February back home seems to have been a month of battening down the hatches and waiting out the various storms. The Coronavirus started in Asia and has now spread to the rest of the world and quite rightly everyone is very nervous, and masks are being worn everywhere. As we travelled back to Cambodia, we landed in Hong Kong in transit to Phnom Penh and discovered that Mark and I were about the only two people not wearing masks. Little daunting to see people peering and talking to you through a mask. We are praying for all those who have the virus, those who are unaware they have it and for all those trying to avoid it.
We are praying for all of you who may be weathering your own personal storms right now. We all have them at times and while we are in the midst of them, they are frightening and we are unsure when they will end, but eventually they do pass and after the storm there is calm. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus not only calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee, but he can also calm the storm in us with his peace, hope and renewal.
My first day back at Day care, the children rushed to great me with hugs, kisses and handmade birthday cards – I had missed them so much and my heart was bursting to see them again. Then came the shouts of “Da” and it was Mark’s turn for hugs. Mark had to then leave me to go to a meeting and when he returned one of the children said, “here comes Mark, the husband of Yei (grandma)”.
The local ladies sometimes turn up at the gates of day care with gifts for us recently we received a bag of dried Fish Heads, two hammocks and three very fresh fish. I asked the staff to put my fish in the fridge until I was going home, I got a very strange look from them until I discovered that the fish were still alive!! Two more fish appeared and were placed in a bucket, we had to put a lid on the bucket as the fish kept escaping. My worst nightmare is going to happen someday when someone arrives at the gates with a live chicken or duck – don’t know how I am going to deal with that one!! I am still very humbled when they give us gifts as these ladies are very poor and yet they share what they have with us.
from them until I discovered that the fish were still alive!! Two more fish appeared and were placed in a bucket, we had to put a lid on the bucket as the fish kept escaping. My worst nightmare is going to happen someday when someone arrives at the gates with a live chicken or duck – don’t know how I am going to deal with that one!! I am still very humbled when they give us gifts as these ladies are very poor and yet they share what they have with us.
Hot season is now here, and temperatures are climbing steadily averaging 36 degrees most days. We are not complaining as we know that the weather back home has been cold, but it is hard to cool down as the fans are blowing around hot air…. We have also started to have power cuts which will be frequent now until the rains start around the end of June.
The children are still suffering from lots of fevers and coughs in part due to their living conditions. One of our little girls has been very sick almost 15 days and has had a spell in hospital with Dengue Fever.
Our children love to learn and play. We have many challenges daily with them – our youngest child swears a lot and we are lovingly trying to show her that this is not acceptable. We have another who seeks constant attention, reassurance and love, and another who’s home-life is very unstable and can suddenly get very upset. Our staff do an amazing job, reassuring and working with them, showing them that Jesus loves them and that we love them too. Please can remember our staff and our children in your prayers, we know they will appreciate knowing that someone is lifting them up to God.
Sometimes it can feel that you take two steps forward and one back when working with children who have lots of issues but at least we are moving forward. We witnessed a lovely kind deed the other day. One of the children was not settling down to sleep and Somnang (our male worker) decided to lie down on the floor beside the hammock to rock her. One of our older boys saw him lying down on the floor and came over to him with a pillow for his head. It was a very touching moment to see a boy who has no father, loving Somnang enough to want to make sure he was comfortable. This boy 8 weeks ago, had no boundaries in his life, did his own thing and had respect for no one, now he is showing compassion, love and affection. He calls Somnang “Papa” (father) isn’t that just lovely?
Meanwhile back home on 7th February a Pub Quiz was held. There was a great turnout and we were told that everyone had a great night. We are sorry we missed it. A fantastic total of £860 was raised on the night. We thank you so much for supporting the event and our work.
14th February – we had a visitor to Day care. Heike is from Germany. Her brother has a Christian Foundation in Germany and he heard us talk briefly about our work in the Anglican Church in Phnom Penh. He asked her to contact us as he was keen to know more. She came out on Valentine’s Day for an hour and was met by the children with a handmade Valentine Card. She brought goodies for them and joined in when we did our devotions and singing.
As Valentine’s Day was on a Friday this year, Mark, a girlfriend and I went into the Hostess Bars around the local Red-Light District that evening and gave the working girls flowers telling them that Jesus’ loves them. You can work in a Hostess Bar at aged 15 and it can be hard to see these girls working in the Bars entertaining men. It was however beautiful to see these girls smiling, thanking us and giving me and our friend lots of hugs – it was very precious. We gave the men a cookie and a leaflet about God’s love, that led to Mark having some meaningful conversations with them. Our prayer is that some of these men will seek God and see these girls as human-beings and not just their evening entertainment.
On Saturday 15th February, Mark and I travelled to Kampung Cham which is about a two-hour drive from Phnom Penh, to the wedding of our Operation Manager’s sister. Sokneang was a beautiful bride, we got some photographs with her in one of her many Khmer traditional outfits (the bride and groom normally change at least 7 times on their wedding day) and had such fun eating and dancing with the family and local villagers. The scenery was stunning as the village sits beside the Mekong River – the area is covered with banana plantations and fishing boats. The drive home was a little scary as the roads are dark, people are walking around in dark clothing, there where at least 6 very large marquees in the middle of the road (other weddings and celebrations) and scooters driving along with no lights on. With lots of prayer and Mark’s careful driving, we arrived back to the city safely. We do want to wish Sokneang and her new husband a long and happy life together.
Life here in Cambodia is busy and frantic but God is providing all that we need – strength for tomorrow and peace for today. We are blessed beyond measure to be able to see the amazing things God is doing here and how his light is continuing to shine in the darkness. We pray that He will show you His handiwork and how He is shining His light, right where you are.
Lent is here which is a time of reflection on all that Jesus did for us. Many of you give up something over lent. If you haven’t decided about what to do, we would love you to think about perhaps saving your coppers for us. Instead of having a Chinese meal or going out for dinner during Lent, why not put that money to one side and donate what you save to us – you will be helping to make a difference in the lives of our vulnerable young children. Every little helps, £8 provides all our children with essential vitamins for a month. Or perhaps consider longer term and donate £20 or more per month. If you are a taxpayer we can receive a further 25% on your monthly giving from the government. Monthly donations help us budget for the coming years and enable us to provide safety for more children. If you are interested in helping us, we can be contacted through Facebook – Eggshellcambodia or email: email@example.com. We will leave this with you and thank you for all you already do for us.
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Well I think that is enough for now – keep warm.
God’s richest blessings to you all.
Liz and Mark…