Thai Celebrities 
Sunday, April 29, 2007, 02:26 PM

Its not everyday you meet famous people so here is one. I haven't a clue who he is but my students told me his name is "Ot" and he is very famous for his food programs in Thailand, so I guess he might be the equivalent of Jamie Oliver back home. Anyway, we were just having dinner at one of the students favourite restaurants known as "Milk Zone" when this guy walks in with a bit of a possy of camera men, so I got a photo with him.
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The Beach 
Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 05:52 PM

There are many great things about being a missionary in Thailand and one of them has to be the opportunity to take a holiday on one of the many “paradise islands”. Last week was “Songkran” (the festival to celebrate the Thai New Year) and we followed many of the westerners in Chiang Mai to the beach. Songkran is celebrated with a nationwide water fight where anyone on the street is fair game. In most of Thailand this is a one day event but in Chiang Mai they love it so much it often lasts for 4 or 5 days. The city comes to a grinding halt as people hide around every street corner with a big bucket of icy water to give someone a surprise shower. We chose one of the smallest and by many opinions one of the quietest known as Ko Tau in the Gulf of Thailand. After a 20 hour journey from Chiang Mai, involving a plane, bus and boat we were greeted by crystal blue sea, 35°C heat and lots of noisy taxi drivers wanting to take us to our hotel.

After some complications with our accommodation we eventually got a couple of nice rooms just 10 meters from the beach and cheaper than we had been expecting. The rest of the week was mainly spent lying on the beach, swimming in the sea which was warmer than most swimming pools I’ve been in and reading books.

One day we hired kayaks and paddled around part of the island before the waves got too big, the wind too strong and we had to turn back. Other days were spent in on a private beach the other side of the island, sipping the most amazing chocolate milkshake I have ever tasted and admiring the beauty of Gods creation. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

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A weekend with a Thai family 
Thursday, April 5, 2007, 06:23 PM

Dinner with Aun's parents and his uncle

Last weekend saw an exciting opportunity to visit the home of one of my students. Aun who I had taught for 2 months and build a good friendship with, took me to his family home just outside a town called Phrae. He has a simple family, just him, his mum and his dad, they live in a smallish house at the side of a main road. His parents run a small dress making business in the downstairs of their house with a kitchen just behind and 3 bedrooms upstairs.

We left Chiang Mai early on Saturday morning to travel to a national park about 60km away. The train dropped us at the bottom of the mountain, so in the searing heat we climbed 2km to the entrance of the national park! Thailand has a thing about charging foreigners 10 times the price for visiting national parks; in this case it was 20 baht for Thai’s and 200 for foreigners. However, after some sweet talking and the mention of “bpen missionary” he allowed me in for 20 baht. It turned out that Aun didn’t have much of a plan for what to do there and the 40 degree heat was a little to warm for any serious trekking so after sitting in the vaster centre for about an hour we hitched a lift down the mountain in the back of a pick up truck. They dropped us at a small restaurant at the side of a main road and told us there would be a bus along shortly to take us to the next town. We sat and ate a bit of very spicy food at this restaurant and then waited for the right bus to come along. Sure enough, a big green bus shortly appeared and we hopped on. After another 2 hour bus journey through the mountains we soon arrived at Phrae where Aun’s dad met us in his fairly old pick up. That evening we bought some food from the town and ate together before watching a DVD together.

Sunday morning came very quickly upon us. To my supprise Aun seemed very keen to take me to his local church just across the road. Aun is not a Christian yet and so I accepted the offer. It turned out that this was in fact a catholic church with some of the worst music and singing I have ever heard and an extremely elderly congregation who had no doubt been propping up the pews for many a year. Accepting that God works in many mysterious ways, I continued to pray that this wouldn’t put Aun off Christianity forever. As I cautiously asked him afterwards what he thought of it, he responded “I enjoyed it, I get to see lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time”

After a lunch of rice and chicken soup it was on to the sights of the town. Phrae isn’t a big town and to be fair isn’t very interesting, maybe that is why I didn’t see any other foreigners all weekend. However, it was good to see Aun’s secondary school, and the small museum. Aun went to a Catholic school so he was proud to show me the chapel, which is fairly new and impressive.

Later, we headed to Aun’s uncle’s small farm to catch a few fish for dinner. When I say farm what I mean is a large allotment with 2 fish ponds and a pig sty. We caught a few large fish and lots of smaller ones which we returned to their home.

The day finished with a special meal with Aun, his parents and his uncle. There was a variety of food from which to pick from, fish, chicken soup, pork, spicy sources which I left alone and then to top is off, mango and sticky rice-amazing!

