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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Pi Dai

Thanks for all of your prayers for Pi Dai and his family. I can't even begin to imagine what they're going through right now, but it was nice to be able to go visit him and his family at their house in Samoeng. What we thought was going to be an hours drive out to their house, ended up being 2 1/2hrs - 80km of REALLY windy roads through the mountains. But it was worth it i reckon. To show his family that their Christian brothers and sisters do care for them and are thinking and praying for them. I'm not so sure that many of his family are christian, so hopefully our visit was also a good witness to them.

When we went out there, we got to pray for the family, spend some time chatting (well, i sat and listened), and got to eat some of the sweetest strawberries i've ever eaten (as they live right near some strawberry fields). It was encouraging to see a small community of people there bonding together at this time making crepe paper flowers and other decorations which will be used for the funeral. In so many ways, it was really surreal being out there and being a part of their preparation time (as brief as it was), but something that really touched me and challenged me to be trusting in God and wanting to encourage others to do the same, no matter how tough life gets. There are just so many things that we don't understand about the way that God does things, but i hope and pray that through our sufferings, God will be strengthening us to trust him more and to look forward and long for the day that Jesus returns - when there will be no more crying, mourning or pain.

Pi Dai's house in Sameong

praying for the family

Norng Dar's coffin

The view from Pi Dai's house

For those who are praying:
- please keep on praying for Pi Dai and his family (he's also got 7month old twins and another child - i think about 3yrs old)
- pray for our church as we try to keep on encouraging him, even though there is some distance now
- pray that each of us will continue to look forward to the day when Jesus returns and to live our lives in light of that, and to make the most of every opportunity, cos we really don't know what's around the corner

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Please Pray for Pi Dai and his family

i got woken up at 7 this morning by an sms. About 10mins later, i worked out what i thought it said, but was hoping and praying that i had translated it wrong - because it was sad news that Dar - Pi Dai's 5 year old son had died this morning at about 1am. I won't go into all the details, but if you could be praying for Pi Dai and his family. He has a wife and 3 other young kids. Pray for them in their grief, that they will keep on staying strong in the Lord through all this, that they will trust in his sovereignty and his plan for all things, that they will be for the church as we support the family at this time, that people will be turning to God at this time...i'm sure you can think of plenty of other things to pray for too. thanks

Friday, February 22, 2008

Khruu Kwan

Khruu Kwan is my teacher at school. She's AWESOME fun! i love going to my lessons, i love the fact that she's a cack. that she's really flexible with how she teaches and is happy to let me learn stuff that's not necessarily in the lessons to the extent that we often end up talking about how we became christians, or talking about reading the bible, church or prayer. A couple weeks ago, she asked whether or not i'd be interested in coming over to her place once a week for a 'cell group' that she wanted to start. It sounded like a great idea at the time - getting a group of various people she knows together to sing, pray, share and read the Bible. We're currently trying to find a night that we everyone is free to make at the moment, but hopefully when we do, we'll be able to meet together.

But there was one other unexpected thing that happened earlier this week during one lesson. i had to compare different items and ask questions like - which pencil is longer, or what flower is prettier, or what fruit is sweeter etc. I was looking around the room for inspiration on what to ask when i saw a couple books. i knew one was a dictionary, but had no idea what the other was. So i asked - 'which book is more boring?' She then answered that both were. So intrigued, i asked what the other book was, and discovered it was a New Testament! I then asked her if she really thought it was boring or not? Then she said that she didn't really know, cos she hasn't really ever read the bible. Mainly cos she doesn't know where to start or even know how to read it. It was a great opportunity to spend the next 'chunk' of the lesson talking about the Bible and showing her some simple ways to read the Bible and to start in Mark and hopefully getting her a bit excited about reading it.

As i've been speaking with my teacher and some other christians over here, it seems to be that the thing that excites them about being a christian is not necessarily God or learning about him and Jesus, but the 'music/worship' side of church. The sermon, prayer and bible reading are really just boring, but things that you kind of 'have to do'.

For those of you who are praying:
- please pray for Khruu Kwan, that she might have the desire to start reading the Bible and that as she does, she will start to learn great truths about who Jesus is and start to understand who God is more
- for other christians here, that being a christian won't just be about 'music/worship'
- for me as i try to encourage them to want to know God more and be a good example to them

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Language Blooper

So it's been a while since i've had a decent language blooper. Maybe i've had plenty more, and my friends are too polite to tell me that i've got it so wrong cos they think i'm really trying, but this one i couldn't hide from. For me it was a very humbling (and amusing) experience. How many times have you read a sign, t-shirt or card written in 'bad' english - where there's just been a wrong letter typed, or a missing letter? you know what i mean - the 'flied rice', or 'thank you very mush'. This is a good lesson to always give a native speaker the computer to type and proof read what you've done. What happens when you leave off one 'อ' from a headline?

