Home at last! We are finally moved in and mostly settled in our new building. What a joy it is to have all the kids and activities close by. Really close! We live upstairs with the girls. To go to the Learning Center to teach or to the church services, we just go downstairs. It saves so much time and hassle – especially for me, as I don’t drive. Having to catch a ride to the other house four miles away was a real pain. I frequently made the trip on the back of a motorcycle and spent lots of time waiting for my ride to be ready to take me or bring me home. I feel like I have extra hours added to my day.
Moving was quite an experience! We had to be out of our old rent house by the end of the month, but the new house wasn’t quite finished. We moved in anyway, and they just worked around us. We never knew when we walked into a room if there would be a stranger working there.
The workers are mostly out of the house now, and other inconveniences are being fixed. We have had a problem with dirty water, which required an expensive new water filter system. Now the water is clear instead of brown – and we are happy. Also, we have had insufficient electricity to run all our appliances. We sadly look at our beautiful new bathtub, which we are unable to use because hot water has to be heated in the tank and pumped up to the second floor. Not enough juice. But the electric company, which is government run, sent guys out yesterday to look over our house. I’m not sure what they were looking for, but it was evidently a preliminary to setting us up with a bigger transformer.
Our first building is finished and our second one is going up. It will be a dorm for the boys and for the preachers who come for preachers’ training. Also, we are building a restroom building for use when we have large groups, like we are expecting for our building dedication ceremony. We may have 500 to 1,000 people that day, and we need to have facilities prepared. They won’t be fancy, but will be functional, and we will have them ready for future Bible conferences, Thanksgivings, etc.
Speaking of Thanksgivings, the season started last week with our first Thanksgiving of the year at a village called Hoe Sum Suk. It’s near Chiang Mai, so we traveled there with the whole troop of kids last Friday. We went to the Thanksgiving on Saturday. What a joy to see so many of our friends from the village and the surrounding area! The pastor of the church went off into heresy, so a few members meet at the home of the former pastor, who is bedridden after a stroke. There was a good group in the little house for a Thanksgiving service.
Saturday evening we were back for another night in Chiang Mai where we celebrated October birthdays. Then on to the village of Hoe La Bong on Sunday morning where Paul preached. That group also lost their building and are meeting in the pastor's home. They are hoping to build soon. We traveled back home for church services on Sunday night.
We’ve wanted to start regular church services for a long time, but felt we couldn’t handle it with traveling to the villages on Sunday mornings. With the interest from the neighbors generated by our new building, we felt like we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for outreach. We’ve already had visitors. Our builder and one of the construction workers have come and were very attentive. Our builder told us that she had never been in a church service before. What a privilege Paul had, to be the first to share the Gospel with her! Please pray for Paul, as this busy schedule of driving through the mountains, preaching, and returning for another service is wearing. He’s not a spring chicken anymore, but he won’t quit or slow down.
I’ll be starting English classes in the evening soon as an outreach to the community, and we hope to have more English camps (VBS with English added in) in unreached villages near us. I’ll be starting another class to prepare students for our Learning enter, too. I also hope to start a Sunday School for neighborhood kids in the next few weeks. Covid restrictions are almost over here as we have had no cases in the country for a while, so we are getting down to business!
The kids are doing well in the Learning Center and are improving their English skills daily. They are growing up quickly and will soon have to make decisions about continuing education and future careers. We will be considering taking more kids in the next couple of years who want to continue their education but who live too far to commute to our Learning Center. We are thinking we will have them live-in Monday through Friday and return to their homes on the weekends. It’s still a matter we are praying about. We don’t think we can take any more kids as foster kids like these we have been raising, but we have lots of room here. We want to use every inch for God’s glory. That might mean using it to provide a future for kids who would otherwise be caught in the cycle of poverty that frequently leads to very young marriages (at 13 and 14), drug trafficking, and prison.
We are rejoicing in God’s goodness as we enjoy our beautiful new facilities and we are eager to walk through all the wide-open doors He has for us here. Thank you for your faithful prayers and generous giving that make our mission in Thailand possible!