Archive for February, 2014

We are Loved

One thing that Esther and I are very blessed with is family and friends who love and care for us. We have wonderful parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and then our larger family circle. We miss every single one of them, we are blessed to have them and to have their blessing to do what God has called us to do!  Our friends are pretty awesome too. One of the plusses of living in Cambodia is having friends from all over the world. We can also confirm that distance doesn’t separate friendships but makes it stronger!

But today I want to focus on one group of people whom we love, belong to and are proud to say are our adopted family, and that is of course Bangor Elim! We would not be here if it wasn’t for the support and love shown to us by the pastors, elders, members and friends of our sending church. It’s so easy for people to say that we are doing good things, and we appreciate the encouragement but realistically God is doing good things and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without all the support.

Esther and I are extremely excited because on Tuesday we have the absolute honour and privilege to have our senior pastor Gary Beattie visit. On Sunday 2nd March while Gary is here we celebrate our 3 year anniversary in Cambodia. I remember the day we told Gary that we felt God was calling us unto the mission field. I think he would tell you he was devastated to lose Esther as his secretary/PA, and not that bothered about me, he always has been a good judge! But seriously, Gary has had our backs from day one and although like us all we don’t always get to keep in touch, if Esther or I need anything he would move mountains to help. So we are excited! To be able to show Gary what fruit has come from his and the church’s investment in the Khmer church and people will be amazing!

We have a member of staff called Suny who works in our Early Learning Centre. In December we went to her engagement in the province and whilst there we were emotionally shaken by what we came across. Suny’s mother has been sick for 10 years since being prescribed the wrong medicine; she is bed bound and shakes continuously. They live in immense poverty, they don’t even have a toilet, this lady has to use the field with obvious assistance required. Their house is big but very broken down with no windows or doors; we came away from our time there feeling really sad. The family are strong Christians even after all they are going through, they are mocked by the community because they don’t see any love from a God who in the community’s eyes doesn’t exist. Well they are about to see God’s love in total action and we love it.

Suny with her Mum

Suny with her Mum

Two weeks ago Pastor Gary brought this story to the church and being the people we know they are, with massive hearts; the church raised the money to completely fix the house and build a toilet outhouse. To say we are proud is an understatement! Bangor Elim we love your hearts, we love belonging to your family and we love representing you in Cambodia. Pastor Gary will get to meet the family next Friday, pray for him and the family as he ministers to them. Pray that Suny’s mum will be touched and healed by our awesome God!

Pray for Gary as he travels and for safety while he is here, pray that God challenges Gary and our hearts while we are together and most of all pray that as Gary preaches and teaches that people’s lives will be changed. Finally pray for all our baptism candidates for Sunday 2nd March, pray that friends and family will come to see people take this step of public declaration and faith.

At the beginning of this post I shared about our family and how much we miss them. Over the next few days we are especially thinking about four family members who celebrate their birthdays. Today, our eldest niece Alex turns 18, tomorrow it is Esther’s sister Debbie’s birthday, and then on Monday our nephew Andrew will be 15 years old and our sister-in-law Helga celebrates her birthday also. Happy Birthday Alex, Debbie, Andrew and Helga, have a wonderful time of celebrations and know you are in our thoughts and prayers!

You Are Loved

At the end of another week we thank God for His faithfulness, protection, and above all else, His love. As I write this week’s blog on Friday and as Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world, it is our prayer that everyone would know they are loved today.

During a visit to the province on Thursday afternoon to spend time with the family of one of our Early Learning Centre members of staff I witnessed a beautiful demonstration of love which really touched my heart. More on this family and the love they have for each other and their faith in God will be shared in the weeks to follow.

