Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas from the RAC Office!

Merry Christmas from the girls at the RAC Office! Enjoy and God Bless!

Our Christmas

Ahh Christmas, everyone’s favourite time of year, or so they say; not one is ever the same, and they are never lacking in showing God’s love and grace. In four days we will be celebrating our third Christmas here in Chiang Mai, and we await God’s new vision of His care for us.

Moving to a new country is never an entirely pleasant experience, with leaving friends and familiar sights, but even more so when the country you are moving to is predominantly non-Christian and totally unfamiliar with anything you’ve ever experienced before. Thailand fits very well into both categories, as our previous stay in an Asian country had been in the Philippines, a mostly Roman Catholic country; not to mention the fact that most of us spoke the language there!

Least to say, holidays can be a very lonely time without friends or family. Especially considering the fact that we live in a nation that mostly does not know the Lord, and as such, we are deprived of the ‘Christmas Spirit’ that often permeates this time of year. Christmas decorations are not common place, and the lights that are seen are used to adorn spirit houses. TV specials and mall ornamentation are used to appeal to foreigners and made to make Thailand seem more ‘Western’. All of this condenses into an overall feeling of loneliness, isolation, and even alienation, as we are so different from everyone else.

But, God has shown his amazing grace in both of our Christmases here so far. With out first here we were blessed with carollers at our doorstep, not an ordinary happening in a Buddhist country. They were of course, not Thai people, but people who went to our church, but the resulting feeling was no less wonderful. In our Christmas of 2005 we were invited to not one, but two Canadian families, with one get together on Christmas Day, and the other the following. We were very surprised and did not honestly expect any such thing to happen. Two excellent examples of how God has let our Christmas time here be easier and more comfortable.

With this in mind, we are heartened and encouraged that He will bring about yet another surprise this coming Christmas. We also embolden you to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Blessings to you all, and that He will show you His exceedingly abundant everlasting love that knows no end and endures forever.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Motorcycles in Chiang Mai

Like much of South East Asia, Chiang Mai has a very large abundance of motorcycles. They are everywhere: roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and schoolyards. In fact, your average parking lot here is typically sectioned to have a fourth or fifth of its area reserved for motorcycles, also known as motorbikes.

Thinking about it, there are a lot of perks to riding a motorcycle. For one thing, to fill up a tank of gas only costs 70 baht, which, in Canadian dollars, converts to just a little over two dollars. Another thing would be the extremely simple process of parking. Wherever a firm level surface and enough room for a kickstand can be found, there lies your parking space.

Unfortunately, along with these come a worrying list of downsides that can be filed underneath the heading 'Cons'. The permit age to ride a motorbike here is sixteen, although that won't stop you from seeing up to three kids, aged ten to twelve, all speeding down the road on the same bike. There is also here, in the Kingdom of Thailand, a law that restricts the riding of motorbikes when not wearing a helmet. This can also be observed being broken daily, as half the motorists can be viewed racing past traffic, sometimes with their helmets in the bike basket, in easy reach for the upcoming traffic check by the authorities.

Furthermore, some motorcyclists are reckless, and can be seen riding on the side or middle of the road, against traffic, and speeding past red lights, or riding ahead while the light is still red. We’ve seen that almost anything can be carried on a motorbike. From bamboo poles, to dogs, to up to four children, a wide variety of various items, a few almost as large as the vehicle itself, can be seen being transported by motorcycle.

All of these facts add up to the fact that accidents are becoming regrettably more frequent. Twice in just the last 2 months we have been greeted by the tragic scene of a motorcyclist lying outstretched on the pavement, bike smashed, bystanders all around. Both incidents were seen on our morning drives to school. Both were caused by one of the first topics mentioned, the habit of driving against traffic on the side or middle of the road.

These accidents are met with much prayer for those involved, and our cries for protection of the lives caught up in all this.

We hope the government will be stricter on the implementation of their law on one way riding only and on helmets so that death and tragedies would be avoided. Until then, we can only do what we can, which is to lead by example (through only Linda rides a motorbike) and, as always, to pray.

The Mon

The Unreached People Group for this week are the Mons.

The Mon have a Mon-Khmer ethnic background, and number about one million. For such a large population, they can only be found in Myanmar and Thailand. In terms of believers, it seems that God has truly stretched his hand out to these people, 0.66% of them know Jesus although they are not being worked with.

Please pray that those few believers would grow strong in The Word and would spread it like a fire. Thank you.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek

The Thai government has opened up the Royal Flora Ratcha- phruek 2006 not too far from where we live. Since it opened on November 1, it has already received over 1 million visitors. It's a world class horticultural event in honour of the country's highly respected and loved king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. As such, the government spared no expense spending at least 2 billion baht (approx. 52 million US dollars) on 80 hectares of land. Running up until January 31st, 2007, Ratchaphruek has managed to attract visitors from all over Thailand, as well as from countries all over the world. The time span of the event conveniently spans both the 60th Anniversary of the king's Ascension to the Throne, and his 80th birthday this upcoming year.

Today is the king's 79th birthday and the whole week of December 4-10, 2006 has celebrations entirely dedicated to His Majesty. Indeed, the whole floral show is a display of honor to the king from cultural performances from 39 provinces and 10 countries, 22 corporate gardens, Sculptures, Marching Bands, Nightscape Shows, Electric (laser shows) Parade, Lanna Markets, Indoor, and Outdoor Gardens. There are 108 venues to choose from once you get to Ratchaphruek. Some have chosen to go for several days, or stay the whole day from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

To ensure that anyone who goes are wowed, satisfied, and comfortable, there are available tram rides, International Food Halls, Kids park, several Picnic Areas, and shopping stalls. Linda and our Malaysian friends had a mere 2.5 hours to spend at Ratchaphruek but they ran out of superlatives long before the 2 hours were even up. The flowers, fruit, vegetables, bushes, grass, gardens, even cacti, that they saw were all arrayed in splendour and beauty. The friends are seen below in front of a colourful profusion of bougainvilleas. We're sorry but we just couldn't do the place justice with our pics. You may want to check their website at Even better, if you can, why don't you come and see it for yourself? You'll love it!

One major downside to the Ratcha- phruek are the enormous tour buses that add to the traffic of Chiang Mai and the one time little road that we travel to school on. All around our used to be quiet neighbourhood, stores and restaurants materialized out of thin air hoping to cash in on the wonder that is Ratchaphruek.

The big question is, what becomes of all this after January 2007?

We hope to visit the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek before it closes next month. It will be fascinating to view such a vast array of God's beauty and nature in one place. Some day, we just hope and pray that it will all be for God's glory, the king of kings.

The Biao-Jiaos

This week's UPG are the Biao-Jiaos.

The Biao-Jiaos are secluded to Guangdong and Guangxi, China. There are no workers there and as such being the case, have no believers among them. There are only about 25,000 of them but each one is important to our Lord.

Please pray for the Biao-Jiaos that workers would begin to work there and that they will know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Thank you.