Friday, August 29, 2014

Showers of Blessings

I am sitting on the floor in my hut listening to the rain's constant pitter-patter on the dried-leaf roof.

It's raining really hard out there.  I can't even see the tall mountains in the distance, because of all the rain coming down. This reminds me of a song. 

There shall be showers of blessing, precious reviving again; 
Over the hills and the valleys, sound of abundance of rain...

I'm thankful for the rain, even though sometimes I wish it were sunny. The cooler temperatures and the vivid green plant life are great side effects.  

I want to experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that my spiritual life will be living and vibrant too. 

I have been experiencing showers of blessings in more ways than one here. Lately in my devotions, the idea of ​​giving praise and thanksgiving keeps popping up.

To give... the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness... Is. 61:3

So the Lord God will cause... praise to spring forth before all the nations. Is. 61:11

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us... Is. 63: 7

...Abounding therein with thanksgiving... Col. 2: 7.

You know, I think this is the reason why we feel discouraged or discontented sometimes. We have a spirit of heaviness, because we're not actively thanking our Heavenly Father for all He is doing in our lives. I want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in my life... One that bubbles forth with praises to God.

We all know there are times when it's not easy to think of things to be grateful for... when circumstances are not happening like we want them to or when we are in the middle of a difficult situation.

But Colossians 2: 7 says we should abound with thanksgiving. This means we should be overflowing with gratitude to our Creator, no matter what.

I've been realizing in my own life that I usually ask God for many more things than I thank Him for. So often we forget how blessed we really are as God's children.

For example, one of the little girls from the children's home said sweetly, "Tank you, Teesha," before going to lunch after playing with the puzzles we had brought with us. I noticed that, especially because none of the other girls had said anything before walking off my porch. I appreciated that and I'm sure God does too. It's such a little thing that can make a big difference.

 I'm thankful for godly friends and that we can learn how to weave together. (Hannah Steck just started teaching us the first step in weaving today.).

I'm thankful for simple beauty in nature. 

 I'm grateful for sunshine to dry wet clothes and for our little hut in the jungle. 
(Our hut is the one at the top of the hill.).

I'm thankful for sweet little kids who make friends easily. (They love to color pictures!).

 I'm grateful to have this opportunity to be a teacher at this school. (This is the boy's dorm on the other side of the road.).

I'm glad for the greenery & tall mountains. (Another view near the boy's dorm).

 I appreciate the Steck family and their ministry at this school. (This is their house.).

 I'm glad we have food to eat everyday. 
(Cooked cucumbers, noodles & rice. This does taste better than it looks. :). 

We have yellow beans almost every morning. Avocados are really good here!

 I especially enjoy the new kinds of fruit. (Finger bananas, longans, mangosteens, rombotans ...).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's Different?

There are so many new things here. It's hard to know what to write about... Maybe I'll just make a list of what's different than what I'm used to in the US. 

Here you go... 
  • Having a hut with no windows, so any creature or insect can come and go freely - Geckos, spiders, and ants are regular visitors. I like all the fresh air that we get. 
  • Experiencing cold, refreshing, public river baths - I look forward to bath time at the river. It's like you're going swimming Most of the girls go down to the river at the same time to take their baths. In case you're wondering, you wear a sarong the whole time. :)
    • Using squat toilets - It's not as bad as I thought it would be.
    • Sleeping under a mosquito net on a thin woven mat - There are many things we take for granted in the US.  (Thankfully, the mosquitos haven't been much of a problem so far.).
    • Hearing new sounds from geckos & other creatures - They can be pretty large and colorful.
    • Sitting on the hard floor in the chapel - I'm still getting used to this and have some sore areas. :) There are not many chairs around here at all. 
    • Hearing the Karen language spoken all the time - Raquel and I are going to start taking Karen language lessons today. Hopefully we can learn fast. 
    • Washing all my clothes by hand - It's good exercise! (Some of the teacher's do have washing machines we could use sometimes.).
    • Enjoying new kinds of fruit (dragon fruit, finger bananas, longkong, longan, and of course - avocados) - I'm looking forward to mango season as well. 
    • Eating rice with some type of curry three times a day.
    • Taking my shoes off before entering any building - It's fun to go barefoot. 
    • Having a somewhat sketchy internet connection - Well, that's not totally new ... People from OH can probably sympathize sometimes. :)
    • Seeing the vivid colors all around - The rain makes everything so green and vibrant. 
    Overall I really do enjoy this simple life. I like being so far away from worldly distractions. There are no giant billboards or other such distractions here in the country. 

    I've been realizing that the US is a lot more "me" focused. Everyone is wanting to fit in and have the newest, nicest things. They want to look just right and wear the right brand of clothing. (It's actually nice not to have a bathroom mirror here.) 

    Everything is so materialistic... so fake.

    It's nice to really live - not just living on Facebook or watching "perfect" models "live" on TV, like other Americans do.  

    The people here live just fine with a lot less. They are happy and contented. Some of the kids do not even know when their birthday is, because their parents never had a calendar or anything to keep track of time. 

    It's nice to be here to refocus... to redefine what is truly important in life. I am reminded that true joy and fulfillment comes only from a relationship with Jesus. 

    This is the old girl's dorm behind us. 

    This picture was taken right after we arrived at Sunshine Orchards.
    We are with the Steck family who are a major part of the school here. Mr. Steck is the Principal for Sunshine Orchards. 

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Photos From Our Journey

    Here are a few pictures from our journey from Bangkok to Sunshine Orchards. 

    Plumerias have an amazing smell!

    Pink plumerias

    Our kind friends who helped us wayfaring travelers. 

