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Friday, September 30, 2011

Flooding May Continue!


Sadly the disaster department says that 188 people have been killed and three others remain missing as a result of the tropical storms which have hit Thailand since late July. 
Nearly 2 million people have been affected by floods and mudslides.
Heavy rains here in Chiang Mai caused the Ping River to burst its banks and flood the railway station and central business district.  This has forced a temporary shutdown in train service to northern Thailand.  And from what I saw today, much of the train track looked to be under water too.  
Whilst out and about today we were redirected several times due to road closures; it's reported that 122 highways and roads nationwide are currently impassable. Unfortunately more rainfall has been forecast in northern Thailand for the weekend.   Please pray about this situation because there is a typhoon hitting Vietnam soon and we are expected to have even more heavy rainfall possibly starting tomorrow and throughout the following week.
Here's some photos that I took today... actually I put my camera away a lot because the devastation and damage actually became a bit too overwhelming...
Us Crossies are still safe and dry here but our thoughts and prayers go out to all those 20,000  people who live so close by but whose homes, businesses and lives have been affected by this disaster.


Whole streets under water.

Rescue crews helping people evacuate their homes.







Heading off in to some of the worst hit streets to help
with evacuations and deliver food supplies.


The railway track under water.

Residents leaving their homes.



Sand bagging

The edge of the road can't be seen under rushing flood waters.
I'll try to keep you updated!
Andie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are YOU okay?


Thank you to everyone who messaged us to see whether we were okay in the current floods.  We are dry and safe here and thankfully no flooding in our house this time.  Praise God!
We weren't sure whether Tobi's school would be open until early this morning but with a relatively dry night last night, the surrounding waters had significantly subsided around here.
Sadly, not so much for many other residents living in and around Chiangmai.  A drive through some of the streets today showed just how many houses and businesses were still under threat or had already been completely flooded. 
From one news report:
"Residents of parts of Chiang Mai city prepared for possible evacuation Wednesday as the Ping River kept rising and spilling over its banks. Thousands of students were ordered to leave school early, and tourists and vendors in the famous Night Bazaar area were told to be ready to evacuate.
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said at least 173 people have died and about 600,000 households in one-third of the country’s 77 provinces have been affected by the floods.
The dead include five members of one family who died in a flash flood Tuesday in a mountainous area of Chiang Mai province, department official Chayut Wongwanish said.
Train services to northern Thailand has been cut off, and more than 110 highways and roads across the nation are impassable".
Here's some photos I took today.






Our Internet speed is really slow tonight so I'll try to upload more photos later...

I'm living in a bubble here, so what's happening in your neck of the woods? Do share!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tickets Please!


Have you seen any good movies lately?  I can't actually remember the
last time that I went to the movies... BUT I went today for the first time here in Thailand! 

Dave and I had some grown-up "date" time. So off to the movies we went.  As we looked at our options...two were Thai teenage love type movies without translation and the third was  Rowan Atkinson's  'Johnny English Reborn'.  It said Eng/Thai so we worked on the assumption that it would have English subtitles, so that made the decision making process pretty easy!
Going to the movies here was a different kind of experience to what I remember about going in Australia.  For starters the movie price.  In Australia adults tickets can cost around twenty dollars each now I've been told.  Well we paid six dollars total... yep, that's three dollars each! NICE!  And we even got to pick our own seats off from a computerized map of the theatre.
Secondly the popcorn was 35 baht per box (that's just over one dollar). Doubly NICE!
After the previews were shown... mostly for upcoming Thai movies, a message on the screen said, "Please all stand to pay your respects to His Majesty the King".  At this point we  (and the other 4 people in the theatre) stood up quietly to watch a short film showing some of the wonderful help the King and Queen have given to the people of Thailand.  The clips showed them helping the poor, visiting schools etc. 


Finally the movie began and just... as... we ... were caught up in the drama of people shooting at each other and hiding behind things to avoid being killed; over my shoulder came a kind-of husky voice 'dtuaa...dtuaa' and then all of a sudden a man popped his head over the seat holding a torch.
Jeepers! Just as well we were seeing a comedy, had it been a thriller, I think I may have had a heart attack.
It turns out he just wanted to see our tickets.
Goodness me, talk about heart palpitations!  I didn't realise that the three dollars entry fee also covered a bonus real-life fright mid-movie!


Has anything made you JUMP this week?  Got a funny experience to share? Please do!

