Welcome to PlaaPlaaPlaa!

So you may be wondering why PlaaPlaaPlaa? What are those strange fish symbols above? What is ปลา and what does it mean? In short, this is a blog site, so surely there's going to be plenty of rambling. Unfortunately BlahBlahBlah was already taken, so I had to settle for the 'Plaa'. But there's actually more to it then just ramblings. The first fish symbol is actually a Christian symbol meaning ICTHUS - a greek acronymn which means "Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Saviour". The other strange letters you see in the last fish is actually the thai word for fish which funnily enough is pronounced "Plaa". So when you put it all together, this site is going to be my ramblings in telling people about how Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Saviour in Thailand (with plenty of good stories about food in between). Happy reading.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Fun In Thailand

As mentioned in the previous post, here's a quick video of how Thai's have fun with karaoke. I reckon the DPC team were having just as much fun and if it wasn't for the fact that the song was in Thai, they would've been doing more then just being backup dancers. Mind you, i know that DPC team members have managed to find the Ice Saranyu CD (cd that this song is from), so next time, they'll be singing along for sure!

singing... 'jat jaa daa daa jat jaa daa daa daa......'

video

Happy New Year

Thai's are a cack! i love their sense of fun, their humour, their games. It fully cracks me up.

The day started with going to church at Grace Church which i've now learnt that the thai name is คริสตจักรพระคุณ (which i'm sure means nothing to most of you but is pronounced chrisijak pra kun). I was really excited to go for a number of reasons, firstly i'd get to see some of the orphanage kids who go there, 2 my brother in law John was preaching today and thirdly, i'd get to test out how my thai is actually going. God was very kind in allowing all the songs that were sung today to be ones that were 'slow' so i actually had a chance of following the words of the song on the screen. Then John preached on Philippians. i decided at the outset declined the use of the headphones that would give me the translation of the sermon. i reckon i understood about 5-10% of the words he said. Not bad i reckon considering i haven't started Thai school just yet. Anyway, see how i go in future weeks.





Tonight we went to an early New Years Party at one of Denise & John's friends place. It was heaps of fun. We had a cook it yourself 'Muu GaTar' dinner (like korean BBQ), played heaps of games with the kids - like pin the tail on the Charng (Elephant), too many ballon games, food and flour games. It was hilarious! Makes me look forward to making my own friends and learning more thai so that i can actually communicate more. It really is frustrating not being able to say more then hello, do you want some food, i'm here to learn Thai this year, it tastes nice and it's funny. I'll get better in time, i know.

I have been really thankful for some cool thai friends in Korat who i've been msn'ing with everyday. They've been really helpful and patient in helping me read and write in Thai. It definitely makes learning to read and write a lot more fun. Only really major blunders - calling my sister a ghost (i wrote ผี instead of พี่ - can you spot the difference?) and accidentally telling someone to 'Get lost!' instead of saying they 'got lost'.

In an attempt to embarrass some of my new Thai friends and old Aussie friends, i was wanting to share a quick video of our last night in Korat with our friends from Suebsiri Church doing karaoke and the DPC team as the backup dancers. However technology isn't being too co-operative at the moment, so i'll post that another time when i can get it to work.

For those praying:
- thank God for great Thai friends who have been helping me with my Thai and offering help in finding accommodation and transport
- pray for chats this week with Ratree & Niphon who are one set of parents at the orphanage who i hope to help. For wisdom in how i can best be helping them
- that things will go smoothly this Wednesday when i go to school and try to sort out my visa and start classes
- thank God for so many people (and new friends) who have been such a huge encouragement to me in support through prayer, practical means and heaps of other things
- pray that many more Thai's will come to know God

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Short Term Mission ends

After a hectic 2 1/2 weeks, the DPC short term mission (STM) has drawn to and end and the team has left and reality is now starting to sink in. The STM overall was awesome. It was such a privilege to be able to meet, work with and get to know Thai christians who have such a huge heart to serve God in all that they do. How they have such a huge desire to see youth in schools and on the street come to know Christ and how they are people who do not just talk about big dreams and visions for God, but are people who also get in there and do the hard yards with God's help and strength to make it happen. I've been so challenged and encouraged by their way of life and willingness to serve God in whatever ways they can. I know many of the team were also encouraged and challenged by their passion and servant heart. Overall, it's been a great 3 weeks of getting a better grasp on the language (still a LONG way to go), and understanding of the culture and to see glimpses of the ways that God is at work over here.

Here's a short video on the highlights from the STM team of our time here in Thailand
video

Here's also a few words from Tong, one of the guys that we were working with in Korat.
video

After a teary farewell of the team at the airport on Sunday, the reality of my new life for the next year is starting to sink in. i'm really excited about the idea that language classes could start as early as next week (have to wait til school comes back from their 2 week Christmas holiday to find that out), also new opportunities continue to arise eg in teaching in schools - not sure if i'll do it yet tho - and even possibly helping teach the orphanage kids kids some music), plus building on relationships with Thai's here and the opportunities to get to know new ones. As i look around, it seems that possibilities are endless, i feel like time and energy will be my biggest enemy.

For those that are praying:
- Pray for wisdom in what opportunities i pursue
- Thank God for safety so far and all the things i have learnt and been challenged by
- Pray for the ability to learn language quickly and thank God for great Thai friends who have already been so helpful in teaching me so much already.
- Thank God for so many great things and especially that today we were able to celebrate Christmas and remember the amazing gift that God has given us in sending His son into the world to save us.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Suebsiri Church

Suebsiri Church is one of the churches that the team got to work with in our time here at Korat. It's a 'small' church (by aussie standards) which has a bunch of great brothers and sisters in Christ who have a huge love for God and willingness to want others to come to be a part of God's family. The SEA (South East Asian) Game played here in Korat last week i think turned what seemed to be an initial disaster in teaching in schools into a real blessing, as it allowed us to spend heaps of time with some of the keen youth group kids like Peace, Proud, Shem and Bang who were able to come along and join us as we taught english camps. It meant that we could really get to build some great relationships with the church people. One of the major highlights was going caroling with the church last friday night - who knew you could go singing in the street in front of someones house (and all the neighbours for that matter) at 12.30am! it was a real blast (apart from having to sing Jingle Bells for the 50millionth time).

