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, November 28, 2008

Disabled Workshop Catalogue

OumChu Painting is the disabled workshops that we've been helping out this year with a range of things. In addition to being an awesome outreach opportunity for us (its the workshop that we run all the Baan Tawai english program from), it's also an opportunity for us to do some holistic ministry too. In helping disabled people have a chance of making a life for themselves through having an opportunity to work and get training in a trade - like painting or woodwork (carpentry) and giving them hope in life. Unfortunately in Thailand, there isn't the same type of government support for disabled and disadvantaged people in society, and often many of them are looked down upon. So over the past year, we've been working with Boonchu and her husband Jutterong with their workshop, in helping with business advice, accounting and marketing tools and ideas. It's been exciting to see it grow from being a 2 man business to a place where they've been able to employ a number of disabled (and able bodied people) too. There's still lots more potential for the workshop, but it's definitely moving in the right direction so far. For us, the thing that has been much more exciting about the workshop is the outreach opportunities that it's providing us down at Baan Tawai, but that's a whole other story (check out some of the other blog posts for more about that).

Anyway, today turned into a bit of a milestone when we FINALLY managed to get the catalogue for the Disabled Workshop printed. We've been wanting do up a simple catalogue for the workshop for a while now to be used as a bit of a sales and marketing tool to help drum up some new customers and hopefully get some of the current customers expanding the range of products that they might order from them. As much as the delay in getting it printed lay with me because i couldn't manage to lock away a few solid hours to just finish it, so it's nice to finally get it done. So here's what it ended up looking like...

It'd be great if you could keep on praying for the workshop, and for all the outreach opportunities that it's provided for us too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

God's Big Picture

It's been a mad past week with very little free time, so sorry for the lack of posts. But just had to share with you one really exciting thing. A few weeks ago at cell group, we were trying to work out what to 'study' next. My friend Kim, who is one of the people we're training up at Sunday School, spoke up and suggested to the group to look at the 'big picture of the Bible'. This was something that we spent about 12 weeks teaching the SS kids earlier this year. For Kim, learning about God's big picture has revolutionised her understanding of the Bible, so that it now makes sense, and has given her a hunger to understand the bible more and more. Not only this, she wants to be able to give everyone else an opportunity to learn all the things that have been changing her life this year. At the time, no one in the group really wanted to take on the responsibility of leading the group, so were happy to give Kim the opportunity to teach God's big picture, despite having no idea what it was.

So tonight was the first night we got to teach it. it was just an introduction to why it's important to learn and what we'll be doing, but i was just blown away by how interested and excited everyone else in the group was about learning it as we began to explain it all to them. There was a little scare the night before, when kim called me up to say that she was feeling really unwell and was even contemplating going to the hospital. If only it were all in english, i would've been more then happy to take the reigns and teach the group, but in Thai......that's another story. So late last night, i started preparing in case i had to teach. i even had my teacher all lined up to help me at school too if i had to. But thanks to God, she felt much better this morning and was able to take the group.

It was an awesome night for me to see some of our 'dreams' start coming true in seeing Thai's that we've been training, taking the initiative and going for broke in teaching the Bible themselves to others. At the end of the day, our hope is to see Thai's teaching Thai's the Bible, cos they're the ones who will be able to explain it best to their own people. through the night, Kim wanted me to take a few of the activities that we had planned (cos she didn't feel 100% confident). What i did was really just a drop compared to all the stuff she taught. I'm now starting to see a massive advantage in me not being able to speak fluently, as it's helping give Thai's the opportunity to give it a go themselves, but i can be there as moral support. I'm just feeling so in awe of the way that God is working over here in people's lives. HEAPS to be praising God for!! Unfortunately due to a whole host of reasons, we've decided to postpone teaching the rest of it til the new year (long story), but i think it's for the better that that's happened.

