cast down your idols

Hello again!

I keep sitting down to blog, but for some reason it's been very difficult for me to write out and process a lot of the things I have been experiencing. We are in our third week of ministry here and honestly sometimes it feels like we have been here for months. We have met so many students and it is fun that we are making many friends. Thai people are very friendly and polite, and for the most part willing to sit and talk with "foreigners" :). We have been able to have many conversations about Jesus and I have even seen a few students place their faith in Christ. For many, the choice to follow Christ comes at a huge cost. They are usually seen as abandoning their Thai culture (since that pretty much goes hand in hand with Buddhism), disappointing their family, and must learn a whole new way of viewing God.

I'm sure many people know this, but part of the Buddhist faith involves worshiping idols. Ryan and I have commented a few times that it feels strange to read the Bible in the morning and see a large golden idol off in the distance through our window. Yesterday we went to the park around the large statue and actually climbed up near it. It was a very eye opening experience for me. Growing up in a western culture I'm not used to seeing people physically bowing down and worshiping golden man-made statues.

(Hat Yai Municipal Park)

For someone in Thailand to turn to Christ it means completely rejecting those idols and the culture that surrounds them. Similarly, in western cultures, turning to Christ still means rejecting the idols that surround us. Throughout the Bible, we are repeatedly taught to turn from idols (Ryan did a search and the Bible mentions idols 223 times...that's a lot). We are even told in the 10 commandments to worship no other gods and to not make idols. In Philippians 3:19 Paul begins to describe idols in a new way, a less obvious way, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things." Now our stomach or setting our minds on earthly things can be put before loving and serving God...making it an idol.

Our idols tend to look a little different I think. They may not be large, gold, and shiny, but they are just as tempting. We can easily start to place career, money, safety, security, family, our spouse, or a million other things before loving and following Jesus. I am so guilty of this, and so grateful for a God of grace. He is completely worthy of my worship, attention, and thought every moment of every day.

I've been challenged, as it is so easy to judge, and say "I would not bow down to a golden idol!" But in reality what do I spend my time, money, and effort on to provide joy or contentment in my life. This is something our team has been wrestling with this week, and I have been encouraged by the discussions we have been having. I know the Lord is challenging students as much as He is challenging me. I know He calls me, an American, to turn from my 'idols' just as He is calling these Kiwi students, and the Thai students as well.

Thank you for praying for us - more exciting stories this week that I hope to write about soon.

ps- can you tell my English is getting worse? I speak so much broken English trying to communicate that I will probably need to re-learn grammar :)


Our team

This is our team (staff and students) that are currently with us in Thailand! There are 18 of us, and so far we've been having a blast and getting very wet. Thank you for praying for us!

Yesterday I was having a conversation with several students and two of them prayed to receive Christ! I am planning to meet up with them along with one of our Thai staff to go through some follow up to make clear that they understand the Gospel. It was an amazing experience trying to speak in Thai/English and using a translator. But one of the guys, Ox, was very genuine and sat with us for over an hour. He had several questions, and P'Mitch was able to answet them so he understood. Please pray for Ox, as he is going home this weekend to see his family, who are mostly Buddhist. Pray that God would protect his heart and his understanding of the Gospel.

We have seen 13 students indicate a desire to begin a relationship with Christ in the last three days. That's crazy! It's exciting to see what God is doing, and we are praying we will be able to follow up with each of those students and be sure they understand fully who Jesus is and what that means for their lives. :)


Hat Yai

We made it to Thailand!

After 13 hours, 4 full movies, a Friends episode, and two meals...we arrived in Bangkok. Our first task was to get all 18 of us to our hotel for the night. After several miscommunications, our shuttle being given away and some wrong turns, we made it! The next morning we flew to Hat Yai where we were greeted by the Student Life staff including P'Mitch. Mitch is a kiwi that has moved to Thailand with his Thai wife and children to work for Student Life (Campus Crusade for Christ) here. He has been a huge help in getting us here and getting us ready for campus ministry starting on Tuesday!

We have already met a ton of Thai students. We were on campus Friday for a prayer walk and were introduced to several student leaders within SL. We have already done one New Zealand cultural show, and have been in orientation for the past few days and there are a few thing that have stood out to me.

-something P'Mitch mentioned about the importance of us being here. He talked about how to be Thai pretty much means to be Buddhist (almost 95% of the population, other 5% Muslim). This can make it very difficult for Thai Christians to share their faith with other Thais because they almost feel the Christian is being disrespectful of their heritage and going against Thailand. By having us here, students want to learn about us, and it gives the Thai staff and students the opportunity to share the gospel when they otherwise may not be able to. The Thai students open their hearts and minds just a little bit more than they would normally.

