Archive for September, 2012

The wonders of a lick of paint

I would like to start the blog this week by congratulating Billy and Ruth on their 15th wedding anniversary today, and a very Happy Birthday to Ruth for tomorrow, enjoy all the festivities this weekend.  My sister-in-law is one of the first to regularly read our blogs, and we want you to know that you are especially in our thoughts today and tomorrow!

We are never shocked by the depths of sin that comes along in Cambodia, friends we live in a very sick and twisted world. We found out this week that over the past few months, over 40 children around Cambodia have been found with organs missing. It’s unbelievable that people are killing young children to sell their organs on the black market. What is going on in the world? Please take a moment right now and pray for the children of Phnom Penh, we work with many amazing kids and do what we can but we can’t protect them 24/7 but thankfully God can!!

We are very excited by the prospects of teams coming out next year from our home church Bangor Elim. Two months ago we said farewell to the amazing team from Lurgan Elim and we are really looking forward to having some of our own folks come and see what is God is doing in Cambodia. To anyone who is considering coming we want to challenge you to step out, don’t let the things that are in your head stop you from coming, I guarantee you that your life will be changed forever.  If you were unable to attend the information night which took place this week, get in touch with Ruth McKee and she will be happy to fill you in on what you missed.

Paul demonstrating how to use a roller

Last weekend, a group of volunteers from the church met at the centre for a paint party.  It’s hard to believe that we have been in our centre for seven months and with all the coming and going (which we love) the walls are starting to get grubby and in need of a makeover. The first room we tackled is used for the Church service every Sunday, toddlers in the Early Learning Centre on weekdays; and music classes and youth fellowship on Saturdays.  With the fact that the room is used every day, stage one was applying the undercoat, which covered up the peachy walls, making the room look so much bigger and brighter. Everyone was in great spirits, singing along to the worship songs which played, enthusiastically working as a team and having fun at the same time. The next stage will be applying the colour coat of magnolia this weekend.  When this room is complete, we will move on to the Baby Room/Prayer Room/English classroom finishing off with painting the walls outside the centre.  We are thankful for everyone who came and worked so hard, and for Paul who co-ordinated the day, starting off with a lesson on how to use a roller!

Dren painting the edges

Esther ended up with more paint on her than the walls

Happy in their work

Viv painting the windowsills

Snack for the workforce – no tea and bickies here

First step complete

Church has been growing steadily and we are being blessed abundantly. Following the gospel message last Sunday, the younger brother of one of our church member’s accepted the challenge to give his life to Jesus.  There was rejoicing in our wee church as there was in Heaven when his name was added to the Book of Life. Please pray for this sixteen year old young man as he begins the most exciting journey he will ever take!

I would value your prayers as I preach on Sunday, and intend to use our lovely friend Suzanne Hanna’s song “Lay it all down” at the end of the service as I challenge people to refocus their lives on Jesus.

From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for your continued love, prayers and support towards the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia.

Lead where you are

GLS Asia

Our week began with another trip to the airport but this time it was me (Esther) that would be boarding a plane.  I was joined by three other members of a steering committee that is organising GLS Cambodia which will be held for the very first time in Phnom Penh in November.  For any of you who are not familiar with the Global Leadership Summit it was started by the Willow Creek Association and Bill Hybels (senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church) and is an annual training event for church, ministry and community leaders to sharpen their skills.  The Global Leadership Summit exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development, and inspiration for the sake of the local Church.  The Summit telecasts LIVE from the campus of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago reaching more than 185 premier host sites across the United States.  In the months following, the Summit moves into more than 200 cities in 70+ countries across the globe, via video cast. GLS Cambodia will take place on 15th and 16th November and for the past 10 months a Steering Committee, made up of local Pastors and community workers, have been meeting to plan and prepare for this two day event.

Welcome Banner

I was very excited to be part of the Cambodian team attending a 3 day training event held in Bangkok Liberty Church.  Over 50 delegates were in attendance representing all of Asia and we were blessed by the hospitality and welcome received by the Pastor and volunteers from BLC.  A packed programme was organised for us, with training for each of the key roles during the GLS event – Event Manager, Producer, Facilitator and Technical Director.  On the first evening, for the benefit of those who had, never attended a GLS event, a taster was given of how a session would run, and we were the delegates. This allowed each person in their designated role to see how all the elements come together.  Timing is crucial for videos ending, worship beginning, facilitator speaking, correct lighting etc etc.  Over the few days it was wonderful to meet the people that will be running GLS in their respective countries and at times heart-breaking as we listened to the persecution they face from governments for running such an event.  In Cambodia we are blessed to be able to freely preach the gospel and do not envisage any opposition when we run GLS later this year but we will be praying for those we were privileged to spend time with, that they will know God’s protection and favour as they work to transform leaders where they are!  At the close of the training event each countries representatives were brought to the front and prayed for as they return home and continue with preparation and planning for their events. Please be praying for all of Asia as GLS events will take place either later this year or beginning of next year.

