Update #9

Bhubing Palace, Doi Pui Hill Village, and Last Volunteer’s Dinner!

To wrap up our last Monday in Chiang Mai, we trekked up Doi Sutep with the other English Volunteers to the King’s Chiang Mai Palace, Bhubing Palace. At the palace we walked around the many beautiful gardens and viewed the beautiful mountain side. Afterwards we headed across the mountain range to a hill tribe village, Doi Pui Hill Village. There we enjoyed the gorgeous mountain range and seeing the Doi Pui Hill Village. Before all the volunteers headed home we enjoyed one last delicious meal together, pasta! Esther took us to a wonderful family owned Italian restaurant where we were able to dine and chat before going our separate ways.

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Evaluation Meeting and Renovation Part #2

On Tuesday, we started our morning with a meeting to discuss the future of our partnership. It was a time to evaluate our two months spent in Thailand and to explore the opportunity of new experiences for both churches. After our meeting we enjoyed a yummy meal at Chef Steak and started our second renovation project downstairs in the youth room. In this room we decided to do a music theme since the youth at Payap Church love music and many of them play instruments. We incorporated Thai cultural music and dance along with modern music and dance. Thanks to our wonderful in-house artists, Dianne and Kira, the murals turned out great and we know the youth will enjoy them!

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Headed to Kansas City

On our last day, it was hard to wrap up an AMAZING two months in Thailand but we did our best by eating at one of Marisa’s favorite restaurants (Yui’s Noodles), enjoying coffee at Zion Cafe, riding one last time in a tuk tuk, and eating dinner with Esther Wakeman and her husband Rob Collins. It was a rainy trip to the airport but after a heartfelt and bittersweet goodbye from our Payap Church family, we entered security and headed home to Kansas City.

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Leaving Home (aka Thailand)

With sad hearts we said goodbye to our wonderful Payap Church family! Thank you for everything you’ve done the last two months to make our stay absolutely amazing. We cannot thank you enough! We’ve made a home in Chiang Mai and cannot wait to return. A final update will be posted in the next couple days. Please pray for a safe, smooth, and non-complicated journey home. For those in KC, we will see you soon!

God bless you all!

Love,

Kelsey and Marisa

Update #8

Monday: Day #1 of AFB (Accountancy, Finance, and Banking), Art in Paradise, and Dinner with Bill Yoder

After an exciting first week teaching the MFN English Fun Camp, we were back at it on Monday morning teaching the first day of AFB English Fun Camp. AFB is the Accountancy, Finance, and Banking College at Payap University. This college is smaller in comparison to MFN but we are lucky enough to personally know the dean, Dean Wallapa, aka. Pook from Payap Church! We enjoyed teaching different content this week, starting off with Accountancy, Finance, and Banking vocabulary and content knowledge. When the camp had concluded for the morning we were taken out by the AFB staff; which was such a blast! Since it was raining, the AFB staff took us to a 3D museum called Art in Paradise. The museum was full of paintings that have a 3D effect when you take a picture; very Thai style. We enjoyed spending time with the AFB staff and taking lots of funny photos with the other volunteers. After a wonderful afternoon, we hopped in the red truck (our main form of transportation) and headed out to Bill Yoder’s house. Bill Yoder is a missionary from Ohio who has lived in Thailand for over 50 years. Bill is a very influential missionary in Chiang Mai and has helped many fellow missionaries assimilate to the Thai way of life. He is specifically known for his adoption of several Thai boys who have now given back to him a beautiful home to retire in. Bill opened his house to us and we enjoyed an evening full of yummy Thai food and conversation.

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Tuesday: Day #2 of AFB (Goals), Sankampaeng Craft Road, Dinner at Patty and John’s

As we began writing the curriculum for AFB, we were instructed by the English instructors that the idea of setting goals was difficult for Thai students to grasp. We worked very hard to create a lesson that would help students understand the importance of setting goals and applying them to their future professional careers…and we think we were a success! Students learned about the importance of setting goals and the steps through vocabulary and different activities. It was a challenging lesson but all the volunteers agreed that many of the students took to heart the importance of setting goals. After we wrapped up an awesome day of camp, shout out to Kira and Missy for teaching us an awesome group game, Bang Pow Pow, we once again were treated by the AFB staff to a day of tourism. The AFB staff took us to a Thai arts factory and a Thai silk factory. At both places we were able to watch the items we have seen in the markets be created. It was interesting to see the process and watch the handiwork of the employees; so much detail! In the evening, we headed to Patty and John’s new house for a yummy meal and wonderful company. This evening was very special for our volunteer group because it was an evening that we bonded over hardships and struggles. We were able to share with each other and spend time in prayer. We have been blessed by this community of volunteers and the time we have spent together in nightly devotions.

