Category Archives: Uncategorized

Introducing the Replicate Backer Box!

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We have exciting news! We recently mentioned a project that we’ve been working and on Friday we launched our online store for the Replicate Backer Box! We created this box as a way to encourage and inspire others and as a fun way to remind people to pray for our ministry in Thailand.

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Here’s What The Replicate Backer Box Includes:

  • 5×7 Art Print
  • Coffee Brewing Guide
  • 8oz Bag of Whole Bean Thai Coffee
  • Retro Diner Mug in Black or White
  • T-shirt
  • 2 Elephant Stickers

All purchases of this box set go to help us with the startup funding for our Business as Mission venture here in Bangkok using a specialty coffee shop as a key tool in our future ministry. We have a limited supply available and they’re going fast! So be sure to get yours while you can! Click here or on the images above to go to our online store for more details and to get your Backer Box now. Please share and spread the word and keep this project in your prayers!

Back in the USA… For a Visit

Right now we’re in the middle of our time back in the States for our stateside service. After spending time with our families for the holidays and starting off our time with our sponsoring church we set out on our big Oklahoma and Texas trip to visit with churches and individual supporters reporting on our past and future work in Bangkok while raising additional support.

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It was great spending the holidays with our families.

Since we’ve been in the US, we’ve already traveled over 6000+ miles across 11 states! We’ve been living out of our suitcase, packing up and unpacking every couple of days, staying with friends, mentors and family along the way. We’ve also been able to meet with organizations like Missions Resources Network, Oklahoma Christian University and Abilene Christian University. On our trip through OK and TX everyone that we’ve met has been such a great encouragement to us. We’ve been blown away by all the love that’s been shown to us and it’s been great reconnecting with so many!

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Our planned road trip from January to March.

One common misconception that people have about missionary “furloughs” is that it is a vacation or a break. When in reality it couldn’t be more far from the truth! It’s not been easy living out of our suitcases for months. Being on the road constantly, spending all day in meetings, constantly talking to people, speaking at churches and events, while also trying to work on our own things without much down time gets exhausting. Being back feels like a crazy whirlwind of events and emotions. We are tired, while at the same time, we feel super blessed from our time back so far. To know more about the experience missionaries go through when visiting the States check out this article from Missions Resource Network: Furlough or Home Assignment? Our Language Betrays Us by Dale Hawley

We wish that we had time to share more about our trip and the people that we got to visit with but we just don’t have time. So here’s a few highlights! 🙂

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Tulsa is a special place to us since it is where we officially met and started dating. In the summer of 2007 while Gary interned with the Memorial Drive Church of Christ, Michelle moved to Tulsa to be close to family and friends. Memorial has a lot of AIM connections and the church there has many awesome, genuine and active people that mean a lot to us and are always such an encouragement.

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We were excited to visit The Christian Chronicle and Oklahoma Christian University for the first time. While in Bangkok, we were honored to be visited by Erik of the Chronicle who wrote a beautiful piece about us and Somprasong working with refugees. It was neat catching up with Erik on our visit. We’re thankful for all he does sharing about how God is at work in this world. While on the OC campus we were able to attend the missions chapel where our friend from Japan, Joel was speaking that day. It was surprising and funny to run into him here in the states! Ran into these girls at OC! It was crazy to see them all grown up! They were all just little kids when Michelle lived in Okinawa, Japan.

Dallas

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Spent a couple days in the Dallas area. We got to enjoy a delicious Thai meal in Denton with several Thailand friends! We’ve been missing good Thai food since being back. It was especially cool seeing our friend and old co-worker P’Rung! In Dallas, we were also able to visit with some old friends of ours, Gary’s childhood best friend and Michelle’s AIM teammate. We haven’t seen them in several years and it was crazy to see them again and now as parents. One afternoon we spent an encouraging time with Missions Resource Network (MRN). It was great catching up with them and to share about what’s going on in Thailand and what our dreams are for Bangkok. They’re a really awesome group and we love what they’re doing to help churches and missionaries all around the world!

