A Simple Thai family with something very special 
Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 09:58 AM
This is a story that I helped P'Opal write last week and thought I might share it with you. P'Opal is the boss at The Centre and became a Christian about 3 years ago; ever since she has prayed earnestly for her family and here is the story. P'Opal writes:

In October 2005 my mom moved to join me in Chiang Mai. She first planed to stay in Chiang Mai with me for just a year but she has just kept extending the time and is still here now. Since the beginning, we have had some hard times and good times. God has really used these hard times to restore my relationship with mom as we had such a broken relationship. Those times weren’t that easy as I expected when I first asked her to stay with me. Sometimes I cried a lot because we didn’t understand each other and we didn’t act in a loving way, I mean that we didn’t act in the way that mom and daughter should act to one another. Another reason that broke my heart is that it was really hard for mom to accept me as a Christian, so sometimes she doesn’t understand me. We had a lot of conflicts at the beginning and I couldn’t even bring up the word “God” up because it would turn into a big fight.

I write this story with tears because when I look back I can see how God has worked amazingly in her life. From not accepting at all to the point that she prays, talks in a Christian way, thinks like a Christian and sometimes she even lives her life like she has the personal relationship with God. Right now my mom can go to the church and she enjoys it, actually she has been there many times already. She sometimes prays for me. More than anything God has totally restored my relationship with mom. She understands when I have to work for the church and for The Centre. Sometimes she even supports me when I have to go to camps. She also encourages me to pray and tell the Gospel to people when she sees anyone who has a problem. She says “Why don’t you ask her to go to the church so she can know God?!” We can talk about many things together. One great thing is that whenever I have some problems in my job at The Centre she would always tell me to pray to God. She said one time that I should “pray to God and he will give to you what you need”.

She is also the one who has convinced my brother to go to church. My brother has been going to church regularly since my mom encouraged him to go, and now he has become a Christian. Praise the Lord for every thing he has done in my family. God is faithful and he’s answering our prayers.

Please pray that my mom would make a decision since now she totally believes in God but she just doesn’t want to step out from her old life. She has been a Buddhist for her whole life so it’s hard for her to accept a new thing. Even though she knows that God blesses her and she has some personal experience of God, it is just too hard for her to let go of an old thing.

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April Prayer Letter 
Monday, May 7, 2007, 12:14 PM
Dear Friends,

April has been another month of ups and downs and a lot of travelling. It has been what we hope will be the warmest month of our time here and as the rains draw in we continue to enjoy ourselves working with the students at The Centre. Sometimes it has been hard to find the energy for our job and to be enthusiastic about it but we have also had a great week of holiday at the beach which was very relaxing.

The Centre

The Centre has been in full bloom in the last few weeks as there have been so many people around. At the moment we have a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) team working with us from a base in Australia but who all live in Canada, USA and England! It’s been great to hear a couple of English accents again. We currently have around 70 students taking classes and a large number of them have been coming to the evening activities too. We had 50 at a Wednesday cooking night and over 50 at Nathan’s Birthday party last week. It has been great to have so many students around if not a little overwhelming at times.

One weekend instead of the Friday Night Party we had a Sports Day on the Saturday morning. In the sweltering heat we had loads of fun with egg and spoon races, tug of war and a food relay race. Around 50 or 60 students came and there was a gospel presentation by a local Pastor which seemed to go down well.

My classes have gone really well this month. In one class I have just 2 students who speak very good English and so lessons often consist of a milkshake and some good conversation. One of them is hoping to study in England next year so it has been good to chat about England a bit and help her with her application. My second class has also been a lot of fun, their English isn’t as good but we still have some good conversations and 5 of them have come to nearly every lesson which has been great!

We have continued to have some struggles; I have particularly struggled with a lack of enthusiasm and often with a lack of energy. It has been hot this month, often reaching over 40°C and with the humidity too it has been quite draining. However I have often seen prayers answered as God gives me the strength and energy I need for each day. It’s also been a bit disappointing as we have got to know the students a bit better to find that many of them are very closed to the Gospel despite an initial interest. There are big sacrifices for them to make if they do choose to follow Christ as there often are for most of us but we are finding that they are very reluctant to reject the Buddhism they have been brought up with.

A Weekend with Aun

At the beginning of the month I had a great time visiting Aun’s hometown, Phrae (pronounced Plair) which is a 4 hour journey from Chiang Mai. It was great to meet his family and see how a real Thai family live. They treated me as their honoured guest by giving me a lot of food, fortunately not really spicy, and the nicest bedroom with a big fan. It was good to spend some quality time with Aun but in some ways I was disappointed that our conversations couldn’t be a bit deeper. I haven’t seen so much of Aun this month as he has been very busy with work but I hope to find more time to see him next month.

Koh Tau

My travels continued as we headed for the beach on a small island in the Gulf of Thailand with our friend from The Centre, Jennifer. After a 20 hour journey we arrived on Koh Tau and were welcomed with the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. We spent the week reading books, sleeping and swimming in the crystal blue sea. It was a great week of fun and rest for all of us.

Other News

We have the exciting opportunity to visit India in June. We will be travelling with our friend Sharon and her daughter, who currently work with SIM in Chiang Mai but who used to work in India. We will be visiting one of the places they used to work and taking some holiday in the mountains. There are still many details to finalise but we are looking forward to seeing another part of Asia as we continue to learn more of God’s work in this vast continent.

It was Nathan’s birthday last weekend which was celebrated with a huge Friday Night Party and me cooking breakfast for him on Saturday morning. Having never cooked breakfast before it was an interesting experience but I did manage to fry up some bread, 2 almost perfect eggs and a couple of sausages. We also had lunch with some of our student friends and spent the afternoon with the staff from The Centre.

Prayer Points

• Thank God for the great holiday we had to Koh Tau and the relaxing time that was.
• Thank God for the good time I had with Aun and his family and the privilege that was for me.
• Thank God for the way my classes have gone this month and the relationships I am building with them.
• Thank God for the chance to go to India in June.
• Thank God for the YWAM team we have been working with at The Centre recently and the fun we have had with them.
• Pray for our attitude to our work at The Centre and for enthusiasm and energy for it. Pray that we would “have the same attitude as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
• Pray for the students who have shown initial interest but have no interest in changing their lives to follow Jesus. Please pray that God would open their hearts so they may see the truth of who Jesus is.
• Pray that we would be able to make the most of our last two months here and that God would continue to show us the areas where we need to change and would continue to use us to reach the students.

Thank you for your prayers,
Paul Zealey

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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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