Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcoming the New Year – 2014

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Isaiah 43:18-19

Between the holidays, we were able to
              go camping at Doi Inthanon. The falls above
           was a find during one of my walks.
Today, we spent some time praying and thanking God for the first six months of 2013. Only Eli and Ethan were here to pray with us (Eng and I). This year, Evan and Eric didn’t come back to Chiang Mai to celebrate the holidays with us as they intend to be here when Eli graduates in May. We gravely missed them! Tomorrow, we hope to finish praying through the remaining six months. Earlier in the day, Eng also shared about the verses above. As we talked, we pondered on what the “new thing” may be for all of us. We speculated awhile and then prayed that the Lord would prepare our hearts for what He has in store for us. We also prayed about the possibility that we may live back in Canada in two years when our term is over. We don’t really know what our future holds. We can only trust that the Lord will lead and guide us as He’d always done.
               Up until April this year, I was happily teaching ESL classes. Then, the Lord prompted me to apply for the Student and Family Life Ministries Coordinator position at school. I even protested because I didn’t think I could do it! In the end, the Lord’s will prevailed and I got the job. There really is no point in arguing with Him! However, the Lord didn’t abandon me. Instead, He helped me and provided what I needed to do the job well. Looking back at the semester, I can honestly say I enjoyed doing the new work more than my old ESL job! Papa God obviously knew what He was doing! =)
The temperature at Doi Inthanon
               went down to as low as 2 degrees
             at night. I succumbed and made
              a heater with tea light candles, two
         clay pots, and a bread pan.
            It worked! Thanks to FB!!!
Even Eng started managing our friend’s restaurant while they were away for eight months. He hadn’t done restaurant management in the past but just like to me, the Lord proved faithful and reliable in helping him do his financial management work and the management of the restaurant. He had now done both jobs concurrently for the last six months and with the Lord’s grace, he is managing well. Best of all, I know Eng would also say he is enjoying the restaurant management even more than his management job.
Which leads me to the point I’d like to make: the Lord desires to bless us with new experiences. The newness of the experiences is difficult as we gauge for the first time, the adjustments we need to make. BUT, the Lord is, and will always be there to help, encourage, and provide for us. Most of all, as we begin to take on new roles, we actually discover the joy found in doing them. If we don’t ever step out to obey God in the new tasks He gives us, how else will we discover the enjoyment of doing those tasks? It’s a remarkable process!
As 2014 starts, we’ll do well to allow God to lead and guide us and have us just follow Him. No matter how scary the journey looks, the ride will be worth it. Our Lord knows us best and He’s always right. May we completely trust Him with our lives. I know no one will regret it.

Our family picture without Evan and Eric.
             Ethan's at left, Eli, on right

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

     Evan and Eric weren't here for Christmas as they chose instead to save their trip so they could attend Eli's graduation in May. Currently, because there was an ice storm in Toronto which affected the power to 300,000 homes, we haven't heard from them. Please pray that their Christmas celebrations will be meaningful anyway, and full of Papa God's loving orchestrations and presence. The Lord is able to bless them more than us and we trust in His unfailing love for them.
     Already on Sunday, Eric posted the following: "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." I had been wanting a guitar for a while to replace my really old classical guitar, but was wondering how I would pay for one. Today, I received one completely free and not just any guitar, an EPIPHONE. God is indescribably good. Early Christmas! https://www.facebook.com/eric.j.yeong?fref=ts
     When we finally connect with them, there would certainly be more stories of God's goodness.
     Thank you, Lord, for your grand plan and amazing love in sending Jesus. In doing so, we found a way to be saved and learned how to love. We praise you and bless you! Happy birthday! =)
12 year old Ethan, Eng, Linda, and 17 year old Eli

      From our home to yours, we wish you all a blessed Christmas and a New Year with eyes opened to the goodness and love of Papa God. May Jesus be the source of all our hope, joy, strength, and peace. And may we constantly seek the Holy Spirit's guide and help throughout the year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

