Thursday, May 31, 2007

PICTURES and other stuff

Well, I think I finally got the pictures uploaded to Shutterfly. I picked out the best ones because it would have taken forever to upload all 200-something of them, but there are still over 150. I hope you enjoy looking at them. I grouped them in albums so that you will know what you are looking at, but if you don't understand what something is, please let me know and I'll try to explain. And if you can't get it to open for some reason, let me know that too. You will go to and then to sign in type in my email address and the password is my first name in all lower case letters. If you don't have my email address, please leave a comment with your email and I will get it to you. Then click on "view all albums" and you will see all of them there. I don't know a better way to share the pictures than this way, so if anyone knows a way to do it without everyone having to sign in, then please let me know! I thought I would do this just for the Thailand trip and figure out something better later. I don't know if it matters or not, but please click "sign out" when you are finished.

I think we are finally back on US time, although I woke up at 5am this morning and could not go back to sleep so I've been working on these pictures since I woke up. That is not like me at all! I love my sleep and I love to sleep as long as I can! The first couple of nights back, Elijah woke up at 2:30am and 4:30am wide awake, so those were very long days trying to stay awake after that, but since then he has slept all night and seems to be doing great. Jason started back to school and work on Tuesday and although he was not thrilled about that, he's adjusted well too. He is taking a statistics class the first half of the summer - fun! He loathes math and is really glad that this is his last math class in college. He is doing so well in college and I'm so proud of him! I know that he gets tired of it sometimes but we both know how much it will pay off in the future for him to finish. He is such a good provider for our family and is gone for more than 12 hours Mon - Thurs, not getting home until after 8pm after his class. Elijah and I are so lucky to have such a wonderful Christian man like him leading our family.

On another note....I broke my left little toe yesterday - caught it on the corner of our recliner and pulled it in the total wrong direction. I don't know that I've ever broken a toe but let me tell you that it hurts really bad! It is amazing how such a little part of your body can cause such a problem! (That sounds like a good sermon topic) I cannot put any pressure on that foot at all and it's all swollen and bruised. Luckily my next door neighbor had some crutches I can borrow for a little while until it gets better. I am not enjoying my limited mobility and how little I can get done around the house. I'm not going to even waste my time going to the doctor because I know they'll tell me to ice it, wrap it and take tylenol, which is what I'm doing. I will be glad when it heals up.

Random question - are there any good TV shows on in the summer? We just finished catching up on our Tivoed shows while we were in Thailand, and now that those are all over, it seems there is nothing to watch. I guess we'll have to upgrade our Netflix account to get 3 movies at once or I'll have to pull out my trusty Alias DVD's and rewatch them because they're so awesome! Was anyone else wigged out at the ending on Grey's Anatomy? I have so many questions and am so confused on several things. I hate having to wait so long over the summer break to see what happens.

Another random question: Does anyone know an easy way to get rid of a pacifier? We have to get rid of Elijah's soon. He still sleeps with it at nap and bed times. We thought we'd get rid of it before his 3rd birthday and then we thought it would be good to have it on our trip (and it was!) but now we really need to do something this summer. He is very attached to it and I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to make too big a deal out of it but I really doubt he'll give it up on his own anytime soon. We tried to get rid of it about 6 months ago and it didn't go too well. Any ideas?

Well, enjoy the pictures.

Monday, May 28, 2007

WE'RE HOME and Thailand: Days 11 - 14

We arrived home yesterday morning around 5:30. Jason's parents picked us up at the airport and brought us home. We have had a few minor incidents since we got back but nothing major. Our checked-on baggage didn't make it to DFW when we arrived but was lost in LA's airport. They had changed our flight number and our bags did not reflect that. Luckily, they were able to find them and put them on another flight here and they were delivered to our house last night. The jet lag has been a bit tougher than when we arrived in Thailand - many people told us this and it has proven to be true, although we don't know why. It is almost lunchtime right now and I am a little bit sleepy but hopefully we'll be almost back on schedule tomorrow. Also, a few hours after we landed, Elijah started throwing up, at church no less. We decided to go with Jason's parents to church since we were going to have to stay awake anyways, and in the middle of church, Elijah vomited all over me. He has since thrown up about 3 times but seems to be feeling better now. At least he waited until we got home and didn't start that on the airplane! :-) I am going to recap our last few days in Thailand since I wasn't able to do that while we were there.

Day 11: Wednesday was our last day in Chiang Mai and so was very relaxed. We spent the morning with some wonderful quality time with the Allen's at their home, just talking about the trip so far, our feelings about everything and what we were thinking. Then Jason went with David and Sean to check out some land that will possibly be for the Cheung Doi church in the future and to eat lunch. My mom, Elijah and I went with Michelle to eat lunch at Lemon Tree. We got a variety of food to share and it was all wonderful - I've decided that my favorite Thai dish is tom kha gai (sp?) - it's a Thai chicken soup with coconut milk and is very yummy! That afternoon we packed to leave for Bangkok and then enjoyed another wonderful meal at the Allen's house before David took us to the airport for our 7:15 flight. Jason and I didn't realize how much we would miss all of our new friends in Chiang Mai and were really sad to leave, but we knew that God had some things to show us in Bangkok as well. Patinya Thitathan picked us up at the airport along with one of the other ministers at the Watcharapon church of Christ. My family knew Patinya from when we were at Midtown c of C in Fort Worth - they were the first church to support him and my grandfather was the elder over his ministry in Thailand. He was very happy that we had come to visit and had arranged for us a very nice place to stay in the dorms at their church building. They have a building of dorm rooms and classrooms behind the church building where Thai college students can live and study Bible (it is a wonderful ministry!), and that is where we stayed, so we kind of felt like we were in college again. :-)

