Welcome to PlaaPlaaPlaa!

So you may be wondering why PlaaPlaaPlaa? What are those strange fish symbols above? What is ปลา and what does it mean? In short, this is a blog site, so surely there's going to be plenty of rambling. Unfortunately BlahBlahBlah was already taken, so I had to settle for the 'Plaa'. But there's actually more to it then just ramblings. The first fish symbol is actually a Christian symbol meaning ICTHUS - a greek acronymn which means "Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Saviour". The other strange letters you see in the last fish is actually the thai word for fish which funnily enough is pronounced "Plaa". So when you put it all together, this site is going to be my ramblings in telling people about how Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Saviour in Thailand (with plenty of good stories about food in between). Happy reading.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Post 'Hope'

Don't worry, it's not that i've lost hope, it's now that it's just post 'Hope Conference'. It's hard to sum up Hope, there were just SOOO many things that i was challenged by, people that i met, things that i leant etc etc etc A couple highlights as part 2 of the previous post -

- Sitting under the tecahing of an African christian guy called JFK. Not only was his teaching spot on, he just had an amazing knowledge of the Bible which came from his desire to want to immerse himself in God's word and know God better. Many of you will probably know my aversion to reading, but this guy has seriously inspired me to be reading my Bible more. He could like memorise almost the whole thing and know the chapters and verses too. i'm sure he must have a bit of a photographic memory, but it's also from years of immersing himself in the Word. Very COOL!!

But not only that, his testimony was also great and to see the love he has for wanting his fellow Africans to come to know the Lord as well was amazing. He'd LOVE for MANY more workers to be going out to Africa, as there as just so many there who have never even heard about Jesus. However, the challenge wasn't just to go to Africa, it was also to challenge us as people living as Christians in any part of the world to consider carefully what kind of a message we bring to the world. Is it one full of the gospel, or do we also add extra 'junk' to it as well. Something that's probably more obvious in a cross cultural context, but do we bring along other cultural baggage that are unhelpful for others - eg TV with it's violence or sex scenes, the need to have to eat potatoes all the time when they prefer rice? there are just so many examples and something i was really challenged by to consider and reflect on all i do and say. is it helpful to others or not? is it distracting to the Gospel? Hmmm, lots more to think about.

- It was also really great to be able to meet heaps of people from the Oz mobilization base. Have had lots of emails and phone calls and names, but now i also have some faces to put to those names and voices :) We also had a great time of sharing in our area times. Above is a pic of one of the teams praying over a couple new team leaders Robyn & Terry who also work in Chiang Mai.

There were so many other cool things. here's a pic of me down at the beach. Even though we were at Pattaya for a week, i only managed to make it into the water twice. Pretty sad i know, but that's how full on the week was. Full on, but great!!

Since coming back on Sunday, it's already been pretty busy. Have finally moved into my new place. i'll get some pics of that uploaded soon, schools back, have started helping the disabled workshop with a couple simple marketing tools, i'm about to go help unload a container of wheelchairs this morning, and tomorrow night, i'm going camping with my cell group. cant wait!! :)

For those praying, here are a few quick prayer points:
- thank God for the time away at Hope
- pray for Africa, that God will raise up workers and that many there will come to know Him
- pray for the cell group camping trip, that we'll be safe and have lots of fun and be able to encourage each other heaps
- pray that i'll keep on picking up Thai quickly

PS - i finally managed to find a picture of Chaba Gaow - looks so much like me eh?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hope Conference

So this week, i'm down at Pattaya for the Pioneers 'Hope 2008' Conference. The best way to probably describe it so far is that it's MASSIVE! There's a whole lot of different things that happen here - from morning singing and Bible talks, to 'area' team time - so for me it's the Mainland South East Asia area and heaps of time to meet LOTS or people, share stories of the ways that God has been working in our lives, be encouraged by ways that people have struggled or been growing in their walks with God, have opportunities to be praying for each other and later in the week to be spending time with our teams and our mobilisation bases - so to spend time with a few members of the Aussie PiOz office who have also come out to the conference.

