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July 19, 2013

A New Home in Phakahanong


Praise Report from Joe and Lynn, Bangkok, Thailand:

We are so excited to move into our new home! It has been a journey for us to find the place we feel God really wanted us to be and we are so grateful.

Our last apartment was across the street from our son Brennan’s school, making it very convenient for us to get him back and forth. The problem: it was a studio (a one room apartment with a bathroom). We had to fit three people and sewing machines and everything else into one room. It was an experiment in living small. I won’t say that it failed, but I will say the experiment ran its course in about six months. We needed more space. We liked the neighborhood because it seemed so full of activity, but our neighbors were so busy it was hard to get to know anyone. Everyone was always on their way to somewhere else. Also, we thought condo living would put us close to neighbors so we could get to know them. In hindsight we were wrong. It separated us actually. People who live in condos want privacy. It was frustrating. So we prayed and looked for a new place. Guess what? We found it!

We knew God wanted us to look into some small business ideas and we wanted more space in order to try some gardening and to be more hospitable. I walked many kilometers looking for a home for us. Nothing was working out. Then Lynn stumbled across a home on the internet within our budget. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a lot of space for our small business ideas. Our bedroom is the size of our old condo. Literally. We met a few neighbors who seem really nice and welcoming. We were also thankful that we were able to find someone to take over our old lease on the condo and get our security deposit back. So here we are in our new home where we’ve been since the beginning of July. We enjoy the space and are still adjusting.

002.JPGPrayer Requests:
1. That our home is a place of hospitality for friends and neighbors and that people meet Jesus and experience his love here.
2. For Brennan. I think the move is stressful and he is adjusting to sleeping in his own room. Growing pains.
3. That God would bless our small business ideas so that we can meet new people and partially support ourselves as well.

July 09, 2013

Missionary Apprentice Update: Danielle

Dani.jpgDanielle is in the second year of a two year missionary apprenticeship in Bangkok, Thailand. A major focus of the apprenticeship is to learn about language and culture in order to more effectively share the gospel. Danielle recently enrolled at Kasem Bundit University, majoring in Thai language. She hopes to form many new relationships so she can share the love of Jesus. In early July, Danielle shared this update on her life…

I am officially a student at Kasem Bundit University (KBU)! I have studied for two weeks now, so I have a pretty good idea what classes are like. I study six days a week, morning and afternoon. I am taking seven subjects. Most classes are four hours long. All of my classes, except one, are beginner Thai classes. That means we study all the basics like the alphabet, writing correctly, basic speaking and reading, and the phonology of speaking Thai. For me it is sometimes boring because I am past basic level, however I have to take these classes. My other class is a higher level class. Normally three or four year students take it, but my advisors thought I should try it since I know so much already. I enjoy this class a lot. It’s challenging, but good for me. The reading is the hardest part. Thai uses a different word system for writing than speaking, so understanding the meaning is hard sometimes. I do understand when the teacher speaks. I am going to give it my best and hope I do well! I am lucky enough to have a Thai friend that likes to help me do my homework. It’s hard studying six days a week. By the end of the week I am worn out, so I have been trying to protect Sundays as my day of rest. Fortunately, I don’t get a lot of homework, so the evenings are also restful.

One thing that is different about studying at university here in Thailand is that students must wear a uniform. It consists of a white button up shirt and black pants or skirts for girls. There are two kinds of skirts, straight or pleated. They come in different lengths. I like the ones that come to the knees. We are also required to wear a belt and pin that come from KBU. We are allowed to wear any kind of shoes as long as they are nice. NO FLIP FLOPS! Everyone thinks it is great that in America you can wear whatever you want to school.

All of my classmates are Chinese. Most cannot speak Thai and only a little English, so I think maybe I will try to learn some Chinese. I know a little already! They are going to teach me how to cook Chinese food which I love! What they make is so good, much better than in the States.

There are four genders here at KBU: boys, girls, ladyboys, and toms. Ladyboys are men that identify as women. They sleep in the boy’s dorm but wear the girl’s uniform. Toms are girls that identify themselves as boys. They sleep in the girl’s dorms and dress as boys. The other day I saw a ladyboy that I was sure was a boy the day before. It has become an everyday thing here.

I have officially begun to hand wash my clothes. If you have done this, you know how hard it is. The man who invented the washing machine knew what he was doing! I wish I had enough sense to use it. Actually, the clothes get cleaner if I hand wash them, so I do. The first time I did it, it took me three hours to finish the clothes. It was awful. But now I am quicker. I only take two hours.

My roommate it great! I can trust her completely. She is really sweet and very patient. I feel bad for her because she has to deal with my mess. If you came into our room you would know where the Thai lives and where the American lives!

Spiritually, things are going okay. It is hard not to have another believer to encourage me daily. I try to be intentional about my times with God. It is hard and full of distractions. I am finding that God finds other ways to help me, like sending me a good friend or providing a Bible study just when I need it. I do ask that you keep praying that I can stay strong and focused on why I am here. I am struggling with home sickness a little. If you see my family, give them a hug for me. I am ready to see them all. They have been a good support to me.

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. I love hearing from you!
Love from Danielle!

To encourage Danielle, send her a note at: curlyredflyinghigh@gmail.com.

