Saturday, January 27, 2007

a few more photos...

The team playing the thai version of duck-duck- goose with the kids

The boys having a great time in the water

Zara and friends

Little village girl

Not that different.....(by Amanda)

I think there is this settling in thing that happens when you are in another country for 2 months. At first you are on a bit of a high, noticing everything that is new and different and amazing and taking it all in. You have lots of energy and enthusiasm and are willing to jump in and work with all you’ve got. You’re fascinated by the culture, the language, the different foods (spicy seafood potato chips anyone??) Then there is a bit of a shift that happens. You start to settle in and realize, ok, I’m going to be here for a while. This is starting to feel more like real life. I’m starting to come down from the high and my energy isn’t quite so strong anymore.
I think this is where I am at and I also sense this settling in our team. The roosters and crazy barking dogs are more a way of life, the language doesn’t catch you off guard as much, the food seems normal and having rice at every meal is now what you expect. You get used to talking in broken English and making large hand gestures to communicate. You are used to being stared at and also laughed at. It’s all just the normal way of life here.
I like being able to come to other countries for longer periods of time because this settling seems important. It’s not as easy to romanticize another place when you are there long enough to feel some frustration. The joy you noticed in the people at the beginnig is still there, but you also start to notice the sadness too. You start to realize that people really are all the same and the same problems that exist at home exist here too.
And it’s good to see these things. It makes the people here more human and me more human. It makes me realize we are all just doing our best to cope with life day to day, deal with our problems, love our family and the people in our lives, work hard at our jobs and develop some sort of meaning.
I had a long talk with my friend here the other night. The sun had gone down, the moon and the stars were shining bright and we just stood breathing in the cool night air and sharing our souls. She helps manage the youth center here. She also is just working hard to take care of her 3 kids, love her husband, and manage her friendships well. As we talked I just got this overwhelming feeling of solidarity with her. Our lives look so different on the outside, our cultures have just a little bit in common, we are clearly from different worlds, but life and the struggles are so much the same. How do I stay true to the things God has called me to? How do I take care of my children and balance my own life and desires with caring for them? How do I deal with relational difficulties in my work? How do I live faithfully and maintain joy even when things are hard?
And so the journey continues to live well and love well, whether across the world in Thailand or sitting in my home in Seattle. May God grant us the courage to feel deeply and be responsive to the calling and desires he has place in each of our hearts. And may we encourage others in our lives to do the same.

Lately (by Zach)

This past week has been a good one. Last Sunday night our students spent the night in a village. It went really well for them. It wasn’t too primitive (they had electricity), but it was a good first experience in a village.

The next morning I picked them up and we all went fishing—but not like any fishing that I’ve done before. On the way back from the village we stopped at a small river (maybe 2 feet deep at the most). The way the people in the village fish is basically this: weight down a large tarp in the river, keeping one edge of the tarp out of the water. Then we essentially walked on our hands and knees towards the tarp in the water, herding the fish towards the tarp. Once we got to the tarp we lift it up, sorting out the rocks and keeping the fish. We did this over and over until we had walked upstream probably a ½ mile or so. By the end, we had caught a lot of fish. Then we stopped, built a fire, and roasted the fish over the fire. As I stopped to look around, I was in awe of the scene around me… In the middle of nowhere in Thailand, being guided by a man who we didn’t share a single word of language with, beautiful hills surrounding me, perfect stillness. It was really a moment to treasure. I was thinking about how it contrasted with the busy-ness of life back home. It made me realize again what a privilege it is for us to get to lead these teams and go on these trips.

The rest of the week was spent finishing up some concrete work, and then spending some time playing with the kids here. We only have one more week here in Chiang Rai before we head south to Chiang Mai for the final month of our time in Thailand.

I feel so privileged to work here with Pastor Luka. I think this is the 7th team that YWAM Seattle has sent here, and it feels so great to partner with a ministry that is doing so many amazing things. Because the nature of our trip is short-term, it’s nice to know that we’re partnering with a ministry that is working toward the long-term good of so many people. Luka’s vision for his people is broad and far-reaching, and yet incredibly focused. He realizes that for people in Akha villages to be successful, they need to grow in so many different ways. They need to hear, know, and live out the Gospel, but they also need very practical things—nutrition programs, better health-care, ways to generate income, better education. And he’s doing things that are effecting change in all of those areas. It’s been great to come back here over the past few years and see all the progress that is being made.

