Archive for March, 2011

A week of mountain peaks…..

In any journey you come across valleys which can be so difficult to get through and then you reach mountain tops and wow how amazing are they! Last Sunday 20th March we had the absolute honour of taking part in our first baptismal service in Phnom Penh.  The service took place at the nearby Heritage Primary School and we arrived early to set out the chairs and prepare for the congregation to arrive.  Both the Khmer and International churches came together for this special day.  The Khmer band led the worship and John brought a short message encouraging the baptismal candidates.  Five men and three ladies were baptised by John and I, while Esther read the promises and Ann looked after the candidates in a caring way.  As a special treat we served up chocolate fudge cake and watermelon, which was enjoyed by everyone.  It was so humbling to see eight people go against their culture and family beliefs to openly declare they belong to Jesus.  A great start to the week but little did we know this would not turn out to be the highlight!

The programme at the Elim Centre every Wednesday night is English from the Bible, this is an amazing ministry to be part of.  John chose to speak on ‘The Good Samaritan’.  In the class John reads 3 or 4 words and the students repeat following from the Bible.  Once the whole passage is read, John then explains what it means. He also uses a power point with a different translation to stretch their English.  At the end of the class he talked about Jesus and salvation, then prayed and asked would anyone like to give their lives to Jesus.  We were blown away when six young men in their late teens and 3 young women responded.  Nine people saved in an English class, how great is our God!  They all stayed behind, allowing us to pray with them and also invite them to a new course which Esther and I have prepared which will commence this Saturday at 4 pm our time, which is 9 am back home.  The course is called ‘Bible for Beginners’ and we are so excited because not only is it open to new converts but it is also for the unsaved.  Please pray as we take on this amazing opportunity with people so hungry for the truth.

We pray that you are all well and running the race that is set before you.  For our friends who have not yet made the decision to follow Jesus, we pray especially for you that the Lord will speak deep into your life and that you will be brave enough to take a step of faith.

Acts 20:24

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

One of the baptismal candidates

David preparing yummy treat for afterwards!

Settling in and getting stuck in

At the outset of this blog, we really want to thank everyone for your prayers, messages and words of support and encouragement.  David is feeling 100% better and as I write this, he is busy in Ann’s kitchen putting his wonderful baking skills to use.  We are holding a baptismal service on Sunday and David is providing chocolate fudge cake as a special treat, it was great fun visiting the local supermarkets to search for the necessary ingredients!  We are very excited about our first baptismal service in Cambodia, both the Khmei and International church will come together for this special occasion. It will be held at a nearby school which has its own swimming pool, and apparently everyone has a dip afterwards to cool off!

We have had a busy but productive week settling into our office at the Elim Centre, attending the English classes held through the week, I accompanied Ann on the weekly hospital run (a ministry looking after folk from the slum villages that require medical attention) and David has been planning and preparing material for the upcoming New Converts course.  We are very excited and enthusiastic about what we are involved in and although only here over 2 weeks, feel at home!!

It was hard for us to leave our friends and family but our God is so good and we have already been blessed with new friends!  We are getting to know the staff from the Day Care Centre, some of the girls call David ‘funny boy’ because he is always making them smile and laugh, with his sense of humour.  We have met a young couple from Indiana, Mitch and Candice, who are working for 3 months, with an organisation called ‘Destiny’s Child’ but also attend the International church and have been helping in the evenings with the English classes.  We have enjoyed dinner together and it has been great to share what God is doing in all of our lives.

Since we arrived in Phnom Penh we have been living across the road from John and Ann in a four storey house, the owners are on holiday visiting their family and we are house sitting for them.  Our bedroom is on the top floor, and yes we have counted how many stairs to get there – 40!  At the end of the day with the temperature still high, it feels like you’re climbing Mount Everest and in need of some oxygen when you reach the summit!  Last week our new friend Julie, from New Zealand, became our housemate and although we’ve literally only known each other over a week, we are great friends!  Since 2009, Jules has spent time each year volunteering in Phnom Penh and has, like us, left family, friends and life as she knew it behind in NZ to commence a new job in Cambodia.  We meet in the lounge, with the fans on, each evening to compare our working day over a cup of tea of course!

I have included a photo taken this morning of us in our ‘Tuk Tuk’ before we headed to work taken by  Dren our capable and happy driver.  Every journey is full of surprises; we see some crazy sights when we are out and about in Phnom Penh!!

Times to go, the English class on Friday nights is in the form of watching a film, haven’t been able to persuade them to show the Sound of Music yet, but will check if David has the popcorn in!!

How Great is our God – ‘Get a cuppa and make yourself comfy, this is a big blog’

