Tim Tams & Tid Bits from Down Under

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Impact World Tour

James and RK at a school assembly. The kids loved the helicopter trick that RK is doing.
The stage and GX international skate ramps are ready for the first big show in Perth. We worked long hours to get this ready and it was well worth it.
Praying before the show, holding the Australian flag to remember to people of this land: Salena, Kevin, Luke and James of Team Xtreme. This is the team I worked the most with and who I went with to Ohio.

Tesimony, from Tonga, doing the Fire Knife dance. An amazing talent and he never complained if he got burned!

Cathy, Emily, El, Salena and myself..The DTS girls and the Team Xtreme girls unite. El joined Team Xtreme, performed with them for the last few shows and plans to go with them to Fiji for the next tour in September.

Pictures from Perth

The Team: Our final BBQ, at Scarborough Beach, together before everyone started to head home.

Henry and Vrenni's birthday lunch.

The Sports DTS girls, a day out at the park. We were helping a city-wide church event, but we found a minute to relax together.
Myself, Reianna from Holland and Cathy from Canada: out to dinner to celebrate Cathy's birthday.
Beautiful! I always say the sky is magical in Australia, see what I mean! This a 1000 meter jetti/pier in Bunburry, Western Australia. This beach was one of our stops on our school camping trip in November.

Pictures from Perth, Western Australia

Skyline of Perth: downtown and Swan Bay.
My 28th birthday at Scarborough Beach!

Picnic dinner @ King's Park with my small group.
Girls Night Out! Perth in the background at sunset. We are on the bridge to the train stop, headed somewhere cool!
Enjoying the view of Swan Bay! That is Henry, Trisha and myself on the bench.

Thailand pictures

Bangkok, Thailand: Buddah statues that Buddhist pray to.
Ubonratchatoni, Thailand: Kindergarten girls in a class in which we volunteered. The teacher left us, we had no interpreter and the kids did not speak any English!

Ubonratchatoni, Thailand: Little girl in a slum village with her treat for the day. We did a kid's fun day here with games, songs, and playing tag. Ubonratchatoni, Thailand: Our transportation while in this city. We squeezed into it everyday as we would travel all around doing ministry. Lots of good memories in this bus/truck!
Chonburi, Thailand: Going into a home to do a kid's fun day. The father was sick with AIDS. All of the little kids from the neighborhood came and joined. This house sticks out in my memory of poor housing conditions (holes in the floor, no glass or screens in the window, no real bathroom, poor water conditions if any at all) and is part of the reason why I want to do more work to improve living conditions in my future.

Pictures from Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand: Sitting at the front of the King's Palace on our temple tour day.

Chonburi, Thailand: Kid's fun day with games, songs, stories and crafts. These kids' parents all have HIV or AIDS and some of the kids do to.
Bangkok, Thailand: New Year's Eve: I ate a toasted cricket and silk worm. Both disguting! But Silas was right, I'll never forget that night!
Bangkok, Thailand: Buddah statue on top of a temple.

Bangkok, Thailand: DTS friends and Thai friend, Palm, hanging out after a soccer game at the stadium. We met a lot of people playing sports at the stadium almost every night.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It has been awhile!

Hey loved ones! I am now home from eight months on the mission field, eight months that I am thankful for and would not change for anything. After my six month DTS, I headed to Toledo, Ohio with Team Xtreme for a six week tour. I went and the team leader's personal assistant. It was an awesome time. We saw many lives touched and changed by learning the love of our Heavenly Father. I am so thankful that God used little old me to make a difference and share His love. I learned a lot from our team intercessors and made some amazing friends along the way.
Upon returning home, I waited on God to light the next path He wanted me to persue. After just a short time here is the deal. I see architecture being a way I want to change the world, doing projects like orphanages, health clinics, schools, and churches for ministries across the world. There is a ministry I want to get involved with called Engineering Ministries International that does this very thing. I learned that you have to apply to be chosen to go on their missions trips as the architect and through prayer decided that I needed to get experience with those types of projects. This means persuing an architecture job doing health care, education and civic projects as opposed to the housing I was doing before. Then the question layed of where to live for this job. This is followed by a phone call from my friend, Cambria, who is moving down to San Diego, California to get her masters degree in nursing. Awesome! I have wanted to go to San Diego for some time now, and I have a friend to do it with. God is so good to me and I'm so excited!
I'm now ready with an updated resume and impressive cover letter to send out to about 12 firms I have found interest in. I'm about to start putting together a portfolio that I will use in the interviews and am hoping to head down in the beginning of July to interview. Cambria's program starts at the end of August, so we are looking to move down at the end of July, although I may go a little sooner than that depending on my job situation. Did I mention I am really excited about this! God is sending me to a beautiful city, with mountains close for mountain biking and the ocean close for surfing. And it is in California, so that makes my family very happy!
Thanks for your continued love and support guys. I am so lucky to have you in my life. Laura


