Category Archives: Featured

A Landmark Day!

Landmark ˈlan(d)ˌmärk/ -an event, discovery, or change marking an important stage or turning point in something.

Today is a special day and a big milestone in our journey into Business as Mission. After a long week of preparing and negotiating our legal leasing agreement we’re excited to say that this morning we signed on the lease to our building! So without further ado we’d like to introduce you to the home of La Mesa Coffee Co.

Lots of signing and stamping!

One thing that we’ve learned about Thai culture, in getting our coffee business off of the ground, is that Thai’s love to make their official documents extra long. We had to sign and stamp every single page of each set of the documents. It’s also a part of Thai culture to give gifts when forming new friendships or partnerships. So for our signing, we made a special set of bottled coffees to give to our landlord and agent to show our thanks and appreciation. We also made it to help celebrate and commemorate the day of this landmark step in our lives and ministry.

We’re so thankful for the building that God has given us. It’s full of great potential. And we feel so blessed to have found a great landlord and agent to work with.

Michelle giving our commemorative coffee to our landlord (left) and agent (right).

It’s good to stop and take in the victories that God gives us, no matter how big or small. Makes us think of when the LORD thundered against the Philistines clearing the way of victory before the Israelites.

Afterward, Samuel took a stone and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, “The Lord has helped us to this point.” -1 Samuel 7:12

Today was a great day and nice to have a moment to celebrate all that God has done to bring us up to this point. We have so much to do over the next several months to get to the point of our soft launch, but we know that God has brought us this far, and has bigger things ahead of us than we can even imagine. But for today, we celebrate and give thanks!

Seek & You Shall Find

Searching for a Location
We’ve been vigorously searching for the location for our coffee shop for over 2 months now and are more than ready to have this phase accomplished. We’ve put a lot of energy into searching for a good location, crunching numbers and weighing out pros and cons to each place we’ve visited.

After all of our effort we believe that we may have finally found a place that will work for us and that holds great potential to meet all of our goals as a location of the coffee shop. Please be praying as we work out details of the leasing agreement. We’re hopeful that everything will work out with this location and we’ll be able to officially sign on it in the next couple of weeks.

Building Hunt Shot 2The picture above is from a visit we made to one of the locations that we were seriously considering but eventually decided against. We took our good friend Bhee, our interior designer and friend Wow Pramulwong (whom many of you will know as Van’s younger sister) and our contractor.

Meet Mac our Business Mentor
Gary was recently able to meet with Mac in person while he was in Bangkok. Not only is Mac an entrepreneur himself, he’s a business coach and consultant and an active player in the East Asia and South East Asia start-up scene. If there’s a start-up event in Bangkok or Hong Kong we wouldn’t be surprised to find Mac behind the scenes or in front and center as MC. Mac is also a food blogger and passionate about the growing restaurant and cafe industry in Asia and is very familiar with the market we’re entering in Bangkok. His knowledge and experience of the environment that we’re entering into has has been a great help. We’re thankful for all of the time and energy that’s he’s already invested in us. We wouldn’t have been able to make it as far as we have without his help, guidance and encouragement.

Level Three Speaking
Michelle’s been busy with her Thai studies and has now moved up to speaking level 3. It’s been challenging but she’s been able learn a lot. And she’s really enjoyed getting to know her teachers and classmates. Next month she’ll start level 4 which will focus on reading and writing. 

Missions Gathering
Earlier in March there was a small gathering held in Bangkok (of missionaries and native ministers) that focused on Disciple Making Movements in Asia. People came from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, China and India. While we know that our current focus is here in Thailand we ourselves continually keep the church and our friends working across the globe in our prayers!

Needs and Prayers
We’ve been working hard on preparing things for the shop. While we’re very excited to see some of the things that we’ve been working on and imagining for a long time finally happen, it’s also a bit scary having so much to consider. Many have asked what our current needs are right now. We need lots of prayers and need more funding. We currently still lack 20% of our seed funding goal for this BAM venture. Not having this goal reached is an additional stress on top of everything else. We’d love to see this goal reached soon so if you know of any individual, church or organization that might be able to partner with us by helping with our financial needs please let us know. 

Please continue to keep us and our ministry here in your prayers as we strive to take leaps of faith towards the path that God has placed before us.

