A Happy Mother’s Day
Thai Mother’s Day fell on a Sunday this year, and we took the opportunity to invite the mothers of our students to celebrate with us. We were thrilled to see so many of them were able to come, along with their children. The White House was packed out, with over 50 people in all.
As Mother’s Day coincides with the Queen’s birthday, we began with singing the Queen’s anthem and a prayer for her health. Following this we had some songs and crazy games, which were greatly enjoyed by all. One of our guitar students, Fanta, played to accompany Ajarn Tah singing a song about God’s love.
Wit gave a short talk and prayed a prayer of blessing on the mothers. Then the climax of the event was the presentation of gifts to all of the mothers by their children – it was a very moving moment.
Finally it was time for delicious food, which was cooked by two of the mothers, Wun and Suree. There was plenty for all, and the basket-weaving group took care of all the serving, clearing and washing up, which was wonderful.
God bless the mothers of Wang Daeng!
Christmas in May?
Last week we had the privilege of being able to give out 22 Samaritan’s Purse Christmas boxes to some of the poorer children in our village. A church in Bangkok had set aside the boxes for us since December, but we only received them in April and had to wait for the school term to begin in May before we could distribute them.
It was worth the wait! The children, especially the younger ones, were overjoyed to receive the lovely gifts and eagerly pulled out all the contents. It was such a happy occasion and, in typical Thai style, many photos were taken to mark the occasion.
In addition to the boxes, each child received a picture booklet telling the story of Jesus. These were all so well received and treasured by the children. So a big THANK YOU to Samaritan’s Purse and to all the lovely people who filled the boxes and a Merry Christmas to all!
We are the Champions!
Well… actually… we just made it through to round 2, but it’s a great start to the season. Meet ‘Red Palace’ (Wang Daeng) junior football club. This team was recruited by Ajarn Tah in less than a week! Most young boys locally are super-keen on football and were desperate to join, with some being reduced to tears when they thought they may be left out. After six training sessions they set off to play their first match in the neighbouring province of Phitsanulok. There they had their first taste of victory, annihilating the opposition 6 – 1, which means that they will now progress to the next round. Being part of a Christian football league, these boys will not only be trained in football skills, but will also learn about Christian values and knowing Jesus, which is great. Here’s the photo of the teams – our boys are wearing the red strip (of course).
And just in case you thought the local girls were being left out… they’re not. Although they’ve chosen the more intelligent option of joining a cool guitar group, rather than a sweaty football team!
Introducing… Ajarn Tah
Our new youth worker Mr Tossaporn, otherwise known as Ajarn Tah, has just joined our team and we would like to introduce him to you all:
He’s 32 years old and is married to the lovely Ajarn Baeng, and they have two boys: Noah, aged 5, and Daniel, aged 6 months. They currently live in the neighbouring district of Phichai, where they have spent the last seven years planting a small house-church in the local farming community. They support their income by raising buffaloes – one time while visiting their church we had the exciting experience of watching a baby buffalo being born… during the service! Ajarn Tah will be working with us for three days a week, particularly focusing on children and young people’s work.
Ajarn Tah is a keen football player and coach. In Phichai he has established two football teams: one for boys aged 8-12 and another for teenagers. The younger team is part of the Emmanuel group which is run by a former Korean football player now turned missionary, and they have teams all over the country who compete together. We hope that Ajarn Tah will also be able to set up some football teams here in Wang Daeng.
In addition to his football skills, Ajarn Tah is also a keen musician. He plays the guitar and keyboard, and in Phichai this has been a key way of reaching out to teenagers. Again, we hope that he will be able to do something similar here as he begins guitar classes with local teenagers.
Welcome Ajarn Tah – we’re so happy to have you as part of our team!
A Basket Case
Thanks to new funds from our generous supporters in the UK, the basket weaving project is now up and running again. A small group of local ladies were very keen to brush up their skills and our new centre – The White House – provided the ideal location for a training session. They decided to make smaller baskets for the New Year festival market and the orders have been pouring in. Most of the ladies can now work from their own homes, which makes it very convenient as they can do the work whenever they have a spare moment and don’t have to wait for the whole group to be free to get together. However, from time to time more training sessions will be needed as they learn new skills and as new members join the group. We hope that this project will now become self-supporting and will provide extra income for many needy families in Wang Daeng.
The White House has also been great for the English classes which have started up again. Nearly all of our former students have come back with new ones joining as well. There is so much more space for them inside, and outside a safe area for them to play in before and after class. With the extra room we can now have two classes running concurrently, and on Saturday mornings a local teenager has just started a maths class for the lower primary students. This coming Sunday (24th December) we’re going to have a Christmas celebration at the centre for all of the primary aged children, with songs, games, presents and the Christmas story – please pray.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Back to Bananas
Our first home assignment has now drawn to a close – it’s been enjoyable, exhausting, encouraging and at times exhilarating. It’s been a combination of church visits, interspersed with family get-togethers and catch-ups with friends. Altogether we clocked up over 4,000 miles in our trusty little rental car – from South Wales to Middlesbrough to Watford and everywhere in between.
