Archive for February, 2015

One thing remains

It’s hard to believe that on Monday we celebrate our 4th anniversary of arriving in Cambodia.  It has been an incredible journey that God has brought on us and although there have been many highs and lows (like all walks of life), one thing remains constant – God’s love.  He is faithful, and whatever trials or challenges we face, we know that we are not on our own.  Four years down the line we still experience moments of homesickness, times when we would love to chat with parents, siblings and friends in person instead of via Skype.  But again God is faithful and strengthens us through these times and we are blessed with the family and friends we get to do life with here in Phnom Penh.

Our first morning in Phnom Penh

Our first morning in Phnom Penh

Many times over the past four years I have had ‘pinch me, this is my life’ moments.  These normally occur in the simplest form and come out of the blue – could be on a journey in the tuk tuk through crazy traffic or during devotions with the girls in Be Free.  My most recent ‘pinch me, this is my life’ moment happened on Thursday morning when David and I were walking the short distance from our home to the centre.  There had been a wedding in our street so we took a different route we had never walked before, past houses we didn’t recognize and people we didn’t know.  In those few moments I thanked God for the path He is leading us on knowing that whatever we encounter we are not alone.

This week we spent time with a couple visiting Cambodia for the third time that also are on a journey seeking God’s direction and guidance.  It was so refreshing to hear them share about their love for the Khmer people and see their hearts so open and willing to make a difference where they believe God is calling them.  We could totally relate to the range of emotions they were experiencing and we will be praying for them in the days and months ahead.

Last night all the staff went to the wedding reception of Sreymom who works in our Early Learning Centre, as does her mum Sakorn.  The staff spent the afternoon getting their hair and makeup done, and as usual I didn’t recognize a few of them at first!  Everyone enjoyed the evening, eating the many courses of food, and of course, many photographs were taken and uploaded to social media straightaway.  We congratulate the bride and groom and wish them God’s richest blessings in their married life together.

Sreymom and Sakorn

Sreymom and Sakorn

The Bride and Groom

The Bride and Groom

Finally we would like to thank our Missions secretary Ruth McKee and her wonderful team for organizing a fundraiser quiz last weekend.  We also want to thank those who made up teams and supported the event.  You are our church family and we love and appreciate everything you do to enable both of us to be here and for all the ministries to run effectively.  On behalf of all the staff, volunteers and church family here we express our sincere thanks for your continued love, prayers and support.

Quiz night

Quiz night

Guest bloggers Malcolm & Susan

Over a year ago David and I were introduced to Malcolm and Susan Bottomley via email when they expressed an interest to visit Cambodia on a mission trip.  Susan is the mission’s secretary of Elim Harrogate and works tirelessly along with her team raising funds to support the various ministries here in Phnom Penh.  Many skypes and emails followed and we also met Malcolm and Susan last year when we were in the UK on furlough.  It was a privilege to speak in Harrogate Elim and share about the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia.  Finally after a lot of planning and preparation we greeted Malcolm and Susan at the airport, both looking well after their long journey.  Together they have written some thoughts from their time here and on behalf of all the staff, church family and volunteers we personally want to thank both of them for all the time and energy they dedicate to allow the work of Elim Cambodia to take place.  Praying God’s blessings over you and your church family as you continue to serve God in all that you do.

What an amazing place Cambodia is. Full of colour, activity and friendly people. Away from the Elim centre our many rides around Phnom Penh in the Elim tuk tuk in the capable hands of Dren will be a memory we shall never forget.

Favorite mode of transport

Favorite mode of transport

The full programme we have experienced of the work of Elim Cambodia underlined by the smiling very happy people who have committed their lives to Christ, emphasises that God is very much at work in this nation where there are numerous wounds to be healed following the genocide by the Khmer Rouge during the period 1975 to 1979.

The ministries we have witnessed are numerous and varied but the ones which have impacted us the most are the Be Free project, both the Happy Kids Club in the village and at the centre, the staff in the Early Learning Centre and the English school. The church has vibrant worship and sound teaching delivered by a number of gifted speakers.

