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, December 13, 2009

CCC Short Term Team

Since the 2 Dec, we've had a short term team from CCC come. It's been really weird being on 'this' side of the fence this time round after being on the short term team twice before (when i came over with DPC). One of the strangest realisations for me is just realising how just 2 years ago, i was just like one of those on the team, who had next to no thai, knew no one here and had no idea of what was really going on around me. I guess it's the first time that i've really been able to stop and think about how much i've really learnt, grown and changed in the 2 years since coming over. So the time has been filled with orientation, spending time with the team, helping them to try and build relationships with some of our thai friends, going to schools, orphanages and hostels, running programs, helping out in various christmas parties around the place and generally trying to help the team get a better idea of what missions is all about and the needs over here in Thailand. One thing i know i wasn't quite expecting was how tired mentally i'd be in helping translate for the team. I reckon i've got to a point where just conversing and listening in Thai doesn't tire me out mentally like it used to, so i figured translating would just be a little bit more brain power. not LOTS! especially when talks end up being in northern thai! but it's been great practice and i definitely have a new found appreciation for interpreters. I think it's definitely one profession i'm not exactly cut out for :)

But one massive praise point, we went down to Mae Waang to help out at a christmas party for the hostel kids and their parents who came to visit from lots of surrounding hill tribe areas. That night, the minister that gave the talk about Christmas that night, gave one of the clearest gospel talks that i've heard since being here. And what was even more exciting was that every point he made, was right in line with the skit that we presented (which was a tweaked version of the gospel skit we did with the kids from church - there's a video of it on this blog). So everyone that went, got a good double dose of the great news of salvation that we have through Jesus. The minister down there was pretty excited too that our skit worked so well to reinforce stuff he had shared about as well. He was super impressed that everyone was so interested in the skit and were captivated in wanting to watch it from beginning to end. Apparently usually, many of them lose interest after a couple minutes then start talking and eating. But this time around, everyone was watching and even yelling to find out what was in the 'present' boxes. So a massive praise point for that night. Please pray for the many people who may have heard the gospel for the first time that night there. For God to soften their hearts, so they turn back to Him.

anyway, hopefully have a few photos to put up soon - after i get some of the photos off the team :) For those praying, please also pray for energy levels, especially for my sister denise who has been a real trooper with the team. The first team will be here til the 16th, then on the 22nd we have a 2nd team coming, with lots more prep that still needs to be done for that too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekends Away with Cell Group and School

It's been a pretty crazy past few weeks with weekend trips away with my cell group and then with the teachers and staff from school. The first weekend, we went to Pai with the cell group. It was an awesome time to spend together, hanging out, studying the Bible, checking out the sites, my biggest highlight was visiting the local church there. Despite being a tiny church with little growth in terms of numbers, it was so encouraging to go to a church that had a really good understanding of the bible and biblical theology, despite the church worker only having only completed yr 6 schooling and done about 6 months bible 'college'. Dare i say it, but i reckon she understood the bible better then some of the pastors of churches here that have all sorts of degrees under their belt. It was such a stark contrast to the couple weeks before when i went to Doi Mesalong and went to the church there with no pastor and a room full of hungry people to hear God's word. Here was a tiny church that was teaching the word faithfully, but yet to still see fruit. Please be praying for the church in Pai.

With the church at Pail

Cell Group silliness

more silliness

always have to have a 'jump' photo

Daa trying to take a photo

at the Pai post office ('pai'- sanee - kinda like the word for post office in Thai)

the group (and Boy's shadow) that went to Pai

Me, May & Kim

not quite the gong, but fun all the same

fun with lights

Last week, i was invited to go along to the school teachers and staff camp at Huay Naam Dang. Despite being FREEZING cold, especially as we slept in tents, and had 1 bathroom for about 20 of us, it was a really good time to spend with many of the teachers and staff who have become really good friends. My teacher and i the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone on the Sunday morning and we used the time to also challenge them with the becoming Christian. Even though none of them 'responded' as such, my prayer is that it would have planted a seed in their life to know that God's gift of eternal life is waiting for them. All they have to do is accept it. Please be praying for many of the teachers and staff who are not christian there, to come to a real understanding of the gospel and the implications that has for their lives. Here are a few pics from the weekend away.

