July has gone in very quickly. Very mixed bag. We have again witnessed God’s love through people and situations that have arisen over this last month.
As you know from our previous newsletter, Mark and I were to come home on 10th July for New Wine Sligo and to spend time with family and friends.
We are praying really hard that conditions continue to improve, that the number of people getting COVID lessen and that restrictions are lifted soon. Our flights were cancelled and at the moment to go back to the UK would cost over £1,300 for a single journey (normally return flights would cost at the most £900) and once we arrived in the UK we would also have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone coming into Cambodia at the moment, must have your Visa renewed before travel, a fitness certificate stating you do not have COVID within the 72 hour timeframe which includes landing in Cambodia, have medical insurance of $50,000 upwards and a deposit when you land of over $3,000, each. The $3,000 is for your COVID test here, one/two night quarantine until your results come back and if anyone on the flight has a positive result, a further 14 day stay in quarantine until you can be tested again. If everyone on the flight tests negative, you can then self-isolate for 14 days and get the remainder of your $3,000 back. So, I think we will be staying put for a while longer. All these measures have prevented the spread of COVID within Cambodia which is great but makes going home at this time not an option for us.
So instead of home Adam, Mark and I went up to the North of Cambodia and stayed in Siem Reap for a few days. I do not think we were quite prepared for the range of emotions we would feel during that trip. Siem Reap is a huge tourist destination for people from all over the World who come to see Angkor Wat and the many ancient temples and ruins around it. Once we have checked into our accommodation (which was a third of the normal charge), we went to get something to eat in Pub Street. Pub Street is normally buzzing and shoulder to shoulder with people, but at the moment there are only two restaurants open and the one went to had 5 people in it including us. All the other restaurants were in darkness, for sale signs for businesses already closed and the night-markets were not open. It brought tears to our eyes. On our way back to our accommodation a tuk-tuk driver said to us “If you give me $1.50 (£1.10) I will take you wherever you want to go, I have no money or food. Very hard to earn any money if your income depends mostly on tourists.
Unfortunately, because people are struggling the old problems of Child Exploitation are on the rise. More children are being send out to beg or work at other forms of exploitation to try to make ends meet.
We went to the ticket desks at Angkor Wat which is normally knee deep with people and long queues – no queues, no one just us. We went to Angkor Wat for sunrise the next morning. Normally when the sun rises the grounds are a sea of people, that morning there were 10 including us. Our emotions were all over the place as market stalls were closed and the place was almost empty. The only good thing was that it was lovely to be able to photograph the temples without 6 million selfies being taken and having to wait a long time to get a shot without people in the middle of it. The guards were so pleased to have someone to talk to (they normally do not have the time to chat) and we had some good conversations with them without having to rush past them.
The good things that have happened – God again provided money through donors to enable us to do more food parcels to the needy. Our biggest giveaway to date – 97 families were blessed; 71 were given out in our village and 26 in another – we love to take the opportunity to share the gospel with them and explain that God’s people are providing this food because of their love of Jesus and his love for them. We wish you could see how much they value what was being given to them, their prayers of thanksgiving and happiness that God’s people from the other side of the World care about them is very humbling.
Our best, best, best, news, is that we have been given official permission to re-open day care. We have restrictions of course, but we are back and operating again, isn’t that just wonderful? The staff have been trained on COVID measures, the centre has had another deep clean and we are back in business.
Our first reopening morning started with a big thunderstorm, heavy rain and a beautiful rainbow shining through a very black sky. Driving in it is a hair-raising experience but the rainbow made me think of God’s perfect creation, renewed hope, and his steadfast promises – just what we needed to start our first day back. The first day back brought a few tears of delight from the staff and tears of anxiousness from our children. Within 10 minutes I could hear them all laughing, a sound I longed to hear again for quite a while. Please pray for everyone as the settle back into their routine and as we prepare two of our children to Graduate from Day-care in September.
Please also pray for very sweet little 3-year-old girl in our day care, she adores her daddy but a few days ago he dropped her off at day-care and left his wife, the family and the village. They live in a tin shack with only three walls made of tin and have nothing much in their lives other than being a family. We are unsure how the mum will provide for herself and the children now, we pray for them that God will provide all their needs along with a home that is fit for them to live in.
Siblings here play a big part in bringing up younger siblings and at times it can be strange and sad for us to see young children looking after very young children, it is a big responsibility to put on young shoulders. We see the stress it causes them having to deal with situations that arise and not knowing what to do, so we pray for this family that the older siblings get the help they need as they deal with life without their father and how it will impact their lives.
Again Cambodia and its craziness delights us, things on scooters that just need to be seen to be believed, now picture this – so far this month we have seen a tower PC sellotaped to the backseat of a scooter, two typing chairs, a table and two chairs, scooter with six people sitting on it and the list goes on.
Another wonderful sight are the mobile garden centres. They are scooters with a trailer stacked high with plants which drive around until someone stops them to buy something. They are so colourful, filled with exotic flowers and trees. They brighten my morning as a drive to work.
Our other amazing, wonderful news is that in January 2021 we are to welcome grandchild number two into the family. We are so excited for Craig, Sarah, and Christian James (Christian will be an amazing big brother).
Mark is 60 on the 2nd August, plans are afoot to celebrate his big day here. The Khmer people do not believe his age as most people in the 60’s in this country have really aged due in part to the harsh living conditions and for some poverty. We are looking forward to celebrating with both our Khmer and foreign friends, the craic will be mighty.
Due to not being able to come home, we will miss Christian’s (our grandson) birthday on the 3rd August – he will be 2 years old. He is such a lovely boy and we love to Facetime him and see his lovely smile. He has started to say a few words and we get a wave and a bye bye which if I am honest tugs at our hearts, it is so hard not to be able to give him hugs and do all the things a grandma and grandpa does so we pray for the time to come when we can go home on furlough and spend lots of time with him, his mum, dad and his new baby brother or sister!!
My reading this morning is from Philippians 4 v8 “and now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”
It is reminding me that being followers of Jesus we are expected to take responsibility for walking in spirit and truth; living and trusting in the Word of God; depending on our heavenly Father and submitting to all he has for us. As a typical human-being I can say that sometimes submitting, when times are hard, is easier to say than to do, but when you are living for Him and submitting to Him – all he has for us is excellent and worthy of praise which outweighs the things we crave and miss in this earthly life.
That’s us done for now.
Have a blessed month and keep safe, until next time.
Liz and Mark