March 30, 2007

The tourney

When I lived in Canada, I was a die-hard college basketball fan. I watched as much b-ball as possible. Since moving to Thailand, I have had trouble staying up with the college game but still faithfully enter my March Madness picks online. When I lived in Canada, I never did very good but I have discovered the key to selecting a good bracket. Don't watch any games. Just pick on instinct and pick which team sounds better. That's what I did this year, as a result, I selected 7 of the 8 elite 8 teams right and got 3 of the final 4 teams correct too. I picked Florida to win the final over Ohio State but I am cheering for Georgetown, the one team I didn't get right. Why? Because Syracuse was robbed and I want to the Big East to win for them!!

Big Guy in a Little Shirt

I don't know how many of you have ever seen the movie Tommy Boy, but it was a movie I watched like 50 times when I was in high school. No matter how many times I watched it, it made me laugh. Earlier this week I made a small "fou-pau" and as it was happening, I kept seeing flashbacks of this movie. There is a scene in the movie where Chris Farley puts on David Spade's suit jacket. Chris was a big, big man, David is a little man. Once Christ got the jacket on, he pranced around singing, "Fat Guy in a Little Suit". In the end the suit jacket ripped.

Earlier this week I went to work out at the gym. After working out I showered and began to get dressed but I had a hard time getting my shirt on. It was then that I realized that I had grabbed Tawm's shirt instead of mine. Tawm is a lot smaller than me. In Thailand I wear an XL, Tawm wears an S. Because of my small fou-pau, I had to make a difficult decision. I could either put my old, smelly, stinky workout shirt on, I could walk out with no shirt or I could wear Tawm's shirt. It was an easy decision, I chose the last option and put on Tawm's shirt. As I walked out, I sucked in my belly, walked past all the people exercising and successfully made it to the truck without anyone noticing (at least as far as I could tell). I then drove and got a new shirt. As this all happened, all I could think of was that song. The final outcome was a little different, I didn't rip Tawm's shirt, I just streched it big time.

March 29, 2007

Pray for Benz

We ask that you would pray for Benz... not a Benz, but Tawm's cousin Benz. Benz is Air's son, Tawm's aunt who accepted Christ last year. Benz is also Naang's nephew, Tawm's aunt who accepted Christ last year and was baptized last Sunday. Sunday was a special day for Naang, but at the same time a little sad because Benz began serving as a Buddhist monk on Saturday. Benz is about 15 years old and is fulfilling his cultural duty by serving as a monk. Thai's believe that when a young man becomes a monk, he improves his mother's chances at a better next life. Although Air didn't want him to do it, the rest of his family did and so he obeyed his family. Benz comes to church pretty regularly, pray that as he serves as a monk, he would see the emptiness of Buddhism and fulfillment of Christianity. Benz will only be serving as a monk for 15 days, plenty of time to discover the truth.

March 28, 2007

Flying by the seat of your pants...

The past few days have been filled with a few firsts in my life. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to baptize for the first time. On Monday, I performed part of a wedding for a former student at CRBS, something I had never done before. Someone told me that I might have to preach, so I was prepared to do that. When I got to the village, I found out that they wanted me to do the wedding ceremony, not preach. I wasn't prepared for that at all, but like anyone would do in my situation, I did it anyways.

The whole ceremony was quite funny. I knew the bride, but had never met the groom. I asked a number of people what the groom's name was and no one knew. So I performed the ceremony not knowing the groom's name!! I did the vows in English because I didn't want to mess up this special day. Tawm translated the vows into Thai and then we discovered that the groom didn't understand Thai. So Tim, our secretary, had to translate into Karen. Everything went smoothly and we all returned to our seat. After one of the villagers finished his part of the ceremony, he asked us to sing a song with the guitar. No one had talked to us before, the guy didn't even know if I played the guitar, he just assumed I did. Again, I accepted, but I had no idea what to sing. I don't listen to love songs very much and I definitely don't know any on the guitar. Tawm drew a blank too. We stood in front of everyone trying to figure out what song to sing. Finally, I decided to sing a worship song in English, that way the people would have no idea what I was singing about and they would think it was a English love song. As I sang, I couldn't believe this was happening, I forgot some of the words and just made them up but the audience had no idea. When it was all finished, the audience gave a loud applause. I thought to myself, if they only knew.

A word of advice... If you are planning on being a foreign missionary, be prepared for these kinds of things to happen. Be prepared to fly by the seat of your pants. The Bible says to be ready in season and out of season. In Thailand that can mean all sorts of things.