Monday, September 19, 2011

MY EYES WERE BIGGER THAN MY STOMACH


Remember how I said we've just had our friends Jason and Paulina Smith here to visit?  Well, I asked Jason if he'd be a guest blogger and share some of his thoughts about their trip.  
Thanks Jason.  When I read what you wrote I was sincerely humbled by your kind words. 
Here's what he had to say:

In the weeks leading up to our planned trip to Thailand, my expectations of experiencing a defining moment were growing. It sounds sensationalised – but that’s how I felt. It is a rare occasion for Paulina and I to leave our 3 boys with trusted grandparents, take a week out of our otherwise compressed schedules, travel to an unknown culture through 24 hours of flight time and transit, and defer other opportunities to be there. Why wouldn’t we posture ourselves for something significant to happen?
As the rubber smoked on the landing gear of our budget Airbus A320, and the humidity and torrential rains of Chiang Mai welcomed us forward, it felt like my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I wasn’t to know the full impact of what we were about to see, experience and feel – and days after our return I am still digesting it all!  Whilst I am not just referring to the physical indulgence of the culinary pleasures Thailand has to offer, there was certainly that also. We ate more pork sticks, green curry, pad Thai, sticky rice and sweet roti than my training diet really could afford. The food was great, but the ‘excess baggage” we were nearly charged coming home, was a little embarrassing.
More significantly, but not surprising, was the inspiration we found in doing family life with the Crosses. Having already journeyed some time at home in Australia with this remarkable couple, and with already a heartfelt admiration for their enduring integrity, this week revealed to us a whole new level of maturity and resilience on show. I felt personally challenged and incredibly excited to see a ‘peer’ family surrendered so fully to their life assignment, and truly serving God. The way David and Andie balance the competing tensions of compassionate ministry, tireless service, determined parenting and personal submission revealed both God’s sovereign grace and their internal fortitude. It’s rare to have this much admiration and respect for your own peers, as these feelings are more often reserved for those who are greater in years to you.
To get a glimpse into the world of ZOE and be exposed to the tragedies and some individual stories of those who have suffered through human trafficking, was at times too much to bear. In the quietness of the evenings, when the cogs of reflection could turn undistracted from the events of the day, it was deeply impacting to ‘unpack’ what we learned. The trading of human souls and the abuse that flows from this constitutes a global crisis that demands attention. I feel like the raw emotion of what we saw is still largely ‘unprocessed’ in my heart and remains something for us yet to reconcile with God and ‘knowing’ people like the Crosses. The burden to play some part in bringing relief and protection to the little ones who are victims of these heinous activities, is definitely one of the keepsakes we bring home from our trip.
The other remarkable experience where our eyes were pried wide open was in discovering and appreciating the journeys of how the different missionary’s lives have converged and united for the ZOE assignment. Story after story of otherwise ‘normal’ western routine, captured by careers, comfortable in suburbia, serving in churches and all loving Jesus…and then at some point having their lives ‘arrested’ and enlisted into the mission of saving children in Thailand. As Carol Hart, cofounder of ZOE, passionately reminisced of the time she heard God’s call to her: “Hear my Cries, Love my children”. Each family represented on the ZOE team were in their own distinct and unique ways a personal affront to the life of mediocrity I feel I can sometimes slip into.
The people we met – those of ZOE, the Thai staff, and the children themselves – are remarkable examples of the very rare blend of attributes that makes one truly significant. It’s the equal portions of humility and intense resolve that keep them positioned and effective.
In Thailand, we rode elephants, visited remote villages, attended church outreaches, shared at the ZOE business school, walked the night markets and unnaturally got twisted out of shape by well-meaning Thai masseurs. They were all welcomed experiences with memorable aspects. None of them could be described as ‘defining’. However, hearing God’s voice with a Thai accent and discovering the articulate and strategic vision of ZOE to reach hurting children certainly had the life impact we were expecting.
What remains for our family is the decision of how we rise to the challenge that has been presented to us. What do we do with what we have seen? Our eyes are not blind, and our hearts are not shielded any longer. The richness of the experience compels us to change. Each person stands to make a unique contribution – not one effort being exactly the same. Different assignments; different missions; but equal obedience.

God, please don’t narrow my eyes, enlarge my stomach!


