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*Sentences in blue correspond to pictures immediately following each report.


Saturday, June 30
We got in around 11 PM last night. Arriving in Chiang Mai is great, a small airport so we got through immigration in about 20 minutes and got all our luggage (praise God). We were met by Ching and Thang Ngaihte, Pastor Gampon Kumdee, and Geraldine, Tim and Andrew Cuyegkeng who were here for a few days on vacation. We got to the City Gate Church before midnight, got everyone settled and had a good but short sleep.

Because of jet lag, we were up fairly early and had a wonderful breakfast cooked by Du, one of the lady staff from the church. Auntie Sue has stomach problems so please pray for her as she stayed in the guest house today. The rest of us went to a special house dedication service. One of Pastor Gampon's members bought a new house and we were invited to sing at this service. We got there at 10 for what turned out to be a 2 hour service. We sang Jesus, Name Above All Names and reminded the guests (about 60) that we should enjoy God's blessings here, but to "Lay up Your Treasures in Heaven". There was another group of visitors there who are interns to encourage their church members to be missional. Two were from Cameroon, one from Ghana, 3 from the US (including a girl who is a student at APU and works for the Glendale Fire Dept.) led by a lady pastor from Hong Kong. They sang a couple of worship songs and it was a joy to meet them.

After lunch at the house, we went to a shopping mall so we could exchange $ for bahts. Mei and I got separated from the group but found each other after about 40 minutes. We are now back at the church and guest house and Pastor Tom will be leaving in a few minutes to go pick up the Indonesian team (Czrilla, Nadia and Aaron from the US and Tia, Jessie, Holy, Andrew and Glory).
 
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Sunday, July 1
- The Indonesian team arrived an hour late yesterday afternoon, just in time for dinner, and they were hungry, since Air Asia does not serve any food (without charging a lot). Dinner was a delicious curry chicken, veggies and lots of delicious, mouth watering fruit - mangos, pineapples, lychees, etc. Pastor Gampon briefed us about Thai culture and we spent a little time practicing together; and then Ching briefed us on the ministries we will be doing with her. We then went to bed early and almost all of us slept well.

Today got off to an early start but we were up to it. Sue is much better for which we thank God and all your prayers. We left for Chiangdao to a village church (mainly Kachin) made up of refugees from Burma. Service started at 9 with enthusiastic singing and a communion service. When we got there before 10, there were perhaps 100 adults and 40 or 50 plus children who sat quietly through the whole 3 hour service. There were another 20 or 30 sitting outside after we got in. We were given our time to share at 10:45. Since they had only a small keyboard, we sang only acapella songs. Andrew (from Indonesia) shared how he was given tips from the parents of the students he was teaching, exceeding what he should have received. When he reported this to the school, he was severely punished but was not expelled. Though he felt it was unfair, he soon realized how the school had given him a second chance, much like the many chances God had given us when we sin, and learned to thank God for His blessings. We also did the "give your heart to God" skit and Andrew Cuyegkeng shared how he learned about God's goodness when his dad was able to find a job in the Philippines after his family prayed so long and hard. Pastor Tom then gave a message about finding the "pearl of great price". We concluded the service with a challenge for all to "lay up your treasure in heaven" and "The Lord Bless You and Keep You". Their children, who had sung earlier, sang again and a short snippet is posted on YouTube (http://youtu.be/1A-mHL1dmfA). We had previously given Ching Ngaihte money to buy lunch for the whole congregation so after the service, we all had a great fellowship lunch together much like we do at FEC except for the language barrier. The adults (including us) sat down while their elementary school kids served us lunch, and then ate when we were done.

After lunch, we met with all the children and played games with them. We played the name identifying game, identify who the leader is in a follow-the-leader game, duck, duck, goose, and then we taught them how to make the good news beads as Auntie Sue explained the Gospel message to them in the color of the beads. Meanwhile, Ching and Mei met with the ladies of the village and had a good time meeting. We found out that the pastor and his wife have served there for 30 years, and the church is so poor he gets only 3500 baht a month (less than $120). We also met a Chinese man, Mr. Lee, who came with the Chinese army, got stranded here, read the Bible and became a Christian, received some training and is now an itinerant preacher preaching the Gospel to minority groups. We left and returned to Chiang Mai where we went to the night market to eat dinner, treated by Marshall and Mei, returned home, and debriefed our day.

 
 

 
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Monday, July 2 - Today is a fairly light day so we slept in and had breakfast at 8:30. Du, the lady cooking for us is a wonderful cook who makes delicious, healthy balanced food and we thank God for her. After breakfast, we worshipped, did small group devotions and discussed shared a little. Since it is a light day, we took the time to get some of our clothes washed, and ate lunch at the church.

We left around 3:30 to go to the Light for Kids Orphanage, an organization supported by Linda Lau's foundation. Located on the outskirts of Chiangmai, we found a well organized farm with rice fields, covered vegetable garden, fish pond, chickens, ducks and pigs and 33 children with 2 sets of host parents and a pastor named Nipon and his wife. Nipon founded the orphanage 6 years ago when God called him away for his government job as a broadcaster to care for orphans. He poured all his money into the orphanage and learned to live day to day trusting God to meet their daily needs and teach the children about Jesus. He told us how during the early days when the children wanted a TV or pizza to pray and how God miraculously provided. The most amazing story was when they still had grass roofs and a monsoon came to Chiangmai. As the winds blew, the roof would start to lift off the building. One of the children said they should pray and so every time the roof started to rise, they would shout "hallelujah, praise the Lord" and the roof would fall back in place. They survived the storm this way intact. We found the children to be extremely well-behaved, friendly, and full of smiles. We sang a couple of songs to them and taught them to sing the Orchestra Song with us and had a joyous time together (we will be returning there on Wednesday for a concert in their chapel for their congregation) and ate a great dinner they cooked for us. Each of us gave a donation to this orphanage and we collected over 5,000 baht (about $170) and we will be buying dinner for them when we go there Wednesday night for the concert.