While I was in the province the Be Free girls were being very creative and came up with a new heart decoration. They were very excited to share it with me when I returned and were delighted that I loved it as much as them. Their natural talent amazes me and the trainees are picking up new skills and enjoying all the aspects of the program. A new trainee has just completed her second week and has settled in so well that you would think she has been here from day one. My favourite part of the day is our morning devotions when we sit on our cushions on the balcony and have a time of worship and prayer. From next week each of us have been allocated a day to lead this time and it is really special to start our day praying for one another and asking God to be with us in every area of our life.

new heart design

new heart design

When I arrived for my language lesson this morning I discovered a surprised in my office from the girls in Be Free and my heart was touched! They had decorated a sign, gave me a red rose and bought me a new top. When they all arrived for work, they were so excited as I thanked them for their beautiful gifts and for their even more beautiful hearts! I shared that David and I had a surprise for all the staff at lunchtime to celebrate Valentine’s Day. After devotions a fashion show took place where first of all accompanied by David, I had to take to the catwalk and model my new top and then it was the girls turn to put on a show. We all laughed so much our jaws hurt. From knowing what these precious girls have endured in the past, hearing them laugh just thrills my heart so much!

My Valentine surprise

My Valentine surprise

At lunchtime all the staff gathered together as David returned to the centre with a special delivery of Bloom cupcakes for us to say how much we love them. As the boxes were set on the table and carefully opened, the staff were given the go ahead to choose one. I wish the staff of Bloom could have been there to witness the hands diving in, at one point I thought it was going to be a case of ‘cupcake war’ in front of my very eyes! A few of the staff saved their cupcake for after lunch but the rest ate theirs straightaway but not before taking a photograph, after all they are a work of art! Thank you Bloom cafe for making the most delicious cupcakes and for making our staff so happy on Valentine’s Day.

Thankful for Bloom cupcakes

Thankful for Bloom cupcakes

choosing with care after just diving in!

choosing with care after just diving in!

So as we have had a day of hearts and flowers and celebrating Valentine’s Day, we rejoice in knowing the greatest love of all. A love everlasting and unchanging, the love of a Heavenly Father who loves each and every one of us so much He gave His only Son for us. Remember today and every day, YOU ARE LOVED!

The Greatest Love of all

The Greatest Love of all

A time to reflect

Sometimes in life you reflect over what has just happened, our ‘what just happened’ spans two years this week. It has been two years since we took over the reins in leading Elim Missions Cambodia, in what happened next we learnt that God can use the weak and the uneducated.

As the Early Learning Centre moved to join the Church and Be Free Cambodia in the one building we praise and give glory to God. His constant blessing has been obvious in the way that things have progressed; it is a humbling experience to watch God at work through our amazing staff and co-workers.

It has been a joy to watch the children this week as they sit outside at their tables enjoying breakfast, Esther and the Be Free girls have been watching from the top floor and laughing as they try to guess what some of the children sit and talk about. They also watched one little girl scrape her food onto her neighbour’s plate acting like she had finished and enjoyed her food, she was caught out by the staff but it was worth a try.

Smiles at lunchtime

Smiles at lunchtime

We have all been busy settling into the one building, in the office we have been serenaded by three new babies continuously crying but Nita has reassured me that after 2 weeks it will be a lot better. Pray for the staff and children as they adjust to their new surroundings that God will bless and protect them and that we can teach these little ones at an early age about Jesus.

toddlers enjoying their circus play tent

toddlers enjoying their circus play tent

Sopheavy measuring the height of one of the toddlers

Sopheavy measuring the height of one of the toddlers

The toddlers love their new tunnel

The toddlers love their new tunnel

action shot of one pre-schooler and her hobby horse

action shot of one pre-schooler and her hobby horse

Learning can be fun too

Learning can be fun too

Using imagination through play

Using imagination through play

After having different visitors for the past 32 days we were shocked by the quietness of our home, we have enjoyed some chill out time at nights with Meg and our friends Jonny and Jill have also been around. Jonny has just returned from Northern Ireland, he was missed from this end and we cherish our times together, good friends are hard to find on the mission field and we are very thankful for ours.

February holds much in the form of excitement, our friend Julie returns from New Zealand on the 20th followed by a very special visitor on the 24th whose identity will be revealed closer to the time, and then our good friends Sue and Gez arrive on the 28th in preparation for the Khmer wedding of the year!

