Village Life in Thailand: #2

Here is another post written by Helene, from her outreach experience in Thailand earlier this year. 

HeleneBlogThailand(Photo: Eiliv Søyland)

After thirteen days in the village Wa Shi Kaaw, we have now returned to the base in Way Te Loo. Here we have all of our belongings, wi-fi connection and the possibility to buy chocolate. All of this is awesome and we’ve been missing it for a while now, but after getting use to a different, simpler lifestyle in the village, we’ve also gotten to love this way of life. This lifestyle includes bucket showers, cooking all kinds of food on the fire, burning the trash, going to bed at 8 PM and listening to the roosters all night long. A simple lifestyle, with a lot of challenges along the way, but it really makes you appreciate the important things in life. Even though the spiders are HUGE, there are pigs outside the toilet, three roosters in the kitchen, cats in the beds, and chickens all over the place, and even if the smell of fried rat is filling the house, it is the love these people give that will remain as the strongest memory in this village. Still, we are making memories that will bring laughter in the years to come. It’s hard to forget not being able to hear Rachel and Finn sing on Glee, because of the roosters singing louder in the kitchen. Or that one by one on the team had to experience an unspoken amount of food coming out again one end or the other, and for some, both.

But one thing I’ve understood during this time, is that it does not depend on where you are, or what you’re doing, everything depends on the people you are creating memories with. The new people you get to know, and the friends already surrounding you. To be able to pray and worship the same God with someone that speaks a different language, and know that your hearts are dwelling in the same place, with the same Lord, is the most awesome feeling. For me, the hardest part on outreach is the fact that we have to leave all the wonderful and lovely people we get to know.

blog-3_rolf(Photo: Helene Fjærtoft)

Then it’s so great to leave with the knowledge that some time, God knows when, we will see each other again. One thing from this culture that will stay with me forever is the hospitality and friendliness of the people here. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or when you come, you’re always welcomed into their homes and served snacks or food. They will kill any sized spider or snake if you ask them to, and if your legs are covered in bites (yes, mine are), they will crush some kind of orange root to give you as medicine. You will always feel secure in the present of the Karen people. At least I do!

These weeks have contained a lot of exciting things. We have been teaching the most beautiful kids at the school here. Even if they don’t understand any English, it’s amazing to see how you are able to communicate in other ways. We have had the opportunity to teach them about the Gospel, to sing songs with them and we have played a lot of games. In addition to the teaching, we have also done some practical work. This meaning picking and bagging corn in the fields. In the evenings we have been visiting the homes, where we have prayed and seen healing, eaten a lot of good snacks, and gotten to know the people in the village. Through singing, laughing and sharing some of our testimonies, we have seen God work in wonderful ways. After a few days of vacation we are now ready to continue our outreach in a new country.  Now we’re heading east towards the Cambodian border. I’m so excited to get to know new people, a new culture, eat new food, and see God’s plans for us in Cambodia.

Lots of love from Asia!  Helene, DTS Student

Village life

villagelife

It’s been a while since the last update, and the reason for that is the life without electricity and internet. But here are some updates from our two first weeks in the village Maw Kwee in the middle of the jungle of Thailand. Adventure.   

We have just returned back to the YWAM base in Thailand, after some amazing days in the village. We have showered in a river, taught at a school, torn down a house and made room for a new one, ate rat, killed a snake, and also gotten to know some lovely brothers and sisters in Christ.

After two hours in the back of a pick-up truck, we arrived in the village Maw Kwee. We drove through a river, and up a dusty road, which I don’t think would be called a road in Norway. We finally stopped and were met by the Karen-DTS team, and a lot of beautiful kids from the village. The first day we got settled in, took our first shower in the river with sarongs, which wasn’t that easy…
The next day began at 6 am with work duties- making food, cleaning and getting water, quiet time to spend with Jesus, and then breakfast at 7:30 am. The first challenge came right after breakfast: teaching. Christina, Ana and I got a translator and three classes, and without any preparation we stood in front of a class with kids that were eager to learn. After that day I didn’t want do do anything like that again. I can say that my wish was not granted. But after several days with teaching, and some more preparation, it became more fun.

During the week we also got to help the Damola project. This is a project started for the women in Maw kwee in 2012, where they weave things like zipper bags, table runners, handbags and many other things, and sell them in Thailand, Norway, and the U.S. We helped out with different things, like sewing. We are also learning the Karen language and soon we’ll be perfectly good at making Asian food. The “colla was”, also known as the white people, are slowly but safely getting intergraded into this new culture.

During these weeks we have heard a lot of stories. Many of these stories are hard for many of us to even understand or imagine. This village contains mostly of people from Myanmar who have moving stories to tell about their lives, from situations we can’t even imagine. Strong stories from the civil war, soldiers taking over villages with violence, natural disasters…  This really opens our eyes, and makes us appreciate the things we take for granted. We should be better at thanking for the people we have around us, for having a bed, food and clothes. So wherever you are in the world, be thankful, cause we have always something to be grateful for. Make sure your heart is in the right place. As it says in proverbs 4.23; keep your heart with all diligence(…). It says ‘your’ heart. Don’t worry about others, but make sure that your heart is where you want it to be. Because when it’s all over, that is what matters. I will conclude by quoting a wise friend: “We are too small to get in the way of God doing great things through us. Just by walking you are carrying Jesus to dark places. Remember that God is in your presence whether you feel it or not.”