But one of the big highlights for me in the past few days was being able to help Suebsiri church make a video (which they don't yet know about) which they will use next sunday for their Christmas service to help the church introduce the idea of Christmas and the greatest gift that any of us could ever receive. They've NEVER had any multimedia done for them before, so it was kinda interesting trying to work out what to do and how to do it, not to mention what the response will be to it. Plus having to try and edit in Thai and make the cuts was rather amusing, even with Tong's help. But i think it worked well all up given our major time constraints and lack of direction. It's been really cool having the chance to work a bit with Tong and to hear the vision he has for reaching non christian youth in Korat. It's such an encouragement to see how hard he does work in wanting to serve God and the way he wants to be relevant and engaging with those he has such a heart and passion for. This video was actually his idea after he caught a glimpse of the team video i edited up last weekend. I know you're not going to understand any of this (apart from 1 aussie guy's comments), but i wanted to share with you some stuff that i hope will be helpful to the church. (Tong is the 1st guy you'll see in the video).
video
PS - i was majorly excited to discover that i could incorporate Thai fonts into Live Type! Very COOL!!

For those praying:
- pray for Suebsiri Church, that the christians there will grown in their love and knowledge of God and for their outreach and eagerness for so many others to also know God
- pray for Tong as he leads the youth and that he will continue to love and serve God in all he does
- pray for the youth group kids, that they will build a firm foundation on Christ and grown in their love and knowledge of God

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our first week in Khorat

It just occurred to a few of us last night that we only have 1 more week left of our short term mission trip with the team. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, and it's after realisations like that that i'm really glad that i'm staying on for the year. Once again, i'm just starting to feel like i'm getting more of a handle on the language and being able to form even better relationships with some of the Thai people here and i'm having soooooo much fun it almost doesn't seem quite right that moving countries can be quite this easy. Of course i need to remember that right now isn't quite reality with the team around and all the organised activities we're doing, but hey, at least it's a great way to start.

So I finally got round to making a short summary video of just a couple things that we've been up to while in Khorat - in going to church and teaching at one of the schools. you can check it out here. video

We've also done heaps of other stuff too which i couldn't include in the last vid - going to other schools, visiting a world vision project, going caroling at night with members of the Suebsiri church til 1am (i think we probably went to about 10 houses to sing carols, pray for the families at the houses and eat lots of food!!), we've visited Pi Mai - an old ruins place, we've managed to have a day off, ange and i gatecrashed the music rehearsal from the church and had a great jam session with the music team, we almost got to see some of the SEA games tacraw semi finals - until officials realised after they had announced the 2 teams playing that 3 teams in fact had finished on equal points so they were trying to work out who should get to play. So we ended up sitting around for 2 1/2 hrs learning Thai cheers, participating in 'Mexican Waves', eating a variety of 'surprise' foods and chatting with one of the teachers from the english camp who we happened to bump into (which was really cool!). It's been awesome so far!

Today, we're heading to church and then i'm going to attempt to help Tong (one of the Thai guys we've been working with here) try and make a video for his church christmas service next week. He's hoping to use the video to introduce the talk on getting people think about what the greatest gift we can ever receive is - leading into the fact that Jesus is the best gift we could receive. Due to the time constraints of making the video, i figured doing a vox pop would be easiest and quickest - only i know somehow it's going to take longer then usual since i'm not going to be able to understand what the respondents are going to say, so editing could be..... well, interesting. Might be a great way to learn thai tho :) hehe

For those who are praying:
- thank God for a great trip so far and the ways that God has been opening doors for the local thai churches here in Korat
- for the great relationships i've been able to form with Thai people here so far
- for the thai christians here - for their amazing love and trust of God, and that they'll continue to grow in their knowledge, love and understanding of God
- for the millions of other Thai's who don't yet know God, that they will

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Heart 1032 Radio Interview

So i finally worked out a way to upload multimedia files to this blog (From my dodgy connection here in Korat). So here's the Heart 1032 interview from the 5th December

video

i've also got myself a Thai mobile phone, so if you feel the need to call/sms me, you can contact me on +66 8 9848 0896

Only thing left to do now is work out how to send emails.... :)

We're all heading off to a Thai church this morning, then having an interchurch sports afternoon where we'll be able to try out all sorts of Thai sports which should be really fun. Then Monday and Tuesday are the big days with our English camp.

For those praying, please pray for the students and teachers that we meet at this camp, that they will have hearts that are ready to hear and understand what Christmas is about and that we'll be able to explain it clearly with the limited language that we have

Friday, December 7, 2007

Safe and Sound

Despite the random thoughts at times of 'what have i done?', 'i can't believe i'm actually left', i have now arrived safe and sound in Thailand and so far, it's been awesome (well all 2 days of it). It really was nice to be able to fly out with a team of friends from church and start my time here with them. So far, there haven't been any regrets. I guess you can't do a huge amount in 2 days but as a summary - we've done a lot of travel, a lot of eating, checking out Khorat and going to the opening ceremony of the SEA games. I'll try and post up a few photos of the opening ceremony soon.

i was hoping to post up a copy of a radio interview i did on Heart 103.2 just before i left Sydney (i know some of you have already heard it - thanks for your messages), but the internet here doesn't seem to like me uploading videos, so i'll have to post that later. All going well, i'll be touching based with Aaron throughout '08 with updates on how things are going over here, so stay tuned to 103.2 if you're in Sydney.

for those who are praying:
- thank God for safe travels so far
- pray for the team as we share the true meaning of Christmas and for doors to open for the thai christians we're working with to share the gospel with them in a way they can understand
- thank god for the awesome opportunity we have to be here to share his great news

PS - for some reason, my Oz mobile number isn't working over here now (so if you've sent a message in the past couple days i haven't and won't get it for a LONG time). I'll let you know my new mobile number as soon as i get around to getting it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'm off....

