Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It all comes to a close...

Wow! That is really about the only word I have to describe what has gone on this summer. I can not believe that it is over. What an amazing experience this has been!

Since the Friends Forever retreat, our team really just tried to spend as much time as we could with the Thai students and staff before we had to leave Khon Kaen. Monday the 18th we had the opportunity to go out to dinner with the CO NEU staff at a restaurant called Mama Big's. This was a time they had allotted for us to encourage each other and thank the staff for everything they put into this summer. It was such a sweet time to reflect on the amount of work that Sano put into our ministry on campus. After dinner, all the CCP girls went over to Sano and Honey's house to exchange gifts and gratitude. They were so sweet and thoughtful in the gifts that they gave to us. I was overwhelmed with joy to have spent an entire summer with the most wonderful women.

Tuesday the 19th was a day that I knew was going to be bittersweet. Not only was it my 21st birthday, but we had to leave the city where I spend so much of my time and grew to love. The entire day felt surreal. Before the day really got started, Hannah and Taylor woke me up by bringing me my favorite breakfast food [a pineapple pie from 7/11] and birthday cards. They were so sweet to think about me. The craziness started with deep cleaning our rooms and packing up all of our stuff. This was definitely not easy. I think I was in denial the entire time I was packing my suitcase. After a long time of packing, we took a break and went to the student center for lunch with students and the Christian girls. Well, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Not too long after we walked in, I was greeted by Sano and a few others singing Happy Birthday and carrying about a dozen donuts from our favorite place [Mister Donut]. It was so sweet and I was able to share with everyone there. After exchanging gifts with the students, we did all our last minute packing and crammed into 2 song tau's with a ton of students and made our way to the airport. Through out the entire day I had not been emotional, but it was like the airport had something in the air that made me the biggest cry baby. Seeing the looks on the faces of the students that we had spent 2 months with show me that they were really affected by our presence there. Even though we did not actually see anyone come to know the Lord, I could just tell that they did not want us to leave. [This is the part where my birthday became a sad memory]. There were so many hugs and more than enough tears, but all in all it was so hard to say goodbye. Part of my heart will always be passionate for those students that we met and the relationships that were formed. After making our way through the easiest security, I hear someone calling my name and telling me to come back because someone else wanted to say goodbye [it was really easy to go out and back through security]. As I went back though the doors, I saw Jom [the law student who invited us to her house] and her mom, sister and aunt. I immediate burst into tears again. Jom and her family had driven 3o minutes from their hometown just to come and say goodbye. To be completely honest, after that goodbye, I really did not want to ever leave Thailand. After a two hour flight, we made it to Bangkok and immediately went to sleep.

Wednesday and Thursday were kind of like a whirl wind of adventures. With the help of Guy, we were able to travel around Bangkok to see some of the major sights. The first place we went was the King's Palace. I was speechless the entire time I was there. There was so much gold and jewels and so many idols. Even though all the building were so intricate and detailed, I still couldn't believe how much work they put into their religion. While we walked around this temple, I just kept thinking about all the students that we knew that put their faith in this stuff. I just continued to pray for their hearts and for them to be open to the Truth of the Lord.

When we left the Palace we made our way to a mall that had a lot of Thai good and souvenirs. This was very relaxed just a time to get out of the sun and sit down and eat together. After shopping, we headed back to the hotel [after learning how to maneuver through the sky trains]. As a team we headed to the mall that night and ate dinner at McDonald's [typical team dinner] and came together that night for a debriefing session. We did the same kind of debriefing in the morning to prepare our hearts for heading back to Summer Project as well as home and school. The whole day on Thursday I just kept thinking how surreal it felt that I would be back in America. But, I had a lot of time to reflect on what the Lord had done in my life through the experiences that I had this summer.

The flight back was hard. The plane was a lot more comfortable, but it was actually a longer flight back to the States. When we arrived in Houston, we were so happy to finally be back in the United States [and to use our cell phones]. That night of sleep in Cleveland was probably the best night's sleep I have had in a very long time. My first meal I enjoyed in the States was Chick-fil-A and it has never tasted so good in my entire life!

