Monday, April 23, 2012

 Our second monthly meeting in Ta Ack.  Matt is preaching about seeking the lost sheep.  Pray that God would allow us to be part of shedding the light of the glorious gospel in this community.  Sorry for the poor video quality, but you get the idea.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Home Again

During our furlough time in America, we often heard people say "Welcome Home!"  America will always be our home but in our hearts, Thailand is our home because of God's call on our lives.  We are so grateful to be back in Surin, Thailand.  We jumped right back in to life here with not too many glitches.  Soon after we arrived, our church had a Family Retreat at a camp a few hours away. 
There were many sights to welcome us back but the visit to the market was a bit surprising to the boys.  I think they forgot what all was at the Thai fresh market. 
As most people know, Thai food is amazing.  It was great to come back to cheap and delicious Thai food.  We even tried dancing shrimp salad last week for the first time.  It was actually great.  The shrimp are raw and mixed with many seasonings.  They are usually still dancing when first mixed but by the time we got them, they were tired out. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Snakes in the Yard

Many of you on Facebook have already heard and seen the most recent excitement around the Jones home. Last week, Trevor was outside on a Sunday afternoon playing with a bunch of toads that always hang around our house. He came upstairs yelling about a snake so I went down to investigate. As I opened a small storage door about 10 feet from the door to our house, I saw what looked like a rubber hose laying mostly hidden behind a basket. I quickly realized it was WAY TOO BIG to be a hose and, well, I don’t own any gray hoses! So, I ran and got my hoe and a stick and sent the kids inside. One quick jab with the hoe and I realized this was no ordinary little snake. After I pinned it to the wall it began to make “barking” sounds and it started thrashing about wildly. I was shaking at this point. By the time it was said and done, I had killed a 6 foot 7 inch long Thai “Lion Snake.” It was a nasty thing and even worse it was trying to eat Trevor’s toads right in our front door. So, after killing it, I stuck it in a box and took it to a friend in town. He skinned it, chopped it into little pieces and fried it up with basil and peppers. I had a nice bowl of it over rice and thought it was good even in spite of all the bones!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Will You Have a Heart for this Harvest?

This past year has been just amazing. Our team here has seen our outreach and ministry opportunities expanded in so many directions that it’s almost overwhelming! When God sends increase like this, I’m reminded of God’s control over our affairs here. But yet, I’m also reminded that God has beckoned us to come to Him with our requests. He has warned us of impending danger and evil that is always present in our lives and ministries. As I watch the lives of people here in Surin, I can’t help but describe many of them as “fragile”. Just tonight we had nearly 40 high school and college students here at our house for Bible study. About 10 of them are saved and attend church. We do have one dear adult lady who seems to be on the verge of entering the Kingdom of God. We split the students up into four groups and teach them for about half an hour in small groups after singing a couple songs with them. I can’t tell you how incredibly rewarding it is to look into the faces of these young people and explain to them that God knew them long before they were born and that He has been working out the details of their lives from day 1. But on the other hand, it’s heartbreaking to see the utter lack of understanding and lack of belief in most of their eyes. As I sat with my seven young people, I asked them if they had ever heard the truth that I was teaching. Only one had ever heard and knew and believed the truth that God created them and ordained the details of their lives. (Sorry about the run-on sentence there. I’d hate to have to diagram that one.) The spiritual soil here is so rocky and hard. Plowing takes so much time and effort.
What I am asking is that you would all spend a few minutes each day this week praying for these young people that God has brought to us. Satan is always near and in our short time here we have watched over and over as the seed begins to grow only to be snatched up or it just dries up and dies. This is heart-breaking for us because these people are dear to us.
Will you accept my invitation to pray this week and even beyond this week? Will you pray that as the Gospel seed is planted here that it won’t be carried away by Satan? Will you pray that the Word will fall on fertile hearts that are ready to receive it? Will you pray that we would have opportunities to “draw the net” and see some of these young people trust in Christ in the coming months? As you can tell, this isn’t my normal type of update. I’m heavily burdened these days because the fight for these young people is intense here. We appreciate you all and look forward to seeing many of you in 2010 and 2011 when we return home for furlough. (Don’t misunderstand the meaning of that sentence. I’m just saying that we probably won’t see each and every one of you. J)

