Archive for April, 2018

Guest blog by Hannah

Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m sure over the past 8 months you have heard snippets about me and what I am doing here in Cambodia. However, as of today I have 4 days left in this beautiful country in the phenomenal city of Phnom Penh. So let me tell you a bit about my time and my plans for the future.

For years upon years, I had in my head Africa was the place for me.  As a youngster in Sunday school we had a prayer board and my requests were always to pray for the children in Africa who have less than myself who need to know the love of God and be cared for. Being so young my Sunday school teachers would tell me ‘wow, you like to think big’. Little did I Know God was sparking a passion in me waiting to fan into flames at the right time. Spark no.1

Often, my Father would speak at conferences such as Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest & New Wine, in which I would tag along too, at age 10 it didn’t take long for me to notice all the stalls, where I could go around and collect as many free pens as possible… but at one stall there was a TV (of course I stopped to watch) showing was a video of a young girl that had been trafficked, I watched for a good 5 minutes then I carried on collecting pens. As I reached secondary school age (13 y/o), I was asked to write an essay about something I hated, and suddenly that video flooded my head. So, I wrote the essay on human trafficking, compared to my class who wrote about brussel sprouts and marmite. I was asked to read mine to the class and speak about trafficking, to which my classmates replied ‘don’t be silly, that happened in the olden days’. Spark no.2

 Just as a typical 18 year old, school was out and it was off to uni for me, after 4 interviews and being accepted that was me sorted… then I thought I’d write a plot twist in my own story (we all know that’s the bit that’s draws you in to any story). I decided uni was a no go, it was easy for me to just be the trendy girl that travelled for a bit but my heart told me different. If I was going to go anywhere I was going to make a difference. Lots of research, emails and phone calls later I was on my way to Cambodia! After finding out about all the work that is being done out here, Cambodia sounded perfect. I thought to myself: God has opened a massive door of opportunity to work with girls that have had lives of abuse and exploitation, showing them the hope and saving love that we have in Jesus Christ. Even more so I get to go to Africa, the place I have always talked about. Gods sense of humor caught me out there, he knows geography was not my best topic in school!

September came and I arrived, it didn’t take me long to learn that Cambodia is such a broken country, after going through much pain the country is still trying to recover. That’s when I knew – 1 God had this planned out and 2, what better person to help a broken country than a broken, imperfect person myself. On my first morning, I woke up and read Proverbs 4:1-5 “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.Then he taught me, and he said to me, take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding. These are the words in which I have lived off during my time here.

So, you are probably wondering what have you done during your time?  On a day-to-day basis I spend time in Be Free with the girls. At the start for me it was difficult with a language barrier which meant I had to work hard at developing relationship and trust with the girls. This meant lots of smiles, offering to help make handy crafts and showing them my picture album, which explained who I am without words. On a weekly basis the girls have English lessons with Srey Chan, it wasn’t long before the girls were coming out of the classroom practicing their English with me and asking me all about my family and my homeland. About 1 month had passed and I was asked to start Be Free Bible studies with the girls. To start we would do some worship, pray, I would lead a 10 minute challenging message in which they would respond and we would have a discussion and prayer time. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks in when Sokim (project manager) who translates for me asked If I wanted feedback so nervously I said yes please. I was shocked as the girls went around the circle and responded, the work of God was so evident in our time together. ‘You have encouraged me to change my life, I cannot read the Bible but now I want to learn’, ‘I never listen properly, but this time I did and God told me to not get so upset with myself and allow myself to be strong in Him’. GOD IS GOOD!!!

During my time I have also had the privilege of pioneering a youth group within our Elim centre. After making lots of leaflets for the young people in our church to hand out to their friends and family we had a turnout of 60+ on our first ever youth group. I didn’t realise how much the Khmer love to play games, I have been taught many khmer games as well as teaching them all Western games. I have had great help from some of the growing young leaders in the church-Aly, Chanthy, Sarah and of course translator Visal. It’s been a challenge for me but definitely one worthwhile. It has encouraged me to think outside the box in terms of preparing talks for new Christians and those who have never heard the name of Jesus before. Youth group has been such great fun for me and I look forward to seeing how it develops over the next months, as I hand it over to the young Cambodian leaders Aly, Chnathy and Sarah.

I have many opportunities to go with the church planting team to village church and take part in the kids church activities they do, teaching many children about God and the love he has for them. Its so humbling to watch them all gather together to sing kids worship to our God, its definitely an experience and sight I will miss!

What’s next? As you may have gathered, I love to serve others and have the opportunity to play my part in His story. I want to make my life count in some small way. This partly explains why I wanted to come to Cambodia in the first place. God has taken me on an incredible journey through which I have learnt so much whilst having the chance to pour His love into other people’s lives and tell His story. One thing has been really clear to me, you could describe it as a calling on my life, I believe I have a heart for mission and so…I’M HOPING TO COME BACK!  

