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Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring

... our life is far from boring!

We got some rain this afternoon.  The past couple of little showers we’d had did nothing but make the house go from furnace to steamy sauna!  But today’s shower actually cooled everything down, which was delightful.  The kids and I danced and ran in the rain until the excitement switched to frog spotting! 



Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain”.  ~Author Unknown
After getting completely drenched, we headed upstairs to get changed when Dave suggested we stand out on the balcony and watch the storm from up there.  

As we opened the door we realised that our balcony was actually flooding with water and was almost flowing in to our house!

Dave got to work setting up the pump to drain it over the edge before it all came in ... as I said, NEVER boring!
It’s been a tough week emotionally.  We’ve all shared a lot of tears for various reasons.  The highs and lows leave me wondering if ‘life’  here will ever find a rhythm.  I am reminded of these verses though:

Isaiah 41:10 NIV
So do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 40:31 NIV
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Since camp has ended, Dave has been involved in the updating of the staff manual.  He has really enjoyed this opportunity as it has given him a chance to both learn about the existing policies and also contribute to shaping how the ZOE Children's Homes will look in the future.
Eli and I were both feeling a bit flat on Thursday afternoon so Dave kindly encouraged us to go on a date.  We chose to go and explore the Night Safari, they let us local in for $2 and kids are free -what a find!   Only a short drive up the road, we had the most amazing evening and enjoyed a memorable night together which did a lot to lift our spirits.

I have really missed my sister, Mum and close girl friends this week.  It can be challenging to find activities for Spencer to do during the day when the kids are at kinder and the weather is so hot.  I miss having those close relationships that I would be constantly drawing on for strength and encouragement.  I look forward to making a close friend over here in a similar situation to me with a small child at home that I can arrange play-dates with.   I am trusting God to provide in this area.
On a positive note, my friend Jess gave Spencer a dancing DVD this week as she knows how much he just loves to dance and move.  Well not only did he LOVE it but because it goes through various movement elements, stretching, ballet, moving with a scarf etc; Eliana ALSO loved it.  I watched her as she eagerly dressed in her tutu and squeezed in to her old ballet shoes.  Realising that they were far too small for her now, she asked me to buy her some new ones!  I had to explain to her that I had no idea where I would even find ballet slippers in Thailand but that I would have a think about it.
On Saturday we got up early and decided to go to a couple of garage sales.  The first one we went to, I walked in to the crowded room only to be instantly drawn to a box of shoes... as I looked inside, there sat a BRAND NEW pair of pink Jiffies.  I had a look and called Eli over to discover that they were her EXACT SIZE!  And to add one final detail to this story, they were just 20 baht (which is under $1)!!!! Can you believe it?  
It was such a wonderful opportunity to share with her about how much God also cares about the little things in our lives that may seem insignificant to others but that are important to us.  He has provided in a way that only He could’ve orchestrated.   That just blows me away.
So from dancing in the rain to our new dancing DVD, I leave you with these words of encouragement, and what I think my motto for the week will be:

Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance!  
~Dave Barry
And so I will!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LESSONS FROM THE HIPPOPOTAMUS


Last week, just before the curfew was issued, our family spent the evening walking around the lake at the Chiang Mai Night Safari- you might remember that I’d taken Eliana there for a date night a couple of weeks ago.  
Well it is an amazing place.  It’s only about 5 minutes from our house and free entry for the kids!!  Dave was impressed by what we saw, but one of the highlights of the night was the hippopotamus enclosure.  When I’d been the first time, the hippos were all under the water but this time they were out and about eating their dinner and cruising around.  I find them to be such an extraordinary creature. 

Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the "river horse." They spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool. 
That’s one lesson we can learn from them.  Submerge body in water to keep cool! The weather here is still extremely hot so 16 hours under water sounds like a good idea to me!
Did you know that a mature hippo normally will hold their breath for an average of 5 minutes, but when forced, or under threat they can hold their breath for as much as 30 minutes? Researchers believe it could be longer, but they have no proof! Wow!


When we start to feel overwhelmed with life, threatened or pushed beyond our human limitations, wouldn’t it be nice if we could follow the hippopotamuses and just submerge ourselves under water and hide for a while until the threat has passed or until we gain our composure? 
Well, of course we can’t do that but there is something that I find particularly refreshing and achieves the same result.  For those of you who are also Christians, you’ll already know what I am talking about but for other people, who may never have tried this, I highly recommend it!
I’m talking about reading the bible. This may sound strange to some of you but STAY WITH ME!  The bible is FULL of promises.  And these promises include faith, hope and love.  
Just like a bridge helps us to get from one side to the other, so too these promises help transport us from despair to hope.
  
So instead of submerging yourself underwater for 30 minutes, (I do not recommend this!!!!) go and read some of those promises for yourself.  I’m telling you, they’ll show you a new way to respond to life’s challenges and heartaches.
Be encouraged and strengthened as you discover what God’s promised you.  You can cling to the fact that He keeps his word.   
Hebrews 10:23-24 (If you don’t own a bible, just Google it!)
So, what else has been happening in our world?
  • David has been working on the children’s home schedules, driver’s schedules, staff manual and child protection policy documents for the past couple of weeks. 
  • He has been the trainer at the recent house parent staff training afternoons, and is getting a lot of experience speaking at the staff and childcare meetings.
  • Tobi and Eli are preparing for their end-of-year concert.  We’re eagerly awaiting this special morning next Thursday at the school’s main campus.
  • Spencer and I have been trying to tidy and pack for a very quick visit back to Australia in June.  For an update on where we’ll be speaking see the “Contact” page on this blog.   
  • I was asked to read a couple of stories in Eli’s class this morning which was a delight.  I choose ‘Koala Lou’ and ‘You’re All My Favourites’.  The class sat wide-eyed and it was a lovely to share this moment with them.  They all ran up and said thank you after I’d finished- so cute.
Have a great week :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