The Hunt Is On

Where oh where will our coffee shop be, oh where oh where will it be? This is the question of the hour folks! Our business is now fully registered as a Thai company and we are on track to hopefully open the coffee shop this summer. Our main concentration now is looking for a building. Those of you who have moved before know how long and tedious the process of finding real estate can be. And searching for the right location in such a big city, like Bangkok, is challenging to say the least. For us this means we’ve been very busy visiting potential neighborhoods, searching online, meeting directly with realtors and staying in constant communication with them through email and messaging. Please keep our hunt for a location in your prayers since it will be such a big part of our work, church plant and lives here in the future.

Group ShotWe recently had John from The Well Coffeehouse in Nashville and his wife Jessica visit us for a few days. John is The Well’s Director of Coffee Education and often does coffee industry consulting for new coffee businesses. We first met while we were back in the States so it was great seeing them again and introducing them to Bangkok’s vast coffee culture so that they could understand more of the context that we’re working with and the market that we’re entering. We’re so thankful for the encouraging time that we had to spend with them and for their help and perspective on our plans during our startup phase.

16650451_10158233436540596_437686238_nMichelle is finally able to return to Thai school! When we first moved here she was only able to go for a month, so this whole time she has really only learned from daily interactions. The school that she’s going to seems to be really great. It’s all Thai, no English and she goes full time (5 days a week). It’s a great blessings for her to finally be able to go to school regularly and to have good focus on Thai, but it also adds more to our plates at such an already busy time. So please keep this in your prayers as she’ll be in school for the next several months before she can really take a break.
Thanks for all your love and support!

There’s a First Time for Everything!

Thailand in Mourning

It’s been a little over a month since we’ve been back in Thailand and so much has gone on in Thailand and the world that we hardly know where to start! Just a day or two after we returned from the States, the King of Thailand passed away. We were glad that we were able to be back during this time as it is an important time in history for Thailand and we were able to share this hard time with our friends. King Bhumibol Adulyadej had been king of Thailand for most people’s lives here. He reigned for 70 years and was very loved by his people. After his death, Thailand proclaimed a time of mourning, and everyone was asked to wear black to show respect for the king. So for the past month we’ve only worn black. Many of the tv stations were canceled and replaced by videos about the King remembering all of the different ways he helped to made Thailand a better place through his Royal Projects. And most of the advertisements and internet pages went black to show respect. It’s strange to go out and see everyone in black or white and people have been more somber. To read more about this check out this article here.

 

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Trip to Borseelium

People that know us well know that we are more urban than rural people. But one of the things that we love about our work here in Thailand is that we continually have opportunity to visit and work in some of the most rural (and naturally beautiful) areas of Thailand. Last week we took a trip back to the Hill Tribe village of Borseelium in Lampang (northern Thailand) where we did our first medical mission with our ACU interns in 2014. This is also one of the places that some of our coffee that we sold in the States and will sell in our coffee shop comes from. We made the trip to spend time with Suwat and his family, to see more of their coffee production process first hand, and to help in whatever way we could.

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Driving Up the Mountain
They say that there is a first time for everything and on this trip we had several first time experiences. We met Ann and Suwat in the little town of Ngao (the bottom of the mountain) to make our way up the steep mountain to Borseelium together, since their village is a little tricky to find and hard to get to. Before heading out Suwat asked if Gary could drive a truck for them back up the mountain since Suwat needed an extra hand to drive a second truck and we would follow behind him. When Suwat mentioned it, we thought he was joking, then the next thing we knew Gary was being handed keys to the truck and shown how to work the stick. The thought of driving up this steep mountain in itself is a crazy thing if you’ve never experienced driving it before because it’s mostly a dirt road, very curvy and super steep. But it’s even more crazy if you haven’t driven on the right side of the car before and then adding onto it all driving manually. But Gary’s a good driver and off we went with not much time to consider. So Gary got to have his first driving experience in Thailand on an hour long trip up a crazy, steep mountain with windy dirt roads, with a left-handed stick shift! It was an adventure! The drive was actually quite nice and the views were beautiful!

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Gary Preaching In Thai

Another reason we went to visit Borseelium was to spend time with the church there. Out of all of the previous times we’ve been there we were never able to be there on a Sunday and the church told us how they would love to have us join them on a Sunday and to have Gary preach. Gary had yet to preach a sermon in Thai. When they mentioned Gary preaching before we weren’t sure if they were just being nice or if they were actually serious. But it wasn’t long after we had arrived that Saturday night that Suwat’s father and grandfather both told us how happy they were to have us back in Borseelium and how they were looking forward to hearing Gary preach in the morning. Apparently they meant it! Fortunately we knew this could be a real possibility and Gary came prepared with a sermon and stayed up going on over some of his verses in Thai that night. Joining them for worship was a unique experience. They conduct their services in both Thai and Mien (their Hill Tribe language). It was an encouragement and blessing to be a part of this small body of Christ on the mountain top. We hope to have more opportunities like this in the future where we can encourage local churches in their discipleship and ministry efforts.

