Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Raining ... Friends!

   “More, more, more,” begged Karis as Brian finished pedaling through a 12-inch-deep “pond” that had formed in the street after the heavy rains.

   Besides sending the rains, God has also been sending abundant opportunities for friendships our way. Brian now meets once a week with Keo, a young man we met while running on the exercise track at one of Lopburi’s many army camps. (We realize that exercising at the army camp sounds a little strange, but it is a beautiful track!) Brian practices Thai, and Keo practices English.

   Across the street from us is a sweet-spirited Thai woman named Pittayapohn whom Bekah is getting to know.

   We are also forming a friendship with a young couple from whom we buy iced coffee on really hot days. ҉  Their daughter is just a little younger than Karis.

Our Thai is so limited, and Buddhist thought patterns are so different from ours, that at times we feel it is just a dream for any of these new friends to become Christians during our year of language school. BUT we are asking for their salvation from “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Jesus Name

As we first arrived in Thailand we were very excited to find that our home would indeed have two air con units, one in Karis' room and one in our room.  Even though we were grateful for these air con units I quickly became annoyed with the unit in Karis' room.  Each time that I went to turn it on I would have to smack it in order for it to start running.
Truly, there are more annoying/irritating things to deal with.  Our first few days we had some pretty nasty looking bugs but they seemed to clear on out, and for the most part Karis was adjusting quickly.  Looking back this little nuisance really should not have bothered me as it did but it grinded on :my nerves.
Finally one evening as I was pulling the chair over so that I could stand on it as I smack the unit I stated a short little prayer.  It was simple.  I simply stated something like this.  Lord, I believe that you can cause this air con unit to start without me smacking it and that you alone are my true help.  I pushed the button and it started.  At first I did not believe it but my heart was very glad.
Over the course of these past 4 months I have prayed for the air con unit to start nearly every time and to my amazement 95% of the time it does.  The times that I have not prayed the unit has consistently not turned on.
James 4:3 says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."  Was my initial prayer for the unit to work asking correctly?  Honestly I do not know.  I know that it was really annoying me and that I really was wanting it to work properly.  Not having it do so was really getting on my nerves so I prayed to the only One that could do anything about it at that time.
In that moment I believe that God was pleased with that prayer.  Deep down I wanted to see God.  I wanted Him to take care of my situation.  I needed to know that He was truly with us here in Thailand and that His hand would be guiding us along the way.
John 14:13 says, "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."  Over the years I have heard many well meaning Christians, including myself abuse these verses.  We can often think of God as a kind of genie in a bottle.  However, this is far from the idea of this verse.  Wrapped up in the concept of name is ones character.
These days ones character and name do not often go together.  However I do think that we are more familiar than we realize.  If we hear someone's name mentioned all kinds of ideas or feelings about that person may arise, whether positive or negative.  I have also heard some teachers say that they could never give a future child a certain name because it was the name of a bratty school that belonged in their classroom.  Names are important.
God's name is His character.  It is all who He is.  As we have been living here I am learning more and more the importance of learning to pray according to His name.  If I long to see God at work, I need to learn to pray according to His character.  He is a God who is always at work changing lives, providing for His children, and most of all glorifying His name by granting the gift of faith to dead hearts.  It is my hope that the little phrase so often tagged on to the end of the prayers will truly become the guide of my prayers.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hard Lessons

We have now been in Thailand for over two months, and today both Bekah and I had our module 2 "checks."  In a country where you can't speak the language nor function in "normal" ways it feels REALLY good to accomplish something.

Briefly, I will explain how language study works over the course of our first term and share about "checks."   

Over the next four years we will have to complete 3 units consisting of 9 modules each.  During our year in Lopburi we will have to complete 1 unit.  After completing our year in Lopburi we will move to our permanent ministry location and will have to complete unit 2 and 3 over the next 3 years.  The good news in all this is that  we will be barely fluent in Thai after the four years.  One of the teachers told us, after a friend completed his unit 3 check, that she would now consider him to be fluent and not prior.  The goal is that, after one year, we will be functional in the language and have ability to relate to Thai people.

Ok...year one.  As I mentioned earlier each unit consists of 9 modules.  Each module is divided in to roughly 19 different lessons.  Being in Thailand, we are blessed to benefit from a well established language school with experienced Thai teachers.  There are 8 teachers at the school who each have 3 or 4 students.  During a typical study day each student will have two one hour lessons with a teacher.  The idea is that we will complete one lesson over the course of each day.  After completing all the lessons in the module we will have a "check" with one of the other teachers at the school.

Here we are two months in to language study and both having accomplished module 2 checks.  I mentioned earlier that it really does feel good to accomplish something (of course, as I write this Bekah is finishing a b-day cake for Karis, this is really quite the accomplishment here in Thailand; pictures will be coming, later.) 

Not too many should be surprised by this but Bekah has an easier time than myself with the checks.  Our checks are simply that, a check.  They want to see and hear that we are able to hear and pronounce the language correctly over the course of questions.  We sit down with a teacher, she asks us a question, and we answer.  Sounds easy, right?  Kind of. 

Bekah and I have very different learning styles.  For Bekah, hearing and speaking the language is coming quickly, and for that we are very grateful.  For me, more slowly, but I do have an easier time recognizing how the Thai form their words and sentence patterns.  I am grateful for this but it does not help a whole lot during checks. 

Praise God I am proficient enough to move beyond module 2 but it has come with some frustrations.  At times I do get impatient with myself because I can not talk and hear the language as well as I think I should.  Often I end up finding myself focusing on completing lessons and making it through checks.  I regulary need a reminder that this is not the goal.

During my second week of language study I was feeling anxious about the NEED to learn Thai.  It seemed as if so much was riding on my ability to learn to speak and listen.  One day, as I was having my devotional time with God, I sensed Him that it was IMPORTANT for me to learn Thai but it was not URGENT for me to learn Thai. 

It is important as God desires to use me for a purpose here and He will give me the language ability for that purpose.  My job is to be obedient to what He desires of me and be diligent in my studies.

God will accomplish what He desires in Thailand.  He does not need me but he desires for me to be a part of what He will do.  This is a tough lesson to learn because it is humbling and it is easily forgotten.  But when remember, it really is a wonderful and freeing truth.  

Thanks for your prayers for us, the Thai people, and above for Christ's Name to be known among the Thai people.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

11 Days!!

We are so happy that much of our “to-do” list of the past month is now done:

· Sell the Maxima
· Sell the Focus
· Give away unwanted items (clothes, bicycles, toys, gadgets, appliances)
· Apply for non-immigrant, multiple-entry visas to Thailand
· Set auto insurance to be cancelled on May 1
· Set cell service to be cancelled on May 1
· Clean and move out of the house we were “sitting”
· Put storage boxes in Bekah’s parents’ attic
· Complete immunizations
· Apply for health insurance for overseas


The list was longer than that, but those were some of the “biggies.” 

Besides all the doing, we’ve also had some wonderful being times:

· Being commissioned at our sending church, The Wheaton Evangelical Free Church
· Being commissioned at Grace Church in Normal, IL (Brian’s college church)
· Being introduced at Glen Ellyn  Bible Church
· Being with friends and family
· Being able to live with Bekah’s parents during our last weeks here

We fly to Singapore on April 30th.  We will spend 3 weeks there in an Orientation Course with OMF International, learning all about stress, cross-cultural communication, language acquisition, tropical diseases, etc., etc., etc.!

We will then fly to Thailand on May 28th.  Our language study begins a few days after that.  We will live in a Thai house rented by OMF, furnished with the basics.

If you are interested, we will be sending email updates.  Will you please email us at if you would like the updates?