Archive for August, 2012

Farewells and Reunions

Full House

On Sunday we had an amazing day at church with the prize giving service from the Soccer School.  We expected most of the children to attend so the chairs were kept in the store so we could squeeze everyone in.  We were not disappointed as over 60 children arrived, some bringing their parents with them too.  Worship was led by one of the team members David Dawson and the congregation enjoyed being taught a new song, we are grateful to Mina who spent hours translating it into Khmer so everyone could participate.

The winning football team of the week!

Timothee Paton, our friend and associate pastor of one of the international churches in Phnom Penh, was our guest speaker, who first of all performed some of his famous magic tricks before sharing the story of Zacchaeus spending time with Jesus.  Then it was the moment all the children were waiting for – the presentation of prizes.  The team had brought trophies from home with the coaches picking the most improved male and female player in both the junior and senior sections plus everyone who took part received their very own medal.

Delighted with his new football boots with coaches Jaime and Chris

The top goal scorer received the special prize of a pair of boots worn and donated by Jonny Evans who plays for Manchester United and Northern Ireland.  The children and young people demonstrated excellent sportsmanship cheering on those who won special awards, in our eyes and the eyes of the coaches they are all winners and we are thrilled that they had an amazing time during the soccer school and kids club.

Following a final meal in Phnom Penh it was time to say our farewells to the Lurgan team, although we only knew them for two weeks, it felt like we’d been friends for years! We have made new friendships with twenty amazing people and are looking forward to the reunion we will have when we are home again. At this point we must thank our two interpreters Mina and Dren who were an instrumental part of the team and we really couldn’t have managed without them.  As the team would say – legends!  A big thank you also to Rotha who was amazing during the Bible club element of the soccer school and also helped out translating in the village, she is totally gifted in children’s work and we were blessed to have her be a part of the team.

Our eldest church member Bong Paula reading a story about Jesus to one of our youngest church children – precious moment!

Our two interpreters Mina and Dren

David with the guys!

Esther with the girls!

Clare and Matt in the tuk tuk

We were back to the airport a few hours later to collect friends who were passing through Phnom Penh during a tour of Asia.  Matt’s parents attend our church and we have been friends for a long time.  David and Matt have had a special bond from he was about 11 years old.  His parents Leslie and Heather would go grocery shopping and Matt would come to our house to play football management with David.  This ritual took place for quite a while and somehow David used his persuasive powers to encourage Matt to support Tottenham Hotspurs rather than Manchester United.

Two Spurs men together!

A new Spurs football top sealed the deal and to this day Matt is fanatical about Spurs.  So needless to say over the few days we spent with them, the topic of Spurs was discussed a lot!  Matt and Clare visited Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields to learn more of the history of Cambodia and also spent a day touring the city on foot and taking in the sights and smells.  We gave them a tour of the Early Learning Centre and also spent a few hours in the Ou Dong village allowing them to see the community we will be ministering to as a church.  After not seeing Matt for a few years it was great to catch up with him and spend time with both him and Clare.

Enjoying the ‘best coffee in Phnom Penh’ at the Russian market with the owner who survived the Khmer Rouge

Clare and Matt with one of the babies in ELC

Clare with some of the children in Ou Dong village

Thursday was an emotional day for all the staff in the Early Learning Centre as one of our employees Srey Mao lost her father suddenly following an illness.  The centre closed at 12 noon and we all made our way to the province of Takeo and to the home of Srey Mao’s parents.  It was beautiful to witness all the staff uniting together and supporting their friend and work colleague when she desperately needed them.  Srey Mao’s mother and brother were so hospitable and welcomed us like their own family, her mum is a beautiful lady and with my limited language all I could do was hug her and cry with her.  The funeral service took place on Friday and we would ask you to remember Srey Mao, her mother and siblings in your prayers.  Her father was a Christian and the family are comforted by the fact that their parting is only temporary, they will be reunited in heaven one day and he is not suffering any more pain.

