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.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

what to do?

Each day when i get home, i can't help but praise God for his goodness and his provision for me over here. Not only materially in a place to stay,transport etc, but especially in all the friends he's brought into my life and the opportunities that keep on coming to serve him. Last Wednesday, Denise & John went back to Australia for a 3 week visit. While i've felt so settled since being here, i must admit that the fact that Denise and John have been here has contributed to that heaps. So there was a small part of me that was also slightly apprehensive when they left as it would be the first time that i'd kinda be here 'alone' without any 'blood' family here, people who i can comfortably chill out with in english, people who understand me etc etc etc. But since they've gone, i've really had nothing to complain about. Everyone is really looking out for me and keeping me out of mischief. And over the past week the list of opportunities to serve just keeps on growing and opportunities to build relationships keep on opening up. It's good in some ways that Denise and John have gone back to Oz for a short while cos it's forcing me to speak more and giving me opportunities to do more things in sunday school and at the workshop without a translator that i probably wouldn't normally do. It definitely keeps things interesting as i've got no idea what's coming up next, or often what i'm even doing at the time :) haha

So now there are new opportunities to help out at a juvenile detention centre, possibly help out with the marketing for a new initiative that some people at my church are wanting to start with helping females who are pregnant with unwanted children, and even being a part of those initiatives too, further opportunities to really get involved down at the disabled workshop, teaching english at a Compassion centre about 4-5hrs out of Chiang Mai, getting to know new people who have a background in design and graphics who are currently unemployed and are keen to do any kind of work - so possibly training them up...and the list keeps growing. For those who are praying, please pray for wisdom in thinking about the future, what i could do, how i would be best spending my time in serving God here - (or if it's to go back in Oz). There really are so many doors that are opening here and so opportunities to serve and every time i hear of something new, i get so excited, but also saddened at the fact i've only got so many hours in a day, or so many days in a week - not to mention limited language. God really is great and good. He's got a plan for everything and everyone. we just need to keep on trusting in him for all things.

anyway off to go swimming with some friends now (it's starting to get REALLY HOT here now) at some place i've never been to or know where it is - which is fine, cos i think i'm going to be driving :) haha ah, i love thailand :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

What is 'Suay'? - ie beautiful?

Not that making things look 'beautiful' has ever really been one of my strong points, but i'm fast discovering that over here, appearance and 'beauty' is really important and thai's will go to extraordinary lengths to make things as beautiful as possible. The past week has been a steep learning curve of trying to work out what is beautiful here and what is not and all i can take away from it is that i've got a LOT to learn about what Thai's consider beautiful. In all honesty, it seems that their idea of beautiful is the complete opposite of whatever i consider beautiful. So right now, i'm kinda just doing the opposite to what i personally would like if it were for me.

So what do i do when i'm given a wedding cake to decorate? well, apart from freak out and try to convince them that they're nuts in asking me to do it, i figure as long as i can add pink to it somewhere (pink is BIG in this country), and do to it what i probably would not do for me, everything would be ok. So this was the end result?

So now, i'm a really talented individual who is very clever at decorating cakes now too. i'm seriously hoping and praying that i won't have to do any more! :)

So, here are a few other shots of Oum's wedding

The flower decorations inside

A group of us the night before making all the flower decorations

me with Oum & Keir

The flower girls and page boy (James & Mimi in the middle)

My Cell group at the wedding

me and Kim

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

So it's been an interesting weekend celebrating Easter in a country that generally has no idea what Easter is about and therefore don't actually celebrate it, let alone have it as a public holiday. So it means it's generally business as usual, but it's up to Christians to make the time around their usual schedules to fit in Good Friday services and dawn services. So Friday morning, bright and early - actually, not bright - it was still pitch black, at 5.30am, we had a worship and prayer meeting at church til 7am. For those who know me well, you'd probably know how much of a morning person i am, so it was a bit of a struggle to get out of bed originally, but despite being tired, i must admit it was a really great way to start the Easter weekend, to be immersed in the Bible and prayer, being reminded of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemene to Jesus death on the cross. And then during prayer, cos i didn't really understand everything that was going on, it was great to spend some of my own time in prayer.

Then if the morning wasn't enough, we also had a special service on the Friday night where more people showed up, but again, a great night to be reflecting on what Easter is all about. The other 'interesting' thing that happened which i couldn't help but be amused by at the time was a video that they showed with a collage of 'Jesus' images but all to the song "(Everything I Do) I do it for you" by Bryan Adams from the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. I must say, i can understand why they chose that song, but unfortunately it was amusing as they obviously don't understand the context of the song - especially with the line - i'd lie for you. But despite that, it was a good night for once again reflecting on what Christ has done for us.

