Archive for July, 2015

Moments to Treasure

As we mentioned in last week’s post we are thrilled to have our niece Emily with us for a few weeks, she is an absolute delight and is loving her time here.  For anyone who visits Cambodia we recommend visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek Killing Fields to know more about the history and understand what the Khmer people have gone through.  Last Saturday, Dren our trusty tuk tuk driver picked us up and at our first stop Tuol Sleng there were no guides available so Emily had to make do with me.  Over the last four years I have visited a few times so I tried to recall significant facts and at the end of the tour Emily was happy with her guide!

We were privileged to meet the only two survivors of S-21 Chum Mey, who was saved because of his skill as a mechanic.  After 12 days and nights of beatings and repeated electrocution, he was plucked from among the other prisoners and put to work repairing the typewriters his torturers used to record their forced confessions.  In an introduction to his book Chum Mey has come to understand and even identify with his torturers rather than condemn them ‘I consider them victims like me, because they had to carry out other people’s orders’.

With Chum Mey

With Chum Mey

Bou Meng was saved after weeks of torture because he was an artist. He was taken from a row of shackled prisoners and put to work painting portraits of the Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, and he continued, as others were tortured and killed, until the prison was hastily evacuated in the face of a Vietnamese invasion.  In his book he writes ‘I am a victim of Pol Pot and I was able to survive because of pictures of Pol Pot’.

With Bou Meng

With Bou Meng

On the journey out to the Killing Field at Choeung Ek there was so much dust in the air that we appreciated Dren stopping to get us masks.  At Choeung Ek because you get headsets giving you all the information I found shelter under a tree and read my book while Emily took it all in.  For any group or individual visiting both these places we suggest a time to process and share about what you have seen and I did this with Emily.  On our journey back to town, over lunch and even into the evening we chatted about what happened during the darkest time of Cambodia.  Emily really enjoyed learning about the history and is looking forward to showing her photographs and telling David’s Dad, her Granda, all about it.

on the dusty road

on the dusty road

At Choeng Ek Killing Field

At Choeng Ek Killing Field

It was a joy to have Emily with us at church on Sunday and as Chamnap spoke, we appreciated Sarak sitting beside us and translating the message.  On Sunday afternoon the heavens opened and we had the first heavy downpour for rainy season.  After 30 minutes several roads had flooded and because we had borrowed Dren’s car we didn’t want to cause any damage.  Our journey home involved many detours as we searched for roads that weren’t too flooded.

Rainy season has kicked in

Rainy season has kicked in

We were blessed this week to take a few days off and go with Emily to Siem Reap.  Again for anyone coming to Cambodia if your schedule allows you should try to include a visit to Angkor Wat.  David had a day of peace and quiet on Tuesday as Emily and I left with our guide and tuk tuk driver at 8:30am and toured the major temple area.  The guide gave Emily the history of Cambodia as we journeyed between the temples and we both thoroughly enjoyed our day.  The highlight was the elephant ride around Bayon temple, although a little scary climbing onto our seat, it was very leisurely and enjoyable.

Enjoying our elephant ride

Enjoying our elephant ride

At Angkor Wat

At Angkor Wat

With Apsara dancers

With Apsara dancers

At Ta Prohm famous for Tomb Raider movie

At Ta Prohm famous for Tomb Raider movie

During the day I had told the guide that we had been in Cambodia over four years and our niece was visiting us and seeing what our life is like here.  I shared with him about our work in Phnom Penh and in the villages and how blessed we are with the team of staff and volunteers who are passionate about what they do.  When we were dropped back at our hotel we thanked the guide and tuk tuk driver for giving us such a wonderful day and before we left the guide said, ‘before you go I want to thank you for coming to my country and helping the Cambodian people’.  Both Emily and I were so touched by his sincerity and I replied that we love Cambodia and its people and are so blessed to be here.

We returned to Phnom Penh on Thursday where Emily and David had a meeting with Nita and the Early Learning Centre team leaders to discuss what room they would like Emily to carry out some artwork.  They gave suggestions about what they thought the children would like and yesterday morning the artist was given her blank canvas and a pencil.  Emily had sketched her drawings on Thursday afternoon and to see them on the wall was amazing.  All the paint and brushes were purchased yesterday and by the time you are reading this there will be lots of colour on the walls and we look forward to showing you the classroom when it is finished!

Artist at work

Artist at work

Choosing colours

Choosing colours

Thank you to everyone who has been following #emilyincambodia, she absolutely loves her time here and all the staff, church members, and our friends have been so welcoming and friendly towards her.  We are so thankful for technology as we can update Emily’s Mum, Granny and Granda, who are thrilled she is here and enjoying following her experiences back in Northern Ireland.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to having our second special Sunday where everyone comes together for united praise and worship and then the women, men and young people break into their groups as well as the children enjoying their time in Sunday  School.  We value your prayers for those who will be taking part, and for lives to be impacted and hearts to be touched.

