Category Archives: village

Evening at Thousand Friends

Last night was an exciting night at Thousand Friends village. We actually gave the kids cartoonized versions of the old testament. They were so thrilled to receive them that they spent most of their time looking at them rather than listening to the story that we told.

It was a strange night in the village. Esther backed out and was unable to go because she had an appointment with a friend an hour away during the time when we would be at the village. It ended up being a friend and I who went.

This friend has been going with us a few times, and has expressed an interest in being part of the work in the villages. He gets along great with the kids, and some of the boys there just love hanging out with him, so I think that’s a great thing. He’s also an Asian-American, which makes it interesting – I think that some of the kids connect so well with him because he is Asian-American. I’ll have to think on that and if that’s the reason.

Anyway, I have a realistic view on my Thai skillz. They honestly aren’t the best ever – I can get along great, and have elementary conversations. I can follow a good percentage of conversations, but sometimes miss the main point. It just gets lost in a sea of new words sometimes. But that’s just part of learning a new language. It’s all good.

So it was just my friend and I, without a translator. So what we did was use the kids as their own translators. We had a copy of a book with stories, so we had them read in Thai as my friend read in English. That way, we had a Bible lesson as well as the English lesson.

This week’s lesson was important, cause it shows that Jesus has power over evil spirits. It’s about the man with many demons that Jesus casts out, and then the demons possess the pigs, who run off a cliff. Crazy story, but it shows how Jesus has power over spirits.

That’s super important in Thai culture, because most of their lives, Thai people are working to appease phii, or evil spirits. It’s a dominant part of their religion. Everything has a spirit, so they must work hard to appease them. Even my Christian Thai friends deal with the terror of the spirits. They won’t go out at dark, because that is when the phii are loose. It’s a terrible way to live life, and Jesus offers freedom from that fear, because the Holy Spirit is the MOST HIGH SPIRIT.

So this week was important, and I wanted them to GET IT.

Two of the girls helped us. They consulted the lesson book that we had, and worked through our clumsy Thai to make a workable lesson.

I find myself so thankful for grace at times like this. When a thai person can’t go with us, I’ll be honest, I find my heart discouraged and heavy. But God provides. And these two girls are going to know the lesson so much better than they would have if they had just been passively involved, writing down the words we shared.

Pray that the story took root in the kid’s hearts this week, and that they will be reading their Bibles this week. I’m going to be out of town for a week, but I’ll keep you guys posted on what happens!

Thousand Friends Update, July 26

Ok, so at this point, we’ve been going to the Thousand Friends village for more than three months. During that time, we have watched it grow.

On our first few weeks there, we only had a few kids. I got excited the week that we first had ten kids. Then, we had a few volunteers who were here from the summer come out with us. They took over the teaching – we teach English using a Bible story. We’ve been going through Creation to Christ, and have passed the part where Christ enters the world.

Each week as we tell the stories, we go through it in English and Thai. Then, we choose about 15 vocabulary words from the story, and review them together. Then, we act out the story. Every week, I have no end of volunteers who want to play the part of Jesus! 🙂

We end with a few games, which is fun. They are hard to beat at Simon Says. Red Rover actually works. Elbow tag leaves us all sweaty and giggly. We have great relationships with the kids – they love it when we come.

The past few weeks, since we’ve had a few volunteers joining us, I’ve had the chance to go out and talk to a few of the women in the village. One is very interested in meeting together – not sure where we stand with that right now. She has to work often, and doesn’t have a lot of time. However, we have had time to sit in her house for several weeks, and just chit-chat about life – our families, our work, etc. It’s been really fun, and the good thing about conversations like that is that it shows me that my Thai doesn’t suck as bad as I feel it does.

I’m getting better, really!

As far as 1000 friends village goes, we’re going to keep going and keep teaching. The kids are interested, and we are approaching the point where we’ll be asking the major question –

do you believe?

I don’t know what the answer will be then, but I’m waiting with bated breath for sure.

