Archive for July, 2014

Grateful hearts, happy memories; blessed beyond measure!

At the start of this week’s blog I want to wish my Mum a very Happy Birthday for tomorrow, both of us are thrilled to be with you for your special day and look forward to celebrating  with you.

One of the hardest things we face as missionaries is not the heat, the food, even the language; it’s the separation from the people we love and care for! The problem is we never get away from the separation. When we are in Cambodia we miss everyone in the UK, especially our family and closest friends. But when we are in the UK we miss those who are our new family and friends back in Cambodia.

We have had an amazing time back in Ireland starting with a wonderful family wedding before we set off on a whistle stop tour of the UK. We want to say a massive thank you to Richard and Anne, Bill and Maureen, Linda, Paul and Greta, Sue and Gez for looking after us so well. For your hospitality, loving kindness and generous blessings towards us. To the churches we visited at Delancey, Stafford, Crewe, Brickhouse, Silverdale, Longton, Sellyoaks, CLC, Kingstanding, Harrogate, Dewsbury, Lurgan, South Belfast and of course our home church Bangor Elim we really loved getting to know you all and you have blessed us both so much. Please keep being part of what we are trying to do; we need your support through prayer and finance. God is our strength and refuge and He will bless you for being part of the team.

We love our parents and they are so important to us. It is our prayer as we say our goodbyes that God will bless them with good health and strength, they will never ever know how much they have blessed and encouraged us by just letting us live out our calling. We have wonderful brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces; it is hard to say goodbye but we are blessed to have you in our lives and although not all can quite grasp why we do what we do, we have a calling on our lives which supersedes everything else because it comes from our Father God!

Friends we have many and we thank God for that, we don’t want to name names and that won’t bother those who know that they are part of the list. We will miss you all, please keep doing what your hearts are set on, be the people that Jesus longs for you to be. We love you all.

A special thank you to my Mum and Dad for allowing us to stay with them for three weeks, to Pastor Gary and Sonya for allowing us to look after their home for them, it has been fantastic. To my Auntie Avril and Cecil thank you for blessing us with the use of their car and finally we must thank Phil and Ruth McKee for all the help they have been and constantly are to us both!

In this final week we celebrated 20 years of marriage together and it was amazing to think back where God has brought us. There is no one or nothing I love more in this world than my beautiful Esther, anyone that knows her knows no heart cares more for the lost and broken and I love that in her. We had the privilege this week to be a little part of the amazing Wondrous Elim Bible week. The highlight was to share the stage with likeminded missionaries and tell others about our passion for the needy of this world. We were truly blessed to sit under Malcolm Duncan’s powerful ministry, God spoke to us both through him in more ways than one and we salute Edwin Michael and the whole team for an amazing time. Please pray for Pastor Ray Cotter, Irish Mission’s Director, that he will return to complete health as soon as possible. Ray has a massive passion for missions and we honour him for the work God is doing through him throughout Africa!

Both Esther and I are so excited to have John and Suzanne Hanna traveling back with us on Monday. They will be bringing teaching and blessing to our worship team, and anyone that knows them understands our excitement. Their anointing is awesome and like them we are very expectant that God is going to bless, restore and move in ways like the Khmer have never seen before.

This weekend we will be saying farewells and that’s not easy, we will genuinely miss you all and we really mean that. You might be sitting thinking why go back? The answer is simple we are called to go, God wants us to go and go we must it’s that simple. As sad as we are to leave Northern Ireland we are so excited to see Chamnap, Nita, Sokim, Sarak, Dren and all our Cambodian friends add to that Jonny and Jill, Julie and finally and certainly not least our wee Meg!

Northern Ireland we love you, Cambodia we are coming Home!  Below are some highlights from this week:

Special times

Special times

Friends at Wondrous

Friends at Wondrous

Catch up with friends

Catch up with friends

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

Family and church family

Family and church family

Times to cherish

It’s Saturday again, and time for our penultimate blog post written during our period of furlough. In a way it seems like no time since we landed on Northern Ireland soil and yet we know from skyping with our Khmer staff that it feels like an eternity since we said our farewells to them.