Day 12: That morning we attended chapel with the college students and then Tuli, one of the ministers at the church, was our chaperone for the day. He took us to the Grand Palace - it consisted of many beautiful buildings and temples behind a huge white wall that goes all the way around it. This is where special occasions for the King of Thailand occur, like when a new king is crowned, where he gives special speeches or where he comes to worship on special days. Also, if any very important people came to visit Thailand, they would stay in this beautiful house that was inside the wall - for example, our President, but they would have to receive an invitation from the king and not just show up there. It also holds the Emerald Buddha inside one of the buildings - it is one of the most prized possessions in Thailand and also in the world I think. They built the entire beautiful building just for this Buddha and man does he have quite the decorations inside for him! He sits up on this golden pedestal way up high - you can't get close to him, you can't take pictures, you have to take your shoes off, sit down and not point your bare feet at him and there were so many Buddhist families in there bowing down to him and asking for blessings. It was really sad but eye opening to see these people sincerely expecting something from this statue. We were used to taking off our shoes by now though, because in Thailand it is a sign of respect to take your shoes off and you do so in everyone's homes and in most other places as well.
After this, we went to eat lunch in an air conditioned building on the river. The heat and humidity in Bangkok is almost tangible and will knock you down if you don't stay hydrated! I didn't see the point in wearing deodorant there after about the first day and I felt very weak at different points during the day because it really took my body a lot to adjust to the heat. After lunch, we rode a ferry across the river and shopped in the market for just a little while - Elijah really enjoyed the ferry and hasn't ever been on a boat before that I remember. Then we went to see the Teakwood Palace in another part of town - it is made entirely of teakwood and is just beautiful! It was huge and we heard that there are no nails in the construction, all of the wooden pieces fit together like a puzzle. We were not allowed to take pictures of it either but we took a short tour through the palace. It was built for one of the old kings of Thailand and after a few years, he decided he didn't want to live there anymore and moved. Ha! This place was amazing and HUGE - I can't imagine wanting to move out of it!
On the way back to the church, Tuli stopped by the Christian Zone for the Watcharapon church, which is similar to the ones in Chiang Mai, except that it is not that near to the church. We got to visit with some of the students there and sit in for part of a bible study. They are actually moving to a closer location though this Thursday and so were preparing for that. We were absolutely wiped out after the day and the heat, so we stopped for foot massages on the way back. All 3 of us got one, which meant that Elijah needed to be watched. The ladies at the foot massage place were eager to watch him and so kept him entertained while we relaxed. In fact, Elijah got his own free 30 minute foot massage. The lady thought she would see if he liked it and he did, he LOVED it, and sat real still while she rubbed his feet and legs with lotion - he kept saying "mama, it feels so good!" while he sat there. It was really cute and I got some pictures. It was amazing while on our trip how much attention Elijah got wherever we went and how eager people were to play with him, so when the ladies at the foot massage place offered to watch him I didn't hesitate to take them up on it. When we got back to the church, the power was off and they didn't know how long it would be. We sat in an air conditioned restaurant next door and ate dinner and after a couple of hours the power came back on and we were able to go to bed. We were EXHAUSTED!!!

Day 13: This was our last full day in Thailand. We slept a little late in the morning and we hadn't decided what we were going to do that day. A couple of the things we had wanted to do were really far away and we didn't have anyone to take us that far. Patinya suggested a water park that was close by, and that sounded great since it was so hot! It was called Siam City - it was like Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor and Universal Studios combined. You could pay to go to different parts of the park and so we just paid for the water park, but we got to see the rest of the park on the way since the water park was at the back. It was really neat but a lot of it wasn't open since it was on a weekday. We were told that on Saturdays and Sundays, it is very busy there and everything is open. We found the kiddie part of the water park and Elijah had a blast playing in the water. It was a welcome relief to the heat and we spent about 3 hours there. Right before we left, an orphanage showed up with literally about 100 children right where Elijah was playing. He had fun playing with some of the children. We rested at the church building that afternoon and decided we would like to see a Thai show before we left. Patinya arranged for us to go see Siam Niramit which was a wonderful Thai dinner and show in this huge theater! It was one of the largest live theaters in the world seating more than 2000! Before the show and after dinner, you could walk around this recreation of a Thai village - they had people playing instruments, dancing, making things, cooking food, taking people on a gondola around a small river (which we did) and elephant rides on the elephants that were in the show (which Elijah did - again!). It was really neat and the show was spectacular! Wonderful dancing, special effects and lights! It was a great way to end our time in Thailand.