I'm currently in the middle of trying to design up a simple portfolio for the disabled workshop that we're working with. The first component of the portfolio consists of all the types of 'boxes' that they sell, and the second are the designs that they can put on front. This is a sample of what i came up with.

So i thought i'd get a head start on the headings and diligently looked up my dictionary to work out how do i type 'designs' in Thai. However, i accidentally left of an 'อ' from the heading. Small mistake right? Wrong!! Unfortunately this small mistake meant big laughs! The words no longer meant designs for boxes, but for 'chests' (ie breasts) designs! OOPS!!! Our friends at the workshop were initially trying so hard not to laugh, cos they felt really bad for me, and didn't want to discourage me, but they couldn't keep it in, and initial silence turned into roars of laughter, tears. I think they've now worked out that it'll take much more then laughter to offend me cos i think it's hilarious too, but at least now i have a much better appreciation of others trying to do things in english!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What a week

So i thought last Sunday was a pretty tough day after visiting the hospitals after church, but little did i know that was just the beginning of a multiple hospital visit week. The good news (kinda) is that Dar has been doing better this week, so that's something to really praise God for. Obviously it's still a long way to go before there's any sign of an all clear, but it would be great to keep on praying for the family, that they keep on trusting God through it all.

So, what happened in the rest of the week? Well the REALLY short version -
- Sunday night, Lydia (the daughter of the parents at Cana House) came down with a really bad fever peaking at 40.2
- Monday night, i go over to Cana House to help teach the kids (i teach the kids english and music on mon and wed nights), but there's an incident where one of the girls accidentally pokes the other one in the eye with a pretty sharp knife. i'm not sure what the full story is, but obviously there's a couple trips to the hospital. Lydia is still sick.
- Tues, i had to go down to Baan Tawaai to help with the disabled workshop, so i couldn't help the guys out at Cana House with their restaurant (while they were running everyone around to various hospitals). i felt a bit bad, but in some ways i think it was a blessing in disguise because...
- Wed morning, i get a call bright and early from Oum who's managed to get really bad stomach pains (maybe from something she ate?) so i had to help take her to hospital. i was meant to go to school, but then my teacher also called to say she was in hospital too and wasn't going to be able to make it back for class. By Wednesday night, Lydia's temperature has gone, Oum is still under the weather, and then Ratree (mother at Cana House) starts to get sick
- Thursday i had to go to Immigration to get my Student Visa (that's a praise point by the way), and then go over to the restaurant to help cos the other lady who usually helps wasn't going to be able to make it that day cos her 14month old granddaughter just got readmitted to hospital (can't seem to keep food down)

so that was kind of the 'hospital' week. Surprisingly enough, praise God, i somehow haven't managed to get sick in all of that yet and i'm praying that i won't. If you're wondering how everyone is, they generally seem to be fine now despite some on going 'effects'

But things got much better by Friday night. A group of us from our Cell Group went camping at Opkan National Park. Not only was it great fun, but a really good time of bonding, eating and spending time praying and reading God's word. i also made damper for them to try. On Sat morning, we all got up early to do our quiet times, and then we got together and 3 of us got to share (after losing - or should i say 'winning' a thai equivalent game of rocks, paper, scissors). Course i ended up in the last 3. They were going to 'let me off' from sharing, but i really wanted to share with them stuff i had been challenged by from Romans. But as i started sharing, i realised how restricted i was in sharing cos of lack of language. Every 3 words, i had to stop and and ask - how do i say....'gospel', creation, through faith we're saved etc etc etc. i always knew that i really can't say much in thai still, but that really hit me as to how much more i still have to learn in order to be able to effectively communicate, especially things of the Bible.

So things to pray for:
- for all the 'sickness' that's going around right now, that people will get better, and that i won't get sick
- thank God that my Visa has come through (i can now officially stay here for 1 more year - total of 15 months unless i get an extension)
- continued language learning, and that i'll be able to learn quickly!
- this tuesday, i'm catching up with my friend from CBN (tv network), pray it will go well and for possible opportunities to be helping there.

Here are some pics from our Opkan Camping trip as well as a few other random shots:

some of the group at Opkan (the rest were playing paparazzi)

Singing, reading the Bible and praying together around the camp 'light'

bit of eating - ok, lots of eating!