    Brian Atwell (on right) picked us up from the airport. He and his wife & baby are so sweet! His wife fed us a yummy breakfast at their little hotel room. 
    Auntie Raweewan (on left) and her husband drove us from Bangkok to Sunshine Orchards
    I'm so thankful for Christian friends!

    We were so excited to see elephants on the way!

    A cool, refreshing coconut treat

    They can pack so much in the back of trucks here. 

    Photos from an Outdoor Market

    Beautiful Orchids

    Bamboo shoots


    What a surprise! Yuck!

    Small peppers & a root vegetable

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

    Sabbath at Sunshine Orchards

    It is my first full day here at Sunshine Orchards. 

    The bell rings five minutes before worship begins - it’s an early hour… 5:25 am.

    Many feet are hurrying to the chapel… Everyone takes off their shoes before walking up the steps to go inside. I’ve never seen so many sandals and flip-flops at the same time and place before.

    We all sit cross-legged on the hard wood floor. (I hope I get more accustomed to the hardness soon.) There are so many children pressed into the room. I sit with the girls on the right side of the room. 

    Soon many young voices are singing with gusto. These kids really seem to enjoy singing. I enjoy listening, but I only wish I could understand it all. 

    Once in a while I glance across the room and catch eyes with someone. We share a smile. I like these kids already. :) They are probably wondering what this new tharamu (teacher) is like. 

    Later after a breakfast of potato curry, rice, & vivid pink dragon fruit, we all meet in the chapel again for the church service. The kids are shy whenever they go up front and giggle when they make a mistake. Even though the kids have been through so much, they really seem to enjoy life - though it’s simple. 

    In the middle of the mission story, we hear a gecko loudly interrupting, “Uh-uh, uh-uh… uh-uh.” We all smile and laugh quietly. 

    The sermon is about the “good news” about hell. The children seem to understand and take it all in. I’m glad it’s in English and then translated to Karen so I could understand it too.

    For Sabbath School, the children divide into their different grades. I join the group going across the road to the 9th & 10th grade classroom. Sabrina shares about the prodigal son who wanted his inheritance right away. She told how he wasted it all and even had to feed dirty pigs. 

    He was drawn back by his father’s never-ending love for him. The father longed for him to come back. Our Savior longs for us to come to Him. His love is so deep and everlasting. 

    Lunch consists of rice, a tofu curry, and pad thai noodles. It is one of my favorite meals so far. 

    The afternoon is free, so we decide to drive up the narrow, curvy road through the mountains to a waterfall. I’m amazed at how many eager girls fit into the back of the truck. On the way their voices fill the air with energetic singing. I love to hear the passion and joy in their songs.

    Around the curve there is a breath-taking view of the towering mountains contrasting with the true blue sky above and the living green in the valley below. 

    The waterfall is a rushing slide that splashes into a bubbling pool at the bottom. I join the happy, screaming girls as we take turns sliding down the waterfall into the cool pool below. It’s fun, even though it’s super cold. 

    The girls love having their pictures taken with us golawahs (white foreigners). They take turns standing by us and smiling for the picture. 

    We then decide to travel up to a bigger waterfall. The girls are delighted! After driving a little farther up the mountain, we have to walk through the jungle, across a bamboo bridge, over big rocks, and through a few trickling creeks to get there.

    This waterfall is much bigger than the last one. It is beautiful!  The water is spraying us with a gentle mist. I stand in awe and watch it for a moment with my feet in the cool water.  I’m so thankful for nature…

    We hurry back for AY, which is another enjoyable gathering in the chapel. During the meeting, sweet little Juju sits in my lap. Her tiny hands play with my watch. Every once in a while she looks up at me and giggles and smiles. She didn’t take long to warm up to me. 

    After supper at the Steck’s house, we help with a few dishes and then check to see if the internet is working. Thankfully it is, so I am able to talk to my siblings all the way back in America. 

    We are tired after a long day. It was full of many new experiences.  Even though I’m sore from sitting on the hard floor for so long, I’m thankful I’m here. I do miss home, but I’m glad to be a teacher at Sunshine Orchards…

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Is God Your Pilot?

    We're sitting here in the Los Angeles airport after flying from Dallas, TX this morning. It's a major hub for flights -- almost like a little city all by itself.

    It's hard to believe this is actually happening. We are going to be flying across the great blue ocean from LA to Seoul, Korea in just a few hours. We'll eventually arrive in Bangkok on Wednesday evening (their time). 

    It seems right though. I know God has called me to go to Thailand to work for Him. I'm excited to be traveling. I'm excited to be a missionary for God.

    While on the flight here from Dallas, I was reminded of a story I had heard recently...

    One day, a pastor was traveling on a plane.  During his flight, the pilot's voice came over the loudspeaker and told the passengers that they were going to be passing through some bad turbulence. Sure enough, the plane was soon being roughly jostled up and down and side to side. It was almost like an earthquake. There was an overwhelming sense of fear in the air. 

    That's when the pastor noticed the small girl.  She was calmly sitting in her seat, contentedly reading a book, as if she was at home in her own living room. She was relaxed and at peace. This surprised the pastor and he determined that as soon as possible he must ask her why she wasn't frightened. How could this little girl be so calm when even the adults around her were quaking with fear?

    To everyone's relief, the plane landed safely at their destination. Needless to say, the passengers were eager to exit the plane and step onto the firm, steady ground.

    The pastor went over to the young girl right away and asked her, "Why were you not afraid on the plane? You didn't look worried at all..."

    The girl smiled and responded simply, "Oh, my Daddy is the pilot, and he is taking me home."

    That's the peace and the assurance that I want to experience while on this mission trip. I can have perfect confidence that my heavenly Father is the pilot in charge of my life and He is ultimately taking me home. So can you. :)

    Waiting in LA

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