Dear family and friends,
Irwin & Jill Ross are heading overseas in July to do some outreach in Russia. They have been a number of times and have really shared Jesus love with a number of different groups. They are running a number of different camps and need some resources to take with them. Have a look at the pics below and if you are able to help in any way please contact the Grace office on either 6103 0100 or via email email@example.com
Viva Haiti – Making Happy History in Haiti
Viva Haiti’s mission is to collaborate with local leaders and international teams to disciple vulnerable Haitian youth to be followers of Jesus Christ; to facilitate education, health and money management training, so that the community is empowered to establish sustainable social and financial prosperity.
For more information, including how you can support Viva Haiti please go to VivaHaiti.org
Dear family and friends,
Well what a momentous year this has been! But despite being in a different country and a different culture, the evidence of God’s grace is still very much around us, and in fact even more so as we see first hand the difference that the love of God has brought to so many lives here. Even though Christmas Day is not a holiday here and not recognized by those in authority here, there are many beautiful celebrations of Christmas all around the city.
Since our Christmas letter last year, we have sold our house in Canberra and moved all our belongings – a much-reduced pile of stuff – into a storage container. So home is now very much in Phnom Penh. We arrived early in February and quickly found accommodation in the top floor apartment of an old house. It was chosen partly because of its close proximity to the WEC office, but then the office moved! Along with the office move, our job descriptions changed somewhat, but you very quickly learn here in Cambodia to go with the flow!
So rather than give you a month by month update of our activities, we will just share some of the special things that makes this place unique. One of the things we have really appreciated is the number of public holidays. They pretty much have a holiday for everything they can think of, including anniversaries of the King’s death and the internment of his ashes! We’re not sure what happens after the next King dies. So for some of these holidays which are three days in a row, we have been able to travel and see some other parts of Cambodia.
One of the major attractions of this place is the people. They are so kind and caring. No matter how little they have, they will always share it. We have both been blessed by the students we teach. Sometimes they defer to expats too much and it is hard to convince them that we are all equal. Unfortunately they are not business people and too much of the new businesses and developments are owned by other countries.
The other great group of people are our team members. We have been richly blessed by each one of them. Representing every continent, and a wide range of ages, we have a common interest and passion and this makes for a wonderful workplace.
The traffic is interesting. Basically mayhem, but after a while you realize that it is mostly considerate chaos, as everyone gives way to anyone bigger than them. There is no road rage, you just inch forward and take your turn. It’s quicker to go by moto than car, but not as comfortable. Helmets are supposed to be compulsory for the driver, but very little policing of this. Quite common to see 4 or 5 on one moto. We still travel mostly on our push bikes.
Weddings are an experience. We were invited to our first wedding last weekend and it was a great experience. A wedding tent takes up the whole street, blocking off other houses entry and exit. Huge amounts are spent on very elaborate decorations and costumes. The bride changes 4 or 5 times during the wedding which goes on over 2 days. The main part starts very early on the second day right through to the end of that night. Our bride got up at 2 am to start the elaborate process of hair and make-up before the first ceremony at 7 am. Make up is done to make the bride look as white as possible, whereas we are more used to young people going to tanning salons so that they look brown! What a crazy world!
The weather has suddenly become delightfully cool over the last week. All of a sudden we have a bit more energy and enthusiasm, especially for things like cooking. Long may it continue! The hottest months of April and May were a bit of a challenge.
Our language training continues. Although we know many words and phrases, it is still hard to follow local conversations. Of course they speak to fast ….. just like us!
We especially enjoyed visits from Rachel, Chris, Ashley and Lex, as well as Marty. It was great travelling around with them and showing them the sights. We have also hosted a few short term WEC’ers and enjoyed learning about their home countries.
The WEC leaders here have asked us to stay another year, which we have agreed to do. We are going to come back to Australia though to see family and friends and we have chosen April and May to do this, so that we avoid the worst two months weather-wise. So we hope to be able to see many of you then. We will visit Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart, New Zealand and Port Macquarie.
We hope that this finds you all well and that you have a blessed Christmas, celebrating our Saviour’s birth.
