Archive for July, 2012

Elim officially celebrates new centre

Chris, Hope & Megan in a tuk tuk

Our week started off with another trip to the airport.  Megan and Rebecca who had been with us for two weeks were very excited to be collecting their parents who would be spending a few days in Phnom Penh.  Although Chris, Elim’s International Missions Director, has been in Cambodia quite a few times this was the first visit for his wife Hope and we were looking forward to spending time with her.  Their plane arrived in first and after greeting them, we waved them off in the tuk tuk while we waited for Rebecca’s parents to arrive.  An hour later Kelvin & Nicola arrived and once the introductions were made we drove them to their accommodation.  This was also their first time in Cambodia and they were amazed at the traffic and the contrast of immense poverty and immense wealth.  One of the hardest things when you return home after a mission’s trip is sharing what you have experienced with your friends and family, Rebecca and Megan were blessed to have their parents with them to see for themselves what Cambodia is really like.

Our anniversary cake

While our new guests settled in and unpacked, the rest of us drove to the centre to check on the preparations for the opening ceremony scheduled to take place the next day.  Or that’s why we thought we were called to the centre by Nita.  When we arrived we were completely surprised with the staff presenting us with flowers, cards and of course, cake for our anniversary!  The staff had stayed in work over an hour later to wait for us to arrive and we were so touched by their thoughtfulness.  We weren’t really needed to inspect the preparations and the team had everything under control as they always do.

The opening ceremony of the Elim Centre was superb!  The programme had to be altered slightly as we had originally planned for the children of the Early Learning Centre to take part but as all schools and preschools were temporarily closed due to the virus affecting under 11’s this wasn’t possible.  The good news is Nita was informed just before the ceremony began that we are allowed to re-open again on Monday.  Thank you for your prayers and please continue to remember the families of those who lost children through this illness that they will be comforted at this sad time.

Our Khmer dancers – Kimon, Sophea & Suney

 

Chris thanking Nita for all she does for Elim ELC

So much planning and preparation had gone in over the last number of months for this special occasion and we want to thank everyone who took part either upfront or behind the scenes.  There was a traditional Khmer dance performed as a blessing, a mime to the song ‘Power of your Love’ and the drama that blew us away when we watched it for the first time during our Easter service.  In my speech which was specifically to talk about the Early Leaning Staff, I thanked them all for making me cry three times.  I sat in the front row so proud of the talent God has given each and every one of our Khmer staff and church family and simply thanked God that they are in our lives! David shared for a few moments on the church and ministries thankful for everything God is doing and Nita brought a report on the Early Learning Centre.  Chris concluded the speeches and presented the ‘real boss’ with a bouquet of flowers – Nita.  We were thrilled that Hope was able to accompany Chris on this visit to Cambodia and as guest of honour cut the ribbon officially opening the Elim Centre in Phnom Penh.  We were delighted that some of our friends were able to join us as well as quite a few parents of the Early Learning Centre for this special day in the life of Elim in Cambodia.

Hope cutting the ribbon to officially open the Elim Centre

It was unfortunate that in the last week of the girls visit the Early Learning Centre was unable to operate but on the upside it allowed the staff to undergo some training workshops.  Rebecca who will be commencing her final year at university studying to be a primary school teacher spent two hours with the staff going through preparing lesson plans, teaching techniques, and introducing games into the classroom.  This was hugely beneficial and all the staff were taking notes thankful for what they learnt.  Zumba was also introduced both at the Youth group on Saturday night and with the Early Learning staff.  This was a huge hit and think we could be commencing a new ministry within the centre!

Rebecca with her parents Nicola & Kelvin

At this point we would like to thank the parents of Megan, Rebecca, Rachel and Emma (who is with us for a longer period) for entrusting their daughters into our care.  They were a joy to be around, nothing was an issue and they embraced the Khmer people and culture with love and compassion.  We joked with the Khmer people that they were our four daughters, even though they all speak with different accents.  We will be praying for each of the girls as they commence and continue their studies in university and they know they are welcome to visit us anytime in the future.  Thank you for choosing to come and for the difference you made in the lives of the children and adults you met during your time here, God bless you!