 
 
 
 
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Tuesday, July 3 - At the Light for Kids Orphanage yesterday, Natalie had an opportunity to share her faith with one of our van drivers, Ed, with Auntie Sue interpreting. Sue also shared with an Australian who was visiting the orphanage but no decisions were made. Just continue to pray for these divine appointments. The driver is quite curious and open and asked Ching a lot of questions on the drive back. Our primary van driver is a man named Boyle, who is not only a believer, but an ordained pastor who earns his living driving and using the money he earns for ministry. Joseph`s team arrived on time and got to home at about 11:30. Reina slept on the second leg of the flight so she was OK.

Today, we met at 6:15 to eat a quick breakfast of PB&J or nutella sandwich. Our full team is finally here and we need 3 vans now. Our third driver is Simon, also a believer as is Moses who sometimes substitutes for Boyle. Simon also is in ministry. We sang at the Payab Nursing University`s chapel service from 7:30 to 8. There were only about 20 students there but we enjoyed singing with a real piano and they enjoyed our singing. We then went to the Royal Prince College to sing at their service for 11th grade students. The school has 6000 students and there were about 500 students there. Glory and Denise shared their testimonies and we did the puppet skit from last year in English while Sue translated to Thai. Pastor Tom gave a strong message and about 30 to 50 indicated their desire to accept Christ. The numbers were hard to estimate since some did not seem serious but some were quite serious. The school was started as a Presbyterian school and they said they will follow up, but we are concerned because there is no regular Bible study for the students. Pray for these new believers and the Christian staff here. We spent some time with the Christian staff as they provided us some snacks. We then returned home to debrief.

We prayed for Auntie Mei who is experiencing a lot of back pain during debriefing. Pastor Gampon who was at church for staff meeting joined us and reminded us about ow much spiritual warfare is here in Thailand. He prayed for A. Mei`s back also. We ate another delightful home cooked meal from Du, who not only serves us by cooking so well, but saves us so much money by going to market and buying the food. After lunch, we did our small group devotions and took a short but needed nap, leaving at 3:30 for the Agape Children`s Home, started by a missionary for children with HIV/AIDS.

The weather has been wonderful here, cloudy and reasonably cool, but it started to pour when we were napping. But God is gracious, and it stopped raining before 3:30. We drove out to the orphanage and met Ellen, a missionary who has been there for more than 10 years. She explained how their founder saw this little 2 year old dying with AIDS 17 years ago with a tag by the doctor to let her die, but just by loving her, she did not die but got better even without the strong HIV drugs available now. This started the Agape Home, where we could see the love the staff pours into these little kids. This 2 year old is now 19, we met her, smiling and full of life, and there are over 90 other kids here in this beautiful facility. There are also 6 families living just outside the compound who have adopted some of these children with AIDS so they are actually living in real families. It was heart warming to see this. We sang a couple of songs to the kids, interrupting their homework (with permission, of course), and spent some time playing with the kids before their dinner at 5:30. We then left to go to Ching and Thang`s house where they cooked a special dinner for us, kind of a (delicious) Filipino meal. We found out that God really gave them this place, since the owner was looking to rent it unsuccessfully, and asked the Ngaihte`s to rent it at the same price a a much smaller house they used to live in so they could also act as caretaker We prayed for them, blessing them for their love for God and their ministry and returned home to rest since tomorrow is another long day.


 

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Wednesday, July 4 - Happy Independence Day! We have asked Du to cook hot dogs for lunch today so we can celebrate today with you back home to remember our freedom which we will be rapidly losing if we don't center our nation back to God. The guys' room is smaller than the girls' and they are all packed like sardines (girls' room pictured below). 15 girls have to shower and wash their long hair using one weak spraying shower. They have succeeded so far by showering in shifts at night, that is, they go to sleep while one showers and then wakes the next person to shower. We talked about moving the girls (or guys) to our guest house (we are paying only $15 a room per night - two in a room - so it is not that much of an expense, $120 a day for 8 rooms) but the group decided they want to do this hard life, at least for a while. They feel God has a lesson in this for us. Joseph is staying at the guest house since we feel it is important for his health, as he is recovering from his viral attack.

This morning, we left 30 minutes later to sing at Dara Academy's chapel service from 8 to 8:30. We sang in an outdoor sheltered structure to over 1000 students. Jeremy shared his testimony about trusting God for his sister's pregnancy. After we sang, we went to inspect their chapel where we will sing tomorrow and since we had some time before our next concert, we broke into small groups to do our devotions. We then spiffed up our puppet skit and left to Prince Royal College where we sang to about 400 seventh grade students. Holy shared how she came to believe in Jesus 2 years ago when she met Vision in Indonesia and we performed the heart skit with Eric and Nadia really connecting with the young kids. After Pastor Tom gave his message on the pearl of great price, 15 young students prayed to receive Christ. This time, the school was prepared to take their names so they could follow up on these new believers. We are so grateful to God for these and are sure the angels are rejoicing also. The school had boxed Pad Thai lunch prepared for us but we also had hot dogs waiting for us so we took the Pad Thai back home with us. It turns out we ate all the Pad Thai as well as most of the hot dogs. We then washed our clothes at the self serve laundromat since we have worn our blue polos for 2 days and need them tomorrow morning (schools here are very formal so we cannot wear T-shirts) and rested before leaving at 3:30.

