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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cell Group Planning

I've been warned plenty of times before, that when we see people really growing in the understanding and knowledge of God, and see really exciting things happening for God's kingdom, Satan is not happy, and we will probably find that we will meet more opposition which will really challenge us in what we believe and stand firm in. In all honesty, it feels like our cell group is at that stage, where there are some people are just going great guns for God, but suddenly others seem to be doing all they can to put obstacles up in the way to stop the group from being able to focus on God's word. It's like Satan is trying to do all he can to cause disunity in order to put a stop to some of the exciting things that we're seeing happening there.

After this week's cell group, we would've spent 3 weeks just meeting to try and 'decide' on the future of our group, but in the 2 weeks that have passed by so far, i was really disappointed that the bible didn't even feature. There were some in the group who felt that it was more important to allow everyone to have a chance to voice their opinion rather then spend some time in the Bile, so that we could know the will of God. There are a few of us in the group who are trying to put the Bible back on the agenda of what we do in our cell group time, but there are others who don't see what all the fuss is about the Bible, especially when it comes to application to our lives. We're much better off sharing about our experiences so we can have a time that is more practical to our lives.

It's really been an issue that's weighed heavily on my mind of late. How to be able to respond to this situation in a godly and loving way. The easy and tempting thing to do is to respond with my emotion at the time. But i know that that's not the right or loving thing to do, and will most likely cause more tension and disunity. There are lots of factors that have led to the current situation, so have been praying for lots of wisdom in knowing how to best approach it. Last Sunday, i was able to have a good chat with one of the cell group leaders, and hopefully this week, we'll be using the Bible as the thing that guides our planning meeting.

For those praying, please pray for the group, that we won't let Satan get a foothold in causing disunity, that God will be the centre of our planning, and that what we do will be helping the group to be growing in their knowledge and understanding of God.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Leading Bible Studies...on my own

Last week not only did i have my first experience of sharing from the Bible at the school cell group, but on the Sunday afternoon, i got to lead the sunday school teachers through a study on Acts 16-19, on my own...in Thai. Well, thankfully my sister had returned and so was there as my backup translator. But i was pretty amazed that i didn't really need to fully call on her help until pretty near the end of the study :) And at the end, Pi Soong told me that she was able to understand everything that i was trying to say - so i was pretty stoked about that. Praise God!!! It seems that Denise also didn't think that i did so badly either, that she's entrusted me to take the next two weeks of studies too - just to finish off the series. Am pretty daunted by the prospect of having to it. We're going to go through Acts 21-26. Today it took me about an hour to read through 1 chapter in Thai!! Thankfully i've got the study out now, so it's just a matter of trying to get the language down as well, but if the rest of the chapters are going to take an hour to read, prep time for this study is going to easily be around the 20hr mark if not more. But it's been an awesome time getting stuck into Acts - and also trying to get the language.

Another really exciting ministry opportunity that has just popped out of the blue is to be discipling a girl called Tangmore. She's a uni student at my church who actually came up to me and asked me if i could be her 'mentor', and someone who she could read the bible and pray with, as well as be accountable to. We met up for the first time last week where we chatted to get to know each other more, shared out testimonies, and also tried to work out what we could do in our time together. We've decided to go through the Back to Basic's studies (7 basic bible studies/Just for starters). At the time, i was thinking it would be fairly easy to prepare the studies and take her through them, as we could do them in part thai, part english (she's trying to get her english up to scratch too as she wants to do an english major at uni), however, yesterday as i started to look through the study, i realised all the really hard concepts that need explaining - like justification, God's wrath etc, are things she's not going to understand in english. So, what i thought was going to be fairly straight forward prep, has turned into another major language cram session which i need to get down pat before friday lunch. At the moment, the current plan is to meet up each friday after lunch.

Anyway, lots of time is now being spent in preparation, so less time for 'play' now. But it's been awesome! Please pray for these opportunities to be sharing from the Bible and for language so that i can be teaching the bible truthfully with no miscommunications.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sharing at School

Once a week, the school has a cell group for the teachers during a lunchtime. Since most of the teachers at the school aren't Christian, it's actually a really good opportunity to try and introduce them to God and help them to understand the gospel. For various reasons, it seems that of late, the time for cell group has not been used as effectively as it could be for helping those who don't yet know God, to understand God and what he's done for us more. Yesterday there was an opportunity for me to go share in the group, so despite having all of an hour and a half to prepare, i thought i'd take up the challenge. So BIG thanks to Ignite(the christian film festival that i used to be involved with) for helping get some christians to produce some awesome short films that i could use. i ended up using a film called Adam which was based on the parable of the Lost Son as the basis of the talk. We watched the film and i got them to think about the character of the father and the son and make a list of all their different characteristics on the white board. It was awesome to see them see how the dad was loving, forgiving, merciful etc, and how the son was someone who had rejected the dad, done things to displease him etc. yet, no matter what the son had done, how bad it was, the father still loved the son and was overjoyed when the son returned. Everyone was really into watching the video and discussing it. So it made it easy to tell them that the story was actually based on a story from the bible, which we went on to read ourselves and discuss further. I was then able to share that the father describe in this story is like God, all those characteristics are the characteristics of God. And the son is like us. But even us, who have also rejected God, can turn back to God and he will accept us, and is overjoyed when we do turn back to him. I was just glad to be able to the chance to share with them and help them understand the character of God more, and try and challenge them with whether or not they themselves want to turn back to God. i know there's still a long way to go with many of them, but it was a great opportunity all the same.

