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.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time in Chiang Rai

Ok, so it wasn't exactly Chiang Rai or Chiang Saen that i went to, but a small muu baan in the countryside about 20mins out of Chiang Saen (for those who are good with geography, it's near the Golden Triangle). The orphanage that i stayed at was on the top of this hill, literally in the middle of nowhere. It was pretty amusing that there's no mobile reception there (unless you have this massive antenna), but there was satellite internet. Pretty cool really :)

Anyway, the time there was to spend some time with some orphanage kids, help teach english at the local school - and use the time to try and teach the kids some truths about God and Jesus. Despite a bit of uncertainty on arrival whether the school would even be open on the friday, the time there ended up being more fruitful then i thought it would be. Despite having to battle speaking over a massive sound system that was getting set up outside for 4hrs straight, we had a great time teaching kids simple english, numbers, colours, then taught them Colins 10,9,8 song to introduce them to how great God really is and why. We then handed out to each of the kids a kids story book with stories from the Bible (there are 15 different bible stories that they can read). It was really exciting to see the kids really excited to 1. receive the books, but 2. when they got them, they immediately started reading them and didn't listen to us anymore cos they were more interested in reading the books. (ok, not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but hey, didn't bother me) :)

Me and Buu teaching 10, 9, 8

One of the students reading one of the books we gave out

But on top of that, what was really exciting was a really great gospel conversation over lunch with one of the teachers and the principal of the school. There's one teacher at the school that Buu has been chatting to about Christianity. He's really interested and was really keen to talk about it all and want to understand the differences between christianity and other religions, what it is that we really believe, why he should read the bible etc. As we were talking with him, the principal came and sat with us and obviously overheard our conversation. So he ended up getting really interested in all we were talking about. Neither of them became christians during that conversation, but it was a really good opportunity to present the gospel to them and give them things to think about when it came to their lives and where God fit into the picture there. So as we were talking, we didn't realise how much time had gone by. We were meant to get back and teach at 1pm. By now it's like 1.30pm. Some of the kids came to kindly tell us that the students had decided to dismiss themselves from school already, so we didn't have to teach the afternoon. which - from my voice's point of view, i was really thankful for. i know that my voice didn't have another 3hrs of talking in it. (there was a bit more to the story the the kids just dismissing themselves, but that's the short of the story - not really a surprising thing over here). Thankfully i didn't feel so bad about that fact that we spend ages at lunch, since the principal was there with us talking - so he was as much to blame :)

The couple days up there was also a great time to spend with Buu as well and chat about lots of different ministry things and encourage each other in serving God.

Unfortunately, i wasn't able to stay up there for too long. Got up there on thursday night and had to leave saturday morning. But the time there, i felt was really good. I'm not sure if i'll be able to make it up again anytime soon. but it'd be great to pray for Buu as she spends time up there building relationships with the kids, teachers and school.

One of the toughest things for me when going up there was that there's movement in the house from 4.30 am to get the kids out the door to school by 6-6.30 am!! since it's such an early start, everyone's in bed by 9pm. So it was tough for me who is usually going to bed at 2am and waking up at 9am. Well, at least i got to see an amazing sunrise :)

Anyway, here are a few other shots from the couple days there.

trying to help some of the students

playing 'bzzz' with the orphanage kids

me with Onapar

Me and Buu

The orphanage kids

part of the 2km 'driveway' to the house. Can't tell you how thankful i was that denise lent me the 4wd to go up

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chiang Rai

This Thursday - Saturday, i'm heading up to Chiang Rai (well a bit out of Chiang Rai) to help one of my friends Buu teach some english at a school she's been helping at over the past year. i was actually meant to go up last December for a 'christmas' special, but due to a whole host of reasons, unfortunately couldn't make it up. This month has been crazy as too but i'd promised to go up, so have managed to find a few days inbetween to go up.