During this past week our diary has been filled catching up with friends and family doing ‘normal things’ that we miss so much and cherish when we are here. On Saturday night it was a real treat to cook dinner for our good friends Julie and Jim who we haven’t seen much off during our time here because of us being in England and them being on holiday. But the beauty about friendship is that although you may not always see each other, you take off exactly where you left off. It was just so special to enjoy a meal together and then sit over a coffee and have a good old natter – the boys in one room and the girls in another! We were also delighted to be in Northern Ireland to be able to personally congratulate Julie and Jim’s daughter Sophie and her fiancé Ryan on their recent engagement. We were very touched when the happy couple called round to show off the ring and we are over the moon for the both of them and their families.

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

On Sunday morning we were thrilled to catch up with old friends John and Hannah Lindsay who are pastoring in South Belfast Elim church. We have many fond memories from when all four of us were attending Bangor Elim church – John was the youth leader while I was the church secretary way back in 2001. I also was involved in Eagles, the youngest section of our uniformed organisation, along with Hannah around the same time. David does take the credit for John and Hannah being together as he did a bit of matchmaking with the both of them. We are very fond of the both of them and are immensely proud of the great work they are doing for His Kingdom in South Belfast. It was a delight to catch up with the church family there and give an update on the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia and we were greatly encouraged as we spoke to people we have gotten to know over the past few years.

With the amazing Lindsay family

With the amazing Lindsay family

The next few days were spent visiting family and taking in the sights and smells that we miss so much – the beautiful scenery of the North Coast and the sea air. I don’t think there is scenery anywhere else to match it and we just soaked it all up. We had the privilege of having lunch with two very special people, David’s auntie and uncle Robin and Beryl. They have always been a big influence to David and we had a lovely time reminiscing about the road we have travelled thanking God for his faithfulness. It was so nice to catch up and see them both looking so well and we will cherish the memories from our time together.

Beautiful

Beautiful

David with his Uncle Robin and Auntie Beryl

David with his Uncle Robin and Auntie Beryl

Portrush harbour

Portrush harbour

Stunning

Stunning

We spent a few precious days with my Mum and Dad; both David and I deeply appreciate the love, prayers and support from our parents and thank God for the blessing they are in our lives. We find it never gets easier saying farewell but we are so thankful for modern technology such as viber, Skype and emails to enable us to keep in touch. During our stay in Limavady we were delighted to join the ‘Seniors’ for their weekly coffee morning and it was a pleasure to spend time with them. On our return to Phnom Penh we will be remembering each of the men in our prayers as they also are praying for us and the people of Cambodia. We also were delighted to be at my parents when a special delivery came from Poptastic Cakes with beautiful cakepops created by my younger sister Debbie, we thoroughly enjoyed sampling her delicous creations!

Poptastic Cakepops

Poptastic Cakepops

On Thursday evening we were blessed to spend time with one of our pastors Hugh and his wife Ann. We always value their wisdom and advice and appreciate the opportunity to learn from them. David and I will be very excited when God’s perfect timing brings both Hugh and Ann to Cambodia where they will be such a blessing to the church and ministries within Elim Phnom Penh.

On Friday we skyped our staff and sang Happy Birthday to Sokim who celebrated her birthday this week. She was very happy and didn’t seem to mind our singing too much. All the girls in Be Free are keeping well and were studying the Bible so we briefly chatted with Sokim before catching up with Nita and Sarak. They both gave updates on the Early Learning Centre, Church and Happy Kids Club and seem happy with their progress. They all have done an amazing job and we value your prayers that they will know God’s health and strength each and every day.

It is good to relax amongst friends and catch up and that is what Friday was all about. Breakfast was enjoyed with Kellie, who had specially kept in her freezer since Easter, hot cross buns with Belgian chocolate. They were worth waiting for and the company was great too, although we did miss Robert and the children. Lunch was with the Watters family and it was great to be there and also have a quick Skype with Beki and Travis who are serving with Off the Wall ministries in the States. In the afternoon we caught up with one of David’s cousins Jonathan and his wife Abigail enjoying a chat over a cuppa. We may not always be in touch but again with family you can just pick up and catch up again. Last night we were blessed to have dinner with old friends Gary and Joanne Faulkner and it was good to just kick your shoes off, put your feet up and relax; and that’s what I did anyway. We had plenty of laughs and had a great wee night.

