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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Friday, June 27, 2008, 11:26 AM
We finally arrived in Chiang Mai, 24 hours after leaving Thatcham at around midday on Wednesday. It was a pleasant journey with only a minor trauma in Bangkok after we were delayed in Bahrain we nearly missed our flight to Chiang Mai but made it just in time, and our bags made it too. It was great to travel with my friend Jamie from university who is working at The Centre for a month where I worked last year.

It has been great couple of days and I’m already feeling at home in Chiang Mai. I’ve been made very welcome by Steve and Sherree who work in the SIM office here and who I’m staying with till Tuesday when I’ll travel with Mindy over to Nan Province. I’ve spent the last few days with some friends from The Centre and it’s been great to see them again, it has also given me a chance to practice my Thai a bit and learn a bit more from some friendly faces. I’ve also had a chance to do some shopping and get my bank account up and running again. Unfortunately I’m going to have to do a motorbike driving test as I’ll have a motorbike in Nan and that will make getting around a lot easier. This morning I had to go to the British embassy to get a letter proving my address, which doesn’t actually prove anything, it just costs Ł30! I also went to the hospital to have a medical where they gave me an eye sight test and checked my blood pressure. I then have to do a written test and a practical test next week in Nan. It’s a little frustrating that there is so much paper work to get sorted but it’s probably easier than it would be in England so I can’t complain.

Tonight we have a prayer meeting with all the SIM people in Chiang Mai so it will be good to catch up with them, some of whom I know from last year but there will be some new faces too as SIM have about 2 times as many people here this year as they did when I was here before.

Thank you for your prayers, please continue to pray for safety as I travel around for more good time with friends here in Chiang Mai and that I would get everything done that I need to before I go to Nan on Tuesday.

My phone number here is 0066 816722204.

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June Prayer Letter 
Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 10:00 PM
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

Dear Friends,
I want to start by thanking you all for your prayers for me in the past. As you know I had an amazing time in Thailand last year on my gap year and God challenged and shaped me in many ways for his glory. That work has continued this year at university and it has been wonderful to see how God has been at work in the people around me. As many of you will know already I will be returning to Thailand this summer. I feel tremendously blessed to have this opportunity to serve in Thailand again and it has been so clear that this is God’s will throughout the planning and preparation. I will try to explain to you some of what I will be doing, why I’m doing it and plenty of things to pray for.

What I’m doing

I will be working with a church in a remote part of Nan province in the north of Thailand. This church was planted only a short time ago by a few missionaries (including Mindy who has organized this placement for me and who I’ll be working closely with) and is now run by a Thai pastor. I will be living and working with the pastor (Saman) and his wife (Nok) and serving the church in any way I can. This is likely to be working with the young people in the church and helping with a weekly Bible study. It is likely that I will have opportunities to teach English and will aim to build relationships and encourage the young people in their faith. Details are slightly sketchy and it is likely I will have to be prepared to adapt and learn from Paul who says “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1 Corinthians 9:19) I will also have a few days at the beginning to visit friends in Chiang Mai and visit The Centre again.

Why I’m doing it

There are many reasons I could list here but the primary reason is that there are many people who need to hear about Jesus. Thailand is 99.3% non-Christian, that’s nearly 60 million people. Christianity has only made small inroads in this part of the world and much work still needs to be done. God has graciously given us the task of spreading his message around the world and it is amazing that he chooses to use sinners like us.
Following my gap year I really had it in my heart to return to Thailand. There were a few options I considered, I decided not to return to work at The Centre despite having a great time there during my gap year but sensed that this wouldn’t stretch me as much and that working in a rural area may give new challenges. I hope that my gifts will be used and developed more in this placement than they would if I was to return to The Centre.


24-25th June : Fly out to Chiang Mai via Dubai and Bangkok.
25th-29th June : Staying with Steve and Sherree in Chiang Mai, catching up with old friends and visiting The Centre.
30th/1st July : Travel to Pua in Nan province.
22nd September : Return home.


