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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving


Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving 
with all the other missionaries.
Check out the photos from our first "Thanksgiving" here!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

WHAT?

No! Almost a year... already?



So I started to write my Christmas letter today. In fact our family even put up our Christmas tree today! It’s the earliest we have EVER done this as we usually have to wait till the start of December for the Christmas tree farms to open and make sure that the tree doesn’t die before the 25th.

Well there are no Christmas tree farms in Thailand and why would there be with less than one percent of the population being Christian!! I’m quite surprised there are even fake ones, but I am glad that there are... and happy to report that the Cross Family are the proud owners of such a tree. Plastic fantastic!! Instead of spraying the tree with insect spray to kill any bugs, we carefully ‘fluffed’ out all the fake branches trying to make it look as realistic as possible. Hmmm.

The things you thought you’d never be doing! Living in Thailand and putting up a fake, plastic Christmas tree in November. Ha ha.








On Friday we will be joining with the other missionaries for a huge THANKSGIVING dinner. I am so excited. I also feel a little bit nervous though because I am bringing a salad and dessert and I have NO IDEA what to make. I was going to google “thanksgiving” and see what I could find... pumpkin pie??? But then someone suggested we bring something that Australians eat!! Dave asked whether pavlova would be okay to which NO ONE even knew what this was!!!! Well I guess if I make it and it doesn’t taste any good, no one will know the difference, right?

Speaking of food. Dave’s favourite ‘take-away’ (from the side of the road) food is called moo-ping. It’s sticky rice and marinated pork skewers. We were hearing all about his moo-ping consumption constantly but now that we’ve tried it Eli, Spencer and I are also hooked!! Spencer will ask us “Ahroy mai?” which means “Is it delicious?” and then we say “Ahroy mak”, “Very delicious”. He is learning new words every day in both Thai and English. It’s very cute.


On Saturday we had a special day at ZOE with the short term team that was visiting. They were running elective classes for all the ZOE kids and invited our children along too. Tobi and Eliana joined in with the Christmas traditions group. They very much enjoyed hearing the Christmas story that was told using a felt board, colouring wooden Christmas angels for the tree and making Christmas boxes. The highlight though was the gingerbread house decorating. You should’ve seen all the kids eyes light up as thy were led in to a room full of ready made houses and HUGE bags of lollies.


Here’s how Tobi and Eli’s turned out. As you can see, Eli’s mouth is also full of sweets!!


Eliana colouring her wooden angel.

I think the nicest part of the day though was after lunch when the children from the Christmas class went back and collected their houses and brought them to the dining area to share with the rest of the ZOE family and the short term team. We sat around on the ground chatting and enjoying the time together while knocking back the yummy ‘graham cracker’ houses and way too many lollies!! 



Well after all that decorating tonight, the boys sat back, content with their efforts, and ready to watch a Christmas DVD while Dave made dinner and I added the finishing touches to the tree and other parts of the room... I love this time of year!



Stay tuned for our ‘thanksgiving’ adventures and some more blogs about our busy last couple of weeks.

Smiles, Andie x

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SPORTS DAY


Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I am really enjoying the new experiences that I get to have here in Chiangmai and living up some of what Thailand has to offer.

Last week I attended the sports day of our ZOE elementary students. It was so much fun and I was thrilled to see that the three team (house) colours were the only three colours I knew how to say in Thai! Yay!

Our students did such a great job. I was so proud of them all. The bare feet running reminded me of the old days at Maryborough (all you ex- Maranatha people will know what I am talking about).


The winner’s podium.  Made from a desk and 
two chairs roped together!!





The medals contained 20 baht for gold, 15 baht for silver 
and 10 baht for bronze!!

Each team kept their cheering up and the team chants going for the entire day!


After the sprints, the boys helped to make new lanes for the relays and longer distance races!!





Jess and I didn’t play favourites. We shared our support between all three groups!!


I hope you’re having a great week. Cheers!
Andie x

LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION1




You could be forgiven for thinking that we we’ve been living in a war zone for the past few weeks (and I’m not referring to the sibling rivalry).
As the sun sets over Chiang Mai, the nightly explosions of fire crackers and fireworks begins! This is wonderful if you want to gaze out your bedroom window and watch the free show every night, however it has made getting to sleep a little bit harder with all the extra commotion!
The explosions have been so loud at times that it seemed like they were hitting our house. And then one night we realised that they were!! We looked out to see that a smoldering cracker, thrown from a house behind us, had landed on our deck roof! There are no restrictions here which makes it fun and a little scary all at the same time!
Thankfully, our kids have become so used to loud noises that by the time Loi Krathong (the Thai festival of lights) actually began, they enjoyed the amazing fireworks displays and neighbourhood crackers immensely. At one stage we even gathered with some of the missionaries in a clearing, near our house, and Dave got to let off his first fire cracker!! It was so loud but Eli slept peacefully through the whole thing in her car seat (car windows and doors all open).
Tobi had gone for a sleep over but Dave, Eli, Spencer and I ventured in to the Sunday walking market for some dinner and to see hundreds of lanterns being let off.
It is such a pretty festival and the sky looked like nothing I have ever see before- amazing!










This festival reminds me of the verse in Matthew 5:16....

You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.





And so...
Lights: We’ve seen plenty of these lately. Above is a photo of Dave and I letting a lantern go in our drive-way! As I said- there are no restrictions in Thailand!!
Camera: The last few days, we have not put our camera down. There’s been so much to see and do and we are enjoying being a part of all Thailand has to offer.
Action: Keep shining and sharing the love of God in a country where approximately 94 percent of the population is Buddhist and 5 percent is Muslim.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Snap Shots


Not all photos are pretty... and many moments in life aren't either! 

Here are some snapshots from our week that won’t make the album!

