Archive for December, 2018

2018 – What a Year!

Its the last blog post of 2018!  Before we look back at some of the highlights and memories of the past 12 months we want to share some photographs from our Christmas service last Sunday.

For weeks the children in the Early Learning Centre have been rehearsing the song they would perform as part of the Nativity story and the 2 Saturday mornings prior to the service all the children taking part in the drama rehearsed.  Sokhom and I were quite worried after the final rehearsal and we just hoped and prayed it would be all ok on the day! We are thrilled to say we had a full house with family, friends, parents of the ELC children and local community present!  Nita and I were honored to MC the event and are so thankful to everyone who participated and also grateful to Georgie and Di Mong for capturing photographs and videos of the day.

We combined our service with 2nd Mile, the International church which uses our building each week, and we were thrilled to have Belinda, one of their worship leaders minister to us in song.  She was such a blessing and during her performance of O Holy Night I had goosebumps!  Our own worship team were brilliant leading us in Khmer and traditional carols.

We are so proud of 9 year old Chiera who narrated the whole Christmas story while the Sunday school and ELC children acted out the Nativity.  All the children remembered their roles and were absolutely fantastic.  The funniest sight was their teacher Sokhom waving one of the gifts they would receive at the end of the service to remind them to sing well, and her plan worked!  The children put their all into their performance and at the end Sokhom was beaming with pride for her amazing students!

David and Chamnap delivered the message about the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus and God’s plan as the creator of the universe to give us the best gift ever, the Savior of the world, and wanting to be in a personal relationship with each of us.  We are so thankful for the opportunity that was given for so many people to hear about the love of Jesus and we pray over time everyone present last Sunday will make the greatest decision ever to follow Him.

All the children then received a Christmas present in what I can only describe as chaos on the platform!  Close to 150 gifts were given out and it was manic but we thank God for our church family who gave generously in the weeks leading up to our special service so every child could receive a Christmas present.  We are overjoyed with how our Christmas service was so well supported and we give God all the honor as His name was glorified!

This is some of the highlights of 2018:

Births – Daniel, Jonny, Deborah, Eli, Hasanah and Hosannah.

Visitors – Ameila (Rediscover Church), Tom & Georgie (Cardiff City Temple), Dave & Liz Newton, Tauranga Elim (NZ), Peter & Dee Stedman, Lakeside Church (Southport), Paul Hudson, Mike Griffiths, Daryll Booth, LJ Tiffney, Sophie Moore, Lucas Marlow, Team Gateway (NZ) and David & Carolyn Wilson.

Special Events – Be Free Graduation #7, Football Tournament in Kep, Focus Day for Leaders, Special Easter service, Khmer New Years party, Samaritan Purse Boxes in Kep, Furolugh with Pastor Chamnap, Hutchinson family leave Cambodia for NZ, Be Free 5th Birthday, Surprise visit to NI, ELC Graduation, first full year of Oasis Guesthouse running and Aly appointed as manager, Sarak & Sophea return to Phnom Penh, Piseth heads up work in Kep, Pastor training conference in Kep, Be Free extension completed, Global Christmas party – Tuol Kdey, Christmas service in Kep, Opening of Sports Centre in Kep, Staff Christmas party & Special Christmas service!

Special occasions for our family – Becoming an Auntie and Uncle again with the arrival of Elliott and Sadie in January, and getting to meet our adorable nephew and niece in June, and for me again in September.  Our eldest niece Alex getting engaged to Tobi in February.  David’s ordination ceremony in June.  David’s mum Sandra ringing the bell upon completion of her cancer treatment in October and getting stronger every day.  David’s sister Kellie getting engaged to Stuart on Christmas Eve. As a family we have much to be thankful for!

So as we approach the end of 2018 we wish to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has journeyed with us, we are so grateful for your love, prayers and ongoing support towards the work of Elim in Cambodia.  On behalf of our amazing team here, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a piece of what God is doing in this beautiful part of His Kingdom!  We wish you a blessed 2019 and pray that it will be a year in which you know peace, hope and love through our Lord Jesus Christ!

A Season Full of Giving!

I would like to start this week’s blog by wishing each and everyone of you a Joyful, Merry Christmas and that you spend precious moments with those you love whether you are at home or like us thousands of miles away. One thing we have learnt being so far away is that you should value every moment you have together.

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This week has been extremely busy,  starting with a trip to Kep early last Sunday along with Pastor Chamnap, Dren, Tom and Georgie. Our visit was for two reasons; the first to be part of the Christmas celebrations and secondly to attend the opening of the large sports hall Elim had been heavily involved in renovating the interior.

