A Week of Big Occasions!

Every now and then there are timely reminders that we are not as young as we used to be, things creep up on you and when they happen you have a momentary reality check of how life is so precious and does not stand still for anyone.

Many of you will know our wee Jess who has grown into a beautiful young lady, on Thursday she turned 20 years old and it only seems like yesterday that she was born. Jessica we love you so much and are so proud of you, we often thank God for you as we do all our nephews and nieces. Another one of our nieces Claire graduated from University this week and again we are so proud of her and all that she has achieved. We pray that doors will open for you Claire and that all your dreams will come true as you finish your education.

On Friday next week my Mum will be celebrating her 70th birthday, this will be a much more difficult birthday as she is currently going through the rigorous journey of chemotherapy. Please join us in praying for her health, her energy and her complete healing. I have to be honest it is much harder than I thought being so far away while the rest of the family are having this journey together. I want to just publicly say how much I love my mum, she became our mum when we were in our mid teens and she really showed us how to love and be loved, along with my Dad they taught us to love others, respect people and always look for the good in others. Mum I so wish we could be with you on your birthday, we love you so much and are so proud of you and how you are facing each day, you are always in our prayers.

tQWqj8MpSaWwgfR+g+L5Hw

Another big occasion next week is on Monday when Esther and I will be married 24 years, I honestly don’t know how she has stuck me. As many of you know I brought addiction and big debts into our marriage, also due to medical reasons I couldn’t give us the family we both desperately wanted. I get so involved in my work that many times forget to give my beautiful wife the time that she needs and deserves. Yet she supports me without a second thought, that’s the beauty of her; always putting others first. I have made mistakes in my life but thankfully I have learnt, and today I honour my beautiful Esther for us, and for loving me as much as she does. As we enter our 25th year of marriage I excitedly look forward to the years that lie ahead, Esther I love you to the moon and back!

As I finish today’s blog I want to thank Pastor Richard Vernon and the team from Lakeside Elim Southport, for coming to Cambodia and blessing us in many ways. We had a wonderful time together because they came to serve but also learn.  Too many times people think they can only give and don’t want to learn. This team was so special, they really made themselves vulnerable by allowing God to challenge them and speak to them. We pray that each of them will allow God to continue to reveal himself to them in the days that lie ahead. I want to also personally thank one of my closest friends in ministry, Richard you are such a good friend, someone who cares massively and sets a great example of how to love people, lead people and encourage those around him. I’m so thankful to have you as a brother.

36573762_10155655371077444_5606960868693639168_n

If you’re reading this blog and you would like a life changing experience please do not hesitate to contact us by email on davyandesther@gmail.com or Mandy Campbell in Elim Missions on mandy.campbell@elimhq.net I cannot recommend the Cambodian experience and our guesthouse enough.

Advertisements

Guest blog by Pastor Richard

Will you bring a team out to Cambodia? That was the question put to me. It was one that was asked eighteen months ago when I first had the privilege of travelling over here to see the work of Elim Cambodia first hand. There’s something about this place and the people here that grabs more than a piece of your heart; it gets emblazoned upon it and remains there for the rest of your life so I was more than keen for the trip to happen. Two months ago, however, we weren’t sure if it was going to take place as for various reasons, members of the team had to pull out one by one which brought it down to just three of us. But following David, Esther and Chamnap’s visit to our church (Lakeside Church, Southport) in May whilst they were on furlough, five more people stepped forward after that Sunday morning and then it was all systems go. For most of the team, it was their first visit and experience of Cambodian life. For one particular person, as mentioned in last week’s blog, it was a return to a place he spent a portion of his childhood in having lived here with his pioneering missionary parents. Craig Walker is our Youth Pastor at Lakeside and it’s been an absolute privilege and joy to share this particular experience with him and to see him rekindle some old friendships as well as establishing new ones too. I have to say that my whole team have all been amazing and I couldn’t have shared it with a greater group of people. It’s been so enjoyable watching them take in and embrace the work of Elim Cambodia and I know they each bring home with them their own special memories and along with all those others who have been there before them also now have Cambodia securely locked away in a special place in their hearts. You can’t help it; that’s what happens when you come here!

