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Wendy in Cambodia

Latest news from Wendy in Cambodia - July - August 2018

Friendships

Deepening relationships at the hospital and personal friendships too – I have a lot to be thankful for!  

This newsletter follows my last brief update about my growing friendship with a friend here which we pray is leading towards marriage.  More on that below but I'd also like to share a bit about growing connections at Mercy Medical Centre (MMC) – the hospital where I am working.


I've been working part time at MMC hospital for 4 months now and am gradually increasing my hours as I reduce language study.  Relationships are deepening with staff as we get used to each other, as God builds trust between us and as I understand more of the systems at the hospital.  I am enjoying it more and more!  Last week I joined the monthly lunchtime meeting of Women's Fellowship for all the female staff at MMC – a good time of encouragement together.  My ongoing Khmer study with Anny reading the Bible in Khmer and being in Khmer church is helping me to be able to follow this better – praise God! 


Recently I have been doing more teaching in Khmer at the hospital and more mentoring 1:1 with two of the nurse leaders – building their teaching and protocol-writing skills.  I am so blessed to be able to support staff in this way – what a privilege to encourage, coach and serve.  It is great to see nurses start to try to interpret and apply knowledge, rather than merely completing the requested task. 


We have had some staff leave lately; please pray God will bring new staff that have the compassion, vision and teachability to work with us to care for and love patients as God calls us to do.


I have been growing closer with my friend Yong, whom I met through international church, being in house group together and with the motorbike Prayer Circles Cambodia.  He is a mission partner also, although with a different mission agency. He is Cambodian, but was a refugee during the genocide and grew up in Florida, USA.  God led him back to Cambodia over 10 years ago.  It is such a wonderful gift from God to be growing in friendship and love together, to share vision and passion for serving here in Cambodia.  It is also a big shift for us both to merge our independent single thinking; to become a 'we' – but God has brought a lot of fun and support to each other through this friendship.  Please pray for us as we visit each others families in these next weeks (August 11-September 6th).  We will visit both the USA, the UK and Spain.  Please pray God would give us insight into each other's culture that would help us understand each other more and also help us see different facets of God's character and faithfulness.  He has already gone back to the US a few weeks before me which is quite hard to maintain good communication and connection together. I'm very much looking forward to joining him there soon. 


Lastly, but an important matter and prayer request, is for Cambodia as the general election is held July 29th.  Unfortunately all viable opposition parties have been restricted to the point of impotence, which means the status quo is a foregone conclusion and in effect democracy is not possible.  Please pray God would work out His plans and purposes here in this kingdom, despite the tight control and fear.  Please pray for hope for the Cambodian nation, for justice, for God to raise up and work through people of peace and for peace on the streets during elections.


Mission Motorbike – May Newsletter from Wendy in Cambodia


Earlier this month I joined the Prayer Circles Cambodia, which was a great adventure and deserves a dedicated newsletter. 

 

I first heard about Prayer Circles Cambodia through a friend in my church housegroup.  It's a group of motorbike riders (on dirt-bikes) that was started a few years ago by a mission partner here, with a vision to ride and pray through the border provinces of Cambodia, circumnavigating the country each year.  At the start of May I was able to join one of their trips, riding up to the north west of Cambodia.  We had long days on the bikes across different surfaces.  I admit to being a little bit proud of being the first lady to join them riding!


Day 1:  Phnnom Penh to Pailin. – 455km.  Eight riders set off, riding through a few main towns, passed many Wats (Buddhist pagodas), but also many mosques.  I have noticed since being back in Cambodia there are many more Muslim villages, spread into rural provinces, not only along the Mekong River or specific parts of Cambodia as previously.  We had about 2 hours of dirt roads – fortunately dry, otherwise we would have taken quite a bit longer to arrive in Pailin.  I had my first proper river crossing.  Since I'm still very much a novice on the bike, I did have to put my feet down... wet boots for the rest of the day, but pleased I made it!


Day 2: Pailin to Samraong – 331km.  Late start due to some bike problems for one of the team, then riding through rain for about 6 hours. Wet. Met with a Christian brother wanting to start a small church near Poipet, prayed with him then had fellowship over lunch.  Some roads under construction, potholes, heavy buses and lorries for about 20 minutes, hair-raising, but through that onto some lovely roads through cassava fields.  Beautiful.  Excellent fruitshake and story-telling by the lake that night. 