It's hard to believe that in just 6 hours, i'm going to be getting into a taxi to head off to the airport to start the next 'chapter' in my life. So why i'm updating my blog right now and not sleeping, i'm not really sure. maybe it's just cos i'm too excited about heading off. :)




Every day for the past week, i've had a great chance to catch up with family and friends (here are some pics from my ultimate self portait album - check it out on my profile if your on Facebook). Thanks so much to you all for all your love, support and encouragement as i head off. it's such a huge blessing to know that i have a great support network who are partnering with me as i head off to Thailand. God has indeed taken great care of me thus far through you all, and i really give thanks for all he has given to me. So after a what feels like one of the longest weeks of saying goodbye, i'm so ready to head off.

First stop - Korat with the Drummoyne Pressie short term mission team. Korat is supposedly the 3rd largest city in Thailand (which is substantially smaller then Chiang Mai). We'll be there for about 2 1/2 weeks where we'll be doing a host of things, from running english camps, teaching at schools, helping local Thai Christians and churches, helping to various forms of evangelism (not quite sure how that works just yet seeing as most of us can't really speak thai just yet), helping thai christians build good relationships with schools in the hope they can go in to teach scripture, and predominately sharing with Thai's what the true meaning of Christmas really is. If you want to find out a bit more about the trip and the team going, you can check out the DPC team blog. I'm sure this will get updated pretty regularly in case i don't get to update my blog as regularly while we're there.

For those who are praying, it would be great to pray for the team as we go:
- for unity in the team
- that we will be effective and helpful to the Thai Christians that we work with
- that we will be able to effectively share with Thai's what the true meaning of Christmas is about
- for safe travels for the team

next post - from thialand :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Making Headlines


Who would've thought that me heading to Thailand would make headlines? But I guess by the lack of paparazzi following me, it didn't make huge waves :) haha If you want to check out the article, click on the image above.

Monday, November 26, 2007

God is GOOD!



Well, the count down (or should i say in Thai-english - 'cow-dow') is well and truly on. With only 9 sleeps to go, i have now officially finished work, have had my commissioning service at church last night and all that i can think that is left to do is get my visa, say bye to family and friends, pack some bags and go to the airport. Too easy :)

In the past few weeks, as i have been catching up with friends and sharing all the ways that this whole trip has come together, i can't help but be in awe of how good God really is. Time and time again, i've experienced how God is so in control of all things and how gracious he has been to me to make this transition to Thailand such an 'easy' one. As mentioned in the last post, from the ways that he has provided the financial support i require and a great bunch of supporters back home, as well as continuing to provide ministry opportunities in Thailand, and that's before i've even made it over there. But what i've really appreciated of late is how he has made the leaving of Sydney as easy as possible. Unlike most missionaries as they head off, i will not have to say goodbye to all my friends and family at the airport and then be in tears, all alone, as i go through customs, sit on a plane for 9 hrs and arrive in a strange new country. Instead, i get to fly out with 15 fellow team mates from my church and embark a 3 week mission trip in Thailand. By pure coincidence, my parents are also on the same flight as us over to Thailand too (they're not coming on the mission trip, they're just visiting my sister), so it's not even like i'm leaving them behind either. It's more like i get to see them off at the other end. And the best part about flying out with all my friends and family is that i'm not restricted to 25kg of luggage. if i'm severely overweight with my luggage, then i have plenty of people to distribute that weight between (heaps cheaper then shipping stuff over) :) hehe. Then i get to 'ease' into the Thai culture for 3 weeks with a bunch of friends, before they finally leave me behind in the care of my sister. Surely it doesn't get any 'easier' then that when starting out on an overseas mission!

Then the question of what am i going to do with my car for the year while i'm away? Well, God again came up with a perfect solution which is just awesome. i've got a friend who is taking a year off work to go to Bible college next year. Unfortunately (or should i say fortunately) she has a company car, which means she has to give it back for the year she's not working. Put our two 'dilemma's' together and there is God's perfect solution.

So my conclusion in the matter: 'God is Good!' But even if things weren't falling into place as they have been, i still know that God is good! One thing i haven't shared about is how i have been really challenged by God's amazing grace through a sermon series we've just finished at church where we looked at 5 different aspects of God's grace. A couple of the big things i've been challenged by is how much God does in fact love us and want for us to be in relationship with him despite our total depravity. And how much of an honour and privilege it is for us to be taking part in His work in sharing the good news of how Jesus has come to pay the penalty we deserve for rebelling against God. Surely that demonstrates more then just goodness!

After i left work for the last time last friday, i suddenly realised that i am now officially unemployed. A very weird feeling for me. But I was kindly reminded by a friend that technically, i'm not actually 'unemployed', i'm just working for God. I'm just not sure how i write that on the visa application. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random Thoughts

Over the past couple of weeks a number of amazing things have happened which i've wanted to share with you all, but unfortunately i've lacked the time in doing so. So here's a quick mish mash of things that have happened recently.

