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Saturday, July 31, 2010

MOVING ON

As we prepare to move house (in less than a week) I have used some of the moments of packing to let my mind wander back to when we first moved in here back in January this year.  What a lifetime ago that seems.  
This impending change has caused me to think about what has happened in the past months and wonder what the future will bring.
In reflection of this year so far, I can say without a doubt that there have been a lot of laughs (the children’s antics are always making us chuckle, late night chats with Jess about the differences between American English and Australian English always ends in hysterics as well as the type of laughter that comes from a mixture of feeling totally overwhelmed topped with a slight confusion as to how we even ended up here).
You know though, in all honesty, there have been just as many tears.  
Tears are frequent with the children injuring themselves, not getting their own way and missing various aspects of their former life in Australia.  But it’s not just the children that do the crying in this house! Oh no! Dave and I have shared just as many tears ourselves.  Realizing the magnitude of leaving our families, experiencing both the heart wrenching and heart warming sides of ZOE, humbling ourselves to the amazing provision from our supporters and just the simple understanding that we can’t do anything without the miraculous power and grace of God.  
We simply would not be here without Him.
So, back to the house… What I am looking forward to (or hoping for) with this next house I hear you ask? 
Well firstly I am hoping for less mini beasts!  What? I can hope can’t I?
We’ve shared this house with countless cockroaches (bigger than I ever imagined I’d see) geckos of all sizes as well as mosquitoes, spiders and other unidentifiable creatures.  Just today I’ve encountered more creepy crawlies than I care to recount… .ewwwww.  
Side note: Stumpy, the gecko I stood on, is now living in the garbage bin out the front and gives me very nasty looks every since the accident where he lost his tail under my foot- this is the real reason I try to get Dave to take out the rubbish!
Secondly I am secretly wishing for hot water in the kitchen.  I know now that I can survive without it if I have to (we are on to our second kettle already) but I would like the luxury of having a hot water tap… I’ll let you know how we go next week!
And finally I am looking forward to making many more memories with my wonderful husband and amazing children.  When I think about all the changes we’ve had this year I can’t help but gaze proudly at each person in our family knowing what they’ve been through and how far they’ve come. 
We haven’t “arrived” by any stretch of the imagination but when I hear Dave practicing his Thai repeatedly and I see the kids learning to look strangers in the eye and greet them in their second language without shying away, my heart swells because I get glimpses that we’re going to be okay.
Thank you for your encouragement and support.  It’s so heart warming to hear when you’ve read our blog.   If you have a minute, we’d love to read what you’ve been up to as well, so drop us a line.
Blessings,
Andie.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Asia's Hope

“ In 2005, Asia’s Hope expanded its services to Thailand, opening its first orphan home for hill tribe children in Doi Saket, just north of Chiang Mai. Today, Asia’s Hope operates 6 orphan homes in Thailand and 9 in Cambodia. The organization also runs a school in Cambodia and numerous micro-enterprise and vocational training programs in both countries.”  www.asiashope.org 

Last night, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the Asia’s Hope children’s homes.
These children’s smiles MELTED my heart.  What a beautiful, loving group.  I always find it interesting visiting children’s homes/ orphanages but last night I was particularly touched.  The American short term missionary team were leading games, craft, stories and songs.  
The kids really enjoyed all the aspects of the program but in particular the huge game of ‘papers, scissors, rock’ that involved all ninety children!  This was just hysterical.  I tried to take photos but the movement made it hard to capture.  The night finished with goodie bags being handed out to everyone.  I know all children get excited when they’re given treats but these kids almost lifted off the roof with their shouts of delight as the team brought the bags in ... what a lovely way to spend a Monday night.






Tuesday, July 27, 2010

OUCH!

Poor Eli! This photo shows her swollen lip.  She had an accident recently where she tripped on the stairs and cut her bottom lip open.  Some kids will do anything for an extra icy pole!! Ha ha. 
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, ZOE has had many visitors lately.  At the end of last week we had another team from America arrive.  It’s so amazing that these groups give up their free time and want to come to help and serve.
I had the privilege of spending the day with the team yesterday as they went to minister in a village and at another children’s home.  It was a wonderful experience and so interesting to see another children’s home in action. 
Below are some more photos from the day.

David is still busy lifting, loading, driving and unpacking to make the move from our old children’s home to the new one possible.  It is a massive job!  
AND... in just 10 days our family will also be moving to a different house... should seem easy after moving ZOE.  We can only hope!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Building Update July 2010

Please see the video for a sneak peek of Stage 1 of the new ZOE Children’s Home.
We commence moving tomorrow and will all be in our new facility in 2 weeks!
Shouldn’t be too hard ... just have to move 50 kids, 40 students, 30 staff, 12 missionaries and of course the beds, computers, office supplies, clothing, food, kitchen supplies and playground equipment .... AAAHHHHHHHHH!!

Thankfully Carol and Jessica are logistics experts!!!!
PS: Thanks again to Ben for giving us this handy little camera to take video with!!!!
DAVE :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

SNAP, SNAP, SNAP

We had such a fun day yesterday.  Our family left home at 7am and headed out to ZOE Children’s Home for a photo shoot.  Photographer? .... Me! Ha ha. I know, pretty funny, and I mainly only agreed because Carol said I could use the cool SLR camera.

The aim was to get head shots of all 50 ZOE children.  And we had just one hour to do it!

Everybody in our family had a job: Dave was to help getting the kids to stand in the right spot and making sure their hair was neat etc.  He knows them all a lot better than I do so he was great at being able to elicit lots of smiles, which made my job easier.

