Becky Sussex

Evening dental clinics

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We’re excited about a group of male dental students who responded to request to trial Saturday night church-based dental clinics east and north of Phnom Penh. Factory workers in Cambodia work long hours 6 days a week and are unable to access the care Phil has been offering during regular hours. The video is a short clip which Phil took at the new Saturday evening church clinic trial. It has been going really well so far but we would appreciate prayers for wise decisions to be made as this progresses.

The fear that his female dental students expressed about travelling at night was underlined last month when a 16 year old previous neighbour was stabbed in an attempt to take her bag from her as she rode her motorbike at 8pm only 100m from home. Her wounds were not life threatening and she is back at Hope school now. Please pray for her as she has to pass the place it happened every day and for her mother as they consider whether they should move house. Phil and Becky value your ongoing prayers for safety.

The prison work is going well each Wednesday. Please pray for Phil as he leads this team. Often there are different students each week so it takes time to train them all and get routines going. But, overall it has been very encouraging to have a good number of students who are committed to volunteering in this work and are keen to learn and gain experience. They are a mixture of Christian and non-Christian so please pray that the Christian students and dentists will have opportunities to share their faith and witness through their actions. The prisoners are very grateful for the treatment that they are receiving and the conversations that they are able to have while being treated.

The children and I are into the last 5 weeks of our school year so things are getting very busy. Please pray for us as we work our way through deadlines and towards farewells.

Lastly, but very importantly, the hot season is intense and the current drought situation is looking very serious. Drinking water is becoming very low in many areas and in some, it is simply running out. Animals and fish are dying as lakes and rivers are critically low. Here’s an interesting article which gives details of the situation: Animals die as Cambodia is gripped by worst drought in decades. Please be praying for this whole situation!

Double updates from Cambodia

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Here is two updates from the Sussexs in Cambodia, one video and one written. The written update below is from last Wednesday. Since then Phil has been recovering well and regaining more energy everyday!

Phil has been really sick for over a week now with what has just been confirmed as dengue fever. He seems to be over the worst of it and is improving slowly each day but is still feeling extremely exhausted. We’d appreciate your prayers for him, that he will be restored to full health soon.

It seems that his lecturing timetable will be very light until the beginning of next year as he’s not keen to take back the various lecture series that he has already handed on to Khmer staff to teach. Early next year there will be opportunities for him to take on the teaching of subjects which he hasn’t taught before. In the meantime, the opportunity for him to do some work at Mercy Medical Clinic has opened up. Today I took him down to meet with the clinical director and to have a look at the centre. The meeting went well. Phil is excited by the possibility of working in an environment which fits very well with his skill set and with what he feels called here to do. The centre has a strong evangelistic component and training for national staff as well as providing medical care to the poor. Their website gives a great look at what they do:

Before he came down with dengue he had started up his church based dental clinic in the relocated community north of the city. He got a warm welcome and things started up very well again. It was disappointing to have to cancel on Monday. So for now, it looks like his days will be spent on a mix of his community clinic work, work at Mercy medical clinic and some provincial mobile dental trips as opportunities arise.

We’d really appreciate prayer for wisdom and direction as these options firm up. Please pray for the right balance and quick adjustments to new working environments. He’s hoping to be well enough to work half days [this] week.

I will be starting back at school [this] week for a week of staff meetings, planning meetings and preparation. The kids will start back the following week (10 August). We’d appreciate prayers as we head in to that time of transition back into ‘normal’ life and adjust to the travelling and early starts! To minimise the traffic we’ll be leaving here soon after 6am!!! We’ll be looking for a house nearer to the school, which will reduce the strain of long commutes. Ironically, after years of driving north for Phil (he’s been working very close to where the new school campus is for the last four years), Mercy Medical Centre is quite a way south of the city!

Phil’s Dental Expedition

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Phil Sussex reflects on a recent dental outreach in Cambodia. 

Recently I was able to escape the hot concrete jungle of Phnom Penh to some villages beyond the jungle. I was there to work alongside a mission team from St Hilda’s Anglican in Singapore and Church of Christ our Peace in Phnom Penh. At the newly established local church of Svay Rieng over 400 local people took time out from farming to have teeth extracted or filled by our small team of overseas dentists and Cambodian dental students. Those who came also received basic oral health education as well as a gospel message children’s book. Many locals also attending meetings at night led by Rev. Hieng, Cambodia’s only ordained Anglican priest.

The annual rains arrived while we were there marking the beginning of the rice planting season. While we were grateful for cooler nights, the newly planted seed began to germinate, out of sight below the soil. Jesus’ parables really come alive as we work and live in the midst of paddy fields and the spiritual metaphors resonate well with my students whose families are also rice farmers. At the dental school where I work there are on average two Christian students per year. The two in their fifth year of study attended this trip – a great opportunity to discuss more freely the things that matter most.

Please pray that Eath, a fairly new believer, will continue to grow in his faith and be encouraged week by week as he attends the dental student cell group meeting at an outreach café near the university.