Wednesday: Day #3 of AFB (Job Interviews), Baan Tawai Road, and Dinner with Dean Wallapa (Pook) and Elder Wallop (Tik)

On Wednesday we had our last day of teaching at the AFB English Fun Camp! We taught vocabulary words and useful English sentences with the content of Job Interviews. We discussed what their dreams and hopes for their future and career would look like – this is a difficult concept in Thailand as it is not integrated deeply in the Thai culture as it is in American culture! After the camp ended we toured the Baan Tawai road with our faculty and student friends. Baan Tawai is a wood-handicraft village that has a plethora of decorations, temple and spirit house handiwork, and a few coffee shops. It is always really nice to spend time forming a relationship with the students outside of class and to practice English and Thai amongst them! We were treated to a very special dinner with Dean Wallapa (our friend, Pook) and her sister Elder Wallop (Tik). Both of them are very involved with Payap Church! We went to a beautiful international buffet and indulged in waaaaaaay too much food. It was a real treat to spend this time with Pastor Pong, his family, Pook, Tik and their family, and all of the English camp volunteers!

Thursday: Morning at the Ton Lam Yai Market and Waroros Market with AFB students, Visiting the First Church of Thailand and McGilvary College of Divinity at Payap University, Spaghetti Dinner

To create more authentic conversations, the AFB staff decided to take us, volunteers, and the students to the Ton Lam Yai Market and Waroros Market to buy food for a lunch potluck. We had a blast! We were paired up with a small group of students and given the instructions to buy food to share at the potluck. The students took us to find their favorite foods and of course had us taste try everything they thought we would like. It was a great experience to get to know the students better and spend time with them, some of us even ate bugs! After the market, we all gathered in Payap Church’s “fellowship hall” and enjoyed a meal together. When we had finished our meal we headed out to visit the First Church, Chiang Mai and McGilvary College of Divinity. At First Church, an instructor from McGilvary and member of the church, Adj Tan, gave us a tour and background of the church. We learned about how Reverend McGilvary and his coworker Reverend Wilson started the First Church, Chiang Mai and its history throughout its existence. Afterwards we headed to McGilvary College of Divinity which is the theology school on Payap University’s original campus. McGilvary was the original university that Payap University developed out of to include now many more colleges. We had the opportunity to see the chapel and view Thai-style art based on Jesus’ life. When we had finished our time there we headed to Esther’s for our last spaghetti dinner. We enjoyed delightful conversations, sweet kittens, and watching the movie Poverty Inc. After viewing the film, we had lively conversations and discussed our thoughts and feelings about the film. It was an eventful but fulfilling day.

Friday: Worship Service for King Rama X’s Birthday, Seed Planting Ceremony for King IX, the Great, Visiting the Payap University Archives, Lunch with Payap University’s President, Dr. Sompan Wongdee and Administration, CCI, and Khantoke Dinner

Friday morning, we went to the beautiful Luce Chapel next door to Payap Church to attend a special worship service to celebrate the current King, King Rama X Birthday. Many faculty members of Payap University participated and we listened to our friend, Guy, give a sermon! After this service we walked to a field on campus to have a seed planting ceremony for the late King Rama IX. This is still a period of mourning – a historical time to be in Thailand as King Rama IX was the longest reigning King in the world – and we threw seeds of yellow tulip flowers in his honor. Although we won’t be here in 60 days when they are fully grown we are so excited to have been a part of this ceremony!
After seed planting we visited the Payap University archives floor in the library on campus. We saw many historical documents such as letters and session minutes from missionaries and churches from the 19th century. Everything is preserved incredibly well.
We were then treated to a special lunch with the president of Payap University (for a few more days until retirement!!!) Dr. Sompan Wongdee and her administration. Dr. Sompan is an incredible Christian woman who lived in Nebraska to earn her Master’s degree so we loved getting to know more about her time in America! We ate at the Vietnamese restaurant and, again, indulged in soooo much food (the Thai way of eating)!
Friday afternoon we were hosted by CCI (Christian Communication Institute) to learn more about their ministry and even have a special show featuring the parable the Prodigal Son performed for us! CCI has a close place in our hearts as they have come to Knox a few times and we have hosted members of the dance troop at our houses. Their ministry is incredible – they have made Christianity accessible to Thai culture by integrating the teachings of Jesus into local music and traditional Thai dance, a style called Likay, and tour Thailand and the world spreading their message about the Gospel!
Finally, we had a final farewell dinner with our AFB student and staff friends. The AFB students and staff hosted a special Khantoke style dinner. As we ate local Northern Thai food the students gave speeches and performed local Thai-style dance routines! We finished in one big circle dancing all together – a definite highlight of our time with them. Thank you, students, for being so warm, loving, and open to us!

Saturday: Payap Church’s Room Renovation and Thai Cooking Class

Saturday was a busy day at Payap Church! We spent the whole day cleaning two rooms and renovating with our Payap church friends. One of the rooms was turned into a nursery for younger kids and we decorated the walls with a Noah’s Ark and a flower theme. Downstairs, the youth room was cleaned out and will be remodeled as well with new furniture and decorated with a music theme! It was fun doing hands-on work to contribute to Payap Church. After we finished most of the renovation the Women’s Group hosted a Thai cooking class and we learned how to make Tom Yum Goong, Pad Thai, and Sticky Rice Balls in Coconut Milk dessert. After making so much food we were able to host dinner alongside all of the friends who had spent the day renovating the church, practicing music, and cooking food with us. Our hearts (and stomach) were so full. We love our family here in Thailand.

