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.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What's been happening

After dropping my sister and her family off at the bus terminal last week, I suddenly realised that these past 2 weeks were the first time I've had some serious 'me' time since all the farewells began a couple months ago. As much as I love spending time with people, I must admit, it has been really nice to have a bit of time and space to myself. It's also been a good reality check of what life back here will be like when I finally find my own place to live. Not surprisingly, I've pretty much only had 1 proper night at home in the 2 weeks that my sister has been away...but hey, that's life :) So after conference, I was pretty stoked to finally be able to play my first songkran in Chiang Mai. Basically it's a festival that celebrates the Thai New Year and is a 3 day national waterfight which is perfect for our 40 degree days.
An Average day It's just nuts!! Awesome fun!! I went out on the sunday afternoon with some of my church friends and camped out on the moat so we could refill easily and shoot all the passers by and each other. Given how wet everything was, it was pretty hard to get any decent photos without a waterproof camera, so here are few shots from my phone in a plastic bag.
Boom & Preuk
the boys being targetted
Me and Boom If any of you decide to come to visit in April, I'll take you to play :) Or even if you don't like the crowds, we can do a quiet waterfight in the neighbourhood. Here's Seanie armed and dangerous with my water gun outside the house.
One of the highlights since getting back has been hanging out with my cell group friends again. Not only are they heaps of fun and do many random things (my type of people), but over the past couple years while I've been back in Australia, some of them have really grown in their understanding of the Bible and desire to know God and serve him. Last night I was given the job of leading the group through an intro to Acts. As freaky as it was to try and lead a study in Thai so early on, I was thankful for their patience with me in trying to explain things (not so succinctly) in Thai, and I was really thankful to see them gain a greater understanding to the background of Acts and see how Luke-Acts fits together. I know i've still got a LONG way to go with language and hopefully prepping studies will become quicker and easier in Thai as the months go by, but I was stoked to see them reading and understanding the Bible for themselves. Maybe the whole language thing might be a bit of a God send, cos it means that rather me doing all the talking and explaining, they're forced to look to the Bible more to get the answers! I just need to learn all the 'high language' vocab so I can understand all their answers! Here's us having dinner together last week for a Cell Group social
cell group dinner
High Tea Glof style For those who pray: - Praise God for some down time over the past couple weeks - Praise God for the opportunity to lead an intro study to Acts - Pray for me as I start prepping another to lead another study in Acts late May - Pray for me in my search for a place to live Here are a few other random photos from the past couple weeks
Being introduced to all sorts of food in CM
Finally eating Real Mango Sticky Rice!
Random night of Mango Sticky Rice by the river

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SiAM Area Conference

One of the main reasons for wanting to get back to Thailand by April was not just because I wanted to play Songkran in Chiang Mai, but also so that I could go to our SiAM area conference. It was a great time to reconnect with old friends, meet lots of new friends and people who have come onto the field since I was here last, to get a better idea of the different ways that God is working over here, get to share ministry blessings and challenges with others who are working in this area, be trained and challenged in thinking about other ways we can be reaching Thais and to spend lots of time in God's word.

Spending time with my Thai friend Bui

One of the biggest highlights for me of the week was being able to hear a Thai guy, Ajarn Narin, preach to us (in english) from Gen 1-11. Even though he is a NT lecturer, he brought many new insights to the first few chapters of Genesis, and was able to use his NT knowledge to really challenge us to see how a good, solid understanding of the OT is foundational for understanding the NT, and even the idea of world mission as he linked the Tower of Babel story though to Revelation where we will see a reversal of people of all nations being scattered, to people of all nations, from every tribe and tongue, coming together in the new city. For those who have been to Bible college, it was like him showing us a massive chiasm of the whole Bible, although, he referred to it as a sandwich :) My hope and prayer is that we will see many more Thais come to understand and teach the Bible as he was able to teach us.

Ajarn Narin in action

In one of our many meetings

During the conference, i had the privilege of being able to help out with the music. It was the first time i got to solidly play an electronic kit which was interesting. I think i'd still prefer a real kit, but in any case, it was heaps of fun being able to play with some great like-minded musos. I'm sure i was the weakest link in the band, but thankfully they were really gracious and went with the flow.

Helping out with the music

One of the sadder parts of the conference was the reality that some of our members will be leaving the field. Unfortunately due to health issues, our area leaders (AL) Joe and Elaine will be heading back this June. They will be sorely missed over here and have done so much for our area in the short time that they have been the AL, however we all know that God will continue to use them in amazing ways back home. On our final night, we were able to put together a special surprise video and photo book, plus we had the chance to pray for them

Praying for Joe, Elaine & their fam

Other small highlights were being able to stay in a really nice resort and on our final night, while the rest of the country was in the middle of Songkran - ie 3 days of national waterfight!, we were toasting marshmallows around a campfire. Don't worry about the fact that we are in the middle of summer here and the average temperature seems to be about 38-39degrees!!! Was all good fun though. Even had the guitars out with some spontaneous singing around the campfire. A great way to finish a great week.

Really nice rooms at the Horizons Resort

Toasting marshies around the campfire

For those who pray:
- Praise God for the opportunity to have a great area conference
- Praise God for Ajarn Narin and his faithful teaching of God's word. Pray for him and his family as they have just moved up to CM, that they settle in well, and find a good church (we're hoping they come to our church)
- Pray for Joe & Elaine as they head back to the US
- Pray that new AL will be found for the SiAM area

Monday, April 16, 2012

Good Friday Service

It's a bit of a belated post, mainly cos I ended up heading to conference the day after our Good Friday Service and had limited internet there. Much has happened between Easter and now, so I'll put up a few separate posts over the next few days.