Again, I want to say thank you to all those who supported me financially and prayerfully this summer. It would not have been possible with out your support. [I will be posting pictures in another blog after this one].

Monday, July 18, 2011

Almost done

This might be my last post before I leave Khon Kaen. [But I will updated while in Bangkok and Sandusky!]

I just want to start off by saying thank you again to all those who have supported me financially or prayerfully. This has been the most incredible experience and I will never forget about it. The things I have seen, the people I have met and what God has revealed to me this summer was worth everything it costs to come here.
As I said in the post before, we spent two days in Udon Thani, Thailand. It is a little village about an hour outside of Khon Kaen. We stayed at the Inter Resort [don't start thinking resorts like you see on TV, it was a nice place, but nothing like those places ha ha]. We were split up into groups of three for each room and each house accommodated 9 people. I had the pleasure of living with Noon, one of the Christian girls, and Praw, a student we have been hanging out with all summer.

I love these girls!

Well, as soon as we got there we ate lunch together and had a welcome meeting. This meeting mostly consisted of splitting into teams and playing really random games. [I was on the Blue Team!] After a few games, we had a coffee break and we able to move into our rooms. After we moved all our stuff in, we walked around the resort and decided to take some pictures and just hang out with the girls.

Some of the girls on the retreat! [plus one boy! ha ha]

The little lake that was around the resort

After our free time, we took a whole group picture! [They had most students that have ever gone on a Friends Forever retreat this year]. It was a little overwhelming at first to think that there were going to be so many girls on this retreat and I wanted to hang out with all of them.

We were able to all eat dinner together and just get to know the students more. [I have to admit that the food was definitely different and I took full advantage of the snack place at the resort.] Our next meeting started off with a little dance performance by the CCP team to a popular Thai song called "Loving you Too Much So Much Very Much." Our team had learned the dance that they do in the video, and it was quite a crowd pleaser. After the dance, I had the opportunity to share my testimony with everyone there. Following my testimony, we watched the movie The Chronicles of Narnia 3 in a way to share the Gospel with the students. When the movie was over, many of the students were tired and decided to go to bed.

In the morning, Guy shared with the students an explanation about the movie and related it back to the Gospel. [Even though we could not understand what he was saying at all, because it was all in Thai, we knew that he was sharing the Truth with the students]. In the afternoon we played two of the funniest games. The first game we played was only girls. It was a little like Ultimate Frisbee, with a ball and kind of like basketball in that you had to make a basket to score. I have to say, the girls did not take it easy. There were lots of dog piles, hitting and slapping the ball away. In the end, it is definitely a game we want to take back home.

The second game we played was another mixture of dodgeball and capture
the flag. Except instead of dodge balls, there were socks filled with flour. This game definitely wins in the most eccentric game I have ever played before. After the game, there was a slideshow of all the pictures from the weekend as well as sing a few fun songs. Then, it was back to Khon Kaen. I was really hoping to be able to have a conversation with one of the Thai girls, but they were all so exhausted that almost all of them fell asleep on the bus. However, I am confident in the fact that whenever the Word of the Lord goes out, it never comes back empty. Even though I do not know of anyone who officially made a decision to give their life to Christ, I know that he is working in the hearts of the 58 non-believing students who were on the retreat!

This is a picture of me and some of the girls on the retreat! I will truly miss all of them so much!

So, as we prepared to leave Khon Kaen and head to Bangkok, I sit back and think abut the entire summer I have spent here. I am really going to miss this city, the people and the culture. This summer has been such amazing practice for having my own ministry at home and at school. I am thankful for all the lessons I have learned here about ministry and my own personal faith. I hope to continue to use this blog to update those of you who are interested in the Campus Outreach ministry in Lexington and my own personal ministry on Georgetown's Campus. Thank you to all of you who have been faithful in following my blog and praying for me while I was in Thailand! I can not wait to see you all when I return back to the States! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A small note..

