Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lahu Christian Camp

Last week, April 8th-13th, Thomas & I travelled to a Lahu Training Center outside of Chiang Dao to help with the Lahu Christian Camp. We didn't really know what to expect, but it was pretty similar to a church camp at home.
The first day was the arrival day for everyone. After checking in & settling in, there was dinner served in the evening followed by a worship service.
The first half of the week they were burning across the road from camp
The building to the right were sleeping rooms & under the tent were classes & worship services
 The rest of the week had the same schedule each day. The "wake up" bell rang at 5:30 every morning. There was a short worship service at 6:00  & then the teenagers would break up into small groups & have devotion time. Thomas taught during the adult devotion time each morning.

One group during devotion time
 After devotion time, breakfast was served. During the day, the adults would attend classes in the church building, teenagers would attend class & have activities, and the little kids would have activities. Something unexpected for me was that the teacher for the teenagers was Linda, who is the wife of Jim who went with Stephen, Thomas, & I to Burma last year. I didn't know Linda & Jim would be at camp all week, so it was really great to meet Linda & to see Jim again. There was also a group from Korea who helped with the camp all week. They brought a lot of fun things for the kids & performed special music at worship service each night.

Linda teaching the teenagers
Group of little kids
 Each afternoon, I taught a health education class to the teenagers & adults. Mai translated into Thai for me & she did a great job! I had the opportunity to talk to Mai about health education & gave her some materials to use in the future.

Me & Mai
 Besides doing the adult devotional each morning, Thomas also taught one of the adult classes on one afternoon. Bundit translated for Thomas.

Thomas & Bundit
 After classes were finished each day, there were soccer & volleyball tournaments going on all week. They were really fun to watch!

Soccer field
Volleyball court
 After supper every evening, there was a worship service. A man from Malaysia preached every night. It was really neat because throughout the week, there were people from 7 different countries all in one place with one thing in common - worshipping God! Very awesome! (The 7 countries were Thailand, Laos, Burma, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, & America.)

There were two little kids that would randomly come up to Thomas & me throughout the week. The little girl would just appear & sit beside me for the longest time each day. She wouldn't speak to me, but when I asked her questions in Thai, she would nod her head "yes" or shake her head "no". The little boy who became Thomas's friend was very ornery! He would say things to us all week & we thought we just didn't understand him and he wouldn't answer us when we would ask him questions. We found out the last day that he didn't speak Thai, only Lahu!

 On the last full day of camp, there were thirteen kids that were baptized! We all, adults, teenagers, and kids, walked a bit down the road from camp to a small creek. While the teens were baptized, the adults were singing hymns in Lahu. This reminded me of my first mission trip to Thailand when one of our team members was baptized & the Lahu people gathered around singing hymns.

This week at camp was really a great week! It was a good opportunity to share the gifts God has given me in teaching the health education class. It was awesome to see the Lahu church at work & their love for God and just to have the opportunity to worship God with brothers & sisters from 7 different countries! It was also really special because the camp was held just outside of the village Nong Kio, the village I stayed in on my very first mission trip to Thailand in 2009. That is when I first met Mai & Bundit. It was neat to have my last "work" trip before I leave Thailand in the same place and with the same people that I first met here three and a half years ago.

Thomas, Bundit, Mai, Me
 The end of this week was the Thai New Year called Songkran. It is basically a big water fight! This was our view most of the two hour drive home - people all along the sides of the roads throwing water on anyone who passed by.

English Class Family Dinner

For awhile, I've been wanting to have a dinner at Stephen & Mary's for the kids that come to English class on Saturday mornings and their parents. I thought it would be a good way to meet the parents & get to know them & for them to know me as well. On Friday, April 5th, we finally had the dinner. There were 16 kids that came & around that many parents that came when they got off work for the day.
Girls arriving for dinner
Boys playing soccer while they're waiting
  We had "mugata", otherwise known as Korean barbecue. There are pots set up that you burn charcoal in & a metal pan that sits over the top that you boil water & vegetables around the sides & grill meat on the top. It's a very fun meal!

Charcoal pots & mats set up & ready

Kids eating - girls around one pot & boys around another

Some parents have arrived

 This meal always reminds me of making s'mores at home, but s'more ingredients are hard to come by here in Thailand - marshmallows are pretty expensive & I still haven't seen graham crackers anywhere. There is a candy here that is marshmallow on the outside & chocolate in the middle, so we bought these for dessert & showed the kids how to roast marshmallows. They really enjoyed it!

We got some group pictures while everyone was here as well.