Our trip lasted for ten days during which time we managed to pack so much into it, yet still maintaining plenty of down time to refresh ourselves after a busy day in the hot temperatures. As a church, we have been passionately supporting David and Esther for coming up to two years and so it was a delight for the team to see it up close and personal. Everyone was impressed by all that takes place at the Church Centre in Phnom Penh with the Early Learning Centre, City church and the amazing Be Free programme which makes such a huge impact rehabilitating the young girls who have been rescued from the trafficking industry. With five ladies on my team, they were really looking forward to coming alongside them, hearing their stories and simply spending time with them and loving them, making jewellery alongside them and treating them to coffee and cakes at Bloom Cafe. Whilst they were doing this, myself and my two male colleagues spent a few days investing in the church leaders; both those based in Pnomh Penh and those who travelled in from the more rural village churches as part of a two day leadership conference that had been arranged. Although we came to give out and share from our own experiences, I know that we received far more in return as we observed their passion and commitment for reaching out to those in their provinces. What a humbling experience that was.

One stand out memory in particular for me will be the visit to Kep. I love visiting this city situated on the south coast, not just because we get to stay in a luxury hotel for the night with a swimming pool (and it was luxury), but because of the work here through the newly planted church ably pastored by the gift Sarak and his wife Sophea. Now situated in a different building to the one on my last visit, this church carries so much potential to be a light in this area. Whilst there, we were honoured to be part of the first Happy Kids Club that took place following six weeks of the team prayer walking the area. When we first arrived, there were a couple of kids happily playing high jump, barefooted and with a tiny piece of yellow string. But then within minutes of setting up a PA system and the team spending a few minutes walking by the corrugated homes perched a few feet above the lapping sea, around ninety children assembled onto the bit of wasteland where it was being held and for the next thirty minutes, we witnessed them joining in the songs and games before each being handed a Christmas Shoebox from Operation Christmas Child. The look on their faces was priceless. They had so little, yet they possessed so much! But it was what followed afterwards that really made that three hour trip so worth it. Whilst the kids club was in motion, Pastor Chamnap had been chatting to some of the parents who had also come along, and it was at this point he invited me to join him and David as one of the parents had said he would love to speak more in his home. His home was less than half the size of my living room and the journey to it was an interesting one to say the least. One wrong place of your foot and you could easily have ended up in the sea three feet below, or to be more specific, in the mass of garbage floating in it. This man had been involved in a church youth group when he was a teenager but then his parents moved away and as things unfolded over time, he lost his way. Now married with a couple of children of his own, his heart was being stirred once again as he heard that the ‘Jesus people’ were coming to into his village. As we sat with him, he asked us to teach him the Lord’s Prayer once again so he could seek to rekindle a connection with God. What a privilege that was to pray with him and encourage him to seek after Jesus! Chatting with Chamnap, this is all part of the strategy to reach out into the Provinces. One by one, a child, a parent, a family, a village. Please Lord, let it be! I’m so committed to this area of their work and am already thinking how we can look to support them even more to see Cambodia won for Christ!

There were so many other great experiences we all enjoyed – way too many to mention in just one blog. I’m so glad for iPhones and iCloud as they are both housing most of my memories right now. I think I pretty much used up most of my storage allowance on this one trip alone and can’t wait to spend time revisiting them and reliving them all with the vibrant colours of the Khmer culture and tooting horns of the masses of motorbikes you see everywhere. ‘No tv tonight kids, daddy’s got a slideshow you have to come and watch!’ I’d so so love to bring them out here at some point to experience it for themselves. The only downer for us was watching England get knocked out in the semi-final against Croatia and because we were five hours ahead of Russia, that was indeed a late late night!

