Tuesday, July 29, 2008, 08:33 AM
If ever there were a game for a flexible, competitive man it would be Takraw. I however simply am not, although it is fun trying. This is very much an East Asian sport which is very similar to volleyball although you can’t use your hands to get the ball over the net, you can however use any other part of your body. Each side gets 3 touches before they have to get it over the net and there are 3 players on each side, 2 up by the net and 1 behind. It is played using a small hollow ball made of a woven synthetic material. (about 15cm in diameter).

Useful skills are death touches with your foot above head height to just tip it over the net, being able to control the ball bouncing it on your foot before hoofing it over the net and my favourite being a good old header which can be rather painful. Here’re a few pictures for you, if you want to see some action take a look on www.youtube.com.

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Old Friends 
Thursday, July 17, 2008, 04:00 PM

Today was an exciting day as I had my first taste of travelling by myself in Thailand. It wasn’t too difficult, I got a bus to Nan and back about 60km. It was however very exciting to meet up with my old friend Aun again. He was my student and best friend at The Centre last year but since then has moved down to Phuket in the south to work. He is currently visiting friends and family in Phrae about 2 hours from Nan so it was good of him to come up here to see me. It was also great to see Wor and Paew (pronounced Bow) who are also good friends from The Centre. They had left their house at 3:30am to catch the bus over to Nan to meet me and Aun. It was an extremely wet day in Nan but we made the most of it spending time in a nice restaurant catching up and then visiting Nan museum which was very informative about the lifestyle of the hill tribe people in Nan province and showed a lot about their animistic culture. A 12 year old girl gave us a little tour dressed in some traditional hill tribe costume and said she was a Christian, which was encouraging, it is always exciting to find Christians here as it often seems most unlikely.

Aun seemed extremely close to becoming a Christian when we left last year so I was keen to find out how he is doing now. It seems there has been little progress since last year and his move to Phuket has taken him away from his Christian friends in Chiang Mai but I was encouraged to hear that Wor and Paew keep in touch quite a bit with him and are encouraging him to make a commitment. Let’s continue to pray for Aun but also thank God for the faith Wor and Paew have and their passion to share it with the students of Chiang Mai.

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July Prayer Letter 
Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 11:01 AM
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.” Psalm 96:1-3

Dear Friends,

We have so much to “Sing to the Lord” about. I have been tremendously encouraged to find myself in a small village in rural Thailand where many people are serving the Lord and many more are turning to him in their hearts. God has clearly been at work in many lives, in many families in this area through the faithful witness of missionaries and Thais alike. Saman and Nok are two such people.

Saman and Nok

Saman and Nok both became Christians when they were teenagers and now live out their faith pastoring the church here and looking after 20 Hmong girls in their home. They have been married 14 years; when Saman was just 18. Saman has grown up here and his parents live next door whereas Nok is from the Isaan region of Thailand. The Hmong people are one of the many hill tribes in Thailand and live in quite remote and underdeveloped villages in the mountains in this part of Thailand and in western Laos. The girls stay with Saman and Nok so they can gain a much better education and have a chance at attending university in the future which wouldn’t be possible in their villages. Saman and Nok use this opportunity to share their faith with the girls in the hope that they can in turn share their faith in their villages. Already 17 girls have made commitments to follow Christ which is tremendously encouraging. They also have a Bible college intern working with the girls for 10 months. Mon is from the Lahu tribe near Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand. She is 23 and has been very helpful in helping me learn Thai.


It has turned out my main activities are teaching Saman and Nok English and working with the local teenagers. It is vital that Saman and Nok’s English improves so they can communicate with the church that supports their work in America. At the moment they are very reliant on Mindy translating for them. We have been doing 2 hours, 4 days a week and trying to speak English as much as possible to help them improve. I have been giving them spelling and grammar tests each day and they have been meticulous in learning them which is encouraging.

I have had several opportunities to spend time with some of the local teenagers. Many of them have already accepted Christ and it is encouraging to speak with them although conversations have been rather simplistic due to the language barrier. They seem to love playing the guitar and it has been fun teaching them some new songs. Some of their favourites are “Better is one day” and “One Way” by Hillsong. I have also been helping Mindy and her friend Bang with the Friday night club. Last week I started teaching using “2 ways to live” which explains the Christian faith in 6 simple pictures. As most of them are Christians already the main purpose of teaching this is so they have an easy way to explain the gospel to their friends and family and also for some of the younger Christians to cement in their minds what it means to be a Christian. I am teaching one picture at a time, starting with “The Loving Creator”, please pray for me over the next 2 weeks as I teach on the fall and judgement, that I would be sensitive and truthful. I am also teaching the Hmong girls English once a week and will be teaching two of the younger boys in the church guitar on Saturdays.

Chiang Mai

I had a great time visiting The Centre and staying with Steve and Sherree in Chiang Mai for the first few days. It was encouraging to visit The Centre again and find a few of my old students still there. Many have become Christians in the last year and it was great to see Gyou who studied with me for 2 classes and is now working at The Centre. She has a great character and I’m sure has a powerful witness to the other students. The full time staff at The Centre has increased a lot and it is good to see more SIM short-termers serving there too. I also had a chance to buy a few things before Mindy drove me over to Pua. I plan to take a break in Chiang Mai around the 9th and 10th of August.