Thomas & I with the kids

All of the kids with their parents
The night was really fun! I wasn't able to get to know all of the parents, but talked to several. They all were smiling a lot & I could tell were really enjoying themselves. I was glad to be able to have this dinner & meet so many of the parents & just have a fun night with the kids.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Catch-up Post

Hi to those of you who still check in with my blog!

Sorry for the long pause in posting! Since my one year update, I've travelled to Burma for a week of health education teaching, spent time in the States with my family & friends over the holidays, and returned to Thailand. (If you get my monthly newsletter, you know more about my Burma trip & visit home. If you don't get my monthly newsletter and would like to, leave me a comment with your e-mail address & I'll add you to my mailing list. :) )

I'm going to attempt to catch you up on my last two months here in Thailand with some updates through pictures I've taken. Writing this post made me realize I need to take more pictures of my day-to-day activities.

Shortly after I returned to Thailand, my friend Kellee turned 30 & her daughter, Kora, turned 1! We celebrated Kora's birthday with a trip to the zoo & dinner. It was a fun day!

For those who haven't heard about Kellee & her family yet, I met Kellee at a Women's Retreat in Chiang Mai that I went to in September. She's the first really good friend from the States that I've made here. She, and her family, were definitely a big answer to prayer when I needed it most. She's been a great friend & support to me in the things I go through here. Her kids, Kees & Kora, have filled my baby/kid-fix that I miss from working with the NICU babies & seeing Jaxin all the time. Her husband, Doug, was a huge help as I was moving into & furnishing a new-to-me house when I returned in January. They all are a huge blessing!

Me, Kees, Kellee, & Kora at the zoo
Doug & Kellee love sushi, so I tried it with them. It's not my favorite, but not too bad.
(The green things on top, which I thought were for decoration, are actually fish eggs! And yes, I ate them!)
About 10 days after returning to Thailand, I had to leave the country again to get a new visa. My student visa was expiring & I needed to get a new type of visa. I needed to travel to Laos for this visa run. Kellee offered to go with me so I wouldn't have to travel by myself. She & Doug had just made this trip in November & she knew what to do. (See what I mean about her being a HUGE blessing!) We left on her 30th birthday, so we made it a combination trip of visa run/Girls' Trip/30th Birthday celebration. The trip went so smoothly that it was evident God's hand was in it the whole time!

Kellee & Me celebrating turning in my visa paperwork & her birthday at Pizza Company for lunch in Laos
 As I mentioned above, I moved into a new-to-me house when I returned to Thailand. (The lease on my previous apartment was up when I went back to the States in November.) It was about two and a half weeks after I returned to Thailand that the house was finally ready (after a few challenges!). It's been good since then.

There is definitely more "wildlife" to deal with here in Thailand than in the States. In my last apartment, there was a huge lizard that would come & go in my kitchen. In this house, I've just had the occassional regular-size lizard inside the house, stray cats that fight in the yard at all hours of the night, & just this past weekend, a snake hanging from a tree eating a lizard!

Front of my new house
 The first week of February, Doug's Mom visited their family & they stayed at a hotel just outside of town. Kellee invited me to stay for a few days. It was a much-needed, relaxing few days! It's fun to be able to be a tourist again in the city you live in. We relaxed by the pool most of the time, but also went into the city to a Khantoke dinner (a Thai dinner & culture show).

View from the top pool at the hotel

Outside at the Khantoke dinner
 I'm also back to teaching the English class on Saturday mornings. There's been around 10 kids each week. I can tell that they're English language is slowly, but surely coming along!

I've also started teaching an English class on Monday & Friday evenings. These students come to the church after spending the day in school. The time starts with everyone gathered together & singing children's worship songs in English. Then, they whole group breaks into five smaller groups based on age & ability. I help teach the 8 & 9 year olds with another Thai teacher, Neen. It's been a good experience getting to know other kids & continuing to use my Thai as I get to know the other teachers.

Kids singing songs

Me teaching 8 & 9 year old class
Those are the highlights of my past couple months!

The weekday English class is taking a break until May because it is the Thai summer break here. Because of this break from teaching, I have most of my time to devote to writing some health education materials that I will be leaving here in Thailand. I'm hoping to train at least one person to be able to teach & then pass on the material to others.

I'll try to be better about taking more pictures & more regularly updating my blog with what's going on each week here in Thailand. (The internet connection at my house isn't strong enough to upload pictures & update my blog, thus why I haven't posted yet. I came into the city today & am writing this at a coffee shop. This might have to be a weekly thing. :) )

Thanks for keeping up with me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

One Year

(The October newsletter I sent out was a bit different than my previous months' updates. I wanted to reflect back on my first year here. Most of you that read my blog probably receive my newsletter as well, but I wanted to put this out there for those who don't receive my newsletter. Also, sorry for the lack of posting on this blog...the internet connection here hasn't been working well with trying to upload pictures & update with pictures. I'll try to do better from here on out. :) )

I can’t believe my first year in Thailand has come & gone! WOW! I know I say it every month, but the time really has gone by fast. 