Megan with her parents Chris & Hope

Rachel, Megan & Rebecca in their favorite transport

The girls with all the Elim staff – in less than 3 weeks good friendships were formed

In closing I want to give a special mention to my mother-in-law Sandra who celebrated her Birthday on Friday, sorry we weren’t there to spoil you and share your cake but know you are in our thoughts and prayers every day, we love you with all our heart!

Be blessed as you bless others!

Thursday was a special day for someone very close to us, our beautiful niece Jessica turned 14 years old.  We would like to send our love to you Jessica and let you know that we miss all the Bogans, especially at times like this.  We saw your birthday cupcakes and we have to say well done Ruth they looked fantastic.

Last Saturday night we held our first Youth meeting, we were nervously excited not knowing how many people would turn up. However, we were not disappointed as including ourselves there were 50 people present, we were thrilled.  We had asked God to bring the people but we never ever imagined we would have 50 on the first night.

The evening started off with worship led by Sirak, our youth leader who then welcomed everybody and shared what the programme would be.  I was asked to bring a short message speaking for 10 minutes, I know a lot of you are probably thinking that is impossible but I managed it! Dorae, one of the youth leadership team organised everyone into three teams and it was time for fun and games.  Everyone really enjoyed themselves, some people being more competitive than others!  After each game points were given with my team announced overall winners, our prize was a roasted chicken which they got stuck into, the bare bones was all that was left! The evening was really successful and very encouraging for the youth leaders who had put so much planning and preparation into it.  We are hoping that over the next months we can build relationships with those who attend as we show them Jesus in our walk as well as our talk.

Children ready for the story

Our language teacher Rotha and her husband run a Kid’s club every Sunday afternoon in their home and we were honoured to join with them and see for ourselves the amazing work they do. Over 70 children from the community come each week and in the two hour programme they sing, play games, hear a story about Jesus, do craft and in all of this have so much fun! We watched in awe of Rotha and her husband as they interacted with the children, they love Jesus so much and this radiated in the faces of the boys and girls who were present.  Sokhom came with us and told the story of Blind Bartimaeus receiving his sight when Jesus healed him.

Blind Bartimaeus craft

She is so gifted in this ministry and it was amazing to watch the children listening to her every word.  Even though this was the first time they heard this story, when Sokhom asked the children questions, they all knew the answers. We all thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon in the Kid’s club and look forward to visiting again.  Please pray for Rotha and her husband, they receive no financial support for this ministry and totally rely on God to bless them and trust me He does!

The girls at Bayon temple

On Monday Esther and our four guests headed to Siem Reap where they visited the ancient temples of Angkor and carried out some retail therapy hence why I stayed at home.  Knowing my wife is not a morning person, I chuckled when the girls were collected by their tuk tuk driver at 5am to view the sunrise at Angkor Wat only to watch and wait for over an hour as the sky went from dark to light with the sun behind the clouds!  Probably the real reason I didn’t go to Siem Reap was our friends Barry and Rowena McKnight were coming to visit for the week.  They had been in Thailand for a conference and they wanted to come and see all their friends at the church. It has been really good catching up with them again.  Barry led the prayer meeting which was really enjoyable and he has a busy weekend ahead speaking at our men’s meeting, Saturday night youth and then at church on Sunday. Please pray for Barry as he shares God’s word with the church.

On Wednesday the Cambodian Prime Minister issued a statement that all schools and daycare centres had to temporarily close until further notice following the outbreak of a virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease affecting babies and children, this is in order to prevent the spread of the virus.  So far we have heard of approximately 60 children who have died from this disease. Please don’t worry about us we are fine but we urge you to pray for the children of Cambodia that they will be protected from this disease and the virus will not spread.  We serve a Mighty God who is more than able to change this situation and our trust is in Him.

