Archive for September, 2014

Cookery lesson

At the start of this week’s blog post we want to express our heartfelt thanks for all the messages of love and support which have come through following the passing away of baby Isaac.  We have shared these with Phanna, Pisey, and the church family and we would ask you to continue remembering them in your prayers.  Phanna and Pisey display incredible strength and have drawn closer to each other and to God; and we know the prayers of God’s people are helping them face each new day.  On Sunday during the church service David spoke about Isaac’s life and then asked Phanna and Pisey to come forward.  The church family gathered round and prayed for them with Chamnap closing in prayer.  It was an emotional time for all but we wanted Phanna and Pisey to know that we are all here for them, and are walking the journey alongside them, loving and supporting them, as families do.

The start of this week was the annual  P’chum Ben holiday where most people leave the city and visit their families in the provinces.  This is one of the biggest religious festivals in Cambodia and is a time where many Khmer go to the temples and pay their respects to their deceased relatives.  The monks chant continuously, without sleeping, in prelude to the gates of hell opening and the ghosts of the dead are presumed to be especially active and food offerings are made to benefit them.  It is a dark, oppressive time and is very difficult for Christians who want to spend time with their families but don’t want to feel pressured to make and give food to the spirits to appease them.  Prior to the holiday we spent time in the weekly prayer meeting and church service praying for safety for those travelling, as there also are more accidents at this time, and prayed for courage for those whose families might put pressure on them.

Four of the girls from Be Free, like us, were staying in the city so I promised them a cookery lesson making their choice of dish – lasagna.  The girls love cooking and each of them enjoyed the jobs they were given until the lasagna was layered and put in the oven to cook.  The table was set, candles were lit and we waited until it was ready.  As the aroma of the lasagna cooking reached the living room the girls got very excited about dinner.  It was then time for the girls to sit at the table and be served.  They thoroughly enjoyed the lasagna and salad and want to make it again for all the staff that missed out.  Three of the girls had their children with them as well and they were so well behaved as they ate their dinner. Not only do the girls enjoy cooking but they also love clearing up and a system was organised for doing the washing up.  They cleared the table and we put the leftovers in containers for them to take home.  After relaxing for a while after dinner the girls expressed their thanks and made their way home.  We enjoyed spending the day with them outside of the work environment.  Before the cookery lesson all 6 adults and 3 children crammed into a tuk tuk and we took them to the new mall where the children were able to play for an hour or so in a soft play adventure area.  Refreshments were needed after this and they all enjoyed their ice cream cone before we made our way home.  It was so nice to be able to take the girls and the children out for a few hours and make their holiday a little bit special.

hoping next year I can write this in Khmer

hoping next year I can write this in Khmer

Eager to learn

Eager to learn

layering the lasagna

layering the lasagna

cheese going on with precision

cheese going on with precision

table all set

table all set

Because of the four day holiday this week all the Be Free staff are working today to stay on top of creating the Christmas orders that we are delighted to have received.  David did an amazing job working out the timeframe and production; skills which he learnt from his previous job of running a dessert company.  The girls thrive when there are deadlines to meet and are so happy that people like what they create.  Two new trainees started in Be Free last week and are settling in really well.  They have joined at our busiest time preparing for Christmas and all the staff and trainees are delighted to have two extra pairs of hands.  Please pray for S and SK that they feel part of the team straightaway and know how loved and valued they are.

S and SK's first day in Be Free

S and SK’s first day in Be Free

Safe in the arms of Jesus

Last Sunday started off as most Sundays do with a happy time together as a church enjoying spending time in God’s presence. I was preaching on Abraham and Isaac and how Abraham had learnt to trust God, even though God’s request was so awful he knew that he needed to live out his faith in God.

We left church with no idea what the next 24 hours would hold.  As many of you know we have been talking about and praying for little baby Isaac. Really since his birth, almost four months ago, it became evident that this little one was going to have many issues. Since our return to Cambodia we were able to get Isaac seen by the right people. Nita has been outstanding in going the extra 10 miles not just the extra one, and of course Chamnap’s wisdom has been immense as well. We tried everything as did the doctors who were amazing but on Sunday night  at 9.15 only minutes after  Isaac’s father Phanna, Nita, Sarak and myself reached Siem Reap little baby Isaac gave up the fight. What a fight he gave but in an instance he went from the little boy who couldn’t get a breath into the fullness and safety of the arms of Jesus.

It was a horrible day, an awful seven hour taxi drive, the roads were terrible but nothing compared to having to go to Phanna at his home and tell him there was no longer any hope. Sometimes being a Pastor/Leader stinks and this was certainly one of those times, thankfully Phanna was able to see wee Isaac just before he passed away. Time stands still for no man in Cambodia so the next morning at 7.30am Phanna, Pisey, Nita, Sarak, myself and our very helpful taxi driver had a short ceremony before burying little Isaac’s body. Unfortunately it wasn’t practical for everybody to travel; Chamnap, Esther and many more couldn’t go but we knew that everybody was there in spirit.

I brought a short word, hopefully of comfort to the parents, and then we buried the little body.  It was heartbreaking watching mum and dad setting Isaac into the ground and then covering in the hole themselves. We paid extra for a cover to be put on top and then Sarak made a cross which was put in front to signify that we believe in Jesus. We then left and went back to the hotel, had a shower and headed back to Phnom Penh. Esther and the staff were waiting to comfort Pisey especially and it was a hard reunion for many!