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Picking and Processing Coffee

After Gary’s first Thai sermon, we had lunch and then went to pick coffee in Suwat’s farm. Traveling to the farm is an experience in itself. The truck ride was even crazier than the drive up the mountain. The road is steep going down and it’s just big enough to sqeeze the truck through. The road is so bumpy and just red dirt. If it rains Suwat can’t drive to his farm because of all the mud.

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Once there, right away you can see the beautiful stream that runs through the farm. His farm is in between two hills and so it’s more shaded and a tad bit cooler for picking. Our first impression of the farm was that it made us think of the garden of Eden! It is just beautiful and lush and so peaceful. Suwat grows oranges and coffee on the farm. That afternoon we picked for a few hours and then headed back to the village processing building to start processing what we had picked (Which wasn’t a lot! Picking coffee really makes you realize how precious each cup of coffee really is and how much hard work went into it!).

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We were excited to see Borseelium’s new coffee processing building. It is only 2 months old and had almost everything they need to process their coffee. Anyone from the village can use the equipment to take care of the coffee they picked from their own farm. After picking coffee that afternoon, we washed the coffee cherries, removed the defects, removed the pulp, washed the beans again and then took the beans back to Suwat’s house to lay out and dry as a honey processed batch. Normally, Suwat does a washed process but we thought we’d try the honey process to see how different it is to the washed. The honey process can bring out the beans natural sweetness. We’ve tried it from other places in Thailand and it’s really delicious so we’re excited to see how Suwat’s coffee turns out!  

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The next day Gary and Suwat went out to pick again. We went to the processing building to take care of that batch and sorted coffee and roasted a couple different batches. It was fun to get to see and work with coffee through several stages of the process and just amazing to see how much work goes into it! Suwat is one hard worker. That’s for sure! Definitely have a great respect for the people involved in the specialty coffee process to bring the world such amazing and cared for coffee! 

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Replicate Backer Box

We have one final prayer request for a special project that we’ve been working on, the Replicate Backer Box! In the very near future we’ll be launching a campaign with the help of our partners at The Well Coffeehouse and Lipscomb’s Center for Business as Mission where we’ll be selling a coffee themed box set to help raise some of the seed funding for our Business as Mission venture. The set will include an 8oz bag of our special Borseelium coffee roasted by The Well, a t-shirt, a new retro diner coffee mug, and a few other things! Look for more info coming soon via email and on social media. The Backer Box will hopefully be a way to not only help raise more of our seed funding goal but to also raise prayers and awareness for our future ministry efforts in a fun way. We’re super excited about all of it’s potential and ask that you keep the success of this project in your prayers as well!

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Replicate Bangkok Here We Go!

We’ve had an event packed time being back in the States on our short visit. Our first week back our sponsoring church hosted a Missionary Care Workshop conducted by Mark Brazle and Dottie Schulz of Missions Resource Network (MRN). Mark and Dottie did a great job leading the workshop. Spending time with the two of them and having the workshop really helped set off our time back with an encouraging boost! We’re so thankful for Bartlett Woods and the ways that they have shown care and support for us and our work in Thailand. And we’re amazed at the ways that they have invested in our longevity as missionaries there!

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When we first walked into Bartlett Wood’s church building we were blown away by all of the Replicate Bangkok info that covered walls of seemingly every corner. They really did a great job utilizing the information that we put together to help the whole church understand our vision and strategy as we start this next phase in our ministry church planting.

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Since we first started looking at the possibility of transitioning into Business as Mission we’ve done a lot of research, reading stacks of books, countless blogs and articles. We reached out to everyone we knew that had any experience in Business as Mission within our extended network. We soon began to realize that God has put a large number people in our lives to help us launch the dream and vision that He put on our hearts. In this e-mail we’ll highlight a few of these relationships and connections.