Then this morning (sunday) we had a 6am worship and prayer service next to a lake. I really was a beautiful setting to have a dawn service at but unfortunately i forgot my camera (again - it was too early for me). Then after the service, a group of us walked back to church and whilst doing so, handed out a heap of tracts along the way. i found it interesting that there was no attempt to try and talk to people about the gospel, or even say who we were or where we were from, or to even say 'happy easter'. So i asked. the happy easter - well, basically no one would really understand that anyway - so fair enough. But after asking about whether they say where we were from they decided to change tact and mention that we were from the Grace Church in Chiang Mai. So who knows what will happen in the future. It's great to see them so keen to be trying to share the good news of salvation - especially at easter.

For those who are praying, please pray that many of the christians here will have a better/clearer understanding of how they can be sharing their faith and making the most out of the opportunities to share the gospel.
Praise God for the opportunity this Easter to once again remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Christians

it's amazing to see the way that God can work over here. Just 2 nights ago at our cell group, 2 of the guys who come along decided to become Christians. Praise God! But to be honest, as i heard their story of how they came to decide to become christians (well for one of the guys at least), i began to ask myself a few more questions about why it is that they decide to become christians? It seems one of the guys who became a christian did so because he's recently been frightened by lots of 'ghosts' who he thinks want to do 'bad' things to him. So he was told that if he wants God to hear his prayers and look after him, he has to become a christian first. So he did. i don't doubt that they do want to be christians, and do want to accept christ into their hearts, but is it because they are more scared of these 'ghosts' or because they have understood the gospel that they are people who need to be saved from God's wrath, and that the only way to the Father is through believing in his Son Jesus who died on the cross and rose again to life?

I've been really challenged lately to again think about when to speak and share my thoughts and when to just listen and learn about the Thai culture so that when i do end up speaking, it is something that is helpful and beneficial to them, rather then me being a foreigner who has a big mouth and ideas that may/may not be contrary to theirs. i know that God can work powerfully in many ways and change people's lives in whatever way he wants, but i also want people to become christians because they understand the gospel and want to be in a relationship with God, and not because of their fear of the unknown.

For those praying:
- please pray for Dor and Boy who became christians. for them to grow in their faith and understanding of the word
- pray for me, for wisdom in what to say and when to say it
- pray for increased language understanding and ability so that i can be sharing and speaking in a way that is helpful and encouraging to Thai's here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hamster Ministry

Ok, now this is not something i was expecting, but today my pet hamsters turned into an awesome ministry opportunity. Maybe my sister knew there was something special about them when she gave them to me.

So what's the story? Well, a couple weeks ago, my 2 pet hamsters decided to have babies - 5 of them! (That's a pic of one of them above - they're really cute) i was trying to work out what to do with them all, cos unfortunately my cage isn't that big. Fortunately, i've realised that giving away hamsters isn't really that hard over here. Anyway, today i had a couple spare hours so i thought i really should clean out hamster cage out. It just so happens that all the neighbourhood kids are now on holidays (for their long summer break). So curious as to what i was doing in the garage, one of the girls Um (i think that was her name) came up and asked me what i was doing. So i showed the the hamsters and next thing you know, i've got 4 kids in my place making themselves at home. I got to teach them how to play Sumo (very exciting for those of you who know me and the game!) and we spend the next few hours playing games and the kids got to terrorise the poor baby hamsters. But the good thing is that i haven't really had a chance to get to know my neighbours that well since i moved in. partly cos i'm not sure what to say to them - or what i can say to them. but i'm hoping that through the hamsters and the kids, that i'll be able to get to know my neighbours much better in the coming months and that i'll be able to start building relationships with them too.

so please pray for my neighbours. i have no idea where they're at, who they really are and the like. but i can't wait to find out

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Few Random Things

They past week has been another fun filled but busy week.

A couple saturday's ago, i went out for dinner at Muu-ga-tar with my teacher, a few other teachers from school, one of the other students and a few other ring ins that i have no idea how they fit into the picture. All up, it was a really random bunch of people, but a great night out of laughs, waaaay too much food, a few more misunderstandings i think on my half due to lack of language - i'm not sure if now one of the teachers is now my 'girlfriend' :) haha All good fun. Here's a picture of me with Khruu Jai and Khruu Kwan (my teacher).

I've also just started sitting in on the training of Sunday School teachers at church. Just this year, Denise has been meet together with a group of people from church who are keen to be trained up to teach Sunday School which is really exciting. It seems no matter which country you're in, finding sunday school teachers (kids church teachers) is always a struggle. Here, there are people who are keen, but it's just that they are too scared to do it cos they have no idea what to do or how to do it. So it's been exciting to be able to see 7 of them really keen to be trained up and get involved with teaching the young ones while learning how to read and teach the Bible for themselves at the same time. We're currently going through the book of Mark in Sunday School teaching the kids about Jesus. Seems simple eh? but it's also a new concept to many of them here, so it's exciting to see the way that God is working in their lives I'm sure there'll be heaps more updates on this in the near future. For me so far, apart from being another opportunity to spend time with Thai's and build relationships, it's also a great way to build on my 'bible' language, so that's been awesome. Here's a few of the team teaching the kids a couple weeks back.

