Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Summer in Thailand

Each summer, the community of foreigners that we know in Thailand does one of two choices: leave to go to their home country for various reasons, or stay here in Chiang Mai. This year, for the first time, we are doing the latter. Our first summer here, we went back to Davao City to get the things we left there then on to Singapore for our Orientation Course. Last year, we were back in Toronto to visit my parents.

In a couple of weeks, we'll be visiting Eng's mother in Malaysia for two weeks, but apart from this, we're home for the summer. This is a refreshing change. There is no need to rush, pack, travel, or live out of suitcases. On the negative side we don't get to visit any family or friends in the places we could be in (this is always a real treat!) but it's also good to just 'be' for a change.

It's actually perfect timing as I'll be teaching Grade One for the first time at Grace International School. Not having done it before, I've got a very steep learning curve that I need to overcome. There is a lot to do and learn. I'm so grateful that I'm able to go to school early in the morning before the kids even wake up. I've got a crash course in lesson planning, selection of activities, classroom management, classroom procedures, and even learning how to read Big Books effectively. I truly have a new appreciation for teachers now. Having helped Mrs. Austin last school year, I saw the results of the hard work she put in. Now, I do understand what the hard work feels like.

Back to the summer, we've also had our share of swimming, watching movies, hanging out in malls, eating out, or simply relaxing. Life is just as busy for Eng and I but it's great to have the boys home to spend more time with when our energy permits it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Tai Dam

'Tai Dam' in the Thai language translates roughly to 'black thai'. The Black Thai can be found in Laos, Vietnam and (of course) Thailand. They number almost approximately 1 million in number. Unfortunately, there are no records of believers among the population at this time.

Please pray with us for the workers who are trying to reach out to the Tai Dam.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Last Few Days...

Sitting here writing this blog (this is Evan) I'm only three days away from the beginning of my first trip 'alone'. Some of you know from reading our newsletter that I will soon be embarking on a missions trip to teach at a camp in Inner Mongolia, China.

I will be going with the CMCC (Chiang Mai Community Church) youth group and will be staying in China for two weeks. This adds an interesting twist to the whole thing, as I don't attend the youth group and only know two guys (the rest going are girls). Though suffice to say, I'm not all that worried about getting to know people and such.

At long last the China visa is completed, the Thai re-entry permit has been taken to the consulate and there only remains one thing left to do: pack. Yesterday was a full day of shopping and driving around. The re-entry permit was approved and things were bought for the trip. The items bought were a small bag of engraved elephant keychains, to explain to the kids at the camp about Thai culture, and a bag of coffee from the supermarket, to supplement the camp's dwindling supply. Both items were requested by the camp as optional, but we decided that we would help as much as possible.

Today will be spent packing enough clothes for two weeks, and making sure I have everything on the list they sent, ex. towel, flashlight, etc. I am actually hoping and praying that it will be very cold when we get there. It's not in my nature to really enjoy the summer weather, I just can't take the heat as well as I can appreciate the cold.

Please pray for the Lord's provision, safety and sharing opportunities as we embark on this trip. I have never been to China and honestly find it slightly embarassing that I won't be able to speak to a lot of people as I don't know Mandarin or any of the other dialects. Pray for a lot of communication between us and the 'campers' and that we will be able to affect them a lot by radiating God's glory through what we do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Shuis

The Shuis are from China in the Guangxi and Guizhou areas. Thankfully, 0.05% of the 430,000 Shuis are Christians. It's not a lot but better that than none! Let's please pray that the Lord will be able to move through those who already believe so that more can be added to their number. No one works there right now. Please ask God to send workers. Thank you.

Monitoring Recess or Lives?

Part of what I did last year as Teacher’s Aide was to be the Morning Recess Monitor at Grace International School. This meant standing watch in the playground while the Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students played for 15 minutes. It sounded easy enough. All I had to do was be there to watch the children and then blow the whistle when 10 AM came. I enjoyed being outside. It also allowed me to watch our 6 year old son Ethan interact and play with his friends. I did not have the novelty of watching my older sons as closely as I did Ethan. I particularly delighted in watching him run across the field while watching his shadow. It’s just too precious.

The Recess Monitor job itself might have been uneventful and boring if the children behaved as they did during their 1st month in school. It was nice and easy. But by their second month, they got used to each other and were soon completely unpredictable and daring. The boys were climbing anything that stood, swinging sideways, and throwing dirt at each other. I’ve had to be the ‘bad’ guy and spoil their fun in many occasions. Once, a second grader actually needed stitches when a swing accidentally hit his head. During rainy days when the children stayed in the gym, they kept running every which way and would inevitably bump into each other. With the noise level being much louder in that self contained play area, it was hard to tell when someone was crying. I actually watched the time and prayed for 10 AM during those ‘hairy’ days so I could blow the whistle.

By Songkran time (in April) I was praying for them incessantly. I remember discussing the difference in the disposition of the children with a parent volunteer helping me out. The kids were tense, impatient, and quarrelsome. The spiritual climate definitely made a difference in how they behaved and I was glad someone else saw it too. Children are so susceptible to the wiles of the enemy. I’m truly glad I helped at recess or I wouldn’t have prayed for them as much as I did. While praying I always remembered a Principal in another international school in the city who grew up as a Missionary’s Kid (MK). He does not want to have anything to do with God and strictly enforces the ‘no-sharing-of-the-gospel’ in their school. But for the grace of God, what would become of our MKs? Pffffttt!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Teaching Aide

Mrs. Austin and I with the Grade 1 Class

If I had to summarize my work as Grade 1 Teaching Aide at GIS from 2006 to 2007, I’d have to say it was a tremendous learning experience. I started out feeling very humbled with filing tasks and the monitoring of kids during recess, but now that the year is drawing to a close (school ends with a half day on June 6), I can honestly look back at the school year and say it was an eye opener for me. I am so grateful to have been helping Mrs. Natelle Austin. She’s been teaching for 20+ years and it’s surely reflected in her classroom management and teaching expertise. From her, I’ve learned how to handle kids who can’t keep their hands to themselves, who blurt out all the answers, who steal, and even those who literally have ‘accidents’ pertaining to the not-making-it-to-the-toilet-in-time kind. On top of that, it was a pleasure to watch her encourage her students and draw out the best in them. Last year the students came not knowing how to read or even identify some of the letters in the alphabet. Next school year, they will all move on to Grade 2 as readers and writers and it truly is a joy to know that we’ve been a part of their learning process. I’m grateful to have been helping in Mrs. Austin’s class. To the onlookers, it might have simply looked like I was assisting her. In reality, she also taught me valuable lessons in being an effective teacher. I am truly indebted. Thanks, Mrs. Austin!

Tai Khamtis

Just a little bit of a name change and we've got an entirely different unreached people group with the exact same statistics as last week's group. The Tai Khamtis are also from Myammar and also number 100,000. They are as well unengaged. No one works with them, no one there currently believe in our Lord. Please pray for them to have visions, dreams, whatever it takes, for them to know whom they should rely on. Thank you.