We have a vision

What a busy 2 weeks it has been. I want to start by thanking you all for your prayers for the Church Planting vision conference that took place last week at the church.  It was a defining and special time for all who were involved. On Tuesday morning Bhab Ghale who is the national leader of Elim in Nepal arrived at the guesthouse.  He brought with him some local tea and sweets from Nepal that we all enjoyed tasting.  That evening Steve Kempton, who is a pastor in the UK and was in Nepal serving with his family as missionaries for a number of years, also arrived here.  These men did the main training for the conference and worked alongside Pastor Chamnap to help share their own experience of church planting and people coming to know Christ throughout Nepal.

On Wednesday women and men who traveled from different provinces in Cambodia arrived in Phnom Penh. Some of them traveled for over 7 hours to attend this training. What an example this was of how important this vision is to them and how they want to share Jesus with people in their country.  That night the training began.  One of the opening worship songs was entitled “We have a vision” and the lyrics are about winning the nation for Jesus and that we all share this same vision. God’s presence was very tangible and there was a great sense of the holy spirit with us all.  The next few days were filled with lots of training from Bhab, Steve, Chamnap and Sarak.  One of the highlights over the few days was when everyone gathered together to pray for the provinces in Cambodia.  The church had printed a large map of Cambodia with the different provinces labelled to help people visualize the different areas as they were praying.  There were 35 pastors and leaders who attended the conference and they represented 12 out of the 25 provinces in Cambodia.  Please pray for all the people who were involved in this conference.  They have all committed to return for the future sessions.  They have committed to pray for each other and work together to see the people of Cambodia come to know Jesus. The next training session will take place at the end of November.

 

There was a huge team of helpers from Elim who got up early and stayed after work to help with the organisation of the conference.  I have to mention 2 wonderful ladies, Chanra and Sou who made all the food for the few days. They made sure that we all ate very well.  The team at Elim have big servant hearts and this training could not have happened without all of their help.

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Chanra and Sou

On Sunday and at the prayer meeting on Wednesday, Nita preached both times. She is such a gifted speaker and God really used her to encourage the church and remind us that we walk by faith in God and that God is a God of peace and that we can ask him at any time to give us peace in our minds and in our lives.

Two new girls have joined Befree this month. There are now seven girls in the programme.  All of the girls are busy preparing Christmas items, learning Khmer and studying English.  On Friday afternoon they enjoyed a devotion led by Katie – our volunteer who has been helping from New Zealand. The girls had lots of questions afterwards about the character of God and how we can approach God with confidence through prayer.

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This coming week one of the church members, Roger will move to Kep and work alongside Pastor Piset at the Elim church there.  On Thursday, with the church planting team, he will move his belongings to Kep.  Then on Friday afternoon he will return to Phnom Penh as next Saturday, Roger along with Pastor Sarak, will lead a worship training day for the worship team members from Phnom Penh and Kep.  Please remember Roger’s wife Mayann who is finishing her teaching contract later this month and hoping to move to Kep to join Roger soon.  They are from the Philippines and have both served and been part of Elim in Phnom Penh for a number of years.

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Roger and Mayann

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for all that God is doing in Cambodia.

 

Love and massive blessings,

Sophie

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Only you

This newsletter is entitled with the name of a Khmer song that we sang at the prayer meeting this week.  It talks about Jesus being the only one that we need and that He will satisfy us.  It talks about His power to restore things from ashes to beauty.  If you get a chance you should listen to it. You can find it on You Tube if you use “Only You – New Life Khmer”.  The words of this song have been extremely encouraging and uplifting for me especially during this week.

Now the city is very quiet, most of the shops, restaurants and businesses have closed for the Pchum Benh holiday.  Most families have gone back to the provinces to be with their family.  This weekend I look forward to spending some time with church family who have stayed in the city.  Tomorrow at church we will have a normal service and then have lunch together for anyone who has stayed in Phnom Penh.  On Thursday afternoon after all the staff had finished work we gathered together to pray for them that they would be kept safe and well during their travels this weekend.