Day 14: This was on Saturday, the day we left. That morning, Patinya took us all to breakfast and we got to talk with him about his journey as a missionary in Thailand and about all of the ministries they have going on. He had some great advice for us in considering coming there and suggestions on ministries that he thought were effective. That afternoon we packed up our things and then left for the airport about 2:00 for our 4:30 flight. We flew from Bangkok to Taipei to LA to DFW and now we are home. I can't believe it's over, I can't believe we went to Thailand, I can't believe what wonderful Christians we met over there and I can't believe we're already home. It feels good to be home but we also miss our new friends in Thailand.

We had a wonderful trip and are so thankful that we were able to do this as a family. God truly blessed our trip through everyone that we met and kept us safe and we are so, so thankful. We are also thankful for all of you that were praying for us, and we ask that you continue to pray for us as we process all of what we saw while we were there and as we pray about it this summer. We want to boldly ask God to reveal to us very clearly what He wants for our family and that we will have peace about that decision. Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

We have over 200 pictures and have about half of those uploaded to and then it wouldn't let us upload anymore until next month unless we pay a monthly fee. Does anyone know of a place to upload that many pictures quickly and for free that you can share with other people through a blog? We are having trouble figuring out the easiest way to do this. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments. Thanks and we'll get that link up soon.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

On our way home....

Hi everyone, Sorry for the lack of blogging lately but we didn't have access to a computer in Bangkok. We are in Taipei right now on our way home - we still have about 15 hours of flying left once we board this plane to LA, so please pray for our safe travel and we will blog about the rest of our trip when we get back home. We had a great time and can't wait to get all of the pictures on here! Bye!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thailand: Day 10

Hi everyone,
This will be very quick but here is what we did on Tuesday, Day 10 in Thailand. That morning there was another equipping meeting at the Allen's house so we just stayed here for that, and then I left early to go with Michelle and my mom to get a pedicure. I am set for the summertime now! It was around $7 and they even painted flowers on my toes! Then we met the guys to eat lunch at Mike's Burgers with some of the missionaries from Chiang Rai that were in town. The food was great and the burgers are really good! After we ate lunch, O picked us up and drove us out to the Umbrella Factory. This is where they make the beautiful Thai umbrellas that are painted, and they also have a lot of other things you can buy. The neatest thing about this place, though, is that you can bring whatever you want to have it painted. My mom got her pants, shirt and bible painted plus a few umbrellas, and we had Elijah's backpack, our bibles and a few umbrellas painted. Supposedly, the painting lasts forever because Michelle has a diaper bag that was her girls from about 10 years ago or so and it looks like new. After that we came back to the Allen's to rest, then ate dinner and then went to the Cheung Doi church with David for another cell group meeting. Then we went to get roti, which is an Indian dessert that involves crepes, fruit, sweetened condensed milk and sugar. Yeah, it was awesome! We then dropped Elijah and my mom off at the hotel and came back to play 42 with the Allen's. They beat Jason and I but not by much, it was a close match and we had a good time.
We leave for Bangkok today around 4:30pm - we are sad about leaving Chiang Mai but excited to see a new town. Patinya is going to pick us up and show us around for the next 3 days. I'm not sure what the computer situation will be like there but if I am able to blog then I will. Have a wonderful day!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thailand: Days 8 & 9

It is hard to believe that we leave for Bangkok tomorrow to complete our trip. We are really going to miss this beautiful town and all of the wonderful people that we have met here.

Day 8: After church on Sunday at Cheung Doi, we came back to the Allen's house to rest and Jason went for his first massage. He has never even had one back in the states and so he was really looking forward to it. He did a one hour and came back feeling very refreshed - he said he could get used to the cheap massages over here, and I told him that it would have to be part of our weekly budget! :-)
That late afternoon / early evening, we went to Walking Street. Everyone had been saying that we needed to wait to buy souvenirs until we went to Walking Street and they were right! It was awesome! I think I said before that this only happens on Sundays, and is just miles of booths set up under umbrellas with the neatest things to buy for a small price. We spent almost 5 hours here with O, our wonderful tour guide, stopping to eat and get 30 minute foot massages. Wow, the foot massages were wonderful and only cost less than $2 for 30 minutes! After walking around so much, they were great! We have had some interesting foods while we've been here but not as interesting as what Elijah had to eat while we were here. While my mom and I were getting our foot massages, Jason and O went to grab some food with Elijah. Jason told O that he would eat whatever he ordered, so when Elijah started picking out the little meatball-looking things out of Jason's food and loving them, Jason asked O what they were. Boiled chicken blood, yuk! I'm so glad that I didn't know he was eating that but he loved it, so I guess he got his protein for the day! :-)
All over Chiang Mai, there are little red taxi trucks called rot dangs, and they are very cheap transportation to get around town. We have taken them many different places while here, and tonight wasn't any different. Except that on the way home, he ran into another rot dang and nearly threw us all on the floor in the back of the truck. David Allen said that he has lived here for 12 years and never seen one have a wreck, but we are here for one week and have a wreck! We were all fine, but it scared Elijah a little bit. Thank goodness that he wasn't going very fast.