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11In Abilene we were so excited to catch up with several of our ACU interns from the past 2 years. It was awesome to see both of the teams together. Being back together with them was like being with family! We were also honored to stay with Larry and Pam Henderson (who were long time missionaries in Bangkok and worked with Somprasong 4 church of Christ several years ago). We loved hearing stories about their time in Thailand. The ACU campus has a lot of veteran Thai missionaries and missionary kids. It was neat running into several of them. While on campus, we set up our table of Thai handcrafted items to sell to help with some of our funding. It was a fun way to get people excited about Thailand and to share our passion for missions with the students.

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To see more pictures from our Texas & Oklahoma Trip click here.

Mission Bangkok

Preparing for Our Visit to the States

Preparing for the States

Our last few months in Thailand were especially crazy as we were preparing for our visit to the States. It wasn’t easy moving out of the apartment we’ve called home for the past two years. We were busy closing accounts, transitioning out of our ministries, handing over responsibilities, in meetings, sending e-mails galore, making video calls to the States, working on future plans, saying goodbyes, (for a little while) …oh yeah AND packing! All of this, in preparation for our Stateside service. 

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Our Last Weekend With Somprasong 4

During our last weekend with Somprasong before heading back to the States the youth threw us a big surprise farewell party. They decked out the room in our favorite colors and even made us SUPER special t-shirts and a sweet video for us! We can’t even begin to tell you how loved we felt!

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Then, on very little sleep, we had our last Sunday! Gary preached, and in his sermon, looked back on all that God has done over the past two years and how we need to continue to dream big for the Kingdom. Throughout the day many shared stories of our times together, their love and thanks. It made us realize that God has been at work in more ways than we ever even thought. With all that we’ve had going on, it was an encouraging and energizing boost in the middle of all of our craziness! We’ve loved working with Somprasong and we’ve missed our church family in Thailand a lot since we’ve been away!

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Two Years in Thailand

We’ve been in Thailand for two years this week! It’s crazy to think about all that has happened in just these two years! The time has completely flown by. We’ve loved being a part of the ministry here and are thankful to have seen God at work in so many big ways during our time in Thailand. We are excited to share that, after a lot of thought and prayer, we’ve decided to return to Bangkok to do church planting in a different part of the city! Over these past two years we’ve seen many open doors and opportunities to expand the Kingdom in this city and we really believe that this is where God wants us. We’ll be returning to the States this December to spend the holidays with our families. And after that we will spend time visiting with supporters and churches and are hoping that we can return back to Thailand by the spring of 2016.

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We had another long and busy summer. This was our second year mentoring another Worldwide Witness team from ACU. They came to join us in our ministries here in Bangkok and to help with a medical mission in Loei, a small village in northeastern Thailand. The girls were a joy to work with and a great  blessing to our work, the church and especially to us! They did a great job pouring themselves out into the ministry here and we’re so proud of them and all that they’ve conquered through Christ during their time in Thailand! We have lots of pictures posted from the summer. Check out these albums to get a glimpse of what our summer was like together:

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This past Sunday we had two take on Christ in baptism! Both Anil and Kashif had been a part of Bible studies that we’ve had in the past but had not yet been convicted to be baptized themselves until recently. Anil had studied with one of our American members of the church named Mark. And Kashif studied with Bhee over the past couple of weeks. We’ve known both Kashif, Anil and their families for a long time now and are happy that they made the decision to be baptized!

Excited for Kashif!

Excited for Kashif!

During the summer we were asked to take a more active role again helping at the Citylight Coffee shop since they are currently understaffed. We’re excited to be helping with this ministry. We’ve really enjoyed the time that we’ve had to spend with the baristas there and look forward to getting to know them more. Those that know us know that we love coffee, and it’s awesome that we get to be a part of something that combines our passion of coffee and service to others into one! Please keep us and this ministry in your prayers.