We want to close by thanking all who took part in Bangor Elim’s quiz last Saturday night; we really appreciate your constant support. But the biggest thanks must go to Ruth McKee and the whole missions team you are immense and we love you all!

All under the one roof!

We are so thankful for the home we have in Cambodia which we are able to use to hold meetings for small groups, invite staff and friends for meals, and on occasion have people stay when situations arise. This past week we were delighted to accommodate Elim’s International Missions Director Paul Hudson and John Martin, Project Co-ordinator for Elim Missions. It was a full house as our good friend Linda Murray was also still with us. There was plenty of laughter as David shared that he hadn’t been served bacon and eggs for his breakfast since Paul’s last visit in September and it would be back to mango smoothies when our guests leave.

It’s been a year since John was last in Cambodia and so much has happened since then. We were thrilled to show him our new building and on Sunday morning John recorded the service and filmed testimonies from church members sharing about what God has done in their lives. In the afternoon they attended the youth fellowship and when we return to the UK for furlough in June we will have a DVD giving an up to date picture of all work being carried out in Cambodia.

Both Paul and John enjoyed spending time in Be Free Cambodia and were delighted even to see the new logo on the back of the greeting cards and on tags attached to decorations. We value the creative team in Elim Missions Headquarters and appreciate all the work they do. I had explained to the young ladies going through the program about Paul and John’s visit and that they would be taking some photographs to make a film about Be Free to increase awareness and support. They were happy to see images of their hands making cards, sewing and writing English. I am so proud of the staff and the trainees and as I write this blog with the office door open, I can hear them chattering away with worship music playing in the background and the hum of the sewing machine. In less than two months these girls have become family and really care about one another. When one is struggling, the others gather round in prayer and support and then when there are happy moments everyone rejoices together.

Paul & John loved our name on the wall

Paul & John loved our name on the wall

Paul was thrilled to be here as the special guest to officially open the new Early Learning Centre facility situated on the ground floor of our building. This took place on Wednesday and we were delighted with the number of parents and friends who attended the opening ceremony. We had asked Nita if the Pre-school class would perform a song during the programme but she informed us that a number of older children were now attending school and the younger boys and girls would be too shy. Nita was proved wrong during a worship segment at the start of the service when the pre-school children joined the singers on the stage with no encouragement from anyone dancing with all their energy and really enjoying themselves. Nita shared a few words about the new centre and then two parents spoke about how happy they are sending their children to the Early Learning Centre and wish Elim had a primary school for the boys and girls to progress to. Paul then spoke for a few moments before presenting Nita with a bouquet of flowers for all her hard work, dedication and commitment.

The parents then went downstairs where the ribbon was cut to officially open the new Early Learning Facility. Parents were then given a tour of the Baby room, Toddler and Pre-school rooms, and classrooms. The parents I spoke to were over the moon with the new complex and really happy for their children to have such a wonderful place to be cared for. One mother said to me ‘the only thing missing is an outside play area’, and I was delighted to share with her that this is going to happen with thanks to a team coming from Guernsey in August of this year. The children move into their new home on Monday of next week and we are excited to see their reaction to their new rooms and toys. At this point we want to thank Harrogate Elim and some individuals who sent financial gifts which were used to buy new resources for the Early Learning Centre and we are extremely grateful for your kindness and generosity.

Pre-school children enjoying the worship

Pre-school children enjoying the worship

Thanking Nita for all her hard work

Thanking Nita for all her hard work

 

Cutting the ribbon

Cutting the ribbon

It will be amazing to have all the Elim ministries under one roof and we are so thankful for the complex we have been blessed with.  On Thursday we bade farewell to Paul, John and Linda sending them back to the UK with a suitcase filled with greeting cards. The vision for Be Free Cambodia is not for individuals just to buy a greeting card because there is an occasion to celebrate but for people to realise they are investing in a programme which is transforming lives. By purchasing a greeting card handcrafted by the young ladies in the craft room of Be Free Cambodia you are making a huge difference to their lives. I only wish you could see the smiles on their faces when even one card is bought, moments like this are priceless and to be cherished forever!

Saying farewell at the airport

Saying farewell at the airport