Day 9: Monday was a wonderful day. We started out the morning relaxing and having a great talk with the Allen's. We have really enjoyed picking their brain and learning so much about mission work over here, and they have asked us a lot of valuable challenging questions as well. Later, around 11:30, P. Gade from the Cheung Doi church picked us up to take us to a local orphanage. This was something we had requested from the beginning that we would like to do. This was a very nice public orphanage that housed about 50 children from ages birth to 5 years old. We got to hold and play with some of the most loving and beautiful children, and Elijah enjoyed playing with them as well. It was so hard to leave because a lot of them kept clinging to us as we left.
We ate lunch with P. Gade and then she asked if she could take us to the local leprosy hospital. It was more like a whole beautiful community where these people can live and get around since most of them are disabled from the disease. There was a community center, hospital and a lot of little houses where they live. It was really eye opening to know that there are still people living with leprosy but that it is treatable now and they can live a semi-normal life. I was glad that P. Gade took us here and showed us this community.

After that, we put Elijah down for a nap with my mom at the Allen's and Michelle took Jason and I to see the inside of Grace International School when she picked up her children. She gave us a small tour of the school and we were both really impressed! It is a beautiful school that teaches grades K - 12 - I just never expected a wonderful school like this to be in Chiang Mai, but there are about 600 - 700 kids there, a lot of them missionary kids, some whose parents work over here, some Thai children and some whose parents work with non-profit organizations over here. It was just great to see this neat school.
Michelle stayed with Elijah while he was still napping, and the 3 of us went with David to get Thai massages. He had thrown at out his neck playing tennis and invited us to go with him to get a massage and we couldn't turn him down! We all decided these were the best ones so far! That night, we had pad thai for dinner at their house, and then Michelle, my mom and I went to the mall to get a few things. I was almost out of contact lenses and needed some more and the great thing here is that you don't have to see an eye doctor to get them, you just have to know your prescription and they are way cheaper here. I got about a year's worth of contacts for less than half the price I would have in America without the cost of seeing an eye doctor! It's the same with prescription meds, you can get them without seeing a doctor for like $3 or less. There are a lot of pluses to living over here that I've found out. We also shopped a little bit, Michelle showed me their grocery store, we got ice cream and then came home.
I hope everyone back home is doing well - we apologize for not getting to send very many personal emails, but we love and miss all of you! I can't believe we'll be home on Sunday - this trip has flown by so fast!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Thailand: Day 7

Well, right now I am at the Allen's house. We moved out of the hotel this morning and will be staying with them for the next 3 nights until we go to Bangkok. It's hard to believe that today we've been here for a week! It seems like it's only been a day or two and at the same time, seems like we've been here forever because we've made such wonderful new friends that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. My mom and Elijah are still at the hotel though, which is just around the corner, but this way Jason and I can have some quality visiting time with David & Michelle and have some alone time to process all we have seen and heard this past week.

First of all, on Friday night we ended up not going to the mall but to the Night Bazaar which is a huge sales market that takes place every evening. It went on and on and on down the streets of Chiang Mai with everything you can imagine buying! We were tired from the day and so only stayed about an hour and a half, but while we were down there we ate at McDonald's. It was so funny to find that in the middle of all of the Thai culture down there but it was nice to have some American food, however unhealthy it was. :-)

Day 7: On Saturday we left our hotel at 8:30am to go to the huge fundraising garage sale that took place at Grace International School. This is a beautiful Christian english-speaking school that was initially started about 10 years ago for missionary children. Their website is if you want to read about it. All of the Chiang Mai missionary families that we have visited with, have their children enrolled here. It was locked so we didn't get to go inside, but we are hoping to do that on Monday. If I knew that Elijah would be in a school that wonderful over here, I would move over here immediately! :-) I was so impressed with the campus and was told that it was an old sports recreation center that went bankrupt and then was turned into Grace. Anyways, there were a bunch of mini garage sales set up all over the campus - my mom had several bags full by lunchtime! Those of you that know her will not be surprised. :-)We were fortunate to be here for this event since it only happens once a year. Garage sales are not very common in Thailand and so many people show up for this one.

After the garage sale, we ate lunch and then about 20 of us from Payap & Cheung Doi churches drove about an hour away to a very famous waterfall in this area. I cannot remember the name of it (so any of you that do, help me out), but it is so unique and was probably one of my favorite things we have done so far. No moss grows on the waterfall and so you can walk completely up and down it without slipping. It is broken into sections and so all together I would say that it's hundreds of feet from top to bottom. It took us a little while to get to the bottom of it. I did not wear the proper clothes because I guess I didn't realize how wet we would get! Luckily I had Elijah's swimsuit and he was soaked by the time we left! He had a blast and wanted to climb all by himself, so with supervision of course, we let him and stayed right behind him. I know that the pictures are going to make Jason's parents nervous though. :-) It was just beautiful and we were out in the jungle so I got some beautiful pictures that I can't wait to show you! Don't worry, at least when we get back home, I will get all of the pictures up somehow so you all can see them. This was definitely a highlight of our trip so far.

That evening, we had dinner at the Payap church again out on the porch and then went back to the hotel and to bed. It had been a long day and had taken a lot of muscle & stamina to get up and down the waterfall so we were very tired! About the food here though...Jason and I have both enjoyed the food a great deal! He said that he would move over here for the food alone! It has been a bit spicy for my mom but for us and Elijah, we have loved all of it! I brought some American snacks for Elijah but have hardly needed them since we've been here because he's been eating the Thai food so well.

