Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tobi thought that he’d wash himself first... and then the car!
Well after a two-week semester break, the kids and I are all back into the swing of things once again.
Tobi is enjoying school. It is amazing to see how he has matured and developed these past few months. What an exciting stage of life to be learning how to read and write!
He is very keen to try new things at the moment and is even expanding his dietary habits to include “greens” which, of course, we are very pleased about!
He is a great helper around the house and both him and Eli were excellent assistants to Dave when he washed the ZOE car on the weekend.
With only 5 or so weeks of the school year left, he is counting down the days until our trip back, asking us lots of questions and reminiscing about some of the people he’s missed and would like to see while he’s back.
Eliana is really enjoying the warm weather at the moment and our little fold- out swimming pool. She is always asking to go ‘swimming’ in it and loves filling up various sized containers with water and making up little games.
When she’s not happily playing with her Barbies, she loves to draw and make things. She is doing really well at kindergarten and has become an expert at using her Thai greetings confidently with everyone we come in to contact with.
She has been such a good encourager to Spencer with his toilet training and never ceases to amaze us with her ability to talk!
Spencer began toilet training at the beginning of the school holidays and after a day or so we were out and about with him- without an accident. He has really picked it up quickly with the two older there to cheer him on. It is so precious to see how proud he is to be “a big boy” like Tobi!
Spencer’s loves animals. We are very blessed to have several places close by with lots of animals to see and at very low cost to get in. His language has really taken off too and he loves to talk all about the animals that he’s seen, read animal books and carry around his map of the Night Safari!
I have enjoyed being a part of the “English” camp at ZOE this week. Jess and I were given the weakest students to work with and it has been so rewarding to see how far they’ve come with their conversation skills. On Wednesday I shared a ten minute talk with them on the importance of education which I hope they found both encouraging and challenging. Tomorrow is the final day and we will doing some assessment to see what the individual students in our group have remembered from the previous four sessions.
Dave was asked by Hana Kindergarten to come and share the Easter story with the 1 to 6 year-old children. I thought he did a splendid job. It is a hard story to explain to that age of audience, but the little kids responded really well to his talk.
It’s an all-female teaching staff at Hana so it was novelty to have a man come and speak. The teachers (who had put together a fantastic Easter program) seemed glad to have a fresh face come and share too. We also had the opportunity to explain to the kids, in simple terms, what we have come to Thailand to do.
Well as April draws to a close, I am hoping that you managed to find a quiet moment to enjoy some R & R over the Easter break.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
There have been some highlights for our family this week in the form of a few little reminders of home.
Firstly on Tuesday, Dave and I went in to ZOE to complete the final “sports” session in the Around the World camp. This week, camp was focused on none other than AUSTRALIA! Yay. We were very excited to have this opportunity to share a bit of Aussie goodness!
As we arrived the kids, who had all been learning about Australian greetings that morning, shouted “G’day mate… Where are ya?” instead of “How are ya?” ha ha, too funny.
Given that Dave picked the sport for Tuesday’s session, what do you think he chose? AFL football, of course!
He even had me wear my Bombers jumper in the heat!
Dave started by explaining the basic rules of the game and drew a diagram depicting the size of the footy field etc.
We then headed to the undercover dining area for some hand-balling practice, bouncing drills and some very funny races. Of course the kids loved seeing the leaders race against each other! And the teenage boys took on Dave in a footy bouncing race. Even with a broken toe, Dave came out victorious and the kids learned that controlling the Aussie football is not as easy as it looks!
After that we ventured across to the grass area and the kids were most eager to finally have a go kicking the odd shaped ball and enjoyed this activity for quite some time.
This afternoon as I left to pick up our children, I was surprised to see Cissy, one of the other missionaries, standing at our door. Cissy has had the job of teaching the ZOE kids how to cook various foods from around the world. In her past life (before ZOE) she had a background in the catering industry so what a wonderful sight it was to see, as she stood there holding a container full of freshly made lamingtons!
Unfortunately I didn’t get to take a photo of our family digging in to these but they were honestly soooooo good and I might add, all gone in a matter of seconds!!
We are definitely the minority amongst the American missionaries here, so it was a treat to have a few moments where we could almost taste home…
PS Only 70 days to go! Whoa!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Do you ever look around at the mess under the table, the pile of dirty dishes in the sink or the clothes on the line and wonder what you possibly have to offer, or how much more you could realistically ‘give’ in your day?
Maybe it’s not the mess of living in a bustling family but the piles of books to read, the list of assignments to write and the looming exams to study for…
It could be the pressure of work, the pull of time, the hours of travel, the exhausting nights in unfamiliar hotel rooms and the waiting in airports that leaves you feeling like there’s just nothing else left to bring.
