Archive for June, 2011

‘Only in Cambodia’

This week’s blog is going to feature more photographs than text; we want to give you an idea of some of the crazy sights that we see on a daily basis that makes us comment, ‘Only in Cambodia’.   But before you see the photographs we will share a few highlights from our past week in Phnom Penh. 

children enjoying colouring in time

We carried out the children’s ministry in the slum villages on Saturday morning.  The first stop is an area in Steung Meanchey called Bong Tom Pun where there are two communities living in close proximity.  The outreach is held in the bigger of the two and we have recently began entering the smaller one and building relationships with the people who live there.  As we entered Bong Tom Pun David and I jumped out of the tuk tuk along with one of the Khmer helpers and we walked through the village looking for the community chief.  He is a lovely elderly man who is responsible for the families living there.  After greeting him, we shared with him how we come into the area every two weeks and take the Good News Club and would love to invite the children from his community to join us.  He rounded up the children and we were like the pied piper leading about 30 children from one community to another!  There were probably some rats lurking about too but thankfully we didn’t attract them to our procession.  We had a fabulous time with the children, probably close to a hundred in attendance.  Another wedding was taking place later in the day so didn’t have to put our usual tarpaulin sheet for shelter from the sun and were able to use the wedding marquee instead!  The community chief and some of the parents came across to see what we were doing and as the outreach is in Khmer we are praying that as the seed is sown, in due season, it will reap a harvest. 

How happy am I listening to my dad on the radio!

Saturday afternoon’s are precious as we have the afternoon off and can relax before a very busy Sunday!  While having coffee with our friend Julie, she told us about an amazing app which she has on her ipad called ‘Tunein Radio’.  It allows you to tune in to any radio station in the world and Julie was very excited as she told us how she was able to tune in to the radio progamme her dad takes in New Zealand.  At this point I was also excited as I exclaimed, ‘My dad also does a radio programme, I wonder can we find it?’ The ipad was out as we searched for Londonderry on the map, found Radio Foyle and then there is a picture of my dad beside the Rejoice segment!  (that’s a wee plug for you dad!!) Not only can you listen to live programmes but it also stores archived recordings, I was like a child in a sweetie shop as I listened to the intro of the programme and then my dad talking on the radio, how cool is that? We tuned in to Sunday’s programme at 10pm, our time and were delighted to get a mention, how amazing is technology!

 David had an amazing first coaching session with the street children on Sunday afternoon.  I’m not going to say anymore as he will be featuring this new ministry in our monthly newsletter due at the start of July.  The rest of the week went in really quickly with a busy schedule of English classes, the young people’s night on Tuesday and Share & Prayer group on Thursday night. Plus Ann and I spent a morning with the medical ministry taking a child from Steung Meanchey village to the hospital.  An experience in itself as we traipsed from one part of the hospital to the other until a few hours later the child was admitted and awaiting medical attention. Late this afternoon we contacted the child’s mother who informed us she was safely through her operation and we will visit them tomorrow morning!

Now for what you’ve been waiting for ……. ‘Only in Cambodia’

A stall at one of the markets, feel like chicken tonight?

If not chicken, maybe slow roasted pig?

This little piggy goes to market!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

No need for chilled transportation here!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One banana, two banana, three banana, four!!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One of the many filling stations, the petrol and diesel are in the pepsi bottles!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More than one spare tyre!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How many people can fit on a cyclo?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Have a seat!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My coffee to go!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We hope you have enjoyed these unusual sights from Phnom Penh, have a blessed week and thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement!
 

Rainbow after the storm!

From the outset of this blog I want to thank everyone who remembers us in their prayers, there have been times this week that if we were relying on our strength we would be useless but we are so aware of God’s presence upholding us.  Like everyone, when we get up in the morning we don’t know what the day will bring but we do know God is with us.  

wedding at village on Sunday

On Sunday afternoon David met the teenage boys that he will begin coaching tomorrow and he really enjoyed getting to know them and is excited about commencing this ministry.  While David was at football, Ann and I went to the slum village to carry out the medical ministry, it was a tough day as we were introduced to a young boy aged 16 who was being treated for taking drugs. We were allowed to pray for him and will check his progress when we return this weekend.  When we were at the village we were informed that Yoeun the lady diagnosed with liver cancer was deteriorating.  Although we had encouraged the family to return from the province so we could provide the necessary care, they choose to stay in the homeland.  On Monday I received a mobile number to contact her mother in the province, when Gumli rang we were informed that she was now in too much pain to sit and wouldn’t be able to travel.  Ann and I began to make arrangements to travel to her, knowing it would take a full day to drive there and back, and were trying to source appropriate medication to help her.  We were heartbroken when we received the sad news that she passed away on Tuesday morning.  Please pray for her husband and three young children, we are hoping they will return to the village so we can offer them help and support them in the days, months, years ahead.  The medical ministry is really hard as there are limited options in Cambodia and quite often nothing available to help treat individuals.  All we can do is come alongside, hold a hand, put an arm around and pray.  And as I said at the start of the blog, it is your prayers that strengthen and enable us to cope with situations and circumstances that come our way.

