Endless Summer

 

I know it’s October, but there’s no sign of fall here at all! If I didn’t have a calendar in front of me, I wouldn’t believe another two months have flown by. The past few months have brought subtle changes to the weather (i.e. a little more rain), but the temperature remains the same pretty much all the time (hot).

So. Now that I’ve finally found the elusive “endless summer” I’ve always wished for… I find myself day dreaming of crisp fall air, oversize sweatshirts and apple cider. Isn’t that just how it goes?

October has been many lazy days with all the kids being out of school for the entire month! Sort of a “summer break.” Some of the children went home to their villages to visit family last week, but everyone is back home now. We fill the days with chores, picnics, fishing, chatting, taking walks, and lots and lots of board games.

Before school let out for school break in October, the kids all had to take “final” exams. The exams are given twice a year and determine whether the children can move up to the next grade level or not. We spent the last week in September studying and practicing after school in order to be ready. Mary (the oldest child here) is best in her class in English subject. Last month she had the chance to compete in a speaking and reading competition. Mary won and will be the one to represent her region (Chiang Rai) at the National’s in Bangkok in December. We are very excited and proud of her!

In September, Kahlan and I traveled 5 hours by bus to Chiang Mai to take care of some visa paperwork. We spent three days there and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sneak in a couple adventures! While there, we visited Chiang Mai’s famous night bazaar and an elephant rescue camp outside the city. We both agreed the elephant camp has been our favorite experience so far! When we got to the camp, we became elephant owners for a day! Each of us was given an elephant to get to know and take care of for the day. After learning commands the trainers use, we fed, cleaned, bathed, and finally, rode them from the river back to camp. Be sure to check out the new pictures in the gallery for a peek at our trip!

Praise Report:

I had a health issue in September that required a few hospital visits. I am doing well now by the grace of God. Thanks to the many people who prayed for me during this time.

We found out this month that we will have 2 visitors coming from the states in January. One visitor is Kahlan’s dad, and the other is a close friend of mine. We are so excited, and feel blessed to have some familiar faces coming to see us. We are planning to get away and see some of southern Thailand when they come!

 

Sawatdee Ka (Hi!)

Where to start? So much has happened since I last wrote. I apologize for not updating you more regularly. It has been a very action-packed couple of months. I am busy from sun-up to sun-down, every single day! But I still love it. Here’s what’s been happening:

Kahlan and I headed to Sri Lanka in July to attempt to renew our Thai visas. While there, we met some friends from the U.S., who are originally from Sri Lanka. They were home visiting their family and attending a wedding. Recently, there was monumental flooding in the region. We were eager to help distribute supplies to the affected families with almost $5,000 raised by one of the friends before we went. While we  were there we were able to see some of the affected areas. It was hard to believe how much damage was done by the flooding, but already people were hard at work re-building. In the end, the money went directly to one of the organizations helping with the clean up, definitely a worthy cause. Kahlan and I also attended a Sri Lankan wedding, and got a few much needed one-on-one mommy daughter days in a beautiful location! Unfortunately, we were unable to renew our Thai visas while there.

About a week after we got back from Sri Lanka, I headed to Cambodia with another missionary visiting the children’s home from Texas. We traveled there to do some outreach with an organization called the Cambodian Hope Organization (CHO). While there, we distributed rice, sugar and oil to families in the local villages, along with some water purifying devices made for us by a special group of girls at Redding Christian School.

We also participated in Sunday services (which was mostly games with the kids!) at the village, and finally, I was able to provide some accounting services to CHO to help with their year-end reporting needs. Thankfully, I was successful in renewing our Thai visas on this trip out of the Country. Overall, it was a rad trip!

Since then, I have taken over primary responsibility of the children’s home here, while the owners are back in the U.S. It has been both rewarding and challenging. Maybe the most challenging part has been building relationships with the children – while still giving Kahlan enough attention, and helping her adjust to a new way of life. I really try to give each of the kids (there’s nine right now) some one-on-one time each week. It doesn’t sound too hard…but then there’s laundry to hang…kids to get to school…meals to cook…dishes to wash…groceries to buy…budgets to prepare…homework lessons to teach…Thai lessons to study…etc. etc. 🙂

You can be praying for me for the skills and patience needed to teach.  It’s not something I am naturally gifted at, and the challenge is amplified with a language barrier! Although, I am happy to report my Thai is improving each day. Also, if you have fun ideas for games or activities for me to do with the kids, I would love for you to send them to me!

Kahlan has been working on her Tae Kwan Do, and recently learned that karate chopping people means that they also karate chop you back…eeek. What’s more, her teacher is increasingly strict as the “Chiang Rai Tae Kwan Do Championships 2017” approach. Now when the moves are not performed precisely, the students are bopped with a stick (bopped sounds better than whacked, right?). The best student gets to do the whacking (um, that is “bopping”) under the teachers orders. This form of discipline has been working well, as she is now trying hard to become the very best student. Although, it’s not so she won’t be whacked..but so that she can do the whacking… (nervous laughter) That’s totally normal right??