Day 3: Samroang to Siem Reap – 370km.  Back into my old stomping ground! Lovely staying lakeside in Samroang, before an early start to Anlong Veng, for breakfast and fellowship with old friends.  Praying with them, especially for the youth who are afraid to go to church because of ghosts (evil spirits) around the church.  A powerful reminder of the spiritual realm and the very real fears people have.  Rode on to Preah Vihear temple – thick mud, then very steep ascent/descent, pushing me to handle different bike challenges.  Great!  Usually great place to pray over the land from an amazing viewpoint but all in cloud.  Still prayed blessings, healing and the authority of King Jesus as we walked through the ancient temple (it's a Unesco world heritage site – ancient Angkor). Rode on to Siem Reap, through peppercorn plantations and along some more dirt roads, avoiding the cows coming home, then the heavy tourist traffic of the city. 


Day 4: Around Siem Reap province – 180km.  Joined by 4 more friends today to ride and pray around Siem Reap province.  Met and prayed with a young family who lead a small house church about 25km from the city.  Then on to lunch where 3 ladies walking by stopped to chat and wonder who we were, chatting with them.  I explained we follow the Father God. Who is the one true God, they asked? And what about the problem of sin – amazing interaction and humble reminder that there are spiritually hungry people here and a lack of churches.  Great to talk with them, then pass to Cambodian pastor with us to explain more. 


Day 5: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh – 332km.   Homeward bound – after a lazy long breakfast, we set off for home, managing to liaise with another motorbike friend who normally joins the Prayer Circles, who was moving house that day, heading up to Siem Reap.  Great to stop, pray and bless him.  Just made it into PP before the afternoon rains started. 


Which made our total mileage (yes miles, not km) 1,043.  Thankful for the chance to ride, to pray, to encourage, to fellowship, to learn more about how God is moving in this country. 

 

A brief team update: we had a great Team Retreat together last week.  Thankful for God growing unity and love between us, for a new team leader, for vision and commitment in the eldership.  Also thankful that the organising came off OK, most people were very positive about the retreat and time together. 

 

Next time... Since I notice that I rarely seem to follow what I had intended to (!) let's just see what God leads me to share with you next time! 

 

For those who support me in prayer:


Thanksgiving: for safe and fun motorbike Prayer Circles trip – which included some appointments God made for us; for getting a new visa without a problem; for a fun birthday with friends; for great team retreat together and new team leader.

           
And prayer requests: for me to settle more into my role at the hospital; for my friend Anny – for God to provide another carer who can help her at home (currently her mum is full time carer, with no respite support – I have been helping her lately); for continued language acquisition and self-discipline with my time to work on this.

 
Specific diary dates: 

·                  May 25th – June 3rd Visit from friends (the Bells) from my London church The Bear- wonderful!

·                  May 26th – Hospital team family day enjoying swims and food together.

·                  May 28th – Praise Evening

·                  June 18th – Praise Evening 


Our Prayer Circles team at the foot of Preah Vihear mountain. A wet day to ride! 

Back with old friends of mine in Anlong Veng

What a great group to ride with, including 2 other Interserve team mates.

Three ladies approached us as we were about to eat lunch- they were curious about us and we shared our faith with them.



Previous Newsletters:

Healthcare in Cambodia

 

Happy New Year!  As 2017 finished and 2018 started, I've been reflecting on my current state of transition into new things – potentially everything is changing in the next few months (study to work, moving house? moving province? moving church?...). I have been seeking God in this waiting and been encouraged by deepening relationships and opportunities that I sense God is directing me into.  It's all still cloudy, but I thank God that He already has the purposes for us and is working them out (Proverbs 19: 21)


Before I talk a little about healthcare provision here in Cambodia, let me tell you a bit about my Christmas and end of term.  My presentation and exam at school went well – thank you for all your prayers.  It turned into quite a different final week:  Anny's grandmother was seriously unwell and then died and Anny's mum needed to return to see family in Vietnam.  But no-one had ever been responsible to care for Anny's personal needs, except her Mum.  Fortunately we have a great God who had prepared and built up the relationships between Anny, myself and my housemate Marijke, and so we were able to help support her whilst her mum was away, visiting her each morning and evening to get her to and from bed to wheelchair, to shower and dress.  I am so thankful that Anny could ask us and we could do it – a nurse and an OT as close friends – perfect provision!  It is a significant thing to be asked into a Cambodian home in such a way – God blessed all of us through this. 