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The past 2 weeks have been busy and productive with English classes.  Every Wednesday afternoon I teach the Early Learning Centre staff.  They come during the time that they would normally be resting so I appreciate their commitment and time to study.  They always bring lots of fun and laughter to the classroom.

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ELC Staff

The evening classes are continuing with a steady number of students who are all eager to learn.  They are really sweet young people and we are continuing to pray for them that there will be a greater purpose in these classes and that they will come to know God.

For the past month I have been living in the guesthouse with a group of young people from New Zealand.  They are in Cambodia as part of a gap year programme.  It has been lovely to have such friendly people to share the house with. They have cooked some meals for me and have been supportive and encouraging of the work going on at Elim.  One of the team members, Katie, has been helping me with some English Classes in Befree. She has been a joy to teach with and has given ideas for ways we can improve English teaching and learning.  Thank you Katie for serving in Befree.

Last Friday afternoon Sokim, Nita and I went to celebrate with Sarak and Sophea as they had a graduation ceremony for a counselling course that they have both completed over this year.  This young couple are really good friends to me and they really inspire me.  They both lead so well and care about the community in which they live.  They want to see people come to know Jesus and now they have a real heart for counselling people and helping them journey through life. Please keep praying for their family. They have 2 young boys – Harry and Jonny.

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Harry and Jonny

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Sarak and Sophea

Next Week Elim will be hosting a Church Planting Conference.  This is to share their heart and vision for church planting in Cambodia and to train other people as they come on board with this journey.  This will be October 2nd – October 4th. Please pray for all the people who will be travelling for this conference and for the staff who are in the midst of organizing for this.  Pray for Pastor Chamnap as he leads this training and as he shares about what God has put on his heart.

Love and Blessings from Cambodia,

Sophie

 

 

 

 

 

2 months in Cambodia

This is my first post as we try and join David and Esther’s previous blog and link it with my own.  I want to thank you all for your continued interest in the work of God in Cambodia.  For those of you who don’t know me my name is Sophie, I am 28 years old and I am from Northern Ireland. I am currently serving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for 1 year with Elim missions. This is my 4th trip to Cambodia and this country has such an a big place in my heart and life.

I can’t believe I have now been in Cambodia for 2 months. Time flies so quickly and at the same time some days and weeks seem to go so slow.  Thank you to all my family and friends at home who have been praying for me and sending words of encouragement these past few weeks. Life here is amazing, colourful, rewarding and so full of joy.  At the same time each day can be very difficult, sometimes you can feel lonely and very overwhelmed by the complexities of people’s lives and the hard realities they have to face.  But I know that God is sovereign and sees absolutely everything that goes on in my life and other people’s lives so I am staying close to Him and trusting his guidance at all times.  I am really thankful to be living here.  Here are a few of the lovely faces I get to do life with in Cambodia.

English Classes

As I have finished my Khmer language study for this term, I have been able to resume the different things I have been doing at Elim.  I loved being back with the preschool children on Monday and Tuesday.  This week they were learning about different modes of transport.  The teachers in ELC are all so fun to work with and really care about the children they serve.  It makes my job so much easier as they are enthusiastic about the work they are doing.

In Befree this week I continued English lessons with the girls revising some of the previous English lessons we had done.  On Friday afternoon we went to an organisation with the girls for them to ask questions and consider this as a future place of employment after they finish their programme at Befree. Please be praying for the girls as they all think about their future. They won’t graduate from the Befree programme until early next year but it is good for them to consider what they will do next.  Please keep praying for the staff in Befree, Sokim, Sophea and Chantha.  They are a wonderful team and always have the girl’s best interests at heart.  Pray for strength and wisdom for them as they deal with everyday situations that arise.

Our English classes on Monday and Thursday evenings are going well. Every night we have had new students coming along and all of the previous ones have returned.  They are mostly all young people from the community.  In our lessons we focus on conversation skills which helps us to get to know the young people and build a relationship with them.  On Thursday night we had 13 students 🙂 Please be praying for each of them and for Sarak and I as we lead the classes.

