Archive for April, 2011

Back to School

This week David and I found ourselves back in the classroom as we began Khmer lessons.  We met with Solomon, a tutor who came highly recommended to us, on Tuesday afternoon for our first class.  During the lesson he shared with us that he only had 3 rules as a teacher to his students – practice, practice, practice!  So with notebook and pen at the ready we began our first hourly session with a sense of excitement at the prospect of learning phrases in a new language.  Solomon was very encouraging and pleased with how we were sounding the words we were learning.  We write the words down as they sound and learnt sentences such as:

Hello – chum riep sueh,

How are you – sok sabay te

What’s your name – chmuah awey

My name is – knyom chmuah

Our next lesson took place at 9am on Wednesday morning and became more of a struggle as we had to re-phrase each sentence we were trying to learn, jumbling up the words to recite it as the Khmer would.  For example: ‘What is your teacher’s name David?’ is pronounced in Khmer as, ‘David, your teacher’s name what?’  So we have to listen to the question, re-word it in our head, and translate it into Khmer.  Solomon is very patient as we explain how this doesn’t make sense to us but hopefully we will get the hang of it in due course.  On a positive note we learnt the words for giving directions and on Friday morning I was able to direct the Tuk Tuk driver from our local coffee shop to the Elim Centre.  I was very happy especially as he understood my commands without me having to point!

We have scheduled three sessions into our week and value your prayers as we try our utmost to learn words and phrases which will help us communicate in our daily life.  Many times we feel the message we are trying to put across can get lost in translation and we wish to gain the respect of the Khmer people that we are willing to learn their language, no matter how difficult it is.  


Ephesians 3:20 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.



Greatest demonstration of love

 Many things have made us smile since we arrived in Cambodia, when we see Tuk tuks going past with 12 people in them, or five people on a small motorbike you stop and think what would they make of this back home. The number of Lexus cars on the roads is crazy and yet so many people do a hard, honest day’s work and get no more than 2 maybe 3 dollars a day. Life can be so unfair and it makes us even more aware that our actions need to be louder than our words. We must show the people that we deal with daily, and those that we work with in the slum villages that they are so important to us, we are their example of Jesus and we must remember this at all times.

We have been missing home a little bit more than usual this week; I suppose a lot of that is to do with Easter being one of our favourite times of the year. We love seeing family and friends, we will miss our annual Easter Monday trip away with an amazing group of friends spending the day having fun and relaxing together. But we will miss Easter Sunday the most.  We loved meeting early at Ballyholme to have communion and remember what our Lord and Saviour has done for us, and then back to the Elim for breakfast followed by morning worship with a baptismal service. It doesn’t get much better than seeing newly saved Christians obeying their Lord by going through the waters of baptism and publicly announcing their love for him.

I urge you fellow Elimites get out of your bed on Sunday morning and go to Ballyholme.  In fact, family and friends, do me a favour get up on Sunday morning and go and see what it’s all about.  Jesus loves you so much that yesterday, Good Friday, represents the day that he hung upon a cross for you and for me and tomorrow we celebrate how death could not hold him when Jesus rose from the dead.  You see my Lord is alive today and he wants to change you, he wants to forgive your sins.  You only think you’re living but if you really take a look at yourself are you happy, or are you living a lie? Do yourself a massive favour tomorrow, go to church and think about what God has done for you, stop living the way you are, trust God, turn from your sinful ways and have faith that God can change you.  You need to want to change and I promise you God will change you and you will never be the same again.  Join the folk at Ballyholme at 8.30 am, Bangor Elim at 10.30 am or find a church close to you and please be a part of what Easter is all about!

It has really been illuminated this week how big the task is that lies ahead.  If we weren’t Christians we wouldn’t know that it was Easter, this society is so Godless and we need to make as much of a difference as possible. Please pray for us that God will keep putting people and situations in our way that we can show Jesus to them.  We have also been shocked with the number of Khmer Christians that we have spoken to who have not fully understood the significance of the Easter Story, they are saved but they lack in knowledge of the Bible and we need to teach them.

As you pray for us we will pray for you and your families that they will find JESUS this Easter.  Please my family and friends turn from the things that ensnare you and ask Jesus into your life and enjoy Easter the way it is meant to be enjoyed.    

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Happy New Year!

No the sun has not gone to my head, this week Cambodia have celebrated Khmer New Year.  One thing interesting here is that Cambodia celebrates 3 New Year’s every year, the International New Year’s Day (1st January) Chinese New Year (3rd February), and Cambodia New Year (14th April). 