Classroom awaiting students

 I am really enjoying my new role of teaching English to the children!  They are a delight to spend time with and their wee faces make me smile.  The classes run on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 5.30-6.30pm and there would on average be 21 children aged from 5-13.  I have started at the very beginning of the alphabet and teach a couple of letters each class.  If you are a teacher reading this and know of any good websites which provide free printable resources which we could use, send me a message.

 We have started two new ministries during the week – on Tuesday night young people from the Khmer and International church are invited to join together for fellowship and Bible study.  We begin with a couple of worship songs followed by a short message and then they enjoy refreshments and snacks. On Thursday evening we held our first Share & Prayer group in our apartment.  We began with tea/coffee and cake, enjoying an opportunity to chat before spending some time in prayer.  All seven of us had a blessed time, this is open to anyone from the International church to come as and when they are able. 

Afternoon rainshower

Beautiful rainbow

Apparently the wet season commences in August, but in the last couple of weeks we have had torrential rain, thunder and lightning storms.  My poncho has been worn and I will definitely be purchasing a pair of wellies or gumboots as soon as I find a pair!  After a heavy rain storm this week I looked out the window and saw my first rainbow in Cambodia, as I took the photograph I was reminded that God keeps His promises.

Genesis 9:16 “When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”

 When storms come in our life we can find shelter.  When it rains watch the skies.  When you catch the sight of a colourful rainbow, do you respond to God’s glory?  Can you see the promise of his loving concern for you and for the world he created?

Skype, Surprises and Street Children

Sundays are usually amazing but last Sunday was in a league of its own, although a very American word it was best described as simply awesome.

 Our day started off in the Khmer service were a man called Barry, a former missionary who along with his wife served God for 30 years in Thailand, spoke to the church about the Holy Spirit. Again praise God the place was full and it is such a blessing to see the Khmer congregation worshipping and praising with their whole hearts.  These are the true heroes as they have chosen to make a sacrifice to follow Jesus, they don’t get it easy, some have lost their families forever because of it. I often ask myself the question if I had to make those same sacrifices would I have been as brave and as willing to follow him. I really hope and pray that my answer would be yes.

 At about 10.30 am our International service started and again with a full house we praised and worshipped God, after communion I had the privilege of bringing God’s message to the church.  I spoke on the different compartments of our lives and used the story of Namaan to look at the different ways God can be used and abused by us as Christians. 

After church we went home for about an hour before heading back to the Elim centre to prepare for the third service of the day and it turned out to be so special. It was missions Sunday in Bangor Elim, our wonderful home church where our church family means so much to us. We were so excited because we were not only able to speak to the church, as many of you witnessed, but we also watched everybody come in to the church from the foyer. We enjoyed the whole service with the camera panning around the congregation, allowing us to see who was singing and who wasn’t, who stayed awake and who didn’t. We loved every minute of the experience, it really was like being there and that was priceless. I meant what I said, we may be out here but without your prayers and financial support and God’s blessing we could do nothing. You to us are the heroes and we pray that God will richly bless you all. A massive thank you must go to Gary Faulkner and Lawrence Robinson for technically making the whole thing possible. We must also thank Ruth McKee and the mission team who are just amazing people with such big serving hearts. We do miss all our friends and family but we are focused on why we are here and are very happy doing what God brings our way.

 Sunday night was finished on another high when we received an email from my cousin Mark’s son James. He is in P5 and has decided to do a project on Cambodia for a class assignment. His email asked so many good questions and it really touched our hearts, what an amazing young boy, we both had tears in our eyes while reading it. We love receiving emails whether short or long, it encourages us so much to know you are thinking about us and we love hearing your news as well. 

Care Package

We had an exciting experience on Tuesday of this week when we received our first care package in the post from back home, it was truly magnificent. We were like children on Christmas morning opening the contents to find treats from Tayto cheese and onion crisps to face masks and some craft items.  It came from our dear friends Donna and Dyllan, bless your hearts, we miss and love you very much. 

