Archive for April, 2013

Furlough comes to an end

It blows our minds that we are so close to returning to Cambodia.  So much has happened since we came to the UK but yet it only seems like yesterday when we were saying goodbye to our amazing Khmer friends. Over the next 5 days we will have horrible farewells to make, ones we never look forward to, although we are so focused on the path set before us. Our families and close friends know that they are our sacrifice to see the Kingdom built, we love you all but we serve an awesome God who deserves our everything.  On the flip side Chamnap, Nita, etc, etc. we have missed you and will be so happy to see you at the airport.

In the past week we have seen many people and been blessed by them all, we had a special weekend with first of all our dear friends Marc and Gayle Bunting where we stayed in their beautiful B&B, it was truly wonderful. We were spoilt rotten as we talked well into the night about our similar passions to see victims of trafficking set free and restored. These guys are special in so many ways and a big part of us even being in Cambodia.

Our dear friends Marc and Gayle

Our dear friends Marc and Gayle

On Saturday we had Boxing Day all over again; traditionally the Allen clan meet at my Mum and Dad’s house for dinner.  Because we were away at Christmas we decided to have it when we were all together, it was fun to spend time as family.  We did the usual things, ate lots of cold Turkey and ham with chips, cocktail sausages and salad followed up by my Mum’s famous trifle and one of my cheesecakes.  We had brilliant crack just chilling together and laughing mostly at my Dad but there’s nothing new there. We both have very special parents and we will miss them loads when we return home. Afterwards we went to Pastor Gary and Sonya’s for the evening; we had spent time with Pastor Davy and Fiona on Friday and then visited Pastor Hugh and Anne on Sunday evening after church. We love our pastors and really appreciate their continued love and support.  Bangor Elim is truly blessed to have a leadership team with these men on it.

The Allen clan

The Allen clan

We spoke at South Belfast Elim on Sunday night and were blessed as we shared what God is doing in Cambodia; it was really lovely to spend some time with Pastor John and Hannah. On Tuesday morning we were invited to Ballyclare Elim’s ‘Hearts on Fire’ ladies group, again we were delighted to meet up with our old friends Pastor Ivan and Julie, we also got to meet one of our most attentive blog readers Joanne Campbell. We were made most welcome in both places and we thank both churches for looking after us and supporting us continuously.

With Joanne Campbell

With Joanne Campbell

We had many more meetings with old and new friends including a special lady of 83 called Ella, we pray health and strength into her and her husband Cecil’s lives. We also had the privilege to meet up with the Irish Superintendent Pastor Edwin Michael; again we value his love and support. Also Esther was thrilled to take our youngest emailer Joanna Beattie out for hot chocolate and they had a ball.

With special lady Ella

With special lady Ella

Esther enjoying Joanna's company

Esther enjoying Joanna’s company

In closing this week I want to invite as many of you as possible to Bangor Elim this Sunday evening, we will be speaking during the service and will be wearing our Khmer outfits. We would love to see you there – the service starts at 6.30 pm.

There are many, many people we would like to thank for looking after us since we came home and you know who you all are. But I want to say a special thank you to my Auntie Avril and Uncle Cecil for letting us stay in their beautiful house in Donaghadee, to Marc and Gayle for lending us a car, to my mum for doing our laundry and to Ruth McKee for everything she does for us daily. Please continue to support us in any way that is possible to you, we appreciate and love you all, but most all keep living Jesus in all you do.

Moments to treasure

At the outset of this blog entry we want to thank Rick, Ruth and all the Lurgan Elim YF team for totally spoiling us last weekend.  It was wonderful to spend time with you all in your wee part of the world and catch up with what is going on in your lives.   We also give a big thank you to Pastor Roy Johnston for making us feel so welcome and to all the church family for their kind words.  It was lovely to meet the parents and family members of some of the team and we appreciate those who came along especially to hear about the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia.  We have made lifelong friends with this group of people and although it was sad to say goodbye for now, we are grateful for technology to be able to keep in touch and remember them in our prayers as they pray for us. Finally we wish to thank Tim and Alison from Moira Guest House for looking after us so well, if you’re ever in the area and need somewhere to stay we would recommend it, their breakfasts were amazing!

We had another reunion on Sunday afternoon with four friends who came to Uganda on the first team we led in 2009.  Four years on Brian and Lisa have a beautiful daughter Eva whilst Peter and Adele have a handsome wee boy called Thomas.  We enjoyed a gorgeous meal together and it was wonderful to renew fellowship with them.  Their friendship over the years means the world to us and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to catch up when we are all in the same country.

Peter & Adele and Lisa & Brian

Peter & Adele and Lisa & Brian

On Sunday evening we travelled to Rathfriland Elim and were warmly greeted by Pastor Sam and his wife Shelly.  We were last in Rathfriland just weeks before we began our missionary journey at the beginning of 2011 and it was lovely to renew fellowship with the congregation there.  Everyone was very friendly and extremely supportive of us and we value their continued prayers as we pray for Sam and his family who took up the role of pastoring the church six months ago.

