Archive for August, 2013

Preparation underway!

This week I have been enjoying all the photographs that friends have been posting on Facebook of their children starting back to school, I can’t believe tomorrow is 1st September – next thing you know it will be Christmas!  Yesterday David and I were in one of the chain of supermarkets ‘Luckys’ when we spotted Christmas chocolates on the shelf.  I did want to take a photograph but the staff are not always happy when we do this so I refrained myself. Cambodia is becoming more like the west in promoting Christmas earlier than necessary.

Time is flying by and as I write this blog we have 27 days until the official opening of Freedom Project House.  Nerves are kicking in a little because we want everything to be perfect for our special day.  David and Dren have been working tirelessly this week helping with finishing touching in the FP craft room and in the church auditorium.  This afternoon the worship team will meet with the sound technician for a practice session.  Because of all the renovations there is still so much dust and next weekend we have booked a professional team of cleaners to come in and give the complete building a thorough clean.

Channak, Sokim and myself have been crafting away all week and I must say there is such a wonderful atmosphere as we listen to worship songs and it thrills my heart when I hear the girls singing along.  Currently we are preparing for Christmas making cards and tree decorations which we plan on sending back to the UK as well as partnering with businesses in Phnom Penh. The organisation we visited last week and shared the vision of Freedom Project Cambodia are bringing their team to visit us this week so hopefully their clients will commence our training programme in the near future.

Exciting!

Exciting!

craft pots

craft pots

Blessed and thankful for these two

Blessed and thankful for these two

Church was amazing last Sunday, David brought a short message about being the body of Christ, how everyone has a part to play and a gift to use.  When he finished speaking the chairs were all stacked to one side and as the worship team sang the church were encouraged to pray for one another.  Then those who were not already serving in a specific ministry but who wanted to get involved were prayed for by the eldership team.  There was such wonderful presence of God as we united together praying and praising God for the future of Phnom Penh Elim as we prepare to move into a new and exciting chapter.

Tomorrow David will be continuing on from last week’s message and as so many of the church have heard about ‘our new building’ but have not yet seen it we are planning on taking everyone there.  We will play a worship song through the sound system that we can all sing along to and then pray together as a church family united in God.  We will be encouraging the church to be thinking and praying about who they can invite to our official opening in less than four weeks’ time!

church auditorium

church auditorium

We value your prayers for energy, strength and patience and that in all the busyness we will remember to ‘Be still and know that I am God’.

Production commences at Freedom Project Cambodia

It’s been one week since the Bangor Elim team left.  I’m not embarrassed to say there were tears at the airport, it was wonderful to have our very own church family with us and I was sad to let them go.  On Saturday and Sunday my emotions were slightly sensitive as i was thinking about the team and following their homeward journey through updates on Facebook.

Both of us have had a really hectic but productive week with David working away in the church along with the sound and technical team of volunteers. Our church member and infamous tuk tuk driver Dren has been an incredible help, even today I captured him on camera assisting David putting up curtain poles.  The two of them are a great team and are working so hard to have everything completed on schedule and within the budget.

Dren attaching curtain poles

Dren attaching curtain poles

David hard at work with the hoover

David hard at work with the hoover

reception area and office furniture being delivered

reception area and office furniture being delivered

The Freedom Project craft business also became up and running this week.  The start of the week was spent purchasing a new sewing machine from ‘the sewing machine shop’ and it was great fun watching it being tested and assembled onto its table there and then. It was then completely normal to load the sewing machine into the tuk tuk along with ourselves and drive through the streets of Phnom Penh.  Channak, a young lady from church, will be training new staff on how to use the sewing machine and so she spent this week making Christmas tree decorations which will be used as samples, experimenting with various fabrics.  I’m hoping she can also teach me how to use the machine, I did some sewing in secondary school, and my Mum still uses a knitting needle organiser which I made for her over 20 years ago! Meanwhile Sokim has spent this week creating Christmas cards, and she is a whizz.  I simply make a template design and then she flies through production of them.

sewing machine loaded into tuk tuk

sewing machine loaded into tuk tuk

Channak making Christmas decorations

Channak making Christmas decorations

Sokim in her element

Sokim in her element

This week David and I met with an organisation to share with them the vision of Freedom Project Cambodia that we wish to help with the transition process of young people who have been affected by human trafficking or sexual abuse.  The lady we met with was very encouraged and excited that we are beginning a project that young people who have been through horrendous situations can be accepted onto a 6 month training program with the offer of a full time position if they enjoy what they will be doing.  We are hoping to begin the training program at the start of September with two new trainees.  Please pray for this new venture, for Sokim and Channak, and for those who will join the training program.