Business As Mission Conference
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The best online resource that we’ve found on Business as Missions is hands down BusinessAsMission.com. Their website is full of helpful tools, advice and resources for BAM practitioners and newbies like ourselves. The people and organization behind the website are some of the most experienced people in Business as Missions today. And guess what, they’re based in Northern, Thailand! We’ve been in touch with a few people in their group for a while now, and while we were back in Thailand they told us how they would be conducting this year’s BAM Conference in California during the time that we were already planning on being in the US. So we were able to join over 300 others from all over the world and attend the conference on our second weekend in the States. The BAM conference had a very full schedule going from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm. It was awesome hearing about all of the ways that God is at work in the world through Business as Mission. Our time at the conference was an encouraging confirmation of the road that God has prepared ahead of us.
While we were in LA for the BAM conference we were able to visit with Greg Williams for the first time in person. Greg is MRN’s Facilitator for Sustainable Missions and helps mission efforts all over the world take hold of sustainable models. Greg has a been a great help in offering advice and guidance as we make our transition into Business as Mission. On the final day we were able to go spend time with Greg over coffee, and dinner in nearby Long Beach. We can’t tell you how much his feedback on our vision and strategy for Bangkok and our business plan for the coffee shop means to us.

Center For Business As Mission at Lipscomb University
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From California we took an overnight flight into Nashville, TN to meet with Rob Touchstone the director of Lipscomb’s Center for Business as Mission and visit with his team and students. We were able to present our pitch for how we see using a specialty coffee shop as a key tool in our discipleship, and church planting efforts in Bangkok to Rob’s Missional Entrepreneurship class. It was blast sharing about our plans, getting feedback and exchanging dialogue with the students. We’re excited to tell you that we’ll be partnering with both Lipscomb’s Center for Business as Mission and with The Well Coffeehouse as we launch our venture in Thailand! We’re so excited and encouraged to see how Lipscomb is taking hold of the opportunity to equip their students to make lasting impacts in this world for Christ!

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Send Off At Bartlett Woods
On Sunday the 25th we had our Send Off Sunday with Bartlett Woods. Gary preached during the morning worship and afterwards they threw us a good bye fellowship meal. We can’t tell you how many people came up to us and said that they pray for us and Thailand daily! That means so much to us. We are so thankful for all of the love, prayers, support and encouragement that they have shown us! And are truly blown away by their giving spirits and heart for missions!  

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Time With Family
From Memphis we went on to spend some time with Michelle’s family in Kentucky. In the middle of September our newest niece was born right on Michelle’s birthday and we were finally able to see her once we made it to Kentucky. People often ask us what we miss the most about living in the States. It seems like when people ask this they’re looking for an answer like, “Pop-Tarts”, “Chick-fil-A”, or “Pumpkin Spice Lattes”. But hands down the thing we miss the most is our time with our family and close friends. Living overseas we often miss out on the little special moments in one another lives that Facebook and Facetime simply cannot capture. So any time we can squeeze in time with our family is so treasured.

Every time we get together with all of Michelle’s family her mom wants to take family photos together since our family is always growing and changing and we rarely have those moments together. With it being Fall we all went out to get pictures at a pumpkin patch. It’s always fun seeing all of our nieces and nephews. It’s crazy to think how much bigger they’ll all be the next time we see them in a few years. These photos will be a great reminder of this time when our nieces and nephews were still so little!

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While with Gary’s family out West we were able to be a part of such a special moment when we attended Jessica (Gary’s sister) and Logan’s baby reveal party and Pierce’s first birthday in Lubbock, TX. After landing in El Paso, Texas Saturday night and making it to Las Cruces, NM where Gary’s parents live, we drove all day Sunday to Lubbock to make it to the party then drove back to New Mexico the next day. It was a long trip but well worth it!

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We spent our last few days in Albuquerque, NM where Gary grew up. We were just in time to catch the end of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. We were especially excited about it since it was the first time for Michelle, Logan and the kids to see it. In just a few hours (early Monday morning) we’ll fly back to Bangkok feeling extremely blessed by our visit. Thanks for all of the prayers for our time back. Please keep us in your prayers today as we make the long trip back to Thailand!

 

Back in Bangkok!

After being back in the states for 5 months traveling and reporting on the past 2 1/2 years of our life and ministry in Thailand we were way past ready to get back home and to finally be settled and to return to our somewhat “normal” Thai life again. When we arrived at the airport we were surprised to be greeted by several of the young adults from Somprasong 4 church! They made a cute “Sawadee” (Thai greeting) sign and all showed up with their sweet, smiling faces! Getting back to the “Land of Smiles” never felt so good! It was weird how it felt as if no time had passed. The same night that we arrived (2 hours before our flight landed) the Abilene Christian University (ACU) students arrived for their internship over the summer. So we really hit the ground running! Is there any other way?!