On Wednesday we met up with a man called Timothee who works with the street children of Phnom Penh, heading up a charity called ‘Big Brother/Big Sister’.  After chatting about some of the projects they are involved in, he invited us to accompany him to one of the slum villages where the children had signed up to tidy up where they live by filling black bags with rubbish.  We recognised the village immediately as it is the first of the two villages we do outreach in every other Saturday.  The children recognised us too and once we all put on our disposable gloves we ventured onto the rubbish dumps.  The smell was horrendous and at times you just had to hold your breath but then you looked at the children some as young as 4 or 5, with faces that each tell a story, and we kept going!  Each time a child returned with a bag they received a mark and when they reach 12 points they qualify to go to the swimming pool as a reward.  This was the second day they had visited the village and by the end of today over 400 bags (30 litres capacity) were taken to the dump.  Even though the children reached their target, they kept going, one little girl had collected over 40 bags and gave a huge grin when you told her what number she was on!   

After discussing my love of football and heart for street children, I have agreed to coach 12 boys aged between 17 and 21 for an hour each week.  During that hour I will also be sharing Jesus with them, I will be meeting them for the first time this Sunday and then the coaching will commence on Sunday 19th June at 3pm Cambodian time or 9 am back home.  Please pray for this new ministry which I am excited about being involved in.

Wow what a week we have had, God is so good!  Thank you all for continuing to follow our blog and for remembering us in your prayers, we value you so much!

Celebrations Cambodian style

When we left home on 1st March to begin our first missionary term in Cambodia we knew there would be times that if we could transport ourselves anywhere in the world it would be to spend time with our family and friends.  Saturday was one of these occasions when during the day David asked me, ‘If you could be anywhere today where would it be?’ My answer was Bangor Elim.  They were holding the annual Bike and Fashion Show and we had several reasons for wanting to be there:

My sister and niece were modelling in the fashion show and we weren’t there to cheer them on, although we saw their photographs and they both were stunning!

Elim Missions were looking after the Burger Stall and David wasn’t there to sample the burgers.  We were told due to his absence not as many burgers were sold!

It is always a great day out, if you’ve never been make a point of going next year!

Dedication of Naomi Esther

On Sunday ‘Naomi Esther’ was dedicated in both the Khmer and International church services.  Her parents Nita and Chamnap attend the Khmer church but it was also lovely to present Naomi to the International church where both congregations will have an input in her life.  In Cambodian culture when a woman gives birth she wears a woolly hat for 6 months, when I asked Nita about this she replied it stops you going deaf when you are older!!!  So before the dedication took place and also before the photo shoot after the service, I had to ask Nita if I could remove her hat!  As soon as the photographs were taken the hat was back on, how they cope with a woolly hat in this climate is beyond me!

At home we are used to organising events and praying for the weather to co-operate with us.  On Sunday afternoon Ann and I were due to go Steung Meanchey village for the usual medical ministry but a thunderstorm altered our plans.  The football ministry was also cancelled as they play at an outdoor pitch. The wet season has not officially started but most days this week we have experienced torrential rain and thunderstorms.  I am glad to have brought a poncho out with me and will be purchasing the first pair of wellies that I see, I’m told they do sell them here! The rain was so bad on Wednesday that we saw children swimming in the street.  

Happy Birthday to you!David lost for words!!

On Thursday David celebrated his birthday and by the end of the day had never had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to him so many times in the one day!  We had a little surprise party at the centre for him and it was so cute as the children sang to him.  In the evening we went out for dinner with John, Ann, Gumli and Julie.  After a lovely meal, the entertainment arrived in the form of a couple with a guitar, John and I got their attention without David noticing and asked them to sing to the birthday boy.  David was mortified as they approached the table and began to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, and then asked if he had a favourite song they could sing to him. 

David lost for words!!

 We returned home and at 11.30pm our time we had a cyber birthday party with my sister Ruth, niece Jessica and nephew Andrew.  They held a chocolate cake with the candles lit to the webcam, sang Happy Birthday and when David blew, they all blew the candles out and tucked into the cake.  The day was really special with lots of messages from friends and family via email, texts and Facebook. 

Good news club

This weekend we return to the two villages and carry out the Good News Clubs, I really enjoy this area of the ministry, the children are always so happy to see us and I love spending time with them as they sing songs, listen to the Bible story and colour in their picture.  They are precious and we come away feeling so blessed to be a part of their lives.  David is speaking in the International Church on Sunday and then a few hours later we will be chatting to our church family through Skype during their Missions Sunday service.  It will be lovely to be a part of the congregation in Bangor Elim although I feel we may need to have tissues at the ready.  We are honoured to be God’s ambassadors in Phnom Penh and cannot express how grateful we are to those who are supporting us. 

May God be merciful and bless us.  May His face smile with favour on us.  May your ways be known throughout the earth.  You saving power among people everywhere.  Psalm 67:1-2