A couple things that i've been struck by is just how many ways that God is working around the world, but also the need for so many more workers out in the field to be reaching even more people who are 'unreached'. On top of that, to be able to meet and speak with many missionaries who have been out in the field for most of their lives, and to be so encouraged by their perseverance, focus on the gospel, their love for the people, their love for God, and for others to know Christ. The other thing that has struck me is just the size of the organisation and how much of a huge body of christ that we all are. and how for it all to work, we all need to be working together. I've always seen it in action at church, but this is kinda of on a scale like i've never seen or comprehended before and it's just a great glimpse into the whole bigger body of Christ and the way that God just fully orchestrates everything and everyone into place so perfectly and again, a great glimpse of his sovereignty. when i see things like this, i realise how important it is for us all to be doing our little part for Gods work. Whether it be out in the field, helping those who have gone through support, prayer and other ways. We're all part of God's work together and it's just a privilege to be able to see that in action and be a part of it. So for those of you back home who haven't had a chance to see it, i just want to encourage you that by supporting me, and by serving back home or whereever you are, you are part of something MASSIVE! you are part of a work that is God's plan of salvation for this WHOLE WORLD. We've all got our parts to play, so let's do it! :)

Quick Prayer points:
- for the many gospel workers out in the field - for us all to keep our eyes fixed on the author, provider sustainer and saviour, and that we'll faithfully be teaching god's word to those who don't know him
- for the many around the world who do not know him, that they will
- for more workers in the field
- for us all to be faithfully serving God in whatever capacity. and that we'll be doing it with joy and a servant heart

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Random Shots

So i finally managed to go take a photo of my new place. when i move in, i'll get some shots of the inside. But here is what will be home for me from Feb :)

Here are a few other random shots of various things that i've seen and the kids at the orphanage playing with 'photo booth' while i was 'babysitting' last week. was heaps of fun.

One of my worst nightmares coming to life when we saw this frog farm

If you ever thought portugese chickens had it bad, check out this poor calf

Me with Boonchu - one of the disabled ladies Denise & John are trying to help.

Nothing like a prize for all the runners in a race

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sharing with the Music 'Worship' Team

i was going to try and post a photo of me sharing with the 'worship' team last night, but the reality is that i ended up sharing in the dark by the light of my computer screen because for some reason the lights just wouldn't turn on at church. It seems a blessing in disguise that the printer i was trying to print my notes out on was out of ink, so i had to take my computer along. it's funny the way that God works :)

So during the week, i was trying to work out what to share with the team. While the temptation for many church musicians is to work out how to try and make music sound bigger and better, i thought instead that i'd spend my time encouraging them to think about why we meet as Christians, where music fits into church and the purpose of it, and what our attitudes should be as we serve the church. To do this we looked at a few passages from the Bible (Rom 12:1-2, Heb 10:23-25, Eph 5:19-20 and Col 3:16-17). We then had a think about choice of songs -how to choose songs, ideas on deciding what songs to sing each week, The importance of practice and our attitude of service with whatever God has given us to work with. While preparing for this time of sharing, it was a great way for me to be reminded of many things not only about serving with music in church, but also why we do meet up for church each week and the importance of wanting to build each other up in Christ, to spur each other on and to be giving thanks to God as we remember all that Christ has done for us.

I think it went well, i guess it's hard to tell when you're all sitting in the dark and can't really see people's faces by the end. :) haha Obviously i had to have it all translated, but there were lots of questions at the end and i think they found it helpful. Unfortunately i couldn't stay for the actual music practice as i had to head off to dinner, but hopefully i'll make it to a practice in a couple weeks time after i get back from conference.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I have accommodation

God never ceases to amaze me in how he provides for all our needs. Here's another massive praise point for God's provision of a great little townhouse. It's a 2 bedroom townhouse in a really good location close to the city, between my school and the orphanage, near the church, with a really good landlord who really wants to help look after me (apparently REALLY hard to find here) as she's going to repaint the place, provide extra furniture, a fridge and stove (believe it or not, stoves don't usually come with kitchens here), a bed, dining table, hot water for the bathroom (again - no, it's not a given). There's a restaurant 2 doors down if i need a good, quick, cheap feed, a laundry so i don't even need to do any washing or ironing, and it's really close to the shops and the bank. And she's happy to wait for me to move in in February (as i'll be away for a 10 days in January on at Hope Conference in Pattaya).

It's been pretty amazing how it's all happened as the townhouse was actually originally go to another family, but she thought that i'd be more suited to the townhouse and so she's found another place for this other family to move into so i can move in. So Praise God!! And there's a spare room too for anyone who wants to come and visit!