God's Love

This is the banner used as backdrop for the stage. I've
been told that some Thais who attended the CITP event
heard of the Christmas story for the first time in their lives.
 For this week, I thought to post the video that I helped get recorded for "Christmas in the Park" last Saturday. "Christmas in the Park" is the school's annual community Christmas celebration. It is held outside, on the grounds of the school, hence the name. The Thai neighbors in the area where the school is in, had always been invited. This year, together with the students and families of those who studied at our school, there were about 1200 people who attended. The place was packed with people who came as early as 5:45 p.m. even though we advertised that the gate only opened at 6:15 p.m. Apart from using that event to share our faith to the Thai people, it had been used to provide a venue where we could hang out as believers, sing Christmas carols, eat baked goods and drink hot chocolate, and fellowship with one another. There really aren't very many places in Chiang Mai where we could do all that. There are less than 1% Christians (although the numbers are increasing) in Thailand
Branson Reagan and Mary Brannon perfectly played 
Joseph and Mary during the program. To make it
interactive, they played their roles even before the program
and asked guests if they knew of a place for them to stay.

 so typically, Christmas is just another day. There would hardly be any decorations indicative of the day, it would be a regular working day, and no Christmas carols are sung. So, "Christmas in the Park" or CITP had been the answer to counter the loneliness of sometimes being the only odd ones in the neighborhood wanting to celebrate Christmas. During the event, it actually rained twice - quite heavily. Although a handful left, most of the people stayed and took shelter under the mats they were sitting on, or their plastic chairs which they upturned over their heads! When the rain abated, the mats were turned upside down so that the dry parts were the ones sat on. Later, I found out from friends that we were all praying that the rain would stop so that no one would get electrocuted! We all survived without anyone getting fried and enjoyed the evening tremendously. Apparently, the unusual heavy rain was due to a passing storm in a neighboring country. Based on the downpour almost the whole afternoon of the next day, we were actually blessed that it only rained twice for short periods. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers!

This year's theme was "Love Came Down" so a 2+ minutes video was made of people answering the question of how God's love impacted or changed their lives. The video was shown during the event, specifically, after the birth of Jesus was re-enacted by actors while singers sang what was happening. It was particularly heart-warming when "Angels We Have Heard on High" was sung while angel actors in unison lifted their hands in worship. That is exactly what we should all do. If you wish to view the video, please click on this Youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WqEpxVplHI&feature=youtu.be

God's love transformed me and filled my life with joy. What about you? How has His love changed you?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Humility Pills

Because two weeks ago was very uniquely hard and because the volume of work at school had been overwhelmingly high, I was so grateful to get away for a day last week. It was extremely fulfilling and satisfying to do the familiar and just hang out with Papa God. In the end, I came home refreshed and ready to take on the work I left. I also began to understand a bit more about prayer and its power as I read a bit about Frank Laubach. He's one of the notable contemplative figures of his time. His life made me even more aware of who I am not and the ways I could do better with my prayer life. In the end, I experimented as he did, and prayed to see how the Lord answered my prayers. I got surprising results. His example of answered prayers was for his arm to be in the Lord's control during a tennis game, and then he won. After that, when he prayed for his opponent's arm to be in the Lord's control, the player did better. I thought it was worth a try to see how the Lord answered my prayers said in a similar vein.

Eli 's varsity team had their own tournament.
They placed third (like Ethan's team). Eli
played extremely well to end his soccer
season. The picture above was taken just
after Eng went over to congratulate him.
During Ethan's soccer tournament last Friday, my prayer was for the Lord to bless his legs and for the goalie to be blessed, also. When the games were done, Ethan's conclusion was that he "sucked" as a player. He missed a goal when he managed to get passed the other team's goalie. He was the only one there and it was an empty goal but instead of kicking the ball in, he kicked the ball over the goal post. Ethan is a pretty good player and that would have typically been an easy winner for him. Yet, he failed. Then, as the game ended with a tie in spite two overtime plays, they did a shootout. Each team sent players to kick the ball in the goal with the goalie there to stop it from going in. Ethan was one of those chosen. In the tension and excitement, his kick was blocked by the goalie, to his chagrin and dismay. They lost their game because of that and also because their goalie failed to stop the goals kicked his way during the shootout. On the ride home, Ethan wouldn't even let me buy him a smoothie - usually a sure way of brightening up his day! So to my initial confusion, I wondered how the Lord answered my prayer. How could that have been a blessing? Seriously? Was it? I specifically prayed for both players to be blessed and they both "messed up"? I didn't get it.