As I waited in the car for Dave to buy our dinner from a street vendor the other night, I took this photo and it reminded me of a story that started out with a little boy who also had two fish and it goes a little something like this:
“On a morning not unlike any other, a young man climbed out of his bed with dreams of seeing “magic” performed by an amazing Jewish miracle worker. Rumors had flown all over his small village that Jesus might be the long-awaited Messiah and the boy just had to see for himself.
Imagine his mother searching the cupboard for just the right lunch to satisfy a gnawing hunger she knew her boy would feel - five barley loaves and two small fishes wrapped lovingly in a cloth bag and tucked away under a loose fitting tunic, "Enough for my boy and maybe a little to share with a friend," she thought.
Little did she, or her boy, imagine that this little morsel in the Master's hands was enough to feed a hungry throng of more than 5,000 individuals.
That day, Jesus touched that small offering, blessed it and broke it into five thousand lunches. He -- who made natural law -- proved to all by that act that He was the Master of the physical world. With the precious token of bread in His hand, He illustrated to all mankind, throughout all the ages, that He alone is more than enough. He alone, who created life, is also the sustenance of life. (Paraphrased from Daily Devotional).
So, what can I offer when it feels like there’s just not enough?
It may not count for much in this world, but I know that God sees beyond the physical. He knows the big picture, and he can take our small offerings, bless them, and use them to touch a hurting world beyond all that we could ask or imagine.
He is looking for our willingness to release what we have in our hands into his. What if that small thing, clutched so closely, could actually be used for something amazing? Let God demonstrate to you this week that he is more than enough!
We love getting your emails and hearing what’s been happening in your lives. Often your words are sent at the very moment that we needed some extra encouragement or a “pick-me-up”. If you have a moment, why not drop us a quick email letting us know how you’re going or sharing something that we can join with you in praying for? We know so many of you are making a huge difference in the lives of those around you and we would love to hear about how you’re being used to bless others and impact our world one life at a time.
Have a great week,
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Do you remember last year when I described to you what the Songkran water festival (Thai New Year) was all about? If not, check out the archives and see the unbelievable photos taken from the front seat of our car.
Well today is the first “official” day of the Songkran festival 2011 and, here in Chiangmai, were got off to a VERY wet start... but not the sort we were expecting!
Let me explain. After a few really loud claps of thunder this morning, the kids and I witnessed one of the biggest storms we’ve ever seen here in Thailand. With the mood becoming a little uncertain with each shuddering roar from the sky, all four of us snuggled on the couch (still in pajamas) to watch a DVD.
Well after the thunder and lightening had finished and just the heavy rain remained, the kids ventured in to their toy area only to discover a Songkran surprise they hadn’t been expecting- the area had flooded!
We set to work, moving everything that had been soaked, throwing out some of their art work that had been ruined and mopping up the pools of water on the ground.
Thankfully there was minimal damage and most of the items were able to be dried out.
Despite this extra wet start to the Thai New Year, the spirit of Songkran did not seem to be dampened (LOL) as we experienced the water throwing in full swing tonight when we ducked out to get some sticky rice and chicken off the side of the road for dinner!!
Step 1: Line up your target.
Step 2: Launch!
Step 3: Mission accomplished.
Step 4: Satisfaction! Refill...
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Just hours after behaving like a princess at her teacher’s wedding, our tired little daughter cried to us that she no longer wanted to be a part of our family. And that, whilst she still loved us, she wanted to go and live with her teacher...
After a rest and a favourite home-cooked dessert that night, she sighed, “I want to stay here now. You’re the best mum in the world”.
And just a few days later she said, “I used to love Daddy lots and you just a little bit Mum, but now I love you both the same”.
Thankfully I don’t take these words (spoken in the heat of the moment... by a four year old) to heart, however, it does make me wonder how many similarities there are between her behavior and my own sometimes.
How many times has God provided for me and I thank him by saying, “You’re the best” and then just a day or so later whine and complain about something else that hasn’t gone my way?
How often do I feel like checking out when things get tough instead of trusting in His ways?
How often do I show my love intermittently by switching between being hot and cold, depending on my circumstances and what’s happening in my own little world?
Honestly? Pretty often actually!
I believe that God has put in us girls a desire to be treated like “princesses”, treasured, honored, loved, cherished, and protected but I also believe that we are to make it our practice to be thankful, humble, kind and gracious too.
When my little princess misbehaves from now on, let me be reminded of the huge responsibility that it is to raise her. Let me show her that, although it is fine to dress up and play princesses, what it really means to be a good one.
