Archive for October, 2012

Chilling by the coast

We are in Kep and because there is internet we are able to post a blog for this week!

Chamnap, David, Sokhim & Cheira

Our Sunday service was really special in that we had our first child dedication take place in our new centre. Sokhim has been coming to church for the past few months along with her 2 year old daughter Cheira, who also attends our Early Learning Centre.  We were thrilled when Sokhim enquired about dedicating Cheira; and David along with Chamnap explained what it meant and what format the service would take.  David called Sokhim and Cheira to stand with him and Chamnap at the front of the church as he read the following story from Mark 10:13-16:

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

At this point David held Cheira and asked the church family to stand with him if we were committed to play our part in being a good example to Cheira.  David then prayed for Cheira and Sokhim that they would know God’s blessing and provision in all areas of their lives, that Sokhim would have wisdom as she raises her daughter, and that Cheira would come to know Jesus at an early age.

At the end of the service refreshments were provided as usual but because of the special occasion, you guessed it, we had cake!  Cheira certainly enjoyed her piece as she came up to me afterwards with cream all over herself. We are blessed not only to have Sokhim and Cheira in our congregation but we have Mindy and Lyle with 7 month old baby daughter Ada, and Songva and Channak with baby daughter Melody.  Please pray for these special families that God will give them the required energy and strength in the early stages of parenting.

Cakes to celebrate special occassion

Cheira enjoyed her cake

On Sunday afternoon we packed up the car and began the roadtrip to Kep for our ten day break.  The first stop was at the Russian market where, along with help from one of our tuk tuk drivers, Mr Hatta, we purchased ice for our cool box.  Fifty pence was all it cost to keep our cheese, milk, yoghurts and drinks cold during the 2 hours and 45 minutes journey.  Although I was tired, I stayed awake so I didn’t miss out on any unusual photographs and I wasn’t disappointed.  I hope you enjoy some of the sights we captured! We arrived at our accommodation Kep Malibu Bungalows and when I got out of the van, my first comment to the staff who greeted us was ‘It’s so quiet!’ We learnt that we were the only guests and knew that we were going to have the peaceful, relaxing break that we hoped for.

With all holidays time goes in too quick and we can’t believe it is Friday already!  We return to Phnom Penh on Wednesday so still have a good few days to enjoy Kep.  So far this week we have relaxed by the pool, spent time reading for leisure (me) while David has been making the most of his time by doing some sermon preparations for the weeks ahead.  Our Khmer study books are also with us along with the homework set by our teacher Rotha.  Even language study is not a chore when you have a wonderful view and peace and quiet to concentrate!

We have also visited some of our favourite places in Kep – we arrived at the Sailing Club in time to watch the most amazing sunset and as I type this we are at the Verandah Natural Resort.  We discovered a lounge area situated upstairs with the most amazing view where you can come with a book or choose one from their library and enjoy the idyllic surroundings over a coffee, which is what I’m doing! This has to be my favourite setting thus far whilst writing the blog and I only wish you could be here to enjoy God’s beautiful creation along with me.  But as that is not posssible make yourself a cuppa and take a look at the photographs instead!

Mr Hatta asking do we want a block of ice or crushed ice

Cool box filled with ice

Transporting a bicycle among other things

Khmer tractor

Passenger balancing the cargo

Khmer roadworks

Spot the van

Only in Cambodia!!

The view from our room

Where we have breakfast

Beautiful orchid

My secret hideaway!

Wonderful view whilst blogging

Flat white coffee – bliss!

The Sailing Club

Dinner at the Sailing Club

God’s splendour in a sunset

At the close of this blog I’m sending special wishes to my eldest brother Jonny who celebrates his birthday on Friday and my younger sister Rhoda who celebrates on Saturday.  Have a wonderful day and know we are thinking of you both, hope you have cake!

Cambodia mourns

One of the many tributes to the former King of Cambodia

We woke on Monday morning to the news that the King’s Father Norodom Sihanouk had passed away at the age of 89. The former king of Cambodia died at a hospital in Beijing, after having a heart attack, he had been in poor health for several years.  Sihanouk came to the throne in 1941 and led Cambodia to Independence from France in 1953.  Despite long periods of exile and his abdication in 2004 due to ill health, he remained an influential figure. His son, King Sihamoni, and the Prime Minister flew to China on Monday to accompany the late king home. On Wednesday the body of former King Norodom Sihanouk returned to Cambodia for a week of official mourning.  Tens of thousands of people lined the streets near the airport in Phnom Penh as the plane carrying Sihanouk’s body touched down.  Grieving Cambodians wore white shirts with black ribbons, and flags flew at half-mast after the news of his death.