I had better go - we just got back from church at Cheung Doi this morning and are going to rest before heading to Walking Street this afternoon / evening. This happens only on Sundays and is even better / cheaper shopping than the night bazaar! Jason headed out the door for his first Thai massage - he has never even had one in the states before so he's pretty excited. Until next time....

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thailand: Days 5 & 6

Day 5: On Thursday, we went to an equipping meeting/Bible study at the Payap church this time with their interns. Shermaine, one of the interns from Singapore, led us in a wonderful study on guidance - what it means to be guided by God and how other Christians can help guide each other in doing God's will. She did a great job and I really enjoyed the discussion.

After our meeting, we rode in the back of a truck to eat lunch. This is one of Elijah's favorite things to do here! So many people ride around in the back of covered trucks that have benches in them and Elijahs thinks it's so much fun to be out in the open and watch the cars and especially motorcycles drive right behind us. We had a yummy lunch and then headed back to the church when it started to rain - the cool breeze brought by the rain while we were in the back of the truck was so refreshing! Elijah really enjoyed playing with his friend Shannon, who is 1 1/2, and is 3 Singapore girlfriends when we got back! :-) Then he fell asleep in the children's classroom while Jason watched him, and my mom and I and Little, the church secretary, went for a Thai massage. Wow!!! It cost a little over $2 for ONE HOUR! It was so wonderful and relaxing - so different from in America. They get down on a mat with you on the floor and work every muscle in your body - it was great! I will definitely be getting another one of those before we leave. I really enjoyed getting to know Little - her husband preaches at the Nakorn Ping church and they also run a milk shop next to the church where we got a milkshake that night. Misty, she and I talked about you a lot and I discovered that she is the one whose wedding you came back for. She's very sweet!

That night, we joined in on the cell group meeting at Payap - Robert cooked grilled chicken, rice with beans and salad for dinner and we all sat out on the porch on the second floor to eat. There were about 35 of us there and we were told that is the largest group of people they had ever had at a cell group. We had some fun games, wonderful fellowship and great singing! Afterwards, we were asked if Jason and I wanted to travel to Burma the next day to ride elephants over the mountains and shop, and we would have loved to, but it was going to be a 4 1/2 hour drive and we were tired after the trip to Pha Yao so we declined. We also already had some other things planned for Friday.

Day 6: Today, Friday, we were pretty much on our own with no help. We walked to 7-11 this morning to get our Thai phone activated and grab some breakfast and then tried to figure out how to get to Elephant Village on our own. This is where they have an elephant show and you can ride the elephants. We found out that it was about 45 minutes away and would be expensive to take a taxi that far and then have them wait for us there to go back. As luck would have it, our good friend O called us that morning to see what we were doing. I really don't know what we would do without him - he has been such a good friend, great guide and a lifesaver as far as communication goes around here. He had a friend with a taxi that hooked us up with a great deal to get out there and back, and O came with us to communicate. He said he had never been before anyways.

This was the highlight of the trip for Elijah thus far. He was soooooooo excited to ride the elephants and had been talking about it for about a month now. He could hardly contain himself when we pulled up and there were about 70 elephants everywhere! It was just beautiful at the base of the mountains - Jason, Elijah and I were on one elephant and my mom and O on another. We went on a 30 minute ride around the valley and it was so much fun! We all really enjoyed it and Elijah could hardly believe he was actually riding an elephant! Jason and I looked at each other several times and said, "We're riding an elephant in Thailand right now" - it was just so surreal and neat to see the excitement on Elijah's face. It started to rain at the end of our ride and our guide pulled out an umbrella for us - we were pretty wet when we got off but it was worth it! The elephant show started right after that and it was really neat as well. The elephants played harmonicas, painted (this was so cool because the art was actually really good!), played soccer, threw darts at balloons, danced, stacked logs and other neat things. After the show you could feed them and pet them - 2 elephants completely wrapped their trunks around me in a sort of hug and got me completely muddy but it was fun!

We stopped to eat on the way back, and right now Elijah and Jason are resting at the hotel, but we are leaving in about 45 minutes to go with O and his girlfriend, Nit, to the mall for a little while. Seriously, don't know what we'd do without O - he's great, and I'm sure you others who have been here would say that as well.

Thanks again for the comments - we really appreciate them, and your prayers. Have a blessed day!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What you've been waiting for....

PICTURES!!! I have almost 100 pictures so these are just some of them, but this computer is slow and we have to get back to the church for dinner, so enjoy these few for now. More to come later!

The 307 steps going up to Doi Suthep

The view of Chiang Mai from Doi Suthep

Part of the temple at Doi Suthep

Elijah and Jeab

The beautiful waterfall on the way to Phayao

Daddy and Elijah walking back down the waterfall.

This is a view of Phayao - way in the distance you can see the lake and all around it is the town.

Elijah and O playing with stray dogs and cats. There are dogs and cats everywhere here and Elijah "awwws" at every single one of them and wants to pet them. We stopped here on the way to Phayao to see the view in the above picture.

