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.

ACU Group Pic

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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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.

The Holidays

We’ve been running nonstop since the holidays! The holiday season in Thailand is a long one. Starting in early December with the King of Thailand’s birthday going off and on into mid February ending with Chinese New Year. Since we’ve been in Thailand for almost a year and a half now, being away from our families over Christmas and New Years was a bit harder this year. But it was a great time to connect with our friends and loved ones here. Our holiday season this year was an especially busy time for us as we took part in back to back ministry opportunities. 

B.U.R. Christmas

1456074_742476299159813_7702115125230074854_nClick here or on the image above to see more pictures. 

This Christmas we wanted to do something special for the disadvantaged families here in Bangkok that we know. We were able to get special donations to help us purchase items to give out for Christmas to several families. We went shopping for everything, then on a Wednesday night after our devo, we put together gift bags to distribute to 16 families. We filled the bags with toys, Christmas treats and toiletry items. Then on Christmas week a group from our church went to their homes, caroled and passed out the bags to each of the families. In one building alone we know 10 families so while we visited them, we had a small devotional together and played a couple of games with the kids. Our visit was a big encouragement and surprise to them! So thankful to those who helped make this opportunity possible! 

Christmas at a Bangkok Elementary School 

10985274_772700369470739_386592122965306611_nClick here or on the image above to see more pictures from the Holidays. 

On Christmas day we met up with the rest of the church staff at 6:30 am to go visit a local elementary school to go take part in their Christmas program. We were pretty shocked that a Thai public school would make any plans for Christmas since so few Thais celebrate it. So you could imagine our surprise as we pulled into the school parking lot to see the entire school decked-out in red and white with each kid in the school yard looking like a little Santa. After Glome and Sam led the kids in a game, Gary told them the origin of Christmas and read the birth of Christ from the book of Matthew. It was a neat thing to be a part of! 

Somprasong New Year Party

1-Holidays Web Post PhotosClick here or on the image above to see more pictures from the New Year Party. 

In Thailand New Years is more widely celebrated than Christmas so each year the church throws a big New Years’ party. Michelle was in charge of decorating again this year. Bangkok is a such a huge place that you can normally count on it having anything you want, but whether or not you know where to find what you’re looking for is totally a different story. This is definitely the case when it comes to decorations and craft supplies. With there being no Thai equivalent to Hobby Lobby the best place to go shopping for crafts and holiday decor is Chinatown. The two of us and one of our good friends Lynne spent a a chunk of our day running around Chinatown looking for the items that we needed for the party. Just getting to and from Chinatown is a crazy ordeal especially during holiday time! To get there we walked a couple of blocks, took a canal boat, then a taxi. Since it was late in the afternoon by the time we were done shopping, the traffic in the area was too bad to take a taxi the whole way back so we walked to the riverside to catch a ferry boat, then took the sky train which stops a short walk away from the church building. Getting around is aways an adventure in itself in Bangkok! We always have to have a plan A, B and C for getting to and fro! The young adult group at church were a big help in getting things decorated and everything turned out great! That Sunday at the party we had a big turnout and everything was a lot of fun! It’s always a blast spending the day in fellowship with our church family here!

New Years in Maejantai

10885608_749656495108460_1956439102694823627_nClick here or on the image above to see more pictures from our time in the hill tribe. 

After Sunday’s party, early the next morning we hit the road to head up to the north of Thailand to celebrate the New Year. We were invited to join a group of coffee enthusiast led by the owners of Gallery Drip cafe in Bangkok to visit the Maejantai hill tribe in the Chiang Rai mountains. The Maejantai village is an Akha hill tribe community much like the Borseelium village that we did our Service Learning Project with last summer. Several years ago the people of Maejantai greatly improved the way they grow and process coffee with the help of Lee Ayu, the founder of Akha Ama Coffee, who grew up in Maejantai himself. Because of these improvements the Maejantai coffee is now considered a specialty grade coffee and is sold in specialty coffee shops across Thailand. Since the coffee is now sold direct trade (no middle man to take all of the profits) the village now receives a fair wage which helps improve the quality of life for the whole community.

Photo Credit to Kate Seehanate

Photo Credit to Kate Seehanate

We really enjoyed learning more about direct trade coffee here in Thailand and how it’s processed. It was awesome getting to spend more time with our coffee friends from Bangkok. It was a great way to ring in the New Year! To learn more about the Akha Ama Coffee check out their website at www.akhaama.com. 

Valentine’s Day and English Club

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With the holiday break being over, we started up English Club again. We did a Valentine’s Day and relationships themed class. We handed out Valentines’ cards to our students and in returned they covered us with little heart stickers which is a Thai tradition on Valentine’s Day. It was great to be back with our students again!

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Our church has been trying to be more intentional in our evangelism and outreach efforts. As a part of this, Gary made new business card sized gospel tracks for the members of our church to give out to those that they have a spiritual conversations with. With it being the season of love, the cards say, “What is Love?” and then explains how the Bible says that God Himself is the ultimate example of true love. And how He sent His Son to this world so we can come to know what true love really is. The cards also have a QR Code that, when scanned with a smart phone, links you to instal the YouVersion free Bible app. We hope that this tool is a helpful way to encourage others to boldly share Christ’s message with others in their lives. 