In my asking God what that was about, I was reminded of the tournament before when Ethan scored the winning goal and played extremely well. At that time, their goalie was flawless, also. Another teammate won the MVP award but one parent commented that Ethan should have gotten it. He probably could have. He's only twelve years old but was already playing for the U16 school team. But, the point I'm making is that Ethan and the goalie already had their "high" moments. What could another one just like that do for their character development? Surely, they had more to gain in being humbled?

I began to see that it was good for Ethan to learn how it felt to fail and not do well. I realized that he would automatically feel compassion for those who'd possibly miss their shootout kicks. Knowing what it feels like to fail, he'd know exactly how to encourage others. In this respect, wasn't it more of a blessing to lose? As for their goalie, my husband pointed out that in the past, he bordered on being "cocky" so the humbling was a good pill to take as well. The reality is, we could all use a bit of humility.

Thank you, Lord, for your wisdom in allowing us to have experiences where we are sometimes forced to take "humility pills". You know exactly what we need so we can become better people. I praise you for your wisdom, love, and compassion.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
John Newton (1725-1807)

It took about 4 hours to get all those decorations up!
Last Saturday, the song above was played beautifully by a cellist and a violinist during a Talent Show. Although they were high school students at the school, they played it so well that by the time they got to the last chord, some people had tears in their eyes. For me, the music made me remember the happenings of the day. In the morning, I had volunteers come to the school to decorate it for “Christmas in the Park” (CITP). CITP is an outreach to the Thai neighbours in our community so that they’ll know about the God we celebrate. It’s also the event to bless all of us who celebrate Christmas. A very small fraction of Thais know what Christmas is about so they don’t do anything to celebrate it. CITP is a community event where the true meaning of Christmas is looked at. The place is decked up for the season, carols are played, baked goods are shared, hot cocoa drank, and folks come because the Christmas spirit is there. I can still remember our first Christmas, here. The neighborhood looked dismal and there was no sign of Christmas anywhere. When the first CITP was held seven years ago, I was so thrilled! We attended it and sang and heard carols publicly for the first time!

These girls had way too much fun!
This year, as part of my new job, I’m coordinating the event so I’m learning about the amount of hard work involved in putting it together. With it just less than two weeks away, there are still LOTS of work to do! Decorating the building is a major part of the work. I didn’t know how we could pull it off but we did! I credit God for it. He’s so amazingly GOOD!

For starters, the day was overcast so we were able to work without wilting in the sun. Then, an unusual yellow and blue colored butterfly hovered and flitted about while we worked. It almost looked like God was checking out the progress of our decorating efforts and giving encouraging thumbs up to each of us.

As the volunteers arrived, I assigned them in teams and each one just took to the task at hand. I asked for a painter to touch up the paint of the Nativity figures and one person actually volunteered and did her work for four straight hours! She only stopped for a short break and was immediately back to work. She even beamed in the end about how much she enjoyed her time! It was amazing! Best of all, she did a great job! I was going to order a replacement for two figures that were torn in half but she taped them up, painted over the tape, and it looked really good when she got done!

When we finished, the rays of sun came down. =)
Eng, Eli, and Ethan, all helped, as well, and they did fabulously. They were my only men so they did the wiring, carrying, hammering, installing, etc. Afterwards, Eng said he enjoyed the work he did. They attached the words “Merry Christmas” on top of the building and it can now be seen by the whole neighborhood. The whole morning was such a testament to the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. =) He is so amazing.
By past noon, the decoration job was completed just as the very hot sun came out. More importantly, I still have energy for two more weeks of hard work to get the event to happen. Judging from the way the Lord’s been blessing us, it’ll be a glorious time. I am looking forward to it. =)

The shepherd with a staff broke in half but you
could hardly tell after it was painted