We arrived at the government handicapped hospital at 4 PM and it was so warm and humid here, the first time since we arrived that the weather was uncomfortable. We met up with Pastor Nipon, his wife, and two sons who seems to also do some ministry at this government facility. There were about 300 handicapped children of all ages there. We sang or about 50 minutes, Nadia shared her testimony, and we did the puppet skit along with all the songs Because it is a government facility, we did not give a Gospel message or alter call but just relied on the explanation of the songs and the Holy Spirit to speak to the kids.

After the hospital, we went back to the Light for Kids orphanage where we ate dinner with the kids in hot muggy weather. At 7, we started our concert at the church that Pastor Nipon started, the Saeng Thai Church with members from the orphanage and neighborhood families. However, it was mostly the orphans and staff who were there, along with a few of their friends. Cindy and Jason shared their testimonies and we prayed for the orphans and staff at the end of our program (after watching some videos about the ministry of the orphanage). We returned home tired and exhausted, mainly because of the heat.



 
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Thursday, July 5
- One exciting note from last night is that the Vision kids composed a medley from the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and "In Christ Alone" and performed it wonderfully in both the afternoon and evening concerts yesterday with Andrew C. conducting the piece! Health update: the following people don't feel very good, but are all still functional, so pray especially for them: Holy (cold), Czrilla (cough), Reina (headache), Jeremy (stomach), Eric (infection from mosquito bite). Besides these, Jason and Jeff's leg hurts and A. Mei's back (some improvement, but still painful).

We left at 7:20 to go back to Dara Academy and said good bye to Andrew and Glory who left at the same time to return to Jakarta. In spite of all our prayers, they had to leave to start their 4 months intern teaching assignments in West Borneo but they are about 5 hours from each other. These two young men go with a desire to not only teach academically but touch their students for Christ and build up disciples and become their mentors, so pray for them (along with Ronald and Rian who are now full time teachers and couldn't even join us in Thailand). At Dara, we sang in a nice auditorium to about 500 senior high students who all kind of understand English, so we did not have any translation. We sang and Pastor Tom gave his testimony and invitation (in 5 minutes!). We are not sure but perhaps 5 or 6 students indicated a desire to follow Christ. We then enjoyed a snack prepared for us by the assistant school chaplain and was joined by the student leader of their campus Christian club (only has about 15 members, so pray for them). We then returned home to do our small group devotions. At the conclusion of our devotion time, Reina started to weep. Pastor Tom told the group that she is feeling God's pain and weeping for the Thai people and we prayed for her.

We left to go to a government hospital to visit the pediatric ward and pray for the sick kids and their parents. We separated into 4 groups to sing and pray for these sick kids. Our hearts are broken to see all these sick kids and their parents sleeping on the hospital floor to minister to their kids. May God have mercy on them. We returned to eat lunch, this time, Du cooked Dr. Tan's favorite, a delicious green curry chicken. Yum! A. Sue brought Eric to see a doctor since us running a low grade fever from his mosquito bite and his leg is kind of swollen. Meanwhile, we moved all 8 guys left to 4 rooms at the guest house to give some separation between the guys and girls. We do not want the issues that stem from close proximity between the young people to become a hindrance to our ministry.

At 5 we left to go to Payab University where we have an outreach concert outdoors. We faced some difficulties getting there, because it was moved from the central campus to the dorm area due to a sports event someone scheduled on campus. This caused fewer people to attend and caused us to drive through heavy traffic so we got there after 6. There were only a handful of people there when we got there. After we started to sing, people drifted in and we could see students standing on the dorm porches listening, even though there were only about 40 students sitting there. Nevertheless, we felt we were singing to an audience of one, the Lord Himself and these students were just listening in. Reina gave a powerful testimony of her life's struggle to fill the emptiness after her father left her when she was a toddler. Pastor Tom gave another strong message based on Matthew 7:21-23. He did not give an invitation outright but we had a good time talking to the students there after the concert, since they know some English. We then returned home to eat dinner and sleep. The good news is that Eric did not have a fever and was given some medicine for his bite. Jeremy has eaten two meals now without losing his food, and Holy's throat is getting better. Praise God. Ching is leaving with Thang early tomorrow to Singapore so Pastor Gampon will be our host and guide starting tomorrow until our last Sunday when we meet up with Ching again. Pray for their trip to Singapore.



 
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Friday, July 6
- We got to sleep in a little later today, met for breakfast at 7:45 and left at 8:30 to go to a minimum security prison for juveniles (ages 16 to 24). Pastor Gampon couldn't come with us so Pastor Tong Kam, an assistant at the church and Ging, the church secretary came with us. The prison was simple to get into, no searches, no ID required and we sang in an open covered structure. About 400 inmates filed in and politely sat on the floor the entire time. We sang, did two skits (the puppet skit and the heavy burden skit, both from last year) in between the songs and Crystal and Elisabeth's testimonies. Crystal shared how God is good as she experienced during her mother's surgery and Elisabeth talked about how God gave her wisdom to deal with a potential suicide threat from her friend. Pastor Tom than shared his testimony how God took him from a party lifestyle to a meaningful Christ centered life. When he gave the invitation, about 50 young men raised their hands to pray the sinner's prayer. Praise God! When we were done the prison psychologist contradicted everything Pastor Tom had said by stating basically that all religions are good and therefore the same. We liken this to the birds that eat the seeds the sower sows by trying to dull the effect of the message. Pray that God will keep this from happening in the lives of those who professed their faith. After this, we met the "Christian group" of about 20 kids. Some spoke Chinese, so we were able to have the boys and adults talk to them in small groups, sometimes speaking in English translated to Mandarin and then to Thai. One young boy said he believed when he was 11 but said he never prayed since he went to jail so we were able to get him to pray. Another whose wife just had their baby 5 days ago said he was falsely accused of killing someone and is in jail for 3 years.

