Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crying Shoes. What next?

So with all the kids in bed, I'm sitting here wondering what to do on this feeling-kind-of-lazy Sunday night.
I can see how having a television might come in handy on a night like this.  
But after much deliberation, I have decided to write a post!
It's been a good few days.  I had a wonderful Thai lesson on Thursday where my teacher shared her testimony with me for the first hour and 20 minutes and I just listened.  I love it when she diverts from the text book.
On Friday, the staff and volunteers at ZOE had a "fun day" outing where we met at Sticky Falls and played games, relaxed and climbed the lime stone waterfall.  Dave and I both felt like it was such a refreshing time and everyone enjoyed a few laughs, great food and team bonding.
Yumi and I relaxed and deep in conversation.
Group photo!
Saturday morning had me up bright and early.  
Cissy, Kaylee and I headed off at 6.30am to participate in the annual Run for Relief 5km fun run/walk.  It was a wonderful morning and I was kind of disappointed to see the finish line as I was enjoying the walk+talk so much.  Kaylee and I did muster up a last-minute surge of energy though and ran the final 100m in fits of laughter to the crowd of people who'd already finished, cheering us on.

It was such a fun morning and so great to know that all the funds raised will go to help the Internally Displaced People (IDP's) of Burma.

I have been enjoying the opportunities that I have had to be able to do more at ZOE this year. My dear friend Jessica has been here in Thailand for 5 years now and I had the privilege of interviewing her and writing a post about her experiences here for the ZOE blog.  I'm hoping you'll zip across and check it out!
For those of faith, we'd appreciate your prayers right now for the state of our air here.  At church this morning they were handing out face masks as the quality continues to worsen each day due to burning off season being in full swing.  I also received an email from Spencer and Eliana's preschool tonight saying that, until the air improves, all outdoor play will be very limited.  The weather is expected to sit at 37 degrees all this week and the haze in the sky today was very concerning.  You might recall the sicknesses that Spencer has had in the past involving his lungs and breathing; we do not wish for this to occur again.  At the moment, praise God, we are all well and have managed to avoid the last few stomach flus and colds that went around.   
We'd also like you to pray for wisdom and sensitivity for us.  We have several families that we know over here that are undergoing serious challenges right now and we want to be able to offer support and assistance to them in whatever shape or form that looks like.  
And while we're here talking about prayer requests, we always covert your prayers regarding learning to speak Thai.  
I actually need prayer for the faith (even the size of a tiny little mustard seed) to believe that I will ever "get this" language.  
David continues to make progress and is applying what he knows at any given opportunity.  He enjoyed a trip to a couple of villages last weekend and the chance to meet and converse with the locals.  
He was able to share his heart and faith (using an interpreter) with these lovely welcoming villagers who had invited the small group from ZOE and CHF (Children's Hunger Fund) in to their homes.

He did feel a bit embarrassed at one point though when the driver (who he knows reasonably well... thankfully!!) pulled him aside and quietly corrected him on something he'd said.  
During a conversation, that he'd been casually having with some of the ZOE staff earlier, he thought he was saying one thing but he'd actually been repeating something completely different... and unmentionable... poor Dave!  It was even worse than the week before when he'd told someone that he was crying shoes out his eyes!     

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bringing Back the Color

So my "official"-go-in-to-the-office work day is a Friday.
Dave works from home and does the school and preschool pick ups and I head in to the children's home.  One word: FUN!
A couple of weeks ago, when I was in, the children had a day off school and were enjoying decorating one of the concrete landings with their chalk creations.
I smiled as I watched them from the balcony outside my office {okay so it's really just a room with several people's desks... and I sit at Dave's desk.... but still} and I had to smile as I saw them grab a mop when they were done with their picture, wash it away and start again.
It kind of got me thinking and inspired the blog, Color of Love that I wrote for the ZOE Children's Home blog. 
If you want to check it out, you can read it over there.
And I haven't forgotten that I need to update this site too.  I am working on a post- a reflection from something that happened to Dave in a village on the weekend, but I have to go and finish my Thai homework {insert deep breath here and the words "think positive Andrea"} BUT I will be back here soon with more updates.
I hope you're having a great week! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feeling Thirsty?