Khmer New Year is possibly Cambodia’s most important holiday. The cities empty as Cambodians rush to spend the holiday with family. The holiday lasts for three days beginning on New Year’s Day. This time of the year is at the end of the harvesting season. The farmers enjoy the fruits of their harvest and relax before the rainy season begins.

With it being a holiday time it has given us the chance to catch our breath, to look back and be thankful for the things that God has given us to do already and be excited about the plans that He has ahead for us.

Thank you for praying for Ann, she is through her operation and recovering at home.  Please continue to remember her in your prayers as she is still very sore.

On Tuesday we will be taking Yoeun back to Hebron Hospital for final analysis following her CT scan; please pray that God chooses to perform a miracle on this young lady.

I will close this blog with the phrase ‘Sok Sabay, Ch’nam Tmey’ (Happy New Year!)

All in a week’s work….

John and Ann left for a much deserved break last Friday, returning to Northern Ireland so Ann could have a small medical procedure, and the chance to spend time with family and friends. Please pray that Ann will recover quickly with little pain.

So we were left in charge and one thing we have learnt very quickly in Cambodia is that you really don’t know what is round the next corner, no matter what you plan something, someone can change that in an instance. It gives you a better understanding of what our amazing Pastors back home have to face day in daily.

On Saturday morning we went to Steung Meanchey to take Good News clubs in two slum villages, it is an amazing experience, kids with absolutely nothing coming together singing, praying and learning about Jesus. It is so humbling especially when you look back on your own youth, and know how blessed you actually were and yet I know that I showed little interest in God in those days.  I think sometimes we have too much stuff, too many distractions to appreciate the awesomeness of God, yet these kids get it because they have nothing, no barriers.  Maybe today we need (that’s all of us, myself more than anyone else) to get rid of these distractions. We need to realise how much our God has really done for us all and like these little kids who have nothing, and I mean nothing, we need to draw close to God and believe God is who we say he is, walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

We had the second part of our Bible for beginner’s course in the afternoon and I was talking about the life of Jesus.  There was about 13 people present which was really great and they all seemed to grasp what was being said, everything is new to them so you really do have to make it as simple as  possible but still get across the importance of Jesus to them. All students listened intently except for one who managed to fall asleep, so you can imagine the trouble she was in when I got Esther home!!

Sunday is always busy, I preached in the Khmer service at 8.30 am and then again in the Iinternational church at 10.30 am.  The first service went well although I am still getting used to using an interpreter, but the Khmei people are like sponges so keen to learn and grow in Christ. In the second service at the end of my sermon I said I wanted to do something a little different and play a blessing over the congregation.  As the song “Lay it all down” played through the system, it was lovely to hear Suzanne’s voice and everybody said how special it was afterwards. Later that day we spoke to Julie Stevenson and she told us that in Bangor Elim they had finished church with the same blessing sang over them. Wow, how amazing is our God!  We really felt close to home that night after hearing this.

During the week we have had ups and downs.  The biggest up involves a young student from the English classes whose name is Tim and is 15 years old.   He is extremely smart and always has good questions to ask and at the minute he is searching for the truth, please pray that he finds Jesus. Despite sitting at the front of the class, when it comes to the exercises on the board, Tim always squints to check his answers.  When I noticed this I asked him why he was not wearing his glasses as he normally does.  He produced his glasses, which had been pretty badly smashed accidently by his little brother and he couldn’t tell his dad they were damaged because his father would beat him really bad, and I believed him. So, Esther and I took the glasses to see if we could get them fixed or get a new pair. Cambodia is so different in so many ways, everything is done instantly, no waiting for days or medically for months, you get seen straight away, so within 30 minutes of going to the local opticians, we had the glasses fixed with new lenses and it cost us £1.60.  While I  was waiting I decided to get a free eye test, my long sight is excellent but it turns out I need glasses for reading, the lady said it comes with getting old, just to  make me feel better!  So I got my polo sport frames and lenses for a total of £15. Anyway we gave Tim his glasses back and his smile and relief at no punishment was worth so much and Esther now keeps me going anytime she sees me read.

The low point to our week was when we had to take a lady from the village to Hebron Hospital to get an ultrasound carried out on her liver, she had been told that she had cirrhosis of the liver which was desperate, but additional tests including a CT scan have shown she has Cancer.  It appears to be secondary in the liver and they don’t know where it actually started. All we know is she can’t be treated, other than be given medication to ease the pain.   Her name is Yoeun Phorn, she is 35 with  three kids aged 10, 8 and 5 and no sign of a husband.  The reality of life kicks in, she has not got long left, all we can do is get her somewhere to look after the pain, and then make sure her children are ok.