I can’t write about this trip without making special mention of the hospitality we received. Throughout the trip, we never wanted for anything. The Guest House was impeccable and a simply perfect location for all that we did, as was Aly who served us so well along with her beautiful smile greeting you each morning as you made your way down for your breakfast. (Her Khmer curry is to die for too!) Tom, Georgie, Sok, Sokchea and the ever effervescent Dren were great companions in almost everything we did, helping with the language barrier on my occasions. Master Yoda, aka Chamnap, was a fountain of knowledge for all things Khmer. And then of course we had our wonderful hosts, David and Esther, a very special couple who have won the hearts of not only me and my own family, but our Lakeside family too. You can’t help but be blessed and encouraged by spending only a few minutes in their company. Their passion for the work and love for the Cambodian people is second to none and it was so evident once again to see that reciprocated in the hearts of those they lead and serve. Thank you both so much. Saying goodbye to Cambodia is a wrench in itself, but saying goodbye to these two is painful as they are such an awesome couple. I thank God for social media that along with advancing technology has made the world a much smaller place so keeping in touch is so much more easier than ever before. Regular FaceTime calls will once again have to be the order of the day until we get the opportunity to chat in person once more.

What next? Well, another team trip at some point is definitely in the planning. For me though right now, it’s a welcome return home to be reunited with my wife and young ones, to share out with them daddy’s love of shopping in the Russian Markets, and of course to keep leading Lakeside church forward, but through it all, be looking for ways we can continue to help the work of Elim Cambodia step more and more into all God has for it. Bring it on!

Thankful for the Pioneers!

It’s been a real blast this week since we picked up the latest team to visit the work of Elim Cambodia. This time it is the turn of Lakeside Church from Southport to come and bless us in many different ways. It is such a privilege to have become such good friends over the last few years with Pastor Richard and Georgina Vernon, their wonderful children and amazing church family. To now have Richard and the team with us is such an answer to prayer.

I don’t want to say too much about what the team has been doing because next week Pastor Richard will hopefully share a bit about the trip, so today I want to focus on someone in the team and his very special family.

We have been in Cambodia since March 2011 and although we have witnessed many spectacular things that God has done, the reason the work has flourished I believe is because the foundations that were laid way back when the work started here in Cambodia. Anyone that has pioneered something knows it is not easy.  It requires sacrifice, it requires commitment, it requires perseverance and it requires patience. These are all attributes that the Walker family showed when they stepped out of their normal life to do the opposite of what makes sense, by sacrificing everything for Jesus. In 2003 Kay and Neville Walker set out with their children to start a work here that would outgrow their dreams and visions of those first moments while here!  We were delighted to renew friendship with Kay and Neville whilst we were at the Elim Leadership Summit in May along with Pastor Chamnap!

Hence this is why it was so special for us all to welcome one of the Walker clan within the team this week.  Craig, the Youth Pastor of Lakeside church was 6 years old when he came to Cambodia with mum and dad. It has been 11 years since he lived in Phnom Penh and so much has changed. When he had been living here Nita and Sokhom carried out much baby sitting as they along with Srey Phoas were trained up by Kay and they all got very close to Craig and his younger brother Peter.

It was so special to see Nita’s reunion with Craig and he is looking forward to meeting Sokhom at the weekend. I want to finish today’s blog by really honouring Kay and Neville for laying such beautiful foundations and for having invested time, money and themselves in a vision that is still our vision today. So that none should perish, let’s all take a moment today to think about what we can sacrifice for the sake of God’s kingdom.

fdp1NtMgR+eZDuwHoTHRcw

Honouring the Hutchinsons!

When we became missionaries the biggest sacrifice was leaving our friends and family; I wept so much in the lead up to us leaving as we said goodbye to those we love so much.  At the time I never considered how difficult other goodbyes would be.

This past week has been a time to honor and celebrate an incredible special family, who have been not only friends but family to us from the very beginning of our time in Cambodia.  On Saturday night Elim was honoured to host a celebration of friendship and community for the Hutchinson family who are returning to their passport country of New Zealand today.  Colleen has been a missionary in Cambodia for 21 years, its where she met her husband Adam and where they have raised their amazing teenagers, Sophie & Sam (15) and Tobey (13).

Not a family wanting to be in the limelight or seeking attention but it was necessary for all those who love them to honor and celebrate and say goodbye. It was a beautiful, relaxed evening where friends and colleagues could spend time with the Hutchinsons over a delicious meal.  Special thanks go to Angie and Melissa who organised the event; the room was beautifully decorated, the Kiwi Photo Booth was brilliant and everyone had the opportunity to leave a message for the Hutchinsons in a book which I know they will treasure.  Tobey wowed us all with her piano recital, a few people shared special memories of their time over the years with the Hutchinson family, their Cambodian community gathered around them and prayed that as they leave the country that has been their home for so many years that they will know God’s strength and peace as they transition back into their passport country.  There have already been so many answers to their prayers and we are excited for what God will do in and through these 5 amazing people in New Zealand!

