Tuesday, 31 December 2013

All change!

It's nearly 2014!!

Well it is here anyway!
Can you believe it? 2013 gone already? Feels really crazy that another year is done, I'm another year older, maybe a little wiser, and have made another year's worth of friends and had as many new adventures!  It's also been nearly a full year away from the UK, from friends and family we've grown up (or at least grown older) around. Having left the UK on January 11th 2013, it's been a long time away from everything we thought of as normal, and a huge year of growth for Phil and I individually and massively so as a couple. We had one very wise friend calling 2013 'The Year of the Parkys', and that's been true on so many levels. I'm amazed at what God has brought us half way around the world to teach us, and ever grateful for the grace and patience with which he has taught us, and for faithful friends who have supported and loved us through this year and enabled us to be a part of the Freedom Siem Reap Campus, which is also unbelievably nearly a whole year old!

In Freedom Siem Reap, we've seen huge growth, we've seen numbers come and go, but a faithful core grow and expand, and deep character develop in each of them. We've made lifelong friends, seen them take huge steps of faith, inviting friends, seeing them saved, and brought this year to a beautiful close with our last event of 2013 seeing 11 people get baptised. Fizzing yes!!! Every church plant, every campus have their trials, their frustrations and their learning curves, but with every next step we're privileged to see an individual take, each time we hear another person say that they feel like they've found a place they can call home and that they've found their family, we know that we're getting something right. That God is using us in this place to reach the lost, the hurting and the broken, and He is using Freedom Church as part of His plan to do it.

I've got another blog coming with some more on the experiences we've had here, some of the things close to my heart etc, but for now I want to take this blog to tell you a little about what's next for the Parkys...

Some, but not all, will already know that we're heading back to the UK at the beginning of February. We'll be saying goodbye to Freedom Siem Reap on the 2nd and then travelling to Bangkok to fly from there. We're really excited to be back on British soil and see family and friends again in person, but it'll be bittersweet, as there are so many people here that we may not see again. And what then? The next chapter for us is getting close, and getting exciting!! We're going to take some time out to see family and then... We're going to be moving to become part of Freedom Church Cardiff!!
We're currently investigating potential jobs and accommodation in the Welsh capital, but most excited about getting rooted in to the Freedom campus and seeing what God has for that city!

There's another blog or two brewing, but for now, for 2013, thank you for your love, support and prayers, and I'm excited for all that 2014 will bring.

Cardiff here we come!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Merry Fizzin Christmas!!!

I'm back!!

It's been an age since I last blogged and there are various reasons why it's taken me this long to get back round to it, but here we are. It's Christmas season and though it feels incredibly surreal, Christmas was had in 22°C heat and on a sunny day.

Now before you get jealous, 22°C during the day - lovely! 14°C at night, with just a couple of sheets, gaps under the doors and windows plus no heating, well - it gets a little chilly to say the least!! We made it most authentic we could though with stockings to open, as 'Santa' found his way to our room, (even if his choice of wrapping paper was questionable), friends round for lunch and a party in the evening. Christmas Dinner was courtesy of a rice cooker and a frying pan - 'Roast' chicken, 'Roast' Potatoes, countless vegetables and lots and lots of gravy (even if I had to serve it in an ice-cream tub because you haven't got a jug) followed by Apple Crumble and Homemade Custard. Amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it, but probably best I didn't get photos of the food, I'm not sure my grandma would be impressed with my presentation!!

It's been such a strange season being away from so many people we love though, and it barely feels like Christmas without our family all around us, but it's been a good check for what Christmas is really about, and to get thankful for so much around us. Christmas... the promise of hope. The start of God reaching out to earth, sending His Son in human form because it was the only way to restore our relationship with Him. Even though they both knew what it would ultimately cost, Christmas is Christ with us, from now on, forever.

So no matter where you are, and who you celebrated Christmas with, whether you like Christmas trees and twinkly lights, if you have lifelong faith or none at all and even if you want to start the conversation about the pagan midwinter festival, we celebrate Christmas because no matter where you are, no matter who is around you, many or few, no matter whether you could afford a real tree instead of a recycling a fake one, whether you got huge presents or none at all, we celebrate because this time of year represents God reaching out through Jesus because He cares. He cares about the mess you're in, the stress you're under, the crisis you're scraping your way through, the opulence that is or isn't fulfilling you, or the happiness you're celebrating. He cares enough to meet you in the middle of it, wherever across the world you are.

Merry Christmas friends. Love to you all!