1. i finished my first christian book in a long time - and this one didn't even take 7 years! (check out my video on why i'm going to Thailand if you want that to make more sense). it actually only took me most of this year :) hehe The Unheeded Christ is a collection of sermons by David Cook on the book of Matthew, which was really appropriate at the time i started reading it as we were doing a sermon series on Matthew at church. But the timing and message by the end was also really appropriate as it finished with Matt 28 and the 'great commission' with the challenge to be going out and making disciples. There was the challenge to be going out to every nation with the gospel so that God may call his disciples. A great encouragement indeed for me to be reassured once again of why i'm going. (If you get a chance to read it, i'd recommend it - and it's an 'easy' read too, it just lacks pictures :) hehe)

2. God's constant provision in providing all of our needs. There are have been so many ways that i've seen this in action of late - from a new replacement at work, to so many friends and family partnering with me as i head off next year, to God providing the finances that i require to be in Thailand next year through many of you as generous supporters. i've been so humbled, overwhelmed and awed at God's goodness and timing. I think i've said it before, but the more i let go of trying to be in control, the more i see the amazing things that God can do, and this journey so far has been just that. and i haven't even left yet! (keep reading to point 4 for today's 'out of the blue' story)

3. I've also been really challenged by the urgency of people needing to get into a relationships with God. i guess this really hit home a couple weeks ago when a young 17 year old boy committed suicide outside our work. In amongst a whole lot of emotions, it really made me think how many people are out there who feel they have nothing to live for, that life is SO bad that the only solution is to take it, rather then know that they can have true life in God and that the problems of this world really are only temporary. What if this kid knew God? how would that have changed things? i don't know the answer to that, but the short of it is, we need to be taking every opportunity we get, cos we never know if it will be our last.

4. Another 'Godincidence' occurred just today. As part of my work over the years at TVS/Anglican Media has been on the Auslan Bible project (the Bible in sign language). This week I sent an email out to all the people i've had worked with over the years to let them know that i will be moving on and i got a reply from a guy who i worked with on this project in Australia to hear that he is currently in Chiang Mai where there is talk of doing a similar project in Thai. Sounds like my details have already been passed on - so who knows what will come of this one. i'll keep you posted once i get there and find out what the story is. But God truly is amazing in how he orchestrates things to happen and people to be in the 'right' place at the 'right' time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Days are Numbered

Whilst it's really exciting that there's just over 3 weeks to go before i leave for Thailand (and i REALLY can't wait to get there!), a couple weeks ago, i had a bit of a reality check where i realised that i can now count on just one hand the number of church services and Bible studies that i'm left to attend where i'll actually be able to fully understand and be challenged by the message that i hear. Not only that, as i've been catching up with friends over the past few weeks, i've also come to realise that i'm also going to miss having the opportunity to be meeting with and having great discussions with like minded Christians. At one stage i thought that maybe it would mean that i might pick up on my reading of Christian books, but on second thought, i'm not so sold on that idea. i think i'll just have to download lots of talks on mp3 from the DPC and SydneyAnglicans websites :)

So, while i am away, please do keep me updated on things that you're learning and are challenged by, and please be asking me what i'm learning and challenged by from God's word. i think it will be easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of learning a new language, meeting new people and settling in so that i don't 'have time' for Bible reading, so it'd be great to be kept accountable challenged by you guys.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Farewell Picnic 1st December



If you're free on the 1st December, please do come and drop by Brett Park in Drummoyne. It would be great to see you at least one more time before i head off to Thailand. I'll be there from 10am-2pm (or probably later). Snackage will be provided, but if you want to eat more 'substantial' food, please byo. If it's raining, we'll head up to Drummoyne Presbyterian Church. Hope to see you there

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Business Opportunities, Christian TV, more relationships

And the list goes on with the possible opportunities of what i can be doing in Thailand. For this next installment, i though i'd share about Boonchu, CBN Siam and other Thai friends.

Boonchu & her husband are a disabled couple that Denise and John have been working closely with in the past year. They are a non christian couple who have their own business in making painting thai designs onto various wooden articles, however because of their disabilities, they have never been given a 'fair go' by society. Boonchu is unable to walk and in a wheelchair, and her husband only has 1 arm. Unfortunately in Thailand, the perception is that if people are physically disabled, they are also mentally disabled, so these guys, while really able in many senses of the word, are just never given a chance. Denise & John have been working hard to help them be able to start their own shop. There are lots of possible opportunities to be helping them with their new shop with regards to fitouts, merchandising and displays, marketing and promotion as well as teaching them english so they can help serve english speaking tourist who come into their shop.

It's a great opportunity to be a part of their lives and start building relationships with them. Already, it's really exciting to hear how through Denise & John's relationship with them and helping them, Boonchu & her husband have expressed an interest to come to church. There are also some great opportunities to build relationships with Boonchu's sister who is also a single girl about my age. A new opportunity that i'm really excited about.

CBN Siam
One of the most ‘out of the blue’ opportunity that fell into my lap was on the second last day that I was in Thailand last July. I met a girl called Gao who works for CBN Siam – the Christian Broadcasting Network in Thailand. For those who don’t know I currently work at Anglican Media and part of what I do is video production and I’ve been involved in producing some of the TV programs that I do at. She was really keen to get me to go to her work and wanted to introduce me to her boss and all the guys involved in production over there.

I’ve got no idea what opportunities might lie in that, but who knows if there might be opportunities to help provide them with some content from TV shows we’ve produced in Sydney, or use some of the show ideas for over there. There might be really good opportunities to build relationships with the producers over there and by sharing with them some of the things that we do, sharing my life with them, help influence some of the content that they broadcast. I really don’t know. It might be that there’s nothing that comes of it. But in some ways, even though it’s not about me, it’s about God an his work, I’d like to think that lots of the skills that I’ve learnt over the past 5 years at Anglican Media would be able to come in useful over there too.

At the end of the day, i think it will be wishful thinking to think i can fit all these opportunities in, and i'm sure that there will be plenty more things that will emerge from the woodwork when i arrive. I think no matter what, there's plenty of work to be done there and things that i can be involved in. I'd really appreciate your prayers for wisdom in deciding what to do and how to spend my time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bethany House Orphanage and Church

For the second installment of what i'll be up to in Chiang Mai, i thought i'd share about the orphanage and church.

Bethany House Orphanage
Last year when our STM team went to Chiang Mai, we were lucky enough to go visit an orphanage called Bethany House for a couple days. It’s a small orphanage run by 2 sets of parents who take on about 10 girls each aged between 3-15yrs. Each of the orphans come from really tough backgrounds – of physical, sexual abuse, parents on drugs or both parents have committed suicide.

