Monday, August 29, 2011

Say that again!

Cultural Show: The Fingernail Dance
I'm the sort of person who needs to hear something many times before I can memorize it.  
I need to drive somewhere several times before I can remember where to go and... sometimes I even need to meet people a few times before their names and faces are familiar.
It's a challenge that's for sure but on the up-note, I am the perfect person to host the short-term teams at the traditional Thai Khantoke dinner and show.  Why? Because I find it exciting every single time and I never get tired of going!  
Kang Hang Lae
The cultural show is full of dancing and performances as well as a dining experience which includes a selection of Northern Thai foods, of which, the Kang Hang Lae - Burmese Pork Curry is my absolute favourite!
On Saturday night I headed out with the Grace Baptist team for the dinner and show and had a wonderful night hearing all about how much they had enjoyed visiting ZOE as well as just being in Thailand.

This team (they left this morning) had some really AMAZING people on it.  Some of the team-members had been to ZOE before. This team also had members that are Guardian Alliance sponsors.  They help to contribute to the day-to-day costs of raising our special ZOE kids so that we can continue to give orphans and rescued children the high quality care that they need.
What's even more amazing is that I heard after their final session, out at the Children's Home yesterday, that another 5 children are also now being sponsored!  Wow!  Go Grace Baptist.  You are simply OUTSTANDING!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reading Recommendations...

Photographer: Chrissy Hunt
Last Thursday I went out to the airport and met up with some of the other missionaries, Bible School students and ZOE staff to welcome a team from America arriving for their short-term missions trip.
Unbeknown to me, many of the people on this team had either come to Thailand last year on a trip or a previous year's trip (with the exception of a few newbies).

As the team walked out through customs, one by one, I saw him... the man who had sat at the team debrief and spoken words that had really challenged my thinking just over a year ago.
I just had to go back and find what I'd written, and so I did... and it still applies to me today! And so I'm going to put a link here and if you want to reread it too CLICK HERE!

It's starts a little something like this:

"You've spoiled me for the ordinary ..." 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.  To read the rest CLICK HERE!

Okay, so you don't want to read it again, fine!  I offered twice, I can't do anymore than that! Haha.

Well, have you checked out the ZOE Children's Home Blog lately {or ever}?

Oh, okay, or what about Jessica's updated Children's Ministry site?  I'll give her a little plug, BUT only because it was her birthday yesterday LOL.

Well I hope that you've had a good week... honestly... where did it go? 

I'll back soon with some more updates and reflections on life here in Thailand, helping and protecting kids that really need it!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

สุขสันวันเกิด... Happy Birthday!

They are a little bit different now.
But special all the same.

It was so great {coz} I received a birthday card in the mail today from my parents.
They'd actually posted it on my birthday and it took just 6 days to find it's way across the Indian Ocean and to my house!
And, I also received a parcel from my sister-in-law.... two words... TOTALLY SPOILT!


And today it is our super, fantastic, lovely, special, sweet friend Jessica's birthday.
Happy Birthday FRIEND!

We all love you lots.
We had a fun dinner out at one of our favourite places... the BBQ restaurant.
It's such a funny place.  Great food... unusual entertainment... random stalls set up next to our table selling second-hand clothes for 79 baht and a book stall! Go figure!
Anyway besides the crazy dancing on the stage {not by us} which just cannot be put in to words, it was an awesome night.
As you may be able to see from the photo, we were the only white ones there!  This always adds to the fun!
Despite not being each other's biological family, I feel so blessed to have people over here to celebrate special times with.  In the absence of our loved ones, it sure is nice to have some really cool friends!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Moment In Time

Early Sunday morning as I just began getting our children and myself organized to go to church, David was putting the last few things he needed in to his backpack to set off, meet the team and head up in to the mountains to visit a village.  
Staying overnight Sunday night and returning Monday afternoon, it was so wonderful to hear all the stories and events that had transpired over the two days that he'd been away.

