Glad tidings to you all this Christmas time.
I am sitting here listening to a Northern Ireland Talk Radio Show and it is reminding me of what a fallen world we live in, it seems that there is no good news to report anywhere, the whole world is in darkness.
Well, here’s the thing, we need to share the good news, the news that brings light and blocks out the darkness, lets share the news of Jesus, the light of the world and bring hope to the people of a fallen world.
Mark has a new friend. While sitting in his office, he looked out and there sitting two storeys up outside his window was a chicken. His little friend sat there for hours watching Mark work, then flew down and sat on the roof of the car. Unfortunately, the friendship didn’t last long as the chicken was gone the next morning, we were wondering which family cooked him for their dinner…
We reported in our last newsletter that we hoped to have day care open again on 24th of November; the good news is that the opening ceremony has happened, and the building was officially handed over to us on the morning of the 24th.
The ceremony was such a special occasion, with friends, builders, contractors, the landlord and his family along with our children and parents all joining us for the celebration. Our friend Reverent Gregory Whitaker blessed the building in the name of Jesus and the two children who have been with us the longest cut the ribbon.
I must admit, Mark and I were so very proud, and I was a bit teary, to see our children in their new uniforms being so good even if they were bribed with a promise of Cake and Cola. Unfortunately, the Ministry has wisely decided that all day-care centres have to remain closed until the children are vaccinated. Please pray that we can get them vaccinated very soon and we can have them back before Christmas.
We are praying hard that we will be able to celebrate Christmas in our new building. If this is not possible, we will do what we had to do last year and visit the children at their homes with presents and sing carols for them and their families.
While out shopping for equipment for the building, Sokheng and I went to a big DIY store probably our equivalent of B&Q or Home Depot. One of the essential purchases we made was 12 toilet brushes. Sokheng will be living in day care on the bottom floor near the kitchen and downstairs toilet. Her room has a bathroom already but to save money she suggested she could share her toilet brush with the downstairs toilet. She wanted to save us money but as the toilet brush was 80p I told her the donors would be happy for her to have her own toilet brush and not have to share! I just love her heart and good stewardship of our donors’ money.
As I mentioned before, Sokheng will run a Bible Study for villagers when she moves into the building. I know she would value your prayers for her as she prepares and teaches them about Jesus, and that people will accept him as their Lord through this.
God has given us so many ideas on how to use the building once the children go home each day, so we ask you to pray into this, that we listen to God and that we do what he wants us to do first for him.
We are excited about Christmas and the start of a New Year; we are praying for a better one than the last two, that we are able to have our children back into day-care and also start to fill our new rooms with new children. The enquiries from the villagers are building up as they keep asking Liz when we will open for children again and would we consider their child for a place. There is a lady opposite day-care who lives in a very run-down wooden structure who asks Liz this question every day as soon as she gets out of the car.
We think the staff are now beginning to realise how big our new building is as they are having to clean it on a regular basis to keep down the dust and wash away any signs of the chickens from around the front of the building (don’t need to elaborate on that one!).
Our friends who came to visit us for Christmas in 2019, brought with them Playmobil Christmas Nativity Characters. At the Christmas party they told the children the Christmas Story using the figures; all was going very smoothly until one of the children decided to steal baby Jesus and ran away with him, and his mother Mary ended up in the middle of a plastic cement-truck! This year we are hoping for a better outcome for them both this year.
The staff enjoyed getting out of the village and shopping for presents for the children. We will hold a very short Christmas party here so we can tell them the story of Jesus’ birth, play some games and give them their presents.
We always buy them a new set of clothes and a pair of flip-flops for Christmas together with a small toy and some milk. The children love the UHT milk but it is expensive, so they do not get it often it is around 90 Cents a carton.
The children do not have what we would call “Good Clothes”, for special occasions. Two years ago, a few people donated their children’s beautiful party dresses to us which we gave to the girls. They are outgrowing them now, but they are still kept as a very special dress which they will squeeze into at Christmas time to come to the Christmas party even if the seams are bursting.
Liz loves Christmas, the food especially! As we get older and are away from family, it takes a little more effort to prepare for Christmas. We will be on our own again as our older son Adam will be in Scotland for Christmas with his brother Craig, Sarah and our grandchildren. We are a little envious of him that he gets to spend time with them. Having said that, the biggest joy for us at Christmas is seeing and hearing our day-care children having fun, telling them about a very special baby who came to earth for them and seeing their little faces as they open their presents.
We will give our children’s family a Christmas food pack consisting of rice and essentials. The generosity of our donors is just amazing, and we thank them for enabling us to give this blessing to our families.
Through a generous donor and a friend, we also gave away a few Christmas food blessings around the Phnom Penh area to those who are still unable to provide for their families due to Covid. We filled three Tuc Tucs with rice and food which we gave out to people and families who are living on the streets. One lady’s situation broke our hearts. She was standing next to a large pile of rubbish (the smell was so bad) and her little boy around 2 years old was sitting beside it, and in the mother’s arms was a baby girl 10 days old, wrapped in a towel. We prayed over the baby and gave the mother food and treats for the little girl. Sokheng and I cried sore for a little girl, her mum and a little baby who are sleeping on the streets with no one to protect them. As I reflected on that mother’s situation, I was reminded that first Christmas how Mary had nowhere to lay her baby down in safety except for a feed-trough in a cow shed.
On a lighter note, the Big excitement just before Christmas was that the staff went out for Christmas Food together, (Fried Chicken and a Coke). At least three of the staff (one is 64 yrs. old) had never been to a shopping mall. The day out to the Mall for them was like giving your children the best toy ever, the one they had dreamed about all year. They are so loyal, and it was good to see them letting their hair done (as much as their culture would let them) and have some fun together. Watching them having their pictures taken at the big Christmas Tree and looking at the items in the shops was such a joy. Most of the shops are out of our price range so it was a window-shopping day only for all of us.
It’s been a busy December for us as you can see, but a good one. We are blessed to be able to love on our Khmer brothers and sisters at Christmas knowing all the time, God blessed all of us by sending his only son to be born and to die for everyone in this world.
Wherever you are spending Christmas and whoever you are spending it with, may God bring you his peace, and joy as you spend time celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus. We especially pray for those of us (Liz included) who will have an empty space in their hearts this Christmas, due to loved ones who passed away during the year and those who are remembering family who have gone before us over the past years. As Christians we rejoice knowing we have a God who knows us and knows how we feel. May God grant you his peace and comfort.
All we have left to say in this Christmas Newsletter, is to wish you all a very Happy Khmerry Christmas from us, our staff and our Board and Sabye Chnam Themi (Happy New Year) as we move forward towards God-willing, a better 2022.
Blessings Liz and Mark