Spencer took it upon himself to help out in a ‘pastoral care’ type role, running in front of the camera and wanting to hug the kids.  Very funny.

Tobi and Eliana went around handing out lollipops to the children and playing with them while they waited until it was their turn.

Me... I had to try to control my laughter and keep the camera still at the antics going on around me.  It was a funny morning and one I’ll remember for a long time.

Here’s a few of the shots that won’t be being used!!!



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Ordinary


"You've spoiled me for the ordinary ..."  was what one man said as he reflected on his visit to ZOE over the past week at a team debriefing this morning.

I knew what he meant.   I sat, close to tears, as each member of the short term mission team went around the circle and described how this trip to Thailand had impacted their world and changed their view on "life" as they had known it.  

I found it encouraging to be reminded about the emotions that I too had felt, on my first visit to ZOE.  It was so amusing to hear the anecdotes of their first experiences using a 'squatty potty'- I still find it tricky!  But, it was also so moving to see their tears as they recounted experiences of how the ZOE children, teens and Bible School students had touched their hearts and impacted them more than anyone else had before.  

As wonderful as it was to hear all the stories of the past week, I also understand how hard it will be for them to return home.  How will they articulate what they saw, felt, lived and breathed while they were here?

It is easy to be on an emotional high and describe life when you are in a different country for a short period of time. However, once at home with your bags unpacked, pictures shown and stories told; your "old" routines stare you straight in the face!  How can you return to life as you knew it, not changed by what you've seen? 

You know though, despite living in a foreign country (which can often be filled with adventure) there is STILL so much time that is filled up with the ordinary moments of life- grocery shopping, making dinner, cleaning.  So, I have to remind myself that each moment is a gift from the God no matter how mundane and "unspiritual" it may seem.  

I seek to fully understand that if anything matters, everything matters. I can make each day count whether I am working in a children's home in Thailand, teaching my children good manners at home, or simply sweeping the floor for the sixth time that day.  Even though I feel like I fail at seeing this perspective so often, I really want to live my life with a heart that embraces all the moments in time whether they seem exciting, breathtaking or just plain "ordinary".


Monday, July 5, 2010

Back to Thailand....Back to ZOE.... Back to 35 degree heat..... It’s great to be home!


It’s hard to believe that we were in Australia for 4 weeks.  Getting back to ZOE today was an emotional experience!  As we drove up the driveway there stood two of the Thai staff.   Seeing us arrive a big smile spread across their faces.
Further along the driveway was my good friend Par Bowan.  ‘Good to see you P Dave’ he said.  He is a big strong man, with a heart to match.  I reached out the car window and we embraced.  This man has been so very kind to me.  ‘We have been praying for your family’ he said.  Tears began to form in Andrea and my eyes.  
What a blessing it is to be back at ZOE.  We have enjoyed working alongside the wonderful Thai staff so very much over the past 6 months.
It’s hard to think I could be this happy going to work!!!
It will take me a few days to get back into the rhythm.  I felt that before we left we had built up a great deal of momentum and we were really starting to assist in making some of the  improvements that ZOE needs so that we can grow to a children’s home with 500+ kids.
It also appears that my accent has strengthened from our time in Australia, so the American missionaries are once again having a hard time understanding me! But I will adapt my language over the coming days, so I can be understood.
The highlight of the day was when Andie brought the kids into ZOE tonight.  At 6pm tonight we did changeover at ZOE.  I clocked off and Andie clocked on! 
Andrea is out tonight hosting at a traditional Thai dinner with one of the short term teams that are in Thailand for the rest of the week.  The short term teams are great to ZOE.  They bring out supplies, clothing as well as an energy and enthusiasm that rubs off on everyone around them.  
So once I had the kids, we of course headed to the playground to play with the other kids.   The kids from ZOE were excited to see Tobi, Eli and Spencer.
Our kids come form very different background to some of the children at ZOE so it always warms my heart when I see all them all playing side by side. 
Kids have a way of making the complicated so very simple.
A swing is a swing.   A spinning wheel is a spinning wheel and a ball is a ball, no mater what your background!
Thanks to Ben Stickland for giving me this new little camera.
Here is a short clip of the fun we had today!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thanks For Sticking With Us

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!  
~Author Unknown
Well I didn’t see any snowflakes on our holiday in Australia, but it sure was icy cold!
One of the nicest things that I experienced during our trip, was the overwhelming sense of support and encouragement that was shown to us from not only our extended family and close friends but also from many new people whom we’d never even met before.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who has been “sticking” with us on this journey.  It is amazing to look back on what’s been accomplished through your support.
I read somewhere that “snowmen fall from heaven... unassembled” and it made me reflect on how snowflakes come from the sky separate and yet when they’re stuck together and are moulded into a particular shape, they can be crafted in to snowballs, igloos and of course snowmen. 

‘Unassembled’ and ‘separate’ we are less able to achieve what it is we came to Thailand to do~  We are here to help care for children.  ZOE rescues orphans and children who may become victims of human trafficking and fights to protect the rights of these children.  
You’re helping us to achieve this and your part is just as important.  You’ve moulded with us. With your help and support, we’ve been able to come and stay in Thailand.   So, thanks ... for sticking with us!
Andie:)

Friday, July 2, 2010

We're Back in Thailand... stay tuned!

After extending our trip, and spending almost a month in Australia, we arrived back in Chiang Mai safely late last night.  The children seem very happy to be back “home” and enjoyed playing with all their toys this morning.
I’ll write more soon after I’ve unpacked and caught up on some sleep but  in summary, we’re all good!