Revelation 2:14 and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

Thoughts from being on a short term mission trip …

We have had an amazing fortnight with the team from Lurgan Elim YF and over the next few weeks we are giving them the opportunity to share some of their experiences during their mission trip to Cambodia.  This week we have three guest bloggers –  Joshua, Jonny and Lee.

Hello my name is Joshua Daly, I am 19 years old and I work as a baker.  We had a very long day of travelling but 28 hours later we arrived in Phnom Penh.  This mission trip has really changed my life – working in the village and seeing how little people have.  Hearing what they have lost but yet they still love God with all their hearts.  The people and children are amazing, this country is a broken country but it is being mended and God is moving mountains in it.  I was able to give out blankets to some of the very poor families in the village and seeing their smiles and how much it meant to them will always stay with me.  I would like you all to pray for Cambodia and that God will continue to do the impossible.  Finally pray for David and Esther, they have touched my life in so many ways and I hope to come back to Cambodia in the future.

Joshua and his brother Scott with one of the families blessed with crochetted blanket

A Mum and child delighed with their blanket crochetted with love

Upon arriving in Phnom Penh I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never visited Asia before and to be honest I’d only heard a limited amount about the struggles of life for people in Cambodia. Over the past two weeks we have had the privilege of working alongside Davy and Esther and the Elim Centre in Phnom Penh. Through building projects in Ou Dong Village, football camps and kids clubs our eyes have been opened to the struggles, challenges and hurt that many Khmer people have suffered in the past and still endure today. As a team these issues and situations really impacted us and moved us deeply. Although we may have seen a lot of hurt, there is an amazing amount of hope that is rising in Cambodia as God is reaching out changing lives, shaping communities and giving people a hope that only he can bring – Jonny Hampton.

Jonny was in his element teaching the children in Ou Dong village

Their faces say it all!

My time in Cambodia is coming to an end 😦

Twenty of us from Lurgan Elim church have been in Phnom Penh for almost 2 weeks now and it has been such an amazing experience.  We met with David and Esther Allen, two “Norn Irish folk” and I have to say they have been an absolute inspiration not only to me but to the rest of the team.  They both shared their story with the team and the calling which God has placed on their hearts for being missionaries in Cambodia.

It was so evident from day one their love, passion and desire in wanting to see such a broken country changed and transformed by God and it really hit home with me how much more we as Christians need to have so much more of a serving heart if we want to be seen as an army of people stepping out in our faith to serve Almighty God and see this world changed.

Our time in Cambodia has been very challenging for us but also amazing at the same time. It is so difficult to put into words and no pictures which have been taken can really show or explain the things we have witnessed and seen in this country.  From learning more about its history, working alongside people in the church and working within the community with people who have literally nothing.  It’s amazing how a simple smile on a kids face, from a hug to throwing them in the air just seems to bring so much happiness.  We have been so blessed as a team (and I personally have been so blessed) to see the hearts of the Cambodian people who are just solely relying on God each day for the daily bread.

I could go on for ever but don’t want to bore you guys any longer! I would like to ask any of you reading this just really continue to support and pray for the work which is being done in Cambodia, that God would just continue to bless the work of the Church and for the futures of all the kids and young people – Lee Allen.

Lee enjoying swinging a wee boy in the air.

In closing we want to take this opportunity to thank the entire team from Lurgan Elim YF for giving up two weeks of their time and spending it serving God in Cambodia.  We have been blessed to get to know each and every one of them and a lot of times we just sat back in awe as we watched them demonstrate the love of Jesus in their individual ways.  Many lives have been touched during their time here and we thank them for making a difference to the people of Cambodia.  We will be praying for the team as they fly home on Sunday, that as they return to their life in Northern Ireland and take time to process everything that they witnessed and were a part of in Phnom Penh that they will clearly know God’s plan for their lives and experience His blessing as they serve Him!

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.  The Lord be with you all.