Is there an issue, or cause, that has been brought to your attention lately?
What's being placed in front of you right now which demands a response? Please share!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

When I looked through my diary at the beginning of September, anxiously searching for a 'date' to celebrate Tobi's sixth birthday; I realised what a busy few weeks were ahead.  
It was then that I decided to hastily organise his Yogi Bear picnic party and celebrate it that very weekend- two weeks early and I am so glad that I did.  
I've never pulled together a party quite so quickly but it all worked out and the kids had a blast.


You know, just this week, I have been to the airport 5 times!
Last Saturday we picked up our friends Jason and Paulina.
Wednesday morning I met our newest missionary Kaylee.
Thursday morning we dropped off our friends Jason and Paulina and then Thursday night I dropped off a short term team member after Kantoke dinner.
And then just last night I took Jessica to the airport as she is flying back to the USA for two months.
Phew... the rest of the Hawaiian short term team leave tonight, but I'm gonna give that one a miss!  Sorry guys! I'm all airport-ed out!


Interestingly though, in the busyness of it all, I have also had moments during the days (with Spencer and Eli at home this week) that were the opposite of busy... where we played endless games of Uno and blocks and made playdough creations.  Where we chilled out and watched dvds on the couch and made silly movies to send Grandy for his birthday.  And where laughter and tears and tantrums and cuddles were all mixed together... my month's been a bit like a sweet and spicy Thai dish so far! And it's not finished yet!


I wanted to share with you the following video which I found particularly encouraging.
It appealed to me not only because I love to drink coffee but also because I actually desire to enjoy my coffee.  I never want to be so caught up in 'life' that I don't live. 
So from my dirty dishes to yours; remember the simple things and don't forget to stop and smell the roses {l mean} coffee!


Have a great week,
Andie :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sixteen Newbies!

I spent an hour or so yesterday making a batch of 'Welcome' signs.
I'm so excited.
Seven weeks ago the Chong family arrived.  Joe, Yumi and their three children live just down the road from us.
We also have another two new long-term missionary families joining ZOE this month as well as a single lady, Kaylee.  
That's like, 7 new adults and 9 children {plus one baby on the way}.



And so, last night night we all waited and waited and waited...
Finally this beautiful, calm couple with 4 little ones made their way through Chiangmai customs into the welcoming arms of a very enthusiastic missionary mob.
Welcome, Ahn Family!! Sam, Susan, Joyce, Ethan, Chloe and Isaac.  We can't wait to get to know you!

By the way, when our kids found out that their three kids were the same ages as them but that they also have baby... the question had to be asked, "Why don't we have another baby so that we can be the same as them?"  
To which I replied we have a pet to look after now, referring to Tobi's new Siamese fighting fish that he got from his friend for his birthday!!  Good answer, I thought.

Ooh also, for the serious blog-readers amongst us, I have added an extra page to the menu on the left now called ZOE Missionary Blogs.  

Thanks for stopping by!
Andie:)

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...


No need to fear, my marriage is still going strong; it's a break up of a different kind that I am referring to today.
I have been a bit distracted lately.
I've been finding it difficult to concentrate on my Thai, plan what meals to cook, put my feelings down in words on this blog and generally feel a peace in certain situations.
You may know the expression:

"You're only as happy as your least happy child".

Well, despite trying to keep a joyful attitude, deep inside, this saying is very much true for me.
Our little Eliana has been going through a rough patch at kindergarten this year.  
Since school started back in August, she just has not been the same.
Unfortunately a situation of bullying in her classroom has left her... well... just not her usual happy self. 
(Did you know, bullies can come in all shapes and sizes? Even disguised as a cute, blonde haired, blue eyed 5-year-olds).

Okay, so we've prayed... and prayed... plus had numerous meetings with the school, made suggestions and tried to be patient and did I mention.... prayed!  But now we have reached a point where, although some things have improved for Eli, the honeymoon days are kind-of over and {well} we are just not sure from what we have seen, that we should have our daughter in a situation where she just gets by. 
We want to see our daughter thrive... not just survive!
And so, it is with the various options laid out in front of us that we are left having to decide whether to give it another try or call it quits before we see our happy little girl disappear even more.
I'm sorry about this not being a very "uplifting" blog post, but it's where we're at right now.  Just trying to figure out how we do life over here when 'turning a blind eye' means everything is okay. 
I want to ask:
Have any of your children been bullied?  How did you resolve the situation?  At what point do you just pull the pin and remove them from the situation?
I'd appreciate your advice!

Andie.