Back to 1,000 Friends

So I’ve either had way too much to blog about, or not enough lately. The problem has been that I’ve either had way too many words jumbled about in my head, or none.

Either one is problematic for blogging.

I owe more than one blog post. In the past month, I was part of a traditional Buddhist wedding. I’ve gone to 1,000 friends village several times. My friend Esther has gotten a job that means she can’t go on Tuesday nights. I’ve revisited my strategy for telling the kids about Jesus.

All that could have probably been detailed in a long series of blog posts. Instead, I kept some silence.

Sorry guys.

But now, I’ll break that.

So last week, all of our Thai national partners weren’t able to go out to the villages. They were either sick, or unavailable. So we made the tough call not to go. It was sad, but it was what we had to do.

Last night, when we went back to the villages, the kids greeted us.

“Where were you last week? We waited for you! We sat and waited for a long time, but you never came. We wondered if we had missed you.”

My heart broke. We have people who are open to us coming and teaching them, and studying together, and we weren’t faithful. I let the fact that my language isn’t the best keep me from going. It would have been hilarious had I gone by myself (cause the kids would have been like whattheheckisthecrazyladysaying), but it would have been so fun. We let other things that weren’t that amazing keep us from the work that God brought us here to do. Wait, no, let me put it this way.

I let other things (ie, insecurities, doubts, etc) keep me from doing what God called me to do.

Needless to say, I don’t think that will happen again.

Back to last night.

Esther got a job last week working for a travel agent, I think. She works all day, until 5pm. That wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that we have to leave at 4 – it takes us two hours to get out to the villages and studying. Another one of my Thai friends came with me. Her name is Mint, and she helped with translation and telling the story.

Mint is holding out on us. She’s super sweet, and shy. Very quiet. But she is amazing. She translated my story with ease and grace, and was great with the kids.

So we had about 10 kids last night to hear the story. We told them about Noah and the Ark, and how God gave the promise never to flood the earth again. After we told the story the first time, we acted it out.

One of the kids played Noah, one was the Ark. As usual, one volunteered to be God.

We acted it out, giggling the entire time. It was so fun, and each of them told us about seeing a rainbow before – God’s promise in the sky.

As we left, they told us that we have to come every Tuesday night. “We miss you when you don’t come,” they said. “You are welcome to come meet here anytime you want.” Esther’s aunt has offered her house to us at anytime.

So I piped right up. “What if we come on Saturday July 11, and spend a long time with you? I have plans already for most Saturdays, but I can come that day.”

They grinned. “Yes, please come!”

So now, I’ll be planning an event for that day – not sure yet how long that will be, but I am pretty stoked about it.

Mint and I debriefed in the car about it. She was incredulous. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” she said. “They are so open to the gospel! They want to hear the stories. They listen to you, and obey what you say. It’s amazing!”

So we’ve talked about the vision that we have for this place – we’re all super excited about what God is doing at 1000 friends village.

Don’t forget – you guys are just as much a part of the work at 1,000 friends village as I am. You’re the invisible warriors, fighting epic battles on your knees on behalf of these lovely people.

Here’s some ways you can fight (pray):

  1. Pray that we’ll have national partners to go with us. While it sounds like an excuse, if just the foreigners go and teach, the kids are confused cause our Thai isn’t that good. It’s getting better. School is about to start, and since many of our partners are college students, their schedules are about to get busy.
  2. Pray that we continue to meet over the next month. I’m going to be travelling through three other countries in the next month, and the studies need to continue. Pray that others will be able to fill the place where I normally go.
  3. Pray for the people – that their hearts will be more open to God every day.

Esther

One of the goals of working with folks is sharing vision – and not just about sharing your vision, but working together with someone to reach their own people, and be a leader in that. Transferring their broken heart for their people to you – where you beg God on your knees for their families in tears, begging God to somehow use you to speak life into their lives. That they would come to know you.

