Update: Tan!

If you haven't already read about Tan, scroll down! Find the post about him in the July archive, read it, and then come back! Go!

Where I left off, Tan had begun to study the Bible with P'Aka and was becoming increasingly involved and interested. He also studied English and was SO excited when he learned to tell us things like "Good morning!" and "See you later."  

After seeing Harry Potter with us, Tan ran over, and we showed a thumbs up and asked him if he liked the movie. Tan nodded and said, "Good job. Good job."  We still laugh about that. 

Tan also went with us to English camp at Cha-Am beach! It was great to spend the whole weekend with him and get to know his HUGE personality. 


Tan is now our brother in Christ! We are SO EXCITED! He learned what following Christ looks like, and he knows it is a narrow road and it's a journey of learning to carry his cross. He wants it. He wants Jesus. On the last Sunday before we came home, we had the great honor of watching our friend Tan be baptized. It was the greatest way our time in Thailand could have ended. 




We see the face of Jesus in a 15 year old named Tan.

Tan hasn't been in school for the last 2 years. Instead, he helps his mom at her restaurant across the street from RCC. Watching students come and go, Tan had been curious about what RCC is about, but he didn't come around much. A few weeks ago, though, he crossed the street! Thank God for prompting Tan to cross the street!

When we met Tan, he did not speak a single word of English. He came in to hang out with the RCC students and ended up staying for our Wednesday devo. I don't know what Tan sees in the RCC/LST Christians, but he's stuck around! Only the love of God is strong enough to speak that loudly. We don't even know each others' language, but Tan is so attracted to the Spirit here.

Tan's joy is so contagious! He is a friendly, loving spirit. He craves English because he wants to talk to us. He's already learned several words and phrases! Tan eats dinner with us often and escorts us around the city. He came to church with us all day last Sunday, and then after riding back with us in the taxi, surprised us with loafs of yummy bread because he wanted to pay us back.

Tan knows God's love.

Saturday, the LST/RCC family helped two ladies with yardwork and organization, and Tan came along and served next to us.

Our friend P'Aka has been talking with Tan about our faith. Tan wants to be a part of this. Right now, he feels like he cannot be a Christian because he gets in trouble sometimes for smoking and fighting, and he knows Christians don't do that.

PLEASE pray for Tan. Pray that he sticks around RCC, NOT so he can learn a bunch of rules that Christians do and don't do. But so he can learn that Christians are messed up people in need of a gracious Savior. Pray that Tan's heart stays open. Pray for the people that surround Him. Pray for our actions to speak louder than words.


Our Readers.

Because Thailand is a richly Buddhist nation, Christianity is foreign to most of our Readers, but for the past three weeks, we’ve opened up God’s Word to them. 

We all agree. We’ve never done anything like this before.

We are broken vessels, but God lets us talk about Him and show His glory and be His representatives. Sometimes people here have literally never heard the name “Jesus,” and God chooses our voice to introduce Him for the very first time. Sometimes we’re the first follower of Christ a person has ever met.  That is SO humbling. We are privileged to work for the Kingdom.  We’ve never done anything like this!

In lesson 11 of our Luke workbooks, Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seeds (Luke 8:4-15).  So appropriate! 
  • Some Readers are simply not interested in the stories about Jesus, but they still want to come and study English. 
  • Some Readers are open and interested in the life of Jesus, but they have a difficult time believing that the events are true and meaningful. 
  • Some Readers surprise us with their questions. Some have blatantly asked, “Who is God?” or “Who is Jesus?” or “What is sin?”
  • Some Readers study the workbook at home and are five or six lessons ahead of us.  They are so excited to find out what happens to Jesus next! 

The point is that we’re just planting seeds, and trusting God to tend to, prune, and grow the seeds into beautiful faith in Him. 