From Rathfriland we made our way to Limavady to spend a precious few days with my parents.  It was lovely to visit with them and we savoured every moment.  We even had the opportunity to chat with the seniors, a group of my father’s friends who meet every week and sort out the world’s problems over a cappuccino.  I know some of them follow our blog so we want to personally thank you for your faithful prayers, we value them so much.  I love reunions but am not fond of farewells at all and saying goodbye doesn’t get any easier as time goes on.  Again we are thankful for technology to be able to regularly keep in touch and there is not a day goes by that we don’t think of our family.

On Tuesday we, or should I say David, drove from Limavady to Kilkenny where we were looking forward to spending a few days with my youngest brother Dave and his fiancée Dee.  We had last seen them in January 2012 and it was wonderful to spend time with them both.  Kilkenny is a lovely part of the world and several times I said that David is very happy we live in Cambodia because of all the lovely little cafes, tea rooms and gift shops.  Dave and Dee spoiled us with yummy home cooking; both of them are in their element in the kitchen.  Dee writes a food blog which I follow and it was pretty special to sit and watch her work some magic with ingredients.  They are a great team as whichever one cooks, the other cleans up.  We loved spending time with them and will be praying for them both with all the wedding preparations for the big event next year.

Dave putting the final touches on our dinner

Dave putting the final touches on our dinner

Dee in her element cooking for us

Dee in her element cooking for us

On the way back from Kilkenny on Thursday we visited David’s Uncle Robin and Auntie Beryl and enjoyed lunch and a catch up.  Through David’s childhood and then through our married life they have both been very supportive and caring towards us.  Family are special and with being so far away from all of ours we really do cherish the times we have together.

On Thursday night we met with the team coming out from Bangor Elim in August.  We went through a draft itinerary giving everyone a rough idea of what they would be doing during their time in Cambodia.  We are very excited about the team coming out from our home church, please continue to pray for Ruth and Jason as they co-ordinate all the organising required for the mission trip to go ahead.

Last night I had the honour of presenting the prizes at our annual Campaigner Display, a uniformed organisation which runs in the church for boys and girls.  Both David and I have been involved in Campaigners in Bangor Elim for more years than we can remember and it was a privilege to be a part of their big night.  Each of the clans performed an item followed by the awards for that group being presented.  It was very special presenting the awards to boys and girls I had taught when they were 4 – 6 years old and are now in Junos, Inters and Crafts! I did feel my age somewhat but was more proud of the young adults they have become. Thank you Lisa for thinking of me and allowing me the delight to be present at the display, I will cherish the memories from last night.

Lovely flowers from Campaigners

Lovely flowers from Campaigners

We have less than two weeks remaining on our period of furlough and we are going to enjoy every moment with family and friends, we value your prayers for health and strength in the days ahead.  Have a blessed week in whatever you have planned.

Just another week in the life of a missionary

Another week has nearly come and gone, to say we have been busy is a total understatement but we love every minute. We hardly had time to draw breath after Elim Bible week before we were back speaking in church again!

On Sunday we enjoyed our visit to Dromore Elim with Pastor Stephen Neill, our dear friends Marti and Wes Williamson accompanied us. The church received us really well and we loved the opportunity to share our hearts with them.  We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and we would like to congratulate Pastor Stephen and the congregation on the 25th anniversary of the church and pray that God will continue to build his kingdom in Dromore.

On Monday night we spoke at Beersbridge Road Elim’s ladies meeting.  Pastor John Lowry helped by doing all the tech stuff and we really appreciated him. Stephanie Lowry made us very welcome and we had a great evening sharing again what God’s doing in Cambodia. We would like you to join us in praying for Pastor John and Stephanie as they commence their new journey at Beersbridge Road Elim.

Tuesday was another exciting night as we were able to spend time with our former Pastor Richard McBurney and his lovely wife Margaret.  After they spoilt us with a lovely dinner we travelled to Antrim Elim, where we renewed fellowship with most of the congregation from the last time we visited the church. It’s amazing how quickly the last two years have gone, we had a wonderful time catching up and talking about God’s work in Cambodia. We would like to thank the church but most of all Richard and Margaret for their continued support and love towards us. We would also like to thank the mission’s ladies from Ballymena, Cullybacky and Ballymoney for coming down to hear us, your enthusiasm is so encouraging to us both.

Wednesday night was special as we were invited to speak at Killaughey Mission Hall.  Our dear friend Ruth McKee’s relatives attended here for many years, so it was fitting that Ruth and her daughter Emma came along with us. I led the talk with both Esther and Emma answering questions about different areas of our Khmer culture and life. Once again we would like to thank those that invited us to speak, it was a special evening.