The Good Friday Service at church was awesome. The organising team did a great job of not only of putting together a great presentation that involved drama, multimedia, group involvement and an explanation about what it was that Jesus has done for us and why it was necessary. A couple of the highlights for me was the way they brought to life Jesus’ trial and his innocence, and his death on the cross. To help us understand Jesus death on the cross, we were all given a small black and white cutout of a person. On the black piece we were to write down some of our sins which we all then got to nail up to a cross that had been made. We then kept the white piece as a way of remembering that Jesus death has taken away our sins and made us ‘clean’. Here are a few pics from the night.

Making the cross

Em & Joseph wearing the Roman Centurion costumes

Good Friday Service

Everyone lining up to nail our sins to the cross

Nailing our 'sins' to the cross

All the sins that Jesus bore for us

The night was so powerful that poor Mimi was a bit shocked and sad at the end of the night. For some reason, she had thought we were going to church to have a party, but as the presentation unfolded, it was nothing of the sort and I think she really began to understand so much more what had happened to Jesus that day he died on the cross.

Friday, April 6, 2012

house hunting, family time, easter prep

Since arriving back, it's been great to have lots of family time in amongst the tasks of doing medical checks, sorting out paperwork for work visa applications, getting my old mobile number back, catching up with friends and getting back into life over here. It's been great staying at my sisters place cos it means that anything that they're involved in, I can automatically be a part of it. One such event was their recent family cell group party. The plan for the bible study group is that every 5th week of the month, they would do a 'party' where they could invite their friends along for a dinner. The did a muu-ga-ta dinner which you can see here.

For me, most of the people that came were 'new', so i had a great night meeting lots of people. I was encouraged to see some of the church people starting to form relationships with some of the non-christians friends that were invited along. A couple of the guys that came along were keen for me to teach them how to play the drums (my sister has recently bought a new electronic drum kit), so that was a great way to get to know people. I was really amazed by the openness of one of the girls that came along who had lots of questions about remarriage. It did force me to be thinking seriously about how to answer those questions here in this cultural context. Thankfully John was around to help answer things in a way that would be more appropriate to her situation as I didn't know her full background (had only just met her about 1/2hr before).

Going to church for the first time on Sunday was great to see and semi catch up with lots of people at church. There were way too many people to chat to in one week, but was nice to chat to those I could. That week, it just happened that my sister was doing a kids talk with one of the guys from church on the meaning of easter, and John was preaching on Ps2. Both were a really great way to challenge many of our Thai friends at church. Please be praying that they keep on growing in their understanding of the Bible and their faith.

I also started my house hunt this past week. I'm yet to find something that suitable, but some may argue that i should've taken this house

My niece Mimi was pretty keen for me to get it. I must admit that i was pretty tempted to put up with the dodgy kitchen that it had just for the laugh that it would give many of you back home. But i thought i might keep on looking. who knows, i might find something that is appropriate and even pinker!

We also had a chance to go celebrate my nephew James' birthday early as his birthday will be the first day of conference. He was really keen to go ride Segways, so i decided to give him and mimi a ride for their birthday presents. Needless to say they absolutely loved it and now want to save up for one.

Today ended up being a busy day starting the process in getting my work visa application started. Lots to be praying for - that there aren't any probs or hassles in getting it done. There's still another visit to the lawyers to sign lots of paperwork next week on our day off during conference (not my idea of a day off, but a necessary as they need to get everything sorted out before the National Songkran Holiday).

So, it now brings us to the easter weekend. I'm really excited especially about tomorrow night being able to reflect on Good Friday and the death of Jesus on the cross. We're going to have a big presentation at church which some of our church friends have been working really hard on to get the true meaning of easter across. As part of the presentation, there will be a bit of re-enactment of the crucifixion. That's meant that i've helped my sister create some roman centurion costumes this week. Thankfully things are so cheap here, that this costume has cost us all of $4 to make

It's a shame that we won't be around over the whole easter weekend due to our conference, but will be great to remember and celebrate the death and resurrection with our church family tomorrow night.

Please be praying for our Thai brothers and sisters to be truly understanding the meaning and significance of Easter. My hope and prayer is that you too will be doing the same. Praise be to God for his love, mercy and gift of his son to die in our place and rise again to conquer death so that we can have life eternal!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Things people have been learning

The church I go to in Thailand is called Grace Church and while I'm here I go along to a bible study group called Joshua Cell group. Over the years the group has been through various challenges, but one of the exciting things for me is to see how a core group of the group members have really grown in their understanding of the Bible and their love for God. Last Friday, I was excited to be able to rejoin this group and be encouraged by the ways that many of them have grown in their understanding of the Bible, the gospel and their faith. During our 'Thank you God' time (where we get to share things that we are thankful to God for over the past week/generally in our lives), one of the guys was sharing how although he has been a Christian now for many years, a recent bible study he had to do in order to prepare for our church's easter celebrations meant that for the first time, he really understood why it was that Jesus had to die on the cross for us. He suddenly realised that we are the ones that should have been on that cross, yet Jesus chose to die in our place. It was a huge revelation to him and has made the truths of the gospel even more amazing. He's now really excited about being a part of the team who are putting together the easter presentation for church this weekend so that he can try and help others to also understand just what it is that Jesus has done for us. Again I was reminded of the importance of helping people to read and understand the Bible for themselves, so that the stories of the Bible can become real and alive in peoples lives.

For those who pray:
- Praise God for all that he has been teaching Mayz
- Pray for the opportunities that we have this easter to be helping others understand what Jesus has done for us on the cross