We were supposed to be done at 10:30 but we finally left the prison at 11:30, got home to eat lunch and leave for our 1 PM program at a small elementary school (probably run by the Buddhist temple next to the school) with about 100 students, grades 1 to 6. Joseph ran the entire program; Alice shared her testimony about finding friends and Eric and Nadia did the heart skit. A. Sue than talked to the kids about the meaning of the 5 color beads and bookmark, basically explaining the Gospel message to the kids. About 80 kids raised their hands and prayed to receive Christ at the conclusion of her short talk. Pastor Tong Kam was so impressed with the way A. Sue interacted with the children and the effectiveness of her talk he asked if she was a children pastor. We left with two vans stopping by the mall and bank so we can have those who arrived Monday exchange some money, while the rest of us returned home to nap. Shortly after we arrived, it started to pour, but God held off the rain until our ministry was done, just another indication of His goodness.

After dinner, we had our small group devotions and spent some time to debrief and process our day. We came to realize how much we need to be praying and to realize the spiritual warfare going on in the unseen world. We ended the day by spending some time in prayer, upholding all the decisions made today, that their hearts will be fertile soil for the new life to grow.


 
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Saturday, July 7 - The guys and girls stayed up fairly late (past midnight) to talk and pray so we got up fairly late for breakfast after 8 and left at 9 to go to an orphanage supported by Pastor Gampon's church located about 40 minutes from where we are staying. This orphanage is for Lahu children and has about 60 kids. A local pastor supported by Pastor Gampon's church and his wife and a small staff run this orphanage. We sang our normal acapella program and Tia from Indonesia and Aaron shared their testimonies about how good God is and how He answers prayer. A. Sue shared the meaning of the color beads with the children but most if not all the children consider themselves Christians already, so we taught them how to make the bracelets so they can share the good news with their friends. Du and her friends cooked lunch and brought it here (paid by Vision) so we ate lunch together at this village. It started to get really warm, the second really warm day we have been here, but we went to look at the place where the orphans lived and the new half-completed dorm. They need about $4500 (140,000 baht) to finish the building. After seeing the crowded conditions the kids are living in, we took up an offering and collected more than $500 (15,000 baht) for the children. We played some more with the kids and taught them to since the VBS songs and left exhausted to get our clothes washed in preparation for Sunday and leaving for more minority villages and our overnight stay on Monday.

We got together at 6 PM for dinner, did our devotions and debriefed what we learned at the Lahu village. Here is a YouTube link to what Vision does on our downtime after dinner (http://youtu.be/kGvc43_DvMI). We had a great time as we listened to each other share how God has been leading the team here in Thailand. Then we read the letters of encouragement which the parents and friends sent to the Vision team members that Marshall brought with him from LA and also from the Indonesian parents. There were many tears and sniffles as these letters were read. We are about half way through our trip so it was a blessing to read these letters of support. Thank you for those who wrote.


 

 
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Sunday, July 8 - After the old people left, the rest of the team stayed to process and pray for each other, especially those who did not get letters from home. Natalie led the group in worship; it was a special anointed time and the Holy Spirit's presence was evident. After a few minutes of worship, Reina started to cry, feeling God's heart for the darkness of Thailand. Then others started to have visions (it was not a coincidence that our devotion was on Peter's vision before Cornelius' delegation arrived). Elisabeth prophesied for Eugene and Nadia, Andrew sensed an evil presence in one of the trees outside the church and we prayed to bind it in Jesus' name. Aaron saw 35 people dressed in white inside a castle with 40 some people in black trying to storm in. After a while, they succeeded. While we are not sure what it means, we think it is tied in with our plans to do street evangelism tonight and think this is a warning from God to be more prepared so we will not lose the battle. This is also about the same time the parents are gathering at the Gilmores to pray for us, a significant spiritual covering we covet. At breakfast Pastor Tom reminded the team that we are indeed blessed to have this visitation from the Lord, that we should not fear, because fear is what the enemy wants to do to discourage us.

We then left to go to the First Church of Chiangmai to sing at their 9 AM service. This was not a planned event. When we sang last Tuesday at Payab Nursing School, one of the ladies heard us and arranged for us to come to this church, a very large and beautiful church well known to the locals. The worship was traditional, all hymns, with a small orchestra and piano. We sang for a half hour with Meghan giving her testimony about putting God first and missing her cousin's wedding. We left to return home for the City Gate Church morning service. The worship was very different, all contemporary songs, loud, energetic with children sitting in front and running at the back. We sang two songs before the children left, then Natalie shared her testimony of how she found her identity as God's daughter, worshipped some more, and Pastor Tom gave a long message with Pastor Gampon interpreting. We then sang two more songs after the message. Fellowship lunch was like FEC, noisy and warm. The elderly father of one of their church leaders came to service for the first time. Pastor Gampon had been trying to witness to him without success. Today he came, sat through the service, and then accepted Christ during lunch! What an amazing God we serve!