At any rate, I am looking forward to seeing her compete in the championship next month.

Rainy season is finally here, and we are enjoying slightly cooler temperatures. Now instead of it being between 80 and 100 each day, it stays between 70 and 90 and rains a bit (or a lot) each day. The kids at the house have unpacked their sweatshirts and heavy blankets and whenever it drops below 80 they put them on. This cracks Kahlan and I up of course, but the kids are good sports. They have plenty to tease us about right back. They think its hilarious that Kahlan puts ketchup on literally everything. Rice, noodles, soup, etc.

…And they think it’s funny that I want to know the name of everything (because in general Thai people don’t name anything!). This is how our typical conversation during a walk around the village goes:

Me: “What is this fruit called?”

Kids: *Quizzical looks* “It is fruit.”

Me: “I know. What kind is it?”

Kids: “I don’t know. We just call it fruit.”

Me: “Hm. Ok. Oh! Look – a dog! Cute! Do you know this dog?”

Kids: “Yes! He is a nice dog. He belongs to so-and-so.”

Me: “Aw! What is his name?”

Kids: “It is “dog.””

Me: “Mhm, ok I see.”

Kids: “Oy!! Snake!”

Me: “Where? What kind is it?!”

Kids: “It is a snake.”

Me: “Right.”

(We all run.)

LOL. I could go on but I won’t.

Finally, the last thing I will report is that we got a puppy! We bought him from the local roadside puppy dealer. He has been A LOT of fun, we are enjoying him so much. The kids and I are having fun training him…He is so smart! I named him Sanook – my favorite Thai word so far. It means the kind of fun that you have with a group of people you love.

Praise Report:

A few weeks ago, I was longing for fellowship on a Sunday morning but I did not complain in my heart to the Lord about it. This was a sacrifice I knowingly made for this period of time, BUT, my heart did ache as I longingly watched our neighbor, Ms. Rebecca, prepare for and leave for the church she attends in her native tongue (Burmese).

That afternoon when she returned home, she came to tell me that there was a local bible study group in town Sunday nights where they study in English! And I was invited. I really couldn’t believe it. I have been here for 8 weeks and hadn’t heard a word of it. I felt that God had seen the secret desire of my heart and prepared this group just for me. I attended the following week (and each week since) and it has been such an encouragement to me! I’m so grateful to that the Lord provided this group.

Prayer requests: There is a local outbreak of H1N1 here, with about 40 people having passed away from it so far. We are taking precautions by wearing face-masks when we go out, but we would appreciate your prayer support for health and safety.

There is much more I want to share, but I will have to do so later because school is almost out…for now, I wish you peace, love and joy and thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Monika & Kahlan

P.S. Be sure to check out the picture gallery for pictures from the last two months!

What are we missing….?

 

We’ve now been here for a month. We are living more simply, but also more abundantly and joyfully, than ever before. The path to get to this place was rocky and steep, but it has only made attaining the summit that much more rewarding. Friends and family ask, “What are you guys missing…?” And while there are some things we want to complain about (i.e. missing family celebrations, tacos, candy, and Mac ‘n Cheese) the answer is nothing. Nothing is really missing. We are living in God’s will and, for the moment, basking in the victory of walking in obedience… We know struggle will come again to our lives, but for now, joy, peace and contentment prevail.

Life Here

Last week, I traveled to the DMV in Chiang Rai to get my Thai driver’s license. I was pretty nervous anticipating questions on Thai driving law and parallel parking. Not to mention driving situation here is chaotic. Mostly the driving rules seem to be more of suggestions. It’s common to find cars driving in the wrong lane, down the middle of the road, or stopped on the highway for no other reason than that the driver saw some bananas to pick.

Luckily for me, the driving test included no actual driving! It did include: identifying the colors red, yellow, and green, having my blood pressure taken, and watching a video which was mostly footage of car crashes. An hour later I left with my new drivers license in hand! The longest part of the whole process might’ve been nodding politely while the DMV clerk showed me pictures of an “American actress” she once met while she recounted the story of their meeting. The story lasted about 17 minutes and was completely in Thai. For the duration, I only understood the words “American” and “Actress”.

We’ve made trips to the morning market with the kids, gone swimming at a local pool, started a Wednesday night bible study for the children, attended parent teacher conferences, and traded notes with the kids on our favorite foods and what life is like back home (for both us and them).

Kahlan is doing really well in school. Her favorite day of the week is Friday because they practice swimming and Taekwondo. She has expressed some frustration that they have not yet been allowed to karate chop each other. Not even once.