#emilyincambodia

This week an event took place that we have been waiting over four years to happen; our very first family member has made it to Cambodia.  Since our niece Emily first expressed an interest to visit we have been extremely excited; many Skype calls took place and emails discussing what injections were required passed between us over the last few months.  It was a special treat for David’s Sister Kellie, Emily and younger brother Matthew to meet Sokim and Nita during our visit to Northern Ireland in May and it created a link in Cambodia other than us.

Finally the time came for Emily to depart Northern Ireland and commence her travels to Cambodia.  On Monday night both in our time zone and the UK I know there was not much sleep had by those who had just said farewell and those who were anticipating Emily’s arrival the next day.  Again many Facebook messages were sent as we tracked her journey which included a delayed flight, resulting in missing the connection; hence the lack of sleep as we naturally worried about Emily who is only 17 travelling herself.  She was amazing, and we are all incredibly proud of how calm she stayed throughout it all.

Excitement levels were high as we made our way to the airport; we are so thankful for modern technology and as we waited at the arrivals gate I was messaging Kellie, attaching photos so she literally was doing the next best thing to actually being here in person.  Because of the flight connections and problems we doubted Emily’s bag would make it and we were right.  When most people from the flight had already been reunited with their family, I spotted Emily making her way to the lost luggage counter.  I entered the airport and when stopped by a policeman told him in the best Khmer I could manage that my niece had just arrived, had a problem with her bag not arriving and could I please go and help.  He said no! I repeated my conversation, pleading with him to let me go inside; thinking if he says no I’m going in anyhow but he gave a little nod and that was enough for me.  Poor Emily looked absolutely wrecked but was still smiling and as we hugged both of us were so relieved that she was really here.  Filling in the necessary paperwork took longer than David hoped; bless him he was still standing at the arrival gate!  Eventually with the promise that Emily’s bag would be delivered to our home 24 hours later we made our way towards David and a happy reunion.

Waiting at arrivals

Waiting at arrivals

Uncle David playing it cool

Uncle David playing it cool

She's here

She’s here

Happy but exhausted

Happy but exhausted

Photos and messages were immediately sent to Emily’s Mum to prove she had arrived safely and we even had a little Skype call on the way home.  Like any visitor who comes to Cambodia for the first time Emily was mesmerised by the traffic and it was a joy to watch her reactions.

The last few days have been an absolute delight to introduce Emily to our life here in Phnom Penh.  She had the official tour of our centre with of course the mandatory welcome cake, met all of our staff, and was reunited with Sokim and Nita, and the children in the Early Learning centre sang a welcome song which she just loved.  In Be Free Emily was put to work straightaway and the girls were so happy to finally meet our niece who we had been counting down the days for her visit.

First time in tuk tuk

First time in tuk tuk

Welcome to Cambodia Emily

Welcome to Cambodia Emily

Emily is studying art as an A level and whilst she is here is going to carry out some artwork in our Early Learning Centre which we know will make the children and teachers very happy.  She has also been helping out in Be Free and is enjoying getting to know the girls, we are trying out a few new craft ideas and Emily was helping with the art side of things.

We were all happy when Emily’s bag did arrive the following night; our friend Julie had joined us for dinner and to meet Emily; and we enjoyed sampling some of the treats that were sent out.  It really was like Christmas morning.  David was delighted that the potato bread and soda bread were intact and within the use by date and were quickly deposited in the freezer until the right time for us to have an Ulster Fry!

Also this week the village outreach team – Sarak, Sophea, Sokhom and Rith went to Happy Kids Club 2 on Tuesday where during the two clubs, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon, had over 140 children between them. Sokhom was so happy when I spoke to her afterwards and is overjoyed that the community where she grew up is now hearing about Jesus.  Sarak and Sophea also went to Happy Kids Club 2 on Thursday and had a great time there.

Anyone who is a regular reader of our blog knows that Cambodians love cake and this week our staff have eaten cake three days in a row.  On Wednesday as they welcomed Emily, on Thursday we celebrated Sokim’s birthday and on Friday one of the trainees in Be Free celebrated her birthday!  In closing and keeping on the theme of birthdays we would like to wish one of our other nieces a very happy birthday for tomorrow!  Jessica have a wonderful time celebrating your 17th birthday, we love you and will be thinking of you all day, sending you lots of love and hugs!

Happy Birthday Jessica

Happy Birthday Jessica

Pound by Pound

Each week we bring you updates on God’s amazing love for the lost.  For us it’s a privilege to be part of the blessings we are seeing as God moves in the most unthinkable ways. Today I want to challenge you in a simple but I believe a life changing way; it’s so simple it may not change your life but it will change many other people’s lives.

Elim has over 600 churches all over the UK and many others in countries throughout the world.  Think about how many people that is, that belong to the Elim Movement; thousands upon thousands of people.  So if we all play our part in a new simple way we could literally see communities rescued from horrendous poverty, children rescued from sexual trafficking and a hope brought to those who have never heard.