By the Phayao sign that is by the lake - the town is all around this huge lake and is nestled in the mountain valley.

At Jeab's parents' house in Phayao - this porch was outside and the woodwork on the furniture was beautiful!

Thailand: Days 3 & 4

I'm sorry for the delay in posting- we have had limited time on a computer and I don't have long on this one.
Day 3: On Tuesday, we went to an equipping meeting with the interns at the Cheung Doi church that morning. It is a time that they are taught about evangelism and about how to best share Christ with the Thai Christians at Chiang Mai University. We learned a lot as well. Then we went with David Allen and the group to eat at the CMU campus. This is where most of their relationships form in order to invite the Thais to church. Everywhere we go, Elijah is a magnet for attention and he was a great outreach tool on campus. That afternoon we rested at the Todd's house and my mom and I got a facial - I thought I was getting a massage but I got the cucumber mask and everything, all for about $5- it was so nice! That night we attended a cell group meeting at the Todd's house - this was for the young professionals at the church to get together and eat, fellowship and study the Bible. We met so many sweet people and heard so many wonderful stories of how they had become Christians. I personally really enjoyed this time a lot!

Day 4: Our potential team in the US has not decided where they would want to plant a church over here, but a town named Pha Yao has been mentioned. It is a smaller town about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai, so after talking with the missionaries we decided it would be a good idea to check it out since that is a possibility. It is a beautiful town that is around a lake in the mountain valley- so neat! O drove us there and Jeab, the church secretary, was our guide since she is from there. We piled into the back of a truck with Elijah in our laps and made the 3 hour drive there and back. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains and on the way, we stopped at a waterfall. There was no moss on it and so we could walk right up it! I got some great pictures of that! By the way, still sorry about no pictures- we haven't found a way yet. We may have to put them all up when we get back if we can't figure it out. I am also on a computer with a space bar that isn't working well so I will have to elaborate later. Sorry for this being so cut and dry. :-) In Pha Yao, we went to the market, walked by the lake, visited with Jeab's family and visited the university there. It was all so neat, we really liked it there. When we got back, we gathered up our things at the Todd's to go to our hotel, The Green Palace, where we will be for the next few nights. We were told that there had been an earthquake and since we came back a different way, we had missed it. God really took care of us there - it was a 4.5 on the richter scale and is very unusual around here.

I better go, I'm getting real frustrated with this computer. :-) One more thing is that the humidity will knock you down here- it takes a while to get used to and I was very tired the first few days from it but am feeling better now. Elijah is doing fantastic and having a blast! He loves the people, food, activities, and especially not having to ride in a carseat! That will be hard to break when we get back! He has made 3 girlfriends at the Payap church from Singapore named Evangline, Sheena and Shermaine. They love him and he loves them! I have a great picture of them with him. Will post again soon - keep the comments coming, we love reading them and knowing that people care! Love and miss everyone! -Summer

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thailand: Day 2

Hi everyone, Bad news. The computer we have access to right now does not accept a memory card from our camera so right now we don't have a way to put pictures on the blog. But we are going to be at the church later today and staying with another family later this week, so hopefully at some point we can put pictures up - they just may be from the whole week and you'll have to figure out what they are! :-)

Everyone is doing well - Elijah has even learned how to say "Swatdikaa" which means hello and bow to people, and I probably butchered the spelling on that word! He is really taken by the Thai people with their smiles and friendliness. They are such a loving culture and love American children - they think he is so cute and want to hold him and touch his hair. He's not too sure about that but he tries his best to be friendly to everyone! :-)

Yesterday (Monday) was a very busy day! We woke up early, around 6:30 am after going to bed about 7:30 pm and had breakfast with the Todd family. We had french toast and mango, it was really good! By the way, if you want to see pictures of the missionary families, click on "Chiang Mai Team" on my links on the right side of this blog. Then Sean Todd sat down with us and we came up with an itinerary for the day. He had asked O, a Thai Christian at the Cheung Doi church, to take us around yesterday and O graciously said he would do that. We had such a good time with O! He was able to practice his English, which is very good by the way, and he taught us a lot of Thai words and phrases. He and Elijah quickly became good buddies!

First we went to the Chiang Mai zoo and wow is it different from zoos in the states. We had so much fun there because you can get so close to the animals - there is barely any distance between you and the fences. Elijah got to feed a giraffe some bean sprouts and an elephant some bananas. He also got to ride a small horse around part of the zoo. I have the cutest pictures from the zoo and hopefully I can put them up soon. This is not a walking zoo though, although I saw some people walking. It is about 24 acres of hills and winding roads and so O kind of followed us with the car and then we drove from one area to another. No wonder Thais are in much better shape than Americans - they do a lot of walking and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables!

