November 2023 Newsletter
We just finished up a week of Thanksgiving celebrations and activities here in Northern Thailand, and there is a LOT to be thankful for. This is an excerpt from a post I dropped on Facebook this week:
Gratitude is probably the most powerful emotion we as humans have. It’s the emotion that’s at the heart of worship. It’s quite literally the cure to every problem we have in life, because it’s the root of healthy contentment.
I stand by these words. Every year, I am more and more glad that we have a holiday set aside to reflect on the things we are grateful for. It's good medicine for the soul, especially as we live in a day where we are always being socially conditioned to complain rather than rejoice.
As the year comes to an end, would you consider a one-time gift to Transformation Ministries? Your donation goes a long way to further ministry and gospel expansion in Thailand & Laos. Click here to give.
It's a BOY!
The first order of business, of course, is to let you know that we have made an announcement about baby #2, and that is that we are welcoming a little warrior into our home.
Liz is doing well, and the pregnancy is moving along with no issues. During this second trimester, Liz has had significantly less morning sickness than the first. Our biggest challenge right now is transportation, since we are still using a motorbike to get around, and Liz won't be able to get on it forever, but we don't have the funds for a car right now. Thankfully, we have Grab (our cheaper version of Uber & Lyft) as well as Liz's mom's car to borrow when it's free.
One of the new things we've started at Baan Athitaan Church here in Chiang Rai in the past month or so is focused nights of prayer on Wednesdays. We've used this as a chance to get together and pray for big picture needs in our world, with different countries as our focus each week.
We also had our annual "Night of Thanksgiving" worship night last week. Liz was on piano and singing, and I led in translating one of our songs from Thai that didn't have an English translation yet. When I tell you that this team of musicians put in a ton of hours for this, I am not exaggerating. I think in total, there was more than 20 hours of practice leading up to this night, and they rocked the house so hard that the only complaint I heard afterwards was that it was too short this year! Here's the link to the replay.
We also had an awesome team here from Gloucester, Australia that came and helped us do 3 different English Fun Days at schools around Chiang Rai. They got to join us during the worship night, too. By the end of the week, with all the activities going on (3 English Fun Days, a Christmas outreach, Thanksgiving, Worship Night, and spending every other free moment hosting), we were exhausted, but in a good way. Mary Ella even became best friends with one of the teenage girls on the team (one of the pastor's daughters). I also have to admit-- by the end of the week, it was hard not to accidentally speak with an Aussie accent!
Outreach in Phan District
I mentioned that we also had a Christmas outreach during our crazy week with the Australians. This was in a region of Chiang Rai that as of now has no churches at all. We partnered with some other missionaries, including a doctor that serves here in one of the local hospitals, to put on a free medical clinic earlier in the month, along with another team from Florida. There was a large turnout of older folks with various health issues, and after the clinic, we invited all of them, along with their kids and grandkids, to come to our Christmas outreach, which we held 2 weeks later with the Australians.
The event went great, and Dr. John was able to share the story of Christmas in Thai. It was amazing to see how receptive the locals were during that night.
This month, I had the opportunity to teach 3 different times in Thai. Two of those times were with the Thai university students at church. I was happily surprised, because both weeks that I taught, we had a new university-aged guy in class who wasn't a Christian. One of them was from Chiang Rai and the other was from the southern part of Thailand and is a Muslim. It was an honor to get to connect with them during their first time ever at a Christian church service. I was also honored to get to preach at a Thanksgiving-type festival for a local people group (some might use the word "tribal group" or "minority group") here in Chiang Rai, which is the Lahu people group. The entire 2-hour service was in the Lahu language, so I did not understand a word, and when it came time to preach, I preached in Thai, and had a translator translate into the Lahu language. This was also "up on the mountains" outside of the city here in Chiang Rai.
Isaan Partners Update
I didn't want to end this newsletter without also sharing an update that I received from our partners working in Khon Kaen, Thailand last week. They had 2 baptisms this month, and I want to share what they shared with us about one of the testimonies:
Noe has been Aom's friend for 10 years. She had health problems since she was a student, including depression and bipolar disorder. After graduating, she lost contact with Aom for many years. In the past two years, Noe returned to work in Khon Kaen and they reconnected. Noe has returned to her relationship with God and her symptoms have disappeared. She has also led her husband to know God.
Piravaal has become one of Boom's mentees. He studied about God and has faith from his heart. He was also baptized. Even though they still have some difficulties in their careers and finances, both continue to seek and thank God.
When we look back, Noe says, "God never abandoned me. God followed me back." Amen.
Isaan is the least reached region of Thailand, and also the most impoverished and largest by land mass. Please continue to pray for our partners working in this region as well.
There is a younger missionary from my home church, living in Guatemala, that had a horrible case of Dengue Fever this month, and thought he was on the verge of death. Thankfully, from his post on Facebook, he seems to be doing better now. He's getting married in 2 months.
Pray for all of the Christmas programs coming up soon. Christmas has become a very welcome and celebrated Christian holiday here in Thailand, even among the general Buddhist population.
I'm learning guitar and how to find my voice so I can contribute more musically. So far, it's going great, but pray I can learn fast!
I have also started writing a book. We've already had a cover made, which I thought would be an encouragement when I get tired of writing or when it takes longer than I would like. I want to share the lessons and mindset shifts that rescued me out of years of trauma and anxiety. The tentative release date will be summer of 2024, and I plan to get it translated into Thai as well.
Bonus: Our kids at Baan Athitaan Church sang a special song for Thanksgiving. This is your trigger warning-- this level of cuteness is nuclear and has the potential to melt your face off. ☢️☠️
THANKS FOR BEING PART OF THE TEAM!
By God's grace, we have witnessed many lives transformed, and some family legacies changed forever. But the story is not over yet, and we are anticipating and believing for even greater things moving forward. Consider becoming a financial supporter so you can play a significant role in sharing the gospel, creating Christian resources, and raising up young leaders in Asia.