The market
I take a deep breath. I can do this. I leave the over-crowded car park hoping desperately that no one will park behind my car while I’m gone- blocking me in again.
Exiting the run-down elevator, which leaves me wishing I’d just taken the stairs, I step out in to ‘it’! ‘It’ being the market!
Rushes of smells swarm my nose from scented flowers to uncooked meat, waffles, fruit, roasted nuts and raw fish.
People bustle around me, some hoping to sell, others trying to buy… overwhelmed? yes… but determined not to leave empty handed.
I can do this… deep breath … speak up … I ask the price of some fabric in Thai but it’s the reply I cannot understand, a number I’ve not yet learnt (or remembered), I try again until … the reluctant shop keeper reaches for her calculator. I feel disappointed at myself- a common feeling at my lack of the local language.
If I ever thought I was starting to belong… here at the market… I know I do not. My very presence is marked by the constant stares … tourist… foreigner… alien.
Stumbling on someone that speaks some broken English, I excitedly get to explain that I live here in Chiangmai … it ends with me wishing I knew more than just how to say “Sorry. I only speak a little bit of Thai”… sigh!
The road
Stopped at the traffic lights… mind wandering off to what I should make for dinner… emails left unanswered… my ‘to do’ list unfinished… 
A woman, rugged up in wintery clothes approaches my window gesturing; do I want a string of good luck flowers?  I shake my head and look away… thoughts drifting back to what needs to get done… the next traffic lights will be the same.  The only difference will be that a young child… probably primary school age will be the one selling the flowers.
Heading off in to the frenzy of the traffic, keeping with the ‘flow’ is the only way to survive… motorbikes too many and too close … oversized loads rubbing shoulders … red and yellow songthaews stopping to pick up and drop off passengers.  Changing lanes… constantly.
A screech, a slam of brakes and the traffic stops suddenly … another motorbike accident.  How many have I seen? I shiver.  The rider… no helmet … his thongs swept uselessly to the side… I can’t see him move … a crowd gathers and the rest of us drive slowly by praying he’ll be okay… hoping the ambulance will be quick … thankful we weren’t involved.
The bathroom
The defiance is escalating … complaints about doing teeth… hair … not wanting to go to school today … the friends that were mean yesterday … the work that was too hard … the food that was not a favorite.  Disagreeable … argumentative … how do I keep my patience? Stay calm? Talk in a volume lower than theirs? Be firm yet supportive and understanding … get there on time?
I feel the hot tears springing to my eyes but that’s not like me to lose it in front of the kids, so why today?  Sleepless night … sick toddler … exhausted by the crying, the clinging, the things I don’t understand and can’t seem to ask.
The thought of doing another day trip to see a doctor at the city hospital is swirling in my mind … probably a simple half hour doctors visit back home, but here … it’s not that easy.  Plans are out the window … errands put on hold for another day … words uttered in frustration … patience wearing thin … emotions raw … questioning everything…

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Hebrews 6:10 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Burmese Refugees Fleeing to Thailand after Violent Clashes




I don’t know how much news you get back home about what is happening in Burma.  It’s hard to comprehend that civil war can go on for such a long period of time that it just become part of every day life. 

Can you imagine a civil war that began in 1948…..and continues today.?  It was happening before I was born, and before my mother was born! 

The political climate and policies of our neighboring countries has a significant impact on the work we are doing here with human trafficking. 

There are a number of elements that make people easier prey for human traffickers.  Poverty and drugs are two of them, but there are two other major factors: war and illegal immigration. 

War forces people into situations that separate them from family, reduces their ability to earn income, destroys farm land, houses and livelihoods.  

Some reports estimate that 250,000 people have fled from Burma and now reside in Northern Thailand.   

The estimated total number of illegal immigrant in Thailand is 500,000.   They are people just like you and I, except they were born into a political climate that sees them grow up consumed in a civil war they didn’t start. 

I won’t write more on the political climate, however there is plenty of news articles on the situation in Burma that you can read online. 
 
In the past two days 20,000 people have fled to Thailand!

Tobiah’s school (Grace International) organized to take blankets and clothes to assist  these displaced people.  This morning before school. Tobi got out a few t-shirts and added them to the pile of Andie and my clothes and we delivered them to his school this morning.  

It’s such a small thing to do! It really feels like it is not nearly enough to give a bag of clothes to help 20,000 people.   

I can’t possible comprehend the situation these people are faced with, let alone explain it to Tobi.   So I just simply said to him that some people needed help and asked was he willing to give some clothes of his to some people that didn’t have any or just needed some assistance?

I am so proud of Tobi.  He sure has difficulty sharing many items in our home!  Many times he thinks he is the centre of the word (as young children often do) but today he showed kindness and compassion.  He willingly gave something of his to someone he doesn’t even know, just because they needed help.   

Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers, 

Dave


PS  I encourage you to read up on the situation in Burma. 
 

Monday, November 8, 2010

GROWING UP? Nah!!



If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, 
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!
- J.M. Barrie [Peter Pan]
I laughed when I read the above quote taken from Peter Pan.  It reminded me so much of Dave and the sense of “fun” that he brings to our family.  He is never too tired, too grumpy or too busy to make time for our kids and I love it that he’s still a big kid himself!
As the local Thai people and the long time expatriates begin to rug up in the  ‘cooler’ weather; you’ll still find the Cross Family outside having water fights and eating icy poles!!  The weather at the moment is simply beautiful.  Highs of 30-32 during the day and lows of about 18 degrees overnight.  We’re loving it!
So I thought I’d just do a quick blog entry tonight and post some recent pictures of our family.  We are getting older but hopefully not “growing up” too much!
“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional” author unknown
~SPENCER~


~ELIANA~





~TOBIAH~






~DAVID~



~ME~