Church

This past week in church and at the prayer meeting we were all encouraged by the words that Pastor Chamnap and Dren shared with us.  We were reminded that as Christians we are in a spiritual battle and this is something that we need to pray and ask God for help with everyday.  Dren reminded us on Wednesday night that we have a light inside of us that we need to shine with our families and communities who do not know Jesus.  On Sunday Chamnap celebrated his birthday and he was surprised in church with a birthday cake from his lovely wife Nita.IMG_7125

Church Planting Team

The team will be going this Monday to Kep.  They spent some time on Friday travelling to a province.  At the minute the main focus is to share the vision of Elim Cambodia which is to see Cambodia won for Jesus Christ, through evangelism and that every village would have a church. At the beginning of October there will be a training conference taking place in Phnom Penh with leaders and Pastors from Cambodia to share this vision and ask people to join in prayer and practically help to see this vision become a reality.

In a just under 2 weeks time Cambodia will be celebrating Pchum Ben. This is a time when people will pay respects to their deceased family members.  In the streets you will see people burning money and pretend cars as a way of paying money to their families. I was in Cambodia last year during this time and it was heavy.  Please pray for the safety and protection of staff from Elim who will return to their provinces at this time that they will be able to share about their hope and freedom in Jesus and for those who stay in the city that they will be safe and know God’s presence with them at this time.

I want to finish by wishing 2 very important people Happy Birthday.  Next week my younger brother Sam will turn 24!! I am sad not to join you in person for the celebrations but know you are very loved and missed.  The 2nd person is my Aunt Linda who will celebrate a very special birthday the following week. Aunt Linda I love you and miss you and hope you have a wonderful birthday celebrating you.

 

Love and blessings from Cambodia, Sophie x

Cambodia it’s been a blast!

As I sit here writing our final blog from Cambodia we are so thankful first and foremost to God for choosing us to go. We have no regrets, God took us on the most amazing journey and we have loved every minute. Trust me it has had its trials, trials that brought us closer as a couple to God and each other, but through those trials we have watched God continue to build His kingdom and the team that is now leading the work.

Before we leave I want to let you know about one more person who has joined the team for at least the next year. Sophie Moore moved over to Cambodia about a month ago with the intention to work under Pastor Chamnap and the elders teaching English, assisting in the Be Free program and helping with the ELC as well. Sophie has no difficulty submitting to the leadership here and this was a massive part of the decision to bring her onboard. We are leaving to allow the Cambodians the opportunity to get on with the work running things themselves so it was imperative that the person that came to help came with a heart to serve and not to lead.

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We have known Sophie since she was a very small child going to Campaigners in Bangor Elim church, she along with her Mum, Dad and brother Sam have been special friends for many years. Sophie now attends Coastlands Elim Church in Northern Ireland and joins the team here after having visited 3 times before. Sophie is special in so many ways and we urge you to pray for her and the work she will be part of. Sophie will be blogging about the ministries during her time here and we thought it might be a good idea for her to send the blog to you all at the start and if you want to opt out you can let her know. It will give you regular updates and things to continue to pray for, please know and understand the work is going to grow and thrive beyond measure under the Cambodian leadership and you won’t want to miss the news.  There is also a facebook page called Elim Cambodia which can be found here https://www.facebook.com/elimcambodia/  We would encourage you to like and follow to be kept up to date about the ongoing work.

We have said many times that we want to thank you all for following us, supporting us and being a part of our journey. Without the prayers and the finance we could not have survived and we will forever be grateful to you all.

We especially want to thank our families; our parents, brothers and sisters, our nephews and nieces, aunts,  uncles and cousins. You allowed us to go, we have missed so much of your lives; special birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, serious sicknesses and so much more.  We love and cherish you all and will make up for all the years we promise. Our friends that have remained through it all you know who you are, you cried with us, laughed with us, some came to taste and see, thank you for choosing to love and support us we cannot thank you enough.