After the zoo, we ate some wonderful Thai food at a restaurant near the Cheung Doi church. We told O what kinds of food we wanted and we trusted him to order for us. He did a great job and the food was great! We had a big buffet of different foods on our table and shared them all - for all of us it cost about $10! We then went back to the Cheung Doi church and O showed us some of his artwork - he draws wonderful Christian themed paintings and his dream is to come to America one day and open an art studio of his own. He is very talented and even showed us his art studio on the Chiang Mai University campus later in the day. It was so neat to hear his dreams and hear the story of how he came to know Christ. When we told the missionaries later that evening how much English he had talked with us, no one believed us because they said he is embarrassed to speak English around them! I guess we ratted him out by telling them how good he was! :-)

After lunch, we headed up the mountain to visit the Soi Duthep temple - O said that this was the center of religion for Chiang Mai. There are hundreds of temples in the city, but this one is the main one where spiritual rest and peace are found. You can see the entire city of Chiang Mai from the this temple and it was just beautiful! We climbed 307 steps to get to the top - we were all pretty exhausted when we got back down but it was worth it. There were so many interesting things to see up there and O explained them all since he used to be Buddhist as well. We saw many families with their small children bowing down to idols and burning incense to Buddha. It was very eye opening to see the need for Christianity in this country. We had a great day and then topped it off by having dinner with all of the Chiang Mai missionary families last night. We ate pad thai and mango with sticky rice & coconut milk. It was very yummy, and then we sat around and talked with them. They asked us questions and we asked them some questions. It was a great time to hear their stories of life on the mission field and gain some perspective that way. Well, I need to go get ready for the day. We have another busy day planned but somewhere in there I'm going to get a Thai massage and I'm very excited about that. It costs about $10 for a 2 hour massage - wow!!!! We will post again soon and hopefully get those pictures up. Have a great day! - Summer

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We made it! Thailand: Day 1

After many hours in an airplane we have arrived in Thailand. Elijah did fantastic on the airplane (truth be told he probably did better than Summer), the take offs and landings were his favorite. Even after we got off of our flight in Chiang Mai he told us, "I want to ride airplane again!" We arrived here about 9:00 and we were transported to the Payap church were I was scheduled to preach. It was my first time to preach with a translator but I think it went fairly well. After the service was over we went over to the Macorn Ping church where they were celebrating their new building. We had some wonderful food and fellowship with the Thai Christians and the missionaries. After lunch we gathered together and leaders from the different churches in Chiang Mai got up and shared a few words. They asked Summer and I to come up and they prayed over us and our decision making. It was great that we arrived when we did so that we were able to be a part of this. We then came to the Todd's house where we will be staying for three nights. We've really enjoyed visiting with them and they took us to eat at MK last night. They bring you different types of food and you put them in a pot at your table and it cooks them into a soup. It was delicious! On the way there Elijah drifted into unconciousness, sleep was hard to come by on the airplane, and the rest of us were fighting it hard. The time difference is 12 hours so it was only 7:00 p.m here but it felt like we had been up all night and it was 7:00 in the morning. We got back and were out by 8:00-8:30. We all feel a lot better this morning. Today one of the Thai Christians is going to take us to the local zoo and to one of the temples here in Chiang Mai. This evening we're going to have dinner with all the missionaries so that we can get to know each other better. So that's the cliff notes version of our trip so far. Summer will get on soon and post some pictures, give an update, and fill in anything I may have left out. Thanks for all of your prayers. If any of you have been here and have suggestions as to what we should do with our time be sure to leave comments letting us know! Love you guys & gals! - J

Thursday, May 10, 2007

We're going to Thailand!!!

With 1 day, 3 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds to spare.... as of this morning we have all 3 passports in our hands! To the right is the proof. (Yes, Jason's is about 5 1/2 years old if you can't tell :-)

The nightmare of the regional passport office in Houston yesterday cannot be put into words - you would have to experience it yourself, but it's not something we would wish upon anybody! There were many, many times yesterday when all we could do was pray because it did not look like we would be getting Elijah's passport. God came through in a big way and said YES, I want you to go! So at 12:35 pm tomorrow we will board a plane to LA and then to Taipei and then to Bangkok and then to Chiang Mai and will arrive at 8:55 am on May 13th which will be 8:55 pm on May 12th here (I think). We will hit the ground running and go straight from the airport to the Payap church where Jason will preach, and then try to kick our jet-lag by fighting to stay awake the rest of the day.

I can't put into words what I am feeling right now. We have anticipated and prayed about this trip for so long and here it is upon us with barely over 24 hours until we leave. I am excited, I am nervous, I am anxious, I am relieved, I am hesitant, I am blessed, I am humbled and I am way behind! I need to go start packing since we spent Tues night and all day yesterday in Houston - I have a lot more to do than I anticipated. We will post just as soon as we can in Thailand hopefully with some pictures. Please pray for us tomorrow and throughout our travels over there - we are blessed to have such wonderful friends and family who we know will cover us in prayer. See you on the other side of the world!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Oh Where Are the Passports?

Oh where are the passports? Oh where are the passports? Oh where oh where oh where oh where oh where oh where oh where oh where oh wheeeeeeere...are the passports? We leave for Thailand on Friday and we still do not have Summer & Elijah's passports which we applied for in February. Dealing with the passport people at the Department of State has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my entire life. Every time we call we are told something different and no one can guarantee us that they will be here on time. It looks like we will be taking a road trip to Houston this evening so we can try to get them from the regional office. We ask that everyone please be praying over this situation. I've attached a countdown until our plane is supposed to leave in the sidebar so we can see how much time we had to spare when we do have them in hand. We'll be sure and post something letting everyone know when we have them. Thanks for the prayers! - J

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Big Number 3!!!