Please visit my blog ( for photo’s and stories of my time away. I shall aim to update it each week and send out prayer letters every 3-4 weeks.

Major Challenge

It is hard to know what the challenges will be, but I know it won’t be easy and I will have to learn to adapt and enjoy a different culture. The major difference between this placement and The Centre is that this time there is nowhere to hide. Chiang Mai is very similar to many western cities; there are many western people, western restaurants and western churches. I will have to learn to feel at home in the Thai culture, learn to speak some Thai and keep my spiritual life on track without a western church. This is just normality for most missionaries but I know will be the major challenge for me and I will value your prayers for this.

Prayer Points

• Thank God for this wonderful opportunity to serve him again in Thailand and to visit The Centre in Chiang Mai.
• Thank God for this church and the many people who have come to know Jesus in the last few years.
• Thank God for the work he has been doing in me this year and how he has used my experiences of mission to grow my faith.
• Thank God for the great work Mindy, Saman and Nok have been doing and pray that they would have strength and encouragement to continue in all they are doing.
• Pray for good health throughout the 3 months and safety as I travel and get around on a motorbike again.
• Pray that I would be able to integrate quickly into the culture and language and build good relationships with the local people.
• Pray that I would be a great blessing to the people I’m working with and for many opportunities to share my faith and encourage them in theirs.

God Bless

Paul Zealey
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June/July Prayer Letter "Home Coming" 
Thursday, July 19, 2007, 06:01 PM
Dear Friends,

I write my final prayer letter for the foreseeable future with sadness that this gap year has come to an end but praising God for a wonderful time and all the great things he has taught me and shown me this last year. It feels a very long time ago that I wrote and so much has happened since then. We had an extremely busy last month with a trip to India, the English Camp and then packing our bags for home. It was an extremely exciting time as we really saw God working in the students and starting to change their hearts. As we got on the plane to come home my heart was filled with joy and thankfulness to God for all he has done these last 6 months and such an excitement to get home and tell people about what a great God we have.

The Centre

The Centre was a very busy place in June as there were around 15 classes running and so many students coming to the evening events. We weren’t teaching in June as we didn’t have time to fit in a full class but we were very busy never the less preparing for the English camp and saying goodbye to all our friends in the last week. Nathan completed his series of Living Rooms on “2 ways to live” which was extremely powerful and got many of the students really thinking. It was wonderful to see many of the students who came to these sessions really taking it seriously and starting to understand the importance of the decision that we all have to make.

English Camp

Our last weekend at The Centre was one of the best as we took around 20 students away for the weekend. It was a wonderful time with lots of fun games, water games and swimming in the lake as well as some very powerful teaching. It was wonderful to see how God moved that weekend and so many of the students really responded and were keen to know more. One girl known as “Bee” became a Christian that weekend which was a wonderful encouragement to all of us.

I was personally delighted when Aun made the decision to come to English Camp, he wasn’t planning on coming as he had some business meetings but after some persuasion he cancelled his meetings and came. God was really at work in Aun that weekend and I had a wonderful conversation with him one evening when he told me that he believes in God and is close to believing in Jesus but there is just one part of the puzzle missing and he’s not quite sure what it is. It was wonderful to think back over the months and the conversations I have had with Aun and see how far he has come, from not being at all interested, to being really keen to find the truth. Please thank God for Aun and the work he is doing in his heart and pray that he would be able to believe in Jesus and accept his forgiveness. It is worth mentioning that Aun was not the only one to be very interested, there were many and one girl “Kwan” became a Christian the week after the camp so do pray for her too.


At the beginning of June Nathan and I set off on our travels once again, this time to the far north of India and a small town in the Himalayas called Mussoorie. We were invited by some friends from Chiang Mai to join them as they visited friends in Mussoorie where they used to work a few years ago. We were expecting it to be quite a quiet week, reading books and walking a few mountains but God turned it in to a week of really showing us so much about mission work and the need there is in India for salvation. We were welcomed and looked after so well by the missionaries there and they were so keen to show us around and show us their work.