March 27, 2007

A Great Sunday

This past Sunday was awesome. We had 37 people in church on Sunday, only one short of our record attendance. Even better than that was that 32 of them piled into 5 trucks and we headed out to a river to have a baptismal service. Before the baptisms we had a picnic in which everyone brought their own food to share. Everyone had to cross the river in order to get to the place we had a picnic, many people were wet before the baptism service even started!! The kids had fun playing in the river as we ate and after we finished eating, we walked up the river to a deeper area to do the baptisms. Three people were baptized. We were supposed to baptize 4 but one person was sick and couldn't make it so we will baptize him at a later time. Everyone was excited as we haven't had a baptism service in a little while. I was excited as it was the first time I had an opportunity to baptize people.

I learned a valuable lesson too. One of members walked around the river looking for a deep spot. He found a spot that was pretty deep and we decided to baptize there. When it came to the time that we were going to baptize, I had each candidate share their testimony as we had a number of people in attendance that weren't saved. While one person was sharing their testimony, I felt around in the water to make sure everything was okay. I quickly discovered a sharp jagged rock sticking up out of the ground, right where the baptism candidate would have been baptized. After the person finished their testimony, we moved to another spot a few feet away and everything went very smoothly. Pray for Samson, Naang and Grataay who decided to follow the Lord in baptism.

March 23, 2007

He's back!!

Guess grandpa didn't eat him last time.

Preaching: How to Preach Biblically

When we were at seminary in Texas, my homiletics teacher, Lawerence Thompson, recommended that I try to read some books on preaching. Up until last week, I hadn't done that, but last week I started reading John MacArthur's book, Preaching: How to Preach Biblically. I have only read a few chapters so far. The first couple chapters were a little dry but the chapter, The Man of God and Expository Preaching was awesome and it really challenged me. If you are preacher in a rut preaching wise, I'd recommend this book.

Here are a few quotes from that chapter.
"It is no great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus."

"A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister does on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more."

"[A man of God] has to proclaim God's message, not what he thinks will sell."

"The man of God is desperate, because of the tremendous weight of responsibility his ministry entails, yet he is relaxed because of his confidence in the sovereignty of God."

March 22, 2007

Study Partner

Most of Saturdays here in Thailand are spent going over and over my Sunday sermon. I also spend time preparing my Sunday school lesson too. Many Saturdays I spend time outside preparing for Sundays, that is if it isn't too hot. Often times I am joined by my friend. He comes sits and listens to me prepare. I haven't come up with a name for him yet, if you got any suggestions let me know.
Sorry the picture is a little blurry. By the time I got back with my camera, the lizard had moved and when I approached him to get a better picture, he ran away. The picture still shows that he or she is kinda cute.

March 21, 2007

Facing Giants

Yeah, I know, I am probably a little behind the times, but wanted to give a hearty recommendation to the movie, "Facing the Giants". It has probably been out for awhile in North America, but it just came out here. If you haven't seen it, I recommend seeing it. It is a little cheesy in places but the message is great and the movie is clean. The movie is a good watch even if you aren't interested in football or if the word football makes you think of the World Cup and Brazil hoisting another trophy.

March 20, 2007

Boy Luang Festival

This past weekend, I was treated to a rare treat called the Boy Luang Festival. It is a festival that occurs only in Chiang Mai and it hardly ever occurs. Tawm's mom said that it has happened only 2 or 3 times in her lifetime. The festival occurs when a new temple is built in the community or some other Buddhist building is built. This time, the festival occurred in our village because the temple near our house built a new pagoda (see picture below if you aren't sure what a pagoda is).

The festival is a great idea. It would be a great way to raise money for things in North America, it’s just too bad that this festival occurs for secular reasons. During this 3 day festival, people in the neighborhood turn their houses, usually their front yards, into restaurants. Each family serves different kinds of food and when people come to eat, the diners pay for their meal. The money earned doesn't pay for the meal, but the host family offers that money to the temple to pay for the building. The pagoda that was built costs more than 50,000 US dollars.

Along with that, people make or buy small money trees (see picture below). The flowers are made of paper and they attach money to the tree to offer to the temple. Afterwards, the villages gather together to parade down the street to bring their money to the temple as a way of making merit and improving their chances at a better next life. As people parade, they beat drums, clang cymbals and dance. It is a very joyous occasion for all that participate.

The thing that is peculiar (at least to me) is that as people do these things to make merit, people don't follow some other major Buddhist rules. Buddhism strictly forbids drinking alcohol (although you wouldn't know that if you came to Thailand), however most people drink lots of alcohol during the festival, even as they parade to the temple. As I watched, I saw a man kick a dog as he paraded. Again Buddhism teaches not to harm animals. Strict Buddhists are vegetarians and won't kill any kind of animal, including insects. Lastly, many girls were very scantily dressed as they parade to the temple. Although there's no rule against this, Buddhism teaches people put aside all desires but women dressed like that makes it hard for some men to do that. Buddhism is a religion of works. If your good works outweigh your bad, you can have a better next life. During this festival, although a lot of money was raised, it looked like there was more sins that occurred than good works and these were special days, I wonder what that says for other days in people's lives??

