Thailand 2011


Dates:  August 17 – 29
Ministry Partner:  Zoe International
Ministry Focus:  Outreach to women and children at risk or involved in human trafficking

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 very quickly.   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 night!!!

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 draw.   

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
Our 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 about Jesus!”  

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.