Aor looking more like a portugese chicken

With lots of the teachers and an awesome view

pretty proud of this self shot :)

the car and load i had to drive on the way back

Sunset shot

eating dinner

fun and games

more fun and games

Group photo

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday School Teachers Social

Yesterday, we finally managed to have a sunday school leaders retreat day. Originally, we were hoping to get away for a weekend to give the team a bit of time out and also to thank the team for all their hard work over the past couple years, but for various reasons, it was all a bit hard, so we settled on a day out where we could have a bit of fun, but also have some time out to sit and share about lots of different ways that God has been working in our lives and just how they've found the past couple years doing sunday school. We decided to treat the team to do some activities that we figured they'd never do on their own. So we went ATV'ing. Thinking that all those guys can ride motorbikes, we figured, it shouldn't be a problem at all to go ATV'ing since they're essentially riding bikes with 4 wheels instead of 2. How wrong we were :) haha Although they didn't all end up riding, we all got up to the top of the mountain and were able to see some of the most amazing views that i've seen in a LONG time. And honestly never expected to see in CM as usually the pollution hinders the view. But it was clear as and we were able to just see so much of God's amazing creation. Mixed in with a bit of off road fun and laughing at Kim who had the wildest guide riding her bike, it was a awesome time out.

Here are a few of the shots from the ride. What cracked me up was before the ride, we had to sign the indemnity form which had this awesome line about using the brakes. I must admit i HAD to use my brakes almost all the time as we were coming down the mountain, cos if it didn't i was going to crash into the bike in front. Thankfully they still worked.

The smiling faces before we went...

Kim thinking she'd be able ride, before she realised she couldn't even ride straight on a the road

Kim eventually ending up on my bike

On the road

Some of the off road track

The indemnity form about using the brakes

the awesome views from the mountain

with the team on the mountain

Afterwards, we went to have lunch at a waterfall. It was a really good time of catching up and sharing about the different things that God has been teaching us over the past couple years. I was sooo encouraged by all the things they they've all been learning, challenged by, the ways that they've been changing their views about ministry, reading the Bible, serving in Church, becoming discerning in the things they hear and read, as well as thinking to the future of the church, training up other leaders and wanting to have others come to the same understanding that they too have come too. Not only that, but just to see the way that God is working in their lives! It's really exciting and something i'd love for you all to be praying for, for the continuing growth of these guys in their love for His word, and wanting others to understand it more and more. Please also pray for others in the church, and others in Thailand to also come to this understanding of God's word and want to be training others, so that it will be Thai's equipping Thai's in the Word. We feel so blessed to have such a dedicated team for Sunday School these past couple years. It's been such an exciting and fun time serving with them all.

the team at the waterfall - despite not being able to see the waterfall :) haha

an albino hedgehog that was at the ATV shop. very cool!! but not sure i'd want one for a pet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mae Salong

Doi Maesalong

Last weekend, i had the chance to go away for the weekend with my friend and her family to Doi Mae Salong. It's a little village in the mountains just north of Chiang Rai. Apart from being freezing cold at night (i actually got to wear my flanny pj's here!) it was really nice to get away from the city, get some fresh air, drink some chinese tea (lots of the people there are chinese who have moved to Thailand, and their livelihood is mainly from growing and selling tea), cos of the lack of nightlife there, the evening was nice to just chill out, catch up on some sleep and spend time with friends.

views on the way to Doi Mae Salong

Markets at Doi Mae Salong

One of the big highlights for me in going up there was on the Sunday when we we went to try and find a church to go to. Given that none of us had ever been there, we had no idea if there were even churches there to go to. So after going for a little drive and then thinking maybe we shouldn't go too far down this road or we'll get lost, we stopped the car to think about what to do. When we looked up, we realised that we were right outside a church! Seeing the doors open and lots of shoes outside, we figured we may as well go visit that church. Biggest thing we were all worried was that they were all hill tribe people who might not actually speak Thai - they speak Arcaa - a hill tribe dialect. We all got out of the car and were soon greeted by some church people who invited us in - to sit in the front row! What was really weird walking in was that many of the people in there were dressed in their tribal dresses - which i usually only see down at the night bizarre. So it was really weird to see it at church and made me feel like i had really stepped into a whole new world! Was actually really surreal. Anyway, my friends dad had a quick chat to 2 of the guys who seemed to be 'in charge'. And next thing you know, my friend's dad is up giving the message for the day- with all of about 5 mins 'get to know you' time. All he said was translated into arcaa.