With love, Geoff and Shirley xx
Emails: Geoff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Franzen Family visiting in Phnom Penh
Outside the recent wedding before we dressed up
The beautiful Maya
How people travel in Cambodia
On our bikes
Anthony and his winning design at the Melbourne Cup
Marty, Rachel, Ashley, Lex and Geoff in the pool at Siem Reap.h
We love getting updates from our Grace Family overseas and here is some news from Geoff and Shirley Capon. We miss you guys!
Viva Haiti Partner Letter – February 2014
Thanks for the opportunity to give this update of our work in Haiti!
My last trip to Haiti was both fruitful and challenging. It was wonderful to return to Haiti for six months, starting in May last year. During this time I was able to continue discipling a group of former ‘restaveks’ (slaves) and street kids, who are going on to disciple others in their own communities. It was great to work with our team of Haitian leaders and establish collaborative groups of Haitian and international ministries.
I was privileged to visit one of the remaining so-called ‘tent cities’ in Port au Prince for internally displaced people from the 2010 earthquake. One of Viva Haiti’s leaders, Dovic, worked with colleagues to start and run a school there; I was delighted to see the progress they’ve made on an impossibly low budget. The teachers are Christian volunteers who know how to read and write themselves, so they teach the kids about Jesus, the basic ‘Three R’s’, and make fabulous music on improvised instruments….
In Gonaives I continued with business training and development for the youth to facilitate their future financial independence. We made ‘mamba’ (peanut butter) for their business, and explored new opportunities for their own businesses.
We had fun developing a drama for the Kiko literacy project. Enthusiasm and natural talent combined for great results – here are photos of some of the kids creating two of the four masks for the drama during our ‘big day out’ at artist Jean-Denis’ studio.
Several years ago Viva Haiti facilitated a new school and agri-businesses in remote Danty, four hours’ donkey-ride from the nearest town. Our awesome leaders from Danty visited me often in Gonaives. We’re planning to increase capacity for the goat project, and have plans to collaborate with at least two other rural communities to duplicate what we’ve developed in Danty. So proud of those guys!
It was exciting to have Kiko’s Coconuts finally published! We’re planning to sell copies in Australia, New Zealand and North America to generate funds for projects in Haiti: the literacy project and distribution of copies of Kiko’s Coconuts; business training and development; and agribusinesses in our rural centres. Here are some of the little guys enjoying the Kiko’s Coconuts story and illustrations by Haitian artist, and Viva Haiti collaborator, Jean-Denis Ganthier.
Early in my 2013 visit unexpected circumstances meant that some of my original plans had to be postponed; I needed to relocate the youth, and take over responsibility for their care. This has been an enormous challenge – I and the youth are grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received during this time.
Here’s one story:
This relatively shy young man has a dream to become an electrician. He’s also a gifted musician. Noe has struggled at school, but in the business development classes he’s an enthusiastic participant, and often the first one with the correct answer to a question – no lack of brains there….
Noe’s early years were spent in his family’s incredibly over-crowded one-room home, in one of the worst slums in Haiti – Trous Sable. His Mum is mentally ill, and no Dad, so at around 12 years of age Noe was sent to an orphanage, where I first met him several years ago. During my 2013 visit Noe couldn’t endure the abuse at the orphanage any longer. After prayer and wise counsel he decided to leave. The best available option for Noe at that time was to return to live with more than a dozen relatives in his family home at Trous Sable.
Noe turned 20 during my visit, and is still in primary school. During his summer vacation (July through September) Noe was particularly anxious to know whether he’d passed his school exams, which would allow him to advance to secondary school. After some investigation we found out that no, he hadn’t passed. On top of everything else this was enormously disappointing on many levels. Melt-down time.
With encouragement and a plan in place, Noe agreed to persevere; we found a new school for him, hoping a fresh start would boost his confidence. We all prayed for good teachers, great friends and academic success.
I used remaining funds plus some donations to pay for Noe’s and the other kids’ return-to-school expenses – first month’s fees, uniforms, shoes, bags, books, pens, calculators – usual stuff.
Each day when he called in to see me after school Noe’s grin was bigger. He loved school! His new teacher, Mr Felix, didn’t treat him like the class dumbie, but offered extra one-on-one classes on Saturdays. Somehow we found the extra funds to cover the cost and Noe willingly gave up his Saturdays to meet with Mr Felix.