I am so excited to share with you all what we get to do this weekend!!! This Friday and Saturday is the annual Friends Forever Retreat. It is a retreat that is put on every year by the Campus Outreach staff! For the last week and a half or so, the staff and CCP team have been trying to recruit students to go! The students only have to pay 200 Baht [equivalent to about $6.50 for a 2 day one night retreat].

I ask that you all pray for the students who are going that are not believers. There will be about 24 girls and 34 boys going that do not know God. All together there will be 26 Christians attending the retreat [including CCP and Staff] for a total of 84 people.

I also ask that you pray for Hannah, Ross, and myself. Hannah and Ross have the chance to share with all the students about their time here in Thailand and what they have liked most about being here. On the first night [friday night], I have been given the opportunity to share my testimony. I am very excited to share my story about how God brought me out of darkness and into his marvelous light [1 Peter 2:9].

Update will be coming soon after the retreat! [with lots of pictures, hopefully]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ok, again, I am going to apologize in advance. Because I haven't had the chance to write since Wednesday, there has been so much that has happened and I want to tell you about all of it! Therefore, this is going to be a longer post, but I encourage you to read all of it [there are also a lot of pictures, so it probably looks longer than it is.] God is really working here in Thailand. It may not seem like a lot, but the smallest step here would be compared to one giant step in the States [because so many of the people here have never heard the name of God before, just getting one student interested in going on a Christian retreat is a big deal!] So, here I go...

Thursday: We were beginning the first of 3 jam packed days! It started by going to a ceremony that was going on in the auditorium at NEU to recognize the professors. This ceremony ended with an open mic karaoke session [very hilarious].

After we left the ceremony we waited for 2 girls to meet us at the student center and then headed over to Central [the best and coolest mall ever] to go see the movie Transformers 3. I had previously seen the movie in 3D and English earlier that week so it made watching it in Thai a little easier. However, having to watch a 2.5 hour movie in Thai is definitely something I probably don't want to do again. The 2 girls we went with, Bon and Blah, have already committed and paid to attend the Friends Forever retreat [I will explain more about that in another post].

Friday: This day could definitely win in the competition of most activities done in one day while we were here. After having team training in the morning, Sano, Stephanie, Ice and myself went and had lunch together. This is always a good time because we can encourage each other and talk about how ministry is going on a more personal level. After lunch we met up with a student named Jaa and her 3 friends [I am having trouble remembering their names] to go shopping at a market type thing called Prot Tu Nam [favorite/cheapest place to get clothes]. It was a very very hot and humid day, but we still managed to have a good time with the girls! Everyone was able to buy something, except for me... I was a little sad! Ha ha.

After Prot Tu Nam, we headed back to campus to watch several different faculties [majors] do different kinds of cheers and songs. We left the cheer early to pick up some of the Christian girls and head to Bon Tone, a village just outside of Khon Kaen. Jom, the student that we went with, is a 2nd year Law student who has been around Campus Outreach for over a year, but has yet to give her life to Christ. When we got to her house, we immediately went to the market to pick up a few things before dinner. While we were at the market, it started to pour [which was very needed, it had not rain for about 4 days]. So, we waited for the rain to calm down before heading back. Before we got to her house, we stopped in to meet her aunt. She was so sweet. She makes these mats that the Thai's use to sit on, sleep on and eat on. She offered to give us one as a gift and I was so excited because I was going to buy one anyway!

We finally made it to Jom's house for dinner. But before we started eating, Jom's Mom, Aunt and Grandmother wanted to give us a Thai blessing by giving us 3 different string bracelets. Even though I could not understand a single thing they said, it was very sweet that they wanted to make us feel welcome. After dinner we sat outside and talked with everyone. Sano was able to go back into a room with Jom and talk with her more about being a Christian and some of the challenges that Jom faces with making a decision like that. Sitting outside with Jom's family was so much fun. Thai families are so welcoming and hospitable. They did everything they could to make us feel comfortable. Jom's Mom informed us before going to bed that we would be getting up at 4:30 am to go see the sunrise. At first I thought she was kidding, butthen I decided that I would actually really love to do that. 4:30 am did not come quickly. I was definitely not use to the way that Thai's sleep, and was only able to get about 2 hours of sleep. But, I was still so excited to see the sunrise!