We returned home the next day in time for work at The Centre. Our travels continued today as we took the necessary visa run up to Burma. We spent about an hour in Burma, buying a few DVDs before popping back across the border without any difficulties. Tomorrow we head off on holiday to Ko Tau in the south of Thailand for a week so I won’t be blogging next week, but there will be plenty to tell after I’m sure. Happy Easter.

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March Prayer Letter 
Monday, April 2, 2007, 09:55 AM
Dear Friends,

As I write the third prayer letter I have sent from Chiang Mai I realise that this must mean I am half way through my time here. We are enjoying ourselves so much that even the mention of going home is banished immediately. However March has been a month of ups and downs as we have come to terms with the frustrations and difficulties of working in a different culture and with a different language. March has also been a great month in many ways as we have had so many encouraging times with the students and a lot of fun too.

The Centre

March has been a very quiet month for us at The Centre. While many students have been enjoying their summer break back at home only a few have been learning English at The Centre. Apparently this is extremely unusual as The Centre is almost always over run with students all the time. This has brought with it many frustrations as often we have felt a bit bored and disappointed when only a few students turn up to the evening events. It has also been a month in which we have learnt a lot about the difficulties of working in a cross-cultural environment. Occasionally we have been confused and even offended by some of the things the Thai staff, have come out with. While their English is very good sometimes things don’t come across in the way it was intended and we have struggled with that at times this month. Please pray for us as we work with such an international group of people (3 Thai, 1 American and an Australian and us), that there wouldn’t be misunderstandings and that we would always have the right attitude to our friends and colleagues.

Classes this month however have gone surprisingly well as my first class turned up all but one day and often all 4 of them were there. This made planning the lessons much easier than my previous class and we also had a lot of fun in the lessons which gave me much more confidence in my ability to teach English. While I’m not sure that they learnt a lot the main purpose of The Centre is to build relationships with the students so we can share the Gospel with them and I do think my lessons achieved that. My second class had just one student, “Aun” who I have mentioned in previous letters. These were always good fun as we get on well and I often had the chance to talk with him about the Bible and answer some of his many questions. God is clearly at work in his life at the moment and he is open to talk about Jesus but I often get the sense that he sees learning about Christianity in the same way that he wants to learn about English. Please continue to pray for him that his eyes might be opened to see what an amazing thing it is to have a relationship with our Saviour. Also pray for me as I have the opportunity to go with him to his home town about 4 hours train ride from Chiang Mai this weekend. Pray for good conversations and opportunities to share with him and his family, it’s certainly a very exciting time for me.

April promises to be a lot livelier as this week we have started new classes with many more students. I have 2 in one class and 7 in the other with around 40 students studying at The Centre over this time. Hopefully this will mean that we will have more students to the events and also have more opportunities to build relationships with them.

I also introduced “Jeep” to you in my last prayer letter who has now returned to his home town. However, we have had a couple of phone calls from him because he said he is missing The Centre a lot and is desperate to practise his English. We suggested that he tries to find a church where there might be some foreign missionaries who would be happy to speak to him in English. Although we haven’t heard from him since, he seemed very happy with the idea so we can pray that he would and that he wouldn’t forget all that he has learned at The Centre.

I wrote to you a few weeks ago about one of my former students “Pang” who became a Christian. Although I haven’t heard much since we did hear that her mother who was seriously ill with cancer, passed away in the last week. Please continue to pray for Pang that she would still have faith in Jesus and that she would have peace at this time, in this difficult situation. Also pray for the rest of her family that they would be drawn closer to Jesus through this situation.

Other Activities

March has been another busy month outside of The Centre with a lot more opportunities to spend time with Steve and Sherree (our mentors here in Chiang Mai). In February we didn’t see much of them as they were so busy with many conferences and a trip to Australia but since then we have had much more time to have dinner together and get to know them much better. We also had the chance to spend a relaxing weekend with them up in the mountains north of Chiang Mai close to the Burma border. This was a great time as it is such a beautiful place and it was nice to breathe some clean air which can’t be found in Chiang Mai at the moment.

It was also my birthday on the 20th of this month which was celebrated in style with a spot of bungee jumping. This was so much fun if not a little scary too. Our friend Jen and Steve came too which made it all the more enjoyable. Jen had been up all night before worrying about it but she loved it in the end! Nathan and Jen also organised a small party for me at The Centre in the evening which all the staff and a few of the students attended with lots of my favourite Thai food.


April is looking like a very busy month for us here. On the 5th we have to make a trip to Burma as our visas require us to. Fortunately this isn’t difficult as there are many buses to the border town of Mae Sai and it is only 5 or 6 hours so we can do it in a day. We are also taking some holiday down in the south of Thailand on the small island of Ko Tau during the national festival known as “Songkram”. This is basically a 5 day nation wide water fight where anyone on the street is fair game. The Centre is closing for a week during this time so we will take the opportunity to take a break.