The current plan (which for those of you who have ever come to teach in Thailand will know can change at anytime), is to teach 6 classes of 32 students in the day, with the help of my friend Buu. Should be interesting :) Apparently the kids english isn't really all that good at all, was am thinking to limit the lessons to numbers colours and body parts (hey, just want to be able to use the song Head's Shoulders knees and toes). Anyway, plan is to use all sorts of crazy games, songs etc to try and help them remember colours and numbers. And at the end i also want to teach them Colin's song 10,9,8. It's simple and hopefully will be a way for us to explain to them how great God really is!! and hoping even more they'll understand it and remember it!

for those praying, please pray for safe travels to and from there. i'm going to be driving up (about 3-4hr drive)
- pray for wisdom in lesson prep (still haven't sorted it all out yet - hopefully tonights job)
- pray for the kids that we'll be teaching, that they'll understand some awesome truths about God

Friday, January 16, 2009

A couple recent events

Finally today for the first time, i've felt like i've made it back into the land of the living after a fairly full on past few weeks of parties, retreats, funeral, kids day, late nights, babysitting, folks in town, various meetings, birthday dinners, bible study prep for sunday school & cell group and i can't even think what else. I just know that it's been pretty much non-stop since the beginning of December and i was in need of a couple of early nights - which i actually got in the past couple nights. it's amazing really what a difference sleep can make. Why is it that i always seem to learn the hard way?

Last week i ended up at yet another funeral. The father of my teacher's sister-in-law passed away. It still astounds me as to the number of funerals i've been to in the past year. But it's also a good reality check on remembering that this life here is just temporary and we have something much greater waiting for us in heaven. However, it also brings home the reality that there are so many who are still passing away without knowing Christ, and that's a fact that really saddens me and highlights the urgency of having others hear the good news about Jesus.

Unlike all the other funerals i've been to where it's been a cremation, this one was a burial. It seems that as a general rule, Christians here tend to bury rather then cremate. However what i found interesting was that rather then bury the casket in the ground with dirt all around, it gets put into a concrete 'enclosure' and is sealed off with concrete slabs as well. it was fascinating watching the ceremony switch from the service/ceremony, to all the guys heading off to the side to mix the concrete and seal up the concrete 'enclosure'. It is really interesting how different cultures adapt 'rituals' to be appropriate (?) to their own cultures.

Here are a couple pics from the day.

at the burial

concreting up the grave

For those praying, it'd be great if you could be praying for my teacher, her family and extended family as there are now lots of changes and new responsibilities that many of them need to take on. Please pray for strength, comfort and wisdom to know how to move on for each of those involved.

Last weekend was also Children's Day here in Thailand. They figure that there's a fathers day, a mothers day, so why not have a kids day as well. I remember asking my parents as a kid why there isn't a kids day, and i was always told that every day is kids day! very true i suppose :) It's seriously amazing how ALL OUT they go here with preparing activities for kids and how big of a deal it is over here. That day, i ended up going over to one of the hospitals here that my friend Mac works at to 'help' run some games, songs, activities for the kids in hospital with Mac, my teacher and another guy from their church. Despite having no idea what was going on, it was pretty fun, and was cool to see lots of the kids smiling and enjoying themselves.

There's also heaps of exciting stuff happening with cell group and Sunday School, with lots to be praying for there too. but i'll save that for another post, so stay tuned. but some quick prayer points if you are praying:
- thanks for the opportunity that kim and i have to be leading out cell group through the big picture of the bible
- praise to God for answering prayer in enabling kim to make it to cell group so that i'm not left to lead it myself
- pray for my language that i'll be able to quickly learn lots of bible vocab etc so that i might actually be able to start helping kim lead more effectively (have just started learning this stuff at school which has been cool, but now i really have to start using my brain :) haha

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

'Education Sunday'

Yesterday at church, John introduced an 'education sunday'. Basically what we wanted to try and do was share with the rest of church what the kids do in Sunday School each week. On a typical Sunday, the kids will stay in church during the singing time, and when that's over and the communion and sermon start in 'big church', the kids go out to sunday school. More often then not, most people have no idea what happens in sunday school, and often think of it as a baby sitting session. But it's really more then that. For us, it's a time when we get to help train and equip 2 girls in church (in the past year at least) - Kim and Gun, to be able to read and teach the bible themselves, with the hope that in the future, they will be able to train up others to do likewise. At the same time, we also get to give the kids some really good bible teaching and hopefully help lay a firm foundation for them for the future. It worked out really well in the end with Kim and Gun getting some time to share some of the things they learnt and what they've got out of teaching the kids in the past year. Then the kids also got to sing a song that we taught them called 'the Body Song'. For those of you who grew up in the whole sunday school thing, you might remember the Kid's Praise songs with Psalty (yes, this is showing my age BIG TIME!!) Anyway, there was a cool song that for some reason has stuck in my head all these years which is about the Body of Christ, and how the body of Christ is made up of many parts - all of which are important - whether you can see them or not. Since it was an english song, we thought we'd never get to sing it, but when we put our minds to it, we actually managed to translate the song into Thai, and it actually worked really well :) hehe So here's the video of the kids singing 'the Body Song'.