Bangor Elim Church what legends you are.  We will forever be indebted to you all, Pastor Gary and Sonya Beattie, Pastor Davy and Fiona Beckett, the Elders, Ruth and Phil McKee and the amazing Missions team and all the members of the church past and present you are the best. We are so proud to be from such a wonderful church, we will always have Bangor Elim in our blood and look forward to popping in when we are over to see family, we really do love you all!

We want to thank everyone that has supported us, believed in us and shouted us on, you the readers have always made us feel like we have walked this journey with support and that has been such an encouragement even in the toughest moments. Elim Missions has been such a blessing to us as well, without the help and support of initially Chris Jones then Paul Hudson and now Iain Hesketh we wouldn’t have been able to be a part of  what we have seen happen. We appreciate, respect and love you all for believing in us and the team here. The team that has worked under these leaders has been so so helpful Julie, John, Mandy, Linda, Danny, Bobby, Naomi, Veronika, Keith, Judy, Jo, Kathy and the list goes on and on every single one of you have been a blessing.

Finally I want to remember two men who are now in glory that along with their wonderful wives have been such an influence to us, they taught us how to live our lives loving others while sharing about our Lord and Saviour. Pastor Bill Crawford and his amazing wife Maureen mean the world to us and we miss Bill so much, these guys were such a support throughout the last 25 years of our lives and I have no doubt that we are stronger people for having such amazing adopted parents. The second person was my Campaigner leader as a boy, my football coach growing up, my hero in so so many ways and he shared my love for Spurs. Charlie Davidson was and is a legend to so many and I thank God for his influence on my life.  Charlie and Margaret, his wife, just simply mean so much to us and their influence on how to lead and love people is inspirational. Charlie suffered most of his life with polio but never ever let it stop him, it’s not a coincidence I feel that my final hero Pastor Chamnap has the same debilitating illness of polio but yet in the same spirit he hammers on striving to bring Jesus to the nations.

I think you could say we have had the time of our lives, we leave with the ministries going strong and well, we thank God for that. It is because of God and your support that we now step into another new and exciting chapter as we join a fantastic church and leadership team in Southport England at Lakeside Elim. Pastor Richard we give you our word we will work tirelessly to help you reach Southport for Jesus and we thank you for allowing us to continue to be a big part of fund raising and supporting Cambodia Elim.  We are not abandoning the work or the team just taking up a new role and allowing the team here in Cambodia to flourish.

We look forward to celebrating with our church family and comunity tomorrow afternoon and giving God all the honour and glory for what we have been privileged to be a part of here in Cambodia.  Please pray for all of us as our departure is now days away, we will post on facebook and send messages to our media team of the two of us reunited with Meg and Ruby and also when we arrive at our new home in Southport.

Much love and God bless you all, David & Esther x

10 Days and Counting!

So here we are, this is our penultimate blog in Cambodia!  We have been blogging now for over 8 years with a total of 393 posts. Many of you have followed and journeyed with us most of the way and we thank you so much for that, you all are precious to us. It really has blessed us over the years knowing you are there shouting us on, praying for us and supporting us financially.  We pray God’s blessing is resting upon you and your family as you read this.

I cannot sum up our feelings right now.  We know we need to go, we know it is fast approaching but we love our family here so much.  It is breaking our hearts, yet in the midst of those feelings it feels so right. Right because the team are ready and right because what lies ahead for us in Southport is so exciting and has God all over it. We will be leaving Phnom Penh on the 20th August with Meg and Ruby, flying to Doha and then onto Paris. The dogs will be in the hold and that means we will both need a valium. Please pray we all arrive safe and sound in Paris and that there is no complications with the dogs’ pet passports etc. We will be picked up in Paris and driven the whole way up to Southport.

Over the last month we have introduced our key leaders but today I just wanted to quickly remind you of them all in order of leadership so you can pray for their families.

 

National Leader & Administrator

Pastor Chamnap and his wife Nita.  Please pray that they don’t feel isolated and that God gives them an extra portion of wisdom and patience. Pray for health and strength for them and their children Sarah 17, Naomi 8, Hadassah 3 and little Eli who is 15 months old.

