Archive for May, 2015

Celebration, Graduation and of course, Cake!

As I sit with my coffee on another beautiful sunny morning in Cambodia and write this week’s blog I am thankful that it is Saturday and we have no plans except to rest.  This week has been quite challenging with issues to deal with each day which has left us and some of our staff emotionally and physically drained.  But we also have had reasons to celebrate and those who regularly read our blogs know that always involves cake!

First of all thank you to everyone who has been praying with us during the journey of our registration.  On Tuesday David received a phone call to visit the ministry and collect the registration which was ready.  David returned to the centre showing all the staff the certificate authorising Phnom Penh Elim to exist, share the gospel of Jesus and carry out humanitarian action in Cambodia.  It has been a long process taking over 3 years to complete but we celebrate and rejoice that finally this piece of paper is in our procession.  We are grateful to everyone who has helped us with our application, for all those who have prayed and we give all honour and glory to God for the work this will enable us to do and the lives we will be able to reach and impact for Him.

David relieved to be  displaying our registration

David relieved to be displaying our registration

On Friday Chamnap and Dren accompanied David to Sokhom’s village where they met with the commune chief.  He was given photocopies of the registration which he will stamp and sign giving his approval for Happy Kids Club 2 to commence and operate in the village.  Building plans are already underway and more of this will be revealed when the team from Stafford Elim visits in June.

Last night we celebrated in BeFree with our second Graduation ceremony; it was a double ceremony for two trainees who have successfully completed the program. Friends, family, former teachers and case managers from their sending organisations joined with us as we honoured these two special girls.  The team in BeFree worked hard in the lead up to this and was excited about our celebration.  Unfortunately one of our staff members Channak wasn’t able to be with us as shortly before the ceremony she received word that her Father was ill and in hospital. Please join with us in prayer for Channak, her Father and family at this time.

Ready for our graduates

Ready for our graduates

Husband and wife team Sarak and Sophea led us in worship and it was a joy to witness our graduates singing from their hearts.  David thanked the organisations we partner with for entrusting us with their girls and reminded our graduates that although they have completed their time in BeFree they are still part of our church family and we are always here for them.  He then read out a message from Paul Hudson, our International Missions Director, congratulating the girls on succeeding and assuring them of his prayers for the next chapter of their lives.  Sokim and Dany talked with the girls, encouraging them to do well in their new placement and presented them with a scrapbook of memories from their year in BeFree, a necklace signifying that they are treasured and a silver bracelet engraved with their name to remind them that God knows them and always loves them.

Graduates getting ready

Graduates getting ready

Sarak and Sophea leading us in worship

Sarak and Sophea leading us in worship

Dany and Sokim honouring our graduates

Dany and Sokim honouring our graduates

I then shared a few thoughts with the girls, thankful to have the privilege of walking with them on their journey, and encouraging them to do their very best and make us proud of them.  But most importantly to continue loving God, keeping their eyes on Him and always to have Him in the centre of their lives where He will constantly lead and guide them. The graduates were presented with their certificates, flowers and, of course, cake!  It was an emotional time for the girls when they were asked to say a few words, they were overwhelmed with all the love in the room for them and we had to pause, give a few hugs and take deep breaths but they eventually managed it.  They both were so happy and thankful to everyone who loves them, cares for them and has helped them be where they are today!  We joined with Chamnap in praying for the girls, thanking God for what they have already accomplished and knowing He will be with them as they continue on the next chapter of their lives!

Pastor Chamnap praying for our graduates

Pastor Chamnap praying for our graduates

Every celebration needs cake

Every celebration needs cake

We trust this is encouraging to every individual who supports BeFree; you are making a difference to the girls who enter our 12 month program.  You may never be in a position to visit Cambodia and spend time working in our craft room or taking a devotion but because of your prayers (and we all need a lot of prayer) and buying cards or crafts that the girls have lovingly made you are impacting lives and giving them a better future than they could ever imagine!