Here's what he had to say:

It's amazing how time stands still.  
When there are no emails popping up, no phone calls and... no bed!! It's simply, "no worries"!
This past weekend was like that for me.  It felt like time stood still as I went away with the team from Grace Baptist Church into a village south of Chiangmai.
I love going to the hill tribe villages of Thailand.  
I enjoy the pace that things seem to take as well as how people seem to have endless time to stop and have a chat (or even just stand around a little awkwardly).
This particular village was home to a Karen tribe, so although my Thai is getting better, (slowly) it was of little use here as the ethnic language was much more dominate.
The weekend involved a time of sharing the Gospel message, visits to local homes, a church outreach, a school event and a human trafficking awareness program for local children.
Though only overnight… it felt like I had been there for much longer.
In summary, it made me want to leave the comforts of our suburban home and move to the village… but hmmmm…I guess this is not a decision I should make at this time of the night…

I am wondering though whether I should sleep on our timber floor tonight (like I did in the village) or back on my comfortable mattress…

Whilst Andie thinks I'm crazy, I must admit after doing it a few times now… I do quite like sleeping on the floor…

What about you?  What's your vote... Do you prefer creature comforts or roughing it? 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

'M' is for...

Due to the fact that Dave was out till late last night at ZOE, we decided to sing 'Happy Birthday' and do a cake for my birthday today.  
I excitedly made some invites and asked our kids to dress-up as something starting with the letter 'M'.  
I then set to work gathering what I needed for an "m&m" cake.
Here's what we all dressed up as:
Spencer chose:  "MOO" cow
Eliana:  Princess Marcella
accompanied by Minnie Mouse!

Tobi chose to dress up as a 'Man'
Dave the 'monkey'
Mum? Missionary?  Nope, musician!
What can I say? Mmmmmmmmm. Yum!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Precious Gift

I nodded and smiled at the young mother as I walked to our car after the drop-off on Wednesday morning.
She was one of the other kindergarten mums who was preparing to pull out into the traffic on her motorcycle.

About a minute later, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye, in the farthest lane, come off their motorbike and land lifelessly in the middle of the road.  
I gasped and my heart skipped a beat as I automatically thought about that mum and her little three year old daughter that she had just dropped off.  
My thoughts raced. Was it her?  
From the right-hand lane, I slowed down and craned to look back and I realized that... it wasn't.

It wasn't her.

But it was somebody.

Somebody's son... and maybe father... brother... uncle... cousin... friend.

With my hands shakily gripping tightly to the steering wheel, I completed the short drive home; my thoughts quickly racing with feelings about just how short life can be and how each day is a day worth celebrating.

LIFE is worth celebrating!

I'm 34 today!  Some days I feel it... and other days I'm left wondering where all those years actually went.
But I am glad!  And so happy to have lived for 34 years.  I am grateful that I've had the privilege of being a mum for almost 6 years, a wife for 12 and half years and that I grew up in a wonderful family, surrounded by love and care for as far back as I can remember.  

Thank you for my birthday messages!  I felt very special as I read through each and every one of them ... and they all made me smile.

I'm smiling also at the thought of my wonderful husband who set his alarm clock early this morning just to bring me a coffee before I went walking at 6.

I'm smiling because Tobi wrote in his birthday card to me that I was his "bestest buddy".

I'm smiling because Spencer tells me each night when it's time to go to bed that, he'll miss me.

And I'm smiling because Eliana wrapped up one of her favourite things and gave it me this morning as a present.

So, you know, gifts don't have to be expensive or even "things".  
Special gifts reflect thoughtfulness, time, encouraging words and sacrifice.

And the most important reminder, for me this week, was just how each and every day (hour... and minute) spent here on earth can not be taken for granted.

None of us are promised another year, another month or another day. I believe that each day is a gift from God.  The shortness of our lives is compared in the Bible to vapor, grass and flowers that wither but thankfully God provides eternal life (in heaven) to all those who by faith accept what Jesus did for them on the cross.

And so I am determined to make this year one that counts, to make a difference here in Thailand and to be the best that I can be.

What's impacted you this week?  Please share!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's It Like?