Ready for some pampering

On Friday the four girls Rebecca, Megan, Emma and Rachel along with Esther treated the staff of the Early Learning Centre to a pamper session.  They had booked “Open Arms” a local Christian run organisation that trains underpriviledged and rescued young Cambodian people with practical skills. To keep it a surprise the staff were told by Nita they were going to a workshop and were to meet at the centre at 8am.  When they met the girls at the salon there were squeals of delight when they were told what was really planned for them.  Most of the girls had a manicure and pedicure with nail art, while one staff member went for a new look having her long hair cut into a stylish bob.

Susie beside the yummy treats for the girls

Refreshments and cake were also served in the adjoining tea room which they thoroughly enjoyed. All of the girls had a wonderful time, this was an opportunity to bless the staff and show them they are cherished and important not only to us but more importantly to God. We want to thank the girls for wanting to do this; it’s these acts of random kindness that build people up.  Who doesn’t like to be spoiled every so often or shown that they do matter?  A big thank you also to Sandra and all the staff of Open Arms for making today a day our staff will never forget.

Sokon enjoying her manicure and pedicure

Tou Tou’s face says it all – happy

With this in mind I want to challenge you as you read this to do something for someone to show them you really do appreciate them, perform an Act of Random Kindness this week, and be blessed as you bless others!

Girls on a Mission

Mondays are the day we usually try to take off but last Monday we felt like we were holiday reps running a shuttle bus from the airport. At 12 o’clock we picked our friend Julie up who had just returned from visiting family and friends in New Zealand. She had surprised her little nephew Jordan arriving at his home on the morning of his fourth birthday. From what we heard her Mum was speechless which Julie told us doesn’t happen too often. I have to say we were a little jealous of Julie, as we spent time with her parents Alison and Lindsay when they visited Phnom Penh last year. They are amazing people and David has a big soft spot for her Dad, hopefully we will get some time with them again soon.

Welcome to Cambodia!

Our second run to the airport was at 5pm. We were really excited about collecting our next four guests from our first official missions team. Emma, the daughter of two of our best friends Phil and Ruth; Megan, daughter of our boss Chris Jones; and two of their friends Rebecca and Rachel. We had company at the airport as Sokhom, Sarah and Naomi Esther came with us to greet the girls holding a banner saying “Welcome to Cambodia”. We weren’t waiting long until the girls came through arrivals and we were delighted to see them all, tired from their travel but in good spirits. They were fascinated on the journey home taking in the sights, commenting that the traffic was crazy and they were so excited to be here after months of planning and preparing for their trip.

Welcomed with a cake

After a good night’s sleep we drove the girls to the centre on Tuesday where they were greeted by the Early Learning Centre staff and children in typical Khmer fashion. They were presented with scented flower garlands and the children sang to them, the girls were blown away by their warm welcome. Following a tour of the centre, they spent the afternoon playing with the children and getting to know the staff. On Wednesday morning our language teacher Rotha gave the girls an introductory lesson on useful Khmer phrases. They were excellent students and at the end of their lesson it was role reversal for Rotha as she was being taught how to speak Welsh! The afternoon was spent in the centre with the girls helping to look after the children; they felt at home straightaway and are really enjoying spending time with the children and staff.

First trip in tuk tuk

A trip in the tuk tuk on Thursday to take in some of the sights around the city turned out to be extremely eventful with not one but two tuk tuks breaking down due to the roads turning into rivers after heavy rainfall. We were taken by surprise by the rain which started at 11am, last year in wet season, the rain always commenced at 3pm. We could do nothing but laugh as traffic passed by sending a wave of water into our tuk tuk, until finally the engine stopped on the moto. David and Megan were heroes as they waded through knee deep water pushing the tuk tuk to drier land. While David stayed with our driver Dren, I joined the girls in another tuk tuk to travel the short journey home.

