Archive for February, 2012

Bittersweet moments

Sunday was a very special day as we joined together for fellowship in our new Elim centre for the first time.  Friends and family were invited and we were encouraged to see a few new faces in the congregation.

The worship team

It was a bittersweet day as we were rejoicing in the new home God gave to be used for his glory in Cambodia but we were also saying farewell to a couple who made such an impact on many of our lives over the last number of months.  Barry and Rowena joined our fellowship after serving 30+ years on the mission field in Thailand, coming to Cambodia to live with close family.  They came with years of ministering in a neighbouring country and we soaked up story after story of experiences that they shared with us.  We were excited about the adventures we would share with them in Phnom Penh but our ways are not always God’s way and in a few weeks Barry and Rowena return to the UK where they will find a home, have a well-earned sabbatical and seek God’s guidance and direction for the next amazing chapter of their lives.  Their gentle nature and godly example leaves a lasting impression on so many of us here and we know that someday they will be back in Phnom Penh and we will enjoy renewed fellowship with them.

It was very fitting that Barry should bring the message and he spoke from Acts 2 on how the early Christians did church, having meals and worshipping together in each other’s homes  and helping the poor and needy.  This is our hearts desire to bring the good news of Jesus into the slum villages and do ‘church’ there.  Along with our Khmer family we want to make a difference to the people who have absolutely nothing, we want to feed them practically and spiritually, clothe them, treat the sick, provide education and see lives transformed for good and for God.  Please pray for us all, that our hearts will be open to share the love of Jesus and people will be added to the church and God’s family daily.

Barry & Rowena with gifts

David closed our time together thanking Barry & Rowena for all the love and encouragement they gave to each of us and they were presented with cake, flowers and a handmade card.  A special Khmer lunch was served and everyone enjoyed the food, cake and refreshments.

lunch being prepared, no need for worktop space in Cambodia

On Monday morning the Day Care Centre opened its doors and welcomed the children to their new home also.  After a period of adjustment for some, all the children have settled in well and are enjoying their new environment.

On Thursday David and the guys from the church headed off to Kompong Cham, a few hours southeast from Phnom Penh to attend ‘Men’s Camp’ run by another local Khmer church.  The event is over a couple of days and the speakers are tackling subjects such as ‘Become a real man: lead your family, church and community’, ‘Dangers men face’ and ‘The Foundation: A relationship with God’.  There was an excitement on Thursday morning as the men gathered at the centre, praying before they left that God would speak into each of their hearts over the next few days and as a team they would come back stronger than ever.  David and I have spoken a few times (each day) on the phone and the men are having an amazing time enjoying the seminars and getting to know each other better proving to be a worthwhile team building experience also.

The girls don’t want to be left out so they are asking, ‘what about us, when can we have a time together?’ Watch this space as we hope to plan a special date devoted to the women where crafts, snacks, fellowship and laughter will be the order of the day!

New Beginnings

In the past seven days God has once again blown our minds with His amazing ability to step in to situations where only He can make a difference, His timing is always impeccable.  Since our return to Cambodia it became apparent that we would not be able to remain in the centre we were using, to find the right property for a day care facility in a short time was basically impossible until God stepped in.  He not only provided a new property, He provided a better property with amazing grounds for a cheaper price.  When we announced to the staff that we had found a new centre they were excited and then when we told them about all the fruit trees in the garden – mango, lime, pomegranate, coconut, banana, jackfruit – they were ecstatic. Today we want to share through photographs our move from one centre to another.

On Monday morning Esther took a team to the new centre to clean while Nita and I led a team in the old centre to move everything from the top 2 floors to ground level in preparation for the removal trucks.  Thankfully we had a couple of men who volunteered to help with the heavy tasks.  On day two we loaded up two 5 ton trucks in a way that only Khmer people could and while the guys were doing this, the girls cleaned the old centre.  After lunch the trucks drove to the new centre with all the staff following in Tuk Tuks.  We then proceeded to unload both trucks moving everything into the ground floor of the building.

Day three and four were spent sorting out the new centre.  The Day care is split into four categories – babies, toddlers 1, toddlers 2 and pre-school.  Each group of girls took responsibility for their room and used their initiative to organise the layout.  Srey Poa, the cook, loves her new kitchen and took great delight in unpacking and putting everything in its suitable place.

By 5pm on Thursday the move was complete and the new centre looked amazing. We would like to go on record by saying a massive thank you to the girls who worked incredibly hard and were still smiling and in high spirits by the end of four very long, hard days.  A special thank you goes to Nita, the day care centre manager who worked tirelessly all week, she is a wonderful godly example to the staff and this is proven by how much they all love and respect her.  We must also thank Dren who really is a ‘Jack of all trades’ and helped not only with the move but also with some electrical work and for those who gave up their time during the week and helped us out.

We are overjoyed with the new centre and are very excited about what God has in store next for Elim in Cambodia.  We look forward to holding our first service on Sunday and will be thanking God for his faithfulness and provision.  The Day Care commences on Monday and we will be thrilled to welcome the children to their new centre.

Enjoy the photographs!

First load all packed

First load

Key Cutter - just at side of the road!


because of the narrow road the trucks couldn't come in the drive!


view from the entrance

rear of building



view from balcony


garden and fruit trees

set up for church

Baby Room

Toddler Room

Pre-school play area

Pre-school classroom

Computer suite

Church store



Soccer pitch where David coaches is next door!

