Arrived

Arrived Chiang Rai

Yesterday morning 4 of us gathered in the Lobby at Imms Hotel and our van and driver Khun Bum (เบิ้ม) were ready to take us to Chiang Rai.  After spending several days in the bustling city of Chiang Rai we were ready for the countryside of Thailand.  The countryside was breathtaking and personally for me I found many similarities to Norway (Sorry, can’t remove the Norwegian from this trip.)

We had a few stops on the way – a rest stop that served coffee, fresh grapefruit and many other foods along with many art items and clothes.

Back in the van we continued a little while and stopped at Suan Jarin (สวนจริน) for a nice lunch before heading on to meet the remainder of the team that arrived yesterday at Chiang Mai Airport.

It was wonderful to be gathered and with Faa from Grow Home taking the lead with our dinner plans we couldn’t have been in better hands.  After dinner we headed back to get some much- needed rest (especially for our newcomers).  We said good night and thanked God for safe travel and for the beauty He has created for us – if we choose to see it. 

Good Morning Chiang Rai

The abundance of mosquitoes last night is forgotten after a good night’s sleep at this lovely cottage owned by Pastor Arthur.  He had a vision and three years later this is the result.  I will find out more about this man and his passion for Christ - this beautiful place consists of little cottages that are absolutely stunningly made.  When did I ever wake up at 6 a.m. looking at my bedroom door with lights shining through a stained glass window?   Here is the Cottage Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/akhacottage

I couldn’t wait for anyone else to get up – I had to see the sunrise and I was not disappointed.  

Slowly but surely one after the other awoke to a lovely breakfast and Thai coffee – finally good Thai coffee – Yum!

Today we will leave and head for our retreat and meet the girls from “Feed Our Sheep,” the Safe House.  My heart is so full of excitement to see them again.

We are truly blessed with a glorious morning.   

Psalm 113:3-  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
Isaiah 41:25-  I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes— one from the rising sun who calls on my name.  He treads on rulers as if they were mortar, as if he were a potter treading the clay.
Isaiah 45:6- so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Awake in Phulare Valley


As we wake up to a new morning I am overwhelmed with emotion.

Arriving at our destination yesterday we met up with the ladies to spend 3 days at the A-Star Resort::  http://a-starphularevalley.com/#1
I don’t know how long we were hugging and wiping tears from our eyes before we finally released the grip we had on each other to find our rooms and put away our luggage.

There is nothing I can say to describe what I saw in the girls.  The apparent healthy changes in some were so obvious and beautiful and then there was also the sadness of missing some of the girls that had been with us last year.  But new girls were among the group and they were ready to be loved!  After luggage was put away we gathered in a big assembly room and again were gifted with the music of Burma.  Sweet sounds of their voices grew and grew in our room with Leik playing the guitar. The voices and prayers rose to heights that had stayed with me from last year. I will try later to record for you their praise and worship!

From the smallest to the oldest they praised and worshiped – eyes closed – hands either lifted or folded.  They know Christ – They show Christ in every breath, story and song they sing.

We tried to sing along at times but their English is better then any of our Burmese - smiles….

The girls then introduced themselves to us and shared. These are a few things they were grateful for and thanked God and us for:

  • The lunch they just had with us

  • The bed in their room

  • The shower and toilet in their room

  • If this is so beautiful – how much more Heaven will be beautiful

  • That they are loved

  • That they are not forgotten

  • That some are able to go to school

  • That we are here and traveled so far to see them

  • That God is so good to them
     
    How grateful they are!

After prayer time it was swim time.

They were so excited to go in the pool with us and some were excited to show their swimming abilities, others needed to learn to even step into the water.  One step at a time they all joined in and oh what fun it was – playtime where we all became children together.
We did promise there will be more pool time, and smiles were GIANT!
 
After showers we gathered in the lobby to be shuttled to a nearby restaurant to have dinner. Food is never nor will it ever be a problem for the girls to enjoy.  As soon as we are served everyone helps each other with serving each other,.  It’s not help myself first and then maybe help my neighbor.  No, here it’s the other way, and soon plates were empty and stomachs were full.

As dinner finished it was back in our vans where we sang “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” – Much clapping after our first day together.

Today is a new day and I cannot wait to see what God will do!


Revelation 21:5
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Playtime

Starting our day with devotions, music and Scripture together with the girls is hard to describe. They worship with their entire mind, body & soul.

After music Pastor Sarah read from Isaiah.  

Deliverance Then and Deliverance Now & it is Available to All!