City Church Pastor

Pastor Sarak and his wife Sophea who is a councillor in Be Free are an amazing couple who along with their children Harry and Jonny returned to Phnom Penh 18 months ago. Recently Sarak was appointed the senior Pastor in Phnom Penh Elim and is about to start a number of new things including English classes and cell groups.

Be Free Manager

Sokim is Be Free she lives it, breathes it and wants to see the captive heart set free and that is what she is helping make happen.   She loves and helps each girl individually during their 12 months in the program. Sokim is married to Somnang and has 2 children Chiera 9 and Daniel 19 months old. Pray for Sokim and her team as they help so many broken girls put their lives back together.

ELC Manager

Sokhom is so precious to us all, she has worked in the ELC for 14 years now and is our manager, she is so gifted at what she does and we are so thankful for her. She is married to Rith and they have three children Eden, Deborah and little Esther only born just over 2 weeks ago. Sokhom also leads up our Sunday School ministry.  Please pray for her to have strength and energy during her maternity leave and that she comes back firing on all cylinders in a couple of months.

Elders

Dren is one of our elders and church planters and is married to Chantha who is the sewing teacher in Be Free. They have two daughters Kanika and Maryna, both Dren and Chantha are a massive blessing to us. Please pray for health and strength especially for their children.

Visal is another one of our elders and he is married to Sopheavy, Visal is amazing at translation and is very valuable to our team. They have two daughters called Christma and Christna, born only 3 days ago. Please pray for them especially for this new little bundle of joy.

Church Planter

Sok is one of our church planting team and is an inspiration to us all in how she came through the Be Free program and is now a church planter. Sok is a single mum who loves her daughter Sophieya very much. Please pray that God will keep using Sok as she leads the kids clubs and the new cell group she has just started. Also for health and strength for both her and her daughter.

We have many more stars in our team but these are the ones who lead the ministries and the ones that need covering in prayer the most. As I said at the start it is so difficult to leave but we are so sure God has this covered and that the team we have built are more than ready. God bless you all, may you know God’s presence in your homes and situations and may you have a wonderful week.

Introducing Nita

What is your name and where were you born?

My name is Ouk Raksmey Pernita but I am known as Nita. I was born in Phnom Penh and my birthday is in December. I am 33 years old. I have one brother and one sister and I am the eldest child.

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What was your childhood like?

What I can remember is not easy. My Mum and Dad were working a lot and at that time we had no daycare centre for children to go to. So I would have been locked in a room with my brother and sister when they went to work. My Mum was a nurse so she worked long hours. Sometimes I had to go and stay with my aunty so I had to change where I was staying a lot. My Dad was a policeman so he worked in the province and visited Phnom Penh once or twice a month.

I started school at 6 years old.  When I was in grade 9 I had my first daughter Sarah. I stopped going to school to have my daughter and then I joined school again.  I was not able to tell people I had a daughter because they would not let me study in school. My family were able to help look after Sarah when I went to school.  I went to university and studied a bachelor degree in accountancy. I was a single Mum looking after my daughter.

In 2006 I started working in Elim as a part time job. Sometimes I worked with the children at Elim and sometimes I worked as a cleaner in the centre.  When I started working at Elim I made a good friend in Sokhom and she helped me a lot.

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How did you meet Chamnap?

After working in Elim for 1 year, Chamnap came to give training to Elim. At that time I was studying at university and I wanted to learn English and how to use the computer. At that time Chamnap had an internet shop. He said if I wanted to learn more about the computer I could go to his shop and learn.  When his business closed I still kept in touch and after one year we started dating.

I did not have a lot of friends to support me and being a single Mum was not easy but I  was able to find the courage to tell Chamnap that I had a daughter. 

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When did you and Chamnap get married?

Chamnap and I got married on 5th December 2009. That helped to make my life a little bit easier.  In Cambodia it is not easy for single Mums as they may be looked down upon. Now I have 4 children. Sarah is 17 years old, Naomi is 8 years old, Hadassah is 3 1/2 years old and Eli is 1 1/2 years old.

 

What do you enjoy about being a Mum?

I know I am not good at everything but I will always try my best for my children.  I feel my children are a blessing from God and I need to work a lot with them. I try my best to look after them.