One day we travelled with them to some very remote villages which were about a 2 hour drive and a one hour walk from Mussoorie. David and his team have been visiting these villages for over 7 years now but have seen very little response. Their faith and love for these people really astounded me. David was describing his work to us and very simply said, “The difference between Christianity and all other religions is love, so I just visit these villages and try to love the people to bits”. It was a real challenge to us and got us thinking about how much we really love the students we were working with and how we show it. India has the second largest population in the world and has many so called un-reached people groups who have never heard anything of Jesus. I have heard these things before but you can never really understand the scale of the need for Christianity in a country like India until you have been there.


I have just returned from a week’s debrief back at Wetheringsett with SIM. It was wonderful to join up with the rest of our GAP team who have been working all over the world for the last 6 months. We spent loads of time chatting and sharing about our placements and also each pair gave a half hour presentation on what they had been doing and what they had learnt. It was so exciting to see how God has been working in different ways all over the world and been teaching us all different things. It was great to see how everyone had a positive attitude to their time abroad even though it had been really difficult at times.

A date for your Diary

On the 22nd July I will be speaking at my home church St Nicolas, Newbury at the 6:30pm service about my time in Thailand. I will share a bit about what I have been doing and what God has been teaching me and there will also be time to pray for The Centre and for Thailand. It would be great to celebrate together what a great God we have and the work he is doing in Thailand at this time so if you are able to make it, I would love to see you. If you need directions you can find them on the website at .

Closing thoughts

I really thank God for this gap year, it has been such an amazing time and he has taught me so much. There have been so many fun times and some great memories of things we have done, we have had such great opportunities to visit different places in Thailand and in Asia. We have been to Thailand, Singapore, Burma (for half an hour) and India; we have met lots of amazing people and heard many great stories. It’s been a tremendously encouraging time for me, to see how God is working in different places, in different ways to reach all people. It has been such a privilege to serve God this year and see him using me to share with the students in Chiang Mai.

There have also been hard times, times when I’ve wished I could communicate, times when I’ve been frustrated with work at The Centre and times of loneliness. However, I have seen God looking after me during these times, he has guided me in my thoughts and actions and he has given me peace at the times I most needed it. He has taught me so many things during these times and has been shaping me in to the person he wants me to be. I learnt a lot about mission work and the challenges and frustrations that all missionaries face, being a missionary is not an easy business but it is the most rewarding thing you can ever do with your life.

Thank you so much to all of you for reading these letters and for praying for me, it has made such a difference in my life and in the lives of those around me. Your support has been invaluable whether you have prayed, sent me cards and letters or given money, it has all made a huge difference and without it this year would not have been as rewarding and exciting as it has been. I thank God for all of you and hear are a few more things to pray for over the next few weeks and months.

Prayer Points

• Thank God for all he has taught me over these last 9 months.
• Thank God for the opportunity to visit India and all I learnt about him through that.
• Thank God for the English Camp and the way he was working in so many of the students over that weekend. Thank him for Bee and Kwan who became Christians through the camp and pray for them as the start their new life.
• Thank God for Aun, the relationship I have with him and the work that God has done in his heart over the last 6 months.
• Thank God for the safety he has given us over the last 9 months, I have had only 2 days feeling un-well which is a miracle.
• Thank God for the wonderful support I have received over these last 9 months.
• Pray for The Centre as they are in desperate need of more staff at this time.
• Pray for Opal, Wor, Max, Jen and Jim as they continue the work at The Centre and pray that they would continue to be excited about the work despite a lack of staff and therefore students.
• Pray for the whole GAP team as we all head off to university in September, pray that we would all continue in our walk with God and continue to be a great witness to those around us. (Nathan, Bob, Steve, Jocelyn, Hanna, Jo, Kat, Katie, Rebekah, Becky, Ailsa, James and myself)
• Pray for me as I share with churches, friends and family about my time in Thailand that I would be able to communicate effectively and share my passion for Gods work.

God Bless,

Paul Zealey

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