Some of the students and staff on Sabbath. My translator is named Luesak. He is in the white shirt (fourth from the right). The church pastor is beside him. Great group of people!
Potluck on Sabbath. Fortunately they had some benches on the edges for people like me. I cannot sit cross-legged comfortably.
New followers of Christ!
Thirteen young people were baptized!
"Sticky" falls. These amazing falls can be climbed. They have a non-slip surface (at least mostly non-slip) and there are ropes that you can use to help pull yourself up. Lots of fun!
The Thai shirt that I was given in Bangkok! It fits well and is my color.
There's a sign you don't see every day. Good thing they didn't have one of these in the temple when Jesus was around.
The "sticky" falls are fed by a spring. Here is the Jesus for Asia team having fun.
Another view of the falls
Part of the Jesus for Asia (Love for Asia) media team.
When the ropes get old at the falls, just tie a knot in it, and everything will be fine.
Jesus for Asia/ Love for Asia office
There are tons of lavish temples all over Thailand, even in the small communities.
Chiang Mai in the rain
One of the entrances to the Academy
Chiang Mai Adventist Academy in session
Jon Wood working hard to get the equipment working properly.
Optional diary entries for Chiang Mai:
Sunday, June 11
I got to the airport a little late and just barely made my flight. It was too late to check in at the automated kiosk so I had to go to the counter. Fortunately security was a breeze because I went to my gate as soon and as quickly as I could and they were calling my name as I entered the boarding area. I thought we had planned our arrival at the airport so that I would have plenty of time. Oops.
Jon Wood was there at the airport to pick me up. Our first order of business was to buy some supplies for the Jesus for Asia team. Then we ate lunch at Jon’s second favorite Chiang Mai restaurant. They had a delicious pad thai and fried rice. I think these are easily my two favorite Thai foods. Neither one is usually very peppery hot.
Then we drove out to the Jesus for Asia office near Chiang Mai academy. That trip took about 45 minutes. After loading up the van with video production equipment and supplies, we headed to Chiang Mai academy where we checked into our guest rooms. They look very nice!
After unloading our stuff in the rooms, we took the video equipment to the church and setup. While the team setup the video equipment, I practiced the first presentation with my interpreter, Lusak. He is very, very good. We are so blessed to have such a great interpreter. It can make all the difference.
Monday, June 12
I heard that breakfast this morning was supposed to be around 6:30, but it must have been at 6 a.m. because by the time that Jon and I got there this morning, it was deserted. There was some food left for us on one of the tables and covered with a cloth. It was pretty good, consisting of rice, a vegetable topping, and fried egg.
After breakfast I headed over to the church to get things set up for the morning program. I was told that I had about 50 minutes to speak. But by the time I started talking, there was only 30 minutes left before the first class began. Last night when we practiced, it took quite a long time to get through the whole presentation, but this morning we fit it into those allotted 30 minutes and it all worked out very well. God really is good.
Unfortunately, there was a failure in one piece of video equipment and only the first 18 minutes of the presentation were taped correctly. That means we’ll need to do it again later. God is still really good. He makes all things work out for good.
Ten or twenty minutes after the presentation I met with the principal of the school and he gave me a tour of the grounds. The school has about 1,000 students and is situated on a very nice piece of land around 55 acres in size. It is a boarding school and most (800) of the students stay in the dormitories. Even some of the elementary students stay in dorms.
I went to bed last night at around 9 p.m. and woke up at 5:30, so I had plenty of sleep last night. But at 10:30 I still laid down for a rest that lasted until 12:10. It really felt good. Preaching takes a lot of energy! I have been in Asia for about 29 days and, after tonight, will have spoken 26 times. God is giving me energy.
Tuesday, June 13
I had a great rest last night. Sleep is such a precious commodity.
An interesting tidbit about Thailand is that, in general, shoes are not worn inside of buildings. That means that when I preach, I am wearing only socks on my feet. That’s a little weird. I’m definitely used to wearing shoes. Even worse, I somehow managed to pack only one pair of brown socks to go with my brown shoes. And my right sock now has a hole in the toe. I’m hoping nobody will notice. :)
This morning our projector would not connect properly to the laptop. The morning meeting is supposed to start at 8 a.m. but we were up at the pulpit at 8:10 trying to get the projector to work. We tried everything multiple times. I also prayed multiple times. We rebooted the laptop, unplugged and replugged all the cables. It was getting desperate. And then finally, I unplugged and replugged the cable to the laptop one more time and boom, it worked. I have come to the conclusion that although mankind has a free will, projectors do not. They are wholly controlled by God’s command. That goes for all man-made machines. It’s really nice to know!