Oum trying to get into our tent

Oum, Daa and me

Photo time on the rocks

The Paparazzi

Oum, Daa & me

Op (who i discovered the next day can actually speak pretty good english!)

a cool tree to climb

So, here's an idea of some of the safety standards. there used to be a fence to stop you from falling off

but then again, a country that will allow you to have as many people as this in the back of a Ute....

and i tried sting ray for the first time last week at our 'valentines day' dinner at Muu-ga-tar

It's also Yewi & Joy's birthday this week, so we had a little party for them last week

and thanks to Denise, i now have 2 pet hampsters

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tough Times

So today ended up being a real mixed bag of a day, from waking up at the time i was meant to be at church (not as bad as it sounds - church doesn't start til 10.30, but i told some people i could get there at 8.30 to help cook church lunch). Then had adults 'Sunday School' where they were learning about 'Rest'. Not fully sure what they were saying, but i'll save those thoughts for another post. Then we had church, lunch, clean up, fun in getting to know more people at church, came home for a quick rest before heading over to Cana House where i thought i was going to help bake a cake as it's Yewi and Joy's birthday's, but we ended up also going to visit 2 hospitals to pray for some people who are sick. Which is more the point of this post. So many thoughts went through my head today about the unexplainable illnesses, sickness and death that goes on in this world, and again my frustrations of limited language arose. Here's a brief run down on what happened...

During church this morning there were a few people who got to get up and share about things that were happening in their life. One man Dai got up to share. At the time i couldn't understand much of what he said, but i knew it must be fairly bad cos he was on the verge of breaking down and crying and only just managed to hold it in. Later on, i found out why. His 5 year old son Dar was just diagnosed with leukemia last week and is now in hospital unconscious. Most of the afternoon was spent piecing together a whole heap of information in order to fully understand what the story was.

From what i understand, Dar has just been diagnosed with leukemia. I'm not sure what type or how bad, but from what i understand, it's not good and if Tum needs a bone marrow transplant, they'll need to fly out to another country for the treatment as there is nowhere in Thailand that does it. The problem is, the family are already struggling enough for money as it is. Dai (the father) works as a garbage collector and there's no chance that they could every afford the treatment required, and if through God's grace, the money for the transplant were to become available, apparently treatment still goes on for another 3 years, which makes it seem like a near impossibility for much to be done for Tum.

I must admit, i've very rarely gone with a group of people to just go and pray for people in hospital, and today when they first asked me if i wanted to visit, i declined - since i had no idea who they were or what the situation was. But i really thank God for the opportunity to be able to go and pray for them all today, cos at the end of the day, that's be best thing we can do - PRAY! i'd love to ask you all to do the same if you can. From what i understand the father is a Christian, but pray that he will be able to keep trusting in God through this situation. Pray for Tum, pray for the doctors who are treating him, pray if it is God's will, that he will be cured.

Not surprising, the car trip on the way home was fairly quiet with many of us thinking...LOTS! So many memories were going through my brain of Doug and other people i know who have battled with cancer. i had to keep reminding myself that this is a fallen world and God is in control and has a plan for all things, even if we don't understand them now. We just have to keep on trusting Him. What made it really hard was when my friends in the car turned to me and asked me what i was thinking. Do i think that Tum will make it or not? How do i feel about all of this? I couldn't help but want to share with them the many lessons that i've had to learn the hard way over the past few years, yet i didn't even know how to begin, what to say, how to say it. All i could do was pray.

We're hoping to go and visit again this week and take Dai some food. When we arrived at the hospital, he was lying down on a hard wooden bench in the waiting area as there was no space for him to sit in the ICU and visitors are only allowed in there 10 mins at a time. I can't even begin to imagine what he's going through right now.

Please Pray:
- for Dai (dad)
- for Dar (5yr old son)
- for God to do his work according to his plan
- for Christians here to be challenged in what they believe about God and that they will grow in their understanding of him because of it
- praise God for who he is, and that we are able to pray to Him and that he hears our prayers
- for continued opportunities to share with Thai's things i have also learnt and the language in order to do so

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Things i'm learning

Apart from learning the language, there are so many things that i'm learning daily about Thai culture and where many christians are at here in their understanding of the bible and the gospel. One of the things that struck me recently after having some good chats with thai friends and hearing their testimony's, is how the 'gospel' as many of us know it never really seems to come up. It seems that the turning point for them was more about an experience (or multiple experiences) or a song that they heard that made them want to find out more or want to put their trust in THAT God. It's not that they heard that Jesus died for them and therefore they can now be in a relationship with God. I don't doubt for a moment that they are now christians and love God with all their heart, but i also wonder for some, if the going were to get tough and if the material 'blessings' were to stop coming, would they still stand firm? Is their foundation of belief based on what god is 'doing' for them, or from a solid understanding that blessings don't necessarily mean material ones, but the blessing that we can actually now be in an undeserved relationship with God. As i listen to their testimonies and hear how God has worked in their life, i can't help but praise God that he is so merciful and gracious to us all and i'm also constantly amazed at the many different ways that God can work in people's lives.