Saturday: So, at 5 am, we all hopped into the back of a pick-up truck and made our way to the lake. I don't think I can put into words how beautiful it was to see the sun coming up over the lake... IN THAILAND. I know that I have been here for almost 7 weeks, but I still can't help but think how crazy it is that I am half way around the world.

After the sun had risen, we began to drive around the town looking for a water buffalo. The Thai's seem to think we are crazy when we ask them if we can see the water buffalo, but I have never seen one before. Our trip was successful, and I have to admit, as excited as I was to see the buffalo... they are really fat and ugly animals! Ha ha. Altogether, the trip to Jom's was a blast. It was great for her to spend some time with Christian girls, but it was also good for us to be able to get to know her better! Pray that she will come to the Friend Forever retreat!Around 9 am, the CCP team plus Marc, Sherry and their daughter Sophia took a day trip to do and see things that are very unique in Thailand. The first stop was the King Cobra Bokzing [thats seriously how they spell it] Project. I have to say that this was BY FAR the weirdest/scariest thing I have ever seen. It was a bunch of men literally punching and kicking King Cobras.

I definitely do not want to ever go back there again. After we watched the fighting, we walked around a little zoo type thing where we were able to see more snakes, monkeys and peacocks! Very random assortment of animals. Once we left the King Cobra village we headed to a huge lake for lunch. We got to sit in little bamboo huts that were over the water. The view was beautiful! Everyone was able to eat together and fellowship with each other! After lunch, we split up into groups and took a ride on a banana boat.

It was definitely relaxing to be in the lake and rest in the bamboo hut. However, Stephanie and I were running on very little sleep. It made it a little difficult finding the energy to play around in the lake.

Because I knew that I would be exhausted, and I wanted to treat myself to an early birthday present, Taylor and I decided to check into one of the nice hotels in Khon Kaen called the Pullman. It was an amazing night! Even though we were the only 2 to stay the night, the other girls came and joined us for dinner. I love hanging out with the 3 other girls on my team. They are such an encouragement to me and we have grown to be very very close! After dinner, Noah and I were scheduled to Skype with the Summer Project [each week 2 different team members video chat with the Summer Project and just tell them about what God is doing here]. Afterskyping, the rest of the team joined us upstairs in the room and we were able to play games, talk and continue to get to know each other better.

Here is a picture of the view from the hotel room.. I forgot to take some of the entire room.. sorry].

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wow, what a wild couple of days! We have been keeping so busy with all kinds of ministry things!! Last night [Monday night] Stephanie and I got to hang out with some of the Christian girls and go to one of the night markets for a little while. After we got back to the student center, I got the chance to share with one of the girls a more intense version of my testimony. She and I are very similar in our walks with the Lord. What a blessing it was that God gave her the understanding to hear what I was saying and comprehend it [with out a translator!!]
Tuesday after spending time with the team in the morning, my ministry team and I got to travel to another students home for the afternoon. I don't actually remember the name of the city we went to, but we were able to visit Nam Phong National Park ["ph" does not make the "f" sound in Thailand, in case you were wondering]. Until we got there, Stephanie and I were completely
unaware of what we would be doing there. Much to our surprise, we ended up hiking. Having
no knowledge of this fact, the attire that Stephanie and I chose to wear did not reflect the activities we would be doing. Below is a picture of Stephanie and I with some students.
[In case you cant see, I am wearing a skirt and TOMS shoes, and Stephanie is wearing sandals]

Other then the clothing miscommunication, we had a blast! The things that we got to see while hiking were simply indescribable. Each time we went to a new location, God just kept getting bigger and bigger. I love hiking for that very reason. God created every single thing as he says in Colossians 1:16, "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him."
After hiking for about 2 hours, we headed over to one of the students home and got to meet her mom, dad and little brother. They were so sweet and gave us a lot of water [for that I was truly grateful ha ha!] It was such a fun trip to be able to hang out with some of the Christian girls and get to know them better. One of the girls that went with us, however was not a Christian. But she was very comfortable with us the entire time! She loves hanging out at CO Club but has yet to give her life over to Christ. So, please pray that she will see her need for Christ.