In closing, we have a special day on Tuesday which will be celebrated with more cake when we wish David a Happy Birthday.  He is normally very shy about this and doesn’t like a lot of fuss but we all do our best to spoil him!!

Never stop praying

I need to start this week’s blog of by saying yesterday we had a birthday girl in our house when Ruby turned 1 and tomorrow we have another when Meg turns 2. Many of you will understand, others will think we are sad but our wee Meg and Ruby mean the world to us!

Meg and Ruby

Meg and Ruby

Also congratulations to Esther’s brother Dave and his wife Dee as they celebrate their first wedding anniversary tomorrow.  We send all our love and wish you every happiness for the future.

Dave and Dee

Dave and Dee

We have had another busy week with lots of positive things happening.  We quickly got back into the way of things catching up with lots of meetings with the staff. Whilst we were in the UK we received the news that Visal and Sopheavy are expecting a baby in December and we congratulate and celebrate with them.

We asked many of you to pray for our church registration and we can report really good news; we have been told by the middle of next week we will have our official documentation. We are so thankful to God and to the team we have who worked tirelessly to get the application prepared. But we also thank you all for your prayers and being part of this journey with us.  Hopefully we will have pictures next week of us with the certificate!

Over the last two days I have been at different provinces being part of what is happening.  At Sarak’s village we had a wonderful time and were blessed by a team visiting from our good friends at She Rescue. The team entered into and took all the activities, we love it when it’s all about the kids and the children certainly enjoyed their morning at Happy Kids club; so a big thank you goes out to the team! The second village is where we are hoping to develop our second village ministry.  Sokhom’s mother is allowing us to work under her house and we are so excited. We have a team of 8 people coming out from Stafford Elim in June and they have fund raised very hard to raise the money for the renovation and concreting. So it is exciting times and as we move forward we thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

Please don’t forget about the Bangor Elim Bike show happening today from 11am – 5.30pm; £5 for adults, £3 for children and £10 for a family.  We want to thank Phil and Ruth and their teams as always for supporting us with all the fundraising, but not only that; we thank them for being our chums and always being there. Please go buy a burger, visit the BeFree stand and support the show we can guarantee a super day out with many exciting things happening.  Visit the website at www.bangorelimshow.com for more information.

Bangor Elim Bike Show

Bangor Elim Bike Show

In closing we attach an update on Josh and prayer request, we would urge you to read, share with your friends, pray and if you can give blood as Joshua’s parents have asked.  It was Josh’s 14th birthday yesterday and on behalf of all the team here we send all our love and prayers your way!

Happy Birthday Josh!

Happy Birthday Josh!

Hi everyone – Joshua’s last burst of chemo was tough on him and he ended up back in hospital for a number of blood transfusions, platelets, antibiotics and fluids.

Doctors have decided to postpone his next few chemo sessions and have brought forward surgery which will take place this Tuesday. This is major surgery to remove a number of tumors and also carry out bowel surgery. Please, please pray for our son. His wee body has been through a lot since Christmas. Please pray that the operation would be a complete success, wisdom for the surgical team, protection for Joshua’s body, and a very speedy recovery.

Also, thank you to the 5000 people who shared our previous update!! Every like and share literally cheered us on as he went through his previous burst of chemo. Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Our first priority is that you pray for Joshua, believing that God will heal him. If you want to do something practical, then maybe you would consider giving blood. We’ve lost count of the number of transfusions Joshua has received and we are so thankful for those who donate blood. It costs nothing and literally saves lives. But sometimes stocks are low and Joshua has to wait until someone has donated.

We would be so grateful if you could like and share this post as this will be a tough week and we ask for as much prayer as possible. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for all your support which has carried our family through. With very much love to you all. Xxxx

‘By His stripes Joshua is healed.’

