Archive for December, 2015

Review of 2015

We were hoping to have a quieter time this week but after almost 5 years in Cambodia we should really know better than that! It has been a week of hospital visits, operations, births and it hasn’t finished yet! On Wednesday morning at 6.50am I passed Dren and his wife Chantha as I travelled to language study, I thought they were taking Kannika to school but I was soon to learn that was not the case. Chantha had not slept well and had severe pain in her side which turned out to be a ruptured appendix. We went along with Nita and prayed for her before she had surgery which thankfully seems to have gone ok.

At the start of the week we had four staff members who are pregnant. Nita who you all should know by now, our ELC manager and all round superstar; Sophea, Sarak’s wife, who is heading up our teenage village work; So Pheavy, Visal’s wife, a wonderful young couple and finally Sow, Sokhom’s older sister who is a joy to have about Elim. So Pheavy is due any minute and as I write both her and Visal are praying she can hold on so they can be Mary and Joseph in the nativity play at the end of church tomorrow!

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Staff praying for So Pheavy and Visal

Nita and Sophea are due in February and Sow was due at the end of January. But last night Sow gave birth to a little boy, the baby is well but Sow has a few problems so please join with us and pray that she will recover properly in the weeks that lie ahead. Also please pray for Sarak and Sophea; this week Sophea has been told to have total rest as the baby is smaller than he should be at this time. We are praying that she goes full term and that their baby boy will be very healthy. So as the cycle of births has started we also rejoice as Sunny returned to work this week with her beautiful baby daughter. Esther was so happy to get to nurse Rachel certainly one of the many perks of life in Elim Cambodia!

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Sunny and 10 week old Rachel

Looking back on this year we have had many exciting things happen in Cambodia, the church has seen a number of new ministries launched and established. We were able to get registered with the government as a church which I cannot state enough the importance of; this in turn opened the doors to be accepted in our two village ministries. We now have English lessons, music lessons, teen Bible studies, kids club, sports ministry and a church all taking place in Toul K’day village. In the past 6 weeks 14 people, young and old, have given their lives to Jesus; praise God! We have been able to establish a new village work in Sokhom’s province and it has steadily established a kids club which will lead to a church plant commencing in February. Keep praying for Sarak, Sophea, Sokhom and Rith as they strive to lead their families and local communities to Jesus.

We have had many visitors throughout the year and we loved every group/ person that came. As always we had a fantastic visit from Paul, our International Missions Director. Pastor Gary, our senior Pastor from Bangor Elim, our sending church, came for the first time and he was a total blessing to all, as is Bangor Elim. Emily, our wonderful niece, travelled on her own at the age of 17 across the world to visit in July. We hosted teams and individuals from Harrogate Elim, Stafford Elim, Selly Oak Elim, Kingstanding Elim and Lurgan Elim. We also spent time with a small team from New Zealand, and a few days with a team from Ratanak led by good friends Mark and Liz Fetherstonhaugh. I left our good friends Brian and Rachel Henry to last because I want to publicly congratulate them both but especially Brian on his appointment as Senior Pastor of Wellsprings Elim in Peterborough. We had an absolute ball with you when you came and we thank God that you are appreciated by the people in Wellsprings that you lovingly serve.

Final highlights of the year, we had so many but the two that we loved the most were the significant news in February of Visal giving his life to Jesus. It is an absolute joy, pleasure and privilege to do life with this young man. He is an example to us all in the way he eats the word but not only eats but applies it. I have never known such Godly maturity in such a short time. Visal, I believe, will go all the way in Elim Cambodia he is destined for big things. The second big highlight was taking two very special, precious people to the UK with us; Nita and Sokim. We had an absolute blast and we were looked after so well in England and Wales by the Murray clan, the Hudson’s, the Martin’s, all the Elim Missions Staff, the Crawford’s, the Dunphy’s, the Hesketh’s and friends, the Whitley’s, the Carter’s and of course Sue and Gez; thank you, thank you, thank you! We also had the absolute pleasure of introducing our families and church family to the girls. Our parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles; everyone we met was so special. We thank Bangor Elim, the Pastors and Elders for taking care of us so well and we have to finish with a massive thank you to our bestest of friends Phil, Ruth, Emma and Heather McKee!.We love you all every single one of you are our family and are a big part of this journey with us!!