My friends, there is no hope for this lady from a medical perspective but we have a God who performs miracles so I ask you to pray for her. Pray that she will be healed but most of all we will be able to show her Jesus and that she gives her heart to him. Also please pray for her 3 lovely kids that through whatever lies ahead, whatever is God’s will, that we will be able to help in any way possible. 

Thanks again for your continued support in all ways

David and Esther x

What do you think?

Trying out the new glasses!

Special visitors, Official opening ceremony & Cadbury’s Chocolate …..

It’s incredible that we have spent our first month in Cambodia already! We are amazed at how well we have settled into our new life, and thank everyone for the love and support that we receive on a daily basis. We have had a very exciting week moving into our new home which is an apartment on the third floor, so no rats hopefully! Although David did try to play an April fool on me by saying he saw a rat scurrying in the corridor. I didn’t believe him as I knew he would squeal louder than me at such a discovery. We feel very blessed with our home, it is only a 5 minute walk from the Elim Centre and our NZ friend Julie is our neighbour living on the 5th floor! 

We held our introductory ‘Bible for Beginners’ class last Saturday and were delighted with the 16 young Khmer people who came along.  Mina translated for us as we gave a brief outline about the 8 week course and then enjoyed some snacks and refreshments together.  The course officially starts today and we are looking forward to getting to know those who attend and helping them learn more about Jesus, please pray from 10 am – 11.30 am (GMT) that we will have wisdom as we teach and the students will gain a greater knowledge in their new found faith.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we were delighted to spend time with Chris Jones (International Missions Director), Andy Taylor (Regional Director to South East Asia) and John Martin (photographer and IT whizz).  As our luggage allowance was so light on our flight out to Cambodia, Chris kindly brought us out a holdall with some personal bits and pieces in it, I was so happy to be re-acquainted with my blue bag and its contents! Also Andy blessed us with some Cadburys chocolate, crème eggs and Cadbury’s hot chocolate sachets – such a treat which we will thoroughly enjoy!  After the guys applied ‘deet insect repellent’ we climbed aboard two tuk tuks and gave them a brief insight into the work of Elim missions in Phnom Penh.  The first stop was the Elim Centre where a tour of the complex was given and the staff were introduced to our ‘Bosses’.  The Day Care Centre was having a lesson on numeracy when we arrived and we spent time with the toddlers and pre-school class, the teachers are fantastic and do a remarkable job with the children.  Our visitors were very impressed with the new centre which would be officially opened later in the day.  Our next stop was Steung Meanchey village, where we spent some time walking through and talking to the people who live here.  The conditions are appalling and it is not surprising so many suffer with different illnesses and sickness.  Over the years Ann has built up a good relationship with the villagers and we help out with medical needs as and when they arise.  As well as carrying out the Good News Club in the village on alternate Saturdays, we visit every Sunday afternoon and check on those needing medical attention.

On Tuesday evening a ceremony took place to celebrate the official opening of the Elim Centre.  In attendance were parents whose children attend the day care centre, members from the Khmer and International church, and friends who have set up or are part of NGO’s (Non-Government Organisations) in Phnom Penh.  The children from the day care centre performed songs which they had been practicing and three of the staff carried out a dance, a Khmer blessing.  Chris Jones was guest of honour and cut the ribbon before giving a speech to mark this special occasion. 

On Wednesday we enjoyed breakfast with Chris, Andy and John before spending some time recording an interview/conversation which will take the format of a podcast and will be available to listen to on the Elim International website:  We take this opportunity to thank Chris and all the team at Elim HQ for all their encouragement, help and advice whilst we are serving on the mission field.  While I type this I am enjoying a few squares of Cadbury’s chocolate and it is delicious.

We value your prayers for John & Ann as they arrive home in Northern Ireland today for 6 weeks.  Ann is having surgery on 8th April to remove her parathyroid glands. Pray the surgery will be a complete success and Ann will make a speedy and full recovery.  We know they will enjoy spending valuable time with friends and family and trust they return to us with renewed energy and well rested from their time at home.

Please also remember us in your prayers as we carry on the work in Phnom Penh.  David is speaking in both the Khmer and International church this Sunday and we will be busy running the English classes and overseeing the day care centre in the absence of John and Ann.  Thank you for taking the time to read our latest blog entry, and for being part of our journey in Cambodia.

Love and God bless xo

To make a difference in the world, let Jesus make a difference in you.


Chris Jones cutting the ribbon!