Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Greetings from Irene

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Firstly, to thank you all for your prayers and messages of support. These have encouraged, inspired and motivated us and we continue with our progress.

Two new missionaries joined the Community Health and Agriculture Development (CHAD) team and what a difference this is making. Jim Gulley is continuing to provide back up support. His expertise and wisdom are much appreciated.

Secondly, on a very personal note, reflecting that this time last year I went to Zambia to nurse my daughter-in-law Jessica. God blessed our time together but He took her home on December the 28th. My grandson, Mutumwa came back with me to Cambodia. At 4 years old, Mutumwa is my pride and joy, full of delightful mischief and has many words of wisdom for "Gogo". My son, Tichafara is currently visiting us and for me now the challenge would appear how best at my age to play mother to “my two boys.”

Rev Bonny
I have to share with you about Rev Bonny, a remarkable woman whose dream is to see Cambodia become a nation of Christians. Hired by the UNDP in1992, to do community development in Battambag Province villages, she came to understand that God had something even more important for her and resigned to go to bible school.

Rev Bonny was appointed a District Superintendent (MMC) in 2005 for Battambag and is teaming with us in CHAD to develop in her pastors a holistic ministry. She is intensifying efforts to help the sick –building relationships with service providers. What leverage this to the poor who need health care and it will help us to get more work accomplished!

New Director
Our new country director, Rev Dr. Romeo del Rosario (Romy) from the Philippines arrived in August – thanks to GBGM, New York. Romybrings a wealth of experience to the Methodist Mission in Cambodia. His humility, love for the common people and sense of humour are like shining beams of light. In him we have a role model and mentor.

Wells of Living WaterIt was providential that several opportunities for refreshment and renewal came to me in the later half of the year. Leadership Training at Haggai Institute, a missionary retreat in Kompong Som, the regional meeting for SE Asia and Pacific and the visits by Richard Bishop, Edith Gleaves and Jungrea and Rachel from GBGM, New York all helped to rekindle my spirit and renew commitment.

Time to talk Health CareKen Cruz, a missionary from the Philippines, has taken over responsibility for community development and Katherine Parker, a missionary from the US is now responsible for agric development and financial administration.

I am free, at long last, to concentrate on the health care ministry – the joy of my life!

It has been great having Medical Teams from sister churches within the region- Singapore, Malaysia and Korea who have pioneered the work since the inception here. It is also gratifying that USA based UMVIM teams have joined in the work. The teams are helping us both to expand our ministries and to manage the demand for care.

We are currently working in Battambang orienting pastors to Development Theology and holistic ministry. At the same time we are preparing for a seminar for Good Samaritans next January-to provide a Biblical foundation for their work. I am thankful for Karen, a sister in Christ coming as Individual Volunteer from Western Pennsylvania to assist in my work.

We continue working in Kandal where we have completed training pastors for advocacy in healthcare and just started training Good Samaritans (Health Volunteers). We are busy with field visits to prepare ground work for Medical Teams from Louisiana and Rocky Mountain who will visit early next year. The teams will treat the sick and share the Good News with village communities in Kompong Chhnang and Kratie Districts. We are also building links with health departments; training translators, prayer warriors and various other volunteers in the provinces and churches that will host the teams. Altogether, we hope to follow up all the hospital referrals after the teams’ visits and assist people to follow through with treatments – how daunting!

Indeed the harvest is bountiful. Pray that the Lord of the harvest sends more labourers. Pray also that I may have wisdom to fulfill my family and work responsibilities; and for understanding and courage to tackle life’s intricacies.

Wishing you health, peace and joy at Christmas and throughout the coming New Year!

In Christ,

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