Each month I have given you stories & a look into what my life here is like. For this newsletter, I want to reflect on the past year & tell you what it has been like for me, personally. 

To say it has been a year of learning and growth is an understatement – I can’t quite put into words just how much I have learned and grown from my time here. I can probably best compare it to infanthood & childhood. When you are born, you come into this world knowing nothing. You first learn who your family is – who you can depend on to get you through each day. Over time, you learn how to crawl and then walk. You coo, then babble, and finally talk.

My time here has mirrored that – I left all that I knew, my family & friends, my job, the culture I grew up in and started over here knowing nothing. I’ve had to find & build a support system. I’ve had to learn my way around a new city & try to do that riding a motorcycle on the left side of the road! I’ve had to learn a new culture & language that some that have lived here five plus years still can’t fully communicate in.
I haven’t had to do it alone, though – God has been with me every step of the way. One thing I have learned is how to fully depend on God. The experience that sticks out most in having to fully depend on Him in this first year is when I had to have surgery. I clearly remember being wheeled into the operating room & knowing that at that moment, all I had was God & that He was enough. I didn’t have my family by my side to help me get through surgery & recovery, but I had God and because of Him, I made it. 

One other learning and growth process that I’m going through has come from being away from everything & everyone I’ve known and been surrounded by my whole life. This has really given me an opportunity to reflect on who I am – both the good & the bad. We are shaped as we grow up in both positive and negative ways. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve been able to look at who I am, why I am that way, & if that is in line with who God says I am. This has not been an easy or pleasant experience, but one I am very grateful to have and to be going through. I’m still learning & growing in this area and know that it will continue in my second year here and on after that.

Above all, this year has brought me so much closer to God.

Shortly before I came here, God gave me a passion for studying His word & knowing His truths. I’ve had the time here to devote to studying & learning. I’ve had more time to just spend being with Him. 

More than anything, I just want you all to know that it’s because of Him I am on this journey. All praise & glory should be given to Him for anything that results from it.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature & complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-5

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3,4

Monday, May 21, 2012

Like a Child

Another lesson I learned came to me when I was exercising one day. (I know - such a random time!)

Right in the middle of my work out, this verse popped into my head:

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
(Spoken by Jesus & can be found in Matthew 18:3)

In the past, I've heard this verse many times, mostly in talking about approaching God as a child - pure and innocent. This time, however, I got to thinking about children - how they behave, things they do & say. (Now, I don't have kids, so I'm not going to say I'm the expert on this, but I have been around small kids in one situation or another all of my life, so I've picked up on a few things.)

The first thing I thought about is that kids, especially really young kids, are very inquisitive & are always asking "why". I don't think they are constantly asking "why" just to annoy whoever it is they are with at the moment. They're asking "why" because they want to know something new; they want to learn, and asking "why" is how they learn & how they grow.

So, how does this apply to approaching God as a child? We, like children, should be constantly asking "why", seeking to know more & to learn more. As a child goes to their parent, we should go to God, our Father, to learn more by spending time in His word and by just spending time with Him.

Following this thought of the constant "why", I thought, sometimes after the 500th "why" of the day, the only answer left is "because." ("Because" is sometimes followed by "I'm the mom/dad & I said so.") From a child's perspective (because I'm not a parent), "because" can be frustrating! You just want to know an answer. 

Why is "because" from a parent acceptable? Because that parent loves you unconditionally & only ever wants what is best for you. They aren't saying "because" just because they can or to hurt or frustrate you. They are saying it because they don't want you to get hurt & only want good things for you. (This lesson may have taken me so long to learn because I'm still a child & not yet a parent!)

So, what happens when, as children sometimes do, we hear "because" from Father God? We need to know that "because" is good enough. Why? Because, even more than our parents do, God loves us unconditionally. He only wants good for us. He's not out to get us or to see how much we can put up with. He has a plan for each one of us & knows what is to come. That is why "because" is good enough.

When you're only hearing "because", know that it's all you need to hear at that moment because God loves you & is always with you. It's enough.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


In coming to Thailand, I knew & was anticipating that God would teach me many lessons - lessons on myself, lessons on Him, lessons on others. I didn't know that I would learn so many lessons so quickly in the short time that I have been here. It makes me excited to see how much He will continue to teach me and the ways I will continue to stretch & grow in the rest of my time here.