This is one of my favourite verses:
Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.... And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3
Sunday, April 10, 2011
When we lived in Australia, Dave and I would laugh at how many people used to say to me, “You know, you look just like my... sister/ mother/ friend/ cousin...” to the point that I think I actually started to develop a bit of a complex about being so “common” looking.
Now when I think back to that, I feel myself longing for a day, or even an hour or so, to go about my business and just look “common” once again.
It’s the second week of our third term school holidays here. There’s only one more term before the end of school year. This, of course, means that I get to chill out at home with my precious little ones... it also meant taking them around with me to get my errands done yesterday.
Now because of the language barrier, it always seems to take me longer to do things here but add to that mix three fair-haired, blue-eyed, pale- skinned children who also, do NOT blend in with the crowd (and are not exactly the most ‘quiet’ children either!!!) and it makes for a very long morning out.
Every time I turned around to speak to someone or pay a bill, top up my phone etc, the three children squirmed as they were poked, touched, prodded, had their cheeks pinched and hair touched... let’s just say there was a LOT of love being shown. Even after more than a year, my children still find it a bit hard to know what to do in these situations.
I long for the day when I can speak Thai fluently so I can use these opportunities (when strangers approach us) to share with them why we choose to live in their country and find out more about their journey as well.
I want my children to see me converse as an equal (in the language department) and not have just another superficial conversation about their ages, sex and names. I want to be able to communicate with others around me so badly- it’s now a matter of applying every bit of patience, perseverance and dedicated practice time that I can muster.
I know, one day, opportunities will come but it still seems so far away that I have to fight against discouragement creeping in on me on a daily basis.
So a little word of encouragement- to anyone out there who may be reading this and be themselves in a situation where they feel different, odd or that they stand out in a crowd.
Use your noticeable uniqueness to impact people’s lives. If people are fascinated by you, for whatever reason, let this be an opportunity to share what’s special about you as well as to find out about the other person in the process. We are all different and we each long to feel accepted. That person staring at you might just be your next new friend… well that’s what I’m hoping anyway :)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Jessica Dodd, (ZOE Children’s Ministry Director) and the Kidz Ministry team are the backbone of the camp program run throughout the ZOE children’s school break. I have taken this excerpt from her blog. Have a read and see what she has to say:
Well, we are half way through camp, and let me tell you all – it is fabulous!
I come in to ZOE an hour before Camp starts every day to get ready and the kids are waiting for me! It seems that Camp can’t start soon enough for them. They are so excited to come to camp because it’s different everyday. All of the missionaries that are involved are so talented and creative. Each of them have their own unique way of teaching the ZOE kids and engaging them in various activities.
Michelle Brekhus and Denise Tang are a fun team. Both were teachers in their previous life (before ZOE) and have a plethora of tricks up their sleeves. They are in charge of Music and Crafts for each continent taught. They teach our kids about a certain country – teach them a dance made famous in that country – have our kids listen to the music and then finish off with a fantastic craft.
Dave Cross has renewed his role as “Craziest Camp Leader” this year. He has chosen Sports as his subject to teach. So far we have learned how to play Baseball, how to race Cars and how to play Golf. With stations that rotate every 10 minutes or so, our kids are exposed to so many different activities. I can literally hear their screams from one activity to the next! Dave and his wife Andrea are also crucial in helping decorate our camp room.
|We turned the grassy area at ZOE in to a mini golf course |
and used blue pipe to make three different sized golf clubs.
Ron and Cissy Boyer (the newest couple to our ZOE family) are a gift from God above. They love our kids and are passionate about being a part of this camp experience. Ron leads Games with our kids, focusing on the different games that kids play from around the world. Our kids enjoy learning new games. Ron is a big kid himself and our kids are drawn to him. Cissy, his wife, teaches our kids cooking every Thursday. Cissy and her family had restaurants for 16 years so she comes with experience. The kids love love love cooking day with Cissy. They’ve baked Apple Pies, they have made Cheese Quesadillas, Homemade Salsa, and decorated Gingerbread men.
Grace and Milk (2 of our staff here at ZOE) are also such a great help. Grace has helped me plan Camp from the start and is responsible for many of the great ideas. She is very creative and has a passion for children. Milk is our resident teacher here at ZOE and oversees Reading Time with our ZOE kids.
I know that this sounds like a ton of fun, and it is, but I don’t want to forget to tell you about what this camp is really about – getting missions into the hearts of our kids. Every morning I take a hour or so and teach them about what the Bible says about missions – telling others about Jesus. We talk about different missionaries from all over the world, their struggles and their triumphs. The kids take time every day in prayer, praying over these countries and their people who need to hear about God.
|A golf "warm-up" activity. I'm not sure who had more fun, Dave or the kids!|