We are grateful to everyone who sent gifts and goodies from home with the team, we felt very spoiled and loved.  The team leader, missions secretary and firstly our friend Ruth brought out potato bread and soda bread.  We were worried as Ruth’s suitcase was one of three which arrived a day late but the bread was intact and put in our freezer straightaway.  On Thursday night we invited our Ulster friends Jonny and Jill round for an Ulster Fry cooked up by David.  ‘Potato bread and soda bread never tasted as good’ were the comments made from Jonny and Jill.  So thank you Ruth for making four Northern Irish folk very happy this week!

Our Ulster friends Jonny and Jill

Our Ulster friends Jonny and Jill

Bangor Elim Cambodia Team continued….

As I write the blog and as you are reading it we will be saying goodbye to 12 really amazing people from our home church.  Bangor Elim they have done you proud! It has been a privilege and a pleasure to share our lives, our work, and our Cambodian brothers and sisters with our own people, our friends of old and new!

It has been a busy two weeks with the team especially with the ongoing building project to deal with as well. On Sunday we had a special church service were the children from the soccer school / holiday bible club came along.  We were entertained by two amazing dances by the children and Jason, Bangor Elim’s Youth Leader brought God’s word. We then had the pleasure of giving medals and prizes out to those who attended the soccer school followed by the joy of giving every young person a Bible bought and presented by the team. In the afternoon we returned for the team to lead the youth group which again was a real blessing.

Sunday morning

Sunday morning

a young mum with her son clutching his new Bible

a young mum with her son clutching his new Bible

snack after youth group

snack after youth group

On Monday and Wednesday the team spent the days in the new centre cleaning and fixing some of the smaller things that could be sorted. The world famous cleaner Dot McCready led the team and by Wednesday the place was definitely in a better shape. The top floor is almost ready to start production, hopefully by next weekend Esther will have news and no doubt pictures to show as the crafting begins.

The team went to other faith based organisations on Tuesday and Thursday and we would like to thank Dave and Hayley at She Rescue for being so accommodating and allowing the team to help by stamping, tagging and packaging gift bags and tagging bracelets.  Also a huge thanks to Kevin and Leakhena at Manna4life for showing us around the community of Ou Dong and allowing us to take a kids club with at least 100 children.  The team were truly blessed as are we to have such amazing friends totally sold out for Jesus.

She Rescue

She Rescue

Kids club at Ou Dong

Kids club at Ou Dong

the children loved making their crowns

the children loved making their crowns

The ladies took the prayer meeting on Wednesday night and it was almost as good as the guys last week, well done to everyone!

On Friday the team said goodbye to the staff and children at the Early Learning Centre and then went to Freedom Project House.  The team saw such a change even in the two weeks they were here and are so excited about what God is going to do in this place.  The sound system is in place and as the song ‘How Great is our God’ was played we sat around the building and then prayed for each life who would come through the doors of the church. We then went to the top floor where the freedom project centre is situated and the team held hands and prayed for this new venture and the lives that will be transformed through it, both of these moments was very moving for all of us!

the team on the stage in church

the team on the stage in church

The team then set about shopping until they dropped literally so some of you are going to get some nice presents. Big G you should be excited, very excited!

As we say goodbye to the team we pray that God has spoken to each person.  Mission trips I believe are as much about what happens after as what happens during them. I believe lives have been changed Praise God!!

Thankyou especially to Ruth McKee for an amazing job of team leader, you are simply outstanding and we can never thank you enough for all you do for us all year round.

Bangor Elim Cambodia Team

Last Sunday was a day we had waited for over two years to come around – going to the airport to finally pick up a team from our home church! It was with much excitement that we waited at the arrival gates, David urging me not to squeal, dance or generally make a scene in front of the Khmer people also waiting to be reunited with loved ones.  When I saw the team gather at the end of a long corridor inside the doors I could wait no longer and went to them.  I think I was quite dignified as I hugged everyone and welcomed them to Cambodia and then I discovered the delay in the team coming through the gates was three bags missing in transit.  I’m thankful my limited Khmer was helpful in the situation and once forms were filled in and my mobile number given we were free to go.  David and Dren were waiting along with Seng our bus driver for the next two weeks.

welcome sign with our new friend at airport

welcome sign with our new friend at airport

Travelling in Cambodia is never dull and the team were mesmerised as they took in the sights on the way to their accommodation, only two of the team members had been in Phnom Penh before – Emma and her Mum/mission secretary/team leader Ruth.  For any of our readers you will be familiar with L’elephant blanc, a resort just outside of the city which we have held church retreats, leaders meetings, staff outings and the Lurgan team stayed there last year.  The team settled in, pretty exhausted after their long travel and those who had bags unpacked them.  In the afternoon the youth group were going to an outing to Diamond Island for games, snacks, worship and some of the team joined them.  The remaining team members chilled out at the accommodation and got to know Chamnap, Nita, Dren and his wife Chantha who were spending the day with us.

The adventure begins

The adventure begins

Monday was spent visiting the Early Learning Centre where the children greeted the team with songs and met the staff.  We then drove round the corner to our new building; it was for the team to see the renovations for themselves after following the updates on the blog.  Next week the team will be working in the new building for a few days cleaning, painting and helping to set up the craft area of Freedom Project House.