In mid-November I felt sad to leave the kids in Haiti to return to Australia. I’ve been able to call the kids regularly, and hear their news – and practice my Creole! This was made possible by a generous, regular donation for this purpose – thanks Rachel and Chris, we thank God for you!
During December, as all the students prepared for their first term exams, Noe returned home one day to find that his sister-in-law had died. She, her husband (Noe’s brother) and their two little girls also shared Noe’s family home in Trous Sable. The family are devastated by their loss.
A few days after his sister-in-law’s funeral, Noe and the other kids sat their exams; we all waited and prayed for good results.
When results were out I called the kids, hoping to hear good news. And good news it was! Noe had come top of his class in French (previously his worst subject), and second or third in all his other subjects!!!
While I’m excited about Noe’s improvement in his studies, I’m even more excited about his character which is being formed and proven during this process. Noe has suffered trauma from early family experiences; the effects were compounded by the abuse he endured at the orphanage where he lived for all his teenage years. During my visit he was one of the first to leave the orphanage; a short time later Noe and I experienced an incident one afternoon which highlighted to me how seriously affected he was by one of several abusive leaders from the orphanage. A few days after this incident, Noe confided that he planned to visit his buddies who were still stuck in the orphanage. My stomach churned at the thought of him returning there even for a visit, knowing he’d cop more abuse. Noe was adamant. He wanted to let his buddies know he’s hanging in there for them. He also wanted to signal to his former abusers that he was no longer afraid of them.
The results of his visit were powerful. Noe carried Truth and Peace into that tough place. His buddies saw previously out-of-character courage and conviction in this young man – the leaders’ abuse just bounced right off all of them; we continued to pray for and bless them. Noe sent a silent signal to all that he now has options, and copping abuse isn’t one he chooses. ‘He whom the Son sets free is free indeed’ Noe is free….. Soon after that visit several more kids had the courage to leave the orphanage. Their circumstances are tough. But they do know they have faithful friends who understand what they’ve been through, and who will stand by them no matter what.
With a little encouragement and support we’ve been able to assist Noe through this difficult transition; our partners’ prayers, encouragement and financial support made it possible. We believe ‘the best is yet to come’!
Viva Haiti is now responsible for ongoing education, medical and living expenses for eight youth. We continue to implement our projects: business training and development, literacy project and agri-businesses. Here in Australia we continue to build our team as well as pursue opportunities to generate sustainable income for Viva Haiti so that we can continue to play our part in fulfilling God’s purposes in Haiti.
We look forward to sharing more stories of courage and overcoming in future updates….
How You Can Help
To our faithful supporters in prayer, encouragement and finances – thank you from me and the kids in Haiti. You’re making a difference to ‘the least’ of ‘the least’ and facilitating lasting, measurable change.
If you’re not already doing so, we invite you to prayerfully consider partnering with us in serving in Haiti with prayer and giving.
- Your prayers are appreciated, and we know that the favour God has shown us is a direct answer to prayers. This month our prayer focus includes:
- Grace to fulfill Isaiah 58:6,7: ‘to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every [enslaving] yoke… to divide our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into our homes…. when we see the naked, to cover them, and hide not ourselves from [the needs of] our own flesh and blood…’
- God’s wisdom for every leader, participant and aspect of Viva Haiti’s work in Haiti and beyond (we’re believing and declaring James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 2:16b.)
- Every aspect of slavery to be broken from the lives of those we serve in Haiti (we’re believing and declaring John 8:36)
- Make a financial gift. Every dollar counts and makes a difference in Haiti.
- Make a regular donation – even small amounts, given regularly, help us plan our budget.
- Purchase copies of Kiko’s Coconuts – this children’s story-book written in English and Creole, and brimming with colourful Haitian illustrations, is a great gift for the littlies in your life, your local school library, or to keep. Profits go towards projects in Haiti.
- Contribute time and skills – if you have time and skills that you’d like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you!
If you’d like to find out more about our work in Haiti, place an order for your copies of Kiko’s Coconuts, or would like to make a donation, we’d love to hear from you!