For those who are praying:
Please pray for Kim especially as she spends the next few weeks preparing the lessons and how to teach the cell group.
Pray for the group as they learn. thanks for their excitement in wanting to learn as well
Give heaps of praise for everything that's happened with this!! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Loy Krathong

Narawat Bridge with heaps of the Khom Fai's floating in the sky

For those of you like me who are wondering what on earth Loy Krathong is, here's a quick excerpt from Wiki
In Chiang Mai Loi Kratong is also known as "Yi Peng". Every year thousands of people assemble to float the banana-leaf krathong onto the waterways of the city, honouring the Goddess of Water. A multitude of Lanna-style hot-air lanterns (khom fai) are also launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the skies. These are believed to help rid the locals of troubles and are also taken to decorate houses and streets. (if you want to read more check it out here Loy Krathong

So the festival started off for me heading over to Denise & John's landlords place for a Loy Krathong party last night with the kids. Apart from eating waaay too much, we got to make some krathongs (the banana leaf 'decoration), then 'loy' them (set them off afloat), then play with firecrackers, in the way that we used to when were kids before the government decided they were too dangerous. Whether it was a good thing for us to 'loy' the krathongs, i'm not sure, as many of the christians here say it's not good to do as it's a buddhist thing. It's one of those things where we know that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. For the sake of me being here for my first loy krathong, i think i was forgiven, especially after i reminded them that it's by grace we're saved, not by works. So the kids had heaps of fun decorating krathongs, 'loying' them and playing with fireworks.

Mimi with Norng Kim and the krathongs they had decorated

The kids with their decorated kratongs ready for 'loying' (floating)

James trying to spell with a sparkler

Then today at school, we got to make our own krathongs as well and had a bit of competition to see who could make the prettiest one. Unfortunately i didn't take the honours (no surprise really), but it was heaps of fun making them and hanging out with the teachers and other students. So that was a nice introduction to the real festivities that happen down at the river here in Chiang Mai.

Me with my teacher Khruu Jai

Making Krathongs with the students and teachers

me with my non winning krathong

Everyone with our Krathongs

Despite being warned by various friends that it's dangerous to go, i decided to go into town anyway. Hey, i've never been here in Thailand during a Loy Krathong festival, and while i'm here, i may as well experience as much of Thailand as i can. It's like telling someone who's never been to Sydney, to not go to watch the fireworks on NYE. It's definitely an experience I've never really thought of Thailand as a place where public safety was it's highest priority, and heading into town tonight, i definitely felt that. It was MAAADDD. Walking along the street with firecrackers going off left right and centre. Seriously, you have to have your wits about you at times. Then as they many of the lanterns were let off into the air, despite being really pretty, there was also the occasional tree that was on fire when one of the lanterns got stuck in the branches. Seriously though, it was lots of fun, really pretty and just maaaddd. It's hard to put into words all the sounds, smells, sights of the night. It really is something to see a bridge just packed out, with people letting off firecrackers, launching lanterns into the air so that there is just and endless stream of lights going up into the air. Then looking down at the river and seeing all these krathongs floating down the river. In many ways, many people seem to celebrate Loy Krathong here in the same way that many celebrate Christmas back home. Even though it has some religious/significance to some, many just embrace it as a fun time and get involved in the festivities, so that the meaning of it has been lost. Still, it's definitely an experience which i'm glad to have had.

some of the festivities

Just some of the mass loying (launching) of the krathongs

me on the bridge

krathongs for sale en mass

masses of people with Khom fai's being loyed every 2 seconds

Thursday, November 6, 2008


i've discovered how great an invention msn is. Not only in helping me keep in touch with many friends back home, but it's been a priceless piece of technology that's helped me get to know many of my thai friends much better, has helped me enormously with my thai reading and writing, learning plenty of stuff like 'slang' that you'll never find in any of my school books, and how to type in Thai. I don't know if you've ever thought about it, but there are like over 70 various letters/vowels. So if you ever thought touch typing in english was hard, give Thai a go!! It's insane!!

my well loved keyboard where half the letters (from stickers) have been worn off)

Thankfully now, it's not taking me 3minutes to find a letter. Apart from the odd rarely used letter, i generally know where most of the letters are, but i've still got a long way to go before i'll be typing at the same speed as i do in english.

One of the biggest drawbacks of msn however is that it also results in way too many late nights where i can be up chatting quite easily til 2-3am. hmmmm.....

Here are a couple random photos for you from the past couple weeks.
On Sunday, we went for dinner at Airport Plaza (like a big westfield) to celebrate Kristy's (our new team mate's) birthday. When i went out to the carpark to pick up my bike, there was all this noise like a massive concert. So when i looked up, lo and behold, a huge section of the carpark had been converted into an outdoor concert for a heap of the current Thai pop stars. I was wondering where concerts get held here, but the carpark of Aiport Plaza was not what i was expecting. Since didn't have a ticket, i stood at the gate (where you could still see pretty much everything anyway) and enjoyed the concert for a while.

