Archive for July, 2011

Love in Action!

For anybody that lives away from home you will understand how difficult it is when those you love at home are not well.  Really since we left Northern Ireland in March my mum, Sandra, has not been in good health.  Thankfully we are finally seeing signs of improvement but I would ask you all to remember her in your prayers.  The reason I mention my mum this week is because it was her birthday on Wednesday and we were very sorry to have missed being with her to celebrate.  But we are extremely thankful for the technology of Skype allowing us to chat and see each other.  Love you mum!!

Iona, Sophie & Amy over the finishing line!

Acts of random kindness are to me what this world should be about.  For example, a couple of months before we came to Cambodia three young girls; Iona Lindsay and Sophie & Amy Anderson, decided they wanted to make a difference to children they had never met in Phnom Penh.  At our farewell service we were presented with a cheque for £280 which they had raised from completing a sponsored walk along the coastal path in our hometown of Bangor.  We promised them that the money would go to help children of all ages in whatever way we found necessary. Since we arrived in Cambodia we have been looking for the opportunity to find something that we could bless these children with.  So last week we set out in the Tuk Tuk with our driver Dren on a mission to purchase items for the children who attend the Day Care Centre.  We came back with 40 pillows and 6 large reed mats which will be used during naptime; 8 desks and 10 chairs for lesson time and 2 stools.  These practical items will not only benefit the babies, toddlers and children in the day care but also children who attend the English classes will use the desks and chairs.

Thank you girls!

It really did our hearts good to see how happy the children and staff were receiving these gifts knowing that they came from three young girls whose hearts were burdened to bless others.  We cannot thank these girls enough for the kindness they have shown to poor and needy children from across the world.  To show their appreciation we took photographs of some of the children and staff along with a selection of the items purchased.

Thank you Iona, Sophie & Amy!

Thoughts of Home

I would like to start this blog by saying how proud we are to come from Northern Ireland. We like a lot of you, sat on Sunday watching with excitement as Darren Clarke won a well overdue major in golf.  The big guy has had a rough few years and I believe it is fitting that he has rose again to the very top of golf as he won the British Open. I would also like to say while on the subject how amazing Rory McIlroy was winning, no in fact, thrashing the world of golf in America to win the US Open. Two major golf champions from our wee nation.

When you are away from home and when you love your friends and family as much as we do, life on the mission field can be very hard at times.  Especially when you start missing the things that are important to you, during the week it was our niece Jessica’s 13th  birthday and anybody that knows us knows that missing this has been very difficult.  We would just like to say a big Happy Birthday to her and we pray that she will have an amazing year ahead, love you Princess.

Another really big occasion we are missing and this again breaks our hearts, is the wedding of a truly special couple today Saturday 23rd July (the same day 17 years ago that we tied the knot). We would like to wish both Pamela and Phil God’s richest blessing, we would have loved to be there to share your special day with you but know that you are in our thoughts and prayers as you begin this amazing journey together.

An action shot of Jazz!

We had a really nice relaxing time off last week but we were very happy to get back into the thick of things on Sunday.  We both went to the football with our friend Julie plus her 2 friends who were visiting for the weekend; Mike from New Zealand and his wife Jaslin from Australia.  The young boys were in top form and Jazz, who is one of those extraordinary females who actually gets and understands the importance of sport in our lives came out and helped do a bit of coaching, it was really good fun.  Sport to Esther is how many coffee shops she can visit on any given day, of course only when she is not working!

On Tuesday we took a 4 year old girl from the village to hospital for a checkup.  A few months ago she had fractured her arm, the same arm that was badly damaged when she was one year old.  The appointment was to check if the fracture had healed or if surgery was necessary. Praise God, they were very happy with the x-rays and do not want to see her again for 6 months when they will ascertain if the fracture affected the growth plate.

That night we had a really good youth meeting with about 13 Khmer people in attendance of which 5 are not Christians.  Please pray for them that over the weeks and months they will find Jesus.

Finally I would like to tell about a young man within the Khmer church called Sarak.  You might remember him from the pictures on the boat from last week’s blog; he is the one playing the guitar. He has such a big heart for the Khmer people; his priority in life is to see them saved and his nation won for Jesus. I ask you to remember him in your prayers, please pray protection over him that God can utilise him in the best way possible to build His kingdom and that we as leaders can encourage him and guide him in the best way for him as he serves God.

