim, Sophea and Chantha to chat about how they are doing in their ministries and I encouraged them with how amazing it has been to observe them hosting the teams and working with the trainees. The standard of craft products they are making, the new ideas they are coming up with and the care and support they give to the trainees is top class. I’m so proud of each of them and how well they work together as part of a team, they aren’t just work colleagues but also friends who support each other and spend time together socially. We have been able to take the Be Free team twice to Bloom cafe where they have enjoyed yummy cupcakes and smoothies, and the times of sharing have been emotional but so heart touching. Be Free Cambodia was birthed from having a cupcake and coffee with our International Missions Director Paul Hudson in May 2013 so trips there are always special.

Being present at the 9th Be Free graduation was also a very special highlight. To have been there when the 3 graduates first came to Be Free and be a part of their journey, and then to cheer them on as they graduated was a joyous event.

 

Seeing the children in the Early Learning Centre was so special, they are so happy and when they sang to us they did so at the top of their voices. The staff are incredible, loving the children and passionate about giving them the best start in life with their education.

Community is what Cambodians do so well and last Sunday following men & ladies church we joined together for food. The Lakeside ladies visited Elim alley one evening sharing fruit and playing games with the families who live there. Then last night many of the staff and church family gathered in Elim’s guesthouse for a banquet of food together. It was such a relaxed time of fellowship, food and fun.

I’m now finishing this blog post on the plane after saying ‘see you next year’ to my family here. Love hurts and separation is hard but I’m so thankful to have spent 3 amazing weeks in Cambodia and to witness how everyone is not just surviving but thriving. Special thanks go to Sophie who looked after the Lakeside ladies so well in the guesthouse, it really was an Oasis and your Khmer family are counting the days until you return to them. Chamnap, Nita, Sokhom, Sokim, Sarak, Dren, Sok, Sreyloat thank you so so much for your love, kindness, generosity, servant hearts for making the past three weeks so memorable. Continuing to be your biggest supporter and cheerleader. Keep keeping on and following God’s leading in your lives. Until next year, see you on FaceTime xo

A busy start to the year

The past few weeks I have been enjoying time in Cambodia with my good friend Courtney. She was here for 1 month altogether and she left last Wednesday to go back home to Northern Ireland. We had a great time together seeing different parts of Cambodia and most importantly we spent lots of time with the people I love very much here in Cambodia. During her time here Courtney helped with English classes, she played different instruments in the church worship team, she spoke at women’s church, shared at the Befree bible study and helped teach the preschool and toddler children at the ELC. Thank you Courtney for serving so well and being such a great friend to me and travelling all this way to see me and the work going on at Elim Cambodia.

Over the last month throughout Asia one of the main topics of conversation has been the Corona virus. So far there has been 1 confirmed case in Cambodia and the person has been treated and is said to be recovering. This past week I was stopped upon entering a building and my temperature was taken along with being given anti bacterial gel for my hands. There has been a lot of fear amongst people here and I have been saddened at the impact the virus has had especially in China. I lived in China before and the people of China hold a very special place in my heart. I would ask you all to join in prayer for China especially as they deal with the spread of this virus and for the many other people and countries who have been affected.  Pray against fear that people would listen to sound and truthful advice about the situation.

This past month we had our first youth night with students from the English classes. It was a special night with our students who have been studying English with us since September. We played games together, ate some food and learned about 5 important words and what they mean in our lives. Love, joy, peace, value and hope. We plan to meet once a month initially to do this youth night.

This past week exciting building work has been underway at Elim.  3 houses are being build for one staff member who currently lives at the church and these houses will also be for any girls who may come to Befree and need somewhere to live.  The 3 houses are at the back of the church and good progress has already been made with the building work.  This really is a blessing for the ladies and the staff member who will move into these houses.

Just this week we had a ladies team from Lakeside Elim arrive in Cambodia.  Esther Allen who many of you will know, is the missionary along with her husband David who served and lived in Cambodia for nearly 9 years.  She along with 5 other ladies arrived on Monday afternoon.  There were many happy reunions at the airport and we were all happy to meet the other ladies on the team and a few of the ladies are returning to Cambodia for the 2nd time.  This week they have already been busy at the ELC, in Befree and tomorrow we will head to one of the villages where Esther will speak a message on ‘love’ for Valentines Day.