I also got to go to my first Buddhist funeral last Sunday too. I was 'inviited' along by my teacher. Kinda weird i know, but i thought it was a great opportunity to go and see what happens. Even though i couldn't understand hardly anything, it was really interesting to go. One of the things that struck me, was that even though it was a funeral, the 'message' from the 'head monk' was all about how we all should be living in order to live a good, fulfilling life. But didn't seem to say a huge amount about the person who had passed away. The other interesting thing - given my lack of language, i was just hanging off any word i could understand. Funnily enough, i kept on hearing 'Pra Jaw' quite ofen (which means God). It's the same word that Christians over here use for God too. So part way through the message, i almost found myself wondering if someone were to play me an exert out of a 'Buddhist' message and a 'Christian' message, would i be able to pick the difference given my current understanding of Thai? my guess is not!

Here are some of the monks at the funeral

But it's not all been bad (i'm beginning to wonder what the story is with so many in hospital or dying around here at the moment), on saturday, we went out on a tiaw (like a day trip) to the strawberry fields to pick lots and lots and LOTS of strawberries. All up, we picked 21 1/2 kg of strawberries!!! But at 30bht (about $1) a kg, it really was a pretty cheap pick! the plan is to eat them all somehow - for starters Oum's wedding cake is supposedly going to be a strawberry cake, and cos they've never tried to make one before, i think many of them will go towards trial cakes! :) haha. It was a great day out though as we got to go out with a couple friends from Oz who are over here visiting and a thai family that John & Denise know and spend time with them for the day. So that was good to be able to build relationships with them. Plus it meant we got to eat an awesome choc fondue that night! YUM!!!

For those who are praying:
- pray for continued relationship building with Thai's
- pray for the sunday school teachers who are getting trained up. Thank God for their willingness to serve and learn, pray that they will continue to be challenged by the bible as they prepare the lessons each week, pray for the kids as they learn, that they will learn great truths about God

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ongoing Opportunities

So, this is what happens when i finally get a few spare hours - i get to add heaps of things to my blog :)

There were a couple really exciting opportunities opened up this week for me and other blessings which came really left field. Before i left Sydney, there was a possible opportunity to work with some thai's here who are wanting to put together a Thai bible for the deaf - much like the Auslan Bible in Australia. I finally got round to meeting with the head of the project on Thursday. He's a really lovely guy who happens to also know my sister and brother-in-law through other means. When we met, we both realised pretty soon, that the filming of the project was not something that would happen in the next year (which was what i was expecting anyway), but he had a few other opportunities for me to help them, initially with marketing. The aim - to come up with ideas of how to excite and mobilise thai's to want to share the Gospel and provide the Bible to those who might never get the chance to hear it. So a new challenge - not only come up with ideas and recommendations, but to also work out what the Thai 'market' is like and what would appeal and work in this culture. Hmmmmm...... i'd really appreciate your prayers on this - for wisdom and insight. If you've got any ideas as well, shoot them through, i'd love to hear them.

But the thing that came really left field was that not long into the meeting, Chuum suddenly started talking about visa's and essentially offered me a visa to stay here long term if i so desired! For those who don't know, often a visa is the thing that can be the cause of much stress in working out how to obtain and maintain one. I know it's still early days in me being here, but it's such a comfort to know that if i find that God is wanting for me to stay/come back here for the long term, then the door is wide open for that.

The other exciting but daunting thing is that my Cell group asked me if i could share with them basically 'anything'. from the bible, or how god is working in my life or whatever. they asked me to do it next week, but unfortunately i'm not able to go to cell group next week, but i'm hoping that i'll be able to do so in the near future. in some ways i'm disappointed, but relieved at the same time it's not next week. disappointed cos i know it's such a good opportunity for them to get to know me more and to push me in trying to get more of my thai downpat so i can share on deeper things, but at the same time relieved, cos i don't think i'm quite up to it all just yet. the did say i could do it in english, but i'd prefer to try and do as much as i can in Thai. given that, i don't think that a week's notice would be enough as i've also got a bit of work to do this week.

For those who are praying:
- pray for wisdom as i try to understand the thai culture
- pray for insight and inspiration as i try to help thai christian organisations try to get christians excited about the gospel
- thank god for his constant provisions beyond my imagination
- pray for opportunities to share 'deeply' and for language - so that i can

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Opkan Camping Trip

So it's been a while since i've uploaded a video. Sorry about that. it's not because i don't want to, it's mainly cos i just haven't really had the time of late, but had a couple spare hours this morning so i though i'd make up a quick video for our cell group that went camping at Opkan a couple weeks back. It'll at least give you a quick snap shot of some of the things that went on there.