Archive for November, 2011

We get by with a little help from our friends

Since we left for Phnom Penh on the 1st March we have had so many exciting circumstances that God has led us into.  Some have challenged us greatly, like the situation when Esther met the lady Yoeurn who had three young children and an alcoholic husband, she wasn’t well and Esther took her to hospital, unfortunately this was the lady that was diagnosed and then eventually lost her life to cancer. In these times we have to totally rely on God and those that know us best to cover us and the family in prayer.

We definitely should not forget the way that God chose to touch and heal me from whatever the growth was on my liver, it was a dark moment in a new, scary country but God used this situation to remind us both of his mighty power and that he was and is victorious. Our God is alive and although neither you nor I will ever deserve the gift of salvation it is there for us all if we want it.  Have you ever actually stepped back from the situation you are going through and thought that maybe just maybe God is a fair God? How many times in life have you or I said that’s not fair God, you have got this all wrong, like we would know better? Why oh why does it take us forever to actually know that God loves us? Stop for a moment and think about it – God loves you, so now with that in mind what is it that you can’t face, what is it that makes you feel scared and all alone? You don’t have to feel this way, even if it seems like you have no friends or that you can’t talk to people about where you are, Jesus loves you and wants to help you, He is all you need.  When you are in the eye of the storm and trust me at times in Cambodia we have had our storms, God is there!  Home sickness has at times been a storm, seeing people suffer from desperate life situations has caused storms.  Standing out against the injustices of a foreign society that just don’t see the unjust ways and wrongdoing of selling people into slavery or the sex trade has caused us storms.  But through it all we have the total assurance that we have a friend who isn’t governed by distance or whose Skype is not working today because of internet issues, we don’t have to wait and shape our day round a 7 hour time difference to talk to those we love and miss so much.  God is with us and with you at all times and although sometimes he may ask you to step into the furnace I can guarantee that if people look into your furnace they will see that you are not alone, you never have to face anything alone.

So there are two things I would like to say as we near the end of our first season in the beautiful country of Cambodia.  The first is if you are reading this and you are not saved, my friend just be honest with yourself today, what is holding you back?  Jesus loves you and God will carry you through whatever situation you are going through, he will help you change the ways that at the minute dictate how you are living, it’s simply called sin. If you want to change all you have to do is come to the cross and ask God into your life to forgive your sin and help you change. God enables us to change, he doesn’t expect you to change your ways before you come.  If you’re trying to make yourself worthy of salvation before you ask it will never happen, none of us are worthy but we all still have the same opportunity; don’t waste yours.

Secondly I would like to thank you for supporting us with your financial gifts, your gifts of prayer and your friendship.  Every Khmer person young or old, sick or healthy that we have been able to help or lead to Jesus you have been a part of.  God uses you as much as us and we pray he will bless you as much as he blesses us, this is an amazing journey that we are on but the WE is bigger than just Esther and me, it includes you and it would be impossible without your support and God’s blessing.

In closing if you are free this Sunday morning why not come to Bangor Elim we believe that there will be an opportunity to hear from Ruth McKee, our amazing friend and missions secretary, more about the work we are doing and ways you can personally get involved in God’s work in Cambodia, the service starts at 10.30 am. Many blessings to you all for following our blogs week in week out we pray you will find peace in Jesus like we have.

With Thankful Hearts

We count it a joy to be serving God and it is such an honour to be His ambassadors in South East Asia.  For us first of all to hear God’s call to go onto the mission field and then to receive the backing and support of not only our friends and family but also our home church was phenomenal.  We thank God every day for his faithfulness, provision, protection and strength that we are blessed with and we are humbled to be his servants amongst the Khmer people.

In this week’s blog we want to pay tribute to the amazing Missions Team in Bangor Elim who are responsible for co-ordinating our support both financially and prayerfully.  In the past year they have organised several events giving up countless hours of their spare time and we are eternally grateful for all they are doing for God’s Kingdom of Cambodia.  We wish to personally thank Ruth and her team, without your commitment and faithfulness we would be unable to make a difference to the lives of those we have been privileged to be a part of in the last number of months.  We also must thank everyone who volunteers their help and those who support the Missions fundraising events by attending or contributing, as the advertising slogan for a well-known supermarket reads, ‘Every little helps’.  Your support in whatever way plays a part to improve the lives of the people we are able to reach.  We also thank everyone who takes the time each week to read our blog, you have no idea how encouraged we are when we receive an email letting us know someone has commented on the news we have shared.  We value your love, prayers and words of encouragement so so much.  At this time we want to take this opportunity to say a HUGE THANKYOU, we appreciate your support more than you know!

We will be thinking of the Missions Team today as they host the annual ‘Missions Craft Fayre’ at Bangor Elim.  If you are at a loose end and wondering what you and the family could do, the fayre will be open from 10.30am-4pm.  There will be a wide variety of craft stalls selling their wares and if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping, I’m sure you will be able to remedy that today!

“When I look back… I am stirred by the thought of the number of people whom I have to thank for what they gave me or for what they were to me.” – Albert Schweitzer

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God…for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ.  Philippians 1:3,5

Fellowship with friends

Last night we had an amazing time of fun and fellowship with Julie (our adopted New Zealand sister) and our Norn Irish friends Jonny and Jill.  With the busy life that we all live in Cambodia, it’s easy to not set time aside to enjoy a little bit of home, through accents and of course the banter that automatically comes, and is wasted on nearly every other nationality we come across.