Church on the boat

Breakfast at the Blue Pumpkin

Since we came to Cambodia we have encountered a lot of first time experiences: waking up to sunshine every day, trying new and unusual food and on Sunday we attended our first ‘Church service on a boat’.  The Khmer and International churches were coming together to hold a meeting on the ‘Mekong’ river.  As this was a special occasion Julie, David and I went to the riverside in time to enjoy breakfast together in the Blue Pumpkin.  The restaurant is upstairs and has fabulous bed-seats, where you kick your flip flops off and dine in comfort with a tray for your food.  We enjoyed our breakfast of poached eggs, bacon and toast with coffee for the girls and English breakfast tea for David.

All aboard!!!

We then made our way to the qayside meeting the two congregations and began to board the boat.  Not my favourite part of the outing and thankfully there was no footage of me needing some assistance from the gangplank to the actual boat!!  But we all were aboard and in good spirits for our cruise down the river.  At 9am the sun was out so everyone stayed on the lower deck and we caught up with fellowship with each other.  Tea and coffee were available and some people brought snacks and goodies with them.  My young friend Sophie presented me with a gingerbread lady she had made for me, it was yummy and I devoured it with a cup of coffee.

The children and some big children were presented with a booklet of colouring in pages and puzzles to entertain them with the incentive of prizes for those who coloured in well.  At the end of the boat journey everyone was given a big lolly for taking part.  Three hours on a boat is a long time for children so they really enjoyed this part.

Julie & Sarak

About an hour into the journey the church service commenced with Julie and Sarak leading us in worship, it was really special being out in the open air singing praises to our Creator.  To hear both the Khmer and English tongue joined together in worship was amazing.  Bob, a retired Anglican minister, who is now serving God in Cambodia along with his wife, brought the message.  He has a powerful voice and dramatically retold the story of Jesus healing the man with leprosy.  We were challenged to how we can touch and change lives that we encounter whilst in Phnom Penh.

The service

The service ended with a request for the Khmer church to sing Amazing Grace and it was precious to see them singing from their hearts with their eyes closed and worshipping their Lord and Saviour!!

We have included some photographs taken during the cruise, including the vast difference in homes sometimes right next to each other.

Creative time

My gingerbread girl

 

 

Christmas in Cambodia

Marc and Gayle in tuk tuk

I know it is only July and we haven’t had snow but when we knew one week in advance that a couple from our home church would be coming to visit us we were as excited as children are in the run up to Christmas!  With work and family commitments their visit was going to be brief with coming for the weekend but it was wonderful.  We collected Marc and Gayle from the airport in our air-conditioned chauffeur driven chariot and there were tears of joy (from the girls) as we were re-united.  The journey to their hotel was interesting in rush hour traffic and we had to keep pinching ourselves that two familiar faces from home were with us!

We spent the first evening catching up on all the news from home and sharing how much we are enjoying serving God in Cambodia. We chatted about the ministries we are involved in; some of which they would get to be a part of over the weekend.  After a few hours enjoying each other’s company, we returned to our apartment to let our friends have a good night’s sleep after all their travelling.  We were given a suitcase and travel on bag filled with goodies from our church family.   Again we were like children opening presents on Christmas morning, we were so excited with all the gifts we received and we thank everyone for their kindness and generosity.  We also received 3 bags of hand knitted jumpers and hats for children which will be distributed in the villages we work in and David was delighted with bibs and footballs which were sent over for the ministries he is involved with.

Good News Club

On Saturday morning we picked Marc and Gayle up from their hotel and made our way to the Elim Centre where we would meet everyone taking part in the outreach ministry to the slum villages.  Introductions were made and we joined hands to pray before we split up into 3 tuk tuks and made our way to the first village.  We got dropped off at the first smaller community and took Marc and Gayle for a walk around while we gathered up the children.  There had been heavy rain during the night so it was great fun trying to walk without getting stuck in the mud!  But we made in and with about 30 little ones in tow we joined the children at the meeting point and over 100 children were present for the Good News Club.  The girls who work in the day care centre take turns on a rota basis with one leading the choruses and games, one telling the story and one taking the quiz.  They are amazing young girls and we appreciate them giving up their Saturday morning to share Jesus with the children from the villages.  We took Marc and Gayle for a walk around the village introducing them to some of the families and showing them the work we would like to see carried out if and when a team from our church can come out on a short term mission trip next year.