And please continue to pray for us. Blessings from Thailand.

Helene
DTS student 

Crucible

Elses post feb bigger 2

I remember when I was in High School and we learned what the word ‘Crucible’ meant: A place of severe test or trial; a place or situation in which different elements interact to produce something new. Our teacher explained that many times, when one wants to refine gold or silver, the metal is placed into a crucible, exposed to very high temperatures and then the impurities are burned away leaving a beautiful finished product.

October was my month of a living-crucible in Thailand.

You’ve heard the old saying, ‘be careful what you wish for’ or ‘be careful what you pray for’? Now I’m recommending, ‘be careful what you study’. In my quiet time I began a study that I titled ‘Crucible’ where I studied a few places in the Bible where trials were turned into triumphs. In Romans 5:3-5, tribulation turned to perseverance, proven character, and then into a hope that doesn’t disappoint. James 1:2-4 talked of trials being a testing of our faith, teaching us endurance until we reached a perfect result.

While I was studying, there were no real struggles I was facing- just the normal, small struggles of living in a new culture. Then God took me on a field trip: Chiang Mai Ram Hospital! October was a month of sickness, pain and deep reliance on Him. It was a time where I learned to put into action what I say I believe in the Bible; that God is good in all circumstances and has a good plan with everything in my life, even sickness in a foreign country.

It was a time of living out 1 Thessalonians 5:16. “Rejoice Always!” My God is good. He is worthy of praise regardless of circumstance. I believe what is written in Romans 8:28 and it is my joy to honor Him!

I’ve been blessed to be able to come home to celebrate Christmas with my family. And as nice as it has been, I’ve also been hit by the reality of worry and the effect that it has on service to God. As my dad and I drove around Oregon and delivered Christmas presents to all the aunts and uncles, each asked me, “Are you really going back to Thailand after being ‘deathly’ sick again?” And my answer is an emphatic ‘YES!’

I understand their worry and am incredibly thankful for their concern, but my experience has been that that I’ve seen in these passages: From trial comes triumph! Sickness is not my desire, nor is it God’s. However, praise and relationship with Him is! While I lay in my guest house, recovering from my week in the hospital I wrote a blog post (www.elsethenomad.wordpress.com). It was about why I joyfully choose to stay in Thailand with the Karen despite sickness. It was my testimony of God’s triumph.

That post circulated the globe. Friends in Asia read it, friends in Europe read it, and my dad read it to a waitress when he had a Bible study at a restaurant in town. I can’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, God allowed me to be sick just so that that waitress could hear the testimony of God’s faithfulness and redemptive and saving love.

Without darkness there can be no light. Without the cold, there would be no comforting heat. Without the difficulties of life, there would be no need for the grace and mercy of God. It is through the testing of our faith that we are made into the perfect likeness of Jesus. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, bit by vipers and imprisoned; yet he praised God continually with all his heart.

As it says in Job 23:10: When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

More and more, I understand what Paul meant when he said ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’. My life is more than health and ease. My life is to glorify God. If glorifying God means being sick in a foreign land, resulting in people all over the world getting on their knees in communication with the God of the Universe, then I’m okay with that.

I will happily and joyfully go through the crucible.

Else Conrad                                                                                                                                                                      One Year team, Maw Gwee, Thailand

 

 

Time for departure – outreach

pickup
photo illustration from last year.

Helene is one of our DTS students and we have asked her to write from her outreach in Thailand and Cambodia. She will write frequently and you can follow what she and her team are experiencing in an another culture, with team life, and what God is doing trough their lives.

The lights have been turned off. Around me people are trying to sleep. For most of them, including me, it’s not working. Not so weird considered that the clock just turned 8 pm (Norwegian time). In approximately 3 hours we will arrive in Asia, and in the busy streets of Bangkok. The moment we have been waiting for since we applied for the DTS, which now seems a bit scary, is here – outreach! Tears have been shared, the last loaf of bread with brown cheese have been eaten, and we have left our stiletto heels at home. At least for the next 9 weeks.

Cultural changes are coming our way, and we couldn’t be more excited. For the cold showers, the toilet visits without toilet paper, and “the unknown amount of rice”. But what we really look forward to is to see God change people’s lives. When you don’t really know what you’re traveling to, it’s hard to know what you can expect. How is the language, the climate, the humor and the social behavior? I guess we’ll find out. But one thing I do expect, is to listen to what God wants us to do, use the authority given to us by Him, and see great things take place. See healing happen, hearts being softened, see villages get clean water, and experience people getting a revelation about Gods grace and love for them.

