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We serve with the Thailand NOW

We serve with the Thailand NOW
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Monday, August 31, 2020

Continued prayers needed for Allie and David

 Sherri and I want to thank all of you for praying for Thailand NOW missionaries Allie and David Houle.  They need continued prayer, so we are forwarding their blog to you.  


As you may remember, back in May we lost our jobs when the school that we were teaching English at closed down. This job had provided us with our work permit for our work visa for the past year. This forced us to begin praying and exploring other options to get a visa to be able to stay in Thailand. Under normal conditions, we would have had to leave Thailand one week after our school closed down to change our visa. However, due to Covid-19 the Thai government decided to give all foreigners already in Thailand amnesty until September 26. Praise God! This gave us the time necessary to start our own business, Peachtree Translation. Having a business in Thailand will be such a blessing because it gives us the stability to live and work in Thailand long-term! It also frees up our schedule to allow us to regularly travel to all the Blessing Home Centers.
 
It is a very long and complicated process to open a business in Thailand and you must have Thai people as co-owners of the business. Thankfully, God has provided many wonderful Thai people that are a part of our Thailand Now team who already translate materials and interpret when needed. Corn has her bachelor’s degree in Business English and Ploy has her bachelor’s degree in Thai Language. Their education and experience is perfectly suited for a translation company. Our new business, Peachtree Translation, will provide us with a work visa and it will provide additional health and social security benefits to our Thai team members.
 
While we are confident that this was the right move for us to stay and serve in Thailand long-term, we still have a huge need for prayers regarding our visa. Typically, when changing a work permit or visa type, you must leave the country and re-enter with the new visa. Most people are able to do a “Visa run” to Cambodia or Laos for just a couple days and then re-enter Thailand with their new visa. However, because of Covid, Thailand and other Asian countries have closed their borders. This means that we cannot leave Thailand to go to a neighboring country. If we leave Thailand, the only country that will accept us right now is America. And because Thailand is closed, we cannot re-enter Thailand at this time. We are asking you to pray that a border will open or a special exception for us to get our work visa in Thailand will be found.
 
Please pray for us and specifically that we can get a work visa before September 26. We know that God has plans for us to work in Thailand and that if we are shut out of the country it will only be temporary. We are so blessed to have an amazing team of Thai workers here in Thailand who can continue to provide these services for the Blessing Home kids in our absence if we must leave and return to America for a time. As stressful as it is not knowing where we'll be in a month, we know God is faithful. If we are required to be out of Thailand for a season, we know there are ways to strengthen the ministry through distance collaboration, until we are able to return. Please pray for us.

Allie and David Houle

Monday, August 03, 2020

Visa update for Allie and David, and praises for church construction project victories


Hello Prayer Warriors,

Every time we entrust a prayer request to you, we try to keep you updated so you can give thanks to the Lord for His divine intervention.

ALLIE & DAVID HOULE   

Last month we asked you to pray for Thailand NOW missionaries David and Allie Houle, who serve as Field Directors for the Blessing Home Centers in Thailand.  (On the picture on the left, Allie is teaching the advanced Blessing Home students in their home).

 Every missionary must have a long term visa so they can legally stay in the country, and the David and Allie had employment visas through teaching part-time at a language school near Blessing Home in Pattaya.  But the language school went out of business in March, an economic victim of the COVID crisis.  And when the language school closed, their work permits and visas were cancelled.  The Thai government gave all foreigners in Thailand amnesty until July 31 to either leave the country or obtain a new visa.  So Allie and David chose to start their own translation business, called Peachtree Translating (you can tell they are from Georgia), which would enable them to obtain a work permit and visas to be able to stay in country.

They hired a prominent law firm in Pattaya that specializes in this kind of situation, and they began the process.  But because of COVID, everything slowed down and the process has taken longer than expected.  And then just two weeks ago, they found out that the lawyer they hired gave wrong advice and they would need to resubmit new documents and start over again.  They would not have enough time to meet the deadline.  If they could not meet the deadline, they would need to leave the country and would not be able to get back until the COVID crisis is over in the States.

So we ended up praying that the amnesty would be extended by the Thai government.  For many days Thai government officials were saying that the amnesty would not be extended.  This made us pray more fervently.  Then last week the Thai government announced that they would extend the amnesty through September 26.  We give praise to the Lord that David and Allie have more time for this process.  Please continue to pray for them.