We won’t be blogging for the next 3 weeks because we need some time to rest over the Christmas period. The way things fall we would be blogging on Boxing Day and just into the New Year; and then we have our dear friend Julie’s wedding to Geoff on Friday 8th; so we are going to take an unprecedented 3 week break!! But we will be back on the 16th January and we will post updates and photographs of our special events over Christmas on social media; and keep you informed of Elim Cambodia’s growing family!

On behalf of all the team in Elim Cambodia we want to say thank you to every single one of you that has supported the work here. For your prayers and your sacrificial giving; you know how you have been involved. Please keep being a big part of what God is going to do in 2016. Esther and I, along with Meg and Ruby, want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and blessed New Year. Keep your eyes on Jesus no matter what happens or what lies ahead.

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Merry Christmas from the Allens

In closing, if there was one inspiration to us as missionaries this year in Cambodia it was a young 14 year old boy from Bangor, Northern Ireland, who stripped back the layers of complication that we as humans regrettably make in our relationships with Jesus. He simply believed that Jesus is who he said he is, and he did not blow in the wind but stood strong knowing that when we keep things simple and trust the hope of the world that it will come to pass. JESUS, it’s all about you, thank you Joshua Martin for being an example to us all, and reminding us How Great Our God really is!

Thank you Team Ratanak

This past week has been tough on our health as we both were hit by a bug. I was out of action last weekend and David has been poorly since Friday.  At this time of year there are a lot of people suffering with colds and flu type symptoms and we value your prayers for good health and strength for those who are particularly vulnerable.  We would especially ask you to pray for the grandmother of Lena, the young girl who helps Sarak and Sophea at Happy Kids Club.  She is a precious lady whom the whole community loves and when we arrive at Sarak’s family home she is usually the first face we see.  But this week she was bedridden with a bad back and requiring fluids through an IV drip.

On Thursday a combined team from Northern Ireland and England with the organisation Ratanak took the programme at Happy Kids Club and did a wonderful job.  The children learnt new action songs, watched puppets as the story was told, enjoyed colouring in and made loom bracelets; some children using their feet and toes to assist them.  When we arrived at Happy Kids Club I was thrilled to see a banner Sarak designed advertising all the ministries that take place during the week.  When the team made their way back to the ferry we accompanied Sarak and Sophea next door to Lena’s family home and prayed for her grandma.  Even though she was in pain, she was still smiling and thanking God.  She could hear the children singing earlier and was so happy.

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Elim ministries in Toul Kday village

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Loving the loom bands

As the team was leaving on Friday, some down time was organised for them on Thursday afternoon to visit the Silk Island; and Sokim and I were delighted to tag along.  It began with a 1 hour boat trip and the guide giving interesting pieces of information; Sokim commented that it reminded her of the river cruise we took on the Thames earlier this year.  We passed the fishing village where families will sleep on their boat; and we saw such a contrast of houses – mansions, one even with its own jetty, situated right next door to tiny shacks.  Once we arrived at the Silk Island we had a tuk tuk tour of the rural village with all the children we passed shouting out ‘Hello’ and waving at us.  At the silk island centre we learnt the entire process of how silk is made; one of the team made a very profound comment when we were shown the silk worms, ‘something beautiful can come from something so ugly’.  There’s the basis for a message for either staff church or our ladies’ service!  Because the girls in Be Free use silk for some of our handicraft projects Sokim and I were fascinated to watch the ladies using the looms and making the most intricate designs.  We learnt that it takes 10 days to make a 4 metre piece of silk material and the quality was simply amazing!  The cruise back to the city was so enjoyable, the temperature was cooler and we took in the most beautiful sunset.  Refreshments and snacks were served; sticky rice and fresh fruit and it was such a relaxing afternoon.  This will definitely be an option we will offer to visitors and teams to participate in at the very end of their time in Cambodia.

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Silk making process

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Silk loom

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Beautiful craftmanship

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Sights on our river cruise

Earlier in the week the same team visited our centre and did a wonderful programme with the toddler and pre-school children.  The boys and girls saw puppets for the first time and although a few of them were afraid the majority were just amazed and squealed with delight!  They played games and had their faces painted and the teachers and children had such a fun morning.  The team then visited Be Free where they met the girls and were quickly put to work.  We really want to thank the team for all the energy they put in and for being such a blessing to our ministries; special big thanks to Mark and Liz for putting their itinerary together.  It was also great to spend time again with Steve Norman, Ratanak’s UK Director.  As I write this the team are making their way back to the UK and I’m sure both Mark and Liz are already thinking about when they can return to Cambodia which has such a big place in their hearts.

