Susannah Wesley Women Center …..an answered prayer for the Cambodian Methodist Women

“For to everyone who will, more be given, and he will have abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” – Matthew 25:29

The vision…In 2005, three Asian Methodist Women groups , donated an amount of $20,000 to Cambodia with a vision of buying the property where the first Women Center in Asia is going to be built. The fund was entrusted to the Women’s Ministry Desk and the leadership of the Women in Cambodia. The fund remained untouched in the UMC bank account  for years after one failure to find a property.

God’s prompting…When I came to Cambodia in 2011, as the new treasurer, I had with me information about this item by the UMW Reg. Missionary who is based in the Philippines. I searched for this fund in the UMC account and in coordination with the Women Ministry Desk and the CMW president, we decided to deposit it to a separate bank account under the UMC-GBGM but the signatories were: Marilyn Chan, Nou Kim San, Dr. Romeo del Rosario and me.

I also learned that the Asian Women groups (Korea, Singapore and Malaysia) has been inquiring about the plans of the Cambodian Women on the money entrusted to them.

The time of Accounting…In 2014, the Scranton Women’s Leadership Center(Korea) and the Wesley Foundation in Japan decided to hold the 2015 AYWLD(Asian Young Women Leadership Development) Training in Cambodia, in February 2015. So the Women’s Ministry Desk and the women leaders started to sit and discuss about the Women Centre.

A lesson of stewardship….As the treasurer and member of the Women’s Committee, I’ve always suggested that it is time to initiate a fund raising project that will involve the local Methodist women. Since this is the first time that local women will be participating in raising fund for their own project, the leaders are quite anxious about it. But I have a feeling our women are ready for it.

In October 2014, we launched the first-ever fund raising project for the Cambodian Methodist Women. The event happened during the Women Leadership Training and the Clergywomen Fellowship. We called the project “ A Brick on the Wall” for the Susannah Wesley Women Centre.

Telling them the history of the donation and sharing to them the message of the “Parables of the Talent” from Matthew 25:14-30. We then distributed the small water bottles with stickers where they can put the money they intend to donate to buy “bricks” for the Women Centre. The women were so excited to be part of this project.

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2015 Women’s Conference : the 1st harvest and more blessings …Last January 2015, a retired pastor and a group of United Methodist Women  from Virginia Conference helped in funding the 2015 Women Conference which was held in Sihanoukville, Kp. Som.  About 110 Cambodian Methodist Women attended. These women represented 10 Districts in Cambodia.

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On the first day, Marilyn Chan approached me, and told me that a woman is asking what will she do with the bottles she brought. I was surprised, it was not in the program schedule. We did not plan to do a harvest that time. But God has other plans. So with a little adjustment to the schedule and courtesy to the team, on the third day of the session, I was given the opportunity to stand in front of the women with our Mission Superintendent, who also announced the opening of the ministry in Mondulkiri.

Before I announced the proposed new location of the Women Center in Mondulkiri, I reminded them about the project bottles and requested them to raise their bottles. We were surprised to see one lady carrying a big bag of bottles filled with bills. We asked them to bring the bottles in front and the women made a special offering to add into the collection.

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We collected : $400.00 from the project bottles and the special offering of about $200.00. I thanked all the women leaders of  the Women’s Ministry Desk, the CMW, the Clergywomen, the Virginia UMW, and the Southeast Asia UMW Reg. Missionary .

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Together with the women leaders, we announced to them the new location of the Women Center, which we intend to fully pay at the end of February. The price of the property is $28,500.00. But so far, we only have $19,900 from the Asian Women, $700.00 from bank interest, $4,500 from a UMW donor in Cal Nevada….for a total of $25,200.00. We still need about $3,500.00.

Just in time, a lady from the Virginia UMW motioned our Country Director to come to her. When he came back to the stage he brought the good news that she is donating the $3,500 to fully pay our Women Center property. Everyone was ecstatic and crying!!! God is so good!!!

Our new property is a 3,000 sq. meter property with:  house, a bedroom, a living area, a kitchen, 2 toilet with running water and lots of fruit bearing trees. Our future Sussanah Wesley Women Center in Asia.

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We are now at the stage of discussing the design and costing of the building, so we can start raising funds.

Isn’t God generous and is never late and speaks the truth???

Giving is possible, not because of what we have in our pocket but because of what we have in our hearts!!!

Our hearts motivate us to give!!!

The women in Battambang, in Banteay Meanchey, in Kp. Thom, in Kp. Chhnang, and in Kp. Spue, are not rich women, most of them are farmers or wives of farmers. Yet they were able to give!!!

A UMW from Cal Nevada, came in November 2014 asking us about our priorities, many, many times so she sends the money on a Tuesday Giving and it was matched.