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Sunday: Last Sunday at Payap Church, Love Party

Sunday was our last Payap Church service for this summer. During this service Kira, Marisa, and Kelsey sang with the youth, Dianne read a letter to the congregation from Pastor Tim, and Jeff gave his testimony on being a living miracle as a heart transplant recipient! It was bittersweet coming to an end but difficult to be sad when we were too busy PARTYING. Yes!!!! Thank you so much Jane, Tang, Pastor Pong, Riew, and everyone who helped host the huge “Love Party”. We took many pictures, ate so much food (anyone else sensing a theme for the week..???), talked about our summer and experiences, danced a lot, and spent the afternoon feeling so full of love. We sure will miss every single person here. And we LOVE you all so much!

Update #7

Monday: AFB Curriculum Training, Thai Village, and Dinner at Big C

Last Monday, we started our teacher training by introducing the curriculum we made for English Camp and playing the games we designated for the week. We spent time getting to know the Accountancy, Finance, and Banking teachers through playing the Appreciation Game and other icebreakers. While also practicing teaching content that the students would learn over the week. The Payap instructors gave us a presentation of Thai etiquette and general culture knowledge for the new-to-Thailand volunteers. Basic Thai etiquette includes knowing how to properly wai, removing your shoes when entering a home/church/temple, not touching heads or pointing with feet, and using proper phrases to acknowledge the age of the person you are speaking with.

After we finished this curriculum introduction Esther took us to an incredible charity called Thai Village. A Lutheran church non-profit, Thai Village is a fair trade and handmade craft shop that employs people who are having a difficult time finding or holding a job. People suffering from mental illnesses are their target population for employing by teaching them a handicraft or encouraging them to use skills they already know. This allows these individuals to be able to work from home and generate an income. Other people that are employed include recently released prisoners, new mothers, and homeless people. This kind of ministry was incredibly heartwarming and one of the top favorite places we have visited. Shopping at fair trade companies are a definite hobby for Kelsey and this was a great opportunity to support a ministry. Later on we made a stop for shopping and dinner at Big C. Big C is like the Thai version of Walmart with a mini mall and food court. We were able to stock up on supplies for the week and show our new-to-Thailand friends some authentic Thai dishes.

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Tuesday: MFN Curriculum Training, Thai Massage, and Dinner at Black Canyon

Tuesday morning was focused on introducing curriculum for the McCormick Faculty of Nursing English Camp that was to take place the following day. The faculty professors that were volunteering prepared an hour long presentation on Buddhism to teach us basic practices of this dominant culture and religion. It was enlightening (haha). Tuesday afternoon, Esther took us to the best massage place ever and our Thai massage experience was redeemed. Spending an afternoon relaxing was much needed after so many busy days! For dinner we ate at Black Canyon Cafe – a place known for their coffee but had decent food as well. We were so excited to start teaching English and meet our students the next day!

Wednesday: Day #1 of MFN (Getting Around), Bud’s Ice Cream, McKean Rehabilitation Center, and Dinner at VT

During our time here in Chiang Mai, we have been working on developing the English Fun Camp curriculum. We have met with three English instructors from Payap University to understand the content they wanted the students to learn and then develop it into a working curriculum. This Wednesday, we finally saw our hard work in action on the first day of English Fun Camp for the nursing students. During the first session, students learned about different transportation vocabulary and shared about how to get around Chiang Mai. We enjoyed joining in with the games and songs and watching Jane and Pastor Pong deliver the penalty, of a dose of baby powder, when participants lost the games.

For those of you that don’t know what happens at English Camp, here is a short outline: The first thirty minutes consist of Jane and Pastor Pong getting students excited and warmed up. Usually they will sing songs with actions, play games, and send everyone off to their first session with smiles on their faces! Then there are two forty-five minute sessions with a break in-between. During the sessions there are two different stations going, one station that teaches the content and another station that reviews and plays activities using the content. After the sessions we come back together for some more songs and games with Jane and Pastor Pong.

To celebrate our awesome morning, we indulged ourselves on some Bud’s Ice Cream and enjoyed an afternoon at McKean Rehabilitation Center. We have visited McKean earlier in our time here in Thailand and this time were able to learn more about the center’s history. The tour was led by a friend of Esther’s, Heather, who has dedicated her life to the center and its development. We ended our day with a lovely dinner at VT, a Vietnamese restaurant, dining on poorly made spring rolls and enjoying the company of the other volunteers.

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Thursday: Coffee with John and Patti, Day #2 of MFN (Personality), and Spaghetti Dinner

On Thursday morning, the MFN faculty had a ceremony so we did not teach until the after lunch, meaning free time! Patty and John asked if they could take us to their favorite coffee shop, Chiang Mai Rice Life, which is a small coffee shop located right next to rice fields with an amazing view of the mountains. It is absolutely breathtaking. It was a wonderful start to our morning; filled with great conversations and laughter.

