Archive for February, 2020

Guest blog by Esther Allen

What a joy to return to my second home Cambodia 174 days after David and I waved farewell to our amazing Khmer family to begin a new chapter in Southport in the UK.

The reunions that took place were just so sweet and my squeals of delight when seeing precious loved ones are moments I will treasure.

For almost two weeks I served alongside the team of Lakeside ladies followed by 4 days with three ladies from our Missions office in the UK and my heart has been blown away with how incredible the Elim Cambodia team is.

 

In August 2018 we shared with our Khmer family and community that we felt God was calling us back to the UK and it was time for them to lead the work we were privileged to be such a part of. David shared about how young eagles learn how to fly by spreading their wings and jumping out of the nest. It was time for them to leave the nest and soar to new heights. And boy, have they done that! I am immensely proud of Pastor Chamnap and his leadership of all the ministry within Elim Cambodia.

Each day there have been so many highlights and I have shed tears of joy observing how each person is thriving and flourishing in their ministry. The church planting team are breaking into new ground in so many provinces with their vision of ‘one village, one church’. To sit in a home meeting a family whose lives have been so amazingly transformed since they met Jesus through one of our church planters listening to God during a morning walk and stopping at their home is a day I will never forget!

 

During the first morning in Be Free having devotions with the ladies tears rolled down my face as we sang ‘God sent His son they called Him Jesus, He came to love heal and forgive’. As I listened to their sweet voices singing in Khmer I was overcome by God’s love and all He is doing in and through each of these precious young women. They haven’t always known love from their families but when they enter the doors of Be Free they are loved by the staff, fellow trainees and come to know the love of Jesus who transforms their life, giving them hope and a future.

I met with Sokim, Sophea and Chantha to chat about how they are doing in their ministries and I encouraged them with how amazing it has been to observe them hosting the teams and working with the trainees. The standard of craft products they are making, the new ideas they are coming up with and the care and support they give to the trainees is top class. I’m so proud of each of them and how well they work together as part of a team, they aren’t just work colleagues but also friends who support each other and spend time together socially. We have been able to take the Be Free team twice to Bloom cafe where they have enjoyed yummy cupcakes and smoothies, and the times of sharing have been emotional but so heart touching. Be Free Cambodia was birthed from having a cupcake and coffee with our International Missions Director Paul Hudson in May 2013 so trips there are always special.

Being present at the 9th Be Free graduation was also a very special highlight. To have been there when the 3 graduates first came to Be Free and be a part of their journey, and then to cheer them on as they graduated was a joyous event.

 

Seeing the children in the Early Learning Centre was so special, they are so happy and when they sang to us they did so at the top of their voices. The staff are incredible, loving the children and passionate about giving them the best start in life with their education.

Community is what Cambodians do so well and last Sunday following men & ladies church we joined together for food. The Lakeside ladies visited Elim alley one evening sharing fruit and playing games with the families who live there. Then last night many of the staff and church family gathered in Elim’s guesthouse for a banquet of food together. It was such a relaxed time of fellowship, food and fun.

I’m now finishing this blog post on the plane after saying ‘see you next year’ to my family here. Love hurts and separation is hard but I’m so thankful to have spent 3 amazing weeks in Cambodia and to witness how everyone is not just surviving but thriving. Special thanks go to Sophie who looked after the Lakeside ladies so well in the guesthouse, it really was an Oasis and your Khmer family are counting the days until you return to them. Chamnap, Nita, Sokhom, Sokim, Sarak, Dren, Sok, Sreyloat thank you so so much for your love, kindness, generosity, servant hearts for making the past three weeks so memorable. Continuing to be your biggest supporter and cheerleader. Keep keeping on and following God’s leading in your lives. Until next year, see you on FaceTime xo

A busy start to the year

The past few weeks I have been enjoying time in Cambodia with my good friend Courtney. She was here for 1 month altogether and she left last Wednesday to go back home to Northern Ireland. We had a great time together seeing different parts of Cambodia and most importantly we spent lots of time with the people I love very much here in Cambodia. During her time here Courtney helped with English classes, she played different instruments in the church worship team, she spoke at women’s church, shared at the Befree bible study and helped teach the preschool and toddler children at the ELC. Thank you Courtney for serving so well and being such a great friend to me and travelling all this way to see me and the work going on at Elim Cambodia.

Over the last month throughout Asia one of the main topics of conversation has been the Corona virus. So far there has been 1 confirmed case in Cambodia and the person has been treated and is said to be recovering. This past week I was stopped upon entering a building and my temperature was taken along with being given anti bacterial gel for my hands. There has been a lot of fear amongst people here and I have been saddened at the impact the virus has had especially in China. I lived in China before and the people of China hold a very special place in my heart. I would ask you all to join in prayer for China especially as they deal with the spread of this virus and for the many other people and countries who have been affected.  Pray against fear that people would listen to sound and truthful advice about the situation.

This past month we had our first youth night with students from the English classes. It was a special night with our students who have been studying English with us since September. We played games together, ate some food and learned about 5 important words and what they mean in our lives. Love, joy, peace, value and hope. We plan to meet once a month initially to do this youth night.

This past week exciting building work has been underway at Elim.  3 houses are being build for one staff member who currently lives at the church and these houses will also be for any girls who may come to Befree and need somewhere to live.  The 3 houses are at the back of the church and good progress has already been made with the building work.  This really is a blessing for the ladies and the staff member who will move into these houses.

Just this week we had a ladies team from Lakeside Elim arrive in Cambodia.  Esther Allen who many of you will know, is the missionary along with her husband David who served and lived in Cambodia for nearly 9 years.  She along with 5 other ladies arrived on Monday afternoon.  There were many happy reunions at the airport and we were all happy to meet the other ladies on the team and a few of the ladies are returning to Cambodia for the 2nd time.  This week they have already been busy at the ELC, in Befree and tomorrow we will head to one of the villages where Esther will speak a message on ‘love’ for Valentines Day.

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Lakeside Ladies

Tomorrow night we are very excited for another Befree graduation to take place. Sokim and the team have been very busy organizing for a special night tomorrow.  3 girls will graduate tomorrow night and over the next few weeks and months they will move onto different work places and programmes.

On Saturday there will be a ladies conference at Elim church.  This is being lead by the Lakeside Ladies team and Nita will be one of the ladies speaking at the conference along with Esther and George. Please pray for everyone involved in the programme for Saturday. Lots of hard work has gone into the preparations for this and we are all excited for the day and for what God wants to share with us.

The church planting team are also very busy as they have been continuing to visit different provinces to encourage the pastors and leaders there in the work they are doing. Often this means that the team are having to spend time away from their families and driving for long periods of time. Please remember each of them in prayer that they would have the energy and strength that they need for this work.  God is moving and the stories and transformations that are taking place around this country are amazing.

I look forward to updating you on more exciting things that have happened in a few weeks time.  Thank you as always for your messages, support, prayers and love.

 

Love, Sophie