Grace’s team will partner with Zoe International, working with children at an orphanage and with older students and young adults being trained for ministry. Zoe International rescues children who are at risk of or have been victims of human trafficking. The team will also serve a few days at The Garden of Hope, reaching out to the community of the red light district in Chiang Mai.
Updated Tuesday, August 30
The Thailand team arrived home last night after a long but uneventful flight from South-East Asia, grateful for all that God did and grateful for your prayers. Plan to attend the Summer Mission Celebration on Sunday, September 18, to hear first-hand about their ministry!
Updated Sunday, August 28
E-mail from Helena
Thursday evening, we joined the ZOE Ministry Students (ZMS)
and split into teams of 4 and converged on the city to pass out tracts to the
tourists and locals. As we smiled
and said “Sawatdee Kaa” (as females) or “Sawatdee Khrab” (as males), it was
amazing to watch the reactions!
The Thai people would smile, greet us in return and take the tracts we
were offering. When we passed
these same people later, I was quite pleased (and shocked) to see the people
reading the tracts! It was
estimated we handed out about 1,000 tracts!
Friday morning we were transported to ZOE to prepare for a
school outreach. There is a
Buddhist school just down the road from ZOE and ZOE invited the students to
come for an afternoon of fun!
About 45 students (with their teachers) came and had a total blast
participating in games and activities such as ring toss, face painting, balloon
animals, bowling, Frisbee tossing, fishing for prizes, and crafts (making
pencil toppers out of chenille pipe cleaners and coloring a self portrait to
put in a foam frame). What a joy
to watch these kids have fun just being kids for a few hours. At every venue we’ve served at, as the
children leave, they are given a “goodie” bag. These bags contain what you & I would consider “junk”
food. But, because the poverty
level is so high here and what our kids consider as a staple in their diet,
these sweet kids do not have the opportunity to partake in such luxuries very
often (if at all).
Friday night was another of our team’s favorite ZOE
nights! On Friday nights, the
whole ZOE family gathers in their worship room for a time of worship and praise
in both English and Thai. After a
time of singing, three students gave a word of encouragement. The first was a little boy who is 5
years old. He said that he can’t
read yet but he loves to listen to God’s Word. He challenged each of us to read our Bibles daily. He was so cute & everyone clapped
for him. He then sternly told us
“I’m NOT finished yet!!!” I do
believe a preacher has been born!
Each student who shared has a back story that none of us knows – but God
has brought them to ZOE for a specific reason and they are being raised in the
knowledge and nurture of our Lord & Savior. In fact, this can be said about each and every ZOE resident.
Saturday morning we had the privilege of holding another
carnival – this time for the ZOE kids and about 45 students from a local school
where the ZOE kids attend. All
these students are orphans. What a
ZOO – but what a joyous time!!! The hour that the carnival was held went by
During lunch, we were shown a video about the problem of
human trafficking, not only here in Thailand, but around the world. There was so much information given
that I can’t go into it here; but, if you are interested, talk to any of our
team members – we would be more than happy to share about this very disturbing
“industry” and what you can do to help stop it.
Our time here in Thailand is quickly coming to an end. We have one more full day where we will
wrap up, debrief and say our good-byes to new and old friends. We leave Monday morning (Thailand time)
and arrive home in LA Monday evening (CA time).
Updated Thursday, August 25
E-mail from Helena
After checking out of the hotel this morning, we traveled to
ZOE and broke into two teams. One team
of 9 started preparing the food for a BBQ dinner. The other 4 members painted a couple of rooms
that needed to be updated. As you can
well imagine, having approximately 40 students, 30 house parents, staff, and
the children utilizing the home, there are always repairs & refurbishments
that need to be done.
The ZOE ministry students and staff cooked the dinner. This meal was a treat for the ZOE
kids!!! You who gave so generously to
our team made this banquet possible.
Because ZOE’s budget is tight, luxuries like lots of meat do not happen
very often. It was our pleasure to purchase
this banquet for the ZOE people and serve it to them. I saw one little 4 year old girl put more
food away than most high school boys I’ve seen!!! I’m still not sure where she put it all but
her sweet tummy sure looked full when she was done!
After dinner, we all gathered around the huge fry pan that
ZOE uses. One of the ZOE staff members
caught a HUGE one and put it in her dresser drawer until she could fry it up
for James to eat! SO . . . with many of
us watching and groaning, and cheered on by many of the ZOE children, the bug
was dropped into the hot oil. When it
was determined it was probably crispy enough, the bug was scooped up out of the
oil & cooled off. James then, with
many cameras at the ready, bit it in half, chewed, swallowed and popped the rest
in his mouth. He said it wasn’t too
bad! Many pictures were taken so stay
tuned for photos!!!