Last night was even more special not because we probably laughed more in the three hours spent together than we have in the entire eight months since we arrived in Phnom Penh, but it was the fact that only weeks ago Jill had a horrendous fall while out running. Somehow she was able to get a moto to take her home but when quizzed by Jonny on what had happened she had no recollection. Wisely she was taken to the local clinic where they felt that Jill needed to be rushed to Bangkok, at that stage they knew there was a possible skull fracture and swelling on the brain along with other multiple injuries.  As Jonny got word about, we like many others prayed that God would perform a miracle in Jill’s life.  At this stage nobody knew what lay in store, but God did! Thankfully the air ambulance took them safely to Bangkok where they were told that her skull wasn’t fractured but that she did have some bleeding in the brain, also fractures to her pelvis and other problems with her shoulder and teeth.  The fact Jill was alive, that she somehow found her way home, that an air ambulance was ready so quickly and the right doctors where there at the right times were not coincidences – no it was our amazing God answering prayers and there were many thousands of prayers going up for Jill and Jonny.  Last night we were able to sit and talk and laugh with Jill long before she should have been able too but we have an awesome God! Please keep praying for Jill and Jonny that they will both get the rest and recuperation that they both need, they are an amazing couple totally sold out for God and the poor and needy of Cambodia.

Jill’s life was thrown into the turmoil in a moment, it didn’t happen the way she had planned that day, none of us know what is next for us.  We have close friends back home and in the past week Lillian lost her older sister in tragic circumstances and we can’t even imagine the pain and hurt the whole family is feeling.  We pass on our love and prayers to them all and would ask you to remember the whole family in the days to come.

My friends I urge you to take a moment today just to think about the unknown, the circumstances that lie ahead that we don’t know about.  The one thing I do know is this, you don’t have to face any uncertainty in your future if you ask Jesus into your life, He won’t only give you the assurance of forgiven sins but he will give you the strength to face each difficult situation you come across in your life’s journey.

Birthdays Galore

King Father Norodom Sihanouk

Saturday 30th October marked the occasion of King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s 90th birthday and the 20-year anniversary of his return to Cambodia was marked with a public celebration in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. All of Cambodia’s most important dignitaries were in attendance as well as thousands of well-wishers including students, police, military and citizens. King Father Sihanouk’s date of birth is 31st October 1922 and the day of his return to Cambodia 14th  November 1991, when Sihanouk was King his birthday was held over a 3 day period, from 30th October to 1st November.  For those now working the maths (like David did when he was proof-reading the blog) you will realise the dates 2011-1922=90 (not 89.) This is how the maths for age works in several Southeast Asian countries. Unlike western countries people are born 1 and the counting begins from there, 90 in Cambodia is the equivalent of 89 in the west.

Our invitation to this regal event must have got lost in the post and as we had two birthdays of our own to celebrate with Julie’s being on 29th October and mine on 1st November we made plans!  On Saturday morning I joined Julie and two of her work colleagues Megan & Frances at a lovely bakery called ‘The Shop’ for brunch. We enjoyed yummy food and caught up with each other’s news.  In the afternoon we went to Spinellis, a new coffee shop that has just opened in the last few weeks. We both recently had been sent magazines from home but saved reading them until we had our ‘girlie day’ when we could just kick our shoes off (totally acceptable in South East Asia), put our feet up and make ourselves at home drinking our lattes! You can tell by the photographs how easily pleased we are; give us a magazine and a coffee and we are happy!

Julie with her New Zealand life and leisure magazine

me getting some crafting inspiration

The Three Amigos!

On Saturday evening we included David in the festivities as the three of us went out for a meal.  I had written in Julie’s birthday card that we have lost count of the number of times we have thanked God for her being in our life.  To think that we have only known each other since March and yet it feels like the three of us have been friends for years.  God is pretty amazing, He puts the perfect people you need in your life at just the right time! David was busy on Saturday too, we surprised Julie with a birthday cake he baked and we enjoyed a piece after we, or should I say, I sang Happy Birthday.

My birthday cards and cake

On Tuesday morning it was my turn to be sung too, as Julie dropped in on her way to work with a piece of ‘the cake’ with 1 candle on it, to signify my first birthday in Cambodia! I opened my cards, read emails and Facebook messages and despite being so far away from home, felt so loved and grateful for the wonderful friends and family God has blessed me with.  Technology is amazing and we are thankful for being able to keep in touch with loved ones through Skype, Facebook and email; it was a treat to have my sister, niece and nephew sing Happy Birthday via our Skype ‘cupcake party’.  They had cupcakes with candles in which I blew out with a bit of help from Jessica & Andrew and we also had purchased cupcakes from Bloom Café, a non-profit organisation that provides vocational training and employment opportunities for Cambodian women.  We had a wonderful party and the cupcakes were divine.

Birthday Cupcakes

Thursday morning and we were back to Prison.  David visits two prisoners per month on a weekly basis and really enjoys this ministry organised through Prison Fellowship Cambodia.  Each week David takes in a care package of either food supplies or toiletries and these are really appreciated.  He is getting to know his new friends and the visit is to simply offer support, build companionship and be aware of needs the prisoners may have which PFC can help with.

Whilst David is at one prison, I am at another namely the ‘Youth Correctional Centre’ where I teach Grade 11 English to 6 young offenders.  The boys are aged 17 and are keen to learn English.  I do have to remember not to talk fast as during the first lesson one of the students said, ‘Teacher, talk slower’.  The class lasts 2 hours with a 15 minute break when the students enjoy the fruit I give them for a snack.  Role reversal from the western world when the teacher could find an apple on their desk! Both of us are honoured to be given the opportunity to minister in these areas and trust God that we will be able to bring light to darkness and hope to the hopeless.

With this week’s blog featuring birthdays I will close with wishing a very Happy Birthday to my older brother Johnny who turned 43 on Wednesday and a very Happy Birthday to my younger sister Rhoda who reached the BIG 40 on Thursday.  We are sorry to be missing the celebrations this weekend but know you are both in our thoughts and prayers and trust this year will be the ‘best yet’!