I've been writing these lessons down for myself mostly because I have a horrible memory, but also because I wanted to be able to look back someday on my time here & remember how far God has brought me - not just physically in the distance from home to here, but in my relationship with Him and in becoming the woman He's created me to be.

A few weeks ago as I was thinking of all of these lessons I've already learned, God spoke to me & basically said to me (my paraphrase), "These lessons aren't just for you to learn. Yes, I'm giving them to you to learn & to grow from, but I want you to pass these on so that others can learn from them & grow."

Here's how the conversation followed (again, my paraphrase):

Me: (per usual when God wants me to do something out of my comfort zone) "Really?!? I can't do that."

God: "No, you can't; but I can & I'll help you. (per His usual :) )

Me: "Well, how am I supposed to share these lessons? I can't talk to everyone! And besides, You know how much I love talking (sarcasm)."

God: "Remember that thing called your blog? Write them there."

Me: "Well, no one will want to read them."
God: "Let them decide that. You just put it out there."

So, here's me putting it out there. From now on, when I've learned something that I think God wants me to share with others, it will show up here. (A lot of what I'm learning has been really personal, so it may or may not show up on here.)

I'm not very good with putting big, fancy words together & making it into some eloquent statement that makes sense like a lot of blogs I read. I'm not going to start trying that now. I'm just going to be real, to be me, & to try to make what I'm learning make sense to others as I put it out there. (I was going to write "put it down on paper", but this clearly isn't paper & I don't know what this is called. :) )
I think one of the reasons God brought me here was time - to give me more time & to learn how to better spend the time I'm given. Because of having more time, I've spent more time in His word, more time to talking to Him, & more time studying and reading some other helpful books. So, I've learned these lessons in different ways - books I've read, Bible studies & devotionals I've done, & from God in time spent with Him.

Here are a couple lessons I've already learned & re-learned (I'm not perfect, I tend to need to learn something a few times for it to stick):

* Shortly after I got here, I finished a book that I'd started at home called "Captivating" by John & Stasi Eldredge. (It was REALLY good!) When I picked it up to finish reading it, the first thing I read jumped out at me. It said "He (God) often takes us aside from every other source of comfort so that He alone can have our heart's attention." He had definitely taken me aside from every comfort source & now definitely had my attention! This is when I really knew that I would be learning A LOT of lessons.

* God is big & mighty & everywhere! This is what you learn in Sunday School & hear repeatedly growing up in the church, but in coming here, I now know it. This truth, God being everywhere, is His omnipresence. (This may be the only big word you ever read on my blog, it just means "present in all places at all times", and yes, I did have to google it to find the definition to describe it to you. :) ) Knowing that God is omnipresent has given me a lot of peace & comfort. There are so many ways I've learned this truth here. I know that when tough things are going on at home that I wish I could be there for, God is there. He can do so much more in that situation than I would ever be able to if I were there. And just because He's there, or here, doesn't mean He's in the other place less. As much as I've needed Him here, He's been there that much for everyone back home. This is probably turning into rambling because it's such a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around, but I know it is true & amazing!

So, there's just a couple lessons to start with. I already have two more lessons learned that God has put on my heart to write here, but you'll have to wait for those. :)
I'm looking forward to what God will teach us & where He will lead us if we let Him!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What do you do?

What do you do...

...when God puts something on your heart?

What do you do...

...when that something is so strong it literally makes your heart hurt & takes your breath away just thinking about it?

What do you do...

...when you feel so strongly about this something, but you don't know why exactly God has put it on your heart or even what you're supposed to do with it?

For me, this something is orphans.

God first gave me this heart for oprhans when I worked in the NICU. When we had a baby come in that had been placed for adoption, if it had been a possibility, I would have taken each one home.

Lately, God has specifically placed on my heart orphans with Down syndrome. I came across this site, Reese's Rainbow (, a short while ago & haven't stopped thinking about it since. They are a ministry that helps raise funds for families to adopt children with Down syndrome & other special needs.

The other night I was looking through the website & my heart was breaking for these kids. I was sobbing. This is the part where all of my questions started - what do I do now?

Though I don't know yet why God has placed this on my heart - and in such a way that it literally hurts - I do know that I'm not supposed to just let it be.

So, what can I do in the waiting time?

I can pray. I can pray every day for these kids that God would provide for them what they need each day, that He would provide each one with a forever family, and that each child will know His love every day.

And, I can tell you about it. Tell you so that you, too, can join me in praying for these kids who are waiting for a family. Pray for these families wanting to adopt them. If you have a few minutes, visit the website.