I’ve been praying that God would put me and my friend on the absolute same page – that I could encourage her to be a leader in the work in her village. We’ve been going to the 1000 friends village for a few weeks now, and I’ve just felt like she was holding back a bit. We’ve taught English, which is great. It is a door opener – but we want to be careful and incredibly up front with people that we are here to teach the Bible. We’ve been praying for her people – her aunt lives there, and we’ve been going to her house to teach. The children flock there.

Last week was amazing – we had ten children come, and three adults. But they wanted to hear English. Christianity went in one ear and out the other. How could we find a way to convey the greatest message of all? I had some ideas, but we needed to meet.

My friend and I have not had a chance all weekend – she’s been working on a paper that she needed to finish for her school. I didn’t want to mess with that. So I prayed, and waited.

Tonight (Monday), my roommate M and I started a Bible study with the girls who come to the community center. We’re going through “Lady in Waiting” because all of us are in the same place. We are single women, struggling to find that peace and contentment that comes only through Christ. My roommate, M, has desired to do this for a while. We set up to start tonight, and it was amazing. But that’s a story for another time.

Part of what we plan to do is divide up into groups for accountability. With our Thai friends, it’s scary to be open with the entire group looking at us. And sharing is harder in a large group session. We don’t want to have a silent person through the entire study. We’re here to show each other that we’re not an island, alone in our quest to follow after and serve God.

I had my eyes on my friend. I really wanted her to be my accountability partner through this, because we have a relationship that has gotten deeper as the weeks go by.

Anyhow, after we finished the introduction lesson and had some prayer time, I pulled my friend aside. “Can we talk about 1000 friends village for a minute?”

We decided to go this week. Her aunt has gone away to the beach this week, so the place where we always meet is closed. But we decided to go in faith, trusting that God will send us a place to meet.

“We need to be careful,” I shared. “We want to be open that we are sharing the Bible. If we don’t make sure that we tell people that we are intentionally sharing the word of God with them, they could feel betrayed. We are there to share with them. If we tell them that we are there only to teach English, they will come carrying pencils and notebooks, and open heads for the words we have to say. But their hearts could be closed. We want to tell them about God, and have their hearts open to the words that they say.”

She nodded. We don’t want to pull a bait and switch with people. We’re here to share the gospel. If they learn English, which I am happy to share, I am thrilled. But that’s not the whole reason I am here. I share the hope I have.

At this time, I took some time to encourage my friend in being a leader among her people. “God is going to use you to reach your village. You know them. You know what they are like, and how to talk to them. You know their history. They know you. They have seen you before you were a Christian. You have a story of your testimony to share with them. YOU are the person to reach your people.”

Her eyes brimming with tears, she bowed her head. Mine were about to overflow too. I gripped her hand, and bowed my head too, tears dripping from my face to the floor. We were at the far side of the room, and other people weren’t watching. Still, we didn’t want to show off our tears to the rest of the room.

“God has prepared you to reach your people. You are the Esther for your people. Do you know the story of Esther?”

She shook her head. I went over the story, explaining that Esther was one person, pulled from her people. She was the one who found favor with the King. He chose her. She was told of the plot to kill her people. She was the one person in a position to stop the slaughter of her people.

“You know what people told her who encouraged her to save her people? They said ‘who knows, but that God has brought you to this place for such a time as this?’ GOD put Esther in the place to save her people. He put her in the right place, with the right people, to intercede for her people.

“She had others with her. Going before the king was hard. She could have been killed if the king had not been pleased to see her. She could have been made fun of. She could have been persecuted for going before the king. But she did. She had courage.”

We were both weeping at this point.

“Friend, YOU are the Esther for 1000 friends village. God has saved you. God has put you in a place to learn and grow. God has put you where you are to reach your people; to bring them to an understanding of him. And you know what?”

We both looked up at each other. Our faces were tear streaked. We were a sight to behold.

She gripped my hand. “God told me the same thing today. I need to share with my family. I am the person to do it.”