The thing that excites me about this orphanage is that it’s not just a place that looks after the physical needs of the kids – in providing food, shelter, education, but a place that also looks after the spiritual needs of the kids. The parents of this place are Christians who know that ultimately their greatest need of each of these kids is to know Jesus. they take them along to church each week, and they’re taught about God’s love for them. It’s exciting to see so many of the girls who have never known what it means to be loved, to come to understand God’s love for them. They’re shown love in a practical and spiritual way.

I’m looking at working with one set of parents of Bethany House called Ratree & Niphon. They already have 3 kids of their own, yet they have pretty much ‘adopted’ another 10 girls to care for. Not that I’m a parent, but I’ve seen how tough it is for those of you who have even 1 kid, let alone 3. Imagine if you had an extra 10 girls who have really special needs that you also had to look after and provide for – financially as well. Niphon, the husband works full time in order to help support the family and the girls, so it leave Ratree to basically be a mother to 13 kids – she has to do all the washing, cleaning, cooking, help with homework….you name it. You can imagine it’s pretty tough. I'm not 100% sure what i'll be doing with them yet, it could be anything from helping Ratree, to helping the kids with their studies, in particular english or other possible new business opportunities.

Just recently, they have moved location of their house which means that their rent has also had to increase. They are keen to look at starting some kind of business venture that i see can serve several needs:
a. To generate some additional income into the orphanage to help pay for the rent
b. Give some of the kids some work experience (as they need to leave the orphanage when they hit 15yrs old)
c. If successful, to possibly give some work opportunities for the kids who need to leave (as many don’t want to leave as it’s the only family they know and have).

Personally, i think it's a massive leap of faith for the orphanage to even think about pursuing a business opportunity, and from when i've spoken to them, they don't seem to be the most business minded people. I’m hoping that if it is something that they want to pursue, that any of the business knowledge and contacts that I’ve acquired over the past few years will come in handy so that I can help them make it a successful venture. It’s something that I’ll definitely be keeping you posted on.

Church

One of the things i will do is be involved in church in Thailand however i can. This will mean obviously going to church, but also being part of a bible study group and maybe even part of the music team and whatever else is going on. I realise that it's going to be interesting and probably very frustrating at first not being able to understand everything that's going on, but my hope is that by being a part of a bible study group and being involved, it might help me to improve my language quickly, but more importantly, i'll be able to build relationships with people from the church.

I'm not 100% sure which church i'll be going to yet. there are a couple options i'm thinking of - 1. Grace Church 2. Lana International Church. I honestly don't really know too much about Lana about at the moment as i've only visited it once. But it is the church that Buu works at so I'm keen to ate least visit a couple more times to get more of a feel for it, and hopefully meet more of the church members there. For those praying, it'd be great if you could be praying for wisdom in deciding which church to get involved in, and once i've done that, for opportunities for me to get involved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Building Relationships and Learning Thai

Many have asked me, 'so, what are you going to be doing next year when in Thailand?'

Well the short answer is, I'm not exactly sure.

Sounds crazy I know, but there's a perfectly good explanation for it.

For those who don't know, i was able to head over to Thailand in early July, initially a trip to meet my new nephew, but one i also used as a survey trip to check out opportunities for next year. At the time, there were 2 main opportunities that I was keen to check out – 1. helping out at an orphanage and 2. working with a team who work with Uni students.

But God obviously had other plans for me. Somehow I don’t think I’m going to be the average short termer who goes over and fits into an organised ministry.

Instead of going over to Chiang Mai to confirm 2 good opportunities, I came back with about 7-8 REALLY GOOD opportunities. It was like every day that I was there, I’d meet someone new, or catch up with someone and a new exciting opportunity would arise. The scary thing is that most of the opportunities are also really diverse – which to be perfectly honest makes it even more exciting for me. The only problem is that most of these opportunities are ones that i can't confirm until i get back there.

So in many ways, it feels like the question now is not 'what will I be doing', but more like 'what will I NOT be doing!'.

For starters, i'll be heading over on a student visa to learn Thai at the Cornerstone Language School so that i can start to communicate with Thai's in thai while i'm over there. I realise that ideally it'd be great to be able to learn language full time so that i can hopefully learn faster, but given my initial time restriction in being there, i'm going to be studying the minimum amount i need to get the visa (which is either a morning or arvo 3 days a week). it's my hope that i'll be able to use the rest of my time meeting and spending time with thai people and building relationships with them, so i'll be forced to learn how to speak thai and that i'll improve quickly by being thrown in the deep end. Besides, I actually see that as a bonus as it's a much more enjoyable way to learn a language then sitting in a classroom with a textbook.

I also want to be building relationships with Thai's - both christian and non-christian, in whatever way i can. I feel really blessed to have already met quite a few Thai's who i have already started building a relationship with. There is one good friend Buu who i met last December while our church short term team was in Khorat. She only became a christian a few years ago, but has such a big heart for wanting other Thai's to also come into a relationship with God. She just finished a year of 'Bible College' in Bangkok in April and has since been wanting to work in Christian ministry somewhere. Just recently she accepted a position to work at her church in Chiang Mai doing all things from pastoral care, looking after the youth group, leading worship and admin. I caught up with her when i was last in Chiang Mai when she had just started leading the youth group, and as we were talking she mentioned that she struggled to know how to make teaching the Bible relevant and 'fun' to the youth, and she also struggled knowing what to best teach them. One week she taught them why it was important to do praise and worship at church, the next she did a topical on boy girl relationships, then next week what it meant to love as christian brothers and sisters. i'm so encouraged by her enthusiasm and genuine desire to see others grow in their understanding of the Bible, but i also know that she too is a young christian who also has lots to learn and has never really been taught or modeled how to read the Bible. For me, i can see so many great opportunities to be doing just that and hopefully also be able to brain storm and develop ideas with her in how she can be teaching the Bible to her youth group, even work with her in writing studies.