Bangkok Liberty Church – venue for our training

Pioneer country of GLS Asia – Singapore being prayed for

If you have never attended a Global Leadership Summit, I would encourage you to go online, find where it is being held close to you and go!  The speakers are top class and you will be strengthened, encouraged and inspired to lead where you are!  Our home church Bangor Elim are hosting the event from the 5th – 6th October and we will be praying for the team of volunteers who will work incredibly hard over the two days, that those attending will leave refreshed and inspired after being at GLS.

For more information visit the Willow Creek Global Summit website at: http://www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com/index.asp

Ephesians 6:13-18

13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

The Cambodian team enjoying a special treat at Bangkok airport

 

Life’s journeys

At the start of this week’s blog I want to thank Emma for the wonderful report she gave last week, I am slightly apprehensive about following in her footsteps but will try my best.

On Sunday we had a full house at our church service with 85 adults and children present.  The worship team were amazing and before David brought the message, God’s presence was tangible.  For the last number of weeks David and Chamnap, our Khmer Pastor, have been speaking on the gifts of the spirit, and the subject of Sunday’s message was ‘Joy’.  David shared how you can only experience complete joy once you have asked Jesus to come into your life, and how joy can be restored when through circumstances, situations or choices we make as Christians, we lose our joy.

At lunchtime we were delighted to meet up with our good friend Lisa, from Ratanak International. Like us, she has been really busy so it was refreshing to catch up and see how she was keeping.  As I write this she is travelling home to Canada for a much needed break, if you are reading this Lisa enjoy the next few weeks with family and friends and we look forward to seeing you when you return to Cambodia.

The special guests at BBQ Party

In the afternoon we returned to the centre for a Barbecue Party, three birthdays were celebrated over the weekend and the church family were also saying farewell to Sokhom who would be leaving for England a few days later.  As we have said before the Khmer love community and excel at sharing their lives with others.  Age does not matter as young and old mingle, cook together and eat together.  I took great delight watching Bong Paula, our most senior member play volleyball and she could definitely keep up with her younger team mates.  A feast was laid out which everyone enjoyed and of course, there was cake!  We returned home blessed from spending the afternoon and early evening with our Khmer family and friends.  Daily we thank God for those we are privileged to be serving Him with in Cambodia, having special people around us eases the pain of missing our family and friends back home.

Ready for the BBQ

Feeling hungry?

Happy awaiting their food!

Sokhom’s farewell cake

We are all very excited that one of our staff, Sokhom has a three month placement with the Elim International Missions office; we only wish we could be with her to witness her expression as she takes in her new surroundings.  This is an amazing opportunity for Sokhom, one that will benefit her so much.  She does speak good English but we know that over the next three months, her understanding of the language will come on so much more.  We have teased Sokhom that she will take over from me when she returns and become the new English teacher!  As our pre-school teacher Sokhom is naturally gifted with working with children and she is very keen to see how nurseries are operated in the UK and is looking forward to learning new skills and gaining more experience that can be put in place when she returns. The staff threw a surprise farewell party on Wednesday; no tears were shed as they would be saying their goodbyes the next day.  They enjoyed dinner together and everyone was in good spirits as they are so pleased for the journey God is taking Sokhom on.  Emma made a card which was perfect for the occasion and we know Sokhom will treasure it.

First tuk tuk journey for Paul & Viv

Thursday saw us making two trips to the airport.  First of all to collect Paul and Viv Adams, from Northampton Elim church, who will be working alongside us for the next three months and then a few hours later, we returned to wave Sokhom off.  Typically in Cambodia all family and friends would go to the airport to wave a loved one off but because we were concerned for Sokhom and the long journey she would be making, farewells by all the staff were made at the centre before the van was loaded up with Sokhom, her Mum, sister Chantee, Nita, Chamnap, Naomi, Emma, David and myself. There is no doubt we are going to miss Sokhom, she has such a servant heart and does so much in church and around the centre but we are overjoyed for everything she will get to experience and witness during her stay in the UK.  We were thrilled to receive an email from Chris yesterday letting us know that Sokhom has arrived safely and loves the trees!  Please remember Sokhom in your prayers that she will have the experience of a lifetime and also pray for her family that they will know God’s peace while their loved one is so far away.

Sokhom with her Mum and sister

Sokhom ready to commence her journey

Paul and Viv are settling in remarkably well, both had a normal first night’s sleep and are excited to finally be here after months of preparation and planning.  We are looking forward to the experience and giftings they will bring to the on-going work here in Phnom Penh.  Already they have visited the Elim Centre and saw the Early Learning Centre in operation, meeting all the staff.  Please pray for Paul and Viv that they will have good health and strength during their time here and that they will know God’s hand upon their lives as they serve Him in Cambodia.

As we think about the journey Sokhom, Paul and Viv are on, we know God is their guide and they trust Him to lead and direct them.  It is our prayer that whatever journey in life you find yourself in, you will put your faith and trust in the Lord and follow Him with all of your heart.

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.