 FIRST SUNDAY MORNING SERVICE AT THE NEW CAMPUS OF GOD IS GOOD CHURCH

On the left are pictures of the new church building of God is Good Church.  They love the bling, and the ceiling looks like a blue sky with clouds.  This past Sunday, August 2, was their first time worship celebration at this new campus.  The old campus is still in operation about 10 miles away, so not only did they construct a new beautiful building but they multiplied the church as well.  They really needed a second campus because they were overcrowded at the old campus and needed room for growth.

They are still constructing Sunday school rooms and office space next to the sanctuary, and this will be complete in the next few weeks.

We are very happy about the new campus because it is adjacent to the busy expressway and has great visibility.

NAKHON PATHOM CHURCH - 90% complete

Nakhon Pathom Church is a Pioneer Pastor church planted 11 years ago through the generosity of St. John's UMC of Aiken, S.C..  Under the leadership of Pastors Ekerat and Da, this congregation has grown strong and is a three-self church (self-supporting, self-leading, and self-multiplying).   Last year they purchased land and began construction on a new church building.  Construction is taking awhile because they make progress when they have funds on hand, and then they stop construction when.  According to Thai law, Thai churches cannot borrow money, so all construction must be done with cash on hand.

Last week, Pastor Ekerat notified us that construction was 90% complete and that they asked for prayer for funds to take them "across the finish line".  Because of your generosity, we were able to send money to them, and it should be enough to complete this construction project.  We want to thank you for your prayers and support which made this final donation for this project possible.  On the left is a picture of the new church building that is almost complete.  We hope to hear news of a Grand Opening worship service for some time next month.  Sherri and I wish we could be there, but we will ask our staff and missionaries to go represent Thailand NOW in our place.

AN UPDATE ON PHASE ONE OF THE ABUNDANT LIFE TRAINING CENTER FUNDRAISING.

We have had many people inquiring about progress on fundraising for Phase One of the Abundant Life Training Center.  We chose to temporarily pause focus on raising funds for this project so we could focus on the immediate urgent need for food relief in the urban Pioneer Pastor Churches and Blessing Home Centers.  Phase One is purchase of land in Buriram province in Northeast Thailand (on the left is a map showing the location of Buriram province), construction of a retainer wall around the complete perimeter of the land and filling the land above flood levels (about 4-6 feet deep).  This first phase would cost $80,000.  We have received a bit over $61,000 so far.

This was enough money on hand to purchase land and we started this process back in February, but COVID had already hit Thailand, bringing everything to a total stop when the Thai government implemented a hard shutdown, closing most government offices and prohibiting inter-provincial travel.  On June 10, our staff were able to complete the purchase of the land and the land has now been purchased and we have a title deed in hand!  God is good!!!

We still need $19,000 more to build a retainer wall and to fill the land.  If there are funds left over, we may be able to sink a well too. 



If you would like to donate towards Phase One of the Abundant Life Training Center, please be sure to designate your gift to the BUILDING FUND.

Checks can be sent to:
Thailand NOW
P.O. Box 56
Mannsville, KY 42758

OR give ONLINE at:
https://thailandnow.org/donate/












Monday, July 13, 2020

“So…When Are You Going Back?”


“So…When Are You Going Back?”


















If you read Mike’s post on March 28th, you may recall the topsy-turvy experience we had while trying to get to the U.S. when COVID-19 was emerging. Our original plans for our U.S.-based time included itinerating among churches to share mission updates, connecting with family, and renewing our visas so we could return to Thailand. Little did we know that COVID-19 would lead to temporary church closures, meeting postponements, periods of self-isolation, and a halt to visas being issued.

If all had gone as planned, we’d already be back in Thailand. Yet, here we are, still in Kentucky! Lately, it seems the most common question we hear is, “So…When are you going back?”

















The short answer is, “When COVID-19 in the U.S. is brought down to a level that our citizens are considered ‘safe’ by the Thai government.” As we look at the news and current projections --- that may be a while.

Our situation is not unique among missionaries and other cross-cultural workers serving globally. In the last few months, we’ve had online meetings with other missionaries who’ve not been able to return to their places of service. Not only is COVID-19 impacting individuals, churches and communities here at home, but it is impacting the sharing of Christ throughout the world.


We Can Make Plans… But Sometimes We Need to Wait

Rather than being overcome by discouragement or frustration, we’ve found peace for our situation through God’s Word.  For example, in Acts 16:6-8 we find:

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

As we read of the Apostle Paul’s work and the early church’s expansion, we’re reminded we are not the first who’ve had a door to Asia temporarily closed! We’re also reminded, “Plans may change…so make the best use of time in the situation.”

While we’ve been able to be productive here at home, developing curriculum and working with folks in Thailand for programming purposes via Zoom, things are definitely not the same.  Yet as we reflect on the shift, Mike has marveled more than once, “God is making lemonade out of our lemons.”





















“So, we see how the U.S.  is dealing with COVID… how about 

Thailand?”

Thailand has implemented a very coordinated, consistent policy for addressing COVID-19, and it shows. As of this writing, Thailand has recorded less than 3,200 cases, with 58 deaths. Presently, 65 people are receiving treatment for COVID-19. While the nation (and particularly the cities) had been on strict shut-down (causing no small economic hurt), step-by-step controlled opening is now in process.

For example, as stores are opening, shoppers’ temperatures are monitored (below, left). “Check-ins” are also done with phone apps at the entry of shops. This way, if a COVID-19 case is identified, reporting and contact tracing can more rapidly be carried out. (Below, right, David is “checking in.”)



Last week, schools were able to begin re-opening. From communications with our missionary team & Thai partners from various locations, we know that schools have different plans by which they are operating. For example, May and Teddy’s kids (see photo) have rotating schedules: on Week One, they go to school on Mon., Wed., and Friday; on Week Two, they attend Tue. and Thursday. At another school where some of our Blessing Home kids attend, girls go to school part of the week, and boys go during the rest of the week.



























In all locations, before children enter the school yard, they go through a temperature check, sanitizing and hand-washing station.



























(Click to see a short clip from the first day back to school.)



“Practice of true community involves responsibilities and actions that do not come naturally to us.” — Jerry Bridges
(Author of books such as: The Pursuit of Holiness; Trusting God When It Hurts, and True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia).

Despite these good signs, it could be easy to forget the challenges affecting our Thai brothers and sisters. Currently, borders are still closed to international tourists. This is a blow to the national economy, and to the “everyday finances” of families – especially in urban areas, where costs are high. (Thailand NOW is continuing to provide funds to city churches for emergency food relief, and we are so thankful for your faithful giving, which makes this possible!)

The challenges our Thai friends and family are experiencing are not light. In fact, the heaviness is such that it would be easy for people to turn against one another out of frustration. Instead, it seems they are committed to practicing “kreng jai,” a Thai cultural value that is hard to translate.
The closest explanation would be to say they practice a type of ‘consideration’ for each other, which seeks to put the feelings and well-being of others first, before themselves (similar to what is described in Philippians 2:1-14). A prime example of this can be seen in the photos above, where the wearing masks in public during COVID is the norm.

(In our earlier years in Thailand, I was confused by Thai people ‘masking up’ when they were feeling sick, or ‘had a cold coming on.’ Why would they put on a mask after they were feeling bad? Wasn’t it ‘too late’ to protect themselves from getting sick? At the time, I didn’t yet understand how deeply “kreng jai” – or consideration for others was woven into all parts of life. Thais were putting on the masks not for themselves, but out of care for each other.) Though wearing masks may feel strange, and does not come naturally, this act of consideration is a part of practicing “true community” and is admirable.

While We’re Waiting to Return to Thailand, Here’s How 

You Can Help…

Please pray for doors to open, so missionaries waiting to return to their place of service can be re-deployed globally.

Please continue to pray for our Thai brothers and sisters, many of whom truly struggle, financially living ‘day-to-day.’

Please pray for our own nation. For protection; healing;  peace, and that we may have hearts of humility and “kreng jai” (deep consideration) for one another, knowing that our decisions and actions -- no matter how small -- always impact others.

  “Practice of true community involves responsibilities and actions that do not come naturally to us.”

 Blessings in Christ Jesus!