Betty with her son Grant

At 10am on Wednesday morning we left Phnom Penh to visit the village of Ou Dong.   We were blessed last year to be introduced to a remarkable lady called Betty who has been visiting Cambodia for the past twenty years.  She is from New Zealand and is on the Auckland City Elim Missions Board.  Betty won’t mind me saying that she is in her 70’s and I told her I hope I have a fraction of her energy, determination and graciousness when I am her age! Betty’s son, Grant, joined her on this trip wanting to find out what draws her back to Cambodia every year.

Flags at half-mast en route to Ou Dong

It was a pleasure to spend time with both of them and hear about the mission projects they were a part of and how they felt impacted by them. We had been sharing with Betty and Grant about the work we are involved in and arranged to visit Kevin and Leakhena from Manna4Life to show them the village we have begun to minister in. The mango trees were looking great, some of the families have put wire mesh in place around the base to give extra protection.  After spending a few hours in the village we made our way home, being optimistic that this would be straightforward despite the royal procession from the airport.  We were delighted when we reached the riverside and there were no major traffic holdups but this feeling would not last for long.  Four hours later, including a coffee and toilet stop, we were still touring the city.  We saw areas of Phnom Penh that we’d never seen before and each route we tried to take ending up with us unable to go any further. The only thing we didn’t witness was the actual procession!  I was gutted that on this day of all days my battery died on my camera so I wasn’t able to take any photos. At times we were only moving one car length at a time and wondering would we ever get home.  We did enjoy ourselves and the Khmer people are the friendliest people, smiling and waving at us, as they also were stuck in the traffic.  We kept saying this is a momentous day to be in Cambodia, a day that will not only be recorded in history but also in our memory.

Anyone we have talked to about the death of the King’s Father have spoken very highly of him and there is an incredible sense of loss being felt by the Khmer people.  There have been numerous messages that we have read in the past week but the one that spoke to me the most came from one of our church members, ‘very sad that I just know my king die but my lord stay with me forever!’ It is our prayer that the people of Cambodia will come to know the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Newly painted baby room

One of the highlights from this week was making further progress with our painting project – the baby room is now painted and the staff are very happy with the bright, clean walls.  Paul and Viv, along with David and myself tackled the task on Monday and Tuesday while the centre was closed for Pchum Ben.  We have discovered the biggest challenge of painting in Cambodia is opening the bucket of paint and unfortunately for David this was his first task.  Emma did offer to help but we didn’t think it would be fair for all the staff to benefit from the holiday while she worked so she was allowed to rest instead which Emma greatly appreciated.

We are going to Kep on Sunday for a break which we are very much looking forward to.  Coming from the coastal town of Bangor, we do miss the sea and we are excited to spend some time on the south coast of Cambodia.  Paul and Viv will be holding the reins while we are away.  Depending on what internet access we have will determine whether there will be a blog next week.  But you will be excited to know that guest blogger Emma will be writing her second post when we return to Phnom Penh!

Planting Trees!

Happy Birthday Dad!

I would like to start this week’s blog by saying Happy Birthday to my inspiration, to the man I admire the most for all he has done not only in my life but in our lives.  We are so sorry that we are missing your big day on Thursday but know you will be in our thoughts and prayers.  Happy birthday Dad you’re a legend!!

Last week because Esther wrote the blog I was unable to express my complete and utter joy about two results within 24 hours of each other. First of all my team SPURS went to Old Trafford and destroyed Manchester United 3-2, you have no idea how happy I was. Then the Europeans came back from the brink in the Americans own backyard winning and retaining the Ryder cup in golf. I thought it can’t get any better than that but it did and here is what topped it all.

Excited to be serving the community of Ou Dong!

Last Saturday morning we met at our Elim centre at the crazy time of 6.45 am. I had made an appeal to our congregation the previous week to come with us to serve and bless the poorest of the poor by planting mango trees in the  Ou Dong  community. We expected to maybe fill three quarters of a 25 seater bus, but again the faithfulness of our congregation blew our minds when 38 people turned up. That is approximately half our congregation; it is such a blessing to serve this group of people.

Almost ready for the road again

The bus led the way and we followed in the Elim minibus expecting to arrive at 9am but remember we live in Cambodia. We had almost arrived when the bus got a puncture so in true Khmer fashion we all piled into a roadside cafe to have noodles for breakfast while the bus driver took a motodup (motor taxi) back to Phnom Penh for a replacement tyre. Eventually we arrived at the village not too late but excited about making a difference.

