While in Thailand, I did have access to WI-Fi part of the time and was able to send email updates out to family and friends. This post is a compilation of those emails. My hope is that it will give you some insight not only to what I did in Thailand, but also the thoughts and feelings that I had while I was there.
October 15, 2014
Today is the day! I can’t believe that it is here already. I am sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting to fly to Thailand. It will take me 4 flights to get there and over 24 hrs.
As I begin on this journey, I am both excited and nervous. Excited for obvious reasons. I get to go explore a new land, see a new culture, and meet interesting people. But, at the same time, I am very nervous. I am going to an unknown place and really stepping out in faith that everything is going to be okay. I am so thankful for each and everyone of you who have been praying for me before this trip and continue to pray for me as I go. It warms my heart to know that so many care about me, but also that so many care about seeing the Gospel shared across the world.
During the trip, we will have internet on and off, so I will be able to send you updates of how things are going and what to pray for. I have also attached a prayer calendar of things to pray for each day. It also has our schedule and a brief overview of what we will be doing each day.
Thank you all so much for praying for me and the team and also for all of the encouragement.
Talk to you when I get to Thailand!
Thailand!!! I made it!
October 16, 2014
So I made it to Chiang Mai, Thailand. It took me four flights to get here with the longest one being 14 hours. Total I was in the air for over 24 hours. This is by far the longest trip I have ever taken and let me tell you, there is nothing fun about being on a plane for that long. In the end you are completely exhausted and all you have been doing is sitting and getting up for the occasional break.Well I did make it and I am in Chiang Mai finally. I was so excited to get here that my exhaustion faded when we got off the plane and drove into the city. The missionary family we are working with picked us up from the airport and took us to our hotel, which is fairly nice. It is a little rustic, but at least there is AC and a bed. By the way, the weather here is very similar to Georgia, hot and humid. This is their coldest time of year and it is not too bad; think May in Georgia, warm during he day and cool at night.
Enough about the weather, upon arrival at the hotel we changed clothes and headed out to town. The missionaries showed us around and took us to dinner. Next we all headed back to the hotel for some R&R. So I am currently writing this to y’all for my hotel room in Thailand. It is still hard for me to believe!
Tomorrow we will be doing some training in the morning and then heading up to the northern village where we will be doing the soccer camps. I won’t have Internet when I am up there so you won’t be getting another lengthy email until we get back to Chiang Mai on Thursday.
Oh and for those of you wondering, Chiang Mai is 11 hours ahead of EST.
Thank you again for all the prayers!
Thailand!!! Recap of the week
October 24, 2014
Well, we are back in Chiang Mai and back to civilization. We spent the week in a village about three hours north of Chiang Mai. Most of the people in the village we stayed in are Christians and we got to work all week with their local church. It was absolutely amazing to see what God is doing through this church in the surrounding villages. I just wanted to give you a quick recap of what we did throughout the week.Saturday: We arrived in the village and got settled. Our accommodations were really great. I shared a guest house with another team member, Jodi and we each had our own bed and a bathroom with running water. However the beds here in Thailand are very hard so that has taken some getting use to.Sunday: We joined the locals for church. During the service four different languages were spoken, English, Central Thai, and two tribe languages. It just gives a whole new meaning to every tribe and nation coming together to worship the one true God. It was an experience that I will never forget. The church members asked us to get up on stage and sing. None of use could play guitar or sing very well so we just did Amazing Grace. The music leader keep trying to hand me and Jodi the guitar to play and we just said we could play. Needless to say, the church members seemed to enjoy it. After, we went and had lunch at the restaurant were we ate most of our meals during the week. Our meals consisted of rice and a few different meat dishes. We used the rest of the day Sunday to prepare for the rest of the week.Monday – Wednesday: These days all looked about the same. In the morning, we would head over to the soccer fields and put on a soccer camp for some of the local kids in the area. I was put in charge of the little kids. They ranged in age from about 6-12. I definitely did not think I was going to be put in charge of anything, but God is amazing and everything worked out well. I did have a bunch of soccer drills prepared beforehand which helped. It was a challenge to work with the kids and use a translator. By the end of the week, I had learned a few Thai words which helped.