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Looking back and random thoughts

I'm looking back at the last 6 weeks of my life...never before have I had so many cold showers and slept in a sleeping bag for this long. I have not blow dryed or curled my hair for six weeks and make up gets put on half the time. My hair dryer died in Australia. Some of these clothes are going to stay here in Thailand, they just don't get throuoghly clean here and after all this sweat and dirty cities, they are done!

Today I worked with the childrens ministry at a church in Chonburi. I had the cutest little 6 year old girl stuck to me all day. She was really smart, funny, cute and spoke a little bit of English. I loved having her there and made the day so fun!

Yesterday, we went to a slum area and visited a family, some of the adults are sick with AIDS. I got to hold a 6 month old little girl and pray over her as I held her. She was so sweet. Most poor kids in Thailand don't wear diapers or underwear. I'm happy to report the baby peed on Miriam, not me!! About 15 neighbor kids showed up to hang out with us. We sang songs, shared the story of Jesus with them, and made bead bracelets. This is probably the biggest thing that has happened to them in a long time and it is such a good feeling to bring this light into their day. There were four adult women at this house and Miraim and El spent time talking with them, with the help of a translator. All four women were really excited to hear about Jesus and all asked him into their hearts. This is the first Christian family in that area/neighborhood. Our host, Louise, said we planted a church!! How cool is that!

Chonburi brings us back into a city. Ubon was nice because it was in the mountains of Thailand. much cooler weather and beauty everywhere. Chonburi is hot, loud, busy and humid. But the people are amazing and our team is going full force until the last second here. God is using us to pour out his love, what an honor!

Please check out my friend Simon's blog. He posts pictures and writes about our adventures...you will enjoy it! http://www.cheology.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 05, 2007

Off the map

The last days have been amazing and heartbreaking. I am now in a little town in Northeast Thailand called Ubonratchathani. The people group here is the Isan people and their language is a bit different from Thai, but the basics are the same so I get by. Today is my first time having internet access since Jan 28 and I have really missed it, and you guys!

We have been doing a few different ministries. We are hooked up with a little church in the town that reaches out to the surrounding villages. There are 2500 villages!!! We spent one day in a village an hour away painting the roof trusses of their church. When I say church, I mean a concrete floor and posts, a block wall in the front, hand framed roof trusses and tin metal roofing, and old stools for the seating. No walls, windows, doors, or proper seating. The church looks great after the painting and it was really fun for all of us. We camped over night there and went and worked in a school the next day.
My team is really loving being out of the big city of Bangkok and spendig time in the quiet of the country. Another day we went to a slum village and did a program for the kids. We sang songs, did a skit, danced, played tag and just had lots of fun. It was so sad and eye opening to see where these families live. This particular village is in a flood zone so every rainy season they get flooded and to the top of their shacks. For some, their walls are made out of blankets and their shower is a dirty little hut that half closes.
We have gone and worked in schools on two different days. We do an assembly, play games, play sports and try to give the kids something really fun to remember. At the first school, I helped with SIndre by teaching in the kindergarten, but the teacher left and we did not have an interpreter for part of the time. Thank goodness for songs with actions, and rock paper scisors!!! At the second school, I was marveled by the facilities they are in. The assembly hall have holes in the wooden floor boards that were big enough for a little foot to go through and you could see straight down to the dirt ground below. Later that day we had a soccer tournament with the locals, they are so good, naturals. Luckily the europeans on my team have grown up with the game and put up a good game!
Another day we went to a village to join a home church and encourage them and we did the same thing again last night. Often they end up encouraging us more than we do for them. They have so little and yet they are so heartfelt and firey about Jesus. I wonder if I would be as positive as them if I had as little as they do. Everywhere we go, they give us the best hospitality and cook the most wonderful meals for us. They tone down the spicyness for our team, but they say its not worth eating if it doesn't make you sweat!!
Everyday we are so busy, we start early and go until 8 or 9. The church is so excited to have us here and they have our every minute planned!!
We are here until Friday night, the 9th. Tuesday morning we are heading 90 kilometers out of town to another village near the Thailand/Laos border. We will be visiting a few house churches to encourage them, do some kids programs, probably play soccer and maybe work a school. We will be camping overnight again. We will get to go shopping at the border on Wednesday, but probably not cross over. Then head back for the last few days of service in Ubon.