The original english words go like this (the thai is not an exact translation, but it captures the same idea)

I, I am the eye, i go blink blink
yes, i am the eye and i can wink
i am the eye, but i can't think
that belongs to my friend the brain

i fritter fratter frit, fritter fratter frit
i'm the brain with an electric current patter pit
i'm the brain and i fritter learning bit by bit
yes i fritter fratter fritter all the time

i go lub dub, lub dub i go
i am the heart, i pump like so
i'm bringing life to all the parts
i am consistent, i'm the heart

i'm swinging, i'm swinging
swinging on life's merry way
i'm the arm, i'm the arm
im bringing life to all

hearing, hearing
small ears, hearing
we don't miss much
hearing all the time

We are the body of Christ,
we are the body of Christ
together bringing His love to the world
We work together, we work together
we do it with cooperation
Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen

For those who are praying:
please keep all the sunday school kids in your prayers. that the things they learn as kids will become a firm foundation for them for life as they learn truths about God
please pray for those of us teaching the kids to, to be faithful in our teaching of the Bible to the kids, and for us to always continue growing in our love and knowledge of God

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bethany House Christmas Party

So now that i've got a few minutes, i thought i'd post up a few quick pics and blog on how the Bethany House Christmas party went on the 26th. For those who don't know the background, for the past couple years, my church has sent over a short term mission team which spent some time at the Orphanage. Last year, unfortunately there was no team that came, but the church was really generous in wanting to support the orphanage still, so sent some money over for the kids. There are plenty of things that the kids need, but one idea we had for the kids was to use some of the funds to host a christmas party for them since the foundation that runs the orphanage has been short of funds in the past year, so has had to cancel all 'non essentials' which included a christmas party for the kids. So even though there was no 'big' team that came last christmas, i though i'd rally up whoever i could to be the pseudo team from Oz. So it ended up being me, denise and my friend Kim, who went up to run the night, along with my folks and my niece and nephews.

So on the night, we played a few games with them - poison ball and another game that we call 'Bzz' - i won't even begin to try and explain that one.

kids playing 'bzz'
Ratree was awesome in organising a special dinner for the kids.

Originally what was going to be pizza, ended up being a buffet of ham, duck, pork along with prawns, stir fried veggies and a couple other thai dishes. Then afterwards, i thought we could try and do something with a bit of an 'Aussie' flavour for the kids, but that also had some meaning to it. Over here, when they do carolling at christmas, they do it american style (well it's kinda what i've seen on the movies, so i assume it's more american) where you go from house to house, sing a few songs, pray for the people there and get fed before moving on to the next house to do it all again. This can go on til like 5am!! (thankfully our church's finished at 1am this year!). So i thought i'd introduce them to carolling Oz style where we all come together, hear the story of christmas and sing LOTS of carols together (rather then 2-3 at each house).

By doing it this way, i was hoping help the kids understand the meaning of lots of christmas carols more as they sing the context of the songs within the story of Christmas. So it was awesome to have Kim come along and tell the story of christmas, while i played the guitar for it, and denise ran the powepoint stuff. Originally, we were going to do it all outside, but it decided to rain (unseasonally) that day, so we ended up inside - which i think in hindsight was a blessing in disguise, because when they sang, it was really loud and sounded awesome and was really encouraging!!

I also was up the night before to make up a video for them of them singing at the hotel (check out the Le Meridien post if you want to see the video). So they were really excited to be able to see themselves on the big screen, then see some photos of them at the hotel.

At the end of the night, we handed out some gift bags for each of the kids which consisted of some snacks and some money which the kids could use to buy something they wanted.

Some of the kids have been shopping already and were really excited to be able to go buy some stuff they wanted. For each of the house parents i gave them a copy of the email from DPC and other friends who have visited the orphanage in the past (with translation of course), a print out of some christmas cards
that the kids from DPC did for them, and a dvd of the video i did up for them and photos from their carolling at Le Meridien.

Overall, i think it was a really great night, which was lots of fun, encouraging and helped everyone to remember what Christmas is really about. Here are a few extra pics of the night. Since we were down on numbers running the night, mum ended up being photographer :)