In the afternoons, we went out with some of the local church members to visit the families of the kids that were at the soccer camp. Most of the families in Thailand are Buddhist, so we spent time telling them our stories and sharing the Gospel. It was a whole new experience sharing the Gospel through a translator. Sometimes we had to go through two translators if they spoke a tribe language. You just pray that nothing gets lost through translation and trust God. All but one of our translators were Christians so that did help. As a side note, please pray for Max the translator who is not a Christian. We had several chances to talk with him and he is very open to Christianity and had a lot of questions.
Thursday: We went to a very remote village about 30 to 45 minutes north of the village we were staying in. About 30 of us climbed into three trucks and headed up a dirt road into the jungle to the village. I will say for a minute I thought I was in the backwoods of the north Georgia mountains. There was even a makeshift bridge out of logs we had to cross. Remote only begins to describe where we went. When we arrived there was a swinging bridge we had to cross. This village is the most remote place I have ever been. We split up into groups and had a chance to share with several of the families. There were a few Christians in the village, but they only knew the basics of the Gospel since most people were illiterate. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to go to this village. It really puts meaning to taking the Gospel to the utter ends of the Earth.
There are so many stories that I have from this week. This is only a glimpse of what I have experienced. I can’t wait to get back to the States to share with all of you. I also plan to post some of the stories and pictures on my blog when I get back. This has been such an amazing trip and an experience that I will never forget.
Until next time!
Love from Thailand,
Thailand!!! The rest of the trip
October 25, 2014
My time is Thailand is over for now. It is sad leaving this country and all of the new friends I have meet, but I am excited to get back home and see everyone!So here’s a recap of what has happens on the last two days of the trip. These were our tourist days.Friday: This morning we loaded up the van and truck and said our goodbyes to the villagers. Everyone in the village has been so kind to us this week. I never thought I would find a place more hospitable than the South, but Thailand might have us beat. They are always smiling and are so selfless in their serving and giving. Even though we came to teach them, they have also taught us how to put others first.Next, we headed down the mountain to the elephant training camp, which was on our way back to Chiang Mai. When we arrived at the camp, there were mixed emotions because this was where we had to say goodbye to the translators. We started the week as strangers and ended as friends. It is odd how you can become so close to someone in such a short amount of time. As we said our goodbyes, Max had tears in his eyes. You could just tell that this week meant a lot to him. I am confident that God is working in his life right now even if Max does not realize it. I just pray that God’s will will be done and Max will listen to Him when He calls.After all of the goodbyes were done, it was time to ride some elephant! We were like little kids on a school field trip, and Yo, the lead translator, was our guide. (KJ took the translators back in his truck so he left is in Yo’s capable hands.) First we watched the trainer give the elephants a bath and then they proceeded to put on a performance for us. The best part was watching the elephant paint with a paint brush in his trunk. He painted a tree that look about the level of a kindergartner; still pretty impressive if you ask me. During the performance, we all commentated on what was happening and were making jokes. You could tell that we had definitely bonded during the week. There was laughter all around. I am really going to miss spending time with this group. Then after a quick boxed lunch of the best fried rice I have ever eaten, it was our turn to ride the elephants. The whole time it felt like the chair was going to fall off the elephant or you were going to fall out of the chair. As we rode along, the laughter still did not end. We made up voices for the elephants and would talk about how they constantly wanted to pick up snacks along the way. Ours even picked up an entire bamboo limb and carried it and ate it as he went. Definitely an experience to remember!Later that day after checking into the hotel and resting, we went to dinner at an American restaurant. There was no rice in sight! After dinner we finally had a few hours to go shopping and pick up souvenirs. I can’t wait to show y’all what I got!Saturday: This was the last morning in Thailand for Steven, Jodi, and I. We flew out on an earlier flight since we had further to travel. This way we get home Sunday afternoon instead of Sunday after midnight. We spent the morning at the Jessen’s house learning about the ministry they do with human trafficking. KJ’s wife, Jenni, runs a ministry called Compass31, which helps girls coming out of human trafficking and helps to prevent human trafficking through education. They currently have 4 mother/daughter pairs that they foster at their house. They really have an awesome story and impact. I will go into more detail about this part of their ministry in a later email. It really does deserve an email all to itself and one that is not being written on a plane. If you would like to know more about the Jessen’s though, you can check out their website at GoJessens.org.Well that is it for now. I am writing this email as we fly to Taipei and will send it when I get there. I just wanted to give you a quick update on the rest of the trip.