Just a reminder to check the blog (, there you will find more news of my activities day to day and lots more things to pray for. I am also putting some photos up so you can see the environment and the people I’m working with.

Summary of Prayer Points

• Thank God for all the encouragements of the last month, for the good relationships we have built with the students and all the opportunities we have had to share with them.
• Thank God for the other staff at The Centre and the great work they are doing with the students.
• Thank God for the relaxing time we had with Steve and Sherree at the weekend and the good break it was for us.
• Thank God for all the fun we were able to have celebrating my birthday.
• Pray for the students Aun, Jeep and Pang, and pray for the new classes we have at The Centre that we would be able to build close relationships with them.
• Pray for this weekend as I have the chance to visit Aun’s family in Prae. Pray that we would be able to have some really great conversations, that his heart would be open and that I would know the words to say to him.
• Please continue to pray for safety on the roads as we seem to be using the bike more and more.
• Pray for our relationships with the staff at The Centre and that we would be able to accept each others different ideas and feelings.

Thank you for all your support and prayer,

Paul Zealey

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Fear Factor 
Thursday, March 22, 2007, 08:14 AM
As hopefully many of you may have remembered, Tuesday was my birthday! What would normally be a day with a few presents in the morning, a day at school and then a nice meal in the evening was rather different this year. It was a day that was shrouded in mystery, came with an early and unexpected start at 7:30. Nathan, who had stolen my keys the night before in a move more a kin to espionage than missionary work, broke into my room and woke me up from a deep sleep with a big “Happy Birthday” and a few earthquakes through my bed. I’m not the best at waking up in the morning and particularly dislike being woken up in such a sudden manner, fortunately for Nathan my quick thinking prevented me from punching him and instead smiled for the camera which he had been videoing the whole drama with. My anger was quickly appeased as Nathan conjured a bowl of gorgeous chocolate serial and a small present.

When I say the day was shrouded in mystery, there was one thing I knew would be happening, something involving big heights and a few elastic bands, known as Bungee Jumping! Around 9 O’clock our friends Jen and Steve turned up to take us to an outdoor pursuits centre just outside Chiang Mai where we would throw ourselves off a platform 50m above a large pond. As it was my birthday, I was the first to be strapped up with pads and tied to the ropes. I was lifted up to the top of the crane type thing with the instructor who tried in vane to distract my thoughts by telling me how safe this all was. To be honest, I was fairly cool about the whole thing, its easy just jump off, how hard can it be. Well, it can be hard, as the instructor brought me to the edge, the heart started to beat a little quicker, he decided to prolong the agony by asking me to pose for a few photos which seemed to take forever. Finally, he gave the count down, “Three, two, one Bun……” I didn’t here the rest, instead I was falling towards earth, my heart in my mouth, my cheeks behind my ears and hoping that they had attached the bungee cord to my feet. To my relief, my fall began to slow and I bounced back up. I think it only lasted about a minute but it became quite fun dangling upside down, not quite sure which way was up. After I was just starting to get a little nervous about hanging above a lake, 2 of the instructors on the ground offered me a bamboo stick to grab hold off and pull me back down to earth. Next it was Jen’s turn to face her fears; she had been up all night worrying about it. Shaking quite a lot she climbed into the cable car and began the journey 50m into the air, it took her a few moments and a couple of attempts to bring herself round to the crazy idea but she managed after a few prayers and a bit of encouragement. Nathan was extremely calm (outwardly at least) about the whole experience, he has an almost un-healthy love of heights and so jumping off something high and not dieing is a great joy. Steve was the last to jump, he too was extremely calm as this had nothing on the bungee jump he did over the Victoria Falls in Zambia. It was great fun and gives a huge amount of satisfaction to know you have survived a bungee jump in Thailand, not that it wasn’t safe of course.

The rest of the day proceeded with lunch at a café just next to where we stay and then the usual at The Centre. However, I kind of knew this wasn’t quite the end, they like surprises at The Centre. It wasn’t long after wrapping up my lessons for the day that I found myself being blindfolded with ties and lead out of The Centre and on to a motorbike with Nathan. This was rather disorientating as Nathan proceeded to drive around the roads nearby, stopping to put food in my mouth and asking me what it was. This happened 3 times and each time he took a blindfold off, not that this helped much. At the end of this rather scary 15 minutes, I was lead back to The Centre to have the blindfolds removed and find a group of The Centre staff and students singing happy birthday by candle light. The evening concluded with some of my favourite Thai food and a delicious birthday cake which Nathan had cooked earlier. It was a tremendously fun day with a lot of excitement and certainly one I’ll remember for a long time to come. Follow the link on the right for photos of the Bungee Jumping.

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