This lady from Virginia UMW, who’s presence during the Women Conference made a big difference and can never be a coincidence. God has placed her there.

Our dear pastor and the women from Virginia Conference became instruments for these amazing miracles of God.

This story shows how God can do greater things when you’re faithful and you remain good stewards. This fund has been with us for 9 years and we just hid it and buried it like what the third man did in the parable of the talents. But when we start doing something about it, shared the vision, participated and asked help, we were able to purchase our property and created a seed money for the realisation of our Women Centre.

To God be the glory!!!! Thank you great women of God! Please continue to pray and support us for the building of our first Women Centre in Asia.

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To the Giver and the Gifts…….

I’ve been a GBGM missionary for 14 years, working as Treasurer for the countries I served and serving.(10 years in the Philippines and 4 years in Cambodia). I receive gifts from donors and distribute them to the programs they were designated to.

In my early years as a missionary, I had asked God about my being a missionary. Well, like most of us, I too, had this idea that a missionary are those who go and work in the war zone area, those who minister with the children in the dump site, those who sit down with the farmers and fisher folks, and those who stand in the frontline for the people who cannot stand for their own rights. So every time I am introduced as a missionary, I felt a little embarrassed.

It took me sometime before I realized that God’s calling doesn’t always mean, you ought to be where the others were. Sometimes God calls us in the most inconvenient time, in various different ways and to the most unexpected places. Sometimes it takes a lot of discernments, some wrestling thoughts and a little twisting from God to help you realize that He is serious with you as He was with Jonah. Not wanting anymore than what you are presently doing and He will use you and your talent to minister in a very unique way.

My ministry is all about receiving and giving. And I minister to the receiver and to the gifts. And for those who give, this my ministry.

Ministry must bring transformation not only to the physical body but also to the mind.

Then “giving” must minister, must teach and must bring transformation – it is not about the giver’s blessedness, generosity, kindness, compassion or mercy. It is about the change it brings to the mind and spirit of the ones who receive.

Giving must teach….

will the gift empower somebody to be a giver someday?….

will it sustain him and will he become self- sustainable in the future? Will he value the gift given to him to uplift his dignity so he will not beg again?

Maybe he will, if he knew the story of the gift….

If he knew how the gift was raised or if he knew the sacrifice of the giver…

Romans 12:20 says: …”but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

So I am here to tell you the story of Cambodia and its people and I am

bringing back with me the stories of your gifts.

This is my ministry….

by Helen de Leon-Camarce

Missionary Treasurer

HELEN DELEON-CAMARCE                          UMC-Cambodia

Advance.# 13953Z                                          E-mail: hlcamarce36@yahoo.com

Facebook: Helen Camarce

“I pray that God continue to bless the United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women with wisdom, love and abundance.”

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Ripples on the water….

Last year, was a year of movement. Moving ups (graduations and earning new skills), moving on (from struggles, losses and failures), moving forward(finishing terms and leaving), moving out (actual movement to another place) and moving in(involvement, immersion).

In every movement in the lives of the people in our midst, our lives are touched. We are like sitting in still waters, we feel the ripples around us, every time someone moved. But unless we are part of that body of water we won’t feel it. We will forever wonder on the mystery of the ripples but we will never be a part of it. To experience it, we must be in the body of that water, we must immerse. When I moved to Cambodia three years ago, moving into the water scared me. I stayed in my comfort zone for sometime. But God has been nudging me to feel the waters.

I meditated and remembered 1Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” That body of water that we immerse ourselves into is the body of Christ. We are part of it and we interact in that body of water. And wherever we go we must take part of that body of Christ. When they move, you feel it and responded and you make ripples of your own.

Remembering names was actually one of my weaker points. It had brought me to a lot of embarrassing situations. I realized it is somehow relevant to not being a part of that body of water and not to feel the ripples of their movement because I never got involved in their lives. And that is where I should move in. It took me sometime to dare and feel the waters.

Last year, I identified some movements that sends ripples in my life. I saw all these images before me. We had graduations in our programs, ordination of our pastors, weddings of friends and relatives, birthdays and anniversaries, fellowships, retreats and I celebrated and worked closer with them. We also had problems within our organizations, some personnel rift and issues, loss of loved ones, separations, retirement, temporary goodbyes, I myself expressed and experienced stressful times and frustrations and sought help, I cried with them, I counseled, I advised and I prayed with them. There were groundbreaking for a dormitory, blessing of a new house, meeting for building of a new sanctuary, moving to a new house and we witnessed and praised God for His abundant grace. I jumped for joy for the young men and women who were given their scholarships, their stories of struggles and present economic situations and the new hope that their dreams are coming to realization. It is such a wonderful experience to see how God is working mightily in their lives and it touched mine.