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Survey Trip to Japan

Last week we got back from our survey trip to Japan! We had a great trip and were spoiled by the cool Fall weather. With Japan being one of the most unreached Asian nations in the 10/40 window, and with the Japanese people being the second largest unreached people group in the world, the nation of Japan has long been on our hearts as a possible destination for future church planting.  

In Shinsaibashi, one of the most popular areas of Tokyo.

Shinsaibashi is one of the most popular areas of Tokyo.

See more pictures from our trip here: Japan Pictures Part 1 and Japan Pictures Part 2

Over our trip we were able to visit a few different cities. We wanted to see what ways God is currently at work among the people of Japan and what kind of possibilities God might have in store for us there in the future. Achieving this goal was not an easy task especially on a short time table so on our trip we tried to visit with local church leaders and to visit areas of Japan where church planting could be a possibility.  

The Japanese rail system is the most advanced in the world and made our trip a whole lot easier!

The Japanese rail system is the most advanced in the world and made our trip a whole lot easier!

After a one night stay in Tokyo (the nation’s capital) we jumped on a train to Mito (Ibaraki Prefecture). The stretch between Tokyo and Ibaraki has been nicknamed the Bible Belt of Japan since it is where there is the highest concentration of congregations. The number of churches is still very small, but with the church there being strong, it was a great place to go visit with local leaders.

Fun at the park in Mito!

Fun at the park in Mito!

We were able to spend some time with members of the Mito Church of Christ. They have a vibrant group of young people there. The church does outreach towards the Ibaraki Christian University and the Saturday night when we arrived they had a big bonfire on the beach. It was fun meeting people and enjoying the cool weather by the fire. We even got to enjoy some S’mores! On Sunday we were encouraged by our time with the church. We spent time in the afternoon hanging out with a few Christians at a park and enjoying the lovely day together! Later that night we went out to coffee with Joel Osborne who has been a missionary in Japan for 12 years now. We were able to pick his brain about all things missions and Christian in Japan. We’re super thankful for the time he gave us, and are excited about all that they are doing in Mito.

Coffee with Joel.

Coffee with Joel.

Leaving Mito, we hopped back on the train to travel to another small town in the same prefecture called Tsuchuria to visit with Bryan and Minako Snow. Brian and Minako are both old friends of Gary’s that he first met during his AIM training in Lubbock in 2004. Minako went to school at Ibaraki Christian and became a Christian during her time there. Over the past several years Minako has been our primary contact as we’ve been researching Japan. It was great being able to spend time with them. Their kids were super cute and while we were there Minako made an some amazing traditional local Japanese food for us! We loved our little visit with their sweet family!

Enjoyed visiting the Snows in their home.

Enjoyed visiting with the Snows in their home.

Our next stop was Kyoto! Being the historical and cultural center of Japan, things in Kyoto are much slower and more traditional than in Tokyo. We loved experiencing it’s rich culture and taking in all of the beauty there. It was Interesting visiting the temples in Kyoto and seeing the differences between the Japanese Buddhism (Zen / Shinto) and Thai (Theravada) Buddhism. We noticed how much less religious and ceremonial the Japanese were in their worship than the Thai Buddhist.

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The final leg of our trip was spent in the Osaka area. We’ve been most curious about this region of Japan since it’s said that the people there are more laid back and open to new ideas and change than in the east. The people of Osaka have a long history of going against the grain of Tokyo and even speak their own Kansai dialect.

Todaiji Temple in Nara.

Todaiji Temple in Nara.

We spent a couple of days in the suburb of Nara. We had a really hard time finding hotels in Osaka since that weekend there were two home games of the much beloved Osaka Tigers baseball team. So while there we ended up staying at an Airbnb bed-and-breakfast run by two American twin sisters who grew up in Japan. We really saw it, in the long run, as God’s leading since we had such great time in the Nara region and with these cool sisters at their cute mountain home.