We also would urge you to remember Pastor Bill in your prayers; he has a few more tests to be carried out and has asked as many people as possible to ‘Please keep praying.  More tests give an opportunity for the Lord to work in the meanwhile’.  Bill and Maureen you are in our thoughts and prayers and are being remembered everyday.

A new chapter

It was an honour to stand with Sokim as she shared her story and spoke about BeFree Cambodia during our brief time in the UK.  She is an inspiration and a wonderful mentor to the girls who come through our 12 month program.  Today I want to honour another of our staff members Channak who managed BeFree during out absence.  Channak is our sewing teacher and absolute whizz when it comes to creating new craft items.  She didn’t have an easy task as issues can arise on a daily basis and with our third member of staff, Dany, still on maternity leave Channak was quite nervous.  Thankfully with modern technology Channak was able to regularly keep in touch with Sokim who gave advice as and when required.  We are also thankful to our friends Colleen who spent once a week teaching health and hygiene matters and Naomi who taught English.  They were also able to support Channak and check she was doing alright.

Channak at  Orressey market

Channak at Orressey market

Sokim and I returned to BeFree on Monday, still suffering from jet lag and hot season which was a shock to our system.  It was special to be back with the girls and see their smiling faces. The morning was spent catching up with Channak and chatting to each of the girls.  Please pray for one of our trainees who is being pressured by her mother to provide financially for her.

This is a short working week because of the King’s Birthday holiday which is celebrated from Wednesday to Friday, so because of this we had an extended devotion time in BeFree on Tuesday morning.  This was a special time as two of our trainees have completed the program and we are holding their Graduation ceremony at the end of this month.  We are all extremely excited for these two girls as together they commence a vocational training course on Monday with a wonderful organisation.  We know they will be cherished and loved and we are thrilled that this opportunity has come along, it really has been an answer to their prayers.  We value your prayers that the two girls will settle well, make new friends and enjoy this new placement.  During our devotion we asked the girls to give advice to the other trainees in BeFree Cambodia and this is their precious words:

‘I would like to thank BeFree for teaching me life skills about work and how to communicate well with others and also how to be patient.  I want to thank all the teachers for teaching me these many skills.  I wish God’s blessing on the whole team at BeFree for the way they helped me’.

‘Thank you Lord, this has not been an accident, it is God’s plan for me to be part of BeFree.  I would encourage everyone to come to BeFree and stay for the full program.  By being in BeFree you learn more about God and prepare to get a better job and have a future.  Thank you Jesus’.

These words make my heart so happy, the last 12 months have been such a journey for these two girls and we are immensely proud of them.  We look forward to their graduation when we know there will be many happy tears as we honour them.  We also will be praying as they begin a new chapter on Monday that they will continue to know God’s direction in their lives and follow Him with all of their hearts.

Thank you to everyone who makes it possible for BeFree Cambodia to run, your finance and prayers are truly making life changing opportunities happen.  God bless you all.

Greetings from Cambodia

On Thursday evening we left England to head home to the people who are now our extended family. During our time in the UK we have had so much fun, fellowship and blessings; and we would like to extend our deepest heartfelt thanks to you all. We especially thank Paul and Greta Hudson and the International Missions team, all at Elim HQ, Linda Murray, Iain Hesketh and the Selly Oak church, John and Cara Martin and the church at Stratford, Simon Whitley, Duncan Clark and the church at Coventry, Ian and Katrina Dunphy, Bill and Maureen Crawford and all at Stafford Elim, Gez and Sue Nicholls, Jamys and Emma Carter and the church at Wrenthorpe.

To Bangor Elim; Gary and Sonya, Davy and Fiona, Hugh and Ann and all the Elders and congregation who we love so so much. We loved seeing you all, we are sorry for those we didn’t get to catch up with but when we only had 7 days we needed to spend time with our family. We thank God for our parents, we find it difficult being so far away from them and as many of you know Esther’s daddy was very ill but we praise and thank God for his healing touch and are so thankful that he is making a remarkable recovery! It was also so special to spend time with aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces we love and cherish you all. A special thank you must be given to the McKee’s, Phil and Ruth looked after Esther for over 3 weeks and the rest of us for one week. Emma and Heather shared a bedroom to accommodate the girls and we deeply appreciate and love the McKee family.