 

Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai

Recently, the Buddhist holiday Loy Krathong was celebrated all across South East Asia. Loy Krathong takes place on the full moon of the 12th month according to the Thai lunar calendar. The holiday is normally celebrated by releasing floating lanterns made of out of flowers and leaves with candles and incense into a river. To the Buddhist worshipper the lanterns symbolize prayers offered to the river goddess Pra Mae Khrong, and are seen as a way to earn merit in order to achieve salvation and be released from the cycle of life. 

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In Chiang Mai, the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, the Loy Krathong coincides with the holiday Yi Peng. Yi Peng is also celebrated on the full moon day but rather than using floating lanterns released in water, the people of the north release Kom Loy (flying lanterns) into the sky. We’re thankful that this year we were able to see the grand celebration. Seeing hundreds of lanterns released up into the night sky was truly beautiful. As we saw each lantern in the sky and floating in the water offered as prayers to their perspective gods and Buddha, we offered up prayers as well to our God who is Lord over all.

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 “You alone are Yahweh. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and the heavenly host worships You.” (Nehemiah 9:6)

 We were also able to spend time visiting with some old friends and making new ones in Chiang Mai. We always enjoy being able to spend time visiting with our friend Bay when we’re in town. Bay is a graduate of the South Pacific Bible School (SPBS) in New Zealand and owns a well known coffee shop there. We love his missional heart and passion as he uses his coffee shop as a way to create community among his customers. We also had a great time going out to lunch and coffee with Ginny who works with Joma Bakery and Coffee. Joma is a Christian fair trade cafe that has locations in several South East Asian countries. Joma is all about improving peoples lives through social innovation and engagement. We love hearing stories about places like Joma and Bay’s Cafe, and how they use what they’ve been gifted with to bless their local communities. 

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We were invited to join the Chung Doi Church of Christ for a small weekend camping in the mountains. Our friend O (who is the most recent Thai graduate from SPBS) organized the event and did a great job!  We ended up making an adventurous 10 mile round trip hike up to the peak of  Doi Khun Tan mountain. It was nice to be able to get away from the city and enjoy Thailand’s natural beauty. We had a great time being able to visit with the Chung Doi church. Their love for one another and spiritual maturity was such an encouragement.

Mountain Top Group Pic

Back in Bangkok we’ve been having great turnouts to English Club at Suan Dusit University since we started in late September! We were shocked at our first class with the huge turnout of 60 students. Doubling our largest classes from the year before. We’ve had a blast teaching these energetic Freshman and look forward to getting to know them more as the year continues.  

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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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Our First Year in Thailand!

This month marks the one year anniversary of our arrival in Thailand! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been here for an entire year! We’re so thankful for all that we’ve been able to be apart of and for all of the great relationships that we’ve been able to form during this time. Here are some thoughts from Michelle looking back on the year.

Things that I experienced for the first time over the year:  

  • Living in a city of over 15 million people.
  • Visiting Thai temples and seeing the many ways that Buddhist worship to make merit.
  • Eating a bug.
  • Visiting Malaysia and Cambodia.
  • Seeing and feeding wild monkeys.
  • Riding an elephant through the Thai jungle.
  • Getting a leach after a long hike up a mountain.
  • Bathing with bugs, centipedes, geckos and frogs.
  • Bathing with freezing cold water out of a bucket.
  • Learning how to use the handheld bidet (a.k.a. butt hose).   
  • Learning how to flush the squatty potty.
  • Teaching a class of students English as a second language.
  • Eating Pakistani food.
  • Going out to bars and ministering to prostitutes and strippers. 
  • Getting stuck in downtown Pattaya in a storm with half of the city flooded. 

Things that have become a normal part of life over the past year:

  • Riding a tuk tuk (3 wheeled vehicle used in SE Asia).
  • Mosquito zapping (with an electrified racket).  
  • Using squatty potties.
  • Pouring sweat the second we step out the door.
  • Constantly haggling for a good price with taxis, tuk tuk drivers and shop keepers.
  • Visiting with refugees and hearing their stories.
  • Seeing extremely deformed and impoverished beggars almost every time I go out my door.
  • Living 37/38 floors high.
  • Forming relationships with our local street vendors, our condo employees, local coffee shop baristas and market employees
  • Dealing with visas every 3 months.
  • Showering 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Taking shoes off when I come home or go to someone else’s home.
  • When leaving home, always carrying an umbrella because come rain or shine I’ll most likely be using it. (We use umbrellas here on sunny days to keep our lovely white skin.)
  • Wearing tank-tops and short-sleeves, shorts and flip flops year round. Forget about boots and a coat, it’s hot here!
  • Getting stared at whenever I go out.
  • People commenting me on my looks almost every time we go out. Thank goodness, they think I’m “suay” (beautiful). I’ve heard many foreigners get comments about being fat!
  • Waiing others (traditional bow and greeting).
  • Smiling a lot and saying “Sawadee ka/krub” (hello).
  • Converting baht to $ in my head or vise-versa .
  • The sounds of geckos.
  • Worshiping every week with people from all over the world. (Thailand, England, Pakistan, Philippines, China, America, etc)
  • Getting around without a car. Relying on my own 2 legs, the BTS (skytrain), taxis, tuk tuks, song taews (truck with seating in the back), buses, canal boats, etc.
  • Always pushed to get out of my comfort zone.
  • Getting up in the mornings or staying up late in the evenings to talk to family via Google chat, Skype or FaceTime.
  • Seeing taxi drivers publicly relieving themselves in brood daylight. 
  • Seeing my niece and nephews growing up through Facebook.
  • Missing family during holidays, birthdays and special times when our family gets together.
  • Being pursued by the tuk tuk drivers, massage parlors and shop owners.
  • Throwing my toilet paper in the trash can and not the commode.
  • Eating out, picking up something or ordering in instead of cooking.
  • Experiencing Thai politics with all of the parades, grenades, shootings, camping out, closing down huge areas of the city, military coup, etc.
  • Standing for the King’s song before a movie.
  • Seeing huge pictures of the King and Queen everywhere.
  • Eating (not always the cleanest) street food.
  • Hearing whistles from the protest

      Written by Michelle Ford 

 

Mentoring ACU Interns & Discipleship

Much of our time over the past two months has been focused on mentoring four young women from Abilene Christian University. Shelly, Laura, Amy and Marina came to Thailand through ACU’s Worldwide Witness program. We originally thought that the ACU students would only be in Thailand for a few weeks to help with our English Camp and the Service Learning Project. We believe strongly in programs like AIM, Worldwide Witness, and similar programs from the other universities apart of our church of Christ heritage. And feel that there are few programs that do as well of a job equipping young people today. Knowing that one day we wanted to host interns and apprentice missionaries, we prayerfully accepted the responsibility and saw this as God way of saying the time to start is apparently now. Ten weeks later, with our summer together now over, we feel so blessed by the whole experience.

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“On to our next adventure!”

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:19-20

The girls arrived in pairs on two different days. The first pair came the day that martial law was declared. The second pair came the day the military coup was declared! Welcome to Thailand girls! They really hit the ground running when they first arrived. Only two days after coming we headed off to Cha Am for our English Camp weekend. We were also joined by a team from the Aggies for Christ Student ministries. We spent a long weekend on the beach with about 30 students from the Suan Dusit University’s Nursing faculty. The English camp was a great opportunity to have fun and build relationships with our students while at the same time giving them greater opportunity to practice their conversational English skills. After English camp we only had a few short days to spend in Bangkok where the girls could get settled in (a little) while we and the Soi 4 ministry team finished up final preparations for the Service Learning Project. Somewhere in the middle of that we made a border run to Cambodia and took the ACU team along with us to see the famous “Monkey Mountain”.

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Having fun at “monkey mountain”! Click on the image to see more pictures.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

-1 Corinthians 11:1

After the Service Learning Project we were able to spend more time with the students showing them various ministries in Bangkok that we know of and are a part of. We wanted to expose them to different types of ministries, so that they could see the different ways they themselves could do ministry in the future. One of our major goals with our interns was to teach them about discipleship. Discipleship happens best living on mission in community together. Because of this we did a lot as a group to provide opportunity for us to grow while serving together. Our weekly outreaches were key times for such learning. Like teaching them about Bangkok’s urban refugee situation and taking them with us to visit some of our refugee friends from Pakistan in their homes. And rather than just talking about helping the forgotten and feeding the homeless, we took our interns alongside us to show simple acts of love to the homeless and beggars together. This is what discipleship is. Taking others along side you as you personally strive to follow the example of Christ.

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The girls loved spending time with this sweet Pakistani family!

“If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

-Luke 9:23

Throughout the summer, once a week, we would have a team devotional with the girls where we went through the BASIC series by Francis Chan. This seven part series is a great discipleship tool that goes over the basics of what it means to be a disciple and how as a community of disciples we make up the church. We always loved these times with the team where we could get real with one another about where we are in our own personal walks with Christ. In these times we would ask the group how they’re doing. How is life? What’s been hard? How much are you missing home? It was really neat seeing the four of them, really the six of us, grow together over the 8-10 weeks that they were here.  

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We can hardly believe that our summer together has already come to an end! We had a long and busy summer but will always treasure our time hosting this ACU team. We’re so proud of them and all of the ways that they stretched themselves and allowed God to work through them here in Thailand. They were a blessing to many and to us most of all. We definitely believe that it was by the Spirit’s leading that the Worldwide Witness team was sent here. We continue to pray for them as they’re now returning to school in Abilene. We pray that their adventures continues as they live out the Good Life of Christ among their friends, classmates and community.