Archive for October, 2014

Guest bloggers Ruth & Julie

A dream came true for me on Tuesday morning when we went to the airport to pick up my two best friends Ruth and Julie, and one of David’s best mates Phil. We had been looking forward to this with great excitement especially as this was Julie’s first (and hopefully not last) visit to the country we have fallen in love with.  This week has been simply amazing to have our friends staying in our home, coming to work with us, spending time with our incredible staff and church family and, of course, drinking plenty of cuppas and chatting.  I’m delighted that both Ruth and Julie are sharing some of their thoughts in this week’s blog.  Our Khmer family and us have been blessed by their loving hearts and we will cherish this precious time we are sharing together.

sweet reunion

sweet reunion

This has been a relatively quickly arranged trip, due to my husband Jim secretly saving for me to come to Cambodia with Ruth & Phil McKee to see our cherished friends Davy and Esther. Thanks Jim ❤

This has probably been said many times but there are no words in the English dictionary that adequately describe Phnom Penh! Bizarre makes it seem unpleasantly odd, amazing makes it seem fantastically good and yet it is still neither of these but yet it is! To experience it in reality is the only way!

It is a city of extreme contrasts, you can forget where you are in a coffee shop and be so to speak ‘normal’ yet literally walk out the door and come face to face with extreme hardship and squalor. On one hand, a huge Audi showroom with ONE car and 2 security guards but nearby the aptly named ‘smelly river’ lined with rubbish and tiny shacks as homes.  But there is also a definite hope here in the people, for the work that God is doing through Davy and Esther is inspiring and very tangible. I, along with Ruth have had the pleasure of working alongside the wonderful Be Free girls this week.  On Thursday morning I took a workshop making prayer journals, at one stage it was very quiet and I asked Esther if the girls were okay and having fun, she replied yes the girls love crafting and were just gloriously engrossed in creating their little masterpieces. The journals each had a scripture verse on the front cover and one of the girls got her Khmer bible and translated both Ruth and my verses into beautifully handwritten Khmer for us to cherish. On Friday after a morning working again at Be Free we went to the first lunch time staff devotions in the church and it touched our hearts to see that a few of the girls had brought their prayer journals with writing already in them. Yes, I have shed tears daily, hearing of their journeys but the joy of a future that God has for the girls and their families now shines from here.

Devotions after the Be Free girls making their beautiful prayer journals

Devotions after the Be Free girls making their beautiful prayer journals

Dany translating the verses into Khmer

Dany translating the verses into Khmer

First staff church service on Friday

First staff church service on Friday

I only mention the Be Free girls as I’m only meant to write a little snippet but I’ve also met the amazing church staff and Early Learning Centre children and staff.

I have been very very blessed by the people here and for David and Esther’s hospitality and will always carry a little (or perhaps huge!) part of Phnom Penh in my heart.  Please remember to pray for all here, David and Esther, the church, Be Free, and the Early Learning Centre. – Julie

 

This is my third trip to Cambodia and I’m more excited than ever.  There are many reasons for that but the first has to be renewing friendships with those we met on previous occasions and grew to love.  Also it is really exciting to have Julie with us and Emma and Heather coming out to join us for our second week.  When anyone asks me what it is that makes me love Cambodia so much I don’t even need to think about an answer, it’s the people.  They are so friendly and humble.  Some of them have so little but they always want to know what they can do for you.

There have been so many changes since my last visit I was excited to see all that was happening with the new centre, Happy Kids Club and Be Free. In August last year I had the privilege of helping prepare the premises for Be Free with the team from Bangor Elim and to pray for the work that God had laid on Esther’s heart.  Now to be sitting with the girls in Be Free sharing in their devotions before they start work each day, working alongside them making cards and Christmas decorations and worshipping with them in church seems unreal.  Only God could have brought these girls from such darkness into a place where they are loved and cared for unconditionally.  Visiting Happy Kids Club in — province was an experience starting with the ferry trip, with the ferry being a couple of large canoes with planks of wood on top.  Then to see these children who have only heard the gospel for the first time within the last year, worshipping God so passionately is something I will never forget.   Sarak, Sophea and Phanna are working so willingly with Happy Kids Club, a bible class and English lessons.  It has been wonderful to go into the Early Learning Centre and meet with the staff again and enjoy lots of cuddles from the children some of whose names I have been able to remember from last time.

Happy Kids Club

Happy Kids Club

Please pray for Davy and Esther and all the work going on in Phnom Penh Elim.   They face challenges on a daily basis that we can’t even begin to imagine but we have a mighty God who can deliver from anything. – Ruth

Introducing Ruby!

As many of you know when we spoke around the churches during our furlough how much we seriously missed our wee dog Meg! We worried about leaving her for 11 weeks in kennels but were quite confident that K9 Cambodia was as trustworthy as they made out to be. Unfortunately only a day after Meg’s return to us we realised she wasn’t the same wee dog. She had returned to us dirty and in need of grooming but not only that had started to bite which she never had done before.