This week’s blog is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for bringing the Hutchinsons and the Allens together at the very beginning of our journey to Cambodia.

The Hutchinsons welcomed us into their home and lives; and were our ‘go to’ on many occasions.  Colleen with her nursing background was the first person we would call when either of us were sick, and team members and staff also benefited from her medical expertise.  She would joke that all the consultations were recorded in a little black book which we would pay her with coffees when she retired!  Over the last 4 years Colleen became the nurse for Be Free, volunteering her time every Wednesday morning to teach the girls about health and caring for their children.  I know this was a highlight of the week for Colleen, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from Colleen’s teaching.  On Wednesday we had a little party to honor Colleen and each of the girls thanked her for all the help and advice that she gave.  Colleen thanked the girls for trusting her when they were scared with the advice Colleen gave them.

All new babies (and we have had so many new babies recently) and the new Mums were given a check up by Colleen, the most recent was Baby Eli on Monday.  It was lovely to visit Nita, our Early Learning Centre manager, at home and both Mum and baby are doing really well.  Eli was such a good baby during his examination and was then rewarded with cuddles.  It was an emotional and bittersweet moment as this is the last baby born under Colleen’s watch.  Elim are so grateful for all the medical advice, love and support demonstrated by Colleen as many times over the years she would get a phone call asking if she was at home and could carry out a consultation.

Adam in his role in Prison Fellowship Cambodia gave both David and I an opportunity to volunteer during our first year on the mission field.  David carried out visits to 2 foreign prisoners, building friendships with them, taking in care packages and just being someone to share with.  I was given the opportunity to teach some English in the youth prison, and also carry out some admin work in the PFC office.  We are so thankful to Adam for entrusting us with these ministries and for always being there when we needed sound wisdom and advice.  Both Adam and Colleen shared from their own experiences of living and serving in South East Asia, checking our self care and making sure we would look after our body, soul and mind!  Adam and David would have many conversations with regard to running an NGO, and David has learnt so much from Adam’s leadership skills over the years.  Adam and Colleen would always be honest, full of integrity and we love and respect them both so much.

Adam and Colleen have raised 3 incredible young people who we have been so blessed to be a part of their lives.   Leaving our nieces and nephews was the hardest thing we had to do and God gave us Sophie, Sam and Tobey.  To watch them grow, not only in height but in character over the last 7 years has been an absolute delight to David and me.  We have always enjoyed their company, they are the most polite and well mannered young people and such a credit to their parents.  We have been thrilled over the years to attend their ballet recitals and have been the proud auntie and uncle cheering them on. Last Sunday was a highlight for me as we took Sophie, Sam and Tobey out in the tuk tuk to retreat a memory from 7 years ago.  If we were standing in the photograph they would be giants next to me but it was a photo of us sitting on the wall at the riverside.  Thank you Sophie, Sam and Tobey for bringing so much joy, fun and laughter into our lives; and thank you so much Adam and Colleen for allowing us to be such a big part of your childrens’ lives.  It was such a treat to have you all stay with us for the past few days and although we are sad that the Hutchinsons are no longer in Cambodia the beauty of friendship is you pick up where you left off and you are stuck with us whether you like it or not!  As Tennyson said, ‘it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’

We are so thankful for the relationships we have built over the years with churches in New Zealand, from teams and pastors coming to Cambodia; and we are delighted that part of our tinerary next February and March speaking in churches around New Zealand will give us an opportunity to renew friendship with the Hutchinson family in their part of the world.  God built us for relationship and we look forward to the reunion we will have with Adam, Colleen, Sophie, Sam and Tobey!

Please keep them in your prayers that they will find the perfect home (with a guest room), for Sophie, Sam and Tobey as they attend a new school after being homeschooled for all their education to date and that they will all have amazing friends to do life with!  We serve an incredible God and we know He will continue to be Faithful in every area for the Hutchinson family!