We learned the deeper meaning of each verse.  As always around these girls, tears flow like a river - we cried, smiled end felt encouraged with newfound strength.

After devotion the girls wanted to dance for us and they changed into bright green tops with dark long skirts. Breathtaking!

To me it is still so amazing how they stand tall, proud and smiling – these girls are my heroes!

A little later after changed into our play clothes, we headed off to go bowling and Pastor Irene was crowned champion of the day! We had so much fun playing around like children and dancing from the Macarena to the Texas Freeze ~~~

The girls are so creative and talented – some of us were lucky enough to have them braid our hair with fun twists and turns.

After bowling we headed to the mall to go shopping.  The girls received their shopping money and the gratitude is unlike anything we see in the Western world.

After a while we headed to the Food Court – This was not a food court like in the USA.  Crepes filled with who knows what and ice cream toppings that are colorful but a little over the top … smiles. 

After the food court we walked down to another shopping center to do some more shopping because the girls felt that they could get more for their money there.  They are frugal and wise with their choices.

It was late when all shopping was done and we headed home in 2 different Songthaews (Personal Buses).

One of the things we noticed is that all the girls would grab our bags and never were we allowed to carry or hold anything ourselves.  Their patience waiting for the car and transport was amazing and never one word of complaint or whining about anything came from them. It is simply not even thought of! Impatience – not in their vocabulary.

We were squeezed in together like a close-knit family.  David was a little more squeezed in the front seat – knees to his chest – it was a moment we will never forget.

Once seated in our transport for the night, the girls started massaging our shoulders, hands and backs all while they smiled and laughed.  Trying to get them to stop was impossible and trying to give them the same treatment was quickly stopped.

On our way home we stopped for water bottles and the lady selling us the water asked where we were going with all the water.  We probably looked a little crazy with hair sticking up and out everywhere after being massaged – our answer was: to our Hotel of course … lol - who brings cases and cases of water to a hotel – Westerners like us.

Our trip home to the hotel was so fun that we didn’t realize our driver had passed our turnoff and we had driven 20 minutes ahead.  We came to a police checkpoint and were told we needed to turn back.  LOL – we crazy Westerners!

 

A New Day In Paradise:

After a good night’s sleep and still laughing after our day of play we gathered after breakfast for our daily morning devotions.

Pastor Jeff was able to do “Facetime” with us and played the song “Back to Back.”  The girls broke down in tears.  Every one of you that have been here have made an impact and every one of you are truly missed! Every one of you made an impact!

After a while Pastor Leik started playing and again the room was filled with worship and praise.

After music Pastor Sarah read James 5:17-18.  

Elijah was a human being even as we are.  He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.  Again he prayed and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crops.

I Make It Rain - Prayer of the Righteous ~~~

After worship we had sweet times of sharing stories, playing and just enjoying one another. 

We had a day full of adventure from kite decorating to bike riding,  and of course more swimming time.  It’s remarkable to see the girls advance so fast from some being hesitant at first to test the water to diving and swimming by the end of the stay.

Dinner time with pizza was done with “disco” lights and music, sharing and praise.

Again a perfect day!

 

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Tearful Goodbyes:

The girls thanked us after each activity and it is truly a lesson for us. Their gratitude reminds us of how quickly our world can become all about my home, my family, my work, my,my,my....Our lives HAVE to be about bigger things.  This world is breaking around us and we GET TO become life and restoration and hope by the power of Jesus in those broken places.  In the process we experience healing and hope in our own lives.  It's a beautiful exchange of life!  God is moving in our team members, as well, healing and using them to heal.

Keep the prayers coming!  We are really desiring to go across the border next week.  Election results have still not been made official.


Scripture for today: Isaiah 40:9-11

“You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.


Our Shepard Gathers Us in His Arms ~~~


Grow Home

We arrived at the GROW Home (see link) http://grow-worldwide.com/faas-story/ on November 13th and were greeted like royalty by the children.  They had made a beautiful artistic banner to welcome us.  After sharing a meal (you never go hungry in Thailand), the children sang for us and soon we were playing magical chairs and other games and it was as if we had been together for a long time. It was obvious that the children missed some of the team members from last year and we missed your presence. After games and songs it was back to our hotel for some much-needed rest.

It had been an emotional day (like so many we have while here) – saying goodbye to the girls and saying hello to everyone at GROW – we were ready for much-needed sleep.


November 14, 2015

As morning came upon us we geared up for a day of work and headed back to GROW.