I want to say a massive thank you to all who remember to pray for us daily because you just don’t know what a day is going to bring in Cambodia; in fact none of us know what tomorrow will bring.  On Tuesday, I got up feeling wretched with a Cambodian tummy I had suffered with from Saturday and was advised by John to visit the doctor.  Esther and Ann accompanied me, with no idea of what lay ahead.  We arrived and were seen by a Khmei Doctor, he asked about the symptoms I was experiencing and then examined my stomach.  He proceeded to prod my stomach and shocked us with the words, ‘I can feel a solid mass in your abdomen’.  Immediately I looked at Esther, fear totally gripped us. The next 10 minutes seemed like hours as I waited to get an ultrasound.  What they found during the ultrasound shook us to the core – they pointed out a growth measuring 6 x 4 cm on my liver.  At this stage Esther asked Ann to come in, and they returned with another Doctor called Gloria from New Zealand.  She was a Godsend, as she spoke our language and also had a straight and abrupt nature, which meant she would tell us the complete truth without making it sound better than what it was.  She had a good look at the scan and I asked her straight, was it cancer.  She said that it had a different shape and was probably a large cyst needing drained.  But to determine exactly what it was, she arranged for David to have a 3d ultrasound done the next day.  We returned home and shared the news with John and Pastor David Hamilton, the Turner’s pastor from the Ulster Temple who was visiting for a few days.  John prayed that God would draw close, that He would heal me or show his purpose in what lay ahead, and Esther and I chose to praise his holy name. We have sung in church about praising God in good times, and bad, and now it was time to put this into practice, we decided to praise our Saviour in all that lay ahead.  The next 20 hours were long, especially as my sickness was still here but it is really amazing how God works through people.  Later in the day we received a private message from a very special friend, who I respect and look up to.  In the message he wanted to share his favourite psalm which he found to be a help in tricky situations.  As we read Psalm 121 it gave us comfort to know our help comes from God and He was with us.  We went to sleep that night with our Bibles open at this portion of scripture.  The next day I left the house with the attitude that if it is a cyst I would have the necessary treatment and carry on what we’d started or if it was something more sinister we would return home.  We arrived at the clinic and the Dr proceeded to carry out the 3d ultrasound, I just wanted to know what this mass on my liver was?  The Doctor was extremely thorough, asking when we had the original scan.  We weren’t prepared for the result, we should have been but we weren’t.  When the Doctor told us, your liver is totally clear; I see nothing wrong, you could have knocked us down with a feather.  I don’t think it was lack of faith but sometimes we all put God into a box, well never, ever again!  We were given the results, a clear picture and print out documenting that all David’s organs are perfectly normal! We definitely seen the growth the day before, witnessed them measuring it, but we were even more certain that it wasn’t there on Wednesday.  They had no answer but we did – I just want to proclaim that my God, my Saviour is also my Healer and we believe we have a work to do in Cambodia, and we are going to give our all to Him.  I would like to thank at this point Chris Jones and those at Elim HQ for the prayer and support which they gave us over the 24 hour period and to our 3 wonderful Pastors back in Bangor, who not only prayed for us and contacted us, but kept this to themselves to protect our friends and family.  We are sorry that we couldn’t tell you but we needed to make sure we knew what we were dealing with because unfortunately when you are so far away, things can so easily get blown out of proportion.  But you didn’t need to know the details, as you were praying for us anyway and we can’t thank you enough.  This just shows how much your prayers are needed and valued. 

Finally friends and family who read this and aren’t saved, I want you to think for a moment – do you trust Esther and myself? I hope the answer is yes!  Think logically about what has happened to me, we saw with our eyes the growth, then we saw with our eyes, the growth gone, that can only be God!  This and this alone should prove to you that not only do we have a God who exists, but a God who loves us and cares for us, a God who was willing to send His Son to die on the cross for each of us.  Esther and I have stepped onto the ride of our lives in Cambodia, but we were already on the most exciting journey because we gave our all to Jesus.  Please today accept that God is real, ask Him for forgiveness and invite Him into your heart.  If you are touched in any way and need to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to email us.  In closing, we give God all the glory, what an amazing Saviour we have!  Bless you all!

Go with God through ice cream!!!

I promised my 11 year old nephew Andrew I would include a quote he made on our final night in Northern Ireland.  We were enjoying a bowl of Maud’s Pooh Bear ice cream when he came up with an idea on how we could reach people in Cambodia.  He said “just take some of this ice cream with you and tell the Cambodians, ‘go with God’, and then give them ice cream”.  We are still smiling at his innocence, if only it were that easy!

We were dropped to the airport by my sister Ruth, brother-in-law Billy and niece Jessica after tearfully saying goodbye to Andrew as he went to school.  It was an emotional time at the airport as we parted; we cannot thank them enough for looking after us so well for the past three months.

All our travel went like clockwork, the flights were all on time and the entire journey was comfortable. We were delighted to have a spare seat beside on our longest flight which meant we were able to take turns to get a few hours sleep.  John and Ann met us at the airport in Phnom Penh in a tuk tuk.  It was an interesting journey to our accommodation taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the country which would become our new home for the next few years.

Since our arrival we have been trying to acclimatise to the change in climate, the weather is certainly not what we are used to!  We were affected by jet lag and tired from the travel for the first few days which heightened our emotions and made us miss family and friends at home.  We have visited the Elim Centre which is the base for most of the mission’s work we will be involved in.  The Day Care Centre was running so we were introduced to the staff and children, we were given a full tour of the premises where the two churches meet and English classes are also held. 

Today we visited two slum villages in Steung Meanchey on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, along with a team of young people from the church.  We walked round the village inviting the children to come to the area they always meet for a Good News Club to take place.  We took great delight watching the children sing and worship God, listen to a Bible story followed by a quiz, and then colour in a picture relating to the story.  Before the children go home they are given some fruit as a snack.  The children were so pleased to see us all, and although we went to be a blessing to them, the time we spent at these two villages really touched our hearts and we came away with the fingerprints of these little children on our hearts. 

As I come to the end of this blog, we want to thank you for all your continued love and prayers, and words of encouragement.  The first few days were a struggle and we know we will experience bouts of homesickness, but we know God has a reason for us to be here, to touch lives and show the love of Jesus to the children and adults that we will come to know in Phnom Penh!!