In just 4 days’ time as opposed to a ‘goodbye’ I will be saying a ‘see you soon’ to my Cambodian family as I return to the UK. I am in the process of applying to Elim Missions to be a full time missionary and will be coming back to the UK to do some missionary preparation and training. So, what will this look like?  At this stage I am not totally sure but I will be undertaking the 9 month Elim Missions Academy, exploring some training options at Regents and looking at advancing my skills in media and teaching English as a foreign language. Exciting or what?!

 In closing I want to extend a massive thank you to David & Esther for the hospitality, love and care they have shown towards me during my time here. I want to thank them for the opportunity that they have provided for me to flourish and become more of the woman God has called me to be.

Well I’m sure you have worked out from what you have just read that this young lady is very special indeed. We thank God for bringing Hannah to Cambodia, for burning a deep desire to serve these people for many years to come. It is really exciting for us all but please pray for Hannah, this next year will be a real rollercoaster because she now has two homes with 50% of her heart in both. You can follow Hannah’s progress towards her return, praying for her and even financially supporting her by checking out her website at http://www.hannewton-rrr.weebly.com

In closing we want to thank Hannah one more time for being a treat to live with, a treasure to work with and simply a new part of our lives. We will miss you but have already started counting the days until your back.

For the next six weeks we will be in the UK so there will be no blogs but below is a list of places you could hopefully catch up with us and Pastor Chamnap! We will put regular updates on our David and Esther in Cambodia facebook page.  Please pray for our journey back to the UK and for health and strength as we travel around and minister in the various locations.  Also continue to pray for our amazing team in Cambodia as they serve God in the City Church, ELC, Be Free and Village Churches.

Sunday 6th May am Wellsprings Elim Peterborough

Saturday 12th May 10 am Lakeside Ladies (Esther)

Sunday 13th May am & pm Lakeside Elim Southport

Sunday 20th May am Sellyoak Elim Birmingham

Sunday 27th May am Lisburn Elim  Pm Lurgan Elim

Tuesday 29th May pm South Belfast Elim

Wednesday 30th May pm Coastlands Elim

Thursday 31st May pm Cullybacky Elim

Sunday 3rd June am & pm Bangor Elim

A New Addition to the Family

As we mentioned in last week’s blog the Khmer New Year holiday took place with us having a long weekend off work.  Most of our staff and church family travelled to their homeland to enjoy time with loved ones.  For those of us remaining in the city we enjoyed a time of rest and lots of fellowship together.  On Saturday morning 3 tuk tuks took a group of us to Aeon mall where the children had a great time in a wonderful indoor playground and then we all enjoyed a meal at Pizza Company.  Because the holiday is over 5 days it can be a long and lonely time for those staying in the city with most markets, shops and restaurants also closing.  It was a fun and special time for us to share time with our Khmer family outside of the working environment.

On Sunday again with the majority of our church family missing we held an open air service with Somnang leading us in a time of worship before David brought the message continuing with our ‘Sermon on the Mount’ series.  I really enjoyed us all sitting in a circle in a very relaxed and informal setting.

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As well as being so blessed with the Khmer family God has given us we are fortunate to have some amazing expats that share our life in Cambodia and over Sunday and Monday we spent time enjoying good food and fellowship together.  We are so grateful to God for the the people He has placed in our lives over the years and we feel incredibly blessed and thankful to God for bringing us together. On the Tuesday we enjoyed a lunch in the guesthouse with the single mums and Channak who had no plans while her husband was working and children were with her family.  Sok wanted to learn how to make lasagna and she did an incredible job.  Aly also helped with the preparations and set up all the tables for us.  Everyone enjoyed ice cream afterwards and it was special just to be together.  Holiday times are for being with family!

Just before Khmer New Year there was a nasty eye infection going around affecting a lot of our staff and children, it is highly contagious and unfortunately this week Hannah has caught it.  All 3 of us also have been suffering with sore throat symptoms which also is going around.  David and mine has cleared up but please pray for Hannah as she if suffering from a really bad case of tonsillitis.  The medication is helping but we would value your prayers that Hannah has a speedy recovery so she can enjoy the remainder of her time in Cambodia and not be housebound.

We are delighted to introduce the newest member of Elim Cambodia’s family ‘Raingsey Deborah’.  Weighing 2.9kgs/6 lbs 4 ozs she arrived into the world at 8:10 on Friday.  We are thrilled for the proud parents Sokhom and Rith, who also have a little boy called Eden.  Chamnap, Nita, David and I went to the hospital yesterday and on our way to the second floor passed so many new mums lying on gurneys in the corridors; including Sokhom and her daughter.  Nita and I enjoyed cuddles with baby Deborah, she is so precious and we are so thankful for her safe arrival.  She was not due for another 2 weeks and we thought we were going to miss her birth but Sokhom said her daughter wanted to meet us before we left for the UK.