The team beside one of the four homes they built in Ou Dong village

It’s all about … Jesus

The team introducing themselves in church

On Saturday evening we greeted 20 jetlagged folk coming through arrivals at Phnom Penh airport.  The team from Lurgan Elim YF had been travelling for over 24 hours and were dead on their feet but ecstatic to finally be here after months of planning and fundraising.  It was great to hear their accent and watch their faces as we travelled in rush hour traffic to their accommodation and home for the next 15 nights.  The team are led by Rick and Ruth Preston and after many months of corresponding via email and skype it was wonderful to finally meet them in person.

Chris eating the spider, one leg at a time!

They have a packed itinerary but we managed to squeeze in an overnight stay in Siem Reap for the team to visit one of the ancient wonders of the world – Angkor Wat.  The team and ourselves will never forget the journey to and from which seemed to be never ending, several times ‘Are we there yet?’ was shouted out (mostly by me I have to confess!) However, the fourteen hours on the round trip gave us a chance to get to know the team members and enjoying the craic and banter!  The highlight for some of the team was stopping off to stretch our legs and at the same time trying a Khmer delicacy – deep fried tarantula.  What I didn’t expect to see was a huge bowl of live tarantulas; I’m squirming even now as I write about them.  Several of the team were brave (or stupid) enough to sample and two even held a live spider in their hand!

A happy lady with the team who will be building her new home

Back in Phnom Penh it was time for work and the main project for the team is building four homes in Ou Dong, over an hour outside of the city.  We are working alongside Manna4 Life founded by Kevin & Leakhena.  On the first day of building the guys got their photograph taken with the lady whose home they would be replacing, this is a life changing moment for this woman and her family.  The ministry also hires some Khmer workers from the community and everyone worked so well together.  The guys really enjoyed their first day of building, practically making a difference and also thoroughly enjoying breaktimes playing with the children.  Kevin told me that it was wonderful to witness the boys and girls doing what they should be doing – being children, playing and having fun instead of cooking rice for their family and looking after their younger siblings.  The children were beaming with huge smiles on their faces and laughing!

First home to be replaced

Working hard

Framework of new home

Just having fun!

While the guys were building the girls spent the day with She Rescue, a home which is a secure haven for young Cambodian girls who are at risk or who have been rescued from being trafficked.  Here they have a safe and secure place to live, and receive counselling, medical attention, and educational and vocational training in a loving environment.  We were greeted by Dave and Hayley, an Australian couple who have joined the SHE team for 2 years.  Once introductions were made we joined the staff for devotions which were taken by our team, we then watched a couple of short films giving us a brief history of SHE and why it was founded.  If you would like to find out more please visit their website at  For the next couple of hours a production line was set up in the merchandise room as we were asked to stamp and pack 3,000 brown paper gift bags, an order that was being sent back to Australia.  We took a break for lunch and amazingly fulfilled the order, not letting the power cut which stopped our fans working; keep us from completing our task.  In the afternoon we were humbled and honoured to spend time with the girls getting to know them, with the team taking devotions and enjoying craft and activities with them.  This was a precious few hours and we are eternally grateful to the staff of SHE for making us feel so welcome and allowing us to spend a day with this amazing family.  Please remember the staff and the girls in your prayers.

Mandy with one of the many tigers!

The team were reunited on Thursday as we all went to Ou Dong to continue not only  building homes but relationships in the community.  While the guys were building, the girls set up a face painting station where at first the children lined up waiting their turn but soon were nearly on top of us, so excited to have a colourful picture on their face.  We lost count of how many tigers or butterflies we painted, and many children caught us out by going home and washing their face so they could have something else painted on.  These children have nothing to learn!

This little girl loved seeing her reflection in the mirror

You’re never to old to have your face painted!

This was my first time face painting and the highlight of my day was painting two flowers on the cheeks of a precious wee lady who was 69 years old.  She giggled like a youngster when she looked in the mirror and saw her reflection.  I was thrilled to be able to practice a little of my Khmer, telling her that Jesus loves her and God bless her, with this she just hugged me and smiled a toothless grin.