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Lakeside Ladies

Tomorrow night we are very excited for another Befree graduation to take place. Sokim and the team have been very busy organizing for a special night tomorrow.  3 girls will graduate tomorrow night and over the next few weeks and months they will move onto different work places and programmes.

On Saturday there will be a ladies conference at Elim church.  This is being lead by the Lakeside Ladies team and Nita will be one of the ladies speaking at the conference along with Esther and George. Please pray for everyone involved in the programme for Saturday. Lots of hard work has gone into the preparations for this and we are all excited for the day and for what God wants to share with us.

The church planting team are also very busy as they have been continuing to visit different provinces to encourage the pastors and leaders there in the work they are doing. Often this means that the team are having to spend time away from their families and driving for long periods of time. Please remember each of them in prayer that they would have the energy and strength that they need for this work.  God is moving and the stories and transformations that are taking place around this country are amazing.

I look forward to updating you on more exciting things that have happened in a few weeks time.  Thank you as always for your messages, support, prayers and love.

 

Love, Sophie

 

 

A new year begins in Cambodia

Happy 2020!!

This new year started with me reflecting on how this time last year I had just returned from Cambodia and was beginning the new year by praying and asking God to see if this is where he wanted me to go back to.  Fast forward to this year and I am now living in Cambodia and getting to be part of ministries and people’s lives that I had prayed and hoped for this year.  I’m so thankful for all that God has done in my life this past year.  I really do hope and pray that this is a great year for each of you and that the knowledge and presence of God and his great love for us is always a comfort to you.

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This past week brought so much happiness as my friend Courtney from my home church in Northern Ireland, arrived in Cambodia. I am so thankful she has the opportunity to be here in Cambodia.  It is a great encouragement having her here and I am enjoying showing her my life in Cambodia. We do plan to take some time and I will show her some different areas in Cambodia while she is here. We are hoping to visit some of the church plants while she is here and go to see the church in Kep.  Thank you Courtney for making that long journey over to Cambodia all on your own and being up for the adventure!

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I have been continuing as normal with all the activities in Befree and the Early learning centre.  We are trying to work on creating homework for the preschool children to take home that will help to revise what they have been learning in the centre that week.  We hope that the parents will be able to revise this work with their children and it will help to create a sense of achievement in the children as they complete their homework and bring it back to school the next week.  All the girls in Befree are doing well and continuing to work hard in the programme. They are enthusiastic each week as they study English and they also have been set different homework so that they can continue to revise what they have learnt.  We are looking forward to celebrating a few of the girls soon for their graduation as they come to the end of the programme.  Please be praying especially for 2 of these girls as they are looking at different employment opportunities once they finish Befree.

There is more great news from Kep. The family who I have been reporting on the past few weeks ALL got baptized last week.  What wonderful news. Each of the family members made the decision to get baptised and Pastor Chamnap along with Dren and Roger were able to baptise each of them.  All praise goes to God for what he has done in the lives of each person in this family.

I personally, have been able to enjoy some time with good friends in Cambodia over the past few weekends.  The families that I am surrounded with here, really treat you as one of their family. I am so thankful for each of them and for the love that they show to me.

 

The end of 2019…

I would like to start this blog post by wishing everyone of you a very Happy New Year. I hope your Christmas period was filled with lots of joy.

My Christmas was very different than “normal”.  I spent the Christmas week in 30+degree heat, some shops played Christmas music and there were a few Christmas trees scattered around but life in Cambodia pretty much went on as normal. Even while most people were at work as normal on Christmas Day, of course Elim Cambodia had lots of celebrations to mark this special time of year. On Christmas Day we had a church service in the morning and enjoyed communion and worship together.  Emma Worby from City Gates church has been serving in Cambodia for the last 2 weeks with Elim. So she and I spent Christmas Day together and we had a great day.  To end our day we had a lovely dinner with the Khmer families from Elim.  We did not have the usual Christmas food but what we ate was very tasty and we were both very thankful for the fellowship with this community.  Emma introduced us to some Christmas games which we enjoyed playing with the kids.

The past few weeks have been filled with different Christmas events at the church.  It started with Christmas outreach in S’ang village. Some people from the city church joined the church in the village and they did a programme for the children and then everyone enjoyed food together.

Later on that week we had our staff Christmas party. We had a time of worship together, exchanged gifts and had a feast afterwards – this time the food was a full pig (see pictures below).  Everyone was happy and full of Christmas cheer.