Friday was a very busy but productive day for the girls in Be Free; it’s that time of year to put together gifts for the children who will attend our special Christmas service on the 20th.  We are grateful for the toys and resources that were donated to us and the boys and girls are going to be so happy with the gift they will receive.  We also made parcels for our staff children to give our during our Christmas party on the 23rd and next week we will help put together gifts for the children at both Happy Kids Clubs.  The girls were such a help sorting everything out and were in their element making the parcels for the children.

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Christmas – a time for giving

When we got everything wrapped and the church clean and tidy for Sunday, we surprised one of our trainees with a cake.  Today was her last day in Be Free as she commences full time employment working in a restaurant on Monday.  She has completed the 12 month programme with flying colours and because her placement happened so quickly we will be holding her graduation ceremony in January.  We are going to miss ‘S’ in Be Free but we are all so excited for her and she knows this is God’s plan for her life.  We will see her at church and youth each week; and we will pop in to her new place of work regularly to see her smiley, happy face.  She will be working with another of our former trainees and also doing the same shift as one of her friends so they will be able to keep each other company as they travel to and from work.  Please keep ‘S’ in your prayers that she will settle really quickly and enjoy this new chapter of her life.  Also pray as we meet with our partner organisations and arrange for new girls to come for a ‘look-see’ day at the beginning of the New Year.

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Bittersweet day

In closing we both want to wish two special ladies a very Happy Birthday for this week.  Firstly tomorrow for Emma McKee, daughter of our dear friend and mission’s secretary Ruth, celebrates her birthday and we send lots of love from all your friends here.  Then on Tuesday it’s the birthday of my youngest sister Rose, have a wonderful day wee sis and know how much you will be in our thoughts and always in our hearts.

Lead up to Christmas

There is only one way that I can possibly start our blog today and that is in congratulating one of our nearest and dearest here in Cambodia. Our friend Jill Hamill started this week running a total of 220km over 6 days. The field consisted of mostly overseas runners, male and female, and everybody just wanted Jill to get back in one piece. Well she did much more than that she absolutely killed the course and the opposition, she won the whole event by 3 hrs. 29 mins and 31 secs.  Really awesome and she did it all to raise money for Care for Cambodia to enable them to buy tables and chairs so children in rural areas of Cambodia can study and have the chance of an education. We are so proud of her and I’m sure you will agree what an amazing accomplishment!

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Jill the legend!

At this time of the year we are always busy, like all churches we have a big Christmas program but this year it seems crazy, in a good way of course.  We have so many events coming up our special Christmas celebration is on Sunday 20th and our youth Christmas party is on the 13th; we also have two village celebrations planned. At staff church yesterday we sorted out Secret Santa for 31 staff and helpers, everyone is excited by this even though we are only allowed to spend $5. We will do the big present give out at our staff party on the 23rd December; and finally of course, we will have New Year’s Eve party and countdown so we will be partied out when January comes!

One of the vital ministries we have within Elim in Cambodia is our child sponsorship program and at the minute we have quite a few children being sponsored. When a child is sponsored the money provides a place in our very well run Early Learning Centre; the child will get some education but not only that enjoys 3 meals a day. The boys and girls that need sponsored are children of either single parents or extreme poverty; or they have been abused or exploited. It is so wonderful to see children who seemingly had no hope be given that hope through generous people like you. If you would be interested in sponsoring a child please send us an email; the cost is £20 a month. This week Esther and her team have been organising sponsor packs that will hopefully arrive in the UK in time for Christmas so those who have been blessing the children will get a current photograph, Christmas card, and a few extra gifts to say thank you.

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Sarak, Visal and Channak writing Christmas cards

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Nita, Dany & Sokim; big job but great team!

On Thursday I went out to Toul K’day village and was overjoyed when we met as a church to find out that there is around 15 adults and teenagers who have given their lives to Jesus over the last month. We are certain that everyone knows what they have done and we are now helping them with their new journey as Christians with Bibles and reading plans etc. Please pray for this community because everything is so new to them but that rawness is exciting as they start to tell others. Our plan is to have a baptism service maybe mid-February, so pray as we help them that they will be brave and bold in this public declaration of their relationship with God.

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Community church

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Sarak & Sophea with his parents and sister

This Sunday we are focusing on the Generosity of God at Christmas time in His sacrificial gift of His son. We are going to urge our congregation to go above and beyond sacrificing ourselves to help give to others this Christmas, why don’t you join us.  Is there someone you know needs your help or even just your friendship if so take God’s example and give freely this year in whatever way is required. May God bless you in the days leading up to Christmas Day.