Because of the visitation of the Spirit last night, many did not sleep well, so after lunch, instead of meeting with the youth from the church, we went to get some rest and catch up on sleep before getting ready for the street ministry tonight. Pastor Tom meanwhile went off with Pastor Tong Kam to preach at a local Karen church service. We met at 5 PM and spent a few minutes to process how to accept prophetic words. We also spent some time asking God to show us who we should be speaking to. Several of us saw people wearing red shirts, green, a white short, etc. We prayed that we will be bold when we meet these people tonight to do the street ministry. Unfortunately, we did not do that. When we got there, we met a Korean group and sang with them, listened to them sing, and we sang on the sidewalk. Then we walked to the other side of the night market where there was a stage. In walking there, we lost Denise and Andrew (who followed a man wearing what they saw in their prayers) so Joe, Jeff and Jaspher went to look for them but it was time for us to sing, so we went on short-handed. When singing, a drunk started a fight on the side which took everyone's attention from us. Pastor Gampon called security which might have saved the man who was getting beat up. We walked back to the other side where we found Denise and Andrew and waited for the jeepnies to pick us up. While waiting, we sang to a group of Chinese tourists and at least had a chance to talk to them a little. One young man is from Kunming and he said his 90 something grandmother is a Christian. We then returned home tired and sweaty.

Health-wise, this has been one of the healthiest tours Vision ever took. There have been no serious or long illnesses or disorder, with Eric's mosquito bite being the worst. Tomorrow, we are leaving right after lunch to go to one of the hill tribes. We should get there by dinner time and we will have a program at the church where we expect some non-Christians there. We will sleep over, the next morning visit some of the families from the church and then after lunch, drive to a second hill tribe. Pastor Gampon has established daughter churches at both these places. We will have our program in the evening and then drive back, arriving home at close to midnight. It is unlikely we will have Internet access for the next 2 days so do not expect any reports until Wednesday. Some of our kids are excited about this adventure, while others are apprehensive and anxious. We need your prayers.

 
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Monday, July 9
– Last night, there were several young people from City Gate Church and from the church sending team we met a week ago during the house dedication (from Camaroon, Ghana, Hong Kong, the US, etc) there and between us while walking, we passed out a lot of tracts. We (Vision) did not get to talk to people much but the others with us had ample opportunity, we just did not have a chance to hear their stories. Pray for the young man from China (an engineering student at Kunming University) we met just as we were leaving last night. He said he had spent two hours arguing with a Chinese pastor and said he was Marxist, but something touched him in the few minutes we spoke to him and sang. He kept waving to us and smiling when we left. It was a divine appointment in that brief encounter and a seed planted. One more item from last night: it rained quite hard before we left, but after we prayed, the skies cleared and except for some drizzle, we were able to go to the night market to do the street ministry. We slept in late and got together at 10:30 to do a short team devotions and debrief the last days' activities. Pastor Tom helped us appreciate how special it was for God to come in His manifest presence on Saturday night and to choose to come when it was just the younger people and Joe there. How fitting it is that He spoke to us when our theme is "A Listening Ear". After lunch, we packed up our sleeping mats, equipment, clothing into 3 vans. In addition to Pastor Gampon, 4 ladies from his church joined us for a total of 33. We left at 1:30 and as soon as we got Into the vans, it started to pour. During the ride, the lady whose dad accepted Christ yesterday told us how much her dad had changed already, so joyful and peaceful instead of angry. It just showed us the grace and power of God. After driving north for about 2 hours, we arrived at the first village, a beautiful place lush with greenery in the middle of nowhere. The air is fresh, it is cool and breezy, maybe Eden was kind of like this. The women, 21 of us are staying in 3 of their homes and all the guys are sleeping in the church. We had some time so we walked to an even smaller minority village (Palang or something like that) to invite them to the meeting tonight. We have agreed to buy a pig for 3000 baht ($100) which they are going to kill and barbecue for our dinner after the service, a treat for the whole village. But they also served us the dinner they had planned, chicken soup, rice and scrambled eggs, a feast for them. After dinner, those that wanted to got to see the pig killed, cleaned, including all the entrails. For us city folks, it was an interesting experience. We started our program about 45 minutes late (Lahu time) and ended about 9:30, with Pastor Tom speaking about the prodigal son in English, translated to Thai by Pastor Gampon, then translated to Lahu or Palang by the local pastor. Praise God one man accepted Christ. Pastor Gampon also prayed for several in the village who wanted healing from various minor illnesses. Because of all the plant growth mingled with cooking fire smoke, Andrew C. had a little problem breathing when the service started. A few of us prayed for him - out here, we realize we just have to pray for healing - and Andrew did fine, singing all the songs even when he was excused from singing. After the service, we ate the pig which ended up being cooked by our three van drivers, Boyle, Moses (who are believers) and Ed, who is not but seems quite open. Ed is also Ching and Thang's neighbor. It was delicious with a lot left for the villagers to enjoy. We then went to bed a little after 11 PM.

 


A typical bamboo house in Lahu village.

