Pumpkin Cake, Becoming a Poster Girl, and How I Got to Attend a Wedding in a Coffee Shop

I sit here typing in the local coffee shop, praising God for free wifi and getting a few strange looks for the pink polka dot dress and makeup I’m wearing on this fine Saturday morning – there’s more to that story later in this post.

I started writing this post about a week ago but as I’ve discovered, the longer I’m here the more involved I get in everything, and the harder it is to find time to update everyone on all the great things that have been happening.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time coming back to Proverbs 3 and the idea of trusting God in all circumstances, regardless of whether I understand what he’s doing, or whether or not I think I know what to do next. We are told to rely on God’s wisdom in all our ways, even if the decisions seem easy or straightforward.

Some close friends have been struggling with their own situations lately, and I’ve been privileged to be able to pray for them during these times and find encouragement for them, even if I’m personally feeling tired or unhappy. This in itself has been a healing balm that I’ve needed to help me to remember again how good God is in all circumstances.

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Last weekend I got to talk to my dear friend from Plunge, Ellen, on Skype, and I was really encouraged when she shared a quote from a biography about Mother Theresa which really settled in my heart. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

“She didn’t know where she was going or what she was going to do in the future. Nothing. But she was not frightened. She knew God was calling her and would lead her where He wanted. One thing very outstanding is Mother’s faith. She came blindly, trusting in God, not knowing where she was going to live or from where food would come.”

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Every Tuesday at ABC School, the place where I have been working as an English & Computer teacher (yes, computers – I teach two students how to use Photoshop, and I’ve even been able to  help the IT teachers to fix some computer issues! Who would have known!), the staff come together for about an hour for devotions. Every Tuesday morning, the principal, Savuth (if you’re pronouncing it correctly it should rhyme with “support”) gathers his staff together for a time of singing Khmer hymns, studying the bible and praying together. As it was the first time I’d come, and because I was a visiting foreigner, I was asked to share a message this week. It was wonderful to have had so many experiences and thoughts come together with a common theme this week, that I was able to share a message of good news with these people.

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Philippians 4:4-7 is a passage that was in the church bulletin at Holroyd New Life Church a week or two ago, and I’ve been sharing it with quite a few people ever since as, again, it was so in-line with everything else God had been showing me during this time:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And God’s peace, which is beyond anyone’s ability to comprehend or understand, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God, which is beyond our ability to even understand! Wow, I want that kind of peace! The greatest part is, this peace belongs to all who ask. What a wonderful promise.

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The staff at ABC School have decided to start an advertising campaign for the school as school holidays are approaching and not only would more students be fantastic for Savuth’s school, but it will also keep young people occupied during their school holidays and “out of trouble”, as one teacher put it. I was put in charge of photographing the school as part of the advertising campaign, as well as being the foreign face of the school; having someone who natively speaks English teaching at a school is a huge seller when people search for schools here. It’s amazing how someone as average as me – no teaching experience, no qualifications in the fields that I’m teaching in – can be seen as so invaluable here! Next week I’ll be visiting some local schools to talk about ABC School’s holiday promotional special. I have no idea what I’ll even talk about yet but keep me in your prayers – this is so new to me!

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I’m really grateful this week that God has been speaking to me so much about trusting him to provide the next thing for me when I need it – whatever that need might be.

One way that God has provided for me has been through the support of people I’ve been living with. I’m so blessed to have housemates who know how to take care of each other.  I was having a difficult day last week, and when I came upstairs to my room to take a rest, I found some beautiful flowers that Cate had so thoughtfully left for me as a surprise in the middle of my room. I started crying, I was so touched.

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Friday was also Pip’s birthday, so we all came together and put a group effort into making the day special for her. Sim and I made the most unusual cake I’d ever seen; we carved out the inside of a pumpkin and filled it up with a mixture of eggs, coconut milk, sugar, a pinch of salt, and what I suspect was cornflour, and then we steamed it for an hour. It was really a brilliant dish, as was the very special satay prawn soup dish that Sim had made us for lunch that day.

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And I’m sure you’re all wondering what I must be doing in a coffee shop wearing a fancy dress and a face-full of makeup in this heat and humidity?! Today, a precious friend and sister in Christ, Jess Nicholson, got married to her best friend Ben Carlisle, and although the wedding was in Australia, another amazing Plunge friend John-Jo was kind enough to stream the entire wedding to me via a Skype call! What an incredible gift! I sat in the cafe in the casino on the border, using their free wifi and crying my eyes out with happiness, and then I had to explain afterwards to the cafe staff what all the fuss was about.

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The first song they chose to have in their program was one I’ve been singing in my heart ever since I got here – One Thing Remains, by Bethel Church (you can listen to it in a media player a few updates before this one!). It was so special to be able to celebrate such a beautiful wedding of two very beautiful followers of Jesus, and I can’t emphasise enough how incredible it was that my internet connection stayed fast and functional for the ENTIRE service! This kind of connection quality is so rare! Praise God for providing even in this! He is so good, and I’m so grateful that two of my friends are starting a new chapter of their lives together hand in hand with Jesus as their guide.

Last Sunday afternoon someone posted a status on Facebook quoting the words from the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”. I love the message of peace that comes with this song, that whatever comes our way, good or bad, we can find rest in our souls knowing we serve a good God. It was such perfect timing to my circumstances and I’ve been singing it all week. I ended up taking advantage of having a laptop with working speakers and recorded it. He really is a good God and in all my circumstances I am filled with joy to be able to say that he has been by my side and carried me through every time. I don’t know what my future holds or where I will be next year, but I can be at peace knowing that I am loved by the God of the universe.
(click below to listen)

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2 Responses to Pumpkin Cake, Becoming a Poster Girl, and How I Got to Attend a Wedding in a Coffee Shop

  1. Beryl Kirkwood says:

    Dear Alessia,

    It was so good to get all this news of you as I’ve prayed for a better week to be your experience. Tomorrow the team leave for Thailand so you will soon have Northwest family with you for a few days.

    I’m so glad you are proving to be a good teacher in so many ways! One of God’s surprises.

    This is my prayer for you: Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your GOD is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

    With love and continued prayer,

    Beryl

    • eleshia123 says:

      Beryl, I am so thankful for your encouragements and prayers. I’m getting so excited to see the Northwest team too! I hear that they’ve brought chocolate for us!

      I never saw myself as a teacher back in Australia, and I don’t think it would be my career of choice once I return, but I’ve been so surprised by how God’s used me in this role regardless of how little confidence I have in this area. It’s amazing how much he’s had his hands around me in every step I’ve taken on this journey.

      Zephaniah 3:17 is such a beautiful verse, thank you for sharing that with me! I had part of it written on a canvas on my bedroom wall back in Australia, and since discovering that my whiteboard marker writes on these tiled walls, I’ve written the same verse on my mirror and the adjacent wall. I’ve also got Jonah 2:2 and Proverbs 3:24 written above my bed now. I’ve discovered the benefit of physically surrounding myself with evidence of God’s promises. He is good, I just have to remind myself!

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