Thank you Crafty Angels for new resources for Freedom Project House

Thank you Crafty Angels for new resources for Freedom Project House

On Monday afternoon we gave the team their first experience in a tuk tuk and stopped off at one of the markets where some of them tried a deep fried tarantula.  David who has eaten quite a few spiders thought it would be good to have a spider crawl over his head, this I did capture on video but even as I write about this experience I’m cringing!

First experience in tuk tuk

First experience in tuk tuk

The next three days the team organised a soccer school/kids club with almost 50 children in attendance.  The children were split into two groups depending on their size, as opposed to age.  The soccer pitch is close to the centre and the smaller ones played football first while the older ones played games, learnt new songs, heard a story, did craft and finished off with snacks.  Children of all ages in Cambodia love colouring in and making craft and I think the team were pleasantly surprised to see 18 year olds being creative with paper and pens. The groups then swapped around with the smaller ones coming to Kids club and the bigger ones playing football.  I didn’t get round to the soccer school but from talking to the boys and girls they really loved it and I really enjoyed watching the children have a great time in the Kids club.  Sunday morning is a special service where all the children who attended have been invited to church and prizes and medals will be given out.  I’m looking forward to the team teaching the church some of the songs the children learnt during the week.

Day 2 craft

Day 2 craft

Guess which football coach played the most

Guess which football coach played the most

Day 3 craft

Day 3 craft

On Wednesday night the prayer meeting more than doubled in size and it was a joy to have the boys from the team lead the service, it’s the girls turn next week which we will also look forward to.  It is a new experience for many of the team working with interpreters and we are thankful to Thida and Mina who have helped out so much this week so far.

Prayer meeting

Prayer meeting

As I write this we are at L’elephant blanc with the team and the staff have joined us for an overnight retreat.  We arrived just after 11 am and are staying until Saturday afternoon.  We have just had lunch of rice and pork, a Khmer favourite and have free time until dinner this evening followed by a programme that the team have organised.

It is hard to believe that the team are here almost one week already, I really hope next week goes much slower.  David and I are so thankful to have a team from our home church with us and straightaway they have seen how blessed we are to be serving God amongst the Khmer people.  It has been wonderful to have the team enjoy lunch in our home a few times this week, making themselves comfortable, and just spending time with them.

Please continue to pray for the team, the climate is hot but all of them are coping brilliantly and pray that they will all remain healthy and have energy for another busy week ahead of them. I should also say at this point that the International Missions Director Paul Hudson may have some work on his hands as three days into this missions trip several team members were asking where do they sign up?

We love team!

This morning is special as we know that a team from our home church Bangor Elim are about to board a plane to come to bless and be blessed in this beautiful country of Cambodia. We are so excited to have our own people here it will be magnificent! Both Esther and I love the dynamics of mission teams, it stems back to our days of going to Uganda with Abaana.

Abaana Football team 2008 with a special guest in the photograph

Abaana Football team 2008 with a special guest in the photograph

I remember vividly going to Uganda on a team with sixteen men to play football, preach the gospel and coach amazing young men before a four school tournament. It was awesome and I will never forget it. Ian McManus was truly a great leader and there were so many positives, everyone brought something to the team.  I loved it because it was there that God called me to serve him with every breath. I also made friends with special men who I will cherish for the rest of my life, we may not see each other much but I know like me they have bonds that are strong through God.  Some have drifted from Christ and that is sad but I pray they will return soon to a God who loves them so much.

Going back to God’s calling on my life, friends if you know me at all you will know there’s nothing special about me. I hope you know that I try to help people and try to be a good person but I have my faults, lots of them sadly. But God looked past them, he didn’t look at me as what I am, but he looked at how he could use me as an instrument to do what He wanted to do. God knew I couldn’t do it and that’s why all glory goes to Him!

You might be sitting confused with life wondering why or how God could use you.  Maybe you can give a dozen reasons why God shouldn’t use you, trust me I could think of hundreds about me. But God makes no mistakes, he knows what’s right and what’s wrong and if he calls you it’s not because you’re special, it’s because you’re useable. Some people might think that’s harsh but it’s true, if you love God and trust his will in your life then you need to be willing to do whatever, go wherever, be completely obedient and trust God to do what only He can through your willingness.

It’s that simple, just make yourself available, you will have to make sacrifices and trust me it’s not easy at all. But none of us has the right to deny sacrificing our lives for a Saviour who sacrificed everything for all of us. I urge you today to stop believing the lies of the devil.  When he says you’re not able, all you need to do is say I surrender all.

Please pray for the Bangor Elim team as they travel and for their safety as they spend a fortnight here in the city of Phnom Penh. We feel we have got the Cambodian people ready for people like Dot McCready; she will be a blessing as will the whole team. As always we value your prayers, thank you and God’s richest blessing to you all.

Bangor Elim team

Bangor Elim team