We have been so encouraged through our visits to many different churches and Christian groups. It seemed as if in every place we were given another piece of the jigsaw, which put together made up the message that God wanted to give us. We have been humbled and thankful to see the way in which people have been supporting and praying for us, and overwhelmed by the enthusiastic welcome we received.
It was also wonderful to catch up with friends and family, and especially with our children. As we were based in Birmingham it meant we could be near to our daughter Josie who is studying at Aston University. Our son DJ, based in Newbury, was also not too far away. We were able to celebrate both of their birthdays, as well as an early Christmas, before our return.
Now we’re back in Wang Daeng and are thrilled to see that all of the banana trees we planted have come into fruit. We pray that this is a sign of what is to come as we continue to sow into the lives of the local community. Amen.
April is an extremely hot month here in Thailand with temperatures soaring up to a stifling 40C. Schools are closed and during the middle of the month is the famous ‘Songkran’ – Thai New Year festival, where people ‘bless’ each other by soaking them with water. So imagine our surprise when three intrepid ladies from Bristol Bible College chose the hottest weekend of the year to come and visit us. Sian, Eleanor and Gemma were with us for 3 days, during which time they shared testimonies at a country house-church; visited a local pastor to encourage and pray for her; led an English with craft session at our Centre; visited a cell group, where they learned how to make authentic papaya salad, shared testimonies and brought the message and finally brought the story of Noah to a Christian* school, through songs, story, games and craft. They were amazing and they didn’t complain once, despite the intense heat and the fact that they were still getting over jet lag. So thank you lovely Bristol ladies – your visit has made a lasting impression.
Summer is over now and we’re back to work. Helen has over 30 students coming to study English at the Centre and is back volunteering at the local school. Wit is constantly out and about visiting, chatting, witnessing, fishing and supervising the basket weaving group amongst other things. Exciting developments are happening – we’ll tell you all about them in our next prayer letter!
*Most of the students at the school come from Buddhist families
Love in Action
As you may guess from the title, we’ve just had a visit from the Thailand Action Team: Ollie, Matt, Jenn and Annie. They stayed in the village house (centre), which meant they were easily accessible to the local children. Our neighbour lent us 2 bikes and we loaned them our two so that they could get around the village and they soon settled in, discovering all the best places to eat, including a little shop that sold ice-cream.
Their main event was running an English Camp on the Saturday, which was held at the local school. Around 50 kids, aged 7 -12, showed up and the team organised activities, songs and games for them from 10 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon. We helped out too of course, along with several teachers from the school. It was a fantastic time, enjoyed by all but utterly exhausting.
On the Sunday we took them to a church in the city – Jenn and Annie shared their testimonies and Matt and Ollie sang a song. It was very powerful, and well received by the congregation, especially the students.
Aside from this they also helped out at Helen’s English classes both in the centre and at the school. In the evenings they were able to mix with the local children, playing Uno, football, badminton and so on. All in all they have helped us to improve our relationships with the school and in the village, for which we are very grateful. Being young and cool, they were really able to connect with the young people in a way that us oldies never could.
So thank you Ollie, Matt, Jenn and Annie for your love in action – come back and visit us again soon!
We began our October school holidays by going on a 3 day bus trip with the school where Helen is a volunteer English teacher. Fun but exhausting!
We then had a very welcome few days R & R by the sea. It was good just to spend time walking, swimming, reading and so on away from the busyness of our normal routine.
The following week was spent at home. We
opened up our house for the local kids to come and play ping-pong and other games. A favourite activity was plasticine modelling.
Wit volunteered as a translator when the ‘Joni and Friends’ team came to Uttaradit. We were so impressed with the way they cared for every individual and spent time adjusting their wheelchairs to fit perfectly. They also shared
the gospel and prayed with each person and quite a number of them accepted Christ.
We then headed off to Chiang Mai for the annual TBMF conference. It was great to meet up with all the other Baptist missionaries and to hear their stories. The speaker was Art Sanborn from YWAM, and his messages were truly inspirational and faith-building. We were also blessed by Ellen, his wife, who led the worship – she has such a beautiful voice!
Back home again and Jeanie, our regional team leader, came to visit. We took her along to one of the churches we attend on Sundays. All of the believers come from a Buddhist background, and it’s exciting to hear the testimonies of how God is working in their lives.
Holidays over and it’s back to work again. We’ve started up the English classes again and quite a number of our former students have come back, as well as some newbies. Classes at the school have also begun again.
It’s harvest time here, and local farmers are busy bringing in the rice crop. Hard work but someone’s got to do it! Luke 10.2