Crucible

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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

 

 

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 

Staffettpinnen går videre

livjorunElse2
                                   Liv Jorun                                                                          Else

En tindrende klar augustdag i høst stod vi i klasserommet på Skjærgårdsheimen og bad for en av vår tids pionerer, 20 år gamle Else Conrad fra USA. Dagen etter satte hun seg på flyet til Thailand der hun skal bo og jobbe blant en folkegruppe fra Burma som heter Karen-folket. Helt på grensa til Burma finnes det over 200 000 karenere som har flyktet til Thailand etter å ha blitt undertrykt av den burmesiske hæren i nærmere 70 år. Else skal jobbe blant noen av de aller fattigste av disse i den lille landsbyen Maw Gwee som ligger rett ved grenseelven mellom Thailand og Burma, Moi River. I denne landsbyen har en annen ung utsending fra Skjærgårdsheimen, Karina Vennerød, startet et prosjekt for vanskeligstilte kvinner. Prosjektet heter Damola som betyr håp, og det er nettopp det Else og Karina ønsker å bringe til kvinnene i Maw Gwee. De bringer håp ved å gi disse kvinnene et levebrød bak vevestolen i tillegg til budskapet om verdens eneste håp, Jesus Kristus.

Det å stå sammen med Else denne onsdagen var en helt spesiell opplevelse for meg. For ganske nøyaktig 13 år siden var det jeg som stod der og ble sendt ut som feltarbeider til karenfolket. Gud hadde talt og jeg var klar til å gå. Jeg følte meg ikke spesielt modig og visste slett ikke hva som lå foran. At ett år skulle bli til tretten hadde jeg ingen anelse om, men jeg hadde lært på DTS at det Gud sier det vil Han også gjøre, det Han lover det vil Han holde. I dag kan jeg si at det jeg hadde lært på DTS er helt sant. Det Gud har sagt det har Han også gjort i gjennom alle disse tretten årene. Han har holdt det Han har lovet. Det var godt å kunne dele den erfaringen med Else der hun stod klar til å ta skrittet ut i tro på Guds løfter. Det kjentes som å gi staffettpinnen videre, ja, mer enn det. I tillegg til staffettpinnen kunne jeg sende med henne en forsikring om at hun kommer til å løpe denne etappen sammen med Far i himmelen og vinne seier med Han.

Liv Jorun Bolås,
Stab International Avdeling