 
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Tuesday, July 10
- The guys slept with all the windows open to keep it cool and it was OK. Most of us did not get bitten by mosquitoes. At 4 AM, the cocks started to crow, almost continually until after 6. If you pretend “cpck-a-doodle-doo” means "hallelujah" in chicken talk (it has the same rhyme), it actually does sound like they are praising God for the start of another day instead of annoying. So by 7, we were all about awake and had breakfast at 8:30. Some local native ladies stopped to sell their hand-made handicrafts, so we got to buy some souvenirs. We took an offering, collecting about 3,000 baht to give to the church. We left to go sing at the government school were most of the children here go. We sang to about 40 kids, and A. Sue gave her beads Gospel message. Most of the children indicated their desire to accept Christ. We gave these children a small toy along with the beads. When we left the school, we saw a young boy crying and lying on the ground. He was covering his ears when we sang, and he had a Buddhist pendant around his neck as well as things around arms. Czrilla and Auntie Mei felt led to pray for him. We felt he was possessed, but when we prayed for him he stopped crying and smiled. As we left, we then realized we had some baby toys to give the babies at the place we stayed, so one van returned to give these gifts, while two vans waited at the school. While waiting, we saw a dozen young people trekking by. They were from Holland, so we had a chance to sing to them. They are not necessarily Christians but God brought them to us to plant a seed. We ate lunch and drove to the second church site, sleeping most of the way and recovering somewhat. Since we are running early, we stopped at a national park about 10 minutes from the church, the Buotong Waterfall Park. It is located in the middle of a pristine tropical forest, with water from a spring forming a waterfall. The spring is a multicolored pond reminiscent of some of the colorful pools at Yellowstone. We then went to the church and had our small group devotions. The local pastor's father is ill, suffering from abdominal pain and has a hard time urinating, so we went to pray for him. In the US, he would probably have had an ultrasound to see if he has kidney stones, but here, he suffers. He said he felt better after prayer and our singing "Our God" (with key words that our God is healer, awesome in power). We then ate dinner provided by the church. Our program started with A. Sue talking about the beads and we gave each child a set and a bookmark to the adults. They then sang and danced a welcome song for us. We sang our program, Katie gave her salvation testimony, and we performed the puppet skit. Pastor Gampon preached (so we did not have to translate a third time) and the local pastor translated to Lahu. After we sang another song and danced for us. They also prayed for us to bless us and support us. It was wonderful We left at 9:25 and arrived back home at 11, tired and weary.

 
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Wednesday, July 11
- Yesterday morning, Eric had an opportunity to share with one of the native ladies who was selling her wares and she prayed to accept Jesus. We did not hear this until we debriefed later. Also, here are some amazing facts about the second church we visited yesterday. Until a couple or three years ago, they were a small church with a handful of members. The village had a problem with drugs and alcohol, some even came to church drunk! One reason so few came to the church was because the fish in the nearby dam always came on Sundays so everyone in the village fished on Sundays. At Pastor Gampon's advise, the Lahu village pastor fasted and prayed for many days that the fish would come on Saturday, instead. He announced to the village that God was going to bring about this change. The fish then came on Saturday, and they had a larger catch than any Sundays before and the fish has been coming every Saturday since. This started a revival and the church grew to its current size of about 60 believers and is still growing in their new buildings. The people are doing well so they are able to self-support their own pastor. We met an illiterate Lahu woman who so wanted to be able to read the Bible in Thai. With no other means for her to be trained in language, God told her to get up each day at 5 AM to pray. So she fasted and prayed for one month from 5 to 11 AM or so every day, and suddenly, she could read the Thai Bible. Pastor Gampon was somewhat skeptical of her claim so he brought his Thai Bible before her and asked her to read it out loud and she did! Recently, he himself been fasting for 30 days and ended his fast last Saturday night. However, he then ate pork Monday night and the rich food caused severe diarrhea all of yesterday. Imodium did not help him and he was going so often we wondered if he could preach last night. But as soon as he started to preach, he could feel the Spirit`s anointing and he preached powerfully and his diarrhea was instantly cured. He did not go for the rest of the service nor during the ride home, over 3 hours total. When we went to pray for the pastor`s father yesterday, our mindset is on doctors and exam while they just pray and depend on God. They pray for God`s greater glory while we usually focus on our own little needs.

Today is our last full day of ministry. We are scheduled to sing at Commercial College this morning, a neighborhood elementary school at 1 PM, and since we liked the Agape Home for children with AIDS, we called and they graciously invited us back this afternoon. Pastor Tom leaves at close to midnight tonight for the FEC Glendale Intentional Discipleship Breakthrough retreat this weekend. Tomorrow is our one fun day as we go to an Elephant Camp for rest and relaxation. We then debrief for the next two days to praise God for what He did and seek Him for what we should do in the future and how to carry this missional mindset back home. On Sunday, Joe, Eugene and the six going to Indonesia (Czrilla, Nadia, Aaron, Jessie, Tia and Holy) leave in the morning and we sing at the Blessings Church in the morning (Marshall`s preaching so pray for him) and at Chiangmai Community Church (a English speaking church) in the afternoon with a smaller team. A. Sue leaves around lunch time for Bangkok and the rest of us close to midnight.

