Posts Tagged ‘ Isaan ’

In a Year

It’s both crazy and amazing to look back over the last 12 months.  From my previous blog post where I asked questions like… “can we really be adequate interim foster parents of two Thai teens?” …to now, the journey seems almost surreal.

A few highlights from then to now:

  1. I became “aunt” to two, and then six, Thai teen girls.  In January 2012 Jub and I agreed to temporarily take in two teenagers in a tough spot.  Three more precious girls joined us in March and, after learning their stories, made that “temporary” decision seem a little less temporary (…see #2).  The sixth came to join us in October.
  2. In May, our small team officially relocated from Bangkok to a small village in Khon Kaen province in the Northeast (Isaan) region with a vision for community development.  The five teen girls voluntarily joined us, courageously entering a rural leadership development program for at-risk teens that didn’t yet exist.
  3. Our gracious village neighbors offered up their storehouses and gardens with rice, mangoes, papayas, veggies and herbs helping to feed our full house.  We even snuck some sugarcane out of the neighbors fields.  Now we have gardens going, and a friendly (and sympathetic) woman at the market that provides us with cheap produce.
  4. Between 60-80 kids and teens filled the house during after-school tutoring programs last term, so the village leaders got together and built us an outdoor classroom.
  5. Jub’s mom allowed us to take over one of her rice plots, so together we planted, weeded and harvested (all by hand), yielding enough rice to feed the house for the better part of the year.
  6. Investments in a ping pong table, a checkers board, an extra practice guitar and a growing library unwittingly solidified our status as the community hangout for kids of all ages.
  7. Three local schools offered open invitations to visit and teach; we’ve become known as “permanent guest” teachers as we hang out and teach English, character/values and drugs/migration awareness courses.  Our first long-term volunteer, Michenzie Motl, is now here and has taken a full-time teaching position at the secondary school.
  8. We were blessed with the support and partnership of Step Ahead Integrated Community Development to launch our first official economic development project in the village.  Starting with weaving sticky rice baskets, we’ll work our way up to producing woven purses and leather bags marketed under the Itsera brand.
  9. The walls in our current house are bursting with life — currently housing the teenagers, several staff, and equipment for economic development, while also doubling as community center.  We’ve begun circling a new piece of ground in the village as a build site for a new teen/community center to relieve some of the “traffic congestion” and are believing that God will bring it to be this year.
  10. And lastly…. we finally settled on a new name for our crazy and growing family here in Khon Kaen:  Breakthrough.    More to come on that front soon.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I wish I was able to share the stories within each of these stories.  Like our headstrong 16-year-old teen girl that ran away for a month, came back and has since completely transformed into a bright, humble leader of the house.  Or our other 16-year-old that discovered that her friend from Buriram is now working at a bar in Bangkok and wants to help her by inviting her here with us.  Or our work-study student that couldn’t seem to escape the influence of his meth circles in Bangkok but is flourishing in a rural context, including beginning to mentor other at-risk young men.

But…. I’ll leave you with these highlights and updates from the past 12 months, and a commitment to blog more often over the next 12!

 

Advertisements

A Little Crazy Goes a Long Way

A little (crazy) prayer goes a long way.

I asked several “Will God…?” questions in my last post.  Some won’t be answered for months or years, but for others I feel like we can start counting the promise of “immeasurably more” right now.

Can I really be an adequate interim parent for two teenagers abandoned by their mom until God provides more permanent foster parents?   It’ll take a lot longer than a week to tell that.  But in the meantime, God is blessing Jub and I and our volunteer house with two precious teenage girls that need a lot of love (and eat a lot of pancakes) and stretch our faith every day.  We continue to circle these girls in prayer and plead for God to provide foster parents in the next few months, but I’m wondering if God might have something else in store…  Immeasurably more.

Will God heal a faithful and faith-filled couple that just discovered they are HIV positive, and protect their unborn baby from the disease?   We’re still circling.  But in the meantime, she’s rising up in worship with a deep faith and divine strength that gives me goosebumps.  And she’s crying out to God not for herself or her own recovery, but for the lives of those around her as she continues to fight for and love on her neighbors that continue their work as women of the night.  Crazy awesome.  Immeasurably more.

Will my friend reach his goal of staying clean from meth for an entire year and grow as a committed husband and father?   Time will tell and we’ll keep circling.  But in the meantime, he’s challenging me back with this goal saying he doesn’t want to just stay clean for a year, but he wants to stay clean for good.  Silly me.  Immeasurably more. 

Will God build a movement to create real change in rural communities to stop this cycle of family and community brokenness that so often leads to participation in the sex industry?

Now we’re getting REALLY crazy.  But I’m beginning to realize a little crazy goes a long way when you’re talking Kingdom crazy.  Here’s a preview:

This photo was taken last week after our first ad hoc community meeting in a small, rural village in Khon Kaen province.  The heart of Isaan.  The heart of Thailand.

After being unsure whether or not we’d have any attendees and being even less sure what direction the discussion would take, we were overwhelmed with the result.

The community is awake.  Without prompting, they answered every question we had with flying colors.  They want change.  They want us to be a part, but they want to take responsibility for change.  In fact, they want to start before we even get there.

We laid out our best made plans and prayers and God is already doing…. Immeasurably more. 

More soon…