Archive for July, 2013

Birthday & Anniversaries

At the outset of this week’s blog we both want to say a big Happy Birthday to David’s Mum Sandra who celebrates a very special birthday today.  We wish we could be with you to help blow out the candles of your cake but know how much you are in our thoughts and prayers not only today but every day.  Have a wonderful day! Congratulations also to David’s Mum and Dad as they celebrate 30 years of marriage this week.  A double celebration, we send you all our love and look forward to chatting with you on Monday via Skype.

Happy Birthday Sandra

Happy Birthday Sandra

It only seems like yesterday when David and I got married but this week we actually celebrated our 19th anniversary.  Friends were very kind and presented us with homemade gifts to mark the occasion.  For the last few months I have watched Nita make a cross stitch and I even used it as an illustration for staff devotions a number of weeks ago.  Chamnap and Nita called to the house on Saturday and as soon as I saw the packaging I realised what the contents were.  She choose a beautiful frame and the cross stitch is also a clock which will take pride of place in our living room.  As I enjoy cross stitch myself I appreciate the hours Nita spent creating this picture and the love with which she sewed every stitch.    With David’s lack of handyman skills it may take a further 19 years before the picture hangs on the wall.  I will keep you posted on this development.

Anniversary gift from Nita

Anniversary gift from Nita

On Sunday afternoon our friends Jill and Jonny called round and gave us a gift of Jill’s homemade shortbread in a pretty jam jar.  This went straight into the luggage we had packed for our few days break in Kep leaving on Monday morning.  We did an exchange with Chamnap and Nita, they gave us their car for the journey and we gave them the keys to our house to stay in while we were away.

Home made shortbread courtesy of Jill

Home made shortbread courtesy of Jill

The three hour journey was mostly straightforward except for the 12 km road from Kampot to Kep which is never easy with potholes and road works but in rainy season it was even more of a challenge.  We arrived at our destination with a car that was once black but was now orange.  We checked in to our accommodation with a 360 degree view of the coast, balcony area and open air bathroom.  It was pretty cool brushing your teeth while admiring the scenic view reflected in the huge mirror.

our open air bathroom

our open air bathroom

view from bathroom

view from bathroom

We are thinking of celebrating our anniversary in March or April instead of July as for three days it rained!  We did use the time to relax, read, study and even do some work.  The setting within our accommodation was lovely with a quiet area where David sat at one spot replying to emails and working out plans for the new building and I relaxed on the sofa working on our recent newsletter.  We do love the peace and quiet in Kep and after a busy few weeks the rest and the rain was just what we needed.  We enjoyed the shortbread with a cuppa and visited our favourite spot in Kep – the Sailing Club.  The waves were amazing and although the water looks filthy we love being beside the ocean.

Stunning view despite the rain

Stunning view despite the rain

Not a day for walking on the pier

Not a day for walking on the pier

View from the Sailing Club

View from the Sailing Club

Working on newsletter

Working on newsletter

The journey home was a little bit hair raising at times, I was just glad David was doing the driving and not me as I would probably have put us in a ditch.  We were happy to be back on tarmac roads in the craziness of Phnom Penh and headed straight to the car wash.  Thirty minutes later we returned to an immaculately clean car inside and out, a bill of $4.50 and a complimentary iced coffee.  We love Cambodia!

We then excitedly called into the new building to see the progress and were very happy with the developments.  The builder, electrician and their teams are amazing and are doing an incredible job.  Today David had a meeting with a good friend of ours who is helping with all things technical – sound desk, lighting, projectors etc.  We are blessed and so thankful for God putting the right people in our lives who gladly use their giftings to expand the Kingdom of God in Cambodia.

View of church from where stage will be

View of church from where stage will be

View of church from entrance

View of church from entrance

Finally please remember the country of Cambodia in your prayers as the general election takes place tomorrow.  Please pray that this will be a time of peace and safety for all.

Keep pressing on

For everyone that prayed for my mental state after 3 hard days of Esther craft shopping – thank you I have pulled through!

Since we signed the contract on the new building we have been busy, busy, busy. I never ever believed I would be involved in a major renovation project. Yesterday an electrician asked me was I sure about something and would anyone tell him different, and it hit me when I said yes I was ok with it, that my decision was final. Yikes!  This whole project depends on my judgement; when we have our official opening on 25th September I must have this all ready. Thankfully God is directing and I have my trusty lieutenants Kevin and Dren.  It’s amazing what you end up doing when you say to God ‘whatever, whenever’ but when God gives you ‘whatever, whenever’ he also gives you all the tools you need.