When the groomers came they found 2 massive ticks in her head and after they were removed we noticed a rapid decline in her health. In fact when we got her to Agrovet on the Sunday afternoon the vet told us there was a big battle ahead to save Meg’s little life. We were very upset, we knew Meg had been neglected but we blamed ourselves as we had been away so long. We prayed lots along with John and Suzanne Hanna and praise God she made an amazing recovery from tick fever and kennel cough.

The reason I’m talking about this is because of these issues and the fact that Meg does spend lengthy times home alone we felt that she needed some company. So we are excited today to introduce you to Ruby, Meg’s new little sister. Ruby is 4 months old and definitely much more of a live wire than Meg ever was but they do love each other. Last Friday Meg got spayed and has recovered very well indeed, Ruby was a bit lost for the 5 days we kept them apart but as I write they are back wrestling together as little dogs do. We are a two dog family, 2 is where it stops but as we never were blessed with children we are very thankful of the joy these two bring us daily!

Ruby

Ruby

Ruby and Meg

Ruby and Meg

Our wee family

Our wee family

This week has been busy as ever, the Be Free girls have been working so hard to fulfill orders for Christmas. Sarak sat his Year 12 exams which is equivalent to GCSE level and also attended New Life Bible School on Thursday and Friday. Rith who is married to Sokhom also joined him which is very exciting, please pray for them both. Phanna, Sophea, Dren and I went to take happy kids club. I love going to the village so much and although I’m not much help I enjoy watching as our team bless and are blessed by the amazing kids of the village. Nita had lots of things to sort out this week in the ELC but as usual she is in control and a blessing to all.

Sophea with her Bible class

Sophea with her Bible class

Please pray for two new activities launching over the next week. Firstly next Friday we are launching our staff community group. It will be held from 1-2 pm where we will have a time of worship, pray for each other and learn how we can grow closer together as a group, so we can shine Jesus more in work and at home in our communities. The second thing we are launching is our Marriage course and we already have many couples wanting to attend.  It will be from 6-7.30 every Sunday evening for four months, a big commitment but one that we believe will benefit all those that attend. I am excited because Esther and I will be leading this and it will be good to study and prepare together.

As usual we thank all of you for your continued support in all ways.  We are very proud of our dear friend Linda Murray who successfully completed her first half Marathon and in the process raised well over £8000 for Be Free. We would like to thank Linda and all those that constantly raise funds for all the work that is done here in Cambodia.

There are many special people in our lives but they don’t come anymore special than our parents. Today is my wonderful Father’s birthday, a man who has taught me many things and whom we both love so much. Happy Birthday Dad, we love you and miss you like crazy.  We hope Mum spoils you in the way that you deserve!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Being the church 7 days a week

The service was a little different on Sunday as instead of the church family listening to a ‘sermon’ they were given a virtual tour of the ministries which happen during the week within Elim missions in Cambodia.  First of all we watched a video with Nita giving a tour of the Early Learning Centre explaining how many staff are employed and how many children currently attend.  She shared about the weekly timetable, what the children learn, and the roles and responsibilities of the staff.  When the video ended Nita was asked what she enjoyed most about working in the Early Learning Centre and what points could the church pray for.  Anyone who has met Nita knows how passionate she is about the Early Learning Centre and Christ being the centre of it.  As she shared about children who don’t come from a Christian background attending the ELC where they learn about Jesus she wept.  Nita shared a story of recently meeting a boy who is now 13 and attended the ELC.  As the boy talked with Nita he told her he still remembers hearing the Bible story about the lost son when he was just a small boy.  Nita talked about how anyone teaching children whether in school or Sunday school might not think the boys and girls are listening or taking in what they are being taught but they do!  Relationships are also built with the parents and we are thankful that some families who have children attending the ELC belong to our church family also.  Nita asked the church to pray that the staff would have energy and patience whilst caring for the children.  David then asked the staff who were present to stand and the church family prayed for them.

The next video clip was of Be Free.  Sokim shared about the program where we currently have three staff members and 6 trainees.  She explained everyone’s roles and responsibilities and showed the handicrafts that the girls are currently making.  In addition to this during the week English and Khmer are taught, the day commences with devotions and Friday afternoons are spent studying a Bible discipleship course.  The girls also study finance and budgeting, health and hygiene, and first aid.  In the next month we are going to add cooking and baking to their studies which we know the girls will really enjoy.  Following the video clip Sokim and I were asked to share a little more about Be Free.  Like Nita in her role of ministry, Sokim is also passionate about serving God in her role and she wept as she spoke about the importance of Be Free for the girls who come through the program.  Sokim shared how the girls are shown love and acceptance and are taught about how much God loves and values them.  David asked me how Be Free can be part of the church.  I replied that church isn’t just us all coming together on a Sunday and worshipping God but it is what happens when we leave and what we do with our time for the rest of the week.  We are God’s hands and feet on the earth, called to reach those around us who are lost, broken and hurting.  I thanked Phnom Penh Elim church for embracing the ministry that is Be Free Cambodia and for pouring love over the staff and trainees.  Sokim asked the church to pray for the staff that we would have wisdom in situations that arise and also to pray for the trainees.  The staff and trainees who were present were then asked to stand as the church family prayed for them and then in closing, Dana, the church elder prayed.