On the way home Esther asked the girls for a few short thoughts about their trip and here they are:

I would like to say thank you so much to Elim International Missions and all the people who supported my trip to the UK. I have learnt a lot from the trip and from all the people I have met; especially witnessing the amazing work of Early Learning Centres there.  I was so happy to be able to see the different culture, the amazing landscape of the UK that is God’s creation; I especially loved seeing cherry blossom trees and tulips. If you ask what attracted me the most, I would say the dish washing machine that my country doesn’t have.  It’s good to be back to Cambodia, reunited with family and friends but I will miss my time in the UK.  I will especially miss all the good hospitality and friendliness of all the people I met.  Thank you so much everybody for everything .God bless you all – Nita.

Nita with her favourite flowers

Nita with her favourite flowers

Nita with her favourite tree

Nita with her favourite tree

Sightseeing in London

                Sightseeing in London

When I went to the UK I was really happy and when everybody welcomed me I felt very warm.  I was happy to see everything in the UK, everywhere is so beautiful.  I liked the weather, the food, the traffic jam, and the gardens and flowers are so beautiful.  I was happy to meet David and Esther’s family, Ruth’s family and Paul’s family.  I enjoyed meeting John Glass and visiting some churches, they are like my family which I never had.  I loved the culture because it is good when people say please and thank you all the time.  They always look after each other and care for one another.  This was my dream to experience all of this and now God blessed me by answering what I prayed for – Sokim.

Sokim taking a selfie at Wrenthorpe Elim

Sokim taking a selfie at Wrenthorpe Elim

Sokim sharing her story

               Sokim sharing her story

Our welcoming committee

         Our welcoming committee

Reunited with our girls Meg and Ruby

Reunited with our girls Meg and Ruby

Whirlwind week in wonderful Northern Ireland!

This past week was busy but thoroughly enjoyed by all four of us.  On Saturday morning we attended a ‘Key Leaders breakfast’ in Bangor Elim where we were given the opportunity to share about the work each of us are involved in.  We then opened it up for any questions people had on their mind about Cambodia and by the end those present had a deeper insight into what life is like there.  Prayer is the key to everything and as everyone gathered around us and prayed over us and for the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia we were once again reminded that we are not on our own.  More than anything we value and depend on the prayers of God’s people.

On Saturday afternoon David was reunited with our niece and nephew, Jessica and Andrew.  It’s no longer ‘wee Andrew’ but ‘wee Davy’ as at 15 years old Andrew is towering over him.  Along with Ruth, Emma and Heather McKee we took Sokim and Nita for a walk to Pickie Park and they loved their ride on Bangor’s infamous swans!  Freezing from their time near the sea we then introduced the girls to Maud’s ice cream which they really enjoyed.  A few hours later in the evening we were back at the sea this time for a walk along the beach with John and Suzanne Hanna and their beloved dog Riley.  Sokim and Nita were well wrapped up and enjoyed picking shells and pebbles to take home with them.

It was a delight to have Sokim and Nita with us on Sunday morning as we worshipped in our home church, they both felt so loved and welcomed by everyone.  Sokim blessed us all with a traditional Khmer dance which she wanted to do to express her thanks for all the love and support she has felt from her family in Bangor Elim.  It was wonderful to see Sokim at the BeFree stall selling the craft items that she teaches the girls back in Phnom Penh to make; Nita was also busy chatting to parents who sponsor children in the Early Leaning Centre and giving them updated information packs.