Each of the team had their highlights of the day which were shared following dinner during ‘team time’ and we are just so thankful that these 20 people have come to Cambodia, sharing the love of Jesus in practical and physical ways.  Even in their first week, each of them will have stories which have touched their hearts and we are hoping to share some of these in next week’s blog.  Please remember the team in your prayers, thankfully there has only been one or two suffering from a little Cambodian tummy, but please pray for safety as they travel, health and strength and that they will see God work in a mighty way during their remaining time in Cambodia.

This tee shirt says it all

Rest for the soul

Our gorgeous home for 3 days

This week we were blessed to be able to enjoy a few days rest and relaxation in between busy times of visitors and teams being with us.  Also with the excuse of celebrating our 18th  wedding anniversary we checked into a little hotel in Phnom Penh.  I downloaded a new book for my kindle, took a special box of chocolates we were given (thank you Kelvin and Nicola) and for three days recharged our batteries in peaceful surroundings.  The hotel staff were lovely, we shared with them that we were not here on holiday but taking a break from our work and they were so thankful for us living in Cambodia.  One afternoon we answered the door of our room to be greeted by all the staff presenting us with a special dessert for our anniversary or ‘inneversary’.  The break did us both the world of good and we are feeling refreshed and energised.

Doing our bit for Team GB

Cute balcony

Anniversary treat from the hotel

The Early Learning Centre staff were also happy this week to receive their new uniforms.  They have three sets of tops and trousers, the tops have the Elim logo and Early Learning Centre written in Khmer and English screen printed on them. The girls all looked so smart and were happy to pose for a photograph in the garden on Friday!

The staff modelling their new uniform

On Friday afternoon, David was privileged to be invited to speak at Daughters.  They have a weekly church service for all their staff and it was an honour to be able to join with them.  Mina did a magnificent job translating for David and we are so thankful to the team at Daughters for making us feel so welcome.

Lurgan Elim team

As I write this our first team from Northern Ireland are in the air and will be touching down in Phnom Penh airport at 16:10 today!  The team of 20 from Lurgan Elim are being led by Rick and Ruth Preston and we are very excited about what God has in store for this group of Norn Iron folk here in Cambodia.  We have enjoyed many skype conversations with Rick and Ruth and we are looking forward to meeting them in person and working alongside them and the rest of the team.  There will be plenty of craic and banter, we will be able to speak quickly and they will understand us but most importantly this team are going to make huge differences to the lives of many during their two weeks here.

Precious lady and son awaiting their new home

We have a packed itinerary which includes building four homes at the Ou Dong village, an hour outside Phnom Penh, working alongside Manna4 Life.  I have attached a photograph of the first home they will be replacing; we were humbled to meet the lady and her son who are next on the list to receive their new home.  The team will also be laying the foundations for the school which will be built in September by another team.  We are grateful to Kevin and Leakhena for allowing us to be a part of what God is doing through their ministry in Cambodia.

Another view of home to be replaced

A soccer school is organised for three days with boys and girls coming from local slum villages and children’s homes.  As well as playing football, they will learn about Jesus as the team have a children’s programme planned out.  The Early Learning Centre staff are looking forward to having an overnight staff retreat where the team will have games and activities organised in order to have fun and fellowship together.  Time will also be spent in and around the centre with the team taking part in the weekly church programme and getting to know the Khmer family in Phnom Penh Elim.  Please pray for the team that they will have safe travels, good health and as they impact lives in Cambodia, they will know God’s blessing and be encouraged as they encourage others.  Lurgan Elim team members are: Rick and Ruth, Alan, David, Adam, Jaime, Lee, Stephen, Chris, Scott, Noel, Joshua, Jonny, Scotty, Isaac, Susan, Katy, Grace, Mandy and Rebecca.

If like us you have been really busy, take some time to rest, relax and rejuvenate.  Not only will you feel the benefit of it but those around you will too.  Do something that you enjoy – go for a good walk, pick up a book or spend time with friends.  When you rest God will give you the strength and energy to get up and get going so you can complete the work He has entrusted you to do!

Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.