Please contact Robyn by email email@example.com or
iPhone: +61 2 61761261
Blessings and joy
Hushes Prayer Update July 2013
Rachel asked me to provide a brief update about what’s been happening with Karen and I as a way to better inform you about things we would value prayer for at this time. We are so thankful to God and grateful for the consistent prayer and support that we have received, especially during this gospel of the kingdom adventure as managers of the Gold Creek Chapel, which if anyone can believe it, is fast drawing to a close at the end of a 3 year relationship in that place.
Since we began the journey during the twilight of 2010, we have hosted and served nearly 500 weddings (each with a separate rehearsal), about 50 memorials and nearly 100 baby celebrations. Of these events in the time we’ve lived next door to the Chapel, I have personally had the privilege of conducting 81 of the weddings (with a further 20 not at the Chapel), over 30 of the baby ceremonies and half a dozen memorials.
The decision to lease the business and rent the house from the owners was always going to be a fairly close call financially but the kingdom representative journey has simply been overwhelming and has repeatedly fortified the faith that Karen and I have in the original call to do this for 3 years. Each day we thank God for both the testing reality of the responsibility we have ‘to pay Caesar what is Caesar’s and for the transforming work we have witnessed in people as God has time and time again replaced the lies of law and religion with his grace and truth.
We finish up as managers on the 30th September this year. On the 1st of October, the day of our 8th wedding anniversary, Karen and I will move into whatever God has planned for us next, and that still isn’t clear as I write this note.
What is clear is that a month or so ago we agreed on what we were both hearing from God. That at the very least we would consider the kingdom relationships that God had shown us favour for, motivation enough for us to begin church planting at 5 Maccas in the region, each McCafe chosen for its proximity to the 5 largest groups of residences where couples I have married live. I started conducting an online survey 12 months ago and out of just over 200 surveys of couples I’ve married since 2008, 165 couples registered that they would like to continue exploring what this God connection between us could look like. The responses ranged from very general interest to a genuinely deep desire.
So, I have informed all the couples (and a few others) that I am committed to making myself available for whatever THEY want to talk about for a couple of hours or so every week from the June long weekend until the end of August at Gold Creek Maccas on Sundays from 10am, and after 5pm on Mondays at Conder Maccas, Tuesdays at Charnwood, Wednesdays at Queanbeyan and Thursdays at Weston Creek Maccas. Karen and I pray whilst I am at each venue, that however I’m approached and whatever the agenda of any conversation that occurs, that somehow those who take the opportunity will see more of Jesus as a result and somehow receive something more of the good news that can transform their lives.
To date, some have dropped by on the scheduled days, some have texted me, some have emailed me (it is after all the coldest time of year) and all in all there have been 35 connections that I would call kingdom conversations with definite indications of more to come. The plan that God gave us was to NOT prescribe a way of meeting, to just hang out at Maccas because these venues are already a part of their consistent culture (i.e. good car parking, playgrounds for children, easy accessibility, safe spaces with plenty of background noise and of course COFFEE! etc.)
At the end of August we will see who is connecting regularly and work out the next phase with the Holy Spirit at that time.
So, here is a summary of our current prayer points:-
- Health and energy for the final 2 months of the Chapel effort and that those we come in contact with, including the owners and the Chapel’s new hosts will continue to see Jesus as they interact with us
- Miraculous provision for whatever we need financially as we transition out of the business with all bills paid
- Wisdom about what tent making responsibilities to accept and take up in the short term so that the church planting effort doesn’t rely on investment by seeking and fledgling respondents to the gospel. (One of the big things in this space is that Karen and I, alongside other current supporters who have offered prophetic input over recent days, are convinced that God wants to release Karen from all responsibilities which get in the way of developing her music arrangement, production and development skills; all areas she is actually qualified in but hasn’t yet really had the chance to see the potential of)
- Clarity about the shape and operation of Heartland Ministries as a mission support hub for this next season. The only specific word about this we’ve received since June is that Heartland’s priority is ‘To Start, Support, & Sustain kingdom of God ways to do church that ONLY Jesus can build’
Thanks again for your love and support as always and for allowing us to share in this way.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to get more of the picture or if you’d just like to shoot the breeze over a coffee or two.
Love & blessings
Graeme & Karen Hush
It’s time again for some Gallagher News Update from Indonesia.
I will be in Australia from June 16, arriving in Sydney and will fly out from Adelaide on July 9. If you would like me to visit and share in any service or small group please let me know.