Lua Village 
Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 10:38 AM
Sunday afternoon presented a great opportunity to go with Mindy, Noi and Blake to one of the villages they work in. Mindy works in two Lua villages teaching English and giving medical advice. This Sunday was a special time for the village as they had their yearly spiritual ceremony thing which involved some dancing and hitting bamboo sticks as you can see in the pictures. We didn’t get involved in any of the spiritual traditions and instead met with some of the Christians for a time of worship and teaching.

Mindy and her team have been working in this village for 3 years spending 2 days and 2 nights there and so far 26 have come to know Jesus. It was great to have the chance to meet with some of them in a bamboo house. Blake was teaching using a chronological storying technique his organisation has developed from creation to Jesus with Noi translating into Thai. Despite the distractions of attention seeking children the villages kept their concentration and copied down the picture Blake was drawing. All apart from the younger members of the group were illiterate and some had clearly not had much practise using pens before. Some seemed to have very little concept of shape and had a lot of difficulty copying the simple picture Blake was drawing. It certainly seemed the 6000 miles away from my home church.

Two major problems were very clear from just an afternoon in this village and they were alcohol and depression. Nan province consumes the most alcohol of any province in Thailand despite being one of the smallest and drunkenness is very apparent in most places but in this village in particular. Several of the men were very drunk and were very friendly to the foreigners who turned up, speaking a very slurred version of Thai I could make out a little of what they were saying. Depression was less upfront but from the stories I heard many people have committed suicide or have tried.
This is a very animistic culture and therefore the people live in fear of evil spirits every day of their lives, it is no wonder that they sometimes wonder why they are alive. It is exciting to see the gospel spreading to these lost people and giving them a reason and a hope for their lives.

This is the dancing and hitting bamboo sticks, they did the same rhythm and dance for at least half and hour.

This is a typical Lua house, most have very little inside as this is a very poor community.
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"So Paul, are you going to be a long term missionary?" 
Thursday, August 14, 2008, 12:02 PM
Last weekend I took a short break in Chiang Mai or “Little America” as it is nicknamed by missionaries in Thailand. It was a good break and I enjoyed having deeper conversations in English and spending time with some English, American and Thai friends. It was also nice to taste some western food again and fresh milk. It was very encouraging to meet up with a couple of friends who are committing their lives to serve in mission. A couple who I know from university are planning to finish their current studies and move to China and an American who I met last year at The Centre who is currently raising support to move to Chiang Mai as soon as possible. Naturally enough many people both in Pua and in Chiang Mai have been asking me the same question, “are you going to be a long term missionary?”

It is a natural enough question. Thai’s are often prompted to ask the question because of my efforts in learning Thai. I have surprised myself at how much I have been able to learn and at how keen I have been to learn and I think this can only be God’s work through our prayers. However I think it is a great blessing that I don’t know for certain my future, I hope to have 3 more years studying in Southampton and I need to focus on that for the time being. In many ways part of this trip is about finding out if I could be a long term missionary but more and more I realise that this is a rather silly and human question. If God intends for me to be a long term missionary then of course I can because he will always provide for what he calls us to.

These wonderful opportunities to serve in Thailand have certainly opened my eyes to the realities of long term mission and how tough it can be but it is important to remember that life can be tough wherever it is lived. In many ways the struggles I face as a short termer of language and culture will become easier the longer you live in a place. There may be frustrations but we must humbly accept these and overcome them. It is also interesting that many missionaries would rather be on the mission field than on “home assignment”. The idea of missing home seems hardly to register on the mind of the long term missionary. Life can often seem more comfortable at “home” but is it really?

Like everyone, I will have to be open to whatever God calls me to. Whatever it is he will provide for it, this is a wonderful certainty for us if we’re Christians. What I do know is that my life will always involve sharing the gospel wherever I live and supporting world mission in whatever way I can, for this is what we are all called to.

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Nam too-um 
Friday, August 8, 2008, 09:20 AM
Yesterday it was time for a new word to be added to my vocabulary, Nam too-um which means flood. It didn't seem too bad but did affect quite a number of houses at the end of the road about a kilometre from where I'm staying and the girl's school has been closed for a few days. One of the girls from church, Gluay's house was flooded so we all spent the afternoon giving them a hand mob up and helping the next door neighbours aswell. Fortunately flooding doesn't seem to cause as much damage here as it does in England as there are no carpets and people seemed to have managed to get things out of the way. We also spent this morning helping at the school which was again closed today. It was good to see the local Christian's really getting stuck in to help the community and hopefully they will be impressed by our witness so you can pray for opportunities with them.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Chiang Mai for a few days to catch up with some friends who are there at the moment and have a bit of a rest. I'm looking forward to tasting some fresh milk and cereal again.

Gluay's House.

That's a motorbike under the house.

This is the school the girls go to.
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"I Will Build My Church" 
Thursday, July 31, 2008, 05:21 PM

One of the tasks of a few weeks ago was putting a ceiling on the church. Previously it was a fairly un-impressive building with 4 concrete walls and a tin roof but after 4 days of work it now has a ceiling as well! A few of the teenagers and an older guy in the church lent a hand climbing over scaffolding and carefully lowering the polystyrene panels into place. My job was a little less precarious and involved learning Thai and then trying to pass them the right thing.

Today we finished off the job after installing lights and doing a fair bit of rewiring we finished it off with some wall fans which will hopefully make Sunday mornings a little less sweaty. Here are some photos of the ceiling being built and I’ll hopefully upload some more recent ones soon. Many thanks for all your prayers!

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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

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