the church we went to

some of the people in church in traditional dress

Jai's dad preaching

After he finished his impromptu preaching we were told a bit of the history about the church. For me it was a real eye opener to the reality of many of the churches in Thailand, especially in the country areas. Basically, there's a church full of people who are hungry to learn from the bible, to know God more, but as simple country people who are mostly uneducated, this is just not possible. So it made sense to me when we arrived and they wanted my friends dad to preach to them. To see many of them want to respond to things he said, just demonstrated how hungry they are to learn more. But there's just no one there to teach them, and those that are there, aren't equipped to do so.
One thing that really touched me was that after church finished, we were invited to the church leaders house. While we were there, we had many of the church people to give us pumpkins, bags of tea, bags of rice etc as a 'thank you' for coming to preach and visit them that day. Many of them saw our coming as an answer to prayer as that week, they had tried to get a few people to come preach, but no one was available to do so. Then we turned up and they had someone to preach. Funny how God works at times. We thought we were just a bit lost and were thinking of turning around and heading back. Anyway, please be praying for the many churches in Thailand that are like this. This random visit really made me think a lot more about the needs of the church around Thailand so much more. Even though there are so many needs i see at the church i go to in CM, when i see a church like that, it makes me realise how even at grace church, how blessed it really is.

here are a few other photos from our trip

with Jai and Nong Dao

Dinner at the Golden Triangle

with Dao, Jai and Aom

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Loy Kratong 09 and other random photos

It's kind of weird knowing that there's only really a couple more months left here before i head home. This November is the last 'normal' month of being here as there will be couple short term teams coming in December pretty much until i leave. So i sort of feel like this last month, i need to make the most of it.

This time of the year is the Thai Loy Kratong festival. This year, i didn't really have much planned, but ended up at my neighbours place a few nights making kratongs. Not that i made the same design at their house, but maybe the practice helped a bit as somehow, i managed to come 'second' in the school kratong making competition yesterday, which i find highly amusing.

me and my kratong

It's been cool spending a bit more time with the neighbours, playing with fireworks (brings back lots of cool childhood memories), trying to launch a kom fai (floating lantern) only to have it catch on fire and burn up. Apparently according to buddhist beliefs, me having burnt my kom fai means that i'd have bad luck for the next year. I actually thought it was pretty funny, and even had a chance to chat to the neighbours a bit about religious beliefs. Some of them seem pretty keen to get me to become a buddhist when i return after going to bible college. But going to loy kratong with them was actually really insightful in seeing how buddhists here actually see the festival as well, as last year i just went as a tourist.

Anyway, here are a few other recent random photos of the past few days:

Loy Kratong at the school

launching kom loys with the neighours

the remains of the kom loy that i tried to launch

on a tiaw up the mountain

decked out to head into the cave at san kampang

the typical 'jump' photo

using kim as the donger

fun times at the church camp

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hong Kong & China

Despite being chinese, until just last week, i had never actually even been to China. So i was pretty excited when mum and dad asked if i wanted to go to Hong Kong and China with them for a trip with my aunties and uncle to visit my grandfathers old town, the church my great great grandmother had helped start, plus an uncle who had been imprisoned 3 times for his beliefs. I had always wanted to go visit the village my grandfather had come from, as i had been told stories of it since i was a little kid. So to go back to the village with all dad's sisters and brother (plus another new found distant relative) was just an awesome opportunity that i couldn't pass up. I thought i was just going to go visit the village, see the church and the grave site of my great great grandmother, then meet this uncle - but i ended up with HEAPS more then i was expecting. Not only did i get to do those things, i also got to see the house and room that my grandfather was born in, meet all sorts of relatives i never knew i had, find out stories about our family's past that i had no idea about, go visit a street that belonged to our family, see a 'mountain' that used to belong to our family before it was taken back by the government, eat heaps and heaps and heaps of new foods i never knew existed and find out some of the most encouraging stories first had from people who had been persecuted for their beliefs and stayed strong in their faith despite the circumstances. It was awesome! Everyday was just jam packed with meeting relo's, travelling, sight seeing - but none of it was the usual 'tours', it was like our own personal family tour. It's a trip i'll really treasure forever. Hopefully one day i'll get to tell you some of the stories about our family in person. too much to write on a blog. But here are a few photos of the trip.

the view of Hong Kong from The Peak

with mum and dad

the Bubba Gump restaurant

meeting my grandfathers 2 younger sisters for the first time

crazy toilet sign in a restaurant

all happy on the train to china - before we got lost...

meeting long 'lost' relos i never knew i had

the 'new' building of the church my great great grandmother helped start

at the grave of my great great grandmother

The outside of the house my grandfather was born in

outside the room that my grandfather was born in

Our family 'street' in Swatow, China

standing in our family street with all the relo's who went on the trip

the house of my great great grandparents

outside the massive church that my great great grandparents went to

inside the church! Check out the 2 grand piano's in there!

Some of the crazy foods we ate