Side note: We have had the joy of getting to know Patty, a fellow volunteer, and her husband John. John is originally from Bangkok, Thailand and went to college in America. There Patty and John met, raised a family, and now have decided to retire in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Patty heard about volunteering at the English camp through her church in California and knew that it would be a perfect opportunity. We have enjoyed getting to know this couple and appreciate their willingness to share with us.

After our coffee date we headed off to our second day of teaching at MFN. On this day, we taught students about different personality traits and encouraged them to describe themselves, their friends, and their families. We had a blast and felt that the students were coming out of their shells and talking in more English during this second day. It was also enjoyable to see the connections and relationships that were being made during the camp, God was and is working on these student’s hearts! When we had finished teaching we enjoyed a nice walk over to Esther’s house for spaghetti dinner. Tonight was the biggest crowd of people that I have ever witnessed at a spaghetti dinner. There was a group that joined the dinner from Pepperdine University, the normal attendees, and the English camp volunteers (us). It was an enjoyable of fellowship and talking to new faces about their experiences in Thailand. Oh, and the ice cream was fabulous!

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Friday: Day #3 of MFN (Cooking), Wiang Kum Kam, Dinner at Duke’s, and Night Bazaar

On Friday, we wrapped up our last day of English Fun Camp with MFN, it was bittersweet! For the last day we taught the students about cooking. It was enjoyable to see how much English students already knew about food and the conversations we were able to have because of this. In all, our time teaching the MFN English Fun Camp was rewarding and one that will stick with us. After finishing our ceremonial last day, the MFN faculty hosted a small lunch for the volunteers, featuring Kelsey’s favorite: Pad Thai, and thanked us for our dedication and hard work. Afterwards we headed off to Wiang Kum Kam with the students and faculty. The story behind Wiang Kum Kam is that the original city of Chiang Mai used to be located in this area but around 700 years ago it was moved to its current location due to flooding from the Ping river (the major river that flows through Chiang Mai). After many years, the people of Chiang Mai did not know that the old city ruins existed in this spot and began building houses and shops in this area. Around the 1980s the ruins of the old city were discovered and today you can travel by open air bus with a tour guide to visit each of the locations that have been excavated. Many of the areas that were excavated contain Buddhist temples and the ruins from the old city. Experiencing this historical site with the MFN students was enjoyable and eye opening to see many of the students worshipping at the many temples during the tour. It was a reminder of the continuing fight for Christ here in Thailand.

After this historical tour, we enjoyed a lovely American meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Duke’s! We dined on pizza, burgers, onion rings, and salad. When we had finished our delicious meal we headed out to the Night Bazaar. The Night Bazaar is a HUGE market that is set up every night on one of the main roads in downtown Chiang Mai. It is full of different vendors and lots of people. We enjoyed exploring this new market and spending time with friends.

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Saturday: Elephant Camp, Wua Lai Walking Street with MFN Ambassadors

Saturday was probably one of the best days in Thailand. Kelsey was adamant on having an ethical tourist experience with elephants and found a non-riding camp called “Elephant Rescue Park”. An hour outside of Chiang Mai, this rescue center focuses on helping rehab elephants that have been abused by the tourist riding industry, logging industry, and circus shows. Their mission is bittersweet because it’s incredible that they’ve helped these beautiful and emotional creatures but sad when a few have had tragic premature deaths as a result of the abuse they’ve received. The three baby elephants we spent the day with were from circus shows so they have some cute tricks they like to show off and the mother elephant is very protective of the smaller ones! We began our day with feeding the elephants bananas and going on a hike with them. It was so much fun getting to know their personalities over the few hours we spent together. The mother, Maa Kham Noi, is nursing the oldest baby, Shabu, who is the smallest due to being separated from his mother at way too young of an age. The other two babies (I say babies, they were three years old though) named Nam Choke and Palin are “boyfriend/girlfriend” which was pretty cute. After walking a long ways we came to the pond that they bathe in – and we got in too!! We scrubbed them down and they splashed so much water at us with their trunks. This was the best experience ever and we were so sad to leave. But after visiting the elephants (and taking a much needed shower after bathing with elephants) we went to the Wua Lai Walking Street with some older nursing students to give them an opportunity to practice English with native speakers. These students are MFN Ambassadors and promote their college. The students are the top of their class and we learned that most of their free time is spent studying or writing papers for nursing school. The students were able to show us around the market and share their favorite things about Chiang Mai with us. Spending time exploring a new market with our new friends made for a fun end to our Saturday!

Sunday: Music Sunday at Payap Church, Walking Prayer with Payap Church, and Sunday Walking Street

Sunday was a special service at Payap Church filled with music, drama, dancing, and praise including all members of Payap. Many groups and individuals performed throughout the service. One of our favorites was the skit of Jesus walking on water from Matthew 14:22-33. Our Knox group sang “Power of your Love” and “Sanctuary” to the congregation acapella! Marisa, Kelsey, and Kira sang with the youth and we enjoyed many different Thai songs and dance. Following service a large group went on a prayer walk around campus and spent an hour in group and individual prayer focused on Payap Church, Payap University, and various ministries. We ended our day at the Sunday Walking Street with our wonderful hosts, Jane and Tu, and enjoyed time exploring the massive market!