It’s now Wednesday night and we are all exhausted – mostly
emotionally! This morning we were able
to go to a government school and present our outreach there. ZOE is invited into these schools on a
regular basis. As the Gospel message was
presented, I observed one young man pointing to his hands like the deaf sign for
Jesus and then to his feet and then he spread his hands out and hung his head
as if he was Jesus dying on the cross.
My thought was that, although this is a Buddhist school, somewhere,
sometime this young man has heard the story of Jesus’ crucifixion!
Then tonight came one of the most powerful nights I have
EVER experienced (since last year, anyways).
ZOE dedicates one night as a prayer meeting. Since the Thai people are naturally very shy
around others, ZOE has learned that if they turn the lights down low and turn
the music up loud, the kids will pray.
Now Thai style of praying is totally different than the USA! Thai prayer is where everyone prays out loud
at the same time. So, we enter the worship
room and the ZMS students and some older kids are sitting, standing, prostrate
on the floor – all praying out loud. We
join them and, one by one, students start coming up to us. Four of the most powerful, humbling words are
“I pray for you!” Here are students
living on campus and studying and kids living in a children’s home who want to
pray for ME!!! Some of the children have
seen and experienced things we cannot even imagine (nor do we want to). We have come to bless and serve them and they
end up blessing us in ways that I cannot adequately express. I literally spent most of the hour in humbled
tears. I haven’t cried that much since
last year! It was more than a 5 hanky
Updated Tuesday, August 23
E-mail from Helena
WOW! What an experience traveling up into the hills of Thailand. We left Chiang Mai mid-morning on
Sunday, heading north. As we started traveling up the hillside, the road became less traveled and more windy and narrow. The last hour or so of our trip was
accomplished completely off road, at times with no room on either side for any
margin of error! There were a few moments of “fun” as each
vehicle traveled through a particularly muddy section of “road”, fishtailing
though that patch. There is no way we
could have done this with regular vehicles.
After we arrived, we were split up into teams of two and,
accompanied by Zoe Ministry Students, we started out to door-to-door
visitation. Since none of us speak Thai,
the Zoe students would get the conversation going and we would talk, they would
translate, the people would answer and the Zoe student would translate
back to us. At the end, we would give
each resident a “goodie” bag filled with chips, nuts, cookies and other snack
type foods. We also asked the people how
we could pray for them. The majority of
the Karan people are devout Buddhists.
They had no problem with us praying for them, but they asked that we did
not try to push our religion on them. We also invited the family to the meeting at
the church that night.
The church meeting that night was a beautiful one with many
people attending who do not normally come to that church. Apparently a team of white people was a huge
Monday morning we stayed in the same village and a group of
about 120 elementary students came over for a special day. The Zoe Ministry Students led most of the
assembly by leading songs and some crazy exercise type games. Our team sang our team song “Our God Saves”
and performed the drama we’ve been practicing for several months. A Zoe Ministry Student gave a message and an
altar call. We saw most all of the
students respond to this offer to learn more about Jesus! The students were then invited to go sit with
one of the Zoe students, where an EvangeCube was used to further explain what
Jesus did for each of them. Preliminary count is that 62 students made a profession of faith in Christ that day – and these students are at a Buddhist
school!!! The prayer now is for those Christ-followers
in this village to follow up with these children.
We are now back in Chiang Mai and will rest tonight before
returning to Zoe tomorrow for a work day and BBQ with the Zoe family. It is so amazing and encouraging to watch God
move in this beautiful, but lost, city!!!
Updated Friday, August 19
E-mail from Helena
first full day of ministry is almost over – after flying to Chiang Mai
for over 18 hours. We started the day with an orientation by one of
ZOE’s founders. She mentioned that many times in the last year,
as she encountered different government officials in the U.S., the
phrase she heard most often was “That’s impossible!” This was heard
most often when she answered questions about the progress of the kids –
that these kids should not recover as quickly as
they have been. Isn’t it awesome that we serve the God who works
miraculously through impossibilities!!!
Recently a rescued
child, who has been one of the most violent rescued ones, asked to call
the mom. After setting up several safeguards to keep everyone as safe
as could be, the child was asked why it was so
important to call mom. The child answered “Because I want to tell her
Other kids caught in
unsafe situations talk to each other about a place called “ZOE” and how
if they can get here, they will be safe. The ZOE Children’s Homes cares
for orphans and has rescued children from
situations where they were beggar slaves, sex slaves, and labor slaves.
This weekend we will be
traveling up to a hill tribe to minister in a village and a school.
Please pray for safety in travels and our strength. It’s the beginning
of the rainy season & it’s extremely humid.
Updated Thursday, August 18
Our Thailand team called during the night to tell us that they had arrived safely in Chiang-Mai after an uneventful flight. Pray for their adjustments and for energy to begin their ministry.