Elijah will turn 3 years old on May 13th - the day we get to Thailand. I cannot believe that he is 3! I know that everyone says this about their children every year, but it's so true that they grow up way too fast! It's like time accelerates when you have kids. Every year on his birthday, I get very sentimental thinking back to when he was born. Elijah had a stroke and stopped breathing after he was born. He was in the NICU for 8 days and we finally figured out that he had a blood clotting disorder that caused the stroke which caused him to stop breathing. It was a very scary time in our lives but God brought us through that storm leaving us stronger and more faithful on the other side. I thank God that Elijah's life was spared and that he is as healthy and happy as he is today!

We decided to celebrate his 3 years with a party before we go to Thailand. That occurred yesterday on Cinco de Mayo, which means that we had a big Fiesta! He had so much fun and it was a great day to spend time with family and friends before we leave the country. We had taco salad for lunch, opened presents, ate cupcakes & ice cream and the kids hit a Curious George pinata full of candy. Afterwards he got to go home with Jason's parents (Nana & Grangoat) to spend the night last night since we were driving up there today anyways for Jason to preach. Their present to him was by far his favorite - it's a small motorized John Deere tractor for him to drive. He literally drove it for 2 hours yesterday after most people had left the party, and then it went back to Nana & Grangoat's house to stay there so he got to drive it around again this afternoon. He thought he was such a big boy, but we'll have to work on his driving skills before he turns 16 since he kept running in to things and looking back over his shoulder while driving. :-) Here are some pictures of the big day!

The tractor

Elijah with George the pinata

Hitting the pinata

The table with his cake shaped like a sombrero that my mom and I designed ourselves!

The sombrero and Curious George sunglasses

Opening presents

With his friends: Jonathan (cousin), Clare & Ellie

Blowing out the candles

Eating his cupcake

As you can see, he had a great time. I can't believe we leave for Thailand in 5 days! Please keep praying for our passports - they are supposed to be overnighted to us and be here by Tuesday, which is only 3 days before we leave! I will post as soon as we get them because I will be so excited and relieved. I have also had some thoughts lately on what it means to give something over to God and would like to hear your opinion on the subject, so that will come soon as well. On another note, Jason was honored to be asked to preach at the Payap church in Chiang Mai the day we arrive in Thailand - he is a little nervous but it will be a wonderful experience he will never forget. This week will be spent preparing for our trip but I will blog again soon. Have a blessed day!

Friday, May 04, 2007

National Day of Prayer

Every time I think I’ve got this whole God thing figured out, every time I think I’ve got him pegged, he chuckles and blows my mind. Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer, a day set aside where Christians gather together to communicate with our Lord and Creator as a unified nation. A small group of us at my workplace decided that we would gather and offer up our praise at 11:30 this morning. So 11:25 rolls around and I gather up my big chief tablet and my pen and head off for the room we had reserved. I find a seat and prepare to write down prayer requests, pray a little bit, then squeeze the hand of the person next to me signaling that it was their turn to pray. Do you hear that? It’s that chuckling I was telling you about. You see, I was the only c of C white boy in the room and the kind of praying I grew up with isn’t quite what my other brothers and sisters had in mind. There was hand holding but apparently the rest of the people didn’t see the verse that says your supposed to take turns when you pray (I think it’s in Jude 2:34). It started off with one person praying quietly with the occasional “Yes Lord” thrown in but it didn’t take long for it to grow and swell to a room full of people praying all at once at the top of their lungs giving praise and glory to the God that made them. I don’t think anyone could deny the passion that these people have for God or that His name is like honey on their lips. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and I am so glad that I was a part of it. I’m so thankful that everybody doesn’t praise God the exact same way that I do. I’m so glad that God is bigger than my beliefs and traditions. I’m so thankful that He loves to amaze me. I’m so glad that God chuckles. - J

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What's the point?

I love blogs, or rather, I love reading other people's blogs. I have been now for about 2 years. I have tried to avoid getting my own blog because I didn't want to get "sucked in" to the new phenomenon of blogging. However, I acknowledged the other day that I'm already sucked into the blogging world by spending time every day reading other peoples, so what's the point in avoiding it any longer? I just hope other people find my blog as interesting as I find theirs. What IS the point of this blog though? Well, initially what made me decide to go ahead and start a blog is our upcoming trip to Thailand in a week and a half. We leave on May 11th and return the 27th (assuming mine and Elijah's passports arrive on time - be praying about that!), and will be spending time with missionaries in Chiang Mai & Bangkok. We are very excited about our trip - Elijah is coming with us and my mom as well to help us with him. We are hoping this blog will be a great tool to post insights, updates and pictures while on our trip. Please be in prayer for our family as this trip approaches and while we are gone that God will keep us safe and give us clarity & direction. If this is where He wants us to serve Him in the future long-term then we hope He will reveal that to us very clearly. Well, this was my attempt at a first post - Jason is planning to post on here periodically as well. I am going to try to figure out pictures later and hopefully post an update after this weekend when we have Elijah's 3rd birthday party. Have a great week! -Summer