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Right after we landed, Gary was asked to speak for the Wednesday night bible class. So Gary put a lesson together and taught on our first full day back. He also preached Sunday morning and taught a combined bible class. It was nice to share with them what we’ve been doing the past few months and about what our future plans are in Thailand. It was awesome to see so many that we’ve missed. Our first Sunday back was a fun, warm and welcoming day of fellowship with our Thai family.

International House Hunters: Bangkok Edition

When we arrived back we stayed at the church building and moved between 2 different rooms. (We moved out of our old apartment before we left since we knew we’d be in the states for a while). We were grateful to have the room at the building but it was pretty cramped and we were exhausted and ready to start getting settled so that first week, we started apartment hunting knowing it could take a while to find a place.

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So thankful for these guys for helping us move in, even after working all weekend at English Camp!

Looking for apartments in Bangkok takes a lot of communication skills and persistence. We had to do a lot of research online of areas and companies to connect with to see places. Lots of sorting and looking through places that the agencies emailed us. Most of these places would turn out to be not what we were looking for at all. They would either be too small, not a style we like, too far from public transportation, too expensive, etc. So before we were able to go see a place physically we had a lot of work to do. Once we found something that we were interested in, we went to see it with an agent. We did this for nearly 2 weeks and hadn’t found anything like what we were hoping for. This time of year is hard to find a good place because a lot of people move in the summer so most of the good places were already taken. We were tired of looking and not feeling confident and satisfied about it but we knew we’d seen most of what was available and thought we might just have to settle. In our last attempts to find something, we decided to check out one last area. It was the day before we were leaving for English Camp and we went looking at one last building that people had told us about. We met with the agent and after seeing just one room in the building, we knew this was the place! We saw a few rooms there throughout the day and decided on one by that evening! We made a downpayment that night. Went off to English Camp the next morning for a long weekend, then the day after we returned from Camp we closed on the apartment and moved in! Just when we were about to give up and give in to one of the apartments that we only halfway liked, God opened our eyes to a great apartment that exceeded our expectations! And as always at just the right time! God is good and we are so thankful to have a beautiful place that we can finally settle down in and call home!

English Camp

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Just a week and a half after arriving we had English Camp with nursing students from Suan Dusit University. The days before camp we were busy trying to find our apartment so all of our preparation for camp were in the middle of apartment hunting craziness. Which included choosing a theme, writing lessons, preparing games, and designing and printing camp shirts and stickers. This year we had over 40 students attend, which is more than we’ve ever had.

We arrived to camp a day before it started on Thursday to clean the grounds and set up all of our equipment and tents. Most of the students that came this year were Freshmen so we didn’t really know this group yet. Glome and Nueng did a great job breaking the ice with some welcome games and activities and it wasn’t long before the students and staff were laughing and getting along like good friends.

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Our theme for Camp this year was Electric Summer and we truly had an electric time together at Cha Am!

Aside from a few of Somprasong’s church staff, young adults, us and the ACU interns, we had extra help from three of Somprasong’s Filipino members and one young American member, also a member from the church in Phuket, Thailand. It’s always an encouraging time getting extra time with our staff from church who volunteer to help, most of whom are sacrificing vacation time to be with us. I was especially proud of how well the staff showed love and kindness to all of the nursing students throughout our time at camp. 

Click here to see more pictures from English Camp.

Click here to see the video that we put together for the students from camp.

Time with the ACU Students

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The ACU girls with Bhee and Sam.

Since we knew that we would be really busy returning to Thailand just as the ACU team arrived, we decided that we wouldn’t be mentors for this year’s ACU team in Bangkok. So this year Bhee and Sam worked primarily with the team and we assisted as we could but mostly at the end of their time. While the girls were in Bangkok we showed them a few of areas that we’ve been involved with in the past. We love introducing the interns to all of the craziness that comes with living in Bangkok. It’s always fun to see the look on peoples faces the first time that they see the endless expanse of skyscrapers, never ending number of spirit houses and temples, see all the fancy and massive shopping malls, experience the humidity and heat, witness how crowded and busy the streets are.

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During our time together the girls learned about Thai Buddhism and animism, we also took them to visit the red light district to learn about the issue of Bangkok’s sex industry, to the slum community in our old neighborhood to show them the challenges and dangers of people living in extreme poverty face since they can be easily taken advantage of by the mob or others with no one to stand up for them.