July 01, 2013

An Epic Week

A “beehive” would be an apt description of the RIC during the summer months. From 2008-2012, over 1,000 young people from a total of 52 churches/schools have participated in City Challenge—a five-day inner city ministry experience for youth groups. This year’s theme is “Epic,” with teaching sessions centered upon challenging youth that they are meant for something bigger and greater than just coasting through life. God’s story and his purposes are epic!

To give you a glimpse into what City Challenge is like, we have put together a photo gallery containing pictures of groups that have already participated in this year’s program as well as an article written by one of the participants for her church’s newsletter.

By Kendra Scheffel

The morning of Wednesday, June 5th our youth group met at the church to set off for five days at the Rosedale International Center in Columbus for City Challenge. Before we set off we gathered around and prayed for the following five days. When we arrived at the RIC, we were met by cheery staff who quickly learned our names, grabbed our luggage, and got us settled in.

The first thing we did was have a worship and session time. Each of the sessions was taught by Kevin.* Throughout the week he talked about heaven and hell. He talked about the importance of living this short amount of time on Earth for the benefit of living eternity in heaven and the importance of taking as many people along with us as we can. Despite how tired we got during the week he still managed to hold our attention and engage our minds.

Each day we had a different outreach opportunity. Wednesday evening we split into two groups for outreach. My group went to a park to hand out sack dinners and then went to Manna Cafe, a place that provides a meal for the homeless. The other group went to Fruit of the Vine which also handed out dinners to the homeless.

Thursday’s outreach was the prayer challenge. For the prayer challenge we were given a list of questions about Columbus to ask people and clues about where several staff were located around Columbus. We were also given bus passes and told to ride it at least once. Once we found a staff person they had something for us to do like pray for a certain topic or hand out free water bottles. Despite the rain that poured the majority of the time, this day was probably my favorite.

For the outreach on Friday, my group helped the pastor of a local church prepare an area for a new playground for the pre-K and Kindergarten school he was going to start. The other group went to a nursing home. The group sang worship songs for the residents and talked with them.

Saturday morning we split into groups and did a prayer walk. We walked around the community near the RIC and asked people who were out and about if we could pray for them. Saturday afternoon my group went to a food pantry and helped hand out food and take food out to people’s cars. The other group went and helped a man who was starting a community garden.

Sunday we all gathered together and talked about our week. We shared with each other the many “God moments” we experienced, and we discussed ways in which we could take everything we learned and bring it back home in our personal lives and as a youth group.

The theme for City Challenge was “epic.” I’d have to say “epic” pretty well described our week. Even though by the end of the week everyone was exhausted to the bone, it was an amazing experience to see God work in so many ways. Even though many of us didn’t think it was possible for our youth group to grow any closer than it was, God brought us together in new ways. If you want to hear more about our week, ask any of us, because we would love to tell you about our epic week!

*Name omitted for security

SEND Staff Transitions: Goodbye also means Hello

By the end of August the SEND Ministries Department will have said goodbye to two staff members while welcoming two new ones. It’s with sadness that we will say goodbye to Carmal Hendren, assistant director of the department, and Karen Yoder, administrative assistant. Both have contributed significantly to the SEND Department and have impacted the lives of numerous young people. Carmal has served for over eight years as assistant director, while Karen has served over five years as administrative assistant. We wish them God’s richest blessing in the next chapter of their lives!

We’re grateful that those goodbyes are accompanied by hellos as we welcome new staff members to step into those roles. We welcome Ashley Koppenhaver as the new administrative assistant. Ashley hails from Houston, Delaware and will begin her role as administrative assistant on July 15. Ashley’s no stranger to the department having been a member of the 2007 Thailand REACH team.

We also welcome Courtney Miller as assistant director beginning August 19. Courtney’s roots are in Hutchinson, Kansas but she’s been in central Ohio the last several years having served on the 2008 Madagascar REACH team, served as prayer coordinator at the RIC in 2010, led the 2010 South Asia REACH team, and most recently served on staff at Rosedale Bible College as the women’s dorm Resident Assistant.

Heading East and West

The summers of 2011 and 2012 found a team of REACH alumni traversing the Midwest to help staff several summer camps. The reality both years was there were more camps than there was team to go around. This summer RMM joined forces with Rosedale Bible College to create two teams—each having a mixture of REACH and RBC alumni. These teams will be sharing their gifts in counseling, worship leading, teaching, and everything else from A-Z that camp staff do. We invite you to pray that these teams will experience stamina throughout a grueling summer schedule, for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and for wisdom and direction as they relate to many youth throughout the summer.

Team USA East   Team USA West
Philip, Karl, Brennan (leader) and Danny Audrey, Zach (leader), Josh and Kandace
June 10-29 Bethel Mennonite Camp, KY
July 7-12 Oak Dale Mennonite Church VBS, PA
July 13-19 Camp Deerpark, NY
July 24-27 Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, PA
August 1-4 CMC Annual Conference, PA
June 10-15 LIFT at Rosedale Bible College, OH
June 16-22 Camp Luz, OH
June 22-28 Camp Buckeye, OH
July 7-12  Bible Memory Camp, IN
July 13-19  Menno Haven Camp, IL
July 21 Oasis Mennonite Church, KY
July 22-27 Bethel Mennonite Camp, KY
August 1-4 CMC Annual Conference, PA