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, 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