The established village ministry started with a few children at the beginning of the session swelling to approximately 120 very excited and exuberant children. They loved all the action songs, listening to a story about creation followed by frantic colouring of pictures using the concrete floor as their table. The Happy Kids Club in Sokhom’s village is waiting to be established and on the day of our visit the clearance of the site under Sokhom’s family home could not take place due to technicalities involving the village leader. This village is set in amongst palm trees, banana trees and a variety of other trees and very different from any other village we had experienced. Sokhom’s family made us very welcome and had prepared a lovely lunch for us. It is hopeful the family will in time also commit their lives to Christ. Both villages we visited meant an interesting ferry crossing over the Mekong River.

The Happy Kids Club at the centre was powerfully led by the Cambodian team with Sarak being the central leader. All the children were involved and although only the third week for this ministry, it was attended by over 120 very excited children all participating with great enthusiasm. English teaching at the centre consists of five classes studying at three different levels. For three sessions Susan took the elementary class (the advanced class) and at times felt quite challenged but encouraged by the young people’s knowledge of English. The young people were a joy to work with as they were all eager to learn.

Centre Happy Kids Club

Centre Happy Kids Club

Malcolm and I are grateful to David and Esther for making this special mission trip possible, for making us so very welcome in their home and for dedicating so much time to us, while at the same time heading up a very busy and hectic ministry here in Cambodia.

At the airport

At the airport

Trusting God in all things!

We have had a mixed bag this week.  We recently talked to our International missions Director Paul Hudson about the great things that was happening, during our conversation he said to be careful and watch for the attacks that come when you’re taking ground!

Recently we have seen those attacks start to come, over the last 10 days we have been challenged over work permits and other situations that no matter how much we have tried keep being refused. We have seen big shifts recently within the Government stance on lots of things and work permits are not a bad thing.  In fact it can help control who can be here for any length of time, possibly making it more difficult for pedophiles and other likeminded people the chance of residency. So please pray for us as we try our best to do things the right way, pray for registration as a church, a big thing which would allow us so much more freedom.

Over the last 8 days we have had Malcolm and Susan Bottomley from Harrogate Elim staying with us, we have done many things and been very busy as you would expect. We would like to thank Harrogate Elim for continually supporting the work of Elim Cambodia in many ways.

We have been to Happy Kids Club in Sarak’s village on Thursday, we also went to Sokhom’s village this week but we must wait for a few months until we can launch Happy Kids club 3. We need to get the proper church registration and this just takes time unfortunately.  Thankfully God is not surprised or shocked by the delays and we just have to trust God’s timing is perfect and it always is.

Susan taught the Elementary students three nights this week with help from Thida and they all seemed to enjoy the experience.  On Thursday night we had our church Happy Kids Club and again we had about 110 children ranging in age from 4-14. It really is amazing; we had ten people leading it and we thank God for those willing servants impacting our local community. It blesses our hearts to see our neighbours in our church singing songs and hearing stories about Jesus. Anybody that has visited and stayed with us would know the little smiling faces we are talking about.

Church Happy Kids Club

Church Happy Kids Club

Thank you for praying for us and for taking time to cover the work in prayer, please pray this week for a number of things:

  • We are going on Thursday to see if our visa applications have been successful for Nita and Sokim to visit the UK.
  •  We are hopefully lodging our application this week for registration of the church.
  • Finally, please, please, please don’t forget to keep praying for Josh and his total healing!

It’s a Boy!!

This week we were delighted to spend a few days with John Martin, Projects Co-coordinator of Elim Missions and Simon Whitley, Associate Minister in Coventry Elim church.  They arrived on Monday evening and flew out on Thursday morning so although it was only a flying visit we had a busy but blessed time together.  We have known John since we first began the process of applying to become Elim missionaries and we always enjoy spending time with him whether in the UK or here in Cambodia.  A year had passed since John’s last visit and he was thrilled to see the children’s playground area which formerly was overgrown with weeds and a rubbish dump.