Thinking about stopping in at 7-ELEVEN on the way home to grab a snack or a Coke?
Check out this post I wrote for the ZOE Children's Home blog.
It's all about how a 7-ELEVEN store can remind us about child trafficking and speaking up for those little ones who cannot fight for themselves.
If you’ve been touched by the work going on at ZOE or if you’ve seen or read or heard or experienced something that affected you, then go on and share THIS one with others.
Will you?
You have the potential to share what ZOE is doing with an audience that we cannot reach – your friends, family, work colleagues, sports team, mothers’ group, church, school and neighborhood.
You can create awareness about the atrocities of human trafficking, child trafficking and modern day slavery.
You can address these issues through your Facebook page, your blog, your local newspapers or any other link to mass media that you have.
Go on!  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

BUT What If I’m Not Good Enough?

[just some thoughts and hopefully some encouragement 
for you as you go about your day] 

My son Tobi did some standardized testing last week at school.  Monday was the 100th day of school but then on Tuesday, the testing began.
Not surprisingly, due to his temperament and personality, as Monday bed time approached, the thoughts of the testing the next day sparked some uncertainty followed by a bout of uncontrollable sobbing,
“What if I don’t do well?” 
“Will my teacher still like me?”
“What if everybody else does better than me?”
“Will you and Daddy still love me?”
… and it went on!

Actually I felt kind of prepared because it was a repeat of the 
night-before-athletics-day just weeks earlier.

I learnt a lot during the years when I was a teacher.
There were moments that impacted me back in my early twenties that I still think about regularly nowadays, more than ten years later.

When I was teaching, interviews with parents weren’t my favorite times of the year; however, they were a good way of gaining valuable insight into the lives and backgrounds of my students. 
Whilst teaching Grade 3 one year, I remember all the parents filing in one after the other, keen to hear how their child was doing and being interested to see where their academic achievements fitted on the bell curve.
One interview was DIFFERENT though, and it remains stuck in my memory all these years later.  It happened during a conversation that I had with the mother of a sweet little boy I taught named Matt.
Each interview prior, the parents had asked me questions only surrounding their child’s academic progress, test results etc … until this parent.
Matt’s mother came in and began asking questions like,
“Is he being kind to the other kids?”
“Is he polite to you?”
“Is he happy and cheerful in class?”

I believe the memory of that interview has stayed with me all this time because it highlighted to me the importance of growing and developing the whole child. 
It has reminded me over the years, to keep checking the messages that I convey to my own children about what’s really important. 
That 'working on' our heart, our attitudes and our reactions takes just as much (if not more) time, as working on our times tables and our spelling words.

I’m not saying that academic achievements are not important or that kids shouldn’t strive to reach certain goals, but instead of focusing on how “fast” my children run, I try to remind them that what makes me most proud is when I see them cheering on their friends, high-fiving their house/team members and learning how to react when they miss out on getting first place.

I desperately want to teach my children that they have value, that they were created in the image of God and that they do not need to look to the world to validate them or determine their worth. Psalm 139 

That standing up for what is right, speaking up when someone has been unfairly treated, showing compassion, respect and integrity are areas that need constant practice but that they can get good at!

So often we can look at our own short comings and think, “Well I’m not the best writer, so I won’t write”, “I’m not the best at speaking Thai, so I won’t speak”, “I’m not the best… so I won’t even try”.
How often do we reject or limit ourselves by concluding that if we can’t be the best then we simply won’t try?   {I’m guilty}
Well I’m here to say that I have many shortcomings.  I’m definitely not the best mother, or missionary, cook, friend or wife…  I know that are women out there that do a much better job at these things than I do, but does that mean that I should just cast aside these tasks and never try?
Isn’t it exciting when, as a parent, you get glimpses of your own children’s potential for making a difference and impacting those around them?  I believe that God sees in us that same wonderful potential that we each represent, the hope that we bring to the world and the differences we can make by just being ourselves.  

Oh and by the way, Happy Valentines Day!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

An Adventure

If you didn't get to see this when we were back in Australia last year then....
Come on an adventure with us!