Like most things that happen in Thailand, things seem to contradict each other and this festival was no different.
Money does grow on trees in some parts of the world!!!
This is what a pagoda looks like in case you weren't sure what I was talking about.

March 16, 2007

Smokin' Hot

Cool season is definitely over here, the temperatures are rising daily as we aproach April, the hottest month of the year. Although it may be hard to tell from the picture, we are having gloomy weather. It looks like it is going to rain or it feels like the fog is going to vanish anytime but the gloominess stays because it is from smoke, not clouds or fog. Chiang Mai has been covered with smoke from fires that have been burning out of control in other provinces. There is more smoke here in the city than on top of the mountain where people are burning their crops. We usually have a few smoky days this time of year as farmers burn off their old crops to plant new ones, but never like this year. Even the Thai people are complaining that this year is so bad. I can't wait to see the sun again...

March 15, 2007

New Village and New Experiences

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I had an opportunity to go to the village again. I was there for the students graduation. Two students finished a 4 year Bible course and another 2 students have finished a 2 year Bible course. We had a great time of prayer, worship and discussion about the school as well.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to travel to another village called Mae Khii Mook. This village only has a Catholic church. Samson (in the orange coat) and Johnson (a second year student) have been travelling to this village every Sunday for the past couple months to teach. He has a group of about 10 people gathering every Sunday. The older couple pictured is the first Christian couple in the village. They have really enjoyed Samson's teaching and hungering for more. We are excited about he work Samson is doing there.

After we went to the village, I brought some students back to their village. It was the worst road (if you want to call it that) that I have been on. It had huge rocks, huge pot holes and anything else you can think of on the road. I am so thankful for a four wheel drive truck because we wouldn't have made it if it weren't for 4L. I would have stopped to take a picture of the road and the view because the view was awesome and the road awesome in another way, but I was to scared to stop the truck and not be able to get going again. Roads to the mountain top villages are not always very good. This road however was horrible. After getting to the village, the students told me that this was the back way into the village. It was a shortcut that motorbikes usually use. After we got to the village the road we went back on was paved for most of the way which made me very thankful.

March 12, 2007

Suitable Church Visitor?

This past Sunday we were thrilled to have 7 first time visitors come to church along with 3 second time visitors. A number of our regulars were missing and so we didn't break any attendance records but it was great to see all the visitors.

One of the people that came was "Boy". M, one of our church members, brought him. M has met Boy several times at the restaurant that M works at. Although they don't know each other well, M asked if we wanted to try coming to church. Boy replied, sure. After services, M drove Boy home and returned for Antioch's prayer meeting. M pulled me aside and said that he just found out that Boy lives with a girl and drinks alot. Is it okay that he brought Boy to church? I smiled and reassured M that wasn't a problem and told him to continue inviting people no matter who they are. Jesus ministered to people that had problems, not the ones that thought they had everything together. Pray that Boy will return again.

March 10, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

Tawm and I have been really busy this past week and this coming week will be very busy too. Rusty and Susan are in New Zealand for a conference and Tawm and I have had to teach their English classes in their absence. Tawm and I appreciated Rusty and Susan before they left, but sometimes you don't realize how much you appreciate people until they are gone. This past week, my appreciation for them has grown and I am so thankful that they are part of the work that is happening here in Chiang Mai.

This coming week, I am going to head out to the village for Church Revival Bible School's graduation. I am leaving Tuesday morning in order to make it for a picnic in the jungle. Wednesday they are supposed to be taking me to Mae Khii Mook Village where some former Bible School students are trying to plant a church. Thursday is graduation. It should be a good time, I am excited about it but a little nervous as it is my first time travelling out to the village all by myself and I will be out there longer than I have ever been out there before. Tawm will be staying in the city to teach some special English classes for kids that are out of school for summer break. We have made some new contacts already and hope it will be a good way to establish new relationships with people too. Please pray for my safety and that God's Will would be done in the village. Pray for Tawm as she teaches English and most importantly, pray for the salvation of souls.

March 08, 2007


When my team first made their huge 8 player trade, things didn't look very good. However, the new acquistions surprised me and have played quite well. However the Pacers have lost a whole bunch in a row, are fighting for their playoff lives and even if they make the playoffs (which looks doubtful right now), they don't look to put up much resistance to the better teams in the league. I am still hoping that things will turn around, but things look very gloomy in Pacerland

March 03, 2007

Blind Faith

This coming Monday, Tawm and I have to make another trip to the border in order to renew my visa (hopefully for the last time). Monday is also a national holiday called Makha Bucha Day. It is a Buddhist holiday.