With our hosts Johnna and Reylia!

With our hosts Johnna and Reylia!

We really enjoyed the time we had with the church in Osaka on Sunday. The church we met with has been an active part of the clean up efforts in Ishinomaki from the 2011 tsunami. We’ve followed their efforts from that time and have prayed many times for their work with the Japanese people. It was great to finally meet some of their group! On Monday we began our very long journey back to Bangkok. We had a 61/2 hour flight from Japan to Malaysia and then an overnight layover in the airport in KL for 71/2 hours. Then continuing on another 2 hours to Bangkok. Upon landing we were immediately greeted by Bangkok’s infamous heat, traffic and crowds of people. It’s strange to think how big Bangkok still seemed after having been in Tokyo the largest city in the world.

With the church in Osaka.

With the church in Osaka.

Please continue to keep our ministries here in Thailand in your prayers and our future in missions as well. Over the next year we will be developing our next steps for church planting here in Asia. Pray that God gives us wisdom and discernment as we consider our long term field location for church planting. It’s heavy on our hearts right now, but we’re excited about how God will use us to further His kingdom in Asia!

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Merry Christmas From Thailand

 

We have so much to be thankful for as we look back on our year. Even though we miss all of our family and friends back home, we feel so blessed to be able to serve here in Bangkok, and to have so much support and encouragement in what we’re doing from all of you. Thank you everyone for your constant prayers and support. We look forward to seeing what things God has prepared for us in 2014! Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Year!

The Year 2556?

I found out earlier that today is one of the most important Buddhist holidays, known in Thailand as Visakha Bucha (วิสาขบูชา). Celebrated all across Asia as a major holiday, Visakha Bucha marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha. Making it the Buddhist equivalent to our Christmas and Easter rolled up into one. It’s crazy to think how fundamentally different much of the world is from what we are used to in the West. For example; Christians often proudly boast how all of the world marks time by the birth and death of Jesus with B.C.(Before Christ) and A.D.(Anno Domini which is Latin for “year of our Lord”) making this the year 2013. But did you know that in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and Laos this is the year 2556?! They consider this the Buddhist Era (B.E.) and mark their dating system by the complete Nirvana of Buddha. Even though it could be said that the US is now a post-Christian nation, the influences of Christianity still run deep within the history of our country and much of the Western world.

Prayer incense used in worship. (Photo by Thibaud Saintin)

Prayer incense used in worship. (Photo by Thibaud Saintin)

It makes you realize how different of a “world” others still live in today, despite the fact that it is actually the very same world technically. It’s also a reminder of how great a need there is for the gospel of Christ to be proclaimed. When I lived in Thailand as an apprentice missionary before, many of the people I talked to had never even heard of Jesus! Paul said in Ephesians 2:17, “When [Christ] came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” No matter how “far away” some in this world may seem, Christ’s message of peace is for all and no one is beyond His reach (Acts 17:27, Isaiah 59:1). What a privilege it is as disciples to continue to spread this good news both near and far as we live out our lives for Him!

Click here to see more pictures of Visakha Bucha. 

 

By Gary 

 

Bangkok Bash

Last week, we had the Bangkok Bash benefit concert in town! It was a concert to help us raise special funds and at the same time offer something fun for our community. Our good friend and landlord Amanda Macer had the desire to do something special to help us with our support raising. So after a bit of brainstorming with Amanda and some of our friends from the Chamber of Commerce in town, we came up with the idea to do a benefit concert. The Bangkok Bash was held in Amanda’s photography studio that Michelle decorated with lanterns and Asian themed art that she made for the event. It’s because of all of help from our community (especially Amanda) that the event was such a success and awesome night!

Here we are with our good friend Amanda, we couldn’t have done it without all her help!

Five different local artist volunteered their time to play. They were all a little different in their musical style, and did such a great job! We were really looking forward to hearing Daniel, one of our first teens from the youth group, play at the Bangkok Bash. He’s now a college student at Belmont University studying music in Nashville. It was a blast getting to hear all of the talented local artist and definitely something special for our little town!