Back in our Heartland!

It’s been about 8 weeks since we last wrote our blog entry and we have had the most amazing time back in the UK. I could write 10 blogs on our time there, it was so much fun, filled with God appointments, refreshing and recharging through great teaching at the Leaders summit at Harrogate. Moments spent with family, friends old and new reminiscing and dreaming, we truly had the full experience and what made it even more special was we got to introduce the most amazing wonderful Pastor Chamnap to so many of you, and nobody was disappointed.

I must quickly say some thanks before I highlight a few special times we had.  We want to thank Julie Cook and Paul Hudson for helping us get Chamnap to the UK, to Brian and Rachel Henry, your kindness, generosity and going the extra twenty miles and more was truly awesome; thank you doesn’t do justice. Dave and Debbie Winnington and my Aunty Avril and Uncle Cecil thank you so much for the cars you lent us to make getting about so much more easy. Also a massive thanks to our hosts over the six weeks Richard and Georgina Vernon and Lakeside Elim, Iain and Rachel Hesketh along with Dot and Deji our wonderful hosts at Sellyoak Elim, to Gary and Sonya Beattie and all our family at Bangor Elim, to other churches that invited us to share about Cambodia – Lisburn, Lurgan, South Belfast, Coastlands and Cullybacky Elim. As always a big thank you to our family and friends who loved us, spoiled us and were there to encourage and support us. Our final thanks goes to our wonderful friends Phil and Ruth Mckee this world is a much better place because of the two of you and your massive hearts, you constantly have our backs and yes it’s true we just turn up and become part of your family, God bless you for everything you pour into us and others.

I’m just quickly going to share some significant events that happened in our trip which started and ended in Peterborough.  While in Peterborough we got the opportunity and total privilege to be part of the first service in Wellsprings Elim’s new building. It is hard to believe that this church hadn’t had a building for 17 years and we were part of that momentous occasion. We are so excited by what God is doing through Pastor Brian and Rachel, they have persevered and I believe they are about to see God do amazing things because of their faithfulness.

For years I have watched my wife grow in confidence and I believe someone who has a calling to speak out for those who Jesus so desperately loves, the abused, the broken, the mistreated and I have been trying to get her to step out of her comfort zone. So when she spoke to the Lakeside ladies they like Chamnap and me were totally blown away as she took us on a journey. A journey full of brokenness but also a journey of hope, of redemptive power and healing and a journey of forgiveness centred on the cross. My Esther is outstanding, she is awesome in my eyes and I believe in God’s eyes too.  Lakeside I believe was significant for Esther and is going to be the start of many many more speaking engagements.

We did a lot of Cambodia work related events on our trip but we also enjoyed a bit of leisure time and we got to use it so well. Esther loves having nice coffee, chats and crocheting all the C’s. We the boys did some great things depending on who you are, we visited Old Trafford for Chamnap to take a tour of the Manchester United stadium, we were able to go to Wembley and watch Spurs beat Newcastle 1-0. I got to play some golf and had my 3rd hole in one in Peterborough, Chamnap and I also got to go out with the famous Skipper John fishing where Chamnap pulled in 21 fish and I caught 17. Esther did go to Crumlin Road jail with Ruth McKee and from what I hear were very fortunate to be allowed out again at the end!

We had special times with our parents along with our sisters and brothers and the weins, (nieces an nephews) as we always called them. It was hard to see my Mum and Dad having to go through the whole cancer, chemo journey, please pray for my Mum for strength and as smooth treatment as is possible and that she will have no more infections, also for my Dad for strength and my sister Kellie that God will be all over her, helping blessing and bringing a peace to her. Another special time was when we went to visit Dave and Dee in Kilkenny to meet our handsome nephew Elliot and gorgeous niece Sadie. They are just adorable, it was such a special time to meet them and get the chance to spend time with Dave, Dee and of course Boggin’s. Please also pray for little Elliot, he needs our prayers that his little body will be blessed with full health and strength, that his eyesight will be strong and for strength for mum and dad who are absolutely amazing.