Finally it was time to share about Happy Kids Club which takes place every Thursday in Toul Kdey province where two of our staff members Sarak and Phanna grew up.  We watched a video clip of over 100 children praising Jesus as they sang and then Sarak, Sophea and Phanna were asked to share what’s been happening recently in Happy Kids Club.  Phanna goes to the village twice a week as he also spends all day Monday there teaching English in the morning and afternoon.  Happy Kids Club lasts for about an hour and the children spend time singing, playing games, listening to a story from the Bible and then either doing craft or colouring in a picture relevant to what they have learnt.  The boys and girls all get a snack before they go home again.  Sarak, Sophea and Phanna will then have lunch before lessons resume.  Sarak and Phanna teach English whilst Sophea spends time with teenage girls who are studying from the Bible.  Sophea’s desire is to reach these girls and for them to grow up like her loving Jesus with all of their heart. Anyone who visits Happy Kids Club falls in love with the children there and it is so beautiful to watch the boys and girls as they worship Jesus and take in everything that they are taught.  The neighbours also observe and love when the story is played out in drama and when the children play rowdy games!  Sarak asked the church to pray for this vital ministry and that boys, girls and adults in the community will come to know Jesus as their Saviour.  The church family then prayed for Sarak, Sophea and Phanna with Chamnap closing in prayer.

The beginning of our week involved sharing with the church family ministries that take place during the week and last night the working week ended with staff members and church family coming together to celebrate.  When the Guernsey team were here in August they left a gift for those who particularly helped them during their time here so they could have a party.  With various circumstances they finally chose last night to have their celebration.  A program was put together which included singing, dancing, games, a short word of encouragement and then the all important food!  They chose to have a barbecue with their favourite delicacy, chicken feet!  Everyone had a great time and enjoyed spending time together.

Preparing the chicken feet

Preparing the chicken feet

All ready for the BBQ

All ready for the BBQ

Program underway

Program underway

BBQ in the dark

BBQ in the dark

We thank God for the family that is Phnom Penh Elim and the ministries that are reaching lives every day.  Please join with us in praying for those who oversee them and that we will always love others as we love ourselves.

Whirlwind week!

It’s been another whirlwind week just the way we love it.  On Monday night we collected Paul Hudson our International mission’s director, boss and friend, along with Pastor Iain Hesketh from Sellyoaks Elim in Birmingham from the airport.

As usual we had an action packed program starting on Tuesday morning visiting the centre. It’s at times like this that the enormity of what God has done over the last few years really is illuminated as you take time to reflect. It just really confirms that our God is massive and provides our every need. It was a real joy to take Paul and Iain around showing the Early Learning Centre with Nita and then Esther and Sokim did a tour of Be Free. After that we had a really good productive talk about the church vision and the journey we are on. Both Paul and Iain bring great wisdom and experience and we would be mad not to grab all the help we can get from those with a like mind in where the church is heading.

The pre-school children welcoming Paul and Iain

The pre-school children welcoming Paul and Iain

Nita and Paul testing out the equipment in the playground

Nita and Paul testing out the equipment in the playground

On Tuesday afternoon we toured a little bit showing some parts of the city while having meetings over a coffee. That night we had our usual football match where Paul and Iain joined the church team and of course we won 14-12.  Paul scored 8 of our goals and although Iain didn’t score, his defensive performance was excellent.

On Wednesday morning I had the privilege of taking the guys to Happy Kids Club and like everyone that has visited they were very blessed at what God is doing through Sarak, Sophea and Phanna. Over 110 children were present listening to the Bible story as well as worshiping God. It was a brilliant morning enjoyed by all.  Please keep praying for the village and the plans for a church plant; it’s all in God’s hands. In the evening time Iain spoke at the prayer meeting and then we had the privilege as Elders to pray for Sarak with Paul as he joined our eldership team.  Again please pray for Sarak that he will be truly blessed in his new role.

On Thursday the guys headed back to the airport and home it was a short visit but extremely beneficial and I believe a lot of decisions were made that only can benefit Cambodia. We would like to publicly thank Paul and Greta for their friendship and constant support.  We also have a new friend in Iain, a really lovely guy and we are so pleased to be setting out on a journey with Iain, Rachel and Sellyoaks Elim!

Finally today we want to wish our good friend Linda Murray all the very best in running her first half marathon tomorrow to raise funds for the Be Free Campaign. Anyone that knows Linda knows her grit and determination to raise money for the things that break her heart is outstanding. We are very blessed to have Linda as a friend and part of the team.  The last time I asked she has raised £8000 but I am sure knowing her it will be much more than that. Linda we are proud of you, you are an amazing lady and we look forward to seeing you in November. It’s not too late to sponsor Linda, either at her just giving page: www.justgiving.com/LindaMurrayElimMissions or email Linda at: lindamurray246@gmail.com

Over the last month we have had some tough stuff going on but we have always felt Gods hand in everything.  We know that so many of you cover us in prayer and that is why we have the strength to battle through.  It is our prayer that as you may be facing issues in your lives too that you feel the peace and strength that relying on God brings.