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Even though our time with the ACU team was short this year, it was a joy to have them here. After their time in Bangkok they went up to Chiang Rai where they’ll be teaching English for three weeks at a Christian school. Please keep them in your prayers as they finish up their summer here in Thailand and return to the States soon.

 

 

Life on the Road

We’ve been on the road since January and just this past week we finally finished reporting and visiting all of our supporting churches! We’ve traveled thousands of miles, slept in countless beds, and packed and unpacked a ridiculous amount of times but it was so neat to get to visit so many that we love and miss! We are so thankful for the opportunities we’ve had to share about our past and future work in Thailand. We feel blessed to have such encouraging and excited supporters that pray for us and our work often!7-MP19In Crossville, TN we visited with the Linary Church of Christ. Michelle’s family lived in Crossville and worked with the church there after they returned to the US from being missionaries in Russia. Michelle was just 16 at the time and spent time with the church there through her first years in college. It was great catching up with old church friends and being in the town where Michelle graduated high school.

From Crossville, we made our way to Murray and Paducah in Western Kentucky. We visited with the University church in Murray, KY on a Sunday morning and drove up to Paducah to be with the Lone Oak church that evening. It was a very long but especially encouraging day!2-Murray PaducahWhile living in Murray 8 years ago, we were involved with the church’s ministry to foreign exchange students who were mostly from China. We feel a special bond with University from our time working alongside them. It was a full Sunday morning together. Gary taught a combined Bible class, preached during worship and we got to speak with their missions committee and church leaders at a special luncheon. We loved our time with them and were very encouraged to share more about Thailand with them and see their excitement about how God has been at work in Asia.3-Murray Paducah1It would take too long to explain all of the crazy connections that we have with the Lone Oak church in Paducah. Lone Oak has been a long time supporter of the AIM program and has sent a number of their own young people to AIM over the years including one of Gary’s old Bangkok teammates.1-Terre HauteFrom Kentucky we headed up north to Terre Haute, Indiana to the Eastside Church of Christ. We got to know this church while we were in youth ministry doing summer camps and fall retreats together with them. It’s especially cool to see how some of their youth have grown a heart for missions and have gone on to do short-term missions themselves with AIM program and DiscipleTrips! 4-Mt Carmel [EDITED]For our last stop we headed to Mt. Carmel, IL where we worked for 5 years in youth ministry before moving to Thailand. It was surreal being back in Mt. Carmel after having been gone for so long. We spent a few days there catching up with friends and family but the time just wasn’t enough. There are so many people that we wish that could have seen while we were there but time just didn’t allow it.6-21-DSC05848One highlight from our time in Mt. Carmel was spending time with some who were first in our youth group. They’re all grown up now in college, with jobs, some of them married and with families. These people will certainly always hold a special place in our hearts.5-Mt Carmel [EDITED]1We’re especially thankful for the time that we got to spend with Michelle’s sister Melissa and her family. It was so fun to have time to spend with our niece and nephews and being be able to celebrate Easter with family.

This week we’ve returned to Memphis. We’re excited to spend some time with our sponsoring church! Although we’re technically “homeless” right now, while in Memphis we actually have our own place to stay since Bartlett Woods (our sponsoring church) owns a house across from their church building that we’re able to use during our time back. It’s so nice to have a space of our own where we can actually unpack our bags, cook our own food and live somewhat of a “normal” life. Tulsa Workshop

We’re busy getting ready for the Tulsa Workshop next week. Gary is excited to be teaching two classes at Workshop. He’ll be teaching Thursday and Friday at 3:00 pm both days. Click here to see the full schedule and find out more about the Tulsa Workshop. We will also have our Missions Bangkok booth and will be selling handmade items from Thailand, some coffee inspired t-shirts that we designed and some fresh roasted speciality coffee from two hill tribe villages in Thailand! So if you happen to go to Workshop be sure to stop by and see us!

 

Let the Summer Begin!

Bartlett Woods in Bangkok

It’s been a very busy kick off to summer! In mid May we were honored to have a Steve and Adam visit from our sponsoring church for a week. They came to be an encouragement to us and to see what our lives and work are like here in Bangkok. They had heard about Bangkok for a long time and have followed our updates, etc. So it was really neat for them to finally get to be here and see it firsthand! 