At the end of our trip I got the amazing privilege to be ordained as a Pastor after three years of overseas study. I love God, my wife and Elim along with my dogs, Spurs, my friends and family in the Uk and Cambodia. We had such a lovely day celebrating and I want to thank all those that came to be part of it, you being there meant so much. I made my thank you speech at the time but I just want again to thank Pastor Bill and Maureen Crawford for all the love they poured into us, Pastor Gary and Sonya Beattie for the never ending support and love, and finally Pastor Paul and Greta Hudson; we are going to miss you so much as our boss but are so thankful you are our friend first and foremost; we are praying for you as you enter into your new role. Thank you again Brian and Rachel Henry and Ruth McKee for making our weekend in Birmingham memorable.

So there you go just a little taster and a few highlights of which there were too many to mention.  As we arrived home Nita was there awaiting the return of her love and champion in Chamnap, his three girls and half of Elim were also at the airport and the celebrations began on our return. Little did we know that 36 hours later little Eli, Chamnap and Nita’s little boy would be born, at a healthy weight of 7lbs 2oz. Both Mum and baby are doing well and Dad is absolutely besotted.

I leave you with one massive thank you to every single one of you whom we met up with, talked too, prayed with and to those who generously gave, we love you all. Please keep praying for us as a couple, for our wee dogs to have good health, for Chamnap and Nita and his family especially little Eli, and all the work we do at Elim, we love you all!

In closing we want to wish Esther’s Mum June a wonderful birthday today, enjoy the celebrations and know you’re in our thoughts and prayers; you are loved much!

Guest blog by Hannah

Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m sure over the past 8 months you have heard snippets about me and what I am doing here in Cambodia. However, as of today I have 4 days left in this beautiful country in the phenomenal city of Phnom Penh. So let me tell you a bit about my time and my plans for the future.

For years upon years, I had in my head Africa was the place for me.  As a youngster in Sunday school we had a prayer board and my requests were always to pray for the children in Africa who have less than myself who need to know the love of God and be cared for. Being so young my Sunday school teachers would tell me ‘wow, you like to think big’. Little did I Know God was sparking a passion in me waiting to fan into flames at the right time. Spark no.1

Often, my Father would speak at conferences such as Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest & New Wine, in which I would tag along too, at age 10 it didn’t take long for me to notice all the stalls, where I could go around and collect as many free pens as possible… but at one stall there was a TV (of course I stopped to watch) showing was a video of a young girl that had been trafficked, I watched for a good 5 minutes then I carried on collecting pens. As I reached secondary school age (13 y/o), I was asked to write an essay about something I hated, and suddenly that video flooded my head. So, I wrote the essay on human trafficking, compared to my class who wrote about brussel sprouts and marmite. I was asked to read mine to the class and speak about trafficking, to which my classmates replied ‘don’t be silly, that happened in the olden days’. Spark no.2

 Just as a typical 18 year old, school was out and it was off to uni for me, after 4 interviews and being accepted that was me sorted… then I thought I’d write a plot twist in my own story (we all know that’s the bit that’s draws you in to any story). I decided uni was a no go, it was easy for me to just be the trendy girl that travelled for a bit but my heart told me different. If I was going to go anywhere I was going to make a difference. Lots of research, emails and phone calls later I was on my way to Cambodia! After finding out about all the work that is being done out here, Cambodia sounded perfect. I thought to myself: God has opened a massive door of opportunity to work with girls that have had lives of abuse and exploitation, showing them the hope and saving love that we have in Jesus Christ. Even more so I get to go to Africa, the place I have always talked about. Gods sense of humor caught me out there, he knows geography was not my best topic in school!

September came and I arrived, it didn’t take me long to learn that Cambodia is such a broken country, after going through much pain the country is still trying to recover. That’s when I knew – 1 God had this planned out and 2, what better person to help a broken country than a broken, imperfect person myself. On my first morning, I woke up and read Proverbs 4:1-5 “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.Then he taught me, and he said to me, take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding. These are the words in which I have lived off during my time here.