That year, I became aware that knowing a person is totally different from just meeting someone. Remembering their names would definitely help if you knew their stories. And responded.

Last year, I became a better person. I may not memorize all their names but I knew something wonderful about them.

In spite of language barrier, I had better relationship with people I worked with. I’ve met one wonderful lady with two beautiful daughters. She is very passionate to help our struggling young women thru counseling. I knew a young boy who works as a construction worker who dreams to be an IT professional, his mother, a very active Methodist woman, suffering from a congenital condition, courageously approached one of our sponsors, introduced herself and her son and ask for help. I remembered the same story of a courageous woman from the Bible. We gave him a scholarship. There was this young boy who lost his parents, left his province and stayed in the Buddhist temple, with the monks, and lived like a monk. He was treated badly in the temple, left and lived with his grandparents who begs for living, then a Christian Aunt brought to stay with a Pastor, learned English in the church, translate for the guests and helped the pastor start a church inside the jail. He is one of our IT scholars and is now training as a volunteer in our office. I know Chauavy, a very strong woman who just lost her husband/pastor and was left with 3 kids, and no house. In spite of this struggle, she continued with her ministry of justice, joining the fight for labor rights. She now have a new house, her children are under the scholarships and she will travels and join NGO’s who advocates for labor justice and peace.
I also met group of people who make dreams come true, they become channels of God’s blessings, faithful servants, compassionate and passionate people, a real inspiration. They come, they experience, and they help. Theirs are not just ripples, theirs are waves.

I have many more stories to tell…..of people I met and knew because of their stories, their struggles, their joys, their pains, their triumphs and the blessings they received from God. I was touched by their lives and God touches me through them. I was blessed by them and at times, not most of the times I responded. They send ripples of their movement to me and I responded. But my prayers is…that I made my own ripples felt. Did I make a move that send ripples to their lives? Had I made an impact. They may not be considered waves but I know that however small it was, God knew that I moved.

Cambodian Palm Wine anyone????

Cambodian Palm Wine anyone????

This is the local wine in Cambodia made from freshly gathered juice from palm tree. When I was in Angkor Wat, I happen to see a woman carrying this two big bamboo pitcher cut from a matured hollow bamboo tree. These two heavy pitcher which were filled with the fresh wine are held together by a long bamboo stick that the woman carry on her shoulder…..while she walks around early morning to peddle her product. I wonder how heavy and painful this could be…to walk around with that weight on your shoulder….bearing this yoke everyday to earn her living. So I tried it….now I’m wondering how much does she earn everyday and what does she buy with her hard earned money? maybe for food on the table or medicine for a sick child…. I thank and paid her for sharing me her daily yoke……it surely humbled me…

Life’s interruptions…..God’s blessings…..

“I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Last January 9,2014, my husband, my son and I prepared to travel back to Phnom Penh from the Philippines. We tried hard to be early in the airport so that we will not experience the hustle and bustle we had last year…….(Last year, our names were paged several times by the airline to board immediately. We were so exhausted working on our excess luggages and travel tax) We knew we will pass through the same process again, so we have to be early this time.

But earlier that day, Amiel invited a few church friends for a farewell snack. I decided to invite one of our elder in the church and a missionary friend. Since we just moved to our old/new house, we suggested to her to pray for our safe travel and to dedicate our new home to God.

It took longer than we expect and my husband was becoming restless, though we did plan about dedicating this house before we leave, we didn’t plan it to happen at the time of our departure. We’re a bit anxious about the time but we are happy, my kids are happy that we still had it done at the most inconvenient time……..still an amazing blessing from God.

Finally we reached the airport. We were early, I went straight to pay the travel tax. The personnel ask me to go and inquire at the POEA and see if we can be exempted from the tax. It was also one of the plans I failed to do during this vacation, to go and apply as an Overseas Filipino Worker for the travel tax exemption. My husband is again, worried sick about being late to board the plane because the process was taking so long but I am happy that I will accomplish all these things right at the airport. Finally, I was exempted from the travel tax, my husband had to pay a small amount as a dependent, but my son had to pay in full because I was not able to produce his birth certificate. Well……still an unexpected blessing.

We checked our luggage, paid the excess and run to our gate and then the clerk announced that the plane will be delayed by 30 minutes. Ha! Ha!

I bought some sandwiches for our dinner. Waited for the clerk for their next announcement and was surprised to meet my Filipina church friend at the same lounge. She was also coming back from her vacation.

We flew back to Siem Reap together and a friend of hers picked us up from the airport and dropped us to a nice guesthouse for the night. She left the next morning for Phnom Penh and we stayed for another night. We travelled home by bus on Saturday and was picked up by our missionary couple from our office in Phnom Penh.

God, aren’t you just surprisingly amazing!

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Helen L. Camarce's journey……