Stop...  and imagine 'Mother's Day' as an orphan, abandoned child or 
someone sold in to the dark world of human trafficking.

For many children around the world, the first word that they learn to speak is some variation of ‘Mom’, Mum, ‘Mama’ or, in Thailand, Mae’. Although the word might vary in different languages, the name given to one's mother signifies a special relationship with the one who loves unconditionally and cares devotedly for her precious children. 

Mother's Day is celebrated across the globe, although not on the same date in every country.  
In America and Australia, it is celebrated on the second Sunday in the month of May, but in Thailand, Mother's Day has been celebrated on the 12th August (since 1976) because this is the birthdate of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.  
As the Queen is regarded as the mother to all Thai people, this day is also celebrated as ‘Mother’s Day.’ 
The planning is in full swing for Friday with many celebrations all around Thailand being organized for a wonderful day of honoring mothers as well as mothers having the opportunity to bless their children in return for the love that is shared between them.

But... have you ever wondered what Mother's Day is like for the young boy whose mother died of AIDS and left him to fend for his younger siblings?  
What's it like for the girl who finds herself with a price over her head, abandoned by a relative who said they cared? 
What's it like for the teenager trapped serving clients, who has never known what it feels like to {really} be loved and protected? 
What's it like?
These are the cries that are finally being heard.  
Justice is being done and FREEDOM is being given.  
"Love" and "Hope" aren't just 'words' but they are GIFTS being given as precious children are being rescued and brought to the ZOE Children's Homes.
I'm really looking forward to this Friday night's special Mother's Day service at ZOE.  
I remember last year hearing testimonies from some of our amazing, courageous children who got up in front of over a hundred people to share how having a ZOE mother has totally transformed their life.  
How being loved unconditionally has given them freedom beyond just the physical sense and how being accepted in to a family has provided a chance to develop in to the person that they were created to be.
And so, I think Friday will be a day of mixed emotions. Overwhelming gratefulness for the mothers at ZOE who have given up their lives to raise children not biologically their own but with just as much (if not more) love, selflessness and devotion.
And my heart still breaks for the tens of thousands of children who know no love right now. Who need a breakthrough... who need rescuing.  Who need us to keep fighting for the their rights to be loved and cared for.  
Thank you for your interest, your support and your voice to keep making a difference in the lives of those who need a 'mum' the most this Mother's Day.


More reflections on Mother's Day here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pep Talk

So Eliana and Spencer started back at Hana Christian International Kindergarten today. Eli full time and Spencer part-time. They both went to their new classrooms without a tear, which kind of made me want to get out the tissues and have a little cry myself at just how far they've come. 
Was it really a year ago that we decided not to re-enroll the older two kids at the other international kindergarten they had been attending for just 6 short months and at the same time move house again!?
August last year was a turbulent month but it was also the beginning of some settledness as the decisions to move house and move schools turned out to be the best choices for our family
in the long run. 
But Eliana and Spencer aren't the only ones starting back this week... Dave and I begin
Thai lessons again tomorrow! Dave's not worried one single bit but I, on the other hand, have been shakily reading through my books today from Unit 1 in utter despair at how much I have forgotten in two months. How is it that, "Can I have a coffee please?" and "I don't understand" are the only phrases that seem to have stuck? Oh man!
Tobi will be attending Thai lass with us too as his school doesn't start back until next Monday. Truth be known, he'll probably be able to answer more questions than I will! {sigh}
But wait before I throw myself on the floor and start blubbering like a baby, I'm going to give myself a pep talk and by the end of this post, hopefully.... hopefully I will feel charged and ready to go and read my Thai book through just once more before tomorrow's lesson with a little more umph!
So, adapted from, a website dedicated to self improvement, here's my top 10 reasons on not giving up now. Maybe it will also inspire you to keep going with whatever is challenging you right now.  So...

1- As Long As I Am Alive Anything Is Possible
I have the choice to keep trying until I finally succeed.

2- Be Realistic
The chance of mastering something the first time is almost non-existent. Everything takes time to learn and when I make mistakes I need to learn from them.