And that leads into Cambodian healthcare provision. The government training for nurses occurs mostly in training colleges with practice in hospitals and clinics, but the training is patchy.  Part of my vision long term, is to improve the mentorship of newly qualified and student nurses- a long term goal!  As I mentioned in my last email, there is a fundamental problems with service provision in Cambodia – communication problems, lack of professionalism, lack of knowledge, lack of resources.  As I mentioned in my last news – people's experience of medical care can be very poor and there are many barriers to accessing care, including health beliefs.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend the nursing conference as I'd hoped but two former colleagues of mine did attend and they were encouraged that the nursing sector is improving in professionalism.  How this affects delivery of care in health facilities which lack basic resources (clean regular water supply, for example), is another matter


In the last couple of days I was privileged to have the opportunity to join with another mission agency going into two different villages to bring good news of Jesus and this time with some medical care, so they invited me to join. We did simple health check, gave lots of advice about health, gave a few medicines and identified a few folk needing further medical care, helping them to get to an appropriate hospital, but then also offering to pray with them, that they would experience the healing of Jesus.  I was so pleased to have this opportunity to use professional skills and integrate my hope and trust in God as Healer.  Wonderful!  One lady shared her joyous testimony – she told us that she spent 6 years in bed, unable to walk.  Then she prayed and asked Jesus to help her and she got up and started walking again – Amen!


I spent Christmas with friends in Vietnam – so good to encourage each other and enjoy time with their two small children.  Christmas meal was spent with neighbours of my friends, many different nationalities came together and were full of thanksgiving, and with some Christmas songs – I loved it!


No news yet on the Cambodian musical instrument – unfortunately the school I approached is not currently offering lessons, so that idea is on hold for the present. But I am practicing singing praise songs in Khmer with the guitar!


A difficult thing that happened last week, was that my bag was stolen as I was cycling home.  Thankfully I wasn't hurt, and have practically been able to sort things out, but I am feeling more vulnerable out and about.  Petty crime like this is occurring more and more in Phnom Penh.


I restart language school next Monday – my final full time level.  I'm looking forward to this, but also feel a little pressure about what will come afterwards, since I still don't know.  I am pushing doors, but also praying and learning to wait – to trust that if I don't hear or see the way forward clearly, I may just need to wait a bit until I do.   I have meeting planned with a contact in the ministry of health January 10th, so I pray for favour and God's directing through this. 


For those who support me in prayer:


Thanksgiving: for the opportunity to build deeper friendship with Anny and support her during her grandmother's death; for time with friends over Christmas, time to relax and rest; for an encouraging finish in my last language exam; for the joy of opportunity to visit people in more rural areas during a health outreach, giving some simple health support and praying God would bless them.

         
And prayer requests: for God's kingdom to come in this kingdom;  for me to finish full time language study well; for discernment about work ministry hopefully starting late February;  to find a Khmer church and build Christian language skills.

 

Coming up... team work – how this can be both rich and challenging when the team is multicultural.

 

Specific diary dates: 

- January 8th Start back at language school (last full time level)
- January 10th Meeting with a contact in the Ministry of Health
- February 5th Refocusing group discussion.



Great to see old friends from Anlong Veng just before Christmas – their daughter is just starting a restaurant business at a new container park market in Siem Reap.  









The house of the pastor where we did second day of medical outreach yesterday.  It's a typical Khmer stilt house.










During medical outreach we did simple health checks, mostly giving health advice, sometimes referring people for further treatment or investigation.  We offered to pray with each person we saw. Wonderful to bless people in this way.







Christmas tree at Siem Reap airport – made from different baskets for catching fish and in rice harvest – one of the most creative trees I saw this Christmas.













November/December 2017 - Food This and That:

Here's my latest update about E2S conference, tasting different foods, traveling more in Cambodia, and considering how I might connect musically with Khmer people, as I move towards finishing full time language study. Oh and I'll share about my latest school project.