 

How do you balance full time work and being a Mum?

I always try to have some personal time to look after myself but it is not easy.  Monday to Friday I  work with the children in the ELC and then I look after my own children in the evening.

When you have spare time what do you like to do?

Relaxing – I like to go to the salon and wash my hair, and I want to spend more time at the gym.  I have a good group of friends that I went to High school with. We try to get together as often as we can.  I love nature and God’s creation and especially beautiful flowers; I am happy when I see God’s beauty and I enjoy going for coffee and having food with friends and family.  I love to take selfies, photos and enjoy having fun.

 

Now what is your role in Elim?

I manage Human Resources and I look after the finances for Be Free, ELC, Guesthouse and the Church.  I sometimes help with training of staff in the Early Learning Centre.

 

How did you become a Christian?

Before I started working with Elim I went to a different church and I started to study a 10 week course about the foundations of Christianity. After this I got baptised. I don’t think I fully understood everything and I followed what other people said. After I got baptised I started going to a small group. One day my Dad was very sick and when I went to the small group I had a prayer request. I hadn’t finished my grade 12 yet and my Dad said to me I have to choose to stop going to church or stop studying in grade 12.  I was still reading my Bible and praying at home.

One day my Mum called me and said my Dad was very sick in hospital. I went to see him and he had been sleeping. I asked my cell group to pray for him and a few hours later he opened his eyes.  I asked my Dad if he knew about  Jesus and had seen the light of Jesus. He was not able to answer me but he nodded his head.  I also asked him if he would let me go to church again he was not able to say yes but he nodded his head. Shortly after this he passed away.  I thanked God for my father giving me this blessing to go to church again.

After this had happened I was worshipping God and I remember hearing God saying to me “You are not alone”. I said to God if I am not alone then please lead me as I don’t know what to do with my life.

Before Elim I was a volunteer for the children working on the street.  The children had a difficult life and I felt a lot of pity for them. During this time there was a lady from Australia who told me that God would use to work with children forever.  I didn’t understand this at the time but after this I started working in Elim. I thank God for choosing me to work in Elim.  At this time of my life I was a single Mum so it would have been easy for me to have a different job but then my life would have been much more difficult. 

I believe it was the grace of God that lead my life to Elim.  I believe God leads me even when I don’t know what I am doing.  I have learnt a lot of life skills, I have learnt patience, even though life has lots of storms I can get through this because of God.

What is a special Bible verse for you?

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”.  Romans 12v12

How can people pray for you now?

  • Please keep praying for my family to accomplish God’s mission and that we would be used for this.
  • Please pray for my husband who is the national leader of Cambodia and my role of supporting my husband in this. Pray for us as we deal with the pressure of organizing and running the church and different ministries.
  • Pray for my first cell group that is starting soon. For me the cell group is very important and I can understand about the christian life through other people. We can pray together, read the Bible together and look after each other if we have any problems.  I will have 5 girls in my cell group and my cell group will start this Sunday and meet twice a month.
  • The womens’ ministry meets once a month on a Sunday morning.  We would like to have a women’s conference.  That is our plan for the future.
  • I am also part of the preaching rota in church and I have helped to translate for visitors when they take Bible studies. 

 

Have you any final advice or words to encourage others today?

In my country there is not a lot value on single mums but I want you to remember that God values you!! If you have lots of problems God will help you. Take your hands off the wheel and let God steer your life.  He will lead the way!!

The Most Special of Memories

July has been crazy!  We have had teams visiting, special friends visiting, a fabulous staff retreat and a renewal of vows to my beautiful wife Esther on our 25th wedding anniversary. We have learnt many things over the last 8 years but the most special thing has been how much we are loved by our Cambodian family.

With only just over 3 weeks before we say our ‘see you laters’ we have seriously mixed emotions.  So sad to leave and say goodbye to people that are our lives, but excited as well for the amazing opportunity of joining the team at Lakeside Elim church in Southport. What makes it even more special is we are leaving Cambodia completely confident in our team here, excited about what happens next and ready to generate support so the church planting can go full speed ahead. Finishing well has always been our focus and as we say those final farewells our hearts will ache but that is a representation of the love we all have for each other. Please continue to pray for us all in these moments.