3- I Can Be Strong 
I am stronger than I think. One little setback should not be enough to stop me from achieving my goals. Neither should 10 or 100 or 1000 setbacks.

4- Prove Myself
I CAN and WILL achieve what I set out to do. 

5- Has It Been Done Before?
If someone else can do it then so can I. Even if it is only one other person in the world, that should be reason enough to never give up.

6- Believe In My Dreams
Don’t sell myself short. Don’t let anyone destroy my dreams or discourage me.

7- Family and Friends.
The people I love and who mean the world to me are my inspiration to persist and persevere. Maybe I need to try a different angle, study more or practice more but I won't give up!

8- Improve Our World
When I achieve my goal, I can use my skills to make a difference to the world and other peoples lives more effectively.

9- Inspire Others
I could be an inspiration to others by refusing to give up. Who knows what someone else might achieve because I never gave up and in turn inspired them not to give up.

10- Getting Closer
Often when people feel like they want to give up they are about to make a huge break-through. Any given time could mean I'm just a heartbeat away from achieving success.

Now I hope and pray that Reason 10 turns out to be true.  
At the moment I feel like I'm just a heart beat away from an anxiety attack but... as I chant these ten reasons to myself over and over in my sleep tonight, I'm sure I'll wake up more determined than ever... right?!

Having a challenge at the moment, let me know what's helped you. I'd REALLY like to know! Leave a comment!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Nearly Over...

Our children have been on school holidays since the beginning of June.  And honestly, I have almost forgotten what that morning routine of being up, dressed quickly, bag packed, breakfast, teeth and out-the-door feels like.
And so, I am feeling reflective and grateful for these past two months.  I am thankful for the long plays in the garden catching mini-beasts, the bike riding, pajama days, reading stories, water play, tea parties, visiting parks, baking, making play dough creations, movie marathons, puzzles and painting nails.
Here's a little look at just a few of the things we got up to both in Thailand and Australia during our school break:

We've definitely made some wonderful memories.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  Robert Brault

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Here it is... Dave's Vlog!

Just as I promised, the latest news from the ZOE Children's Homes.  Dave shares about the flooding, the new kids and just how he is settling back to life in Thailand.  Enjoy!

Got something to say?  Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coming soon...

I think Eliana summed it up perfectly a couple of nights before we were due to leave Australia when she sobbed, "I want to go home to Thailand, but I just wish we could take our family with us!"
It's so great to be back but we are also dearly missing our family and friends, again!  At the risk of repeating myself- it was just so great to see everybody and we really had a wonderful trip.

HEY, now I know you're probably only reading this blog to get the latest ZOE news not because you want to hear about us missing our family etc, and so I have to say this...Dave has promised me a VLOG (video blog) today!  But WAIT!
He's out at ZOE until late tonight so I won't be able to post it today but it is COMING!  All the updates... what's been happening... all the latest news.
So, check back here soon for the low-down on the ZOE Children's Home.  
I also want to say that we are slowly getting through all our emails.  What a privilege it is to see so many.  Please be patient with us as we make time to write back.  
We have had students from schools wanting to know what they can do to help fight human trafficking, people wanting to be a part of an Australian short term team, teachers excitedly organizing KIDS! You Can Help Too fundraisers, friends and strangers alike wanting to financially support the cause... as well as more and more people following along with this blog and creating awareness about what's happening in, not only, Thailand but around the world in relation to modern day slavery.  
Don't forget to check out the YOU CAN page to get ideas on how you help fight for orphans and children affected by child trafficking.  And if you have other ideas, please let us know.  We're always looking for ways to get others involved and spread the word about what's happening as well as what needs to be done.
Stay tuned!!

Andie :)

P.S.  Again, I just want to say a HUGE thank you to the churches, schools, groups and individuals that invited us to share this past month.  You have put your faith in us to keep fighting for these children without even seeing.  We thank you for trusting us with this important task.  We feel honored to be working over here in Thailand and we look forward to sharing with you the stories of the precious lives that you've helped to rescue!