However, obviously language is going to be a major barrier here. How can i be modeling how to teach the Bible if i can't do it in Thai? I know Buu's english is good, but it's not that good. How much more helpful would it be for her if it could be done in Thai?

Well, the awesome news is that God has got it all under control, cos my next hope is to be working with likeminded missionaries who are already over there and have the language, who are also keen to be producing Christian resources for Thai's. Resources that are actually useful and relevant for Thai christians, which reach them where they are at in their understanding of the Bible. The Dickson's are already doing some of that and are really keen to be producing more resources and there are some great opportunities to be working with them in doing so. There are also opportunities to be trialling these resources with our thai christian friends, and by doing so can not only model how to lead a bible study, but also start to teach them the processes in how to be reading the Bible for themselves with the hope that they can in the future learn how to also model it to those under their care.

It's seriously really exciting to think about the possibilities of what can be done in helping Thai's understand the Bible more. At the end of the day, that's what needs to happen if they are to grow in their understanding of God and not be reliant on missionaries.

For those who are praying, here are a few prayer points:
- for Buu, thank God for saving her and for giving her such a big heart for wanting to serve God in her life. For wisdom as she leads her youth group, that she'll be able to teach the Bible truthfully, faithfully and in a way that is applicable to her Youth Group
- for Thai Christians, that they will grown in their understanding of the Bible
- for missionaries who are in Thailand, that they will be teaching the Bible truthfully and faithfully
- for continued opportunities in sharing the Gospel to those who don't yet know God


There are still plenty of other opportunities i hope to be involved with next year, but i'll save that for the next post.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Finally, I can look forward to Thailand

Sorry for the couple weeks of silence. To say the last 3 months have been 'busy' i personally think is a bit of an understatement. Since visiting Thailand in July, it's been all systems go...until this weeked. The last of my 'big projects' was the Ignite film festival last weekend. For those who don't know what Ignite is, its a Christian short film festival (bit like a christian tropfest if that helps) that we (my work) started 4 years ago (you can check out details about it at www.ignite.tvs.net.au). Last Saturday was our awards night that was heaps of fun, but also quite a bit of work, which meant i was unfortunately unable to focus on doing any Thailand prep stuff for a bit. But now all that's changed. At last count I have just under 7 weeks before i head off.

While work will be steadily busy until i go, my hope is that from this week i'll be working 4 day weeks which will give me time to get back into language learning, continue to build relationships with Thai friends over in Thailand via email, get my medical checks done, get my visa sorted, start getting into gear for our church short term mission (which will kick off my trip), catch up with friends and family here and sort out lots of other odd bits and pieces that i know will come up. I know the next few weeks are going to fly by and before i know it, i'll be on the plane.

I promise that in the next few weeks i'll also update this blog to include more details of what i hope to be doing next year. Time has prevented me from being able to do so so far, so sorry for those who have been waiting for that.

For those of you who are praying, here are some prayer points i'd appreciate at the moment:
- that i'll be able to start getting back into language learning
- that i'll be able to get all my medicals sorted and that i won't have anything majoryly wrong with me that might prevent me from going
- for work, that they'll be able to find a replacement for me soon
- that i'll be able to spend time with God and in his word and grow in my knowledge of him

thanks guys.

As another quick plug for Ignite, here's a short clip i had to edit up that has a snapshot of every film entered into this years festival (all 49 of them).
video

Some of the films this year are seriously AWESOME! I'm even keen to see how i can use some of them in Thailand! If you're in ministry and looking for a dvd which has some really good bible based films, i'd recommend you get the Ignite DVD's (sorry for the plug but i wouldn't do it if i didn't believe in the product).

Monday, October 8, 2007

Miracles Happen

Ok, so this doesn't exactly have anything to do with me heading off to Thailand, but i thought i'd post it for some amusement value for you all, and as photographic evidence that miracles do happen. Here's a picture of me in a DRESS at my friends wedding on the weekend.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Info Night Highlights

Thanks so much to those who made it along to the info night last night. I hope that it was an informative and encouraging night for you in hearing about what some of my plans are for Thailand next year.

For those who weren't able to make it, here are a few of the highlights and a bit of a summary of the night.



Personally, i think one of the biggest highlights was the supper. Thanks Jen & Rosemary. You guys are THE BEST!!


The Night started with a video which i thought i'd share with you guys here. It's a short vox pop on 'Would you go on overseas on mission? (Sorry to embarrass a few of you, but i may as well if i can right?)

video

Funnily all those comments (apart from 'i get sick travelling') are all comments that i would've made if someone had stuck a video camera in my face even up to 9 months ago. So what changed? how did i go from being a supporter of OTHERS going, to going myself?

In short, i don't know. i think maybe God 'flicked a switch' or something in my head. i think of it more like someone who has heard the gospel dozens of times but didn't want to become a christian but one day they hear the same gospel, but it just completely changes their life. It's only because God's spirit works in us to change us. if you want to read more about how i decided to go, check out my post on 'so why go to thailand back' in august.

Then i showed another video on why i'm going to thailand.

video

From there i started talking....



and talking...



and talking...

about all the possible opportunities for next year. in the next few weeks, i'll put more detail into the the various opportunities on this blog but for now, here's a summary of what possible opportunities there are:

1. Study Thai part time (i'll actually be over there on a student visa)
2. Help out at Bethany House Orphanage
3. Possible opportunities to help disabled Thai people get established in business to help them get a better standing in life
4. Build relationships with Thai Christians, and help them grow in their understanding of the Bible so they can teach others
5. Work with Missionaries over there in producing relevant and useful christian resources for Thai's
6. Get involved at church - join HG, youth group, maybe music, whatever other opportunities there are at church
7. Building relationships with non christian Thai's and share my life with them
8. Possibly opportunities to do things with CBN Siam, the christian TV network in Thailand.

Craig (my minister) then said a few words on video about why he'd encourage you to partner with me and ways that you can be partnering with me. Here's what he had to say:

video

I also got to give out my prayer cards too.