Beautiful wee touches

Beautiful wee touches

At the start of our furlough we were delighted to be with family to celebrate the wedding of my youngest brother Dave to Dee and now at the end we are thrilled to be in Northern Ireland for another special family occasion. Today our beautiful niece Jessica celebrates her 16th birthday and we are overjoyed to be with her and attend her party. It seems like only yesterday when Jessica was born and we will never forget meeting her for the first time. We are a very proud Auntie and Uncle of the young lady you are becoming Jessica and love you more than you will ever know. Have a wonderful day!

Happy Birthday Jessica

Happy Birthday Jessica

Another special person in our life also celebrates her birthday today – my beautiful, crazy, wonderful, inspirational friend Louise. Whatever is planned for you today Louise have a blessed time celebrating with your family and know how treasured, loved and cherished you are. I am thankful for the good times we have when we are in the same country and that distance doesn’t separate friendship!

Happy Birthday Louise

Happy Birthday Louise

Moments to treasure

We are rapidly heading towards returning to our home back in Cambodia and as usual it has the same mix of emotions. We will be saying goodbye to our amazing family and friends and that will be awful but we will be greeted in Cambodia by people who we also love and cherish. Nita, Sokim, and Sarak especially have had extra responsibilities and we are so thankful to them and everyone back in Cambodia for all their commitment to Elim.

I’m sure many of you have been wondering about our wee Meg while we have been away from her, we are happy to report that she is doing well. We are really thankful that Meg has been looked after so well and we can’t wait to see her very soon.

our wee Meg

our wee Meg

Our itinerary has been busy as usual but in this last week we have loved catching up with old friends. On Sunday morning we enjoyed seeing Pastor Roy and Hilary again in Lurgan Elim, a church that we have always felt an affiliation too ever since a team visited us 2 years ago. It was just special to get to meet and share with some of those team members Katie, Ruth, Susan, Jaime, Mandy and Chris who will always have a special place in our hearts. Others were missing due to honeymoons and mission trips but we had an amazing morning with a wonderful church family!

On Monday and Tuesday we spent time with Jessica and Andrew which was great fun it’s those moments you really are desperate for when you live so far away. Esther had us on a mission on Tuesday to buy felt for different projects within Be Free, so we enlisted help from our friends Ruth and Heather McKee it was manic but very productive. Any of you crafters out there we were very well looked after in a shop called Paragon almost opposite South Belfast Elim church, you should really pop in and see the amazing range of materials they have. On Tuesday evening I enjoyed watching the semi final of the world cup along with Jessica and Andrew whilst Esther had a lovely time catching up over dinner with her friend Lynn.

I had a round of golf on Wednesday at the par three course at Blackwood with my friends Wes and Andrew and then in the evening we had a planning meeting with Suzanne and John Hanna for their trip back to Cambodia with us. We are so excited to have them come out for 2 weeks and work with our worship team; it is going to be very special. Please pray for them both as they prepare and ultimately go that they will be blessed as God uses them to bless others.

On Thursday we met up with Andy and Laura Bleakley, Elim missionaries in Nepal, who we first met when they visited Cambodia last December. They also are home on furlough and like ourselves have been very busy sharing about their ministry in Nepal. Being very shrewd the girls went shopping whilst the guys played golf in Kilrea. We had so much to catch up on and loved spending the day with them both. In the evening we had a beautiful meal at the McCready’s house. It was lovely to just sit and relax with Robert, Lorraine and the star of the show Ellie Rose. The meal that was cooked for us was beautiful and it was the perfect evening.

With Andy & Laura Bleakley

With Andy & Laura Bleakley

Yesterday was crazy with lots to do. The morning was really exciting spending time with the Rogans. Of course Jamie and Andrew were the stars but it was also good to catch up with Davy and Angela. Two amazing friends who to me epitomise Jesus in their every action, true troopers who face every day reliant on God’s strength and thankful for God’s richest blessings that fill their lives! We then had lunch with the Hanna’s followed by injections for typhoid, as I write we both have sore right arms, seems that the injections had to go into the muscle. It’s quite funny I didn’t feel a thing getting it but now it’s a weird feeling of tightness and dull pain but I will survive!