Here's a pic of Kristy sporting an AWESOME bruise which she got after slipping over in her kitchen that had flooded from all the heavy rain. Only in Thailand!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baan Tawai

Just wanted to quickly share about an awesome night that we just had at Baan Tawai tonight. Tonight was the first night back at Baan Tawai after a few weeks break as we went on holiday and during the school holidays over here when lots of people went back to the home towns etc. It was also the first time that we started a 'special' time at the end of our english lesson and english bible time to also have a short talk in Thai about Jesus given by a couple of our Thai christian friends from church since the best people to be reaching thai's are thai's themselves. So we started our time together as usual, at dinner together, then had some english time, then taught a story from the Bible in simple english, then handed the time over to Maggie and Ice. They started by singing a song, which everyone wanted to learn. Then Maggie did a short talk about how we need to be 'cleaned' on the inside and the only way is through Jesus. Afterwards we had a time for people to be able to ask questions, then an opportunity for them to share anything that they might want us to pray for them. We had NO IDEA how they'd respond to any of the stuff that we wanted to do tonight as none of these guys are christians at all. Would they feel obligated to stay and listen, would they just want to make the bolt the minute we finished? would they be scared to come back again next week?

It turned into an amazing night where everyone was having a ball from the time we started teaching english, til after we finished, and after that! We had an opportunity for people to ask questions and there was a really good question about can anyone pray to God or not? We then broke up into 2 groups, guys and girls for prayer time. It was the first time that we've every prayed with these guys, and we had no idea what was going to happen when we asked if anyone had anything that they wanted us to pray for. So when we posed the question, it took all of 1/2 sec for the first hand to go up and the prayer points to start flowing. after about 3 seconds of the first person sharing, everyone else decided they couldn't wait their turn, so it turned into EVERYONE (barr me) talking at once. I had no idea who to try and listen to and as a result any idea of what was being said. I'm so thankful that 3 of our Thai friends from church came too and could help me. So finally, i got Kim to pray for us all (since i wasn't sure how they'd feel praying if it was potentially the first time that some of them had ever prayed in a group, or even prayed. I think many of them really appreciated the prayer and after the prayer finished, no one wanted to go home. they all wanted to keep talking, and the guys group ended up singing and learning a heap of christian songs. Usually we finish at like 8-8.30. 10pm, we were still there!! Some of them were talking about friends that they want to bring along next week. It was just awesome!! HEAPS to give praise to God for for tonight.

For those who are praying, please keep on praying for everything that's happening down at Baan Tawai, that God will be opening hearts, they will be interested and want to find out more and come to know God. Please also pray for our thai christian brothers and sisters who are also coming to help us down there. That they too will really have a huge fire in their heart to want to help these people know God more and more. Please thank God for them - for Maggie, Ice, Kim and Gun.

In the next few weeks, i hope to introduce you to a few of the people who go to the Monday nights at Baan Tawai. There are some people there who really do need some huge prayer and are doing it really tough, but especially, don't yet know God. It'd be great if you could be praying for individuals in the future down there too :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Up's mum

Up is a guy from church who is currently studying at Bible College here with hopes of going into full time ministry in the future with his wife. Earlier this year he got married to Mam. His mother has been battling cancer and just last week, lost her battle and went to be with the Lord. It'd be great if you could be keeping Up, Mam and their family in your prayers. Whilst it is really sad news, there is also an upside in that his mum was a christian. Unfortunately i wasn't able to make it to all 3 days of the funeral, but what i did go to, and what i heard about the days i missed, the gospel was presented really clearly and even though she will be sorely missed by her family and friends, many were also rejoicing that she no longer has to suffer and is now with God. Today at church, it was really encouraging when Up got up to say a few words in church about the past week. To hear and see how he has been challenged in his faith in the past week and how he wanted to encourage others of the certainty that we can have in Christ and that while it is right to feel sad, it is also a time for us as christians to rejoice when others are able to go to be with God.

At Mam and Up's wedding earlier this year.

I'm still completely astounded by the number of funerals that i've been to this year and the number of deaths that i know of (especially as i feel like in many ways, i'm still new here and don't really know that many people). It's a constant reminder of how we really don't know what the future will hold for us and that we need to make the most of every opportunity that we have.