Prayer Points

• Thank God for a good time seeing friends and a chance to adapt to Thailand again in Chiang Mai.
• Thank God for the encouragement it’s been to find many Christians in Pua.
• Thank God that I’m feeling at home here and enjoying the food and climate.
• Thank God for my friendship with Golf and the chance to play guitar with some of the other youth including Cue.
• Thank God for the encouragement of The Centre and all the work God is doing through it.
• Pray for continued good relationships with Saman, Nok, Mon and the girls.
• Pray for Saman and Nok’s English to improve and for my Thai too as well
• Pray for me as I teach “2 ways to live” that I would be clear, that it would be memorable and that it would be faithful to the Bible and to the reality of judgement. Pray that I wouldn’t be tempted to compromise or water down.
• Pray for continued good health and safety as I travel.

Many thanks for all your prayers and support in the Lord,

Paul Zealey

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The days of Adam 
Monday, July 14, 2008, 08:38 AM

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19

I was reminded powerfully of these verses as I worked planting rice on Saturday. “Painful toil” it certainly was in the heat of the day, wading through a foot of muddy water, sinking into the mud and trying hard to put the rice shoots in neat lines. It certainly gave me a taste of how millions of people live on this planet spending every day working the land.

Saturday saw an early start for me as we left at 8:30 to head to Saman’s father’s rice paddies. A team of about 30 consisting of some of Saman’s many relatives, some of the 20 girls Saman and Nok look after, Mindy and I, set about placing rice shoots in the muddy sticky water. I was glad of Mindy lending me a pair of boots although I nearly lost them in the mud several times. “Sanook mai” (Having fun?), people seemed to say this all day, “Sanook mah” (Loads of fun, thanks) I’d reply. What? How can anyone think this is fun? Sunburn, leaches, mosquitoes, mud and water wasn’t quite my idea of fun. However, it did give a chance for some good conversations and bonding with my new friend Golf and a chance to enjoy an English conversation with Mindy. I think it was also appreciated that the foreigners were happy to get stuck in and help with one of the more tedious tasks of the year.

It certainly reminded me of these verses in Genesis and gave me an appreciation of how many millions of people earn a living in the whole of South-East Asia. It was exhausting and disgusting work, I’d sit in a lecture theatre or at a computer any day. This is how God promised it will be after the fall and before heaven, work will be exhausting, painful and unfulfilling but in heaven it won’t be, Praise God! I was also encouraged when Mindy told me that everyone apart from 1 of the people we had been working with all day were Christians, God has been at work here in powerful ways and many have turned to him. I wonder how many rice fields in Thailand you can say that about? Lets pray for more.

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Chiang Klang 
Monday, July 7, 2008, 05:05 PM
Tuesday was yet another sweltering day with temperatures over 35°C in Chiang Mai. Fortunately I was travelling with Mindy, Noi and Bang to Nan Province in an air conditioned truck. The journey took about 8 hours including stops for lunch at a roadside restaurant, Tesco-to stock up on supplies for the next 3 months-and finally immigration in Nan to register. When we arrived in Pua (the town I will be living and working in) our first appointment was to attend a meal for a funeral. It is certainly an interesting way to begin a placement. It was an older guy in the church who had died of cancer in the week previous, it seems he was a strong follower of the Lord and had been involved in the local church for many years. This was the third evening of the funeral – Thai funerals can last anything up to a week – and included two meals, we only attended one, and then a service with an evangelistic talk. There were about 80 or so people there which I think was quite an impressive turnout. The town elder also gave a short speech and Mindy was encouraged the he finished by saying “I believe his spirit has gone to be with Jesus in heaven”, quite a statement for someone not known to be a Christian!
For me it was a great chance to meet some of the people I’ll be working with and a chance for them to meet me. Mindy introduced me to Jo who was this man’s grandson. In the recent past this 14 year old has last both his parents and now his grandfather. He is a committed Christian and I’m looking forward to getting to know him over these next few months. Please pray that Jo would stay strong in his faith and that God would comfort him and his little sister.
I also visited Saman and Nok’s home where I will be staying while here. Mindy introduced me to the 20 girls they look after. They are all from the Mong tribe and some have very difficult backgrounds but Saman and Nok have taken care of them and put them through school. They have a dorm next to the house where they live but part of my responsibilities will be to get to know them and help them with homework and teach them some English. Many of them struggle with school as Thai is not their first language but Saman and Nok do their best to help with homework and they also have an intern from a Bible college who lives with them called Moong (female).
Mindy, Saman, Nok and I had a meeting to discuss what I’ll be doing. It seems my main task will be to teach Saman and Nok English so they can help the girls with their English homework and so they can communicate effectively with their American supporters. They want me to teach them for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week and will only allow me to speak to them in English. I will also be spending time with some of the local boys who Mindy has been working with, some of whom have become Christians, some haven’t, hopefully this will give me a chance to improve my Thai as I’m not allowed to speak to Saman and Nok in Thai.
Wednesday I spent in Chiang Klang which is about half an hour from Pua. This is where Mindy and a team live who work in the surrounding villages. I have spent the day meeting the other staff, resting and preparing for a lot of English teaching. I also went for a ride on my motorbike around the area, admiring the beautiful mountains and endless rice paddies.
It has been so clear that God has been at work in this trip even before I left to come here. Mindy almost fell off her chair when I told her I had been given a Non-immigrant visa which lasts for 3 months. I had no idea this was unusual, I just rang the consulate and asked for the options. This many not sound like terribly exciting news but it meant that I could get a motorbike license and has saved a huge amount of bother with the Nan immigration office whom Mindy has had some trouble with before. Mindy was also telling me how unusual some of the greetings have been. Dtoi who apparently is extremely shy and didn’t speak to Mindy for the first 3 years she was here greeted me with a “sa-wut-dee krup” and a handshake, and her team all introduced themselves in English which apparently they have never done before.
Thursday I will move in with Saman and Nok and begin the work they have for me.
Many Thanks for your prayers!

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