Randy Bevis joined us to meet with Faa regarding starting a fish farm and he brought much knowledge to the table after having lived here in Thailand for more then 20 years.  Here is more detail about Randy: http://www.in-seine.org/about-us.html

We walked the grounds and surveyed all the lushness. From teak trees to vegetables, herbs, and fruits, all grown on the property. There were chickens as well – although as Faa said she doesn't know how many there are right now because they eat them. We ventured around the entire property down to a lake where at times the children go swimming.

Saturday is free playtime for the children and they gather in groups to draw, play, play sports, etc. and do what all kids do – be kids!

The kites that were brought were again a big hit and the children decorated them and started to run the soccer field length to make sure their kites flew high in the air. 

Artistic talents are being put to great use by the team. With the vision of GROW's intern, a talented artist on the team, and the help of willing painters, we are creating a simple mural for the girl's home.

We worked out in the field thrashing rice for next year’s supply. We can officially say we have helped harvest rice and all of us have a new found appreciation for the grain.

Covered in dirt/dust and who knows what else lol, we headed back to our hotel for showers and a change of clothes before back for a delicious Thai meal with ingredients picked right from the backyard, including the RICE!

One of our team members has been so taken with the culture she has decided to marry a leader of a hill tribe and as you can see she is completely at ease with her new role.  :)

Much too soon another day was over.

Sunday Worship At GROW Home

We joined the children & leaders for Sunday worship.  They started with music and songs and had a projector so we could sing along in either our crazy Thai or English.  There was prayer and sharing time from both the leaders and children, and then prayer.

The boys performed a traditional dance for us that was so very well done we felt we were at a formal Thai show.

Then our team did a skit of the Good Samaritan. The children were delighted and although we would not win any Oscar, in the children’s faces we could see joy and laughter and that was our Oscar!

Scriptures were read one by one from our team and Faa translated as we spoke about the Scripture we had all chosen.  

It was great to see the children praying in Thai style (all together loud and clear), heads bowed.

After service we cleaned up the room and got ready for lunch so we could enjoy the rest of the day together.

We headed off to the White Temple and then it was off to the zoo.

The children at GROW took longer to warm up to our presence at their home. At first we wondered why they weren’t sitting by us or trying to play after the second day.  But we realized they are simply guarding their hearts from opening to potentially unworthy strangers.

However, after our field trip to the White Temple and the zoo it was clear they wanted us to be there enjoying the day.  Holding hands, little ones falling asleep on our shoulders, and sharing treats, it finally felt like we were making a difference.

Yes, we are at GROW to get some projects done and learn about the organization, but it is our highest purpose to simply love on the children.  Showing them GOD IS LOVE and them sharing it back is the ultimate service we can do and we feel blessed to have shared a wonderfully fun day with these precious kiddos!


GROW Farewell Day

Throughout the last two weeks there have been many wonderful days, but today, I think we all agreed, will hold a special place in our hearts.

We started our day with Maria (a friend of Faa's) teaching us a little more about the culture of Thailand. There was a lot of new awareness of our surroundings as she spoke of the history of Thailand and its deeply embedded culture.  We spoke about the political system, royalty and the differences between Christianity and Buddhism.  We left the table with a much greater understanding of the Thai people and are very thankful that Faa arranged this time with Maria!

Faa and other wonderful GROW staff took us up the mountain to visit the coffee plantation where they get the coffee beans they sell to raise funds. Not only was it a perfectly gorgeous day to ride in the back of the truck and suntan, but also to pick fresh passionfruit and coffee right from the plant. 

We met up with Patrick (Pat) and visited with him in his home while he made us absolutely delicious coffee.  His grandmother visited a little with us just as she had a year ago and they were such gracious hosts serving us delicious fried rice and omelets.

Patrick is amazing.  Here is a young man that left home at 12, became a pastor through seminary in Bangkok, and returned to the hills from where he came because his heart is so full of the love of Christ that he wants to help hill tribes.  His heart is for the youth and currently he preaches at a church.

We are bringing home delicious AB0NZO COFFEE!!  You can find Pat on Facebook for now as he is building a website and we hope to help him expand his coffee distribution throughout CA.

https://www.facebook.com/pattarachai.pat?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

https://www.facebook.com/AbonzoCoffee/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Just as we have much more respect for the rice we eat, every cup of coffee we drink will be enjoyed with the knowledge of the love and sweat that goes into the harvest, storing and preparation to make the finished product.  Never has passionfruit tasted better!

We enjoyed the beauty of the mountains overlooking breathtaking views and seeing the sun set in the west.