-one of the staff here, P'Boy, told us yesterday how we, as a team, have encouraged him so much already just by being here. He said, sometimes they feel they are up against the world and not getting anywhere. But they are encouraged to have us here and be "going up against the world with them".

Anyway, just some thoughts for now, I'll check in soon!


On to Thailand

I honestly can't believe we are leaving for Thailand in 2 days. I think we are both feeling pretty overwhelmed, nervous and excited. I'm sure we've shared with most of you about some of the difficulties and frustrations we've faced trying to prepare and plan for this trip, while still learning how to lead the team here in Wellington. It has been a very busy 5 months.

I am excited to see what the Lord has in store this summer. I am also a bit nervous at what the Lord has in store this summer :)

If you feel led, please pray for our team. Specifically for safe/smooth travels, logistics of moving 18 people, and for the students we will be meeting and sharing the Gospel with. Also, please pray for our health. It can be easy to get sick when staying in another country for an extended amount of time, especially when your stomach is not used to the food! It is inevitable that we will probably all be sick at some point, but I hope it will have minimal interference with doing ministry on campus.

Here's to our summer adventure!



One of our last activities with the Sawries, was to head out to Martinborough for a little wine tasting! It was such a beautiful day, and I got sun burnt for the first time all year!


Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

I have never heard of Guy Fawkes before, but apparently he is a guy worth celebrating! Everyone shoots off fireworks, and there was a big show down on the waterfront.

Here is what I have learned about Guy Fawkes: Guy Fawkes (13 April 157031 January 1606) was an English soldier and a member of a group of Roman Catholic conspirators who attempted to carry out the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) and the members of both houses of the Parliament of England with a huge explosion, which was prevented by his arrest on 5 November 1605.

And because there was a huge explosion, now it is celebrated every year with fireworks. Crazy!

A whole new set of holidays to learn about :)


Falls - Tongariro park

On our last day in Turangi, we took a hike to Taranaki Falls. It took us right past Mt Ruapehu:

And to the falls!

On to Wellington next!


A day in Taupo

After the Tongariro Crossing, we decided to take it EASY the next day and visit Taupo. We started with a boat ride on the lake.

Where we found some Maori rock carvings. And very clear water!

And Huka Falls...

And next stop...Craters of the Moon!


the Tongariro Crossing

Warning, this post could get long! One of the highlights of our trip up to Taupo was the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is considered one of the best one-day walks in New Zealand, so we had to check it out!

We started bright and early, around 7am...yikes.
The sun was beautiful in the morning against the mountains. It was one of the first days of spring that casual hikers were allowed to go out, so the trail wasn't packed. (we soon found out there was still plenty of snow on the ground)

The terrain was so different from what we've seen in other parts of New Zealand. Very dry and desert like. Almost like the moon?

Like I said, there was still plenty of snow on the trail. Some of the trail markers were buried several feet down in the snow with only the tips sticking out. It wasn't until we were home and I was looking at pictures online that I realized how much snow there really was. Fortunately the sun kept us pretty warm despite the breeze coming across the snow.

Above, we are walking through a large crater, and below is on the other side. Check out the people in the bottom left corner for some perspective.

And after that climb it was time for lunch :) We were surrounded by three active volcanoes at this point, which is crazy.

Then we decided to add a little detour...climbing to the peak of Mt. Tongariro.

Along the way... I just think the colors are beautiful.

And we made it to the top to a great view of Mt Ngauruhoe (in the background).

Then we decided to take the "shortcut" back to the main trail. Only our "shortcut" turned into a "longcut" because it was a sheet of ice. We ended up with a few cuts and scrapes, but finally made it across!
Just in time for some fog to set it. But we were able to see the red crater, below...

And the emerald lakes, which were unfortunately still frozen over.

Then we started our trek down...

Which took much longer than these pictures give credit, but it wasn't as interesting as the first half :) We did end up by a nice stream and waterfall! Very different from the desert as the beginning of the walk.

And we survived! 8.5 hours, and 19.4kms later :)


Rotorua pit-stop

On our road trip from Auckland to Taupo we made a stop by Rotorua. Home of a lot of thermal activity:

Hot pools in the middle of a beautiful flower garden.

And we took some time to soak our feet :)



Ryan's parents came to visit! We picked them up in Auckland as soon as they arrived in the country. We could hardly sleep the night before, ha, Ryan likened it to Christmas eve.

Anyway, once we picked them up we headed into the city, which was still decorated for the Rugby World Cup win!

Next we headed to the top of the Sky Tower.

You can bungy from the top of the tower in case you were interested :)

What a view!


Carlucci Land

So, there's a putt-putt course in town made entirely of rubbish. Ryan has been eying this place since we arrived!

They take metal from the nearby landfill and turn it into art. Pretty amazing actually.

Ha, it's a bug!