Welcome home Khmer style

After almost 24 hours of leaving our Northern Ireland hometown of Bangor we arrived at Phnom Penh airport feeling hot, sticky and tired but this was put to the back of our minds when we were greeted by special friends bearing bouquets of flowers and welcome home hugs!  It was back to our favourite mode of transport, the tuk tuk to take us to our temporary home for a few weeks, Julie’s apartment.  Because we were out of the country for 9 weeks, we gave up our home so high up on our to do list is to find somewhere to live!  The journey from the airport was crazy and it almost felt like that we were never away; back to familiar sights, sounds and smells!

Flowers for David

Flowers for David

Flowers for Esther












Julie aka Miss Chatterbox


Over a cup of tea we exchanged Christmas gifts with Julie, we had made a deal that we would bring some goodies from Northern Ireland for her and she would in turn bring something back from New Zealand.  As soon as we seen a packet of sweets in a particular shop we knew exactly who to buy them for, the photo will give you a clue about Julie’s personality!

We woke on Thursday morning with sunlight beaming through the windows, it took a few seconds for our brains to register where we were and although still tired, it was time to get up!  We made our way into the Elim Centre and were totally surprised by the welcome we received.  The children had decorated ‘Welcome Home’ signs, we were greeted with a special cake and party poppers releasing glitter and gold went off with a bang! The day care children sang a song to us; this truly was a special moment that we will never forget.  The cake was cut into slices and everyone enjoyed a piece before going back to work, all the staff were delighted that their surprise was successful!

Welcome Party!

Welcome Party

Our first Khmer church service was also special as one of the young men presented us with a beautiful poster he had created to welcome us back.  We enjoyed renewed fellowship with our Khmer family who love the Lord and passionately want to share the good news of Jesus with others.

On Sunday afternoon David took his first coaching session of the year with the football team from the Bong Paoun project, boys who come from the nearby slum areas.  The boys were delighted to see their coach back and David was equally happy to spend time with them.

Jetlag and climate in the 30’s are not a good combination for house hunting but after a few days of scouring the streets, looking for ‘For Rent’ signs we were successful in finding accommodation.  The next challenge was to meet with the landlady and begin negotiations. With her unable to speak a word of English and us only able to speak the basics in Khmer, this was going to be fun.  Armed with Nita, our translator, David met with what seemed to be the entire family to discuss what furniture and kitchen appliances would be included in the price.  We have learnt that Khmer people get confused with the word ‘kitchen’ and ‘chicken’, quite funny when we are asking what the kitchen will be like! The good news is we move into our new apartment at the end of February.  It is on the second floor so we won’t be affected by flooding and hopefully rats will be unable to climb the stairs.  We thank God for his provision so quickly and we are excited about our home being used to share the love of Jesus with the Khmer people.

Anyone for Roasted Rat?

On the subject of ‘rats’ I must share a story from a few days ago.  The staff in the centre had prepared lunch for themselves (not the children) and we were presented with a dish of ‘oven roasted rat’ to sample.  David had made a profound statement to me and others that in this second missionary term in Cambodia he would be more adventurous in his eating habits.  As I took a photograph of the lunch option, David geared himself up for his Cambodian Challenge.  I am his witness to say he did try some of it, and whilst I was shocked he actually did this, he really enjoyed it and said it tasted just like chicken.  Upon hearing this, our nephew Andrew wants to know when David will try a deep fried tarantula so watch this space!

Thank you for your comments, emails and Facebook messages since we left Northern Ireland and arrived in Phnom Penh, we cherish each and every one and value your love, prayers and support in the weeks ahead as we settle back into the craziness of Cambodia.


Greetings from Cambodia

Farewells are nasty, horrible things. We spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning saying goodbye to people we love and respect and we know we will miss a lot of them daily no matter how long we stay in Cambodia.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped and blessed us in their support for what we are doing. We again must thank Bangor Elim for their belief in us; for their love and kindness in financially supporting us.  We thank our Pastors and Missions team for their endless work to help build God’s kingdom in Phnom Penh.

A big thank you must also go out to Stafford Elim in England who have welcomed us, let us share our vision with them and have become very interested in all we are doing.  We thank them for their continued support especially Pastors Ian and Katrina Dunphy who we are blessed to call our friends. We also need to publicly thank Bill and Maureen Crawford for their continued friendship, advice and support.  They are amazing people who have richly blessed us through our Christian years.

Leaving close friends and family is one of the hardest things we have had to experience.  We want to thank all our friends; you know yourselves how much we love you all. To our Mums and Dads it has been so difficult to leave you and we pray health and safety to you all.   Brothers, Sisters, Nephews and Nieces you are all amazing and we love each and every one of you and will miss you all.  Aunties, Uncles, Cousins and extended families thank you for your love and support, it means so much to us.

And finally to the Bogan’s what can we say?  We love the four of you so much, you put up with us and our busyness for nine weeks and we can never thank you enough for that. Jess you gave us your room again without one complaint, Andrew you even let me win FIFA12 the odd time. Driving to and from school was fun times to be treasured, Ruth and Billy we love you both so much, Jess and Andrew thank you for letting us do what we are doing, we miss you guys but love you so much.

I am sure by reading this you know we are thankful to you all.  We love hearing comments or emails from any of you. To be given this opportunity we have to thank Chris Jones and the Elim International Missions team for believing in us and enabling us to do the work. But the biggest thank you has to be reserved for our Lord and Saviour for entrusting us by putting this call upon our lives and for always knowing what is best for us.

We are both so excited as we step into a new chapter in Cambodia with Elim, please support us in whatever way is possible, we value your prayers as we move into a new day.

Much love and blessings,

David and Esther