Thursday was a day off from speaking in churches but the afternoon was spent in a planning meeting for the Bangor Elim team coming to Cambodia in August.  This was exciting as we looked forward with the leaders of the team as they prepare for what we feel will be a trip of a lifetime for them.

This weekend we have been reunited with the Lurgan Elim team who came to Cambodia last August and we are excited about spending time with our friends and renewing fellowship with them.  The team leaders Rick and Ruth welcomed us with a lovely meal and we were thrilled to meet their four month old son Elijah. We enjoyed our time on Friday evening with the younger and older sections of Lurgan Elim youth and we are looking forward to sharing with the greater church family on Sunday morning and thank Pastor Roy Johnston for inviting us to be with them.  On Sunday evening we travel to Rathfriland Elim, please come along to any of these meetings if you are free, we would love to see you there.

In closing I want to thank and praise our sovereign God for answered prayer.  Someone very special to the both of us finally gave their life to Jesus on Thursday! We have prayed for him for many, many years and we are thrilled to hear of his decision to follow Jesus. We should all take encouragement in this, don’t give up, persevere, God hears your prayers and he CARES.

Please pray that God will continue to give us the strength as we speak around the churches and that lives will be touched and transformed. We would like to finish by saying a big thank you to all the churches we have visited recently for their continued financial and prayerful support, enabling us to keep doing what we were born to do!

Help the One

Easter Sunday began with joining our Bangor Elim church family at Ballyholme beach at 8:30 am for early morning communion.  Although cold, it was a lovely morning and a wonderful way to celebrate the truth that our Lord and Saviour is alive! This was followed by breakfast back in the church to warm us all up before witnessing many people being welcomed into church membership and going through the waters of baptism.  It was a morning of great rejoicing and celebration as people of all ages shared what God meant to them and why they were getting baptised.

In Cambodia and in Northern Ireland, wherever we are living we have always enjoyed entertaining and  we were delighted to have our brother in law Billy, niece Jessica and nephew Andrew join us for Sunday lunch.  Unfortunately my sister Ruth was working but a meal was sent home for her to enjoy later.  It was special to have family around us and these are the moments we treasure.

We spent the past week in Telford at the Elim Bible Week conference with the theme ‘Generations’ and we want to thank the Elim Missions office staff for all the organising they did to make this possible.  It was wonderful to catch up with friends, some of whom we were priviledged to meet in the last year in Cambodia.  When the Lifelink team led by Mandy Campbell spent one week with us in January they visited organisations and purchased ethically sourced products to stock the ‘Shop with Integrity’ shop.  The stall in the exhibition area looked amazing with crafts from Cambodia, Swaziland, Nepal and other countries.  Special thanks must go to the Lifelink team who passionately care about poverty, ethical trading, education and trafficking; through the fundraising they carry out throughout the year they are making huge differences in the lives of women overseas.

146

Elim Missions stand

147

Where…. to the ends of the earth

Lifelink banner

Lifelink banner

Shop with Integrity stand

Shop with Integrity stand

We were encouraged to meet with other missionaries and hear their stories about the journey they are on serving God in other parts of the world.  Please pray for Richard Ellerington and his family who started a surf church in Hossegor, France – www.surfchurch.com and Debbie Howard who is working in the Congo – www.elimmissions.co.uk.

We are grateful for the opportunity we had to share God’s story about what He is doing in Cambodia and we are so thankful for the support and encouragement we are receiving.  It was wonderful to meet individuals and churches that we have been in correspondence with over the past two years and to thank them personally for their contribution to the ministry of Elim in Cambodia.  We cannot stress enough how David and I are just ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God who is using us in ways we could never hope or imagine.  This past week we have been thrilled to have our niece Jessica beside us and in between seminars and meetings we have cherished our time together, Jessica was a star on the missions stand with her skill of face painting!  We couldn’t be on this adventure if it weren’t for our family who released us to go and whom we know support all we are doing, we love you all from the bottom of our hearts.

With no Krispy Kreme in Cambodia or Northern Ireland we had to treat ourselves

With no Krispy Kreme in Cambodia or Northern Ireland we had to treat ourselves

This incoming week is busy, please pray we will have an abundance of energy as we share about the work of Cambodia in Dromore Elim, Beersbridge Road Elim, Antrim Elim, Killaughey Mission Hall, Lurgan Elim and Rathfriland Elim.  If you are free next Saturday 13th April come along to the Bangor Elim Complex (Balloo Crescent, Bangor, BT19 7WP) between 10:30 am – 4 pm for the Spring Craft Fayre.  The coffee shop will be open on site serving fresh scones, traybakes, desserts, soup and stew.  All money raised supports the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia.  It is only £1 to enter, primary school children can enter for free.

Everyone can make a difference to the lives of others, we may not directly see those changes or hear about the impact it may have but this week’s motto from the Lifelink sessions was ‘Help the One’, what can we do this week to make this happen?