 

Some of you know that I am vegetarian (actually pescatarian) but I am fairly relaxed about this. Simply put, it's harder to eat no meat here: when I am invited to someone's home, in a country where vegetarianism is anathema and guests are honoured with choice meat, it's tough to decline. In addition to this, there are less vegetarian options in restaurants. But I am also adventurous and curious to try new things. Recently I tried grilled frog and poached giant-snails. They were both served with tasty accompaniments and really were not difficult to swallow... but I can't go so for as to say I enjoyed the texture of meat. The snails were a bit chewy/gristly. However, of Khmer foods, I do enjoy noodle breakfast (khteiu and noom banchok), pancakes with beansprouts (bunchauw) and various different slaws (khmer soups). And of course one of Cambodia's signature dishes- fish amok (coconut curry base with kaffir lime leaves).

 

Since my last news, the political tensions have increased, with the only significant opposition party leader indicted for conspiracy against the government, followed by the whole party being closed down by judicial ruling- 100 politicians banned from politics for 5 years. Since the ruling, several members of the independent election committee have resigned (elections planned for July 2018). Newspaper headlines have stated this is the end of any semblance of democracy in this kingdom. Several international organisations have been raided and threatened with closure.


In this context it is easy to become intimidated, wary, even frightened. But as a follower of Jesus, I know that His kingdom is greater and His authority is higher. I am confident that he is working his purposes out and He will bring justice. However, I do need to be more cautious about security and you might notice that I refer to things in more veiled terms than previously, as I seek to be more discrete. This will definitely apply in unsecured facebook messages, although whatsapp is encrypted and thus considered more secure. Please respect that this news should be shared sensitively.


The E2S conference last month was great to meet other partners like myself working across Asia- representing 9 different nations, and hearing the international vision and community of Interserve. It was encouraging to hear experiences of long term partners and their faith to serve God wherever He calls, with skills and talents that he uniquely gives us. One insight that I feel may be  from God, was about how I could use my musical gifts to connect with Cambodians. I am wondering about whether I could learn a Cambodian traditional instrument and want to see how I might pursue this.

 

Continuing to learn to handle a dirt bike is also a joy and challenge. I am considering whether I might be able to join a motorbike prayer trip in January, if I can get enough practice in on dirt roads before that. I pray for a mix of self-confidence and vigilance against dangers as I ride the roads.

 

Anny's baptism was a wonderful celebration as she gave testimony to God's faithfulness and trust in him- wonderful to witness this. We continue to meet twice weekly to improve my Khmer conversation, but we also had a lovely fun outing of high tea together lately. She is lots of fun!

 

At language school I am mid-project which I will present in a couple of weeks time as part of my assessment. I am looking at the communication in government hospitals between staff and patients. As I have interviewed Cambodians about this, it has been a sobering reminder of how challenging it is to work for justice here in the health sector. All my interviewees have informed me that under the table payments are necessary for patients to receive care and that hospital staff are often rude and careless with patients, especially those who are poor, which is the vast majority of the patients they treat. 

 

Wishing you a wonderful time celebrating Christmas -

may Jesus be at the heart of it.



Enjoying a special high tea with Anny.

What a treat and fun to see her reaction to the taste of cheese, scones and earl grey tea!!  

Tucking into some grilled frog with an envious table companion.

A view from Udong pagoda - visited during a motorbike trip, dodging heavy rain but rewarding views.



Next time... what is the health context of Cambodia currently?


Political musings and a pause from language school (7 Oct 2017)

 

After promising it for a while, in this update I'll reflect on the political situation in Cambodia. I'm also in the midst of a pause from my usual routine which has created space and opportunity for me to do some different things. 

I am currently having a pause from my regular language school, due to insufficient students for my level. Therefore until mid November I have opportunity for a few different things. I was so grateful to have a week out of city life, trekking in the north of Vietnam with a few team friends. It was very beautiful and caused my heart to be full of thanksgiving and praise. We had fun walking slippery paths through bamboo forests and rice paddies, with plenty of 'Buffalo chocolate' underfoot- our guide's euphemism!

Following my trip to Vietnam, I was back in Siem Reap, then borrowed a motorbike to visit old friends further north. It was lovely to meet a friend's new spouse and 2 new babies. Being back on the motorbike was also such a pleasure and Cambodia is looking its best just now as the vibrant green rice fields are about to be harvested. Lightening and storms make the biking that bit more exciting!!