Bearing everything in mind things are moving at break neck speed.  On the ground floor of Freedom Project House we will have a reception area, conference room with media coverage, the Pastors office, Sunday School/English classrooms and kitchen/dining area.

The first floor is going to be our church and we are so excited to see it take shape.  It is truly wonderful, we are so thankful to God for trusting and using our leadership team in the way He is. We originally thought it would accommodate 200 seats, but now that it is one area with all the walls knocked down we feel it will be closer to 300, praise God!

reception area

reception area

reception seating area

Pastors office

church

church

where sound desk will be

where sound desk will be

The top floor is where Esther will be starting our Freedom Project craft business with girls and boys who have been rescued from horrendous lives and situations.  They will be trained to make products we can sell to provide them with an income hence helping them transition to a new and better future. It will be a holistic approach; the staff will be fed physically and spiritually, not forcing them to believe anything but showing Jesus to them through love and action. Esther has a really nice area for morning devotions and I can see the excitement as we get nearer to the project starting mid-August.

Esther has her first employee called Sokim a truly talented and gifted young lady who has come from a desperate situation but she has come through those blackest of days and we are so blessed to have her join the team. Sokim will be Esther’s deputy and do a lot of the training up of the other staff. Sokim is heavily involved in our church leading the dance team and is also part of our worship group; she is an inspiration to us all. She has a beautiful daughter called Chera who she brings up on our own.  It is people like Sokim that Freedom Project stands for and with, we thank God for protecting her and restoring her in the way he has!

Please keep praying for us as we keep pressing forward in the building project, but more than that please pray that thousands of people’s lives will be touched and changed in the years to come!

In closing I want to give a special mention to our niece Jessica who turned 15 years old yesterday.  We are thankful for Skype on occasions like this and enjoyed our chat with the birthday girl.  Hope you had a great party with your friends Jessica and enjoyed your cupcakes!

Shopping & Starbucks!

We would like to thank everyone for their kind comments and words of encouragement following the news we shared in last week’s blog about the new building we have acquired for Elim Missions in Cambodia.  Like yourselves we are very excited about what God has in store for the people of Phnom Penh.

Last Saturday morning at the end of our monthly leadership meeting we took the team to see the new building.  Chamnap and Dana, the pastor and elder were the only two who had already viewed it and we were excited about seeing the reactions of the remaining leadership team.

As we walked through the building and explained what each room and floor would be used for the faces of those with us just lit up especially when it involved the ministry they are heading up.  The comment I will remember for years to come came from Sarak, one of our worship leaders and youth leader – when I asked him what he thought of the building his response was ‘a dream come true’. When he saw the area where church would be held, although full of rubble from the renovations he was visualising where he would stand to lead worship.  Everyone kept thanking and praising God for his blessings upon Phnom Penh Elim.  When we finished the tour we gathered as a group holding hands and praying for this new building, for everyone who will enter the gates, for everyone who will come to church, for every child who will attend Sunday School, for every woman who will be a part of the ladies ministry, for every young person who will attend youth fellowship and English classes and for every person involved with the Freedom Project.  As a leadership team we stood united praying that God will be at the centre of every aspect of this new building and many, many lives will be restored, transformed, healed and renewed in Jesus’ name.

The builders have done an amazing job thus far with the renovations, we have called in a few times during the past week to see how it is progressing and will keep you updated with photographs so you can see the developments for yourself.

renovations coming on well

renovations coming on well

bird trapped in my new office

bird trapped in my new office

We are able to source everything we need for the church renovations in Phnom Penh and David has been busy along with one of our church members and valued friend Kevin meeting with the builder, air conditioning representatives, electricians etc obtaining quotes and drawing plans of what we require.  Before Kevin came to Cambodia and founded Manna4Life he worked alongside his uncle as site foreman in the building trade so we are blessed to have his expertise and experience.  As a church member he is extremely excited about the new building and delighted to be able to help in any way he can.

The setting up of Freedom Project House excites me very much and after walking through the top floor on several occasions I can visualise what I would like each area to look like and I’m looking forward to the completion of the building work so I can get to work!  With regards starting craft projects Phnom Penh is limited to what we would need so we booked a shopping trip to Bangkok.  Our friends Julie and Geoff joined us as there were resources they also were looking for.