My heart nearly stopped. My words were totally of God. I hadn’t really known what I was going to say when we’d sat down and talked. All I had known before was that I wanted to tell the creation story tonight. Then, I opened my mouth, and God has let words tumble out.

“I want to be here with you through this process. When Esther went to intercede for her people, she didn’t do it alone. People prayed with her. They fasted. They encouraged her in what God had given her to do. And I want to be that person for you.”

I squeezed her hand. It felt like we were a team. That we were fully together in an amazing task. I could hardly swallow past the lump in my throat.

“I want to help you.” I said. “I can’t do the task like you can, but I want to help. I will pray for you. I will come along with you, and sit beside you, and hold your hand as you share with them. I will be right there, bringing them before God. I want to pray for your family so much with you, so that they will be so prayed for that they receive God.”

She wrote down their names for me. I have them, and permission to share. I beg anyone who reads this to join in prayer for them, and share in the comments that you are praying.

We’re praying for NUN, her mother. We’re beseeching God for AMON, her father. Spending time on our knees for GITA, her sister. Time in the prayer closets for JAN, her aunt, who typically hosts our class times. Pray for the salvation of her cousin, FERN. And last of all, for her uncle, DANG.

It’s easy to make a general prayer for the lost people of the world. It comes in the form of a “dear God, please bless the heathen and help them to all know you.” But for people like my friend, it’s her entire family. Her entire village. She knows that the people that she loves don’t have a savior. She’s going to be sharing with them again soon. PRAY for words to say. PRAY that their hearts will be open to the word of God. PRAY that more hearts will be broken to reach the lost all over the world.

I want to ask one last thing. Write down these names. Post them on your refrigerators. Take time to pray for the salvation of these people. Beg God that they would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Join us in concentrated prayer. If you fast, skip a meal to pray for these people.

I’m going to call my friend Esther here on the blog. That’s not her real name, but that’s who she is to her people. Pray for Esther and her heart for her people.

New friends in 1000 friends village

Last night we went to 1000 friends village. I was pretty preoccupied before hand – definitely nervous about going into an area where we knew they weren’t necessarily open to a Christian influence. While I knew that folks were coming for the English lessons, and we are very upfront on telling them that the stories we use to teach English are from the Bible – well, I still worry that someone will somehow miss that fact and freak out later when we are using the Bible as our story source. I spent most of the 45 minute drive stressing about it – as much as I hate this about myself, that’s what I do – and I do it well.

But God’s so much bigger than us.

When we got there, two young girls were waiting for us to arrive. Sun, one of my Thai friends who came along, encouraged them to go get their friends. Shortly, they came back with two other kids – a young boy and another girl.

Sun had brought a storybook that we used to start teaching easy English. It was the story of Namaan’s healing in the Jordan river. The story of the servant girl from Israel, who told the king to go to the prophet, and then the greedy servant who inherited the “skin disease.”

We had copies of the story book for each of the kids. I read the english, while they read the Thai afterwards.They’d attempt to follow along with the English as I read it, and I would try to keep up with the Thai. I do think they are better at the English than I am the Thai.

As we went through the story, Sun asked them what they understood. They’d ask about words, and recount the story. They’d write down words they didn’t know before; their faces puckered in concentration. It was completely precious to watch them gripping their pencils, writing the unfamiliar letters.

As they asked questions, I noted this – they were asking about the spiritual words. Yes, our board had words like “skin disease” and “hard” on it, but it also had “prophet.” They asked questions that were leaning towards the spiritual side of things. We read the entire story, and will be going back next week. It’s going to be cool to see who comes back. The children freely gave their hand phone numbers so we can contact them about next week.

I think that we might try to go from Creation to Christ – take them through the stories of the Garden and the Fall to the Savior. It will take time, but that’s ok. We’re working on God’s clock.

It was awesome to work with Sun to tell the children the story. She’s a born teacher – she shares super well, and works very well with the kids. It’s a blessing to have someone to come alongside and take my hand as I go through falteringly, stumbling over the words that I would say.

Definitely praying for thousand friends…