I want to say thank you again to all my supporters who are reading this. These kinds of opportunities would not be possible without your support. So, thank you for giving me this chance to come and share my life with the students of Thailand.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

God Bless America!

Well, because I am all the way around the world, we definitely do not really celebrate the 4th of July. However, the Campus Outreach Thailand staff was gracious enough to plan a party for us on Saturday [July 2nd] to celebrate America's Birthday! It was a blast! We were able to go to a pool called Raja City with the Campus Outreach Thailand and Birmingham CCP. It was such a fun day just to relax and get to know the other CCP students. It definitely wasn't your traditional 4th of July celebration, but we did have fried chicken! Below is a picture of our 4th of July feast!
Our meal consisted of 2 different kinds of pork, fried chicken, spring roll, and "cow neow" [sticky rice]. It was very very delicious but very different!

Sunday was another amazing day here! Well, their was a MAJOR election that was going, so there were not very many students at church so we didn't hang out around church too much. Instead, Marc and Sherry drove us out to one of their friends houses in a small village in Khon Kaen. This woman works at Sherry and Marc's house 2 days a week as well as plants rice basically in her backyard. She was the happiest women I have ever met, she could not stop smiling!
P'Noug [I think thats how you spell it]

She let us walk around all over her land and take pictures. After we saw her house and asked her lots of questions about rice, she took us to this open field where sellers bring their cows. This was also the field that we thought we were going to be able to see water buffalo, but they don't come out until Monday morning. So we just got to see a lot of cows!
I couldn't help putting this picture in here. I love it! :)

So many cows!!! There were even more of them as the day went on!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Unexpected games

Big C Supercenter is definitely one of my favorite places to go in Thailand [it's better than WalMart!] Well, Thursday night a small group of us decided to go [Stephanie, Sano, Jaae, Am, Tick, Taylor and myself] to get a few things. Well, when we got to Big C, we got a little separated. Which resulted in Taylor and I walking around Big C with 2 Thai girls who spoke "need noi" English ["a little" in Thai] with no translator. Can you say a little intimidating? Well, I have to say that I will probably dominate at charades when I get back to the States. That was basically the game that Taylor and I played for a little over an hour. Below is a picture that we actually used to describe where we were from in America as well as how we got over here. All together, I have to say that it was so much fun trying to communicate with them and teach them English while they taught us Thai. One of my new favorite phrases is "Pud pasa Thai my die" [obviously thats not how you spell it but how you say it] and it means, "I do not speak Thai."

On a different note, today [Friday] we got the opportunity to come together with the other CCP from Birmingham as well as the Campus Outreach Thailand staff. The day we spent together was called Campus Outreach Vision Day. Each region got to share with everyone about their ministry on the campus as well as prayer requests each one had. Just for those of you who know about my involvement in Campus Outreach, I could not be more thankful for the role it has played in my college years so far. So, I will list the 6 prayer requests that Matt and other staff members have come up with for Campus Outreach Lexington.
1. That the last 4 weeks of our Summer Project [and last 2 of CCP] would be as strong as the first 5.
2. That Multiplication [seeing more people come to know the Lord and help them in that journey] would continue on all 4 of our campuses [EKU, UK, Georgetown College, and Centre College]as a result of the Summer Project and CCP fruit.
3. That the staff Fall Planning will be sound and productive.
4. That the Fall Kick-Off events will attract many freshman and refresh "old" friendships.
5. Staff Health-- transitioning roles [moving campuses, promotions, or new jobs], moving cities, new marriages, new babies [and adoptions], and increased leadership opportunities.
6. The Official Relationship with Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Lexington KY would be finalized this fall as they are planning on becoming our hub church.

Thank you for your prayers!!

Funny picture: at Big C the other night, Sano bought s
tephanie, herself and I the same t-shirt, so we all matched Friday and took a few pictures! :)