Two things we love about God’s children in Thailand:
  1. They are not polluted by American Christianity.  They get to know Jesus, not Christians.  American Christianity, in my opinion, contaminates people’s view of Christ.  While we are stuck arguing over denominations and political parties and church budgets, people are getting a more and more skewed look at Jesus. The people here, thankfully, don’t know that. They read about Christ from the Bible, not about Christians from the news.  And they get to know Jesus with fresh, innocent eyes, not clouded by what other people make Him out to be.
  2. The LST and RCC family prays every morning specifically for a person who we’re reaching to through Bible study.  And we’ve heard several stories in the past of just one person coming to faith, and because of that one person, their entire family comes to faith.  Many must rebel against their family’s will to follow Christ. Many suffer consequences.  But their influence on other people ripples.

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR READERS. Pray for open hearts. Pray for the church here. Pray for our LST team to stay out of the way while we introduce Christ. Pray for the leaders who were elected here Sunday. 



We're having fun adjusting to life in Bangkok! 
In a nutshell, the weather is hot, people are gracious, and we are really bad at speaking Thai. 

Ronald McDonald teaches us how to wai, the Thai gesture when saying hello, goodbye, and thank you. 
By the way, this McDonalds is 5 minutes walking from where we stay. CLUTCH. One night, we just HAD to have a cheeseburger and fries, even though American food is more expensive here. McDonalds has never tasted so good. And McDonalds has dipped ice cream cones for less than 50 cents. Yes please!

Words from group English class. Thai people have trouble distinguishing between "ch" and "sh" noises. And they have trouble forming the "l" sound, so everything sounds like an "r." Rachel, the English teacher, had them sing Row Row Row Your Boat. It was so funny!

One night our friend P'Yut took us across town to a DEEElicious feast, including two whole dead fish.  

You take a bite of fish meat and wrap it in lettuce with noodles and sauce. It reminded me of P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps. 

FEAST! Best meal we've had so far and maybe the best meal we will have!

Group meeting. Probably to figure out the budget. 

Some of our friends waiting downstairs before we left Saturday for the Grand Palace. 

Entrance to the Grand Palace! 
We were waiting for the boys to change. Because the Palace is a Buddhist temple of worship, they have strict rules about what clothing you are allowed to wear. Non-Thai girls must wear skirts or loose pants that cover their knees. Thai girls must cover their whole legs. Thai and non-Thai men must wear long pants. Our boys didn't know that, so they had to rent pants to wear for the tour. 

People were laughing and taking pictures of us when we were taking this picture. Crazy Americans. 

We laugh at the way some signs are translated. 
"Beware of your valuable possessions" sounds like our cameras and jewelry are going to come to life and turn against us haha. There's a sign in the mall that is supposed to mean "Watch your head" because it's low clearance, but instead it says "Please Mind Your Head."

LST promotion picture quality.

The Royal Buddha's temple. We were not allowed to take pictures inside. 

Alyssa and Cole taking off their shoes before entering the temple. 

These are like the guards in England. People take pictures with them and try to make them laugh, but they don't move. 

The famous Reclining Buddha. It is HUGEEE. 

Being Cole.

Making offerings to Buddha. 

This is another temple that we decided not to go to, but we could have taken a boat across the river! Apparently this is the spot where four rivers in Thailand merge together into one. 

P'Megk loves to take pictures! We're just waiting for them to appear on Facebook!

Some of our group! By this point in the day, we were scorched.

Street vendors are everywhere!

Sorry my thoughts are really random and disorganized so far. Our brains are all somewhat fried from trying to explain what words like "holy" mean or who Jesus is or the difference in Catholic and Protestant all in simple English. 
Jesus never said His work would be easy. He even knew that not everyone would hear and believe. But He said that the harvest is plentiful, that people are searching (Luke 10:2). And that when His Word is read, it will not return empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). That's awesome. 



We made it to Bangkok! Here's a glimpse of the journey...

Cole, Hannah, and Michael leaving the Birmingham airport at 7 am central time on Monday. 
We would reach Bangkok at 11 am central time on Tuesday. 
Bangkok is 12 hours ahead, so when America gets ready for work in the morning, Thailand gets ready for bedtime.

In the Dallas airport. Our flight to Tokyo was delayed almost an hour and a half, so when we got to Tokyo we had to almost run to catch our connecting flight to Bangkok.

Everyone ready to get to Tokyo. We joke that Michael blends right in. 