We ate another delicious breakfast and found out after the strenuous past two days, about 4 of us have some stomach problems and about half a dozen or more of us have bad throats. The elementary school called to cancel due to a scheduling conflict but we see this as God's timing so we can debrief our village experience more fully. We had expected that we would be singing at the nice 3000 seat auditorium at Commercial College. Instead, they put us in the cafeteria area to sing to the students on break between classes. They set up 4 microphones to pick us up and we sang in a noisy cacophonous hallway. We started about 10:15, did the backpack skit and Czrilla shared a powerful testimony about her high school dreams and how God used it to put Himself preeminent in her life. We found out we had to end at 11, because that was when these students had to get to their next class. We had a few minutes to talk to some of these students before they got marched off to class. Denise was singled out by a girl who is a Christian who was encouraged by our singing to share Christ with her classmates. Knowing a little more what to expect, we shortened our program the next hour. We did the puppet skit and Nadia shared how she found her identity as a Junior High student in other's praises but how Jesus fulfilled her needs when she got into High School. We realized that we were there to sow seeds, but A. Mei had a chance to meet a Christian Chinese girl student who wanted her friend to hear the Gospel. With this girl translating, her friend prayed to accept Jesus. We walked back home and before lunch, had a chance to pray for those who are feeling bad. A 6 liter water bottle dropped on Jaspher's already injured toe yesterday and it started bleeding even more. Pastor Tong Kam brought him to see a doctor who cleaned up the wound to make sure it is not infected. After lunch, we debriefed the village experience and this morning, did our small group devotions and about half the group went to Agape Home while the rest stayed back to rest. We invited Pang and Bee (two nursing student girls who are living at the back of the church) to come with us. Please pray for them as they are close to receiving Jesus. They're hesitant to receive Jesus because they feel like they'd be betraying their families. The jeepnies took us to the the Agape orphanage and we just played with the kids, sang VBS songs and had a joyous time with the children. One little girl not only had AIDS but was also blind. Holy helped her with the hand motions so she was able to enjoy the music too. Ellen (one of the directors at Agape) spoke to Czrilla and encouraged her in her desire to serve the Lord by following her passion. She felt like she had some confirmations so please pray for her as she continues to reflect. We had dinner at home. Pastor Gampon came to bring Pastor Tom to the airport. He told us that after returning home, his diarrhea also returned. Apparently, God healed him only so he could deliver his sermon last night and drive back with us, grace just enough for the occasion. Jeff is running a low fever, and is the sickest among us. Pray that tonight's sleep will heal him sufficiently to go for tomorrow's elephant camp. Marshall is losing his voice due to the allergies and is supposed to preach on Sunday in Pastor Tom's absence so pray for his voice if God means for him to preach. We spent some time appreciating Pastor Tom and prayed for him before he left to go to the airport for his return flight.


 
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Thursday, July 12
- Praise God, Jeff is quite well this morning, so everyone except U Marsh, A Mei, A Sue and Jaspher went to the elephant camp. Jaspher could not go because he needs to go back daily to the clinic to get his toe cleaned and disinfected. U Marsh stayed back to work on his message for Sunday. Pastor Tong Kam came to bring Jaspher to the clinic and we also went to the bank to get more cash for the remainder of our trip here. A Sue came back to have lunch with Pang and Bee. Ging, the church administrator also went to lunch but Sue did not get a chance to confront these two girls with the claims of Jesus. U Marsh, A Mei, Jaspher and Pastor Tong Kam went to lunch at the food court and had a good time talking about Tong Kam's burdens and came back home to pray for him.

 

Meanwhile back at the elephant camp, Vision had a fun and awesome time! We first went water rafting for about forty minutes. It was such a peaceful time and God's creation is truly beautiful here in Thailand. One group ministered to the steerer of their raft so please pray that Dam will come to know Jesus. After the water rafting, we saw an elephant show where the elephants performed tricks. One elephant even painted a picture! We then rode on the elephants and that was quite the experience! It was quite a bumpy ride but quite enjoyable. After the elephant ride, the oxen took us back to the top and then we had their lunch buffet. The elephant camp was relaxing for Vision and a great way to wind down from a crazy tour.

 

Vision spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening shopping. We got the chance to visit a ceramic and umbrella factory. We then went to Airport Central Plaza Mall to do some more shopping. One of the girls' was able to share with a transvestite shop owner. Please pray that the shopping owner will come to know Jesus and His love. Pastor Gampon shared with Czrilla and Reina his testimonies about how following after Jesus can be hard and overwhelming at times but was able to testify that God is still good despite the trials that he and his family had to face. His testimonies were a great encouragement to both Czrilla and Reina in their pursuance of God and His heart for the world.

 

We came back home for another great home cooked dinner, then debriefed our day and had small group devotions ending with a little time for the whole group to share. Tomorrow, we start our debriefing. This is a very important time for us to recall how we have heard God on this trip and make resolutions about how we need to,live when we return home. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our time together.

 
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Friday, July 13
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Debriefing: Day 1. We went around and each person shared how they heard or saw God on this tour. One common theme was the letters of encouragement we received last Saturday. Many of the words were just what we needed to hear at that point in time. Seeing God through other people was significant to many. Devotions was just so appropriate as well as verses given by the parents. Another common theme is how we saw God through nature, the beauty of God's handiwork. The Saturday night when God showed up was the highlight of the tour for a lot of people. We then took a lunch break since sharing is quite tiring and emotionally draining.

The second question is how we will react to our culture after seeing the culture here and how we can live a missional lifestyle when we return home? Here are a few of the comments shared (some of the comments are similar so they have been consolidated):

  • The village experience changed me in showing me how much extra stuff I have and I should be grateful for what I have. I need to consistently read the Bible, the whole way through, not just randomly, and read daily.

  • Idols here are easy to recognize but not so easy to recognize back home. It is easy to see opportunities here but I want the awareness back home to be more purposeful to serve God in all I do.

  • Thai culture is very respectful, as a Christian I should be much more respectful of my teachers.

  • I want to minister to my friend for Jesus. Pray for me, maybe even just to plant the seed and let someone else reap the harvest.