Mango trees ready and waiting for planting

We were thrilled to see the newly built school which was housing all the mango trees waiting to be planted.  After splitting into groups and receiving instructions on how to plant the trees we commenced work.  We were making good progress until the skies became very grey and then the heavens opened; the trees were going to receive their first watering.  We were thankful to take refuge in the school and while we waited for the storm to pass lunch was served early.  Ladies in the community had made curry and rice which was served with enough bread to feed the five thousand.

Dren & Dana planting the first tree

Esther & Mindy using the tools we have to break up the soil

Praying that my tree grows

Doesn’t look promising

Washing our hands before lunch

Curry being dished up

Not sure we have enough bread

Shovelling out the excess water

No sooner had we finished lunch that it stopped raining and it was back to work.  Esther was delighted to wear her wellies for the first time and was quite happy ploughing through the muck and puddles.  The holes for the trees had been dug in preparation for us and after the heavy downpour; the first job was ladelling out the excess water.  Everyone worked so hard and even when the second downpour began, pac a macs were donned and we continued planting. The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and only when it became so torrential we knew it was time to call it a day.

A mother and her child beside their mango tree

We had managed to plant 280 trees; Kevin and Leakhena, the founders of Manna4Life were overjoyed as were the community who will benefit.  The trees are one year old and will take another two years until they begin to bear fruit.  Before we had begun to plant, Chamnap, the Pastor of our Khmer church prayed that the trees would take root and they would flourish and bear much fruit.  As a church we pray the same thing for both the village of Ou Dong and the community around our centre.  That as people hear about Jesus, they will put their faith and trust in the Lord, they will grow rooted and become strong bearing fruit despite what circumstances they may face.  This is our prayer not only for Cambodia but for everyone who reads this blog entry.

Jeremiah 17:7 & 8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Keeping their hair dry in the rain

Ready to deliver another load of mango trees

Esther thankful for her wellies

A good friend shares their pac a mac

 

Three precious boys grateful for their new pac a macs

 

 

 

The miracle of new life

In this week’s blog we want to introduce you to the newest member of our family in Phnom Penh Elim Church.  Songva, one of our musicians, and his wife Channak became the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl called Melody, weighing in at 2.7 kilos or 6lbs.

From the beginning of Channak’s pregnancy the church has been praying for both mum to be and baby, as she experienced fear and uncertainity about having a healthy baby.  Each week during our prayer meeting we prayed for them as a couple that they would know God’s peace and all fear would be gone.

Viv led the prayer meeting on Wednesday night, following a Bible message and time of worship and individual prayer, the group were asked if they had specific prayer requests.  One of the prayer requests was from Channak asking us to pray that her baby would come soon and that there would be no complications.  Little did we know that in less than 24 hours her prayer would be answered!

The very next morning I received a telephone call from Nita saying Channak was at the hospital and did I want to accompany Nita to wait for the birth.  For any of you who are new to our blog, David teases me about watching the royal wedding while he was at the hospital with Chamnap and Nita, and then when their daughter was born she was named Naomi Esther! We arrived at the clinic and joined the two grandmothers waiting for news.  We sat outside the delivery room, Nita and I taking turns listening at the door (totally Khmer), praying that God would be with them.  It was a moment I will never forget when we finally heard the cries of a new born baby coming into the world! Grandmother Bong Paula exclaimed ‘hallelujah’ and we all cheered and hugged each other.  The proud father came out of the room to tell us ‘she is here’!  Phone calls were made to family and friends and then a nurse carried ‘Melody’ into the room the family would use for the next five days.  We oohed and aahed over this precious baby, examining her wee fingers and toes and thanking God for her safe delivery.  There is no doubt that every baby born is a miracle, and as I nursed Melody for the first time, I thought of the scripture we had read in the prayer meeting the previous night from Psalm 139:13,14 For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.

Nita listening at the door

 

Melody less than 30 minutes old!

Proud and delighted Daddy

Grandmother overjoyed with the newest member to her family

Enjoying a cuddle and proof that I was there!

In closing thank you all for your prayers for last Sunday’s service.  At the close of David’s message he told the congregation that as the beautiful song ‘Lay it all down’ was played one of our worship leaders from home Suzanne was going to sing a blessing over us.  More than 20 people came forward and knelt at the cross, either focusing for the first time or re-focusing on Jesus.  Lives were touched and we give God all the glory!

Please pray for the church and youth group as we meet at the Elim centre at 6.45 am on Saturday morning to travel to Ou Dong village where along with the entire community we will be planting 400 mango trees! This will provide shade and a mango canopy down each street in the community.  The mango trees will provide fresh fruit for each family and enable micro-enterprises to start which will benefit the whole community. We will share how we get on in next week’s blog, until then God bless you!