Daniel Roosevelt at the Bangkok Bash

We had a professional auctioneer volunteer to help with the live dessert auction, which several friends volunteer their talents by making yummy and amazing desserts for the auction. The auctioneer was hilarious and added a lot of fun and energy to the night!

We served authentic Bangkok street food like Moo Ping (Thai pork skewers), and Khao Phad (fried rice) and had Thai inspired dessert shooters that Amanda made. Everyone just loved all the food and many asked for recipes afterwards! 

Everyone loved the Moo Ping!

We also sold our “I Pray for Bangkok” t-shirts at the Bangkok Bash. We decided to sell the “I Pray for Bangkok” t-shirts to help us raise funds for things that we will be needing for Thailand that we didn’t want to include in our budget. Things like a laptop (the one that we use now is Gary’s work computer and belongs to the church) and a camera. Selling the t-shirts is way that we can use some of the “tent making” talents that God has blessed us with (like art and graphic design) to raise some of our own support for Thailand. The shirts have been a big hit and we’ve sold most of them! 

I Pray for Bangkok t-shirts on display

There was a great turnout for the Bangkok Bash! Many from our church here in Mt. Carmel came out for the night and some of Michelle’s family drove up from Kentucky to be a part of it. From the night, we were able to raise $1700! Click here to see more pictures from the Bangkok Bash. We feel very blessed to have such good friends in our lives here who helped us organize the event and who came out to support us with our missions efforts!

Tulsa Workshop

We’re in the middle of our support raising process and have been busy contacting and visiting churches. Support raising, like many things in life, can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. We currently have almost half of our $3,800 monthly goal raised and have raised all of our one time support, but we are still looking for a sponsoring church. This has set us back on our time frame and are now hoping to be in Thailand by the beginning of July.

We’ve been able to speak at a few congregations in person and have talked with a large number of people on the phone and through e-mail. In all,  we’ve been in touch with churches across the country in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

In mid March we went to the Tulsa Soulwinning Workshop (click here to see more pictures from our trip). Tulsa is a special place to us. We first met in Tulsa while Gary was doing a summer internship with the Memorial Drive church. While in Tulsa we were able to see a lot of great friends and mentors of ours who are involved in missions and ministry. We also got to hear some encouraging and challenging lessons from Francis Chan! It was also our first time to see our nephew Monroe in person! He was just one month old and really cute!

Fancis Chan speaking at the Tulsa Workshop

This was a special year at Tulsa for the Adventures in Missions program. Since this is AIM’s 40th year anniversary they invited alumni to be a part of their flag presentation. We both were able to carry the flags of the fields that we went to as AIMers (Thailand and Japan). The presentation happened right before Francis Chan spoke so the stadium was packed! It was powerful experience to be a part of along side our AIM alumni friends.

AIMers modeling our new “I Pray for Bangkok” t-shirts

While in Tulsa we also had a really encouraging talk with Jay Jarboe. Jay was one of our missions instructors in AIM and Sunset International Bible Institute. Jay now works with Missions Resource Network (MRN), an organization that helps Churches of Christ plant strong congregations around the world by equipping churches and missionaries. We’re thankful for Jay’s help and guidance, he is a great mentor to us in life and ministry.

We’re also thankful to have so many missional churches in our network and mission minded friends. They have been a huge help to us during our support raising! Our support raising has been encouraging in many ways. Just knowing that so many love and care about us and what we’re striving to do in the Kingdom is a huge encouragement!

With our friend Michelle who works with Women for Eastern European Missions

We’re still far from reaching our monthly support goal. If you’re interested in getting more information on our financial needs and how to help you can go to our contact us tab (here) to let us know. You can even make a direct donation through Paypal right from our site. Keep us in your prayers with our support raising, and as we seek to partner with a sponsoring church.