I’m very serious about this call to spend a few minutes in prayer this week for these young people here in Surin. If you are serious about accepting this challenge and would like to have a list of names of the young people I’m referring to, let me know and I’ll send it. There are a lot! Thanks again and rejoice with us that God is working in this dark country!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pepper, Papayas and Sweet Corn

Over the past two years, I've tried on several occasions to plant and grow different types of fruits and vegetables. In Bangkok, I met with some less that desirable results when I spent 4 months growing some great looking tomato plants on the porch of our apartment. I worked hard to get those babies to have some fruit. I watched over them every day and even bought a special sprayer to put "mist"on the leaves to help them grow. I rarely even allowed the kids to water them. I had about 8 plants with about 10-15 tomatoes on each plant. One weekend we took a trip to Surin for three days. I returned eagerly to check on the condition of my beloved tomatoes. (We had still not been able to eat one yet.) I rushed in the door, turned on the porch light and much to my sheer horror, the plants had been DESTROYED! Not just hurt but destroyed. A specialized team of assassins had crawled down an A/C pipe and devoured every single tomato on the vines. Rats! Literally and figuratively. (I caught them later that week and I'll spare you the details of what I did to them to get my revenge.)

Once we moved to Surin, I plowed up a nice patch for a garden. I made nice rows added in some good dirt that I bought. I was totally excited because about a week after there were rows and rows of little plants popping through the soil. Then, they just stopped growing. After a few weeks, they all died. I later planted watermelons on the other side of the yard. After a promising start, they to just stopped growing and died.
But, there are those rare success stories. I planted some passion fruit that a friend gave me. There were two small 4 inch plants that have grown and grown and grown. They are actually a vine and have grown to almost 12 feet long on some of the vines. Maybe we'll see some fruit after all.
As I think about these things, I'm reminded that ministry here in Thailand bares a striking resemblance. We work and work and work and just when it seems like we'll see some fruit, it's stolen right out from under us. Then at other times we labor and do everything right but nothing comes from it. But, the best times are when we sow and water and suddenly a tiny little plant begins racing from the ground. Without any human explanation, it just grows and grows and grows. We don't treat it any different than all the other plants, but it just takes root and grows.
The "fruit" of converts and disciples of Christ here in Thailand is rare. But when it comes, it's very precious.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You think you've got car problems??

So, I got some new info on our car situation. Actually, I have enough info to write a short novel I think. It involves car chases (actually I was being towed), lots of money and even a conspiracy theory. Sounds good, huh?
Part 1: As of last night, I was told by Isuzu it would take about $6000 US to fix the transmission. This would involve taking out our old transmission and replacing every single piece inside it and then replacing it. Last night one of our friends came over who is a Dr. here in Surin. She told me that she has a friend who overhauled her engine and did a good job and she really trusts him. She said she would take me to meet him today after church. SO, I went today and showed the guy the printout from Isuzu and he was just as shocked as everyone else. After very little discussion, we decided to have him start hunting a second hand transmission to replace the one that I have now. He will take the old one out 100% and put the 2nd hand one in 100%. He wont have to take it apart and put the jigsaw puzzle back together. He only briefly mentioned a price which was between 20,000-30,000 baht which is $650-$900 US.
Part 2: Today I talked with Mr. Wut who went with us to visit the “shady” mechanic. We’ll call him “Bubba” from now on. Bubba told him that he had driven about 60 kph the whole way to the shop when he towed us. Mr. Wut said that you can’t drive faster than 30 when towing an automatic. Then, Ya and Orawan talked to Ya’s mechanic uncle who said if you tow and automatic, you can’t go faster than 20 or you have to disconnect the drive shaft first. That’s also what my father-in-law said too. Then, today I asked the mechanic and he said if you tow an automatic, you can’t go more than 15-20 kph and if you go more than an hour, you should stop and add a liter of transmission fluid to the car. THEN, Isuzu also said that “yes, towing the car is the reason why the transmission is ruined.”
My conclusion based on extensive evidence is that Bubba is responsible though not LIABLE for my transmission.