Our week has been tough but not as tough as what Phanna and Pisey have faced and will face. They have responded so far by being focused on God and the love he shows each day, giving them incredible strength and amazing wisdom. As we approach Sunday we are going to have a small memorial part in the church service and we would value your continued prayers for the immediate family and also our church community. We have said throughout this whole situation that God knows best and as a church we trust God in everything!

God answers prayer

A new week commenced with an amazing church service on Sunday morning. Sokim and Sarak led the worship and there was a powerful sense of God’s presence amongst us. It always thrills me to hear people praising God from their heart and we witnessed that on Sunday. Bill continued with his series on Abraham and we appreciated Chamnap translating for him. As David led us into taking communion he talked about us being a church family and how like all families at times there can be bickering and disagreements. He encouraged anyone who felt like this to put things right with their brothers and sisters and love like Jesus commanded us to. Following communion this led into Chamnap feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit to invite anyone who needed prayer to come forward. Individuals did business with God during this time and we have been encouraged in the days after to hear of relationships being mended and we praise God for this.

On Sunday afternoon we were happy to join with Bill and Maureen’s church Stafford Elim for a quick Skype call during their service. They wanted to get an update on what Bill and Maureen were doing during their time here and also the Pastors Ian and Katrina are hoping to lead a team to us next year and asked a few questions to assist with the planning and preparations. We are so thankful for technology to allow this and thankfully the Wi-Fi on both sides co-operated and we had a really good signal. During their afternoon several hours later the church had an initial missions meeting with those who would be interested, Ian messaged us after this to say it went well and the interest was high.

Late Tuesday morning we went to the centre for Bill and Maureen to say their farewells to the staff and vice versa. A precious moment we shared and probably one of Maureen’s highlights from this visit was when Dren and Chantha’s daughter Kanika sat on Maureen’s knees and sang Jesus loves me in both English and Khmer. Kanika is a wee sweetheart and her parents are doing an amazing job of teaching her all about Jesus.

Maureen with Kanika

Maureen with Kanika

Dren and Nita accompanied us to the airport where we thanked Bill and Maureen once again for all their hard work while they were here and for the love they have for the Khmer people. We were happy to hear the next day that all their flights were on time and they arrived home safe and sound.

Over the past few months the girls in Be Free have been busy making Christmas cards and decorations which will be available to purchase both in the UK and Cambodia. One of Bill and Maureen’s cases was packed with orders that are going to some of the churches we shared in during our recent period of furlough. More packs will be made up and sent back with other visitors we are hosting in the next month. If you are reading this and would be interested in purchasing Christmas stock either for yourself, church, workplace, small group etc. please just drop us an email at: befreecambodia@gmail.com and we will organise them getting to you. Everything has been made by the staff and trainees and I think you can see for yourself how beautiful and well made the cards and tree decorations are.

Christmas at Be Free

Christmas at Be Free

beaded silk stars

beaded silk stars

felt Christmas trees

felt Christmas trees

gingham stars

gingham stars

Thank you for continuing to pray for baby Isaac, he has been in the hospital for one month now and when he was first diagnosed with TB we were told it would take three months to treat. His heart is strong and it will take time for his lungs to improve. We are grateful to the medical team who are working with him and we appreciate your prayers for Isaac and his parents.

Finally thank you also for praying for the situation regarding Happy Kids Club. Yesterday David and Sarak met with the village chief and community chief who are both content for Happy Kids Club and English classes to continue. They signed off and stamped their approval on a letter Sarak and Chamnap had prepared. The village chief said he had wanted people to come and help make a difference in the community for a long time and his own grandchildren attend Happy Kids Club. Continue to pray for the team as they minister in this village, many children and adults are hearing about Jesus and it is our prayer that as the seed is sown in time it will reap a harvest.

 

 

Keep praying!

I must start this week by updating you on little Isaac, at the minute he is holding his own but still being assisted with his breathing. Each day that goes by is so important. The positive news since his surgery is that his heart is strong and that has helped him massively. His lungs aren’t good but this is because of the TB. We need to keep praying about this and trusting God. But we must also thank God that the Doctors have been so efficient and helpful, this is not always normal in Cambodia so we see God’s hand in everything!

 

On Sunday night Isaac was so ill Nita and I decided to fly to Siem Reap because we expected the little one to pass away. But thank God overnight he picked up and the Doctors were positive when Nita met them on Monday afternoon. Our journey was not wasted as Nita was able to get the phone numbers we need to keep a close eye on everything. Please keep praying not only for little Isaac but also for Mum Pisey, Dad Phanna and big brother Daro as well!

 

With Bill and Maureen here we have been doing lots of studying. Bill has mainly been working with Sarak sowing into his life as much as possible to help him develop into the leader we believe he can be. Bill also has been continuing his series on Abraham which has already challenged many people in church each week. Maureen has taken workshops with the Elim staff on Child Protection, good work practice in dealing with children and helping with the young mums. Maureen also brought a word to the prayer meeting on Wednesday that blessed us all richly.

New trainee in Be Free

New trainee in Be Free

 For the first time this week we came up against a little bit of opposition to what we are doing in the village. I can’t go into a lot of detail but it should be easily sorted with the district office but please join us in praying as we try to iron out the obstacle so “Happy Kids Club” can carry on without any conflict.

 

Again thank you so much for following our blog and for praying into these situations, if you would like to find out more about who we are or what else is going on in the world through Elim missions please visit the website at http://www.elimmissions.co.uk.