I've got PLENTY of printed ones, so if you want me to send one out to you so you can stick it up on your fridge or behind your toilet door, send me an email with your postal address and i'll send one out. Or click on the following if you want to download the prayer card or supporters slip.

Darryl and Chez then prayed for us all

and there it is, the night in summary. Of course i had to finish the night with some kind of typical Dweb video, hope you enjoy...

video

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Maranatha

Maranatha is an aramaic work that basically means 'Our Lord, Come!'. (If you want to check out the full meaning of the aramaic word Maranatha, check out Wikipedia)

Yesterday at my Por Por's (grandmothers) funeral, the sense of wanting Jesus to come NOW couldn't have been stronger. In one sense, i just want so badly for the pain and hurt of this world to be no more. I can't wait for the day til there is a new heaven and a new earth, when there is no more crying, mouring or pain. But i know that that wish right now is for selfish reasons. However, even though it's something i want now, i also feel like i'm in 2 minds. Because at the same funeral, there were plenty of other family members and friends who don't yet know God, who i also don't want to even imagine an eternity without. So i find myself also thanking God for his patience in not coming in order to give people the opportunity to turn back to himself.

Death always reminds me that time is short. We can't afford to 'waste' time and need to make the most of every opportunity.

I thought i'd share a video i edited up on behalf of the 'cousins' as our tribute to our Por Por. I actually had a great time and many laughs reminiscing her life while editing this video for her funeral. Maybe my por por's quirks explain a lot about me :) Besides, i did say that this site would have some good food stories inbetween - my por por's KFC stories won't disappoint. check it out.

video

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reality Check

So often in all the busyness and excitement of doing something 'big' (like heading over to Thailand on mission), it's easy to get so carried away that you, in some ways, lose sight of reality. You're so busy working out what you're going to do in the upcoming year, organising your life and work so you can leave and socialising as much as you can to make up for your absence in the coming year. It's so easy to get excited about all the awesome things to come, that you're left on a massive emotional, physical and spiritual 'high'.

But there's nothing like a reality check to bring you back down to earth. You know what i mean, when people close to you have major (life threatening) medical issues, or when family relationships break down....or people you love pass away.

In the past 2 months, it now feels like for every really exciting and encouraging ministry breakthrough that i've experienced related to next year, i've had a reality check of equal or greater size to bring me back down to earth. With everything from my brother-in-law ending up in ICU and being resuscitated, to my best friend's life being turned upside down with family breakdowns, to just this last Tuesday, my grandmother (Por Por) unexpectedly passing away at age 86.

As much as i'd do ANYTHING right now to get my por por back, or to make my friends family relationships better, or my bro-in-law's health restored, i know it's a big reminder to me on a daily basis how fallen this world really is, and how much the world, our friends, and our family really need to know Jesus. Because it's only through Him that we can ever have the life that we were created for. To be with our maker in heaven where there will be no more crying, mourning or pain.

I've spent plenty of hours of late contemplating all the reality checks that have been thrown my way in the past couple months. Are they the work of Satan in trying to bring me down and make me question God and his faithfulness to me? Is he trying to stop me from heading over to Thailand next year? Or is it God testing me, moulding me, teaching me perseverance so i can be prepared for what's to come next year? Or maybe he's just trying to make me realise how fallen the world is and how urgently it needs to hear about Jesus?

At the end of the day, i don't know. What i do know is that for each of these things that has happened, i am reminded of the frailty of life, the falleness of this world, the urgency of telling those we love about the gospel. Who knows when our time will be up.

For those who are praying, i'd appreciate your prayers as i head over to NZ this week for the funeral. For opportunities to share Jesus with with family members who are not Christian. Pray that God will soften their hearts and that they will turn back to Him.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Coincidence or Godincidence?

Do you ever wonder if things that happen in life are just a coincidence or if there's actually something more? Just recently, i was introduced to a new word 'Godincidence'. Unlike a coincidence where it seems like luck drawing a random set of events together, a Godincidence is when God orchestrates everything to come together, even if they may seem like a random set of events at the time. Ok, so it's not a word that has yet made it to wikipedia, and i still need to refine the definition, but i'm sure you get the idea.

Since deciding to go to Thailand, i've been really blessed to have experienced more 'godincidences' then my mind could've ever imagined. I know that it's not just me being REALLY lucky in experiencing my lifetime quota of good luck just this year. How could i seriously think that it was JUST good luck? If God created the world and continues to sustain the world, why should i doubt that he could cause so many godincidences in my life?

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to write a 'thesis' on all the cool things that God has been doing (and i doubt you'd have the time to read it all anyway), so i thought i'd just mention a couple.

So, one of the things i'll do when i get to Thailand is learn Thai. Let's face it, if i want to communicate with Thai people, i'll have to. I can't expect that they'll all speak english with me. If that were the case, why even go?

So i decided that i'd try and learn as much thai as i could before i go over. But have you ever tried to learn another language from a textbook, or worse - a lonely planet guide? Trust me, it's not that easy. it's more like trying to decipher a really hard suduko puzzle, but without the solution published the next day. The thought had crossed my mind that it'd be great if i could find a Thai friend in Sydney who could help me, but apart from going to my local Thai restaurant LOTS of times to meet them and get to know them, i wasn't really liking my chances.

So, bring on a 'godincidence' and enter Ant, a thai girl who has moved to Sydney in May to study english. She's a friend of Tong, a guy that our short term team worked with in Thailand last year. I won't go into all the details on how we ended up meeting, but lets just say it's been great getting to know her and have her help me a bit with learning Thai. And in getting to know her, i've also had the opportunity to speak to her about God, take her to home group, church and have given her a thai/english bible which she has been really eager to read.