It's been a great day all around though. This morning, i also started my language classes and another great praise point is for an awesome teacher Khruu Kwan. She's awesome in being happy for me to not necessarily have to learn thai the 'conventional' way that the school teaches and is happy for me to be reading and writing Thai from the outset which i'm really happy about. She's also really nice and we seem to get on really well together. So something else to praise God for.

I'll try and get some photos of the townhouse and Khruu Kwan soon to post up :)

thanks for all your prayers. Know that God is hearing and answering them all!

Monday, January 7, 2008

สวัสดีปีใหม - that's Happy New Year!

It's been a great start to the year so far, where i feel like i've hit the ground running. The past week was spent organising school lessons, my student visa, bank accounts, thai drivers licences, buying my bike today which is a Yamaha Mio (which i just got today)
trying to find a place to live, going to my first bible study (which i reckon i understood all of about 5 %), going to various New Year parties, meeting up with various Thai friends i have previously met, spending way too much time on MSN with my new Thai friends in Korat, spending time at the orphanage and working out how i can best be helping them this year plus lots more. it's been a blast so far, and even though i don't actually start my Thai classes til tomorrow, i feel that my Thai has already improved heaps. Something to really praise God for so far.

So tomorrow kind of kicks off the formalities of my time here. I'll begin my day with my first team meeting with the Pioneers team that i'm here with, then i'll be off to school for my first Thai lesson. After only being here for a week, my weekly 'timetable' seems to be filling up pretty quickly. Monday, Wednesday & Friday mornings will be at school, Monday and Wednesday afternoon and evenings will be at the orphanage, Friday night i will have Bible Study, Saturday night i'll be heading off to music practice, then church on Sunday. There's still plenty of other things i want to do, but i think the wise thing to do for now is to hang back on committing to too much while i still try and settle in.

In the next few posts, i'll fill you in on a few more specific details of what i'll be up to this year. For this one, i'll start with an outline of what i hope to do at the orphanage. Most of my time will be spent with one of the Orphanage houses from Bethany House, but this one is called Cana House. The parents of this house, Niphon & Ratree go to the church that i will be going to (grace church). It's been awesome getting to know them better in the past week and they actually helped me to buy my bike today too which was really nice. On the days that i go over to Cana House, i'll mainly be helping the kids with their english and possibly even teaching them how to play some instruments (whatever they want to learn that i can play). For many Thai's, if they are able to speak english, it will really help them have the chance to get better jobs, so when the time comes for them to have to leave the orphanage, hopefully we can give the kids the best chance of being able to have a 'better' life.

The second thing that i hope to help the orphanage with is with a business they have just started which is a small restaurant in Chiang Mai. There are several really good reasons why it would be really good for this business venture to be successful. Firstly, it's a bit of a tent making business to help them to be able to pay the rent of their new house,
Secondly, to give the kids an opportunity to get some work experience and for those that are able, to learn some business skills that will help them in the future
Thirdly, if it is something that is successful, hopefully in the future when the kids are at an age where they need to leave the orphanage, they could provide some employment for the kids that need to leave if they want.

There are just so many opportunities to be helping the orphanage with this new restaurant as they don't really have a business plan or any ideas of what they want to. i've already got heaps of ideas of ways to help the restaurant already which i reckon would be really easy, but i need to be wise in how to go about it all.

Another opportunity that just came up today at church with 'help' with the worship team at church. I'm not sure what that means exactly to be honest. i'm sure some of it will be to help play various instruments (which would be heaps of fun), but ideally, i'd love to be sharing with them 'Why' we do sing songs and what is 'worship'? i must admit It's not something i've looked at for a while, so it would be great for those who are praying, for wisdom in what to share, and ability to be able to do it in a helpful way despite my lack of language, so hopefully not too much will be lost in translation.

For those who are praying:
- please pray for wisdom in how to best help Cana House and especially in providing advice and what i do to that will be helpful and useful for their business. Also pray that i won't be stepping on toes and doing things that are culturally inappropriate.
- pray for wisdom in what to share and 'help' the worship team with on Saturday night
- pray that this awesome townhouse that we've been looking at will come through - great location, great landlord, all essentials like fridge, stove, hot water, furniture etc for a great price. Just waiting on the landlord to get back to me