Last week I started a course called Refocusing Leaders- run for mission partners from different organisations all working here in Cambodia. We spent time reflecting on our past, noticing God's fingerprints and directing of our lives, then inviting Him to speak with us as we prayed and reflected. I will have several weekends for this course over the next 8 months and I expect it to be a rich journey deeper into understanding my identity in Christ and God's purpose and vision for my life.

Now back home again in Phnom Penh I am meeting daily for language coaching 1:1 with Anny, enjoying our growing friendship and discussing a lot about faith as she is getting baptised at the end of the month- a time to celebrate! I am starting to learn more Biblical/Christian Khmer with her, with a view to getting equipped to use TEE tools (Theological Education by Extension). This is a community based way of teaching about Jesus and living Christian faith. 

At the end of the month I'll attend an Interserve regional workshop (called Equipped to Serve or E2S), which is a part of induction to joining Interserve. I hope this will also be encouraging to meet other partners from across Asia and share our experiences about walking in faith cross-culturally.

Politically, there have been some significant changes and tensions over the past 4 months. Local elections held early summer indicated strong opposition to the leading party who has been in power for over 3 decades. Unfortunately the leader is clinging on to control: arresting the opposition party leader, just yesterday taking out a court case to close down the party, also closing down free press. The feeling of oppression is tangible. Relations with the US are more tense. Cambodia's economy is growing fast, with heavy Chinese investment and ties with Vietnam. There feels an increased ominous threat to democracy as we look to national elections next July. Development and faith based organisations that criticize the government are threatened with closure.  A couple of months ago one agency issued a report stating the problems with child sexual exploitation and they had to do a lot of diplomacy to remain working here. The government may restrict international work and visas in a bid for greater control. We pray, watch and wait.



Photos:  Top - Amazing rice terracing in north Vietnam where I was trekking with some team mates. 

Left - Amidst the corn fields.  Right - Visiting my friend Van Douer in northern Cambodia- lovely to join for lunch with his family, meeting his wife and son! 

 

Next time... a bit more about Khmer foods and some different things I've tasted!

For those who support me in prayer:

Thanksgiving: for great team fellowship day together and praise nights held monthly; for a wonderful time of holiday and joy trekking in north Vietnam; for deepening friendships and renewing of friendships; for the Refocusing course and all God's blessings through that.
           
And prayer requests: for team members to access visas and comply with changes in the laws (I'm covered until April); please pray God would grow Cambodian leaders for the Cambodian church; for me to absorb new Biblical Khmer and grasp well the language I've been learning over the past 5 months and after this to discern where and how God wants me to serve Him.



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As a church you will remember Wendy Power's Newsletters sent from Cambodia where she was nursing some time ago under the auspices of VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas).  When, after four years she returned to England, she talked to us about her experiences and impressions of Cambodia, and it's people.  Clearly she felt that in some areas there was a need for improvements and she could see an opening where she could help.

 

After a break back in this country she would now like to return to Cambodia.  She feels very strongly that God is calling her, not only to use her nursing skills, but also to share her Christian faith and love of Jesus with the people of Cambodia whilst living among them.  She saw, during her first visit that, as she says "the Cambodian Church is mostly very young in faith with few mature leaders who can teach and pastor people", and she would hope to be able to serve in this connection.

 

Wendy plans to return to Cambodia in January 2017, this time to work as a Mission Partner through Interserve, a non denominational mission agency which has worked in Asia and the Arab world for over 160 years.

There is no doubt about Wendy's personal commitment, but in order to be accepted as a Mission Partner by Interserve, certain criteria have to be met, not the least being a financial requirement.  Wendy spoke to the morning congregation at Temple in  November, and asked that we be involved in aspects of her desire to serve the Cambodian people.

Several members of Temple Methodist Church have already indicated that they are willing to support Wendy in many different ways and we wish her well in her desire to carry out this important work. 

Through this page of the Temple Methodist Church web site we plan to keep you up to date with her progress.  In the hope that all will come to fruition and she is able to meet the criteria to achieve her desired vocation, we will post on this page her regular news so that you can feel a part of her work so far away.