We are staying with the assoc. pastor and his family. They have a pretty big house and the 20 of us (including our interpreter Gan, from YWAM Bangkok who is traveling with us) fit quite well. The 7 of us girls have the master bedroom and for the first time since Australia we have hot showers!! But only the girls!! The boys bathroom does not have a water heater! We also have a tent on the porch off the master bedroom and we take turns sleeping out there if it is not too cold. The weather is much cooler here and no humidity like Bangkok, more my style!! We are having to use our sweatshirts here.

There is so much more I could say, but this is getting long....so it will have to wait. I have seen God move in amazing ways in our time here and it is a privledge that He uses me for his work! We are headed to Chonburi, Thailand on Friday night via an overnight bus. Will arrive Saturday morning. On Feb. 17 we head back to Perth to start working with Impact World Tour. I have no idea what my internet access will be over the next few months. I was blessed by wireless internet and friend's laptops when we were in Bangkok.

Signing out with love, Laura

Saturday, January 20, 2007

21 Questions

My dad wrote me an email with a list of questions which I thought you all might like to know, so here it goes...
What's the weather like? Hot and humid everyday. I've gotten good at wearing sunblock everyday because the sun is very intense. Today when I walked outside at 8 am it felt about 90 degrees. I'm so thankful I have air conditioning in my room and in the church. At least I stay cool at night!
How's the food and what's your favorite? Wonderful!!! Arroy for delish in Thai!! I love curry anything. This morning my friend Oi taught me how to make duck coconut curry, and it was amazing! Sum tam which is a papaya salad. I will prepare it when I come home. As you walk down the streets the sidewalks are filled with little road side carts, some even provide table and chairs, where they fix the food right there, little bbq stands right there on the side walk.
How do people react to you/Americans on the street? First I have to say that we represent 9 nations, so we are not just whities! We have Simone from Singapore, Edwin from Malaysia, El from England who is half Trinidad/Tobago, and Jes from Denmark who is half Egyptian. The rest are Germany, Norway, Finland, and Canada. That shout out is for my teammates!! You guys rock! We get lots of looks because we stick out so quickly. The Thai word for foreigners is Farang (fa-wrong) and anytime we hear it we know they are talking about us! I was very nervous to speak English at first but Thai people love me as an American, even if they don't agree with our politics.
In the area I live in, it is not a tourist area so we rarely see farang and it is so wierd when we do. We just stare at eachother like "what are you doing here??!!!" We try to be a friendly face to travelers who do make it to this area of Bangkok. When we go to the touristy area of Bangkok there are so many white people from all over the world, it is wired to see that many. This is one thing I have realizied I really like about California is that it is richly diverse in cultures. I was the only white person in my group of architecture friends in college and I love that!
What's the transportation like? We walk everywhere! Even home with the groceries for breakfast for 20 people!! Taxis are as common as white cars in the US, they are everywhere...but here they are hot pink, orange, green, and blue. There are truck taxis too, they basicly built a cage in the bed with benches, they are very cheap but I've never taken one. The bus system is cheap as well, but you can't find a bus schedule anywhere so we only use them if our hosts are with us or tell us what number to take. Air conditioned buses are the way to go!
How's your bag and mattress working? My dad sent me a compact sleeping bag and thermarest 1" thick sleeping mat for Christmas. They work great. The church had a straw mat that I put down first, then the therma rest. I brought a sheet with me, I start the night laying on my sleeping bag with the sheet, but I get cool enough that I crawl inside my bag and stay there til morning. Thank you dad!
Are you starting to understand the language and currency? I have a few sayings