While we were there Sokhom was moved into a room with another new Mum with a 3 day old baby boy.  I started chatting to the grandma and the mum, who is recovering from having a C section.  I shared that we are Christians and would we be able to pray for her and her baby.  They agreed and Nita and I sat beside Sreymom while Chamnap prayed for them.  Before we left David also prayed for Sokhnom and Rith thanking God for their beautiful new daughter.  Please pray for Rith, he hasn’t been well for some time and has had a variety of hospital checkups and different medication prescribed each time.  This week David and Chamnap took him to the clinic we go to and after having a scan is going today to have the camera take a look into his stomach.  We really value your prayers for both Rith and Sokhom at what has been an anxious time.

Last night Aly went to the hospital to visit Sokhnom and we gave some baby garments and blanket for Sreymom but she was moved to another room and neither Nita nor Aly couldn’t locate her.  Please also remember Sreymom and her son in your prayers that they both gain health and strength and get home soon.

Thank you for your continued prayers for David’s mum Sandra.  We enjoyed another wee FaceTime last Saturday and have been messaging through the week.  She is making good progress and we are all so thankful for the prayers on her behalf.

As we get ready to leave Cambodia with Chamnap and Hannah we appreciate your prayers for all the preparation that is necessary.  In next week’s blog we will update our itinerary for our visit to the UK as it will be our last post for 6 weeks.

Happy Khmer New Year!

At the start of this week’s blog we want to wish all our Khmer family and friends a Happy Khmer New Year! We hope that over this holiday you enjoy time with family and friends; and experience some rest and relaxation.  We are praying for your safety as you travel to and from your homelands to spend time with your loved ones.

Yesterday afternoon we celebrated Khmer New Year with a party for all the staff;  everyone has been excited in the lead up to this holiday and there was a real buzz in the air!  Sokchea was creative in decorating a sign and photo area while David, Chamnap and Tom went out in the morning buying prizes and organizing the games!  I’ve never seen any nationality enjoy games more than the Khmer; they all enter in and know how to have lots of fun!

Celebrating Khmer New Year and water go together and during a hot afternoon once you got over the shock of icy water being thrown over you it was rather refreshing!  We played several games with lots of laughter, shouting, competiveness and WATER!  Flour was another vital ingredient in two of the games, one of which you had to retrieve candy from a bowl of flour using your teeth.  The prize goes to Hannah’s uncle Jamie for getting the most flour on his face!  The children of the staff also really enjoyed themselves throwing water over all the big people.  Parents from the ELC donated fizzy drinks for the party which were stored in a ice bucket and water from here was used to throw round everyone as well as the hose being turned on people and actual buckets of water!  I’ve joked that we are going to have a big water bill this month, some people who have seen the group photo of us all thought we had rain as the ground was so wet!

The moment the staff were all waiting for then took place with them receiving their bonus; this happens twice a year at Christmas and Khmer New Year.  It is showing our appreciation to all our team who work so hard all year round and it enables them to visit their family in the province and take gifts with them.  At the end of the party we linked arms with everyone and prayed for safety over the holiday,  please pray for all our staff as they travel to their families that they will be safe on the roads.  We are taking those of our staff who have no family to the mall tomorrow where the children can play together in the indoor playground and then we will all have pizza together. This is always fun for all of us and one of our favorite things to do with our Khmer family.

Another highlight for Hannah and I this week was to accompany our church planting team to Kep after our Sunday morning service.  Recently we were blessed to receive 400 shoeboxes from Samaritan Purse with gifts for children in the Kep province.  We journeyed to Kep having a picnic of snacks in the van, also stopping for lunch enroute and finally arriving at our new centre where Sarak, Sophea and over 100 children were waiting for us.  A special guest from the Ministry of Education was present and it was an honor for us to be able to assist presenting the gifts to the boys and girls.  Every child and young person said thank you and sat back down not opening their gift but watching until everyone had received a present and then they all excitedly opened their box; some using their teeth to tear open the sellotape!  These boxes were packed with an assortment of treats and Hannah and I were so touched by the reactions we witnessed. One young boy took out a brand new bar of soap, opening one end to smell it and his face just lit up!  If you have ever or still do make shoeboxes for countries like Cambodia be assured of how much joy you bring to the recipients!  The children that were blessed on Sunday would never have received anything like this before and it was such an honor to be present and truly see ‘love in action’.