I’ll let you know once I finally get back to the states! One more flight to go until we are state side. Three more until home!
Thank you for praying all week and continuing to pray.
October 25, 2014
I’m back in the states! It feels a little weird to be back and have everyone around you speaking English instead of Thai or another Asian language. I have two more flight until I’m back in Atlanta! This trip has really been a once in a life time experience and I can’t wait to share with all of you about it!I am sad to have to say goodbye to my team members. Everyone really got along great. It might have been because we had such a small team, only 7, but I think it is also because we all have to the purpose and goal. I really hope to be able to stay in touch with them!
That’s it for now. I’ll see y’all when I get home!
October 26, 2014
I’m home!!! I finally made it back to Atlanta! It feels so good to be home, even if I was only gone for a short time.I do plan to send out a few more email this next week telling about the things God taught me on this trip, but first I am going to take some time to reflect on all that has happened. This was just an unbelievable trip and in a way I still feels like it was all a dream. It will take a little bit of time to process, but hopefully sharing my stories with you will help me to do that.Thank you all so much again for praying for me and my other team members this week. I can only begin to tell you how much it means to us!
Thailand!!! What I learned
November 4, 2014
So it has been a little over a week since I have been home and I have had some time to process my trip to Thailand. There is still a little part of me that feels like it was all a dream. Did I really fly to the other side of the world with people I had just meet to share the Gospel with absolute strangers who don’t even speak my own language? It seems so hard to believe yet so very real.This trip really was more than just a vacation; it was a trip that has changed the way I think about the world. I got to see a culture that is completely different than my own and be able to serve God while doing it. There are two main things that I learned from this trip: 1) I need to be more bold in sharing the Gospel and 2) there are some things that are always the same no matter where you go in the world.In Thailand, less than 1% of the population are Christians. The mast majority of people are Buddhist and have a mind set that is very different than that of Christianity. This makes it difficult to share the Gospel with them. You pretty much have to start from square one. Add on top of this the language and cultural barriers and you find yourself in a position where it is near impossible to tell them about Christ. I say all this because it showed me how easy we have it here in America. This trip made me realize that if I can share the Gospel with the people of Thailand, why can I not share it with the people in my everyday life that speak the same language as me and most likely have some sort of knowledge of Christianity. My hopes are that this trip has made me more bold about my faith and sharing that with others. We are all called to be missionaries where we are; the mission field is everywhere.Secondly, I realized that no matter where you go in the world some things are the same. Interacting with the local village people was probably my favorite part of the trip. Even though we spoke very little Thai and they spoke little English, we were still able to communicate. We might have had to play charades to figure out what the other was saying, but at the end of the day you would just smile and laugh and knew you had a common goal. We all worship the same God and all had the same mission of sharing the Gospel with those around us. Also no matter where you go, joys and heartaches affect us all we same. We all experience times of happiness in our lives and times of sadness, and we can use those experiences to help and comfort others no matter where we go.The 5 flights home from Thailand gave me a lot of time to ponder my experience. I spent time writing down stories from the trip and the emotions I went through on the trip. I even filled up about 3/4ths of the journal I took, which is huge for me, a person who pretty much hates writing. I think I wrote so much on this trip because it helped me to process everything that was happening. I am pretty sure I experienced every emotion known to man while in Thailand and writing helped to get them all out and put words to what I was feeling. As time goes on, I look forward to getting to share these stories of how God is working in Thailand on my blog so that everyone can see. I also have a million pictures to share. I have been going through them this week and it has been fun to look back on the trip and remember things. Once I finally finish editing them all, I will put them on Facebook and the blog so that you can see them all.