We had an amazing time at the second village with over 50 kids joining us.  David and I are so passionate about the children and adults who live in the villages and really care about giving them a better future so it was wonderful to share our vision and heart’s desire with our friends from home.  We know by writing our weekly blog and monthly newsletter it gives our readers an insight but for people to be able to come and see for themselves that is priceless.

The football team with their coach

On Sunday afternoon we accompanied David as he coached the street children for their weekly football session.  They are a great group of boys and it was a pleasure to meet them and watch as they warmed up, carried out some training, enjoyed a cold bottle of water and few minutes rest while David chatted to them about God and the session ended with them playing a match.  The boys were delighted with the new footballs and bibs sent from home and this hour is probably the highlight of their week, the coach was pretty happy too.

Last weekend our friends were able to see for themselves the poverty and heartbreak that affects so many children and adults in Phnom Penh.  We were delighted to be able to spend a few days showing them what we are involved in. It is a huge honour to represent our church on the mission field and we have been incredibly blessed by this opportunity and thank God on a regular basis for calling us to be His hands and feet.   Just last night a friend sent us the following message on Facebook, she read it and thought of us, but it applies to all of us wherever we are and whatever  we are doing.  Be encouraged that you can make a difference in someone’s life today!

Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes, with which he looks, Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Football in Cambodia

Sometimes missionary work can be very tough, situations come along that just knock the heart out of you, you never know what a day will bring, and these days are hard. But thankfully these times are outweighed by the many, many opportunities we have to sow into people’s lives by doing simple things which to us are easy to do, but for them those simple things are massive because they have never been done before.

I have had the privilege recently of being able to coach football to a group of twelve boys/ young men, we have only been meeting for two weeks so far, but already they love it. Sounds good but what makes these kids any more special than others you may ask? Well as you know we have been working in a few slum villages since we arrived in Cambodia and these boys are from the biggest of these villages, they have kicked lots of things that resemble footballs, beside the village on top of rubbish and glass and other things, this is as good as it gets for them. They could never afford to be coached or pay for the pitch to play on for an hour on a Sunday afternoon.

I approached an amazing man from France called Timothee  Paton who works with the street children making sure they are schooled properly and not made to collect rubbish for pennies each day. Tim’s organisation provides big brothers and big sisters for the street children. We talked and decided that I would coach the kids once a week to start off with, Tim is paying for the pitch and any kit or equipment required. We have the same goal to show these young men Love, bringing them Hope and ultimately helping them find Jesus.

The boys are warmed up for a few minutes they then do 10 minutes of physical work , then we do 10 minutes technical training and then we take a break in the center circle, the boys have a cold bottle of water and then I talk to them for about 8 minutes about Jesus. We finish off with about half an hour of a match, it would break your heart seeing these boys born into desperate situations , nothing to live for, running round smiling from ear to ear just having fun for once.

I thank God for this opportunity to serve Him, for bringing these boys into my life and I pray that each and everyone of them will truly find Jesus. I feel challenged as I write this to say to you the reader, wherever you are in your life today, do you feel that taking the step for Jesus is just too much to ask? Listen it’s as simple as this, Jesus died for you, what more do you need to know!! He loves you and whatever is holding you back or putting you off is not important, as the Americans would say it’s time to Man up.

Put your trust in Jesus, He loves you, He will help you face those things that scare you, and nothing is too big for you when God is in control. Please take time to think about what your life is worth and where it is heading.

Christian friends please consider are you doing enough for Jesus or are you happy  sitting in church letting others serve you, we are all called to serve whether at home or abroad , go on I dare you to take a risk and get involved you never know where it might end.

Please pray for the amazing boys as we coach and teach them each week, that even in their poverty they will find happiness by following Jesus.