For those praying:
- please pray for all the teachers and staff that aren't yet christian to be understanding God more and more, and so be turning their lives back to Him
- please pray for those in charge of orgnising the cell group time, to recognise the importance of teaching about God and the gospel
- thank God for the opportunity to go and share with the group, and that i was able to do it too (ie they could understand me)

the cell group during 'singing time'

writing up the characteristics of God and the Son

me trying to share

Thursday, June 4, 2009

the next couple weeks

So just a couple weeks ago at our team meeting, Ken, Kristy and I were just talking about how quickly the past 13 weeks have gone by, and that the Dickson's would be back soon, it'd give the Davies a chance to have a well deserved break, then we can adjust back into team life with everyone around. But in just the past couple weeks, Kristy's grandma's health has taken a bad turn, and their planned holiday around Chiang Mai has turned into a trip back to Oz. In God's goodness, in just a day, Kristy and the kids have been able to get on a flight back to Sydney, with Ken following next week. Even though the circumstances of why they've had to head back is not the ideal, it's been amazing to see the way that God has been working and has 'organised' so much so that the timing of them heading back, works perfectly with the dickson's return and taking over the ministries they've been doing while the dickson's have been away. Even with the sunday school, we've prepared a week in advance, so the one week that Kristy and Denise aren't here, is the week we weren't going to prepare as the church is having it's 11th Anniversary. So how good is God?!?! However, we don't want to be completely slack to Denise to make her have to lead the prep study on the first sunday she gets back to church, so i've volunteered to do that, but at least Denise will be around to help translate when i find myself into a bit of a language black hole.

Anyway, with the davies going and the dickson's coming, then the davies coming back in a months time, things are going to be pretty crazy in the next month or so. But at the same time there's heaps to be praying for. So for those praying, please pray for:
- Kristy's grandmother, to understand the gospel and want to be in a relationship with God
- For time that kristy and the kids can have with here grandmother, and hopefully ken too
- for safe travels for the davies and the dicksons in going and coming
- for adjustments that everyone needs to make in going and coming
- for me as i prepare the next lot of SS studies and attempt to lead them in Thai

Monday, June 1, 2009

Doi Internon

For the past 3 months, i though i'd take advantage of the fact that i had the use of 2 cars and so go for a few day trips to lots of places i haven't yet been. So course John and Denise get back in just 10 days and i still haven't really been anywhere! :) haha So last saturday, thought i'd take the opportunity to head to Doi Internon (the tallest mountain in thailand) with a couple of the teachers from school. Funnily enough, neither of them had been there either, despite the fact that it's only about 80kms out of CM. For some bizarre reason, i didn't really bother checking out the exact directions to get there. i figured it'd be well signed, so after a stop off at 7 eleven for some 'breaky' we were on our way. We drove down the road out of CM, started climbing up the mountain, while wondering which mountain exactly was Doi Internon, talking all the way. The only signs that Khruu Jai kept reading were ones that basically said 'dangerous' (cos by then we were going up the windy mountain roads). Thinking that it was strange that we hadn't seen any signs pointing where to turn to go to Doi Internon, we finally reached a town with signs, to Mae Hong Son and Doi Tom. But where was Doi Internon. Confused, we stopped to ask for direction, wondering with of those 2 places were needed to head to, only to find out that we had to go back the way we just came....for 38kms!!! Whilst it was highly amusing for all of us having gone so wrong with our directions, it was also a bit of a problem for my 2 passengers who also get car sick quite easily. So having to travel an unnecessary 76kms through windy roads, only to have to go up another 40kms up the REAL mountain. :) haha But despite the small detour, we had a great day out, plenty of laughs, opportunities to chat about lots of different things, and for the first time, i really missed the snow back in Oz. When we reached the top, as it was freezing, full of fog and strong winds. Unfortunately we couldn't see the view at the top of the mountain, but it was a bit of a fun for the teachers feeling like they were in Switzerland :) haha

teachers feeling like they were in Europe

Cos of our small detour, we didn't have enough time to go on some of the bushwalks that i would've liked to have gone on, so i guess i'll just have to go back some other day to do those. but we did get to see some awesome waterfalls and check out a few of the other lookouts. Got to play around and try a few arty shots too. still need lots of practice, but it was fun all the same. Here are a few shots from the day.

at the highest point of Thailand

with khruu ang and khruu jai

a cool tree which i thought looked a bit like a monster

with Khruu Jai

we were 2565.3341 meters above sea level

when we finally did get to see some views, it was awesome

cool waterfall

Khruu Ang at the waterfall

love this shot with the light coming through the trees

Khruu Ang checking out some of the views on top of the mountain

attempts of arty shot

attempt of another arty shot

with khruu ang