So, you are probably wondering what have you done during your time?  On a day-to-day basis I spend time in Be Free with the girls. At the start for me it was difficult with a language barrier which meant I had to work hard at developing relationship and trust with the girls. This meant lots of smiles, offering to help make handy crafts and showing them my picture album, which explained who I am without words. On a weekly basis the girls have English lessons with Srey Chan, it wasn’t long before the girls were coming out of the classroom practicing their English with me and asking me all about my family and my homeland. About 1 month had passed and I was asked to start Be Free Bible studies with the girls. To start we would do some worship, pray, I would lead a 10 minute challenging message in which they would respond and we would have a discussion and prayer time. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks in when Sokim (project manager) who translates for me asked If I wanted feedback so nervously I said yes please. I was shocked as the girls went around the circle and responded, the work of God was so evident in our time together. ‘You have encouraged me to change my life, I cannot read the Bible but now I want to learn’, ‘I never listen properly, but this time I did and God told me to not get so upset with myself and allow myself to be strong in Him’. GOD IS GOOD!!!

During my time I have also had the privilege of pioneering a youth group within our Elim centre. After making lots of leaflets for the young people in our church to hand out to their friends and family we had a turnout of 60+ on our first ever youth group. I didn’t realise how much the Khmer love to play games, I have been taught many khmer games as well as teaching them all Western games. I have had great help from some of the growing young leaders in the church-Aly, Chanthy, Sarah and of course translator Visal. It’s been a challenge for me but definitely one worthwhile. It has encouraged me to think outside the box in terms of preparing talks for new Christians and those who have never heard the name of Jesus before. Youth group has been such great fun for me and I look forward to seeing how it develops over the next months, as I hand it over to the young Cambodian leaders Aly, Chnathy and Sarah.

I have many opportunities to go with the church planting team to village church and take part in the kids church activities they do, teaching many children about God and the love he has for them. Its so humbling to watch them all gather together to sing kids worship to our God, its definitely an experience and sight I will miss!

What’s next? As you may have gathered, I love to serve others and have the opportunity to play my part in His story. I want to make my life count in some small way. This partly explains why I wanted to come to Cambodia in the first place. God has taken me on an incredible journey through which I have learnt so much whilst having the chance to pour His love into other people’s lives and tell His story. One thing has been really clear to me, you could describe it as a calling on my life, I believe I have a heart for mission and so…I’M HOPING TO COME BACK!  

In just 4 days’ time as opposed to a ‘goodbye’ I will be saying a ‘see you soon’ to my Cambodian family as I return to the UK. I am in the process of applying to Elim Missions to be a full time missionary and will be coming back to the UK to do some missionary preparation and training. So, what will this look like?  At this stage I am not totally sure but I will be undertaking the 9 month Elim Missions Academy, exploring some training options at Regents and looking at advancing my skills in media and teaching English as a foreign language. Exciting or what?!

 In closing I want to extend a massive thank you to David & Esther for the hospitality, love and care they have shown towards me during my time here. I want to thank them for the opportunity that they have provided for me to flourish and become more of the woman God has called me to be.

Well I’m sure you have worked out from what you have just read that this young lady is very special indeed. We thank God for bringing Hannah to Cambodia, for burning a deep desire to serve these people for many years to come. It is really exciting for us all but please pray for Hannah, this next year will be a real rollercoaster because she now has two homes with 50% of her heart in both. You can follow Hannah’s progress towards her return, praying for her and even financially supporting her by checking out her website at http://www.hannewton-rrr.weebly.com

In closing we want to thank Hannah one more time for being a treat to live with, a treasure to work with and simply a new part of our lives. We will miss you but have already started counting the days until your back.

For the next six weeks we will be in the UK so there will be no blogs but below is a list of places you could hopefully catch up with us and Pastor Chamnap! We will put regular updates on our David and Esther in Cambodia facebook page.  Please pray for our journey back to the UK and for health and strength as we travel around and minister in the various locations.  Also continue to pray for our amazing team in Cambodia as they serve God in the City Church, ELC, Be Free and Village Churches.