10-DSC03605During the week we were able to show them a glimpse into most of our ministries, Thai culture and city life. Check out the video we put together showing a few things we got to do together while they were here in Bangkok!

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This past month we’ve been busy teaching the Bible to several of the BUR from church. It’s been encouraging to have so many want to study more about discipleship and baptism and many of our already Christians want have more in depth Bible studies! The Sunday that Steve and Adam were here we had 3 members from one family take on Christ in baptism! It was an amazing Sunday! Gary had first began studying with this family while some of them were in prison back in March. In the midst of that terrible circumstance, they saw God’s love from our church family and have been coming to be with our church ever since! Even to the point that the 3 were baptised! They were so excited to finally have God’s salvation and Spirit! They are such a sweet family, full of life and excitement and are eager to share their new hope with the rest of their family and friends!

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Photo credit: Steve Burns

Mentoring ACU Interns

This week 4 nursing students from ACU’s WorldWide Witness joined us in our ministry and will be with us for the next 6 weeks. Last year we were able to mentor 4 students from the same program and it was such a blessing to us, the church here and to the girls! We’re hoping this summer is even more awesome!

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Showing the girls around the neighborhood.

While they are here, Gary will be leading us in discipleship studies through the summer. We’ll visit several cultural places while teaching them about Thai culture. The girls will be joining us in our regular ministries and helping with a couple of special programs this summer as well. 

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They’re official Bangkokians now! Getting their BTS (Skytrain) commuter cards!

Over their first week in Thailand the ACU girls have already seen a lot of the urban ministries that they’ll be part of this summer. These ministries are largely among the overlooked and marginalized people of the city and include outreach in one of the red light districts and serving the BUR community. A couple of mornings this week we passed out a small blessing of morning breakfast to the homeless at Lumpini Park. We’re proud of the ways that they’re so willing to boldly spread Christ’s love to others!

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Tomorrow we will start the Service Learning Project with Suan Dusit’s nursing school (the school where we have English Club). This year we’ll be heading to the Loei province in Northeastern, Thailand for 5 days to help with a medical mission in a small village. It will be a busy summer full of blessings all around! And we’re excited for what God has in store for our time together!

Light Up The Darkness

Christian Chronicle Reports on Ministry to Urban Refugees 

The Christian Chronicle featured the church’s ministry to Bangkok’s urban refugees in April’s issue. We really enjoyed our time with Erik Tryggstad during his visit earlier this year. It was fun getting to spend time with Erik, showing him around Bangkok (it was his first time in the city) and showing him our different ministries. We were blown away by the beautifully written articles he put together. He did a great job depicting the many challenges that our the refugee families face living here in Bangkok. 

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You can find the online articles here: “Survivors of the Taliban find new life — and new fear” and ‘Here, we feel God’s words working in our life’

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Please continue to keep the refugee community in Bangkok in your prayers. We’ve been able to help relocate a few families to safer areas of town but are still needing to find new homes for several more families. Pray that we are able to do so quickly.

Hot, Hottest and Rainy

Hot hot

This past month in Thailand has been a season of renewal and holidays! There have been several different holidays lately and many people have been enjoying the holidays with their friends and family, traveling and doing everything they can to stay cool. The holidays come at a good time, I think, being that it is the hottest, most miserable time of year! It’s a great time to make the most of the season and head to the beach and eat lots of mangos (It’s mango time too in Thailand and the mangos here are amazing)! We say in Thailand there are 3 seasons. Hot, hottest and rainy. At this time of year, we sweat instantly as we walk out the door. We just accept that when we’re out, we’re going to be drenched in sweat. It’s the same every year. The heat is one of the more challenging things to deal with, living here. But we survive. . . somehow! lol! This time of year makes you especially thankful to have air-con!  

-Michelle

Light Up the Darkness

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Bangkok truly is a dark and sin-filled city. One of things that is so frustrating to us about the immorality here in Bangkok is how much sex-tourism is actually promoted in Thailand! In 2014 Thailand was demoted from a tier 2 to a tier 3 level in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report for the country’s failure to take action against human trafficking. We’re thankful for the groups that help to take a stand against these issues and help provide opportunities to liberate the women that have been bound for so long. We recently visited Nightlight Design, an initiative of NightLight International that gives women coming out of the sex industry new opportunities through employment, to see the first batch of printed t-shirts made with a design that Gary made and donated to the ministry. It was cool seeing how much the girls loved the shirts and how excited they were to wear them when doing ministry in a near by red light district. Pray that God continues to empower his people to light up the darkness in this city!