  • I am so grateful for what I have back home. People here seem happy living here, as little as they have and that's OK. When I work with children, I feel so rewarded and this is a passion God has given me, so I feel my calling in life is for education and I want to teach children in American schools.

  • I hate American culture, but God is teaching me to love the American people, who needs God so badly. I want to live back home like we do here on tour.

We went out to a local "steak house" for dinner, spending twice our normal meal budget (over $4 a person instead of $2) and invited Ping, Bee, Pastor Tong Kam, and Duke (he is a young, shy, college student also living at church and helping Du out) to join us. The place is kind of a Korean BBQ, with beef, pork, chicken, and lots of variety of seafood which one grills by themselves. Sue had backache for the last two days and took too much Vicodin so she is groggy and did not join us for lunch or dinner. During dinner, someone called her and she called us to tell us the girls' room was left unlocked with the lights and AC on and a stranger was seen leaving the church property on a bicycle. But praise God, when we returned, a preliminary look revealed nothing missing, so the girls learned a valuable security lesson. We then retired for the night so we can continue debriefing tomorrow.


 
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Saturday, July 14 - After small group devotions and breakfast, we continued our debriefing discussing culture and our lifestyle back home. But since Pastor Gampon was here, we spent some time to pray for his ministry and the churches he has planted. Our procedure is that after each person shares, we ask for a few volunteers to pray for them, that they will faithfully fulfill the decisions they made. Here are some more comments:

  • After the village, I saw how I need to be less wasteful at home, use less electricity, for example. I need to stop wanting to buy the newest technology gadget.

  • I see poverty in Indonesia but I don't really experience it. I learned to get out of my comfort zone here. I plan to become more active in my church at home and minister to my friends who live quite nominal Christian lives.

  • I feel God is calling me to minister in Thailand for my future.

  • On a mission trip, we pray big prayers but we tend to depend on ourselves back home. I need to also rely and pray big prayers at home.

We took a short lunch break and continued the last part of our debriefing by having members of the team speak what spiritual gifts they see in each member of the team. This is an affirming time for our team members and sometimes a surprise that they possess certain spiritual gifts they did not even realize.

We collected an offering to give to Ching and Thang to show our appreciation to them. For Pastor Gampon and the City Gate Church staff, we donated money from our budget for our staying at the church, for their cooking, and all the services they give to us, but we wanted to give individual offerings to the Ngaihtes, and collected about 8500 baht for them ($280). Ching joined us about 3 PM and was surprised and thankful for our gift to them. We finished at about 4:30 so we had some time for each person to talk to one another and commit to keep each other accountable. After dinner, listened to several of Pastor Gampon's fascinating stories how God led him to start the church and provided the church building. We then practiced our skits since some of the actors are leaving in the morning and tried to get some rest so we can sing tomorrow.

 
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Sunday, July 15
– Today is our last day of ministry. We ate breakfast at 7 AM and Boyle's van arrived to bring Joe, Eugene, Czrilla, Nadia, Aaron, Holy, Tia, and Jessie to the airport at 7:30. It was difficult to see Holy, Tia and Jessie off since we do not know when we will see them again as we are not sure what we can do with them next summer yet. Jaspher is feeling achy and tired and Jeff is also quite tired while Jeremy is losing his voice while the girls are generally OK.

Boyle's van returned along with Moses' van to being us to Blessings Church for their 10 AM service. There were a lot of visitors at the service so the room was quite filled (about 150) people. We had a good time of worship and they turned the meeting over to us at 10:45. We sang simpler songs because our numbers are down and several had bad throats. A. Sue shared about our trip and U. Marsh preached on Peter walking on the water, stressing on listening to God, obeying (sometimes taking risks), and keeping our focus on the Lord. For each of these three points, the kids shared their testimonies - Natalie on listening to God tell her to lead the group in worship the night God's anointing came, Andrew on taking risks at the night market and getting lost (and found), and Denise on losing focus by flying bugs at the village. God gave U Marsh just enough voice to be able to speak and be heard through the sound system. Praise God, everything just fitted together. Andrew and Cindy's rendition of heart skit was delightful. We ended the service at noon and had lunch at the church before returning back home. Ching took one van to drive Sue to the airport while one van drove the kids that wanted to go to a nearby local shopping place to buy souvenirs while some rested at the church.

The shopping van returned about 3 and a few minutes after that, it started to rain so hard. We realized if it rained like this a week ago, we would not have been able to go to the village, again, it is God's timing. We are supposed to leave at around 3:30 to go to sing at Chiangmai Community Church, our last program here. Jaspher is feeling better so he joined us. At 3:25, the rain slowed to a light shower. This also served to cool the place since the church meets at the same place we sang last Sunday morning, except this is an ex-pat and missionary all English speaking service. We only had about 15 minutes to sing and no time for skits or testimonies, but we enjoyed the time there. We returned to finish packing, eat dinner, and maybe we can do devotions before we end out to the airport. So this is the last message from Chiangmai.

 
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Monday, July 16After dinner last night, we had a few minutes to sing to the church staff (and the students staying here): Du, Ging, En, Duke, Ping, Bee and our two van drivers, Boyle and Moses. By now, Thang had also joined us. We checked in at the airport with no difficulty, said good bye to Jaspher who is flying to Bangkok to do a one month teaching internship at Nontamburi. Received an email from Joe earlier that everyone made their flight to Kuala Lumpur on their way to Jakarta and that he and Eugene are waiting in Bangkok to board their light to Hong Kong.
We are now in Korea waiting for our plane to return to LAX, KE 001. This plane stops at Narita in Japan. See you soon.

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