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Reflections so far…

Kelsey:

As I look back to the very beginning stages of making this summer partnership a dream come true, I realize that God spoke to me for the second time this year. This time he was pulling my heart strings to Thailand. I have been so blessed to find a family in Payap Church and a home in Chiang Mai. I certainly have not grown weary eating the delicious Thai food every day and am loving being surrounded by bright green mountains. Thai hospitality is the real deal and my biggest cultural take-away is Thai time. There is a noticeable lack of presence of clocks and time is not of the essence here. For the most part, there is no set and stone time for the start and end of events but people come and stay in the moment for as long as it lasts. This is most noticeable, and appreciated, during church service. The youth start by singing while people trickle in to the sanctuary and eventually Pastor Pong begins the service – which proceeds on its own accord and can end anywhere from 12 to 1 or later. Even better, everyone stays after for community time over lunch. Holding on to the present moment and making the most of the time you have with the people you’re with is a beautiful concept that isn’t as cherished in the fast-paced society of America. I have had the opportunity to really deepen relationships with my friends here and I could not be more grateful.

This summer we have gotten to know many different ministries and departments throughout Chiang Mai and we have witnessed the powerful fight here in Thailand. 1% of Thais are Christian, 96% are Buddhist. There are temples everywhere and Buddhist culture is deeply engrained into society. The numbers are intimidating but it has been the greatest inspiration to be surrounded by so many Christians doing God’s work in Thailand and hearing testimony after testimony of what God has done in their life. I had a few spiritual weaknesses coming into this summer – praying out loud and evangelism. But God knew what He was doing bringing me here because I couldn’t run away from it anymore. My faith is deeper, my heart for God stronger than ever, my comfort in sharing in the Lord’s Word has exponentially increased, and I have a newfound love for prayer both alone and with friends (many times a day!).

We are blessed beyond measure. God is doing incredible work here in Thailand but we aren’t done yet. He’s prepping us for the battle at home – in our hearts, with society, and against the atheist culture that predominates our lives. Sometimes it feels like I am in the 1% at home. So the work is never done. My dad’s life verse has been drilled into my sister and I’s heads over the years but has never been more clearly needed until this summer and right now:

1 Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, the Lord God, my God, is with you”.

Although our time in Thailand is close to the end (for now…), our work isn’t close to being over. The relationships we have made and the incredible wonders we have witnessed are all for His purpose and I hope that God will continue to use us as a tool for His Kingdom; that we may continue to build the Payap-Knox Partnership, and that we are His hands and feet at all times – doing His work.

 

Marisa:

As many of you know this is my second time visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand. Last year, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the English Fun Camp at Payap University and interact with Payap Church. It was then I fell in love with Thailand; who couldn’t resist the beautiful scenery, the hospitality of the people here, the loving nature of my sisters and brothers in Christ,  and most of all the way that God is constantly working in a country that is full of primarily Buddhist followers.

One thing I noticed last year and have witnessed even more this year is the strong faith of the believers I meet here. Everyday, Christian Thais wake up and decide love Christ, becoming that 1% that choose to proclaim their faith to others. This is not a right that Thais take for granted and I am in awe of their never ending faith in the Lord to spread Christianity across Thailand. This year being able to live this fight with my brothers and sisters in Christ has impacted the way I view sharing my faith with others, both abroad and when I return home to Kansas City.

Being given the opportunity to spend two months in my home away from home has been beyond amazing. I have experienced numerous of wonderful Thai traditions and seen beautiful scenery that God has made with His own hands. Chiang Mai sits in a valley surrounded by a beautiful mountain range; every morning there is a beautiful sunrise and a gorgeous sunset in the evening. But the part of this mission that will stick with me forever is the way the followers of Christ worship here in Thailand, without ceasing.

I will never be able to fully comprehend everything that God has done during my time in Thailand but I can express His overwhelming presence no matter how small the situation. One bible verse that has come to me over this mission is Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark worlds and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Christians in Thailand do not stop fighting the fight of faith every day, so why should we? I  pray that as Kelsey and I wrap up our time in Chiang Mai, that we are able to keep on fighting the fight of faith that is surrounding us.

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Update #6

Lunch with P’ Eed and Ba Yuriam

We were treated to our favorite healthy restaurant, Salad Concept, again with our friends Yuriam and P’ Eed! It was fun because it was their first time there and we went to a different location, so it was new to us as well! We enjoyed taking time to show our professional CCI dance troupe friends our attempt of Thai Dance and see her photos from performances around the world. A wholesome meal with good company made for the best day!