Since returning to Thailand, I have had the opportunity to teach Daeng English. Daeng is a lawyer in his mid 40's. We have gone to play badminton, Daeng came to our Christmas outreach and even came to vacation Bible school one day. Daeng is very religious. He goes to the temple regularly, tries not to eat meat, and does other good things hoping to improve his chances at a better next life. On Friday, I talked to him about what he would be doing on Makha Bucha Day. He told me he was going to go to the temple, listen to the monk's sermon and give food and clothing to the monks. He was traveling to a temple that had over 300 stairs to climb in order to get to the temple (I guess that increases their merit). Daeng told me it was an important Buddhist holiday. I asked him what Makha Bucha Day was in celebration or commeration of and his reply was, I don't know.

Since coming to Thailand, this is one of the things that I have noticed. Al;though statistics say that Thailand is about 94% Buddhist, most people are not very religious until they get older. Those who are religious have no idea why they do what they do. This is truly blind faith.

Makha Bucha Day

Here is what Makha Bucha Day commemorates:

Thai Buddhists celebrate three major holy days each year which commemorate events in the Buddha's lifetime having to do with the formulation of his teachings, which are the basis of Theravada Buddhism. One of these, called Makha Bucha, is celebrated on night of the full moon of the third lunar month, which usually corresponds to February, and is an observance of two unexpected events in the Buddha's forty-four years of teaching which occurred on the same day. (February 29 is the day of observance in 2002.)

The first occurred nine months after the Buddha had been expounding his doctrine for seven months only. Of his 1,340 disciples, 1,250 of them the Buddha laid down the three main principles of his religion in the Patimokka, of the 'monk way', which crystallize the wisdom of all the Buddhas that came before. These are:
1. Give up evil and refrain from sinning.
2. Cultivate good - and make merit
3. Cleanse one's mind.

He also admonished his disciples to be good teachers to the laity based on the following precepts :-
1. They should be patient
2. They should teach the laity to be peaceful
3. They should be optimistic and not offend others.
4. They should reach goodness in correct ways.
5. They should be disciplined
6. They should be humble
7. They should concentrate on doing useful things.

The second unusual event occurred on the same day forty-five years later. The Buddha foresaw that due to the state of his health his attainment of Nirvana, or escape from the cycle of rebirths, was approaching within three months. On that day, he formulated and preached his Dhamma about the responsibility of an individual or organization. These are that a person should:
1. enjoy work or responsibility,
2. be diligent in work,
3. concentrate on the job while working,
4. check all unfinished work thoroughly.

On the three lunar holy days which include Makha Bucha Thai Buddhists gather at the temple at sunset to Wian Tian, or to circumambulate the Bhote, or the major religious structure in the temple complex where monks are ordained, while holding a lighted candle, temple building are people's way of showing respect to what is called the "triple gem", which is the Buddha himself, his teachings and doctrines, and the monk hood he founded.

March 02, 2007

The Turtle that beat the Hare

When you live in another country, you often see things that are a little different than home, but this isn't different, it is just plain strange. There are a lot of animals that I could see a person taking for a walk. Dogs. Cats. Horses. Monkeys. But turtles? Rusty's neighbor has a multitude of pets, one of which is a good sized turtle (maybe its a tortoise). Every day she brings her turtle out for a walk to get a little exercise and the turtle always attracts a crowd. I haven't figured out why she does this, but that is a question that you can't always get answers to when you live overseas. But the lady is faithful in walking her turtle

We have all heard the story of the turtle that beat the hare because the hare fell asleep. Most of think a turtle and a 3 toed sloth would make for an interesting, all be it, a long race. This turtle would blow a 3 toed sloth out of the water. I am pretty sure it could probably beat a hare even if the hare didn't fall asleep. Although Guiness book says that world record speed for a turtle is .23 mph, Guiness hasn't been to Rusty's village. This turtle just doesn't move, it flies. Blink and it's gone, it is amazing. I guess that is why Thailand's slogan is "Amazing Thailand".

March 01, 2007

The New Us

Yesterday Tawm and I signed up at a local fitness center so that we could start working out. Last year while we were doing deputation in America, I gained over 30 pounds and since coming back I have lost 20 pounds, but for the past few months, I hadn't lost any weight. This morning was the first day that we worked out and I am feelin' sore already. We have wanted to exercise more, but with our busy schedules, it was always the thing we neglected to do. Since becoming a member costs money, we figure it will give us more incentive to exercise, plus there are no dogs nipping at your heals as you jog or bike by. Hopefully, I can get back to my desired weight.

(By the way, that's not me in the picture, one day of exercise doesnt' help that much)