Zara has been a bit of a challenge the past few days—not sleeping so well and being a bit cranky during the day. Nothing too bad, but harder than she’s been so far on the trip. The kids are all really sweet with her, but i think sometimes she gets a bit overwhelmed with all the people grabbing her and wanting to hold her and touch her. If you could keep her and us in your prayers we’d appreciate it. You can also be praying for our team to keep its focus as we change locations (Feb 5th). As we approach the 2nd half of the trip, it’s quite easy to start thinking about home and lose sight of what we’re here to do.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

zara has a crowd watching her wherever she goes!

eating ice cream and loving it

zara having fun with Luka's mom

making new friends....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another blog to check out-

In case you're interested in reading more, our Thailand team is writing a blog with different team members taking turns writing posts. If you'd like to check it out, here is the address:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Settling In....(by Amanda)

We've been here in Thailand for about 10 days now and I think we're feeling settled into our life here. It has been so good to be here, especially reconnecting with friends and familiar faces from past visits. The first part of our trip we are living in northern Thailand in Chiang Rai which is a small town surrounded by many hill tribe villages. We are living at a youth center where kids from the villages are given the chance to live and receive education so that they will have a more hopeful future. We have worked at this center 3 other times so the kids know us and it's so fun to see how they've grown since the last time we saw them. Our team is helping to do various projects around the center....they worked in the tea field this week and pruned all 5000 plants....they have been working for 3 days laying cement in what is to be the new tea factory. The center has plans to process and sell the tea they are growing in order to create more income and become more self sustaining (right now many of the kids are supported monthly from people in the US) We are so happy to be able to be part of this work that is making a long term impact on the kids and their families and villages.

We have been enjoying lots of sun and warm weather!!! :) (we are not missing seattle weather right now) It has been so fun to be able to let Zara run around outside all day and to have freedom from being bound indoors. She is doing amazing. She is a real superstar here with everyone wanting to touch her smooth white skin. The kids at the center just love her and she has them playing ring around the rosie with her and singing jingle bells (her 2 favorites right now!) She welcomes everyone with her sweet little smile and is making friends very quickly. She is very entertained with having 60 kids to run around and play with! It has been neat to see this new world through her eyes and to see how she responds. She was tentative for about 2 days and then she settled in easily to this new community. She amazes me with her resilance to all this change.....

The pace of life is so different from what I am used to and I am finding it refreshing....well, now I am.... The first few days I felt irritated at the long days, lack of freedom (it's hard to communicate, I can't drive myself anywhere, I can't get on the internet to write home!) It's a strange feeling to be a foreigner and so out of control. It reminds me what the refugees I work with in Seattle must feel on a daily basis. It can be so tiring when the simplest task takes a long time to do. But yesterday as I was spending the morning with Zara while the team worked, I just sat and looked at her for a while. I stared at her little face and mouth, I listened really closely to what she was saying. I played with her and did whatever she wanted to do and just let her lead me. We walked around the yard, picked up rocks, took out all her toys, ate lunch and ice cream and it got all over her mouth and clothes and it was so nice that it didn't matter. We walked around in the dirt and ran under the sprinking hose and just enjoyed the day. And I found myself so happy and so content and noticing more and seeing more than I had in a long time....And I wouldn't trade this for anything.....

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

We made it....

Just wanted to write a quick note to let you know we made it to Thailand safely!! It was definitely a long trip, especially with Miss Zara.....I think she was very confused why we were on the plane for so long!! She didn't sleep very much during the trip so we were in constant entertainment mode, which got tiring, but thankfully our team helped us out a bit and gave her a change of scenery!
Overall, things went very smoothly.....except for one major mishap....we realized last night at 4am that we had left our computer on the plane!!! a few moments of panic but we called the airlines right away this morning and they had found it and had it waiting for us.....Thank you Lord....
Our team did great during our travel and customs and immigration all went very smoothly. We had an orientation today and now we're just trying to stay awake until we can let ourselves go to bed. The time difference here is 15 hours ahead of Seattle.....
It is warm and sunny and it felt really neat waking up in a place that is so familiar to Zach and I and to be able to have Zara with us. Pray for her if you think of it, I can tell she is confused and a bit insecure. We are doing our best to reassure her and give her what she needs as she gets adjusted.
Thank you for your prayers and we will update as we can!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Counting Down....

Well, we leave for Thailand one week from today....It is hard to believe this time next week all our packing will be done and we will be sitting on the airplane on our way! There are many emotions as we prepare to go....sadness as we are ending this time in Seattle with our students and will be separating into 2 different teams....excitement as we will get to see friends that we have made in Thailand over the years....hopeful as I think of the adventures that await us....nervousness/anticipation as this will be our first time taking Zara to Asia.....dread as I think of 20 hours in a plane entertaining a 20 month old!!!
Please pray for us as you think of us this week. Of course there is much to do and many lists to check off.....many things to worry about as I try to sleep at night....and yet I hope to be present as we are still here and as we seek to end this season well and say goodbyes for a few months to those that we love.
We will be updating as regularly as we can while we are away.
Thanks for your prayers and for caring for us....

Learning to cook....

Here is Zara with her favorite Christmas present- her retro pink kitchen. She is loving it and has a great time making us cookie, coffee and eggs every day! We had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas in our home in Seattle. It was a special time for just the three of us to hang out and enjoy being together.