Sunday 6th May am Wellsprings Elim Peterborough

Saturday 12th May 10 am Lakeside Ladies (Esther)

Sunday 13th May am & pm Lakeside Elim Southport

Sunday 20th May am Sellyoak Elim Birmingham

Sunday 27th May am Lisburn Elim  Pm Lurgan Elim

Tuesday 29th May pm South Belfast Elim

Wednesday 30th May pm Coastlands Elim

Thursday 31st May pm Cullybacky Elim

Sunday 3rd June am & pm Bangor Elim

A New Addition to the Family

As we mentioned in last week’s blog the Khmer New Year holiday took place with us having a long weekend off work.  Most of our staff and church family travelled to their homeland to enjoy time with loved ones.  For those of us remaining in the city we enjoyed a time of rest and lots of fellowship together.  On Saturday morning 3 tuk tuks took a group of us to Aeon mall where the children had a great time in a wonderful indoor playground and then we all enjoyed a meal at Pizza Company.  Because the holiday is over 5 days it can be a long and lonely time for those staying in the city with most markets, shops and restaurants also closing.  It was a fun and special time for us to share time with our Khmer family outside of the working environment.

On Sunday again with the majority of our church family missing we held an open air service with Somnang leading us in a time of worship before David brought the message continuing with our ‘Sermon on the Mount’ series.  I really enjoyed us all sitting in a circle in a very relaxed and informal setting.

IMG_9456

As well as being so blessed with the Khmer family God has given us we are fortunate to have some amazing expats that share our life in Cambodia and over Sunday and Monday we spent time enjoying good food and fellowship together.  We are so grateful to God for the the people He has placed in our lives over the years and we feel incredibly blessed and thankful to God for bringing us together. On the Tuesday we enjoyed a lunch in the guesthouse with the single mums and Channak who had no plans while her husband was working and children were with her family.  Sok wanted to learn how to make lasagna and she did an incredible job.  Aly also helped with the preparations and set up all the tables for us.  Everyone enjoyed ice cream afterwards and it was special just to be together.  Holiday times are for being with family!

Just before Khmer New Year there was a nasty eye infection going around affecting a lot of our staff and children, it is highly contagious and unfortunately this week Hannah has caught it.  All 3 of us also have been suffering with sore throat symptoms which also is going around.  David and mine has cleared up but please pray for Hannah as she if suffering from a really bad case of tonsillitis.  The medication is helping but we would value your prayers that Hannah has a speedy recovery so she can enjoy the remainder of her time in Cambodia and not be housebound.

We are delighted to introduce the newest member of Elim Cambodia’s family ‘Raingsey Deborah’.  Weighing 2.9kgs/6 lbs 4 ozs she arrived into the world at 8:10 on Friday.  We are thrilled for the proud parents Sokhom and Rith, who also have a little boy called Eden.  Chamnap, Nita, David and I went to the hospital yesterday and on our way to the second floor passed so many new mums lying on gurneys in the corridors; including Sokhom and her daughter.  Nita and I enjoyed cuddles with baby Deborah, she is so precious and we are so thankful for her safe arrival.  She was not due for another 2 weeks and we thought we were going to miss her birth but Sokhom said her daughter wanted to meet us before we left for the UK.

While we were there Sokhom was moved into a room with another new Mum with a 3 day old baby boy.  I started chatting to the grandma and the mum, who is recovering from having a C section.  I shared that we are Christians and would we be able to pray for her and her baby.  They agreed and Nita and I sat beside Sreymom while Chamnap prayed for them.  Before we left David also prayed for Sokhnom and Rith thanking God for their beautiful new daughter.  Please pray for Rith, he hasn’t been well for some time and has had a variety of hospital checkups and different medication prescribed each time.  This week David and Chamnap took him to the clinic we go to and after having a scan is going today to have the camera take a look into his stomach.  We really value your prayers for both Rith and Sokhom at what has been an anxious time.

Last night Aly went to the hospital to visit Sokhnom and we gave some baby garments and blanket for Sreymom but she was moved to another room and neither Nita nor Aly couldn’t locate her.  Please also remember Sreymom and her son in your prayers that they both gain health and strength and get home soon.

Thank you for your continued prayers for David’s mum Sandra.  We enjoyed another wee FaceTime last Saturday and have been messaging through the week.  She is making good progress and we are all so thankful for the prayers on her behalf.

As we get ready to leave Cambodia with Chamnap and Hannah we appreciate your prayers for all the preparation that is necessary.  In next week’s blog we will update our itinerary for our visit to the UK as it will be our last post for 6 weeks.