With our second tuk tuk driver

About five minutes into our journey, you guessed it; the tuk tuk got stuck in water again! More pushing this time by Megan and me, with Rebecca pushing the moto along with the driver. The driver just laughed along with us and when he finally got it going again we gave a big cheer! The rain level was high in the streets around our home so we had to get out and walk the last few minutes, trying not to think about what could be below the water. This was certainly a memorable day for the girls and one they will not forget from their mission trip. As we prepare to go the Ou Dong village on Saturday morning (today) we are thinking of the families there and the living conditions they will have to endure during the wet season. Please remember them in your prayers that their homes will be protected and they will have shelter from the rain.

So almost one week into hosting our youth team, we are thankful for each one of them, they are a breath of fresh air and it is refreshing to watch them take in the sights and smells of Phnom Penh, enjoying every moment (even if it is knee deep in sewer water) with a smile on their face. Thank you girls for loving Cambodia as much as we do!

Megan, Rachel, Emma & Rebecca getting their feet wet!

Building hope and a future in Ou Dong village

makeshift home

In this week’s blog we wish to introduce you to an organisation which we are very excited and privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside.  Kevin and Leakhena Knight founded Manna4Life in 2011 to serve the holistic needs of the displaced community of Thang Khiev.  This community has been violently evicted twice in the last 3 years, victims of a development company working alongside a corrupt government.  They were dumped in an empty field 38km outside Phnom Penh with no possibility of employment. The family unit has been torn apart as they cannot afford to travel daily to look for work in the city.  Mothers, Grandmothers or older siblings are left to take care of the children as the others in the families look for work in the city hoping to send back some money for food for their families.  After witnessing the tragedy firsthand Kevin became involved with justice issues around slum evictions.  After seeing the needs and God continuously breaking his heart for this community Manna4Life was formed to share God’s love to this community.

Vision meeting with the community

Kevin & Leakhena met with the community in October 2011 and called a vision meeting. He told the community how they wanted to improve their situation by building new homes but without money how could this happen.  The feedback from the people was to work together as a community and share everything.  They made a list of what they wanted to see in their community – school, clean water, a toilet for each home, skills, farm, chickens, pig, business, and jobs.  The community first picked a committee of 10 people – 5 women and 5 men who make the decisions of who gets the next homes.

We don’t believe anything happens by chance but know that God arranges divine appointments for us.  We bumped into Kevin a few weeks ago while waiting for a meeting to take place and although we had seen him around Phnom Penh didn’t really know him.  We started chatting and asked about his ministry and what he was doing in Cambodia.  As he shared with passion about the community in Ou Dong and what they had come through, we accepted his invitation to visit the village and see for ourselves what God was accomplishing through Manna4Life.

One of the wells in the village

As we walked through the village we could sense the community spirit, people come together to help build each other’s homes, knowing it might be a while before it is their turn to have a new house but having hope and believing it will happen.  We deeply admire Kevin & Leakhena as they are not only working in this community but they will be living in it.  Their home is similar to their neighbours, slightly bigger because it will also house the computer suite which will provide education and training to the children of the village.  We could see how much they are both respected by the people of this community; the proof of this is their decision to live among them.

Just this week Kevin received the wonderful news that enough funds have been raised to commence building a school in September.  The village is seeing their dreams become a reality as the wish list they created at the first vision meeting is coming true. To date over 50 homes have been built and we are very excited to be helping to build four new homes in August when the team from Northern Ireland joins us.  When we shared with the team leaders the story of this community we were thrilled when they were as excited as us to get involved.  The team is raising enough funds to build three of the homes and another donor has provided money for the fourth home to also be built.  If you would like to know more information about Manna4Life or how you can get help to make a difference please send us an email.  We would value your prayers for Kevin and Leakhena as they serve God in this ministry and share the gospel with the community directing them to the ONE who can provide that hope when they put it in Him.

Before and after shots of new home for family

 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice;  show mercy and compassion to one another.  Zechariah 7:9