Another cool way that God has worked recently is through my new nephew, Sean, being born in Chiang Mai in June. Before knowing my plans for next year i'd already organised to go over to meet my new nephew and have a holiday with the family. What an awesome opportunity that was to not only hang out with the family, but to also use holiday as a bit of a survey trip. In my 10 days there, i was able to meet both old and new thai friends and be shown so many awesome ministry opportunities that i could be involved with next year. One of the most amazing 'random meets' was meeting a girl called Gao who works at CBN Siam (Christian Broadcasting Network). What were the chances of meeting someone who works in a similar industry to what i currently do here in Sydney? Coincidence or Godincidence?

Since deciding to go to Thailand, one thing i've found is that the more i let go of trying to control everything and the more i hand everything over to God, the more amazing things he shows me and the more 'godincidences' i seem to experience. i'd encourage you to really give God a go and let go of trying to be in control and let God really show you what he can do. It's AMAZING!

Why i shouldn't be in front of the camera

So, while the video on why i'm going to Thailand is still in production, i thought i'd give you a sneak peak of what's to come...well, at least my attempts in making the video. The lesson i've learnt - i know which side of the camera i belong on :)
video

Friday, August 31, 2007

So why go to Thailand on mission?

since i started this blog part way through my preparations in heading to Thailand, i thought i'd rewind the tape a bit and give a bit of background to why i've decided to go to Thailand on mission.

For my whole life (and i suspect for a lot of other people out there) the question isn't so much 'why go?', it's probably more 'why shouldn't i go?'. about 5 years ago, my sister and her family (the Dicksons) moved over to Thailand as missionaries, and whilst i was fully supportive of them going, i came up with plenty of excuses as to why that would never be me heading over - 'i'm not good at learning new languages' (eg i had to repeat Chinese school Kindy 3 times before i quit), 'all my friends and family are in Sydney', 'there are so many gospel needs in Sydney still', 'i'm a single female, how would i cope overseas on my own', 'i haven't done any formal theological studies' and the list just goes on.

One thing i did always promise myself though, was to go do a short term mission trip with the dicksons in Thailand, so that i could have a better understanding of what they do, the people they work with etc. So Dec 06 that opportunity came, when a group from my church (Drummoyne Presbyterian Church) went to Thailand for 3 weeks to work with the Dicksons in Chiang Mai and a local Thai church in Khorat. And boy did my whole attitude change to overseas mission. Suddenly every excuse that i had ever thought up became irrelevant. Sure it's frustrating not to be able to fully communicate, but i was starting to get a handle of the language, even after 3 weeks. Besides, charades and pictionary can really get you places, and it's amazing how FOOD can break down all sorts of barriers. We had a night out at a restaurant with our language helpers (who spoke about as much english as we had Thai if we were lucky) and that has to go down as one of the most memorable, fun, humourous nights that i've ever had. i could always work hard and get over the language thing.

And the whole thing about my leaving my friends and family behind - well, that still saddens me, but there are a whole lot of new people i'd be missing out on having a relationship with if i didn't go over. How lucky are we now to just be a phone call, email, skype - or now my new fav iChat away from each other. i know it's not the same as hanging out, but it's not a good enough excuse to stop me from going right now.

And not having done any formal theological training? as i spoke with the dicksons and went to churches and met Thai Christians, i realised that even me with no formal theological training had a much greater understanding of the bible then many of the Thai's and dare i say, even some of the missionaries over there. it made me realise how much i've taken for granted the great bible teaching i have received my whole life. It scares me now to think what is being taught to the Thai's. I've always been taught to build on a firm foundation and not to build your house on the sand. For me, that firm foundation is on the gospel and on the Bible. How can Thai Christians build on a firm foundation when those who are teaching them what it means to be a christian don't seem to even have that foundation?

So the question now is not 'why shouldn't i go?' but rather 'why shouldn't i stay?'. And the answer to that is: there are about 65 million thai people out there who need to know about the God of the Bible. i know that our God who created this world can do anything and work miracles and i hope that he works a miracle in me in sharing my life as a Christian with the Thai's. i can't just sit back and hope that they'll be zapped by some bolt of lightening that will help them understand the Bible (even though i know that God could do that if he wanted).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thailand 08 Info Night


For those who are local and are keen to find out more about what i'll be up to, i'll be having an info night on:

Date: Friday 28th September
Time: 8-9.30pm
Where: Drummoyne Presbyterian Church Hall
63 College St, Drummoyne

Supper will be provided.

It'll just be a casual night where i will share some of the highlights of the ways that God has been opening doors so far, some of the ministry opportunities i hope to be involved with next year and even ministry opportunities i don't yet know about, what happens when the year is up and ways that you can be a part of it all.

i hope that you can make it along, not only because i'm really excited about sharing it with you and want you to be as awed as i am about how amazing God really is, but also so i don't have to repeat it a hundred times - actually, i doubt i'll get sick of sharing it. :)

if you can make it, it'd be great if you could email me so i can get an idea of how many to cater for.

If you can't make it, no worries. hopefully i'll get round to updating this blog to fill you in on all the details that you miss out on, or even better, we'll get to catch up soon and i can share with you in person.

Off to Thailand in '08

I don't even know where to begin this blog, so how about i start with some fast facts:

1. I'm heading off to Thailand on the 5th December 2007, starting with a 3 week mission trip with my church (Drummoyne Presbyterian).
2. Rather then coming back with the team, i'll be staying on in Chiang Mai, for at least a year (if you don't know where Chiang Mai is, check the map on the right)
3. In my year there, i'm hoping to do a variety of things that will ultimately help people understand what it means that 'Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Saviour'.
4. I'm heading over with a Christian organisation called Pioneers
5. I have a great group of family and friends who are partnering with me in this journey
6. God is awesome, and i can't wait to share with you all the things that happen which prove that.
7. I have lots of stuff i still need to do before i go.

Over the coming months, the hope is to use this blog to keep you updated on all my plans as they unfold, so you can share in all the highs and lows and be a part of this journey with me from the start.

So please do stay tuned and visit this site regularly to keep up with the latest.