Visa Run to Malaysia

We had a successful visa run to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the beginning of the month. It went much quicker and easier than expected. We weren’t able to get the one year visa we wanted, possibly because of a recent changes in Thai law over the past year, but we were able to get one that will works. While in Malaysia we stayed at the Petaling Jaya (PJ) Church of Christ again. It’s a blessing to be able to cut some expense while there and to visit with Chong Fatt (the minister there) which is always encouraging. 

Making coffee at the PJ with Chong Fatt and his sister and her kids.
We had fun sharing Thai coffee at the PJ with Chong Fatt, his sister and niece and nephew.

KL, Malaysia is about a 2 hour flight away from Bangkok and we’re familiar with getting around the city, so it makes doing a run there a lot easier. We’re so thankful for the help and hospitality of this congregation!

Upcoming things to keep in prayer

Prayers are important! We’ve been able to see God answer so many prayers in the past couple of months, especially with our refugee friends! We know that many of you have been keep the ministry here in your prayers and we can’t say enough of how thankful we are to have you as prayer warriors! Here are a few big things coming up to keep in prayer:

  • Next week two members from our sponsoring church will be visiting us here in Bangkok. Please keep Adam and Steve in your prayers as they make the 30 hour trip.
  • We’re excited to be hosting interns from ACU’s Worldwide Witness program again this summer! Their names are Abby, McKenzie, Evan, Dorothy. The interns will be a part of our urban ministries, a medical Service Learning trip to the region of Loei (north-eastern Thailand), our English Camp and more! Pray that God takes hold of our summer together.
  • Please continue to keep our on-going ministries in your prayers as well.

Graduation and Answered Prayers

Suan Dusit English Club & Graduation  

Our time here in Thailand is really just flying by. Just last week we had our final English Club for their school year. When teaching at English Club one of our major goals is simply to help the students build confidence in speaking English. We’re really proud of the students that we’ve had this year and all of the progress that they’ve made and have loved getting to know them more. This summer we’ll host another English Camp and we hope that those who have been attending our English Club will be able to attend, so that we can have more time together.

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Our church’s foundation was formally invited to attend Suan Dusit’s nursing graduation ceremony that happened last week. Some of the graduating class attended the Service Learning Project we helped organize and lead, last summer, where they gained hands-on nursing experience in the hill tribe village. It was a neat attending the graduation knowing that we helped play a small part in their education. 

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Click here to see more pictures from the graduation ceremony at Suan Dusit.

One-on-One Studies 

We’re continually thankful for the friendships we’ve made here in Bangkok. Michelle’s student Bee is always such a joy to spend time with. This month, Bee completed the Let’s Start Talking Luke study (which is a conversational English study using excerpts from the book of Luke with new vocabulary and questions from the text for each lesson). It’s been awesome to share Jesus and to share our lives together. It’s not easy when we begin teaching our Buddhist friends about Jesus. We have to start from them having no knowledge at all about Christianity and Jesus. Many things that we talk about while reading through the scripture, for example things like Jesus’ miraculous birth, the Trinity or the blessings of sacrificial living are all big and complicated things for someone encountering them for the first time. Then on top of that we’re dealing with the language and cultural barriers. I’m an American Christian, talking about ancient Jewish things, to a Thai Buddhist! But God works through it all! It’s neat to see my student’s English improve but even all the more amazing to see them learn more about my Savior Jesus. 

Michelle and Bee.

Michelle and Bee.

Urban Refugees

This past month we’ve been overwhelmingly busy with our ministry among the urban refugees. We don’t say much about it online because of the sensitivity of their situation. But in short, a few weeks ago, several families that we’re close to were arrested, held in prison for two weeks and almost sent to Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Center (IDC). Thankfully all of the families that our church knows have now been released. We’re so encouraged by their great faith through it all and the example they were to many! The obstacles these families face on a daily basis are unfortunately not over. We’ve been busy trying to help relocate them to safer areas for them to live. Please continue to keep Bangkok’s urban refugees in your prayers. One thing we were able to see so clearly this month, was just how powerful prayer truly is!

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This weekend will be heading off to Cha Am, Thailand where our church hosts a nationwide Bible camp each year. Christians from all across Thailand, some even from surrounding nations, come to take part in the event. Please keep Camp Cha Am in your prayers, that it’s a great time of fellowship that will strengthen and encourage the church in Thailand.