Summer in Thailand
What a joy it was to be able to return to Thailand this summer. We have been home for over a month now, but as we reflect on our Thailand team, we are so blessed by being their leaders. We had 19 wonderful team members, and two excellent backup leaders with us. They were very “fluid and flexible” during the many changes we had this summer.
Boot Camp & Travel
Boot Camp training went well. We are not able to spend as much time with the team (as staff leaders helping to run Boot Camp also), so we are thankful for Gabe and Hannah who held things together! We left on July 30 to fly Orlando/LAX/Hong Kong/Bangkok. We checked in and sat at the gate waiting for the flights. A huge storm came up, which continued to delay our departure (about an hour at a time), until they finally cancelled the flight out of Orlando. Since it was “an act of God”, the airlines would not feed us or put us up in a hotel. They did give us nice soft blankets to have while we slept on the cold floor! So the team spent the night in Orlando airport while Anthony and I worked with the travel agent and airlines to rebook us out the next day. Around 3 AM, Anthony and I were able to drop off to sleep…for about an hour! There were no flights available to LAX so we flew Orlando to Charlotte (split up as a team), then continued the rest of the way, Charlotte/DC/Hong Kong/Bangkok. So after over 30 hours of travel (after our overnight in Orlando), we finally arrived in Bangkok only a day late. When we went to the baggage claim, we found out that only 13 of the 38 bags arrived! One would arrive later that day, one the next day, 17 were still in Orlando and 6, they were trying to trace! So we put in the claims and went through customs to meet our missionaries who were waiting for us. One of the things we pack in our carryons for such an occasion, is an extra change of clothes! This is good because we had been wearing the same thing for almost 4 days! We went out for dinner then continued to the bus station for our eight hour drive to Ubon. It was a night bus, which was OK cause we were all pretty tired. It was unique in that they had a “stewardess” (wearing an airline outfit!) who brought food, snacks and even towelettes to refresh ourselves. The next morning, we arrived in Ubon Ratchathani, almost at our destination. We loaded up on trucks and headed about one hour away to the town of Det Udom, where we would be for the summer. We settled into our rooms and enjoyed a breakfast of fried rice and fruit. A few days later we were sitting together after morning devotions, discussing what we learned, when we received a message that all the bags were arriving on two flights that afternoon (July 6). We had just talked about the fact that we were blessed with rooms (mats on the floors), cold showers and indoor bathrooms, and we were safe. Some of the team members who received their bags had unselfishly shared their clothes with others. It was good to get our extra food, tools, kitchen equipment and items we had brought for the orphanage. It was like Christmas in July!
Our project was to paint the outside of the building and fence. This included scraping off old paint, sanding and repainting. We were able to help with some of the gardening around the property. We also had the unique opportunity to learn how to do Batik painting. This is used to help with fund raising for the center, through the sale of the paintings. We did a number of presentations including three schools in one day. We also helped another ministry prepare and pour a floor for their youth building and the house churches. We went to visit the House of Blessings Orphanage a few times (where we were in 2009), which is also part of the ministry with which we were working. The team played with the children and we were able to help the two ladies, by purchasing a washer for doing their clothes. They were so encouraged by that.
The people of Thailand are very generous. We were provided many meals while we were there. We love the Thai food! Some were able to handle it spicy (not spicy to the Thai people), but they also made it with little spice for some of us who couldn’t handle it! Ants and fried grasshoppers were a delicacy as well. They didn’t taste too bad! We enjoyed a lot of fresh fruits and veggies including some unique ones like mangosteen and dragon fruit. It was nice that food was inexpensive. Of course the ice cream truck showed up quite often at 5 PM, just before dinner. It was refreshing as we were dealing with 85-95 degree weather each day, with fans to circulate the warm air. Most places do not have AC.
Spending time with the believers was a highlight. They are so genuine and committed. With 1% of the people being Christian, the believers need all the encouragement they can get. Buddhism is everywhere as well as the spirit houses which are ornately decorated “houses” that can be small or large. The Thai people believe that they are responsible for their ancestors when they die, so they put out incense and fresh food in what they call “spirit houses”. We were blessed by our time there and continue to pray for the believers especially as there has been severe flooding in Ubon recently.
Back at Home
I feel like summer was so long ago! It is already mid-September and so much more has happened. Darin has gone back to school and football season is half done. Their team is doing very well this year being 4-1 already. Jessie came down for about 12 days, following her return from Greece. She was supposed to return on Labor Day Monday, but we were preparing for another visitor so she had to return to Texas a few days earlier. That visitor was Hurricane Dorian! It was such a slow-moving hurricane that we had plenty of time to prepare, but it was hard to wait and see where it was going. It was supposed to hit us directly, but the Lord moved it east so we just received strong winds and rain. We boarded up our place, and went to TMI for the night that it was to be the strongest. It is always fun having a “slumber party” with some other staff while we wait out the storm! They are becoming a yearly thing! Thank you to everyone who prayed for and contacted us during that time. We continue to pray for those who were affected by the hurricane. Hurricane season is June 1-November 1 so we have some more time to watch and wait!
Brandon and Brooke are doing well and are always on the go. We look forward to them coming the end of October to spend time with us and see one of Darin’s games.
Some staff are still overseas setting up locations for 2020, so the next step is writing, printing and mailing the new brochure by Thanksgiving. The plan is for it to be online by November. We already have a number of registrations too!
At this time we have 25 free Bible Schools with over 700 students and 30 Boot Camps running throughout the year! How exciting! With 230 full time staff in 16 countries, it takes a lot of work to keep things going. We specifically ask that you pray for more workers for His harvest, here and overseas.
Once again, we plan to be in Pennsylvania for the Christmas holidays. We look forward to seeing many of you during that time and would love to stop and see any of you along the route if possible (usually we go up I-95, but can make detours!).
Thank you so much for your faithfulness to us as we serve the Lord here. We are grateful for our prayer and financial supporters and pray for you daily.