The church had about 50 people in attendance including two police officers taking photos, it seems we are being watched in everything we do right now. After the photos were taken we started our service which went very well. The Kep church is quite traditional in their Khmer worship which I find refreshing and that it hasn’t been westernised, but as the church grows and the young people get more involved I would expect more modern Khmer worship will be used.  We had a young group of Khmer led us in a song at the end and it was really special to see them using their gifts. I had the privilege to preach and it was a real joy to share to those there about the reason for the season. Afterwards the church enjoyed fellowshipping together enjoying Khmer curry made by some of the church members.

On Monday morning we set of early to the sports field where the big sports hall is located, by the time we arrived there was already 200 children along with there teachers sitting in the hall. Tom and Georgie had already set some of the hall up with a volleyball net, tennis net and some badminton nets. We had the official ceremony with the Director of Education, Youth and Sports attendance and Pastor Chamnap did the Master of Ceremonies. I spoke first talking about the journey Elim has been on in Kep and about our belief in Jesus. After I finished Tom spoke about his passion for sport and young people living out their dreams. The speeches were concluded by the director thanking Elim and especially Tom and Georgie.

After this we had the joy to partake in playing some volleyball, tennis and badminton with the director and some of the children. It was a real privilege to see what Elim through Tom and Georgie have done in this building and how the love of God shining through people can reach out to others in the simplest of ways. The sports hall had the floor flattened and lines painted on for a full size tennis court, a volleyball net, four softball mini tennis/badminton courts and an indoor football pitch. They also provided the nets, posts, racquets and balls etc for all the sports.  We still require five a side football nets, which will cost approximately £300 to get those and some good balls. The other thing we would like to do is get lighting into the place so it can be used after 6pm when it goes dark. This is a much bigger venture and would cost around £1250 so if you are looking to bless something this Christmas time please join with us in making a difference so many others will have the ability to have fun and sport at the same time. If you would like to be part of this venture please go to our PayPal option at the bottom of the blog. I cannot thank both Tom and Georgie for making this dream for so many a reality, it has brought a lot of joy for many and at the same time enhanced the relationship between Elim and the Ministry of Education here in Cambodia.

Last night we had a wonderful time of fun and fellowship with all our staff, 30 in total. We brought them to the Elim Guesthouse where we had a banquet of food made by Aly, Esther, Srey Loat, Lina, Mohm and myself. We pulled out all the stops and put on a fabulous buffet for them all. Afterwards Pastor Chamnap, Pastor Sarak and myself led a few games that brought much fun and laughter, which so good to see. Our photo booth as you can guess was never empty, Cambodians as you know by now love two things selfies and cake. Once the games were finished Chamnap and I gave out the secret Santa gifts followed by everyone’s Christmas bonuses. It was such a blessing to stand back and watch everyone so happy sharing fun moments together. These are the people that make things happen on a day to day basis and it was Esther and my pleasure to spoil them for the beautiful hearts and great work ethic they have. We truly love them all!

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As we prepare for our Church Christmas extravaganza please know we love you all.  Thank you for being part of our journey, you will never know how much we appreciate the support and love you show us. To those closest to us we miss you so so much.  Thank you for supporting us being so far away, we know your pain. Love and blessings to you all “To God be the Glory”.

 