As i also talk to John & Denise and hear and see the ways they are working with Thai's to help them learn to read the Bible for themselves, it just confirms for me the hunger of thai christians to want to understand the Bible. Their appetite and eagerness to learn and serve is insatiable. For most of them, only now are they starting to understand the reason we live our lives the way we do. That it's NOT because we have to obey a set of rules in order to be saved, but because we are in a relationship with God, and that it is just the right response because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. And as they start to understand it, they all get so excited, they want to find out more and more. It's just so encouraging and exciting to see.

Anyway, here are a few random snaps as well of friends i'm making, places i've been and other random things in the past week:

Last week at cell group, a couple of the girls (oum and gun) had their birthdays, so we had a cake to celebrate. we were originally going to go away camping, but due to excess unseasonal rains (it was BUCKETING down) they decided it better to not go camping and to have a 'social' at church instead.

My favourite purchase so far over here has been this electric tennis racquet which is actually a mozzie zapper! it's so much fun!! unfortunately illegal to bring back to Oz (believe me, we've tried)

Here's a pic of Oum and Me. Oum's getting married next month and somehow i think i'm now playing multiple roles at her wedding - from playing piano, helping with catering, doing makeup (cos i used to sell makeup and that makes me an expert) to helping with flowers - cos i've got a green thumb - NOT!! :) Seriously tho, she's awesome! it's been great getting to know her and hanging out with her

went to this awesome floral display on saturday. it's a special festival where they make these massive floats out of flowers. it's amazing and really clever and really beautiful (yes, even i'm saying this).

part of the gang that wen to the flower show

At the flower parade, i saw this bunny made of flowers and thought the ferguson's would appreciate it

I know asians have an obsession with hello kitty, but isn't this taking it a bit too far???

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pi Gao's Place

So, i've finally managed to get around to putting up a a few snaps of my new place (sorry i don't have a wide lens to get the whole lot in, but i'm sure you get the idea). You would've already seen a shot of the townhouse from the street so here are a few up close shots

the garage how it looks decked out with my bike

the living room and dining area

a reverse shot of the living area which shows the stylish 70's green vinyl lounge suite i've got (but hey, beggers can't be choosers - and they're easy to clean!)

my kitchen (which i FINALLY got to cook in for the first time today - believe it or not, it's the first day i've even been home to enjoy the kitchen)

then up the stairs we go

to my bedroom. Unfortunately i can't show you through a photo just how hard a mattress can possibly be, but thanks Denise and John for the loan of the extra foam to provide much needed cushioning.

and here's one of the most important rooms in the place. there's actually 2 of them, but have only got one pic here

i've even got HOT water!! :) (sorry, not sure why this photo is sideways or what a quick way is to fix it, so just turn your head)

and there's another spare bedroom (which i didn't take a shot of) which you can all come and stay in if you want to come visit me :)

So, that's home for me for the next 12 months - which is very exciting. i'm having my first 'party' here on saturday night. i've got all the guys from Cana House coming over. Despite the fact that i'm inviting everyone over, they're still bringing over food to eat - go figure. i feel kinda bad cos i'm always over there eating too, but at least they agreed to let me also cook them some spaghetti. Hopefully a few other thai friends from other places will also be able to come too and we can have a good night of fun, food and fellowship :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

12 Baskets

12 Baskets is the Restaurant that Cana House has just recently started. Some of you may recall me talking about wanting to help them with a possible business opportunity that they're starting in order to:
1. help raise additional funds to keep the orphanage going
2. hopefully give some of the kids some work experience
3. if successful, hopefully give some of the kids some work should they need it when they reach the age they need to leave the orphanage (about 15)

It's been an interesting challenge to work out how best to help them, what is the wisest way to give them advice and how to train them to think 'business mindedly'. it's not really in anyone's best interest that this whole venture is either a financial or physical drain for any of them as they're already all flat out as it is.

So to kick things off, i decided to help make them a simple flyer they can use to help promote the restaurant. It's pretty simple - front is a quick blurb to promote the restaurant and the back is the menu. Having to do it all in thai was a bit of a challenge at times, but that's what made doing it more fun too :)

Prayer Points:
- pray for 12 Baskets, that people will come along to the restaurant and that it will be a venture that is glorifying to God
- pray for wisdom for me in the provision of advice to them