Last Sunday afternoon we had our special Christmas service which included different visitors from the community and some parents of the children from the Early Learning Centre.  The Sunday school children and the preschool class did wonderful performances of singing and dancing.  There was a funny drama from some of the staff retelling the story of Jesus’ birth.  Then Pastor Sarak brought a challenging message and invited people who did not already know Jesus to accept him.  Afterwards all the children received a gift and in true Cambodian style there was more food after the service.    I’m very thankful for this Christmas in Cambodia as it was a lot less busy than normal and the simplicity of the week made more time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Last week Emma and I got to go to Kep with the church planting team to visit the work there.  It is always so encouraging to meet with Pastor Piset and Roger who are leading the church in Kep.  We got to visit the family who I have mentioned previously and it was honestly such a wonderful time with them. What God has done in their family in such a short period of time is incredible. God is doing far more than anyone could have imagined.  They also mentioned that they would like to get baptized in the new year.  Please keep praying protection and freedom over this family.

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Dren and Sarak in Kep

On Friday afternoon Emma shared an encouraging message with the girls in Befree and they were able to think and ask questions about their own relationship with God. One girl asked for prayer for a situation she is facing and we were able to join with her in prayer and it was a special time together. I want to thank Emma for all she has done over the past few weeks to help and serve at Elim Cambodia.  She has also been a friend to me and encouraged me.  Please remember to pray for her as she returns home to the UK tomorrow to pray and seek God about her future.

This morning we had our final service of 2019.  There was a time to give thanks to God for all he has done this year.  It made me reflect on all God has done in my life this year. I look back on all that God has done this year and it makes me so thankful.  He has provided in many ways and has been so good to me.  I want to thank God for who He is and for always being so very faithful.  I am excited for the new year that lies ahead and look forward expectantly for all that God has in store for Cambodia in this new year.

Thank you as always for your love, support and encouragement.  I am so thankful for each and everyone of you who takes time to keep updated in the work going on in Cambodia. God is so very good and all glory goes to Him for everything.

God bless,

Sophie

December in Cambodia

I still find it hard to believe it is now December and only 2 weeks until Christmas. Even though the temperatures have dropped a little here it is still hot and strange to see Christmas trees and hear Christmas music in the shops in the middle of the sunshine.  We have decorated the church ready for our Christmas service on Sunday 22nd December.  This is an opportunity to invite the people from the local community to come and hear the good news about Jesus.

This past week the church planting team went to Kep to join with a family and celebrate  Christmas. There is a lot to praise God for within this family.  A few weeks ago when my parents and I were in Kep with Pastor Piset and Roger we visited this family in much need of God and freedom from their current circumstances. How amazing it was to hear last week that this family have now given their lives to Jesus.  And their situation is changing and the family have said they feel loved and valued for the first time in many years.  Please keep praying for this family and their 3 adult children as they get to know more about God and walk in the freedom that he has for them.

Last week was an exciting time for everyone in the Early Learning Centre.  There was a team of 3 educators from Singapore who came to help train and input ideas into the Preschool and toddler classes.

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Chanty, Quee lyn, Annie, Patrina, Nita and I.

I am happy to report that our first outing went really well.  All of the children behaved so well and enjoyed the experience.  There was lots to see at the safari and all the children smiled throughout the morning.  I want to say  a big well done to Nita and Sokhom and the preschool staff who worked so hard to make this happen.  It was a huge success and all of the parents were happy with the children getting to go on this new experience.  Also thank you to Annie, Patrina and Quee Lyn who gave their time last week to help at the ELC and give valuable ideas for improvement in the future.

I have really enjoyed all of my English classes this month as I have mostly focused on teaching about Christmas.  I have talked about the normal traditions at Christmas time and then been able to share about the gospel story of Christmas and Jesus’ birth.  I look forward to continuing this over the next few weeks.  Please pray for all my students that they will be impacted by the good news they hear.

I have been enjoying some time with friends here who will be heading back home for Christmas.  I am looking forward to spending Christmas here in Cambodia.  I am glad to be with my Khmer family and look forward to the different events that will take place in the next few weeks. Please remember me and my family in your prayers as we are apart as I do miss them lots and will especially miss being with them at this Christmas time.

I want to thank you all of your love and encouragement this year.  I hope each of you who are reading this have a really wonderful Christmas with your family and loved ones.  I will be in touch again before the New Year.

Love and Blessings from Cambodia.