Guest Blog by Sophie

I have just come home from 11 wonderful weeks in Cambodia. This was my third time in Cambodia and God has done far more than I ever could have imagined. I thank God for giving me this beautiful Khmer family in my life. They have changed me for the good and taught me so many wonderful things.  One thing I always say that I love about Cambodians is that they have the best smiles. They just know how to and love making other people happy.
This longer trip has meant that I could get fully involved in everyday Cambodia life. I got to spend more time at Elim Cambodia helping with different ministries. I spent a lot of time working with the toddlers in the ELC and those mornings with the kids were so fun. I learnt from the staff there and admired their hard work and care for the children. I got to teach English to the girls in Befree and lead some bible studies. The time spent with the girls in Befree as always has been so special. I loved being here as the new rooms were added to Befree. One of my favourite moments was praying over the rooms with the team and God’s presence was mightily felt with us. I know He will use this new space to bring more healing and restoration to young girls lives. I have loved spending time with old friends building on our friendships and also starting new ones.  I have loved doing daily life with people. I got to see how God can take and use our everyday simple activities and turn them for His glory.
One of the most significant things for me was seeing the church planting team and the heart of Cambodia Elim to see everyone in Cambodia know about Jesus. Going to the provinces and visiting the villages in Kep were experiences like nothing I have ever had before. Some of the programs i got to see were in the middle of rice fields, some were in people’s houses, some were shared with chickens and dogs and kids running about but all were so filled with God’s mighty presence. One of my favourite moments was when the team were singing the song “do you know my Jesus deep down in your heart?” with a group of children. It made me so emotional that these kids were hearing the good news about Jesus who is the best news they will ever hear. It encouraged me and reminded me of the importance of me doing this in my life with those that don’t know God.
Last year when I was in cambodia the final touches were being put into the guesthouse. It was amazing to be here this time and see it being used by a team from New Zealand and many other visitors. It really is a beautiful oasis to come and stay in. You get a very warm welcome and are looked after so well by Aly – the wonderful guesthouse manager.
I have seen so much growth in people and ministries here over the past few years. I want to say about my dear friends Chamnap and Nita that I am so proud of you and all the work you do in Cambodia. God is using you both to lead this work so well. You put God first and seek his will and wisdom in all you do. Your vision for the church and for the people of Cambodia is amazing.
And finally I want to thank David and Esther for once again allowing me to come and join your family and all the work going on here in Cambodia. You give endlessly of yourself day in and day out here. You inspire me to keep loving God and keep loving people. You have 2 of the biggest hearts and I have loved every minute of this time I have spent with you.
Elim Cambodia and the precious people here are amazing – I miss them already. I hope you get the chance to come and see this wonderful place yourself someday.

The Greatest Gift!

Last Saturday saw the beginning of our Christmas program in Cambodia with a party and special church service in Tuol Kdey province combining two of our church plant locations.  We accompanied the church planting team leaving the house at 7 am to give us time to decorate the area and organise the children who would be taking part in the Nativity play.  When we arrived there was a buzz in the community and children had already arrived in anticipation of having a fun time.  Soon the Christmas tree was decorated, balloons hung and Dren returned from the neighboring community with 60 children in the van; I videoed them exiting the vehicle and it was hilarious watching all these boys and girls who must have been like sardines inside.  They were laughing and so excited to be attending a Christmas party!

The party consisted of songs, games with very competitive children and lots of squealing, and the Christmas story narrated by Sokchea and acted out by some of the children.  150 gifts were given to the children and then they sat at tables and enjoyed a lunch of ‘bor bor’, a typical Khmer meal.  The children were so happy and the atmosphere was just wonderful!  Once they finished eating they returned home and it was time to prepare for our lunch and the Christmas service in the afternoon.  With 30 minutes to spare a small group of us went across the road to relax on the hammocks while Dren drove to collect the adults from the neighboring community who would be attending the church service.

There was also fun for the adults with pass the parcel and everyone entered in to the activities that were asked of them; there was much laughter and enjoyment!  After some worship, David delivered a message with Chamnap translating for him; speaking on how the families in our communities can experience hope, joy and peace reflecting on the reason God sent Jesus to the earth as a baby as the Christmas story tells us. Praise God at the end of the message 6 people responded to the message and made the decision to follow Jesus!  

We thank God for the church planting team and volunteers who faithfully visit these two communities and our other church plants, building relationships and sharing the good news of Jesus.  We are grateful for the families who open up their homes every week to allow church and kids clubs to take place, that enables the seed to be planted, to grow and to harvest! Please pray for these precious souls who have given their lives to Jesus and for more and more people in the communities to make the same decision in the days, months and years to come!  

We are so thankful to Sarak’s family who worked tirelessly to enable our Christmas party and special church service to take place.  They were up from 4 am preparing food for 200 people and we are so grateful to their kindness and hospitality.  We want to thank everybody who supported Elim Mission’s Beloved ‘Global Christmas Party’ campaign which enabled 150 children to have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift ever given and for 6 adults to receive the greatest gift by accepting Jesus into their heart!  Our hearts are full and as we continue to prepare for our special Christmas service on the 23rd December, please join with us in prayer that many people will open up their hearts to receive the greatest gift that can be given!

In closing we want to take this opportunity to thank David Wilson who has spent two weeks teaching Nita accountancy and how to record everything in a system on the computer.  We were privileged to meet David a few years ago when he spent time in Cambodia volunteering at another organization so when he got in touch to say he was returning to Phnom Penh we asked for his help.  We were also delighted to meet Carolyn, who was able to join her husband for one week, and it was our privilege to accommodate you both in our guesthouse.  Thank you David for all the hours you put in and we are also grateful to Nita who was a star pupil enjoying what she learnt and even gave herself homework!  It was a pleasure to spend time with both David and Carolyn and our friendship is only just beginning!