We finished the week spending time with a family who have been very important in our lives over the last 2 decades. Hugh and Lynn Wilson and their girls moved to Bangor Elim pretty much the same week as us in 1995. Like any friendship we have had periods of time when we have drifted a little apart but true friends can always pick up again when the busyness of life slows down. It was a lovely evening filled with fun and laughter. We were joined by Debbie the youngest of the 3 sisters and her boyfriend Jordan. We love Debbie and although she is now 26 we still look on her as wee Debbie and are hoping and praying she will come out and visit us someday soon in Cambodia.

We want to thank everyone who has looked after us this week. We pray God will bless you and that we will get the chance to see you all again soon. Please pray for the team in Cambodia that God will keep them healthy and focused until we return in 16 days’ time. We are speaking in South Belfast Elim this Sunday morning and if you want to hear more please come along, we would love to meet you!

Back in Northern Ireland

Last weekend we finished our tour of the UK visiting two churches that currently support the work in Cambodia. On Saturday a fun day was organised as a fundraiser in Dewsbury Elim towards Happy Kids club, we are very thankful to Sue and the team who over the weekend raised more than we were hoping for. The funds will enable us to put in a concrete floor at the home of Sarak’s parents and also attach tarpaulins to act as a shelter during rainy season allowing the kids club and English classes to continue despite the torrential rain.

Photographs of Happy Kids Club

Photographs of Happy Kids Club

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Rainy season

Rainy season

 

 On Sunday morning we spoke at Harrogate Elim and it was wonderful to finally meet Malcolm and Sue Bottomley friends via Skype. Sue is the Missions Secretary wonderfully assisted by Malcolm and it was great to meet the rest of the mission’s team who work so hard fundraising throughout the year. Pastor Garry made us feel very welcome and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. In the evening we were again blessed to update the folks in Dewsbury Elim about what Jesus is doing in Cambodia. After church we went for our customary Krispy Kremes and McDonald’s with Sue, Gez and some of our friends.

Harrogate Elim

Harrogate Elim

Dewsbury Elim

Dewsbury Elim

Sue & Gez

Sue & Gez

Joan promoting her love of Krispy Kreme

Joan promoting her love of Krispy Kreme

 We would like to thank everyone for the love shown toward us and the support people have given us as we toured the UK from Guernsey to Cardiff to the Birmingham area to Dewsbury. We especially want to thank all our hosts, you know who you are.

 

We flew back to Northern Ireland on Monday and wasted no time in starting to visit people, we stayed with my parents and it wasn’t long before we were catching up with friends and family. On Tuesday we went out for lunch with the Bogans and in the evening we had a BBQ with the Houston family and the McKees, it was a fun day and we really thank God for good friends and family who care about us and the work.

 

On Wednesday we spent time with some senior friends of old that have been a constant support; we loved catching up with Margaret, Avril, Cecil, Phyllis, Sandra and Richard. We enjoyed updating them about our family in Cambodia and answering the questions they had. In the evening we caught up with Pastor Gary and Sonya along with Joanna and Dan, they left yesterday to visit America and we have been very blessed to be able to move in to their home for the remainder of our stay.

The Super Seniors!

The Super Seniors!

Thursday started very well on the golf course for me with Wes Williamson while Esther went shopping with Marti, we then met up to have lunch at Harrison’s of Greyabbey. If you haven’t been you must visit, it is truly beautiful scenery and excellent food. But there was one very unexpected reunion that has Esther still smiling 2 days later. As we were finishing lunch our table was approached by Esther’s cousin Jill from Canada, they hadn’t seen each other for many years and couldn’t believe that as one lives in Canada and the other in Cambodia yet they both ended up in the same restaurant in Greyabbey at the same time. A God moment without any doubt and one that we will treasure for years to come.

 

With Esther's cousin Jill

With Esther’s cousin Jill

On Friday we visited my Auntie Avril and Uncle Cecil and had a lovely time catching up over lunch. We are so thankful to them for constantly blessing us in many ways and it was very special to spend some time with them. In the evening we had the pleasure of catching up with Marc and Gayle Bunting where we had our usual fun filled evening with lots of banter. We are enjoying our time in the UK, yes we are tired and very rarely stop but it is good to catch up with those we miss when we are away. We are also missing everyone back home in Cambodia and need to say a big thank you for all the extra work everyone is doing while we are away. Special thanks must go to Nita, Sokim and Sarak as they head up the different departments with the day to day running of Elim in Phnom Penh.