Part 3: The Conspiracy Theory
Today I showed the mechanic the list of work that the guys had done at Bubba’s. He said “they charged you 34,000 baht and then let you leave with the car after paying 24,000? There’s no way that they could buy all these parts and do all this work and let you leave without paying.” His conclusion is that there’s something shady going on at Bubba’s. I also told him that they didn’t save any of the parts they replaced. They conveniently threw them away.
Then, the mechanic who is a good guy here in Surin, asked some questions about the day the car broke. I told him we left Bangkok and drove about 4-5 hours before stopping for lunch. We spent an hour or so eating lunch and then got back on the road. We hadn’t gone 10 or so minutes before we experienced absolute catastrophic engine failure. He asked if the temperature gage was all the way up on hot and I said no, it was normal. He asked if there was a pool of liquid on the ground either from the engine or radiator. I said no, there were no fluids, no steam, no smoke, just a complete loss of power all at once. He then went on to cautiously say that it is very easy to take a piece of metal that’s about a foot long and jab it into a spot near the radiator and cause it to pour out the antifreeze. He said that the pistons would quickly overheat and your car would die. I then went on to explain that we had been pulled over on the side of the road for about 3 minutes before our good Samaritan pulled up to offer us assistance. He already had a rope tied to his bumper and in about 45 seconds he had it tied to our car ready to take us to his brother’s shop. At the time, I thought, “what a blessing this guy is.” Our new mechanic thinks that if that guy was an angel, he didn’t come from heaven. Then, after we got to Bubba’s three guys showed up out of nowhere and spent three hours disassembling our car with a vengeance. Mr. Walton who was with me commented that these guys sure know what they’re looking for because they were ripping stuff out left and right. After three hours, they showed me what was supposed to be the problem and said they could fix it.
Sound fishy to you? 1) We have no previous engine problems.
2) Ten minutes after lunch we experience total engine shutdown.
3) Three minutes later a Thai guy willingly offers “help” to a car load of white people stranded in the middle of a rice field in the middle of nowhere.
4) He tows us for about 30-45 minutes effectively ruining our transmission.
5) Three guys spend multiple hours tearing the engine apart to show me the exact thing that they say was the problem. They never asked any questions, they never checked things as they went. They knew what the problem was.
6) They ask for a very large sum of money by Thai standards.
7) They explain that they fixed the engine but the transmission doesn’t work. They offer to fix it for a minimal price.
8) We go to pick up the car. They conveniently threw all the replaced parts away after Supap SPECIFICALLY told them to keep them all to prove they replaced them. They offer to lower the price 10%. We offer them 24,000 rather than 34,000 and they let us leave with the car. They told us they would go and find the old parts and then bring them to us so they could collect the rest of their money.

Conclusion: Well, I’m no rocket scientist, but I do watch NCIS a lot. If Special Agent Gibbs were here, he’d have them talking in no time. I don’t have Gibbs, but I do have Orawan who is really ticked. If the guys call back to ask for their additional money, Orawan is going to tell them to meet us at the police station so we can talk there. Dr. Lee’s mechanic friend is going to start looking for a used transmission and we’ll have to hand off another $700-$900 to fix something that shouldn’t have been broken. The hard part is that I have been preaching through Matthew and am currently in chapter 6. It’s the Sermon on the Mount and today’s subject material was “don’t worry about money, God will take care of you.” This is found in vs. 19-29. I almost called Supap to tell him that I needed him to preach when I heard it was going to cost 200,000 baht to fix. Preaching is much easier when you’ve already learned the lessons that you’re talking about. It’s a lot harder when you’re the one preaching and you’re the one being preached to.

So, we still haven’t figured out the exact numbers for this new transmission yet. It could be twice as much as he quoted me so we won’t know for a few more days. But, all is well and we’re able to at least drive the car around town right now just not over 35 mph. Thanks for thinking about us and praying. Hopefully the dust is starting to settle now.