There are times in life we can feel slightly ‘off balance’, be that physically, emotionally, or spiritually. During these times, it’s best if we know what can keep us stable despite the inbalance. Do you have a firm foundation to put your feet upon and get grounded? Faith in Jesus, really does help you to overcome life’s obstacles… if we acknowledge that we are not only loved by God, but accepted by Him too; this will transform your way of thinking and how you approach different circumstances. Did you know that bamboo gets stronger the more storms it faces?! I think that’s a great metaphore for the Christian life!
The past month or so has been tough for me emotionally. I’ve recognised the reality of loneliness (in a very human sense of the word) and it is not easy to admit, especially since I am someone who is very blessed with many people who love me and pour into my life which I don’t take for granted, so this ‘feeling’ caught me off guard. Since my Dad’s stroke last month, I have been more aware of how hard it is to be away from family members during difficult times and feel ‘alone’ and ‘apart’ from them all as I cannot be physically with them in all of this. Yet the Lord reassures me of His purpose for my service in Cambodia, to the Khmer people, even now. Good produce does not appear in the field without slow and steady, consistant labour… So we continue to do what needs to be done and keep our focus on Jesus. I commit my family to the Lord in prayer and THAT is the most effective thing I can really do.
I’m thankful my Dad is at home taking one day at a time and we speak more frequently now. My mum is doing an incredible job but they both need prayers for strength, courage and trust in the Lord. My sisters have also been so involved and I love that they are able to be there supporting our parents, especially in my absence. A sweet friend (MaryAnn) of my big sister once asked me (pre missions) what is your biggest fear about ‘going’… I answered “not being able to help my family, especially my Dad if he gets sick”; MaryAnn gently and lovingly reminded me “Julia, you have two other sisters who will be here and sometimes it takes being away to see how God will use others when you’re not around….” I was stunned at the time, as I am a very practical person… for me to not help someone in a practical way feels disabling! And yet MaryAnn was so right, God does provide according to all of our needs.
As I reflect on her words from 4 years ago, I’m quietly encouraged, It is not easy for any of my family members at this time and I know so many of you have been praying. We are so thankful and I am enjoying regular calls with my mum and dad and it is Dad who keeps reminding me to “stay there, where the Lord needs you to be”… Each time we speak, Dad reminds me to “Put your hand in the hand of the Man who calmed the sea”! Sure enough, under all the waves that I’ve been struggling with, there is a constant calm underlying it all, and that keeps me steady, even through tearful moments. Jesus is that calm’, my peace and my comforter. We do not need to face anything in life alone, or apart from Him. I must also mention that my team and Cambodian friends and those of you around the world have also been amazing. I really appreciate all the care everyone has shown, as do my parents.THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR LOVING SUPPORT
I was so pleased to attend the recent wedding of one of my former dorm students, Siheap (in bright blue/gold dress). A typical Khmer wedding in the village with lots of friends, good food, plenty of dancing and just good reconnecting with some of these young adults we care for. I’m so thankful for these times we get to be together and celebrate relationships that we have built over time, it makes it all the more precious… When you pray into a persons life, you become a greater part of it, and that is very sweet. I’m thankful to the Lord that even with all the differences of East and West, Buddhist and Christian, we can all understand love and friendship. I have so much to learn, that becomes more aparent as the years go by! But, to live out the extention of God’s love to others, is really the greatest thing we can do… I would not be here if it was not for the Lord. We wouldn’t have the churches we do if it wasn’t for Him… And Cambodians wouldn’t have the truth and peace they do either. So we thank the Lord for His good gifts and all the beauty that life has to offer… I’m learning through it all, not to keep my eyes on the waves, but on the Lord. May we remain faithful in doing our part…
‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.’ -1 Timothy 4:12-16
It takes something to understand the above… living out faith in the Lord and understanding His desire for us to just live well, live right, and be the example He intends us to be. This is not only for our sake, but for the sake of others.
Thank you all who are such a wonderful support of me and all that we are doing here in Cambodia. Our brothers and sisters here are growing and that is wonderful to see. One of our young women, Ahny, recently led a devotion in the Word which she was nervous about but she did a great job and we did all benefit from that. We also enjoyed connecting with the Killions, Nathan and Jessica (our TCM servants in Thailand) and were able to pray for their ministry as well as for their team mates Genesis and Verna, it was a blessed skype and beautiful to hear the prayers of our Cambodian brothers and sisters for other missionaries around the world. I was honestly moved by this example.
We have also been sharing our living spaces as there have been water and power cuts here plus it’s HOT season so reaching 40 degrees C without even a fan is not great! Pray for that and our energy levels! It is currently Khmer New Year so we enjoyed some traditional games with my former language school and I was asked to help translate for the new students so that was a privailege. All of our friends have gone back home to their villages so pray for them as they witness their faith in the Lord… not always easy.
Myra is still in the Phillipines, I miss her like mad but she will be back soon! The Bermejo’s have travelled to another province, Battambong, further north of here which gives them an opportunity to explore more of Cambodia and it’s culture. I will head off tomorrow (Tuesday) camping in a forrest with another friend as our own little ‘peace retreat’! I have had a lot to process lately so it’s a great thing to just take ‘time out’ and rest in the Lord… I’m looking forward to a few days out of the city! Please pray for safety, good health and travelling mercy for us all.
- Health & Safety in our travels including Myra’s safe return at the end of April
- Cambodians to be a witness to family/friends and to grow in faith
- For us missionaries to develop in language & cultural knowledge
- Pray for our situations as singles / couples on the team and our own cultural differences and understandings
- My family back in the UK with the health of my father (as well as Priscilla) and all that they face together… especially as I’m absent from them.