Praise report:

We have been blessed with another pair of hands to help. Just a few days ago, a woman from Burma (Ms. Rebecca) joined us at the children’s home. She was set to join another ministry in Burma with her brother and that opportunity fell through, she prayed about the situation and was lead here. Now when the Pillon’s leave for the U.S., I won’t be on my own. I know this is an answered prayer. Thank you everyone who has been praying for us!

Finally, we have a young woman named Claire coming from Texas to help for six weeks beginning Monday. We are excited for her to join us! Her and I will be visiting Cambodia in July to distribute water pasteurization indicators (WAPI’s) to the villages, along with some rice, sugar, and clean drinking water.

Please keep praying for us! We love and miss you all…

In Christ,

Monika and Kahlan

 

We made it!

Hi friends,

We’re writing to let you know that we made it safely! Today, we’ve actually been here for a week. It’s hard to believe. The first few days were kind of a blur because we were so tired and there was so much to do (paperwork to take care of, health screenings, visits to the government offices to get a work permit, and checking out Kahlan’s new school), etc. Since then, we’ve caught up on our sleep and have been getting to know our new family.

There are 8 girls, and 1 boy, at the home (including Kahlan now). The two littlest girls are 3 (boy are they a handful!), and the oldest girl is 13. The children here are so well behaved and helpful. Kahlan is trying really hard to learn all the new rules, it been a little bit of a challenge at times. Her and I have both come to the realization that generally, kids in the U.S. have it pretty darn easy.

She and the other kids all started school yesterday. They all looked so cute in their uniforms! Check out the new picture gallery to see them all. There is another girl here at the house Kahlan’s age (Melody) and the two are in the same class at school. Melody speaks some English and will be helping Kahlan at school until she becomes more fluent in Thai. Unfortunately, the two got into a fist fight at school yesterday (the very first day!). Aggh. Kahlan’s first, and hopefully last one. Neither would confess what it was about…(kids!!) but it gave us a good opportunity to discuss being kind and what the word of God says about how we should treat others and deal with conflict.

The Pillon’s are planning on heading back to the States in mid-July so we have about 2 months to get up to speed before I take over for them and we are on our own here for a while. In anticipation, I am working on learning the layout of the town and the driving rules (or lack of might be a better description!) so that I can take the kids to school and get around on my own.

I hope this note found all of you well…we are thinking about, missing, and praying for you.

With love,

Monika and Kahlan

P.S. We are at about 75% of our funding needed for the year. Please consider praying about supporting us on a monthly basis. There is more information under the “Support” tab on the website.

 

 

 

 

Sending Party

Hi all!

Well….Kahlan and I will be flying out in just over a week (May 8th!). I really can’t believe how fast time went by. We are both really excited, and want to extend an invitation to you to attend our Sending Party this Sunday, April 30th. At the gathering you will get a chance to hear a little more about our journey and pray with us before we go.

We will be meeting at 12:45 PM in room B-8 at Little Country Church. All are welcome.

Please RSVP to me by Friday (via email: [email protected]) to let me know if you will be coming. Kahlan and I are making some dessert to bring to the party.

If I don’t see you there, or you RSVP that you can’t make it, no worries. I will be sending out an newsletter afterwards to keep you in the loop.

Peace and love to you,
Monika and Kahlan

A month left to go!

You may or may not know by now that about a month ago, with about 8 weeks to go until the move, I injured my knee. I dislocated it at the gym, and in the process, tore a ligament and fractured a bone. I want to be really honest and say this is the point that I wanted to give up. So badly.

In the last 6 months I’ve faced an overwhelming amount of doubt, discouragement, worry, fear, confusion, rejection, resentment, frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty surrounding the decision to go. Just when I thought I had cleared every hurdle, I lost my ability to walk by doing some silly cross fit routine at the gym. It was recommended that I have surgery. I spent two weeks on my couch. Just me and my bible and all my resentment, my anger, and my issues God told me I couldn’t take with me if I wanted to go. It was a humbling and challenging time. Besides, that, it was so confusing. Was God shutting the door on this to me? Was it a trial to overcome? Or a denial on His part? It was so tempting to put the trip off – just for a while, to some undetermined date in the future, after I had surgery and healed up. In the midst of this, I actually gave up and decided not to go at one point. Continue reading

We’re Moving to Thailand!

In May 2017 Kahlan and I will be joining Brenda and Charlie Pillon at their children’s home in Mae Sai, Thailand. I will be lending a hand as a house mom and helping with local outreach. Kahlan will be attending the 1st grade at a local school. We have committed to spending a year there, and we are so excited!

We would be honored if you would pray about partnering with us in meeting our spiritual or physical needs.

 

Spiritual needs include prayer for: health, safety, wisdom, boldness, physical strength, patience and joy.

Physical needs include: monthly montary support, a large suitcase, and a lap top computer.