We have appointed Geoff as our personal travel agent as he booked a beautiful hotel at a reduced price, within walking distance to the city centre and a Starbucks practically on the doorstep!  We spent three days in Bangkok with the feet walked off us and although at times we felt overwhelmed at the stores in the malls we successfully have been able to purchase items to commence crafting.  I am glad David was with me to carry the bags and direct us through the huge shopping malls patiently allowing me to window shop in stores we have back in the UK.  We did enjoy a few Starbucks and even a McDonalds, well it would have been wrong not to!

traffic in Bangkok

traffic in Bangkok

Excited to be in Ikea

Excited to be in Ikea

First time experience for Julie & Geoff

First time experience for Julie & Geoff

My bag carrier

My bag carrier

Some of the craft items we purchased

Some of the craft items we purchased

A browse was all I did here

A browse was all I did here

The hotel had a beautiful roof top swimming pool on the 33rd floor and one afternoon after spending the morning at Ikea which was amazing, David and I decided to try out the facilities. The pool was freezing so it was a quick dip while enjoying the view.  I am not good with heights and so standing beside the glass wall was somewhat scary but I did it!  Julie and I were the only two who made it to the gym before breakfast one morning, the view made sweating it out on the treadmill and cross trainer slightly easier!

photo-12

not a bad view to have whilst training

not a bad view to have whilst training

Ready to travel back to Phnom Penh

Ready to travel back to Phnom Penh

Before I close I must tell you about a highlight to David’s week trying a new food experience out.  His friend Jonny and him have decided to meet once a fortnight to have lunch and discuss how each other is doing and advise, encourage etc.  They both had lunch which included a drink for $2 each and David enjoyed the fish porridge so much we are going to take the Bangor Elim team when they visit next month. A true Khmer dining experience for them!

David enjoying his fish porridge

David enjoying his fish porridge

Ok, time for one more Starbucks before we board the plane and travel back to the craziness of Phnom Penh and to the people we love serving God with!

One happy girl

One happy girl

Exciting times in Phnom Penh

In last week’s blog post we said that we had BIG news to share with you today.  Since our return to Phnom Penh in May we have been working behind the scenes to find a new centre, not to replace the one we have but to add to the work in Cambodia.

We have thanked God many times for the way he is building the Church, and the natural progression is to find somewhere bigger to share Jesus with the lost. I want to say right now that everything we do in Cambodia must have the church central to it and through it. No matter who we help or bless they will not know true restoration until they find Jesus, so the Church is foremost in our thoughts as we plan for the future.

Freedom Project is well known throughout Elim.  It was started with the intention of helping to free people from modern day slavery, slavery from human trafficking, slavery from sex trafficking or forced prostitution or freedom from the chains of poverty. It wants to see full restoration were young men and women can live their lives flourishing by using their God given talents, instead of living with a yoke of bondage being forced to do unimaginable things.

We are delighted to tell you that on the 15th July we will be taking up residency in our new centre “Freedom Project House”. In it we will have offices and conference rooms for the Freedom Project and the Church. There are multi-purpose counselling rooms that can double up as Sunday school classrooms and English classes. On the second floor we will have an amazing 200-230 seater church building suitable for all our needs to watch God’s hand move. On the top floor Esther will be looking after a new craft venture where she will be helping train girls to make cards, bracelets, decorations etc.  The staff will be girls and boys who need help to restore their broken lives.  We are so excited about where this is going; we don’t know but God does and that is all we need to be assured of.

We have so much to do in the next two months – it will take that long to prepare the building as we hope to be officially opened at the end of September.  We value your prayers for all the renovations to be done smoothly and on schedule.

We are blown away by how amazing our God is, he never ever ceases to amaze us! Our Khmer brothers and sisters are wonderful and we are so blessed to have a good team of westerners around us too. A big thank you must go to Chris Jones and Paul Hudson for believing in us and trusting us with these responsibilities, and to you the readers, our friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ we know we have your support and that is priceless.

If you want to support the things we are about to do please contact Elim missions office either in England or Ireland or visit the website for Freedom project or our own Elim missions page, or just email us. Thank you and God bless David and Esther. Take a look at the photos below of the new building which will house Phnom Penh Elim and Freedom Project Cambodia and we hope you will be as excited as we are about what God is going to do in and through this new place!

view from front of building

view from front of building

Entrance

Entrance

Freedom Project floor - where devotions will be held

Freedom Project floor – where devotions will be held

open balcony area

open balcony area

View of Freedom project house from balcony

View of Freedom project house from balcony

 

work has already begun demolishing the wall to make one huge room for church

work has already begun demolishing the wall to make one huge room for church

David amidst the rubble

David amidst the rubble

view from rear of building

view from rear of building

Ground floor: reception area, Pastor’s office, boardroom and kitchen.

Mezzanine floor: two multi-purpose rooms – counselling, Sunday School, English classes etc.

First floor: Church

Second floor: Freedom Project House

Car & Moto Park with wall and outside eating area where tree is

Car & Moto Park with wall and outside eating area where tree is