24 hours have gone by, and I’m now laying on the floor of a bamboo cabin, which bay the way is my bed, and thinking about the last day. After 10 hours in plane, 10 hours in bus, and a lot of waiting, we have arrived the village and the YWAM base in Way Te Loo. We have experienced to sit in the back of a pick-up truck, while driving under the same shiny stars as in Norway; joy. I’ve also experienced the feeling of puking during the bus ride; not so much joy. But it’s all a part of this huge adventure we call outreach. There is all ready a lot of different cultural challenges, like our beds, our clothes, and the sanitary conditions. And I’m sure we’ll experience a lot more, both good and not so good situations, that will shape us as people.

I believe that God has many plans for this journey, and He has already made the road ready for us to walk on. I guess the best thing is to trust that the maker of heaven and earth knows best. And did you know, all this goes for your life as well!? You don’t need to travel the world for loving the people around you. Just think; who can I make a difference for today? And I’m sure you’ll find an answer.

You can also be a part of making a change, by praying for us. We would appreciate that more than you could imagine. Thank you! God bless you.

Helene
DTS-student 

 

With the Good News to Turkey

Tyrkia 2

When I did my DTS almost 10 years ago at Skjærgårdsheimen, my outreach team went to Turkey. When I look back now, I know that my life was changed forever because of that trip! Not only because of that trip, but because of who God is. He leads us and guides us to where He wants us to be. We don’t always understand how it all will come together, but He is in charge! Today we live in Izmir, on the west coast of Turkey, with our three children. The last one was born here. In her passport it even says  ”Born in Izmir, Turkey”!

I met my husband during the year I did my DTS. He was staff in another city in Norway. Long story short; We got married 2.5 years later. When we married, we asked God what to do with our lives and felt that He told us to go to Turkey to be light and salt there.  After finishing our educations and working for a while, we quit our jobs, said goodbye to our families and friends and moved our life to Turkey. This was 1,5 year ago. So how is it  going?

Our team exists of one family from South Africa who leads the team, our family and 2 ladies from South Korea. Up until now the team has focused on discipling young believers and supporting the local church. Last spring our team was staffing a bible school ran by the local church. This was a “pilot project” and similar programs will take place the following years. Our team is at a turning point these days, where we feel there is a new season. We are praying that God will lead us to what He has for us in this new season.  Some of the things God has been leading us to focus on is mercy ministry, worship and prayer, and preparing workers for the harvest by discipling young believers. In the following months we will work out what this will look like practically.

Language learning is our main focus the first two years. We have been taking lessons in different forms: Classroom teaching and private tutoring. When we attend the church, we learn more biblical terms, as we are listening to testimonies and teaching from the Bible. The worship is in Turkish as well, so we learn a lot of Turkish worship songs.

We have 3 wonderful kids. Two boys age 4 and 3, and an 8 month old little baby girl. When I took my DTS, I never would have guessed that I would have my children in a Turkish kinder garden. They are learning Turkish and learning how to relate to the culture. Our prayer is that they will feel comfortable in this culture, so that we can not only stay for many years in this country, but live joyfully here.

A fieldworker in Turkey

Village life in Thailand

Else

I’ve been in Asia for a few months now, but it feels like I’ve been here for a lifetime… in a good way.

While sitting outside my room at the Karen DTS base in Northern Thailand, seeing the forested mountains break through the morning mist, I’m in awe that I’m actually here. I’m living with the Karen.

A few words come to mind when I think about the past few weeks here: Joy, Peace, Security, Utter Contentment.

Looking back, it’s actually crazy that I’m here. Asia was never on my radar. Missions was never on my radar. I spent most of my life pursuing and went to college to study music. Although my parents supported me, my mom always said, “Else, you’re going to be an English teacher and a missionary. I just know it!” At the beginning of my second year of college, I felt as though God said: Music is over. Through panic and confusion, I found myself studying to become an English teacher and started a new job teaching English to the international students on my campus. Right about that time, God had been introducing me to a people group in Northern Thailand and stirring up a call to missions in my heart. Many small things led me to take my DTS at Skjærgårdsheimen, but the final push was seeing that this small school, in my most favorite part of the world, sent an outreach team to the Karen people. I applied and was accepted within a week.

Throughout my DTS, many teachers said something along the lines of, ‘The best place to be is in God’s plan’. It is so true! Everyday, I fall more and more in love with this place, the village and the people.

God is so incredible. He knows exactly what our hearts’ desires are and the absolute best ways to fulfill those desires. He knows that I wanted to travel and that I love music. Then, He puts me here, in the middle of the jungle (the last place I ever thought I would want to be) with the most musical people I’ve ever encountered. Music is everywhere!

Even in the village, I can see that God prepared me especially for this job. Teaching English, a job I never thought I wanted, has become one of my most favorite activities! One evening, in Maw Kwee (the village my team and I go to every other week), I was sitting writing in my journal and looked down our ladder to see six or seven village kids staring at me and laughing. Feeling awkward, I went inside our house and asked my friend why they were there laughing at me! She smiled and said that they wanted me to teach them English. So I turned on a light, and waved them up the ladder. Suddenly, it was as though the whole village was in our living area! Students, babies, grandmothers- everyone came to watch the blonde girl teach their beautiful, dark children English. It was such a great moment. My heart was full because I knew that it was God who prepared that moment.

Else Conrad
One Year team, Maw Gwee Thailand