Tourist Day: Tiger Kingdom and Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden

We had a free day and were feeling tourist-y and convinced our friends to go with us to the Tiger Kingdom! This is a sanctuary and research clinic that protects tigers, an endangered species highly coveted in the southeast Asian black market, and domesticates them. We say domesticate because we went inside the cage of two “small” tigers (They were 9 months old) and pet them. We gave one of the tigers a belly rub. They were like giant, rough-furred dogs. There were also a few lions, including a playful young one, and two baby white tigers! We crossed something off our bucket list we never knew was even on there!!
After Tiger Kingdom we visited the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens up the mountain to enjoy the beautiful view, weather, and learn more about plants and ecosystems native to Thailand. There was a natural science museum we were learned that Thailand has ten different types of forests! We really enjoyed the beautiful succulents, orchids, carnivorous plants and the many lotus flowers.
This day wouldn’t have been as much fun if we weren’t with our good friends Jane, Pathai and Ruthai, so thank you guys for spending so much time with us!!

 

Happy Fourth of July!

We may be 8,342 miles away from home but we had to celebrate our American holiday! After our busy tourist day we spent a long time at the grocery store preparing for the party we were throwing with our youth friends for the Fourth of July. We even found some fireworks at a market!! The boys were really adamant on helping us cook… which meant teaching Ruthai how to cut a watermelon and laughing at Pathai for crying while cutting onions. Blasting some good music and making Kraft Mac n Cheese, homemade pizzas, and salad was so much fun. After everyone devoured all the American food we ran outside to play with sparklers (it’s really entertaining trying to teach them how to say “sparkler”) and set off three fireworks. We played cards and spent most of the night laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Hands down, one of the best Fourth of July celebrations we have experienced!

Church Ministry with Pastor Pong

Visiting the newest member of the Khamkongchan family!

First stop: On June 19th sweet Hannah Grace was brought into this world to our dear friends Dew and Riew…oh and Daniel too! We are so thankful for the opportunity to meet, cuddle, and hold Hannah. What a sweet little blessing to this amazing family! Thank you for your friendship and allowing us to love on your new addition, we love you all! P.S. Daniel is going to be the best big brother ever!

Lunch with P Art

Second stop: We enjoyed an elaborate buffet style lunch with P Art and Pastor Pong at the Empress Hotel. It was a delicious meal and we enjoyed visiting this beautiful hotel in Chiang Mai!

Visiting the Office of the First Church District in Thailand

Third stop: Pastor Pong took us to the office of the First Church district in Thailand. This is the district that Payap Church belongs to under the CCT (Church of Christ in Thailand) umbrella. Pastor Pong is the secretary and introduced us to Reverend Somchit who is the current president of the first district of CCT. Reverend Somchit talked to us about the first district of CCT and about our ministry in Chiang Mai. Thank you for your time and wealth of information!

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Thai Wedding

We had the honor of being invited to a Thai wedding of our friend’s, Ba Jane, daughter from Payap Church. We were able to attend the reception and the bridegroom and groom were very gracious to let us take pictures with them and see where their ceremony took place. They shared with us that during the ceremony white string were wrapped around their wrists and heads to signify an eternal bond. It was a wonderful cultural experience and celebration of love!

Kira and Dianne have ARRIVED!

Thursday night we drove to the airport to pick up our friends from Knox – Dianne and Kira!! Thankfully their flights all went very smooth and they actually arrived 30 minutes early to Chiang Mai! Of course, they were greeted with a big welcome sign and many hugs. We are so excited that they could join us for English Camp and are also grateful that Jeff Suknot finally arrived after a not-so-smooth travel experience. Welcome to Thailand, friends!

Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai

Friday was a free day with Dianne, Kira, Jane and P’ Tang and her daughter Way. We have been wanting to visit the Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai – an old quarry used to build the super highways around the city that has been turned into a water park for cliff jumping, swimming and playing. The water park was a humbling experience to say the least. We may have underestimated the show ‘Wipeout’ and had quite the workout climbing and jumping around all day. We are burnt, bruised and super super sore so it was a success.

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Dinner with Dr. Boonratna Boayen

We were invited for a dinner at the home of Reverend Boonratna with all the pastors, directors, and staff of various religious institutions we have taken a part of such as CCT, Religious staff at Prince Royal College, and people from Payap Church! There was a sermon before the dinner based on the 7th verse of the 7th chapter of the 7th book of the Bible (Judges 7:7). The day was also 7/7/17 and Reverend Boonratna is 77 years old! All of this has importance, culturally the number 7 represents great abundance. The Reverend Boonratna has grown and harvested figs at his home and this dinner and sermon was to bless the figs, so that they may be abundant this season. It was a wonderful time to spend with friends we have met the past few weeks and to enjoy some delicious figs!

Staying with Jane and Tu

MAJOR SHOUT OUT TO OUR FRIENDS AND HOST, JANE AND TU!!!

But seriously, thank you to Jane and Tu for opening your home and letting us stretch out and relax in our home away from home. Thank you for letting us drag you around Chiang Mai and coordinating our schedule. We are so blessed by your friendship and cannot wait to continue making memories these next couple of weeks.