This morning I shared “The Root of the Problem” presentation which talks about our sinful, self-ish nature. The presentation went very well, but afterward I learned that I had made a serious cultural mistake. In the presentation I talk about the awesome power and yet gentleness of God. I compared God to a bull running full speed through a china shop without breaking the most delicate cup. In Thailand, I discovered, God should never be compared to a bull. Fortunately my translator is Spirit-inspired and he made the necessary changes to get the point across without negatively impacting the congregation. God is so good.
A good chunk of of my time between the morning and evening meetings is preparing the presentations. When they were translated, they were imported into Apple’s Keynote, modified, and then exported back to PowerPoint. Unfortunately Keynote is clueless about most of PowerPoint’s animations. In addition, Keynote did not show my notes, so the translator had no idea that each of my slides had notes attached to them. The upshot is that I have to go through and redo most of the animations and have to add some slides with notes back in. It’s a small price to pay to have well-translated presentations, however, and I am happy to do it.
After lunch today I took a long walk. I wanted to see if I could walk to the Jesus for Asia office from Chiang Mai Academy. It’s actually quite a nice walk. I walked by rice paddies and cows and (not always friendly) dogs. I walked into a little town (that had a huge temple). I would have been hopelessly lost had not Gop driven by. He put a pinpoint on my Google Map so that I new exactly where to go and I got there without getting lost at all. There must be a spiritual lesson there somewhere.
The evening presentation was a hard one, it was deeper than the previous ones and had some complex animations. The title is “The Greatest Unused Power” and talks about the Holy Spirit. God blessed, though. I am really glad this is His ministry and not mine. After the service we looked into some problems that we had seen during the presentation with some animations. We discovered the problem and I went back to made changes to the next presentations so that we won’t have that problem again. We live and learn.
Wednesday, June 14
Breakfast this morning would have made a great lunch or supper. It was fried rice and vegetables. Very good, but a little hard to take early in the morning. I’m finding myself longing for breakfast food!
I shared the “Drowning in the Almighty” presentation this morning. It is about surrender, what it is, and how does it works. All the video and audio equipment worked well, so now we have 4 presentations recorded. 8 more to go!
After the presentation I worked on upcoming messages for an hour or so and then recorded my Chiang Mai vlog. It is about how we can delight in God. The taping went very smoothly, I think it will turn out well.
As I was passing by the church on my way back from recording the vlog, I noticed that they had added a huge banner to the front of the church for this series that we are having. I’m not sure why they waited until the middle of the week to put it up, but it sure makes us look official now. :)
Today was one of those days when I could feel the devil working hard. Last night I dreamt that I was fighting with my wife, that I was being chased by a high-tech death machine, and that I was getting sick and that my voice was getting hoarse. None of these things are actually true, but the dream seemed real enough. Throughout the day I have been beset by doubts. Last night’s presentation and this morning’s were difficult. The translation seemed to make them too long and to lose their momentum. I was beset all day with doubts as to the effectiveness of these messages. So I spent extra time in prayer and I had a special prayer with my interpreter before the meeting. When I got up to speak, one of the microphones was dead. Nothing they did fixed it. They took it apart and looked at the wires (all while I stood on the stage waiting), they replaced the batteries. Then they did all those things over again. Nothing worked. I was praying hard that God would control the microphone as it is His right to do. After they gave up, I took it and did the same things they had done. Still nothing. Then I played with the battery compartment and the microphone began working and worked great throughout the meeting. God really is incredible.
My message this evening was my testimony. And God spoke powerfully through Lusak and I. God accomplished His will. He conquered the devil. I have no doubt about that. After I spoke I had a special consecration prayer and invited those to kneel with me who wished to consecrate or reconsecrate their lives to Jesus as they had never done before. I didn’t look at how many knelt but the sound of benches scraping on the floor was amazingly loud. Afterward, the pastor stood up and announced the Sabbath baptism and invited any who would like to be baptized to let him know. This is God’s ministry, and I am so glad.
Thursday, June 15
Yesterday I prepared all my presentations for today and tomorrow morning. So I found myself without much to do. Which was kind of nice.
In the morning meeting, the projector died in the middle of the presentation. But God blessed and we got it back up and running again in record time. Jon assures me that he can edit the problem parts out of the final video. You have to love technology.
After the meeting Gop came to my room and let me know that someone was coming to measure me. And a few minutes later, sure enough, a lady came and took my torso and neck measurements. Hmmm, I wonder why they want my measurements? The principal came by and laughed, saying, it was supposed to be a secret but we didn’t know what size to make it, so it’s a secret, but we’re taking your measurements. In other words, you’re getting a shirt, but you’re not supposed to know it.