As part of the Elim 100 Year celebrations Elim Missions are challenging every person that attends an Elim church to give £1 a week, that’s £52 a year. It may not sound a lot but if 100 people take part it is £5,200; if a thousand commit it is £52,000; if 10,000 sign up it is £520,000 and so and so on. The point is it is doable for everyone, there is bound to be something you can do without to give £4 a month.

Esther and I are very privileged to be working where we are, doing what we are doing with some of the most amazing people. We are just a small part of a large family of missionaries worldwide who would say we can’t do this alone. Obviously God is with us and is amazing in all things, but when we go to the villages, when we reach out to the destitute, the outcasts of society we need to help and sometimes that costs more than time and love.  It takes money to buy a mattress to sleep on or a meal to eat or clothes to wear or a pair of shoes. By giving your £1 a week you can make those things possible and by doing that I believe we are pleasing God.

In a few weeks’ time it will be available on line through Elim International missions to donate your pound a week and both Esther and I will be signing up. I’m not saying that because I want you to think that we are this or that I’m saying it because we want to see lives changed throughout this world. Please join with us. I love to read the scripture Matthew 25 verses 34-40.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

We see God’s heart towards those who take the time to care and share, this is what makes God smile the most.  Unfortunately for some the reading goes on from verse 41-46,

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I don’t know about you but I pray I never ever let my heart become so hard that others don’t matter anymore!

This is a simple way to impact brothers and sisters throughout the world.  Get involved, give your £1 a week.  Don’t leave it to others, when you choose not to help someone goes without. You don’t need to belong to Elim you can still be involved by visiting the website. We will let you know when the online option is available!

pound by pound

Week 2 with the Stafford Elim Team

We have had another crazy, busy week here in Cambodia; the team from Stafford has been a blessing to all whom they have come in contact with. We would like to go on record by thanking each and every one of them for being the type of people they are.  Servant hearts wanting to give so much and blessing all those around them.

Last week we had our first special Sunday where after a time of united worship we split into groups- male, female, youth and Sunday school. Esther is heading up the ladies ministry and I am looking after the men and it was a great success. The reason we decided to do this is because of people’s family and work commitments it is difficult to organise an additional time during the week to get together.  So we thought that it would be good to split up and let the men do church a male way, let the woman do church a female way and the young ones a youth way. It worked; we had 16 men, over 40 women, about 15 youth and leaders plus the children in Sunday school. We want to be open to new ways of meeting the needs within our community and at the same time build relationships through simple fellowship.  In the men’s meeting Big Dave from the Stafford team spoke about his own personal life experiences and he really challenged us all.

United worship

United worship

Women's Ministry

Women’s Ministry

Young People

Young People

Men's Ministry

Men’s Ministry

Over the past months while waiting for our church registration we have been building relationships with the community chief and the school Principal of the village where the team carried out the building project. So it came as no shock that we were welcomed by both with open arms when we held our first kids club there on Tuesday. What we expected was maybe 50 or so children, what we got were 2 clubs with approximately 400 children in total. It was a challenge but we love a challenge, thankfully we knew a day or two in advance and were able to bring additional helpers and have extra colouring in sheets and snacks as well. Everyone was brilliant; the Stafford team did a really good job along with our core team of Sarak, Sophea, Sokhom, Rith, Chamnap and the Be Free girls. It was fun, humbling, exciting, overwhelming at times, challenging but worth every second.  A fantastic experience for us all and more importantly an extremely exciting day that will be talked about for many days by the village community.

Boarding the ferry

Boarding the ferry

The children waiting to welcome us

The children waiting to welcome us

Happy Kids Club 2

Happy Kids Club 2

Sokhom's Mum and sister prepared delicious lunch for us

Sokhom’s Mum and sister prepared delicious lunch for us

Kids club at the school

Kids club at the school

We are the first white expat people to ever come to this village, no one has ever even recognised their need and they are desperate to know more about who we are and why we have come. The Stafford team from the money that had been raised for the building project purchased some equipment for the school and the Headmaster stood in amazement with tear filled eyes as it was installed to create a play area for the children. As Chamnap and I travelled home we talked about how we feel that we should really pray and focus our time telling the teachers and principal about Jesus.  If we can see them saved then the whole picture changes for the village as they are the only source of education.

Sokhom with the playground equipment at her former school

Sokhom with the playground equipment at her former school

Please pray for this village work as it launches and also for the other two villages we are involved in. Also pray for the Stafford team that as they go back to their everyday lives, that the people they have met and impacted and been impacted by will have left a mark on their lives; that they will become missional people and that this journey they have been on doesn’t end now but actually is just the beginning where each person will hear clearly the call on their lives and will act with an obedient response.

Saying farewell to the Stafford Elim team

Saying farewell to the Stafford Elim team