Side note — Tu had to deal with FIVE women in their house for two days, he deserves a lot of praise!! Oh, and Jane really likes naps… 🙂

Thai Language Course #6

We have officially completed our Thai Language courses with Kru Pong…sad sad day. For our last class Dianne and Kira were able to join us and we “helped” Kru Pong teach. Thank you Kru Pong for your time spent on our curriculum, your endless energy, your understanding of our American/Thai accents, and your willingness to teach two Kansas girls some Thai! We will remember your efforts and gratitude every time we speak Thai!!

Dinner with English Camp Volunteers

We have officially moved on to our last mission of this trip, English Fun Camp at Payap University! Saturday was a busy day of moving into the PIH house and settling in. In the evening we enjoyed a dinner with some of the other English camp volunteers and started making plans for the next two weeks. We are so excited to start this new adventure and share this beautiful city with some new friends!

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Sunday at Payap Church

What a wonderful Sunday at Payap Church! Kira joined us in singing with the youth; we sang ‘Blessed Be Your Name’, ‘Our God’, ‘How Great is Our God’, and ‘You are My All in All’. Dianne presented the funds for the renovation project we will be completing at the end of the month, renovating a small room at Payap Church. This room will be used as a multi purpose room for young children during church, storage of church materials, and a meeting room. Pastor Pong began a sermon series about the Holy Spirit using scripture from Acts. We said good-bye to some of our youth friends who are heading back to their university and we matched, so of course we took a picture.

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Tourist Day: Doi Suthep and Walking Street

Joining other English Camp volunteers, we finally made our way up to Doi Suthep to see the beautiful view of the Chiang Mai city. It was a curvy ride up to the top but we enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers better and seeing the mountain. At the top, we stopped by the Orchid Jade Factory, to stay out of the rain, and learned about the jade business in Thailand. Afterwards we walked the 300 stairs up to the top! We toured the temple,  took pictures from the top, and marveled at God’s beautiful creation. After that we topped off our eventful afternoon with the Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street. It was enjoyable to be “tour guides” to the English Camp volunteers that have just joined us. What a wonderful day full of community and God’s beauty!

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Update #5

WE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A MONTH!!!

Whaaaaaaaat we have been living in Thailand for over a month now?!?! This is crazy. We have grown accustomed to a lot of the Thai culture, food, language and even the humidity without air conditioning. We are at the point where we finally are comfortable and know where we are at all times around Chiang Mai! This journey has been such a blessing and none of this would be possible without all of the hard work and constant love from our friends of Payap Church. We are so thankful for all of you!

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Lamp of Thailand

Monday morning we spent time with the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) in the Lamp of Thailand department. This is a non-profit program that develops curriculum to distribute around Thailand to educate people about Christian life and the teachings of Jesus. There are multiple levels ranging from basic understandings of Christian religion and God to evangelizing other people. Many churches use these programs for Sunday School curriculum and when students “graduate” from their programs they receive certificates – an important symbol of status in this hierarchical society. Lamp of Thailand ministers to many different types of people: church members, non-believers, prisoners, and many different languages. We really enjoyed the time spent with the staff, helping staple papers, and eating out at a delicious Thai buffet!

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Thai Dance

The talented and beautiful P’ Jan spent Monday and Tuesday afternoon with us in her new dance studio patiently teaching us Thai dance! We learned the “simple” Fingernail Dance, the crazy difficult stretches, and dressed up in her beautiful traditional Thai outfits. We loved the music but dancing slowly and gracefully was so difficult! This has been one of our favorite experiences so far but no… we won’t perform at Knox…

CCT Evangelism Department

Only 1% of the people in Thailand are Christians. CCT Evangelism Department works very hard traveling around Thailand for most of the year to all of the provinces and many villages. They tour schools as well as host programs and camps for kids to become interested in becoming a Christian. They also partner with CCT Youth to help evangelize to more children amongst the schools around Thailand. The work they do every day for the Lord is so inspiring and they have converted countless people. What a blessing to witness the work God is doing through them in Thailand.

Dinner with Kaewsawad Family

Not only did we get to have P’ Cheep as our professional uber driver for the week but we also had the joy of dining with his family. We listened to the Kaewsawad family’s testimony, dined on some yummy food, and enjoyed the cool breeze and rainfall. After dinner, we stopped for the always needed ice cream treat. Thank you for a delightful evening!

CCT Youth Department

Wednesday morning, we had the opportunity to visit and spend time with the staff of CCT Youth. CCT Youth is a department in the Church of Christ in Thailand. This department hosts events, supports church youth, and provides Christian educational material to churches all over Thailand. We had an enjoyable time learning about what CCT Youth does and helping them put together name tags for their youth retreat this weekend. After visiting we joined them for lunch at Salad Concept. This restaurant was delicious and full of yummy vegetarian food and we enjoyed the hipster atmosphere. Thank you CCT Youth Department for a wonderful morning and lunch!