If you couldn't catch all the words to that song "Human" by Natalie Grant, I have pasted them below:

Every life has a choice
To rise up to fill the void
Every heart has a mission
And we are called to be human
We gotta do better than this 
'cause we only got
One chance to make a difference
We gotta do better than this 
'cause we only got
One life that we've been given
A little love, a little kindness
A little light in this time of darkness
It'll be what makes us different
It'll be what makes us human
I'm human, you're human, we are human
We are marked with His image
And we are scarred with indifference
Maybe now we should listen
Hear the cry of God's children
We gotta do better than this 
'cause we only got
One chance to make a difference
We gotta do better than this 
'cause we only got
One life that we've been given
A little love, a little kindness
A little light in this time of darkness
It'll be what makes the difference
It'll be what makes us human
I'm human, you're human, we are
We are human
I'm human, you're human, we are
We are human
Gotta do better than this 
'cause I only got
One chance to make a difference
Gotta do better than this 
'cause I'm only just one
I'm human, you're human, we are
We are human
I'm human, you're human, we are
We are human
It'll be what makes the difference
It'll be what makes us human

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

100 days!

the joys of school, work, exercise and language... 

School: Well, just as my fellow Australians are beginning school for the year, we celebrated the 100th day of school here on Monday!
I enjoyed a wonderful morning at Tobi's school helping out with the "100 day" themed activities for the second year in a row.  I felt like I could've done with about a hundred hours sleep by the end of it though- I'd forgotten how exhausting it can be in the classroom LOL.
Which brings me to my next bit of news.  That I have volunteered to be a class helper on a Monday afternoons now in Grade 1.  I'm kind of excited about this because there's still a big chunk of my heart that loves being in the classroom and I think one afternoon a week might just be enough to fill that little void!

Work: I am dedicating more time this year to writing for the ZOE Children's Home blog, so if you are interested in reading more about all the "official" ZOE news, be sure to keep visiting that site too.  In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing a bit more about what we're doing at ZOE this year too.  I'll also be starting to plan our mid-year trip back to Australia soon so please begin to think about whether your group, church, school or men's/women's ministry would like us to come and share.  We are happy to talk about our experiences ministering and living in a foreign country, as well as our passion relating to helping children in need. 

Exercise: Did you watch the ZOE Rescue Walk clip? I would, of course, be so into this if it was happening in Australia or Thailand so for all the American readers of this blog (who live near by) go and join a team!!  Growing up, I always loved running and sports but, I guess, after Spencer was born I really didn't make regular exercise a priority in my day and my fitness really spiraled down hill.  Last year, in about April or May though, I began to exercise.  It was one of my goals last year to get more fit and (besides the few times when I had been sick) I pretty much exercised every week-day for the remainder of the year.  

Well, I am excited now because in a couple of weeks time, I am going to attempt to participate in the 8th Annual Run For Relief.  It's a 5km run/walk to raise awareness for the million villagers in Burma, for whom running is not a choice.  I'm going to join with some of the other ZOE missionaries and people all around the world choosing to run for our brothers and sisters in Burma.  I had my first "practice" run/walk last night.  I usually only run/walk about 3km but last night I attempted to push myself further and I barely survived {I mean} I did it!  I still have a couple more weeks left to increase my fitness so I'll let you know how I go.

Language: I have a new Thai teacher!  I'm still at the same language school but I've been swapped to a new teacher.  I would've been happy to stay with the beginners teacher for a few more years but the change is stretching me so I guess that's a good thing- it had to happen!  This teacher is a lot more conversational... like deep, real-life conversations! I'm currently picking up about every tenth word she says and trying to piece it all together in mind.  She even had me write a story for my first homework assignment, which in English I would've loved but in Thai... not so easy.  I did get it done though and she was actually very encouraging towards my attempt.  So whilst I leave the two-hour class with a massive headache from concentrating so hard and I can already feel even more of a love/hate relationship coming on, I am hopeful that this new style of teaching will be good for me.  Isn't that just true of so many areas of our life- no pain... no gain, right?      
A big heart-felt "congratulations" to all the new Preppies who began school over the past week in Australia too, in particular my gorgeous niece Bella.
Have a great week,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happiness On A String

When was the last time you flew a kite?  I can’t remember the last time I did, but I do remember flying them as a child.
Kite making and flying are certainly a lot of fun, but have you ever stopped to think about some of the other mental, emotional and physical advantages of kites?
Kaylee, a volunteer here at the ZOE Children’s Homes, recounted a wonderful story that I just had to share.
I wrote about it at on the ZOE CHildren's Home blog.  Click here to read it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

ZOE Rescue Walk

Let us know your feedback.  
This first walk is happening in America, but we'd appreciate your feedback on the concept.