It was our pleasure to meet Simon for the first time and as we walked through the centre and talked about the various ministries we thanked God for the amazing team of staff and volunteers who we are privileged to serve alongside.  It was a special moment when we sat in Be Free as Simon shared about Enable Challenge 2014 when 52 men either cycled 100km or ran 10km to raise money for Elim Missions Be Free Campaign.  The girls were overjoyed to hear that to date £20,000 has been raised.  Simon was thrilled to be able to see for himself how the money is making a difference to the lives of the women that are in the Be Free Cambodia program.  On behalf of the staff and trainees I personally want to thank each individual who took part in the Enable Challenge last year, your support has massively helped the girls in our care know how loved and valued they are.

Simon sharing about the Enable Challenge

Simon sharing about the Enable Challenge

On Tuesday morning we woke to the news that our staff member Dany who works in Be Free was in the hospital waiting for the arrival of her baby boy.  Her baby shower was scheduled for next Monday 9th, the day that she was finishing work and commencing maternity leave.  On Sunday in church we had prayed with Dany and Darath, her husband that their baby would come soon and without any difficulties, and prayers were answered.  We did a little competition in Be Free with all the staff along with John, Simon, Sarak & David, guessing what time the baby would be born.  There was much excitement when we were informed they were in the delivery suite and as times were scored out the remaining competitors were hoping they would win.  Finally the telephone call came through that Lori had arrived at 1:45 pm, weighing 6 lb. 1 oz. (2.75 kg) and both Mum and baby were doing well.  Sokim was especially excited as her guess was closest with only 15 minutes out.

Baby Lori

Baby Lori

On Wednesday morning David, John and Simon went to Happy Kids Club 1 in Sarak’s village and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the children who are full of energy and a joy to be around.  They also have seen the English school in operation.  We are delighted to have a centre that is impacting the local community and it’s great to see the children and adults making their way to the Elim School.

While the men went to Happy Kids Club the girls in Be Free visited Dany in the maternity hospital.  We made up a basket that would have been presented to her at her baby shower which included blue bunting made in the Be Free craft room!  We were thrilled to see Dany and we all took turns cuddling baby Lori, who was as good as gold, and didn’t mind being passed around us all.  One of our staff members Channak took her first selfie with him and he really is a star.  We all adore our newest addition to the Be Free team and are over the moon for Dany and Darath.  They are going to make amazing parents and the whole time we were there Darath was the proudest Dad smiling from ear to ear.  We will really miss Dany as she takes her 3 months maternity leave but I’m sure she will pop in to visit us and we will also see her at church and enjoy more cuddles with Lori.  Before we left we prayed with Dany thanking God for the safe delivery of their baby boy and asking God to be with them and their wee family!

Baby gift

Baby gift

Thrilled for Dany & Darath

Thrilled for Dany & Darath

Enjoying first cuddle of Lori

Enjoying first cuddle of Lori

John and Simon began their journey home on Thursday morning and we were back at the airport on Friday afternoon to pick up our next set of visitors.  We first corresponded with Malcolm and Susan Bottomley from Harrogate Elim one year ago when they expressed a desire to visit Cambodia.  Many emails were written and skypes took place, and we were delighted to meet the Bottomleys for the first time when we visited Harrogate Elim during our period of furlough last year.  Susan is the mission’s secretary of the church and along with the team there does a wonderful job of raising funds for Elim Missions.  We are thankful to Pastor Gary and Harrogate Elim for all the support they are to Elim in Cambodia and we are looking forward to Malcolm and Susan getting to see firsthand how their fundraising efforts have been put to use.  During their two weeks here they will volunteer in the English classes and the students will be excited to have an ‘original’ English teacher!  They will also visit Happy Kids Club 1, in Sarak’s village, Happy Kids Club 2 in the church, and we will be going to Sokhom’s village, along with a work team to prepare the area for starting Happy Kids Club 3.  Both of them will spend time in and around our centre – Susan spending time with the girls in Be Free and the Early Learning Centre; and Malcolm working alongside David, Sarak and Chamnap.  Please pray for Malcolm and Susan that in their time here they will be in good health and as they are a blessing to those they will come in contact with, they also will be encouraged, refreshed and expectant.

Early Learning Centre welcoming Malcolm and Susan

Early Learning Centre welcoming Malcolm and Susan