Flying over Alaska!

Almost to Japan.

At the Tokyo Narita Airport. This was our flight to Thailand, and we all agreed the Japanese plane was WAY nicer than the American ones. 

Tokyo! An agent was there to point us in the right direction. It was kind of creepy; she had each of our names on a clipboard and had Jacob and Alyssa's boarding passes. We ran to security and caught our connecting flight!

Dinner as served by Japan Airlines. 

Unfortunately, we didn't catch pictures from our arrival at the Bangkok airport. We were greeted by about 20 adults and students from the RCC Christian Student Center, where we stay and work. Thai people are so gracious and friendly! They put homemade leis around our necks (made from orchids) and took our suitcases to the truck for us. 

Settling in at RCC...

Alyssa and Hannah's room

Cole, Michael, and Jacob's room, which they share with two guys who live at RCC.

We are fascinated by the bathrooms! 
There is no "shower" or shower curtain. You just use the whole room as a shower. And there is also no toilet paper. We squirt water to clean, because Thai people see it as more sanitary. 

Our reading room.

Advertisement outside RCC, letting people know that LST is offering free English lessons.

Dropping our shoes at the door outside RCC.

The Ramkhamhaeng Christian Center! (RCC)

Bottom floor: kitchen and meeting room
Second floor: office
Third floor: reading room
Fourth floor: Boys room
Fifth floor: girls room. 
We're getting our exercise up and down the stairs! 
But we love RCC and its people already. They are a family, OUR family, in Christ, and that's exactly how it feels. We hang out downstairs together, have morning devotionals together (the singing is amazing), and eat dinner together on the streets. 
We love it!
More to come...


The training.

November 2010. Applications approved. 

December 2010- April 2011. Fund raised $3700 each. 
Wrote letters, sent out emails, prayed, asked, borrowed, worked. Were blown away with generosity from unexpected, sometimes even unknown people.  

January 2011. Road trip to Nashville for Intensive Training (IT) Weekend. 
We were only allowed to bring 14 pounds of luggage, bedding included. LST created a schedule to simulate jet lag. We had several team building tasks, which included bartering for materials to make the tallest tower... 
...We lost haha. But it was very funny.
We also took personality tests to learn about our teammates. We joke about it now: Alyssa's a people-gatherer, Hannah "just wants a break," Cole's a loner, and Jacob and Michael are rebels :) 
We also went on an intense scavenger hunt all around Nashville. We had to eat each meal for $2 or less per person. It was stressful, but I think we learned a lot about the dynamics of our team. 
Reppin UA
Sleeping on a concrete floor was also an adventure. Each of us had our own technique to get comfortable, but it was hopeless.  And hilarious. After a long weekend, we sat through a church service in German. It was quite the test of willpower to stay awake...more challenging for some of us than others. 
IT weekend was stressful and challenging, but we look back and laugh about often.
Group training kicked off!

February 2011- April 2011. 12 weeks of group training. 
We met up at church for 2 hours on Wednesday nights to work through training workbooks together. To be honest, we didn't always have the best attitudes about training. Some of the tasks seemed tedious or pointless to us, but I think now we understand how well LST equips their teams. 
Shoutout to Andrea Zahler for being an excellent team trainer! She gave up hours of her time to make sure we stayed focused, prepared, and encouraged. Quote: "Faithfulness is more important than excellence."
Most of our memories from training include us all laughing. I love that about our team. 

One night we headed out for family dinner at a Thai restaurant in Tuscaloosa.  

March 2011. GO Weekend. 
As training came to a close, we headed back to Nashville for GO Weekend, a time of tying up loose ends and being commissioned. Alyssa learned how to keep the team's budget on Excel. Hannah practiced leading the Information Meeting we will have with our Readers. The team presented one idea for our weekly parties, Flapjack Fun. (We'll let you know how it goes in a few weeks!)  
We got the Luke workbooks which we'll hand to Readers soon, as well as our LST t-shirts and On-Site Handbooks. IT'S GO TIME.

June 13- July 25, 2011. Bangkok, Thailand...

Wai from the Way.