A few months ago I suggested to Esther that as it would be our 25th wedding anniversary on 23rd July we should renew our vows down in Kep with Chamnap and Nita performing the ceremony with one or two of our staff. Esther was so happy with me and I was feeling I had come up with a special idea. A few months later and Esther had tweaked things a little, we had decided we couldn’t leave any of our staff out so we had a three day retreat with all our staff that could make it and some friends who were taking part in the ceremony.

I have to be honest I was a little perturbed at the escalation of how a small renewal ceremony was being called our second wedding, many people deliberately talked about our second wedding to keep me going. Esther decided she needed a new ring, that we should dress in Khmer clothes and somehow between us we ended up with three special people helping each of us. If ever I showed my wonderful wife that I loved her it was by agreeing to forget about embarrassing moments etc and just do it.

So we set off on Monday in two buses to go to Shalom Valley Christian outdoor pursuit centre in Kep. In total we had 31 people and we arrived around 1pm, the first afternoon was spent talking through the future with new structures and leaders etc, helping all the staff to understand. After dinner Esther, Marti, Wes, Zac, Jonny, Sophie, Grace and myself organised a games evening and we had so much fun with everyone. Tuesday was the big day, we started by meeting at the beach then after about an hour or so we headed back for lunch. While this was going on Sokim, Sok, Sopheavy, Nita and Chamnap stayed behind at Shalom to get the decorations and flowers set up for the ceremony.

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At around 2.30pm the girls – Esther, Nita, Sokim and Chan Ra started getting their hair and make up done and dressed, and they all looked stunning. Then the boys – Jonny, Zac,  Dren and I got our clothes on and to my surprise I loved being dressed up. The photos started thanks to Sophie Moore who was the photographer for the afternoon. Then we began the ceremony. One of the special things about this all was we had our long term friends Marti and Wes Williamson with us.  It was so special when Wes walked Esther down the aisle and handed her to me. We then had some worship with Sarak and Sok leading that,  it was as always excellent.  We then said our renewal vows and Pastor Chamnap was brilliant at keeping everything running smoothly.  Then the biggest surprise of the day. When Nita brought what we thought were the rings we were so surprised to find that the rings had been switched to beautiful gold rings with Esther’s full of diamonds. A gift from all the staff something that was not cheap at all but they had all clubbed together to show their appreciation and love towards us. It definitely cranked up the emotions and showed us both how much we are loved.

After the ceremony we had even more photos and enjoyed a meal together of Khmer curry and sweet and sour chicken which our wonderful cook Sow overseen, it was delicious. We finished the night with a video produced by Chamnap and then some dancing. Our first dance was to the song ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran sang by Sok and Sarak again so well, after that the Cambodian dancing started and the rest is history.

On the Wednesday morning Esther and I had the privilege of taking devotions with our staff giving us the chance to share our hearts with them. Which was followed up by our Khmer family and friends saying something to us.  It was not something we knew was going to happen, but it was the most special of times. Afterwards we had a long journey home but as always Dren was a great driver and we got home safe and sound.

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On Thursday night Nita and I went to the airport and collected Neville and Kay Walker along with Stephanie and Peter two of there children. They are here for a visit until 15th August.  It is very significant for us all as these are the guys who pioneered the work here many years ago and it’s so special for us all to let them see what God has been doing.

I want to finish by saying a big Happy birthday today to two special ladies. The first is my Mum, we are so thankful that after a long hard battle last year that we can celebrate today that you are doing so well.  We love and miss you so much and are praying you have a wonderful day. The second is our dear friend Sonya Beattie, someone who along with her husband Gary has helped us so much over the past 8 years. Sonya we love you and pray you have a special day. Finally congratulations to Sokhom and Rith on your new arrival born on Monday morning a baby girl weighing 5 lbs 9 ozs called Esther, a very special gesture for my Esther.