But the most amazing part of today was coming back to GROW for dinner. The girls and boys prepared very special traditional Thai dances for us dressed in their sweet Thai costumes. They danced as strong warriors thwarting enemies, and tossed petals toward us signifying a blessing to us.  All we could do was cheer and clap like proud parents letting them know how much we enjoyed their hard work.

Unfortunately, tonight we had to say our goodbyes which were filled with many tears and hugs. However, before leaving my team and I presented them with soccer gear and handmade quilts. The pure joy that came across their faces was the most precious thing I have ever seen!

There is nothing greater than seeing joy pour from these kids who are new to this emotion. It is heartbreaking hearing their stories and these are the things they are grateful for:

  • Enough food
  • A bed of their own
  • Playing & riding bikes
  • Clothes
  • Friends

We have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to play, paint and spend time with them and show them they are truly loved.

We said goodbye to the GROW children tonight and released lanterns into the air to mark the occasion.  The Festival of Lights starts next week, but we celebrated tonight anyway!  We watched the flames lick the wood of the base and begin to glow.  When each lantern had enough flame, we sent them off into the sky.  With the lantern went our prayers. We left tonight with a large bouquet of flowers that had been in the girls’  hair during their performance.

We reluctantly sense how quickly this trip is coming to a close and dread returning to the everyday and were a somber group heading for our beds.  We will miss our GROW Home family ~~~

Soul Friendships on a Tuesday

We arrived to be with our girls and were greeted with smiles, love and hugs that wouldn't end. These friendships are built over a period of time and as trust has grown between us, it is evident that these friendships are deep and forever connected in our souls. 

Soon we sat with them watching them create beautiful jewelry.  Their ability to make so much beauty with almost nothing and create stunning necklaces and earrings is incredible.  

We then sat down to a table fit for a king and enjoyed our dinner and conversation. 

Afterwards we enjoyed performances from the children and it was precious to watch.  Their pitch and timing were perfect in every way.

Darkness may loom outside these walls, but in here the light of the Holy Spirit lights up the room.  Voices of joy and praise are lifted to heaven and we know that we are just where we need to be!  

After performances it was time for musical chairs and another game called "zoom & eeack" - ask one of us what that is when we come back and we'll be happy to play with you.

Pies were on the menu for dessert: pumpkin (with half the sugar of any American pie), apple, banana and a delicious macadamia nut.

Night came and we headed for our hotel for the night and we thank God for allowing us to be here with everyone.  Sleep came perhaps a little slow to many of us as we are reminded of all the blessings we take for granted!


Therapy for Hearts & Body on a Wednesday:

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The one and only "fearless" leader came to our hotel this morning and gathered us up, very much like a mother would gather her flock. Some of us were lucky to be able to sit on the outside of our transportation and could watch as the streets started to wake up.  Only a few hours ago street markets were empty and deserted. Doors rolled down and we know that some basically roll down the door and head in the back of their shop were they live and settle in for the night. The markets and streets were coming alive to a new day.

We arrived to a beautiful breakfast and our usual treatment as if we were royalty.  Shouldn't it be the other way around? These ladies and children truly live out the servanthood that Jesus speaks of.  The Least of These!


The leaders here, teach on Mathew 5:


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We have much to learn from them - they give it all!

After a morning of arts and crafts we were given facials & massages! Yes you are reading correctly - we were given a spa treatment consisting of:

  • Cleansing
  • Scrubbing
  • Flower mask
  • Final cooling mask
  • Massage of hands and feet
  • Nails manicured and designs

We felt like we were in paradise and I think some of us dozed off.  Something special happened to all of us and their touch had such a healing effect on us that I would say we glowed.  Perhaps some of the abundance of their spirit jumped over into us? Wouldn't that be amazing!!  

After lunch and more games "our" fearless leader got a long-needed and overdue ride on a motorcycle!

Hair braiding is a daily gift from the girls to some of us and I wish I could bring these artists back home with me. A combo of soccer and volleyball was played in the courtyard and not once did the ball fly over the fence, which was surprising.  We played cards and more games until dinner time.

As we piled up in vehicles we headed out to their favorite "noodle" place and ate like we had never seen food before.  Where they put all the food is beyond my comprehension as they don't have an ounce of extra weight on them. This is the only place where a motorcycle can actually drive past our table and park and that we can count family-friendly geckos on the wall.

We have been given this wonderful gift of spending time with these friends of ours and I think I can speak for us all - we are humbled with gratitude!