Guest blog by Emma

Hello everyone, my name is Emma for those of you who do not know me.  I have had the pleasure of staying with David and Esther and being part of Elim Missions Cambodia for the last 2 months.  I have been asked to share with you all a little about my time here and of course another week in Cambodia.

When I first arrived in Cambodia my daily routine was very different than it is now. There were many different visitors and I was given the opportunity to spend time with them.  This allowed me to settle in to my new surroundings, which as you can guess are not what I am used to.  By visiting different places such as Tuol Sleng, the Killing Fields and the temples in Siem Reap I understood more of the culture and the horrific past that loomed over this country. While I very much enjoyed this time, I am now glad to be well and truly stuck into what I came here to be part of.

with Apsara dancers

Each week from Monday to Friday I go to the Early Learning Centre and spend time with the staff and children there.  As I have spent the last 2 years in college being trained in child care this is right up my street.  I am working with the children in preschool and loving every minute of it, I have been made so welcome by the children and the staff; I have even received my own uniform which really makes me feel like I fit in and am part of their team.  Each day in the centre brings something new and exciting, like being taught songs in Khmer to sing along with children as they praise God, building new relationships with the people around me or simply hearing the hilarious things some of the children have to say (once someone has translated of course. I have even found myself being challenged by the staff as they encourage me to eat the mysterious dishes prepared for lunch and have me writing on the computer in Khmer creating work sheets for the children. I have loved each and every day in the centre and I thank God so much for placing me here.

With Sokhom and some children with new resources for the preschool

I would say out of all my weeks so far in Cambodia this may have been the busiest for me.  It began on Saturday evening, I had been asked to speak at our youth meeting. I have never done anything like this before and was very nervous but I accepted.  Thankfully God was at my side and gave me the courage I needed to get up there; I spoke to the young people about 1 Timothy 4.12 “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all the believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” God has laid this verse on my heart since coming to Cambodia and I hope it will be an encouragement to those young people and anyone else that may need it.

Speaking at youth with Tidha translating

Next in my busy week was my first woman’s meeting in Cambodia, the ladies from the church set off after the service to a water park just outside the city.  This water was like nothing you have seen before, as you go down the slide you are praying that the pool full of 30 people at the bottom will get out of the way in time for you hitting the water. While there were some scary experiences and close calls it was a great day of fellowship, where smiles and laughter built and strengthened relationships even through the language barrier.

On Wednesday and Friday of this week I have got out early from the centre and went to the House of Joy home to the Bong Paoun Project.  Here I have met with some amazing and extremely talented teenagers from the slum villages in the city and spent some time dancing with them.  It has been rewarding to be a part of this project and just having some fun.

Thursday of this week brought a huge challenge to me as I had my first Khmer lesson, anyone who knows me will be aware that languages are not my strong point.  So I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, however I really did with the help of an amazing teacher I actually had fun and am looking forward to next week.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported and prayed for me. I have been so blessed by those back home and praise God for you all.  Cambodia has really touched my heart in many different ways but most of all I have been challenged by the faith of these people.  They trust and have faith in God no matter what their circumstances are and I can only pray that I will someday have faith like this.

Emma xxxx

Chill Time

I am sitting at 4.17am listening to the final hour of the football transfer window, anyone that knows me will not be shocked at this! I really love the excitement of who we are going to sign and who we are going to miss out on. For anyone that doesn’t know already I am a Spurs fan, and we have just got one over Liverpool so I am happy enough.

We have just had a few days off; we travelled down to the beautiful coastal town of Kep. Esther and I love Kep and we just needed a little bit of chill out time to recover from a hectic but amazing summer. We took Emma with us and our friends Kevin and Leakhena from Manna4life, who like ourselves desperately, needed a break.

The weather was beautiful and we did nothing at all other than relax by the pool, we also visited our favourite spot in Kep, The Sailing Club where the men played some pool. I won’t mention who won but will only say that but Kevin took defeat well!! The crab market was fun and we had a really good meal at the renowned Kimley restaurant. Nothing beats sitting eating with the sea breeze and water lapping in, a little bit of home. Another favourite place is Veranda, we love going there to watch the beautiful sunsets while enjoying our dinner followed by the most amazing cheesecake. Our accommodation was Kep Malibu and we would recommend it to all our Cambodian readers.

Enjoying a bit of pool

Dining at the Sailing Club

The three of us at Verandah

Beautiful sunset in Kep

Crab baskets

Gathering the crabs

Crab being cooked

Not excited about the 2 and a half hour car journey transporting these back to PP for our friends

On our return to Phnom Penh we had to organise a leaving party for one of our staff. Mina who has worked for Elim’s Early Learning Centre for two years, has left us to work as a classroom assistant for Footprints school. Both Esther and myself would like to go on record by thanking Mina for her hard dedicated work at Elim. We would like to wish her every blessing in the future, we know that this is a step forward for her in the plans she has and we look forward to hearing how things are going for her. Mina is a valuable member of our church so she is still very much a part of our Elim family.

Esther with Mina

Mina surprised at her farewell party

The sign says it all

Life returns to normal tomorrow as we hit the ground running, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, we thank God for this short time of refreshment.