Afternoon with Anet

Last Wednesday we had the most relaxing afternoon spent at the pool in the Eco Resort and Spa down the street from Anet’s home. We enjoyed the time in the sun, the cool water after a walk in this heat, and a homemade meal with Anet and P’ Jew! Anet is an American missionary from Indiana who has been living in Thailand for over thirty years working at Payap University as part of the faculty for the music department teaching flute and music therapy. We truly enjoyed getting to know her more, thank you Anet!

Happy Birthday Jane!

Friday was Jane’s birthday!!!!! We are so happy to have spent another birthday with her! In Thailand, people apparently don’t acknowledge their birthday much more than a small dinner get together. We had to Americanize it this year. We spent the whole week bringing up the fact that it was going to be her birthday and then spent the night before baking pizzas, making salad, and celebrated with a nice dinner, special cake and presents!! Then on Friday night we spent time with the youth celebrating Jane at the Korean dessert restaurant. I think this was a successful celebration!! Happy Birthday dearest Janeny Jane.

McCormick Hospital

Friday day was spent with our neurosurgeon friend, Dr. Manode, at McCormick hospital. Fun fact: The King, who recently passed, and his father were both doctors who practiced medicine before inheriting the throne of Thailand! We started our day at McCormick folding napkins with some elderly volunteers who loved practicing their English. We then observed a Neurologist in her examination clinic seeing various cases of post-stroke patients, epilepsy, and dementia. Dr. Manode also showed us a few of his clinic patients and was a wonderful teacher in explaining cases, treatments, and surgery! We had lunch in the medical office and met an American-Thai doctor who is retired and volunteers to bring medicine and healthcare to the hill tribe villagers in the mountains! The most amazing part of our day was the opportunity to scrub in to the operating room to observe a general surgeon removing a bowel obstruction!! Kelsey was geeking out like no other and Marisa did a really great job observing from the back corner. When the intestine was removed they let Kelsey snip it open in a bowl – to her absolute pleasure. We would not have had such amazing opportunities at McCormick if it weren’t for our friend Dr. Manode!! We are so thankful for the experience and the time he took to teach us so much about healthcare in Thailand and his surgical experiences.

Group Prayer at Payap Church

Every Friday, members of Payap Church meet for group prayer and on the last Friday of the month there is a group prayer party with a pot luck dinner and worship. We enjoyed our evening with a normal routine of spending time with the members of Payap Church; eating and worshipping!

Ban Yindee Children’s Home

Saturday morning we went with the Women’s Group of Payap Church to the Children’s home ministry that they support on the edge of Chiang Mai. A pastor, his wife, and staff members care for about 25 children. The youngest is age four and the oldest is thirteen. Many are orphans from either parents splitting and being unable to afford the children, parents’ death, or from a family that cannot support the amount of children they have. It’s a very sad situation but they are given so much love and care by their new family. Also, it was incredible to watch the older children taking care of each other, especially the younger ones, and lovingly helping them with everything. They attend school at a nearby village and participate in different activities during the weekend. We sang songs, talked about the bible story, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, made a few crafts, played some games and ate lunch together. Our hearts are so full from the time spent with these beautiful children and witnessing God’s love in many aspects. We are so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with the Women’s Group and this ministry that Payap Church is supporting.

Dinner with Wasanchai and Yuriam

We wrapped up our busy Saturday by having our last dinner with Wasanchai and Yuriam. It has been a joy to spend time with both of them and get to know them better. This week Jane and Tu joined us as a special treat for Jane’s birthday! We dined on some delicious fried chicken and FRENCH FRIES!!! Thank you Wasanchai and Yuriam for being wonderful hosts, we are very blessed to have the opportunity to get to know you both.

Sunday at Payap Church

This Sunday we sang with the youth worship team again, this has been a highlight of our weekends! This week we sang “You Are My All in All”, “Give Thanks”, “This is the Day That the Lord Has Made”, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord”. Also, we got to meet some German missionaries and talk with them about their mission here in Thailand. We have enjoyed the opportunity to meet many other foreigners and learning about their missions here in Chiang Mai.

Thai Lesson #5

Because of our busy Saturday, we had a shorten Thai lesson on Sunday. Kru Pong taught us about directions and we have been practicing on our wonderful drivers!

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Walking Street with Payap Youth

On Sunday afternoon, we spent time with our friends playing Skip-Bo! and various games. We also convinced them to let Kelsey ride around the village on the back of their motorcycle – which turned into a lesson on how to drive a manual as well! (Yes, grandpa, I wore a helmet!!!!) I drove about fifteen feet and didn’t die thanks to my good friends. Thanks boys!

Sunday night we spent time wandering the Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street in Old City Chiang Mai. Even though we’ve visited before, and will go again, there are always so many new things to experience! Most importantly – Nutella waffles. So. Good. We tried various foods, stayed away from the fried insects, and enjoyed time exploring with our friends!

Staying with Jane and Tu

Jane and Tu are the most wonderful friends who have opened their home to us for the past two weeks and we are so blessed to continue to stay with them for one more week! We have loved the ample quality time spent with our dear friend Jane and are so excited to continue living here until moving into the PIH dorm on Saturday! Thank you Jane for giving us our own rooms and being the best queen of snacks ever!!!!!!

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