WELL, WELL, WELL

This is a photo of Jessica and I looking down a newly built well at a Compassion project in a village 4 hours north of Chiang Mai.
I had the pleasure of visiting some very beautiful, traditional Thai villages yesterday.  Jessica and I, along with four of the Thai staff, took the winding, daylong journey up in to the hills with an assignment to accomplish!
In July this year, ZOE Children's Home is hosting several short-term missions teams one after another.  Every year teams are booked to come however, this time; most of the other full-time missionary staff  who usually do the hosting, will be home in America on furlough for 2 months.  There is only a small team remaining and it will be all hands on deck! Yes even Spencer will be expected to pull his weight!!
Yesterday’s trip up to the mountains was to look around for suitable locations for the teams to visit and stay as well as make contact with the relevant people needed to co-ordinate each of these three-day events.  
It was particularly interesting visiting two Compassion projects from the point of view that our family has a Compassion sponsor child who also attends a similar project here in Thailand.  This was not her location, but we would like to visit her some time this year.
What I enjoyed most about the day, besides getting to spend time with the phenomenal ZOE staff, was just experiencing more of the ‘Thai’ way of accomplishing a task.  Despite there being a lot to do in the day, it was just sorelaxed.  At every place we stopped (unannounced) we were welcomed with open arms and warm hospitality.  The Thai’s are not just all smiles but their gentle ways and calm composure make them such a beautiful community of people.  It was a privilege to be included on this trip and to have this experience.  It was definitely one I will never forget.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Camp Update and MORE!

You may be wondering why on earth Dave would be dressed like this…  or more precisely, is that Eli’s tutu on his head? 

You could be forgiven for thinking that he’d been missing the AFL so much that he’d donned on his Bombers jumper, but that made him too hot so he was on his way to the pool with his goggles but had mistakenly put on my pajama pants!  But, what excuse could there be for wearing Eli’s tutu on his head?
Well, I won’t keep you guessing any longer.  He was actually on his way out to the final night of camp, a “crazy dress-up” party when I took that photo.
To their credit, Jessica and Dave have finished strong.  They put together a mammoth 4 week long camp program in a very short amount of time.  It was well planned, outstanding, creative, energetic and unforgettable.  This camp was the last one to be run from the current children’s home because next time camp is on, we’ll be using the new buildings and new home out in Doi Saket!  Yay!           (See video at the bottom of this page)
I went out to the land on Thursday to look at a couple of the dormitories that had been “mocked up” with some paint colors I’d help select and also to make some suggestions about another few areas.  
I have a mixture of feelings when I put on my “design team” hat.  In one way, it is quite daunting but I also find it mildly funny!   Instead of continually giving disclaimers about my lack of qualifications in this department though, I am learning to simply embrace this opportunity and do the best that I can do.  I believe that God does not give us more than we can handle and I am definitely relying on Him to help me do this task to the best of the abilities and ‘eye for color’ that He’s given me.  I will be returning to the site this week to look at some more of the progress, which I am looking forward to.



I’ve had an eventful week.  From Tobi and Eli’s student-led conferences at kindergarten… to getting our work permits approved 
… to helping organize and lead one of this week’s elective classes for camp… to spending an afternoon out of the new ZOE buildings deciding on colours … to having Dave out for four of the five week nights… as well as looking at page after page of rental properties…. 

It’s been a whirlwind of activity but all the fun has left me feeling exhausted!  
Spencer enjoyed being out at ZOE every day (except Wednesday. It was a public holiday and I had a great day at home with all 3 kids).  I love that we get to work at a children’s home and that our children are just as much a part of it as we are.  Spencer was able to join in the elective that Jess and I ran on ‘imaginary play’.  It was so beautiful to see how all the children, so quickly, adjusted to each new setting and were able to have opportunities to just “pretend”.  We set up a shop, hairdressers, building equipment with tools/safety wear etc, hospital and home-kitchen and restaurant.  It was fun and so cute watching all the children dressing up and taking on their new ‘roles’.





It’s Mother’s Day today and whilst I missed seeing my mum in the flesh, I was grateful for our telephone conversation.  It was lovely to hear her voice and find out that she’d spent the day with both my brother and sister.  This made me so happy.  I am also overwhelmed with thankfulness for the opportunity to be a mum to my own three children.  They are so precious to me and it is an awesome responsibility and honor to be their mother.  I loved that I got pancakes for breakfast and cappuccino ice cream after church to celebrate.  


I also got wander around the shopping centre for a few hours, which I found very relaxing and interesting (it always amazes me how many different ‘things’ there are to see here).

We did a little bit more research into housing yesterday and went for a drive around the area on the other side of the main roadway, closer to the kindergarten.  I think we’d ideally like to move over to that side (following some of the other missionary families who are moving over) so we’ll be doing more intentional searching and praying for a bargain house to come up soon so that we can plan for when our lease is up at the end of July.
Tobi has just discovered “Where’s Wally” and is really quite quick at finding Wally amongst the busyness of the page.

Tobi has just discovered “Where’s Wally” and is really quite quick at finding Wally amongst the busyness of the page.
Sometimes over here it’s easy to feel a bit like Wally; lost on the page amongst all the multitude of things happening and the millions of people ‘doing life’ but speaking a different language.   I feel like a little tiny spec on the page and often wonder how could I possibly ever make a difference here.  

But I do believe that no matter how busy it gets or how much of a language barrier there is, that if we continue to do what we set out to do (helping these beautiful children to become all they were meant to be) then we are helping to raise the next generation of Thai leaders to impact their country and, therefore, we ARE making a difference.