The nice thing about the principal’s visit is that she told Gop how we could get our clothes laundered. So Jon and I loaded our dirty clothes into plastic bags and tomorrow we should have some clean clothes!
After that I uploaded the latest Delighting Moments vlog. I used my phone as an access point so it took around a half hour. But it uploaded successfully.
Then we went to lunch at the JFA office/house. It was fun to fellowship with the group. And it was even more fun after lunch because we went to a nearby falls that you can climb up and down. Some parts are very steep so they have ropes. Most of the rock is rough and non-slip, but there are some darker patches that can be non-slip or treacherously slippery, and you don’t know which until it is too late. So the moral of that story is to avoid the dark side and you will be safe. There must be a spiritual lesson there somewhere.
At supper three girls came and sat near me at the table where I was eating. They tried very hard to talk to me in English, but they did not know much. And I knew a lot less Thai. They eventually succeeded in asking me where I was from, what I was eating (tofu), whether I ate meat (no), and when I was going home (in a little over a week!!). They also told me their names: fern, air, and qwuon.
In the evening meeting I talked about how to know God’s will. I think it went pretty well. It’s a hard topic in the best of circumstances. But the taping went well, I am told, and that’s always a blessing.
Well, off to bed.
Friday, June 16
Jon did a special aerial video for Chiang Mai Adventist Academy this morning. He flew a quadcopter over the morning flag-raising ceremony with all the students assembled. He continued to video them as they walked from the main square to the church. I am looking forward to seeing the video. It is amazing what dramatic footage can be obtained by a relatively cheap quadcopter.
We visited a small orphanage today that is owned and operated by Seventh-day Adventists. They have about 25 children. The “dad” is from Australia and used to race motorcycles and was heavily into racing and racing machines for most of his life. Now he is preparing to sell everything he has in Australia and commit full time to the orphanage work. It is quite a sacrifice for him and I pray that the Lord will keep him firm in his commitment.
Today, for the meetings I shared “How to stay dead” and “What happens when I fail?” These two presentations are related in some ways and I think the combination worked well.
I wore my Thai shirt for the Friday evening meeting. It actually fits pretty well and goes good with my black pants.
Sabbath, June 17
Today is my last day of sharing with Chiang Mai Adventist Academy. I’m actually pretty happy about that in some ways. We’ve been sharing so much so fast that I am sure that the students are feeling overwhelmed. It’s time to give them the opportunity to assimilate what they have heard.
I spoke for Sabbath School on self-denial. Then, at the beginning of church they presented Jon and his team and I gifts. They at first gave me a large basket filled with jars of some liquid, and I was wondering what happened to the shirt? I was also wondering how I would ever travel with all these jars. Then they realized their mistake and gave me the correct gift which was a nicely wrapped box with a shirt inside. Whew!
For the church service, I shared the “Joy of Dying” message. It is one of my favorites and I presented it out of order so that I could share it on Sabbath as the last message to the students.
After the message they had a baptism. Thirteen young people gave themselves to the Lord in baptism. I had heard that there would be six baptisms, but that number climbed up. Praise the Lord for that!
During the potluck I spoke with a guy and his wife who spoke English. She teaches English at the school and he works for ADRA Canada. They encouraged me by letting me know how they had enjoyed the presentations all week. They said that it was unusual, and highly effective, to have the PowerPoint slides translated into Thai. They also let me know that I had a very good translator. The Lord has led in so many wonderful ways here in Thailand!
In the afternoon I redid message number one because the equipment failed when the message was originally given. My audience was about 10 students and community members. It was hard because I was tired and this was my last presentation, but we made it through and it got recorded. So now we have a full set of 12 “Delighting in the Almighty” presentations in Thai. Although the full set has 16, I think these 12 are enough for now. The other 4 are a little deeper and more technical in some ways.
Both my translator and the guy who translated my slides into Thai have expressed how blessed they were as they worked with me. They said that they have learned things about the Christian life that they never knew before, and are encouraged to give themselves more fully to Christ. It is amazing what God does in us and for us and through us when we work with Him. We should be pleading with God for more opportunities to serve!
In the evening the Love for Asia team went to Daniel Bair’s home to dedicate their new media vehicle. This 4-wheel drive SUV will be used as a mobile media control room. They will drive up to a church, roll out the cameras, do the taping, and then pack up and drive away. It should make taping a lot easier.
After the dedication Jon and I visited with the Bair family and joined them for worship. It was a great way to end the Sabbath.