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Sunday, August 29, 2010
August 21st was a very special day for United Methodists in Thailand. GBGM Missionaries Gary and Cindy Moon opened a new Mission Center for GBGM in Chiang Mai. It was a large celebration with guests from Thailand, Korea, and America in Attendance. Pastor Ekerin was chosen to be the worship leader for this historic event and Professor Werachot who is president of Phayao Bible College was the guest speaker. Others who took part in the celebration were a praise team comprised of Phayao Bible College Students, Dr. Tanapong (director of the Global Theological Institute and pastor of Lamppost UMC in Chiang Dao), Rev. Jong Sung Kim of GBGM, and Dr. Erlinda Senturias of the Christian Churches of Asia organization.
Mike celebrated at this event, but Sherri could not because she was busy teaching the second half of the Course of Study class on Pastoral Care as well as traveling to the Northeast to visit Pastor Nampon and the members of Almighty God UMC in Nonsomboon. This is a common occurrence where we must split up and be in different regions of Thailand.
While Sherri was visiting with Pastor Nampon, she was able to see the wonderful progress that has been made on the Pig Farm Cooperative, an economic development project that was started several months ago. Economic development projects, like the Pig Farm Cooperative, are developed in the churches and institutions to lift people out of poverty permanently while at the same time helping the churches and institutions to become financially self-sufficient. The Pig Farm Cooperative provides income for the church and helps 3 church families to have steady income. They have just completed their first cycle of raising pigs, and now they have re-invested some of the profits to expand the project even more. Sherri was absolutely pleased with the progress on this project. God is good!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Praise God! On August 17th, TMM application for 501c3 status as a Non-Profit Organization was approved by the IRS, so now all of the legal work is complete. This is a great answer to prayer.
We want to give special thanks to Terri Gabehart and Karen Prince, who sludged through all of the legalese and did much research, to make sure that TMM did everything the right way. This was the first time any of us had ever started a new non-profit organization, so there was a steep learning curve, and Terri and Karen did a marvelous job of making it happen.
We also want to express our deep appreciation for the pro-bono legal work of Attorney Jerry Fowler, Jr. of Lebanon, Kentucky. We are deeply indebted to Jerry who has served with a joyful heart.
God is good!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Last Sunday was a wonderful and joyous Sunday. Pradumri Bangkok UMC moved into a new six-story facility and celebrated their first Sunday morning worship service. This is a great answer to prayer because this church was in a very small facility before and they have been overcrowded for the past year. The previous building was also not in a good location, but this new one is right near the main road and has wonderful parking. We wanted this church to move to this building last year, but the rent was way to high. Now the Lord has provided and has made the building affordable.
The entrance to the church is on the side of the building. The very front of the building has a very large sign that you see on the picture. The sign quotes from Matthew 11:28 "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.'"
Now this church will be able to grow at a faster rate than ever before because they have room to grow and a fantastic location. Pastors Sila and Wassana have provided strong leadership and we know that God will bless this church.
We know we are not in Kentucky anymore, when we see street signs like these: Elephant Crossings. And we really have to be careful, because wild elephants really do cross the road here. They are especially dangerous at night because there are no street lights. You would think you could see something as large as an elephant even at night, but their skin is dark grey, and they are quite difficult to spot.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
This week, Sherri has been teaching a block course at the Global Theological Institute (GTI) on the Biblical Role of Women in the Church. GTI, a ministry of the Lamppost UMC in Chiang Dao, is a Training Center where future pastors and church leaders are prepared for ministry. Twenty Nine students receive training here, and Sherri and I are honored to teach here on a regular basis.
This week, we wanted to do something special for the students to bring joy to their lives. The buildings they live in are very humble (in America, we shelter our cars in garages that would be luxurious in comparison to their housing) and their lifestyle is very simple too. They do not have much in the way of material blessings. They have a few sets of clothes (truly only a few), they live on rice and vegetables and rarely eat any meat or anything sweet.
Usually, when we teach, we bring cookies, snacks, and cocoa with us, so they can enjoy these during class. The small things that we would take for granted are greatly appreciated and very special to them. Just being with these students gives us a fresh outlook on how God has blessed us so much.
This time we wanted to do something extra special, and since Thursday was Mother's Day (the Queen of Thailand's birthday is celebrated as Mother's Day in Thailand)we threw a picnic for the students. The students had a 30 minute prayer walk to the picnic shelter which is near the banks of the Ping River. Fortunately, the sky was cloudy, so it was not steamy hot. When we all arrived, we sang praises to God (enjoy the video) and then all of the students gave testimonies concerning their mothers. For some students, they became so filled with tears when trying to speak about their mothers that they could not speak at all. They stood in the front for a minute, trying to gain composure, and then they would just need to sit down. The students would cheer each one, even those who were unable to speak, because their tears were wordless testimonies.
After worship and sharing, we had a big meal. We wanted to have a meal that they normally could not afford, which means a meal with a lot of meat. Some of the students had expressed a longing for grilled chicken, so we purchased some and had the students make sticky rice to eat with it. We also ordered some Nahm Prihk Noom, which is a green vegetable and hot pepper based paste that goes well with chicken and sticky rice. We also ordered a tank of ice cream. Thai tastes are different than ours, so we always enlist help in ordering food. The Thai young person who helped us order ice cream could have two flavors mixed together, so he chose chocolate mixed together with cantaloupe. It sounded like a very strange combination to me, but it actually tasted good.
It was a wonderful day of fellowship with the students that we will always remember.
Today is Sherri's final day of teaching. Late this afternoon, we will begin our journey back to Chonburi. We will only go partway, because it is a fifteen hour drive. We should arrive back home on Saturday, late afternoon.
We want to thank everyone who has supported our ministry through the Thailand Methodist Mission. This week of training students in Chiang Dao is only possible because of you.
If you would like to give, please send support to the treasurer of the Thailand Methodist Mission at:
Thailand Methodist Mission
P.O. Box 56
Mannsville, KY 42758
or give online at thailandmethodist.org
We are in need of more financial support. At this time, Sherri and I receive no salary from the Thailand Methodist Mission, but we do receive funds for ministry expenses. We are praying that financial support increases to the point where we can receive salary. In the meantime, we live by faith.