Our trip to Chiang Mai last week was successful, in that we came back with 3 month visas, but is was also an inspirational time for us as we were able to connect with many veteran missionaries here in Thailand.
One veteran missionary we have been trying to connect with is Hella, a German Methodist who is "retired". Retired is in "quotation marks" because she is far from retired. She still does translation work with Wycliffe Translators for a tribal group in S.E. Asia. She has a delightful, gentle, and humble spirit and it was a pleasure to finally meet her. She helped introduce us to a ministry that we have been wanting to connect with for a long time, a large Christian orphanage in Chiang Mai that serves orphans with AIDS called Agape Home (Nikki's Place). Jan (on the right with one of the orphans) gave us a tour and answered our numerous questions as we seek to have a similar ministry started in the near future. Jan has worked with Agape Home since its inception.
At first, most of the AIDS orphans lived only a year or two, but now with the new anti-viral medications, these children are living longer and healthier lives. They have a wonderful ministry and God is blessing their work. Their website is http://www.nikkisplace.org/
We were also able to connect with other ministries, such as the Thailand Bible Society and the Missionary Language Training Center operated by OMF in Lopburi. Hopefully, future GBGM missionaries will be able to start their first 9 month of language training at this school.
Having a car to drive has made all the difference in the world to our ability to connect with other ministries and interview pastoral candidates. Up until now, we used buses and public transportation, which does fine if we go to only one location, but going to multiple sites becomes very time consuming and difficult. Now it is much more efficient.
Driving on the left hand side of the road no longer feels awkward to us, and we wonder if it will feel awkward when we get back to the US and have to drive on the right side of the road again.
We thank everyone who was praying for our visa situation. We are set for another 3 months, which is a good feeling.