For me no trip to Kep is complete until you stop at the Sailing Club to see God’s beautiful creation, we were too early for the sunset but we were able to take some special photographs of Hannah’s last trip to the coast during this part of her adventure in Cambodia.  I’m attaching a link to Hannah’s latest blog post so you can be kept up to date with where God is directing her Hannah’s blog, please pray for her as in just over 2 weeks, she says her ‘see ya laters’ to all of her Khmer family and will be reunited with her Mum, Dad and younger brother who have missed her dearly.  We will say more about Hannah in the near future and will be encouraging you to support her in any way you possibly can.  This week it was special for her to spend a few days with her Auntie and Uncle who are holidaying through Asia; and it was also special for Tom and Georgie to have his mum and friend visit for a few days.  Their family were able to see where they live, work and a glimpse into life in Cambodia!

 

In closing we want to thank you for remembering David’s mum in your prayers.  She underwent surgery this week and is now recovering at home; we were thankful to be able to have a wee chat over facetime yesterday and we are counting the days until we are reunited and able to spend time face to face.  Please continue to remember Sandra in your prayers as she recuperates in the comfort of her own home, that she will gain health and strength every day!

Making Connections!

Our week commenced with a special service on Resurrection Sunday with the junior dance team performing to ‘Above All’ which was so beautiful and touched my heart. Some of the children from the ELC also took part in a dance with one little girl so overcome with stage fright from all the cameras of the proud relatives watching!  Chamnap brought a message and a time of ministry followed with people re-dedicating their lives to Jesus and receiving prayer for themselves or their family.

We have been so blessed to have Peter & Dee from New Zealand spend three days ministering to our church planting team.  The core members from Tuol Kday village have come to the city to join with the team and have thoroughly enjoyed all the Bible study and teaching they have received.  One lady was struggling to read her Bible but  when she tried using Dee’s reading glasses she could read so clearly. Dee gave David the money to purchase a pair of glasses and in the afternoon the precious lady was in her element reading the Bible with great ease! We are so thankful for the connection that was made with Peter last year as a mutual friend from NZ gave him football tops to be used in the football ministry in Kep.  Through that initial meeting Peter shared about their ministry of training people in the area of church planting.  We extended the invitation of the next time they were in Cambodia to work with us and one year later here we are. We thank God for bringing this couple into our lives and as well as the teaching and ministry they have imparted to our team we have thoroughly enjoyed our times of fellowship over meal times. We pray God’s blessing on them both as they return to NZ and hope they will return in the future to serve alongside us with the opportunity of seeing one of our newer church plants in action!

Also this week we were delighted to spend time with Mel, my classmate from studying Level 3, and the team from Singapore which she has been hosting.  We met them in our guesthouse and gave an outline of Elim Cambodia and the ministries that are operating.  Following a tour of the guesthouse for the opportunity of teams returning in the future we walked round the corner to our centre and visited Be Free.

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Finally on Friday we were thrilled to spend the morning with 2 young ladies taking part in The World Race, an 11 country, 11 month mission trip to share the love of Jesus and serve others around the world.  Last year when we spoke in our home church Bangor Elim, Chloe spoke to us at the end of the service to tell us about her joining The World Race and she would be in Cambodia at some stage.  We chatted and said to keep in touch with us and definitely to connect with us when she arrived in Phnom Penh.  We enjoyed a wonderful morning with Chloe and Emily, who spent time teaching English with the pre-school children; the children welcomed them with singing and really enjoying learning about farm animals and had such fun making the sounds the animals made and joined in singing ‘Old McDonald had a farm’.  The girls brought a folder of resources that the teachers can use when they are teaching English which will be such a blessing.

Chloe and Emily then spent some time in Be Free where we gave them the history of this ministry and shared what God is doing in the lives of the girls who come through the program.  Visitors are always put to work and Chloe and Emily did a great job of completing an elephant keyring which will be a souvenir of their time with us.  Chloe was also able to meet the child whom her Mum sponsors and this was such a special moment to witness.  Thank you so much Chloe and Emily for putting time aside from the ministry you are involved in during your time in Phnom Penh and we will be praying for you both as you continue on the next stage of your World Race!  It has been a week of connecting with people whose passion is serving God and we are grateful for the time they have invested with our Khmer team.

As many of you know our church family is growing with so many new babies and today I would ask you to pray for two of our pregnant Mums – Channak & Sokhom.  Sokim returned to work on Monday and her first task was accompanying Channak to the hospital after she fainted in Be Free.  She scared all of us especially when Songva, her husband, carried her down the stairs and we got her into the car.  Channak has been diagnosed with low blood pressure at 4 months into her pregnancy; the remainder of this week she stayed at home and we will monitor her condition giving her time to rest when she needs to.  Sokhom went to the hospital for a check up on Friday to be told her baby could come in the next two weeks, she is not due to give birth until mid May.  Her first baby also came early; as you can imagine Sokhom is anxious and feeling exhausted.  She will take a break from managing the pre-school section and rest in the centre where we can all be close to hand and look after her.  Thank you for your constant love, prayers and support; we appreciate all that you do for the wonderful people of Cambodia.