Bangor Elim church

                        Bangor Elim church

On Sunday afternoon all four of us enjoyed a roast dinner at David’s parents’ house, followed by a short nap for the girls before spending time with some of David’s family.  Sokim and Nita both thought our 15 year old nephew Matthew was 25, which brought much amusement to all of us! His 17 year old sister Emily is coming to visit us for three weeks in July which excites us all and it has been great to chat over some of the things she will be involved in during her time with us.  There was time for another short nap before we made our way back to Bangor Elim for the evening service in which all four of us were taking part in.  The girls were absolutely amazing and both David and I are extremely proud of them.  If you missed it order the DVD from Julie in the office, you will be blessed mightily.  There is so much to give God thanks and praise for; Sokim and Nita radiate the love of Jesus and are amazing ambassadors to first and foremost their Lord and Saviour, and to Phnom Penh Elim church.  We want to express our sincere thanks to friends and family who came especially to support the four of us; and to our Bangor Elim church family. Huge thanks to Ruth McKee and the missions team for all their hard work in organising the supper afterwards which raised over £900 towards the work in Cambodia and thank you to everyone who stayed and chatted with us.  When we left Bangor Elim after the morning service we said to the girls now you know why we miss our home church, they are our family; and they are also your family.  In Phnom Penh Elim we sing a song with the lines ‘in Jesus Christ, we are all family’, thousands of miles may separate us physically but we are joined together and united in Him!

On Monday we drove to the Antrim coast and the girls experienced the worst weather conditions from their time in the UK to date.  Strong winds, sleet and low temperature didn’t prevent David, Sokim and Nita from crossing the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the girls were delighted to receive a certificate afterwards.  They were equally happy with a hot cup of tea afterwards to thaw out.  We then went to the Giants Causeway where the sun came out but it was still very cold.  Sokim and Nita loved climbing the stones, and of course, many photographs and selfies were taken!

Nita mesmerised by the scenery

Nita mesmerised by the scenery

Proudly showing off their certificates

Proudly showing off their certificates

At the Giants Causeway

           At the Giants Causeway

Sokim so happy!

                     Sokim so happy!

Before Sokim and Nita came to the UK one of the things they were looking forward to was meeting our families.  They have heard so much about them (all good) and were so excited about finally seeing as many as possible in real life.  This week they have met parents, aunties, uncles, siblings, nephews and nieces; the girls have been delightful and a joy to be around wherever we have visited.  This week Sokim and Nita have also witnessed our farewells to family, they have cried with us, held us and know how difficult it is.  We have shared with them how happy we are to be in Cambodia, and we know that is where God wants us to be, but four years down the line, saying ‘see you later’ to our loved ones doesn’t get any easier.  Our families are happier from having met Nita and Sokim in person and know how loved we are and how much we love Cambodia from spending time with these two amazing young ladies!

Making memories

                       Making memories

Enjoying their first Ulster Fry

Enjoying their first Ulster Fry

On Thursday evening we shared in the prayer meeting and similar to the key leaders breakfast were able to be more open and direct in the areas that we specifically need prayer for.  David shared a few stories of when we knew we were covered in prayer and kept safe even when no one, except God, knew what was going on.  Please keep praying for all the team in Phnom Penh and the various ministries that are already running and for those that will commence later this year.  It is our prayer that many, many more lives will be impacted by the love of Jesus in the Kingdom of Cambodia and won into the Kingdom of God!

Friday morning was an early start for David and the girls as they left Northern Ireland for the last week of their itinerary in England.  I will join them on Tuesday and until then like you follow what they are doing on Facebook and Instagram!  On behalf of David, Sokim and Nita; thank you everyone for your warm hospitality, friendship, love and kindness.  We have been blessed abundantly and our hearts are full of love for everyone who has made our brief visit in Northern Ireland so memorable.  Sokim and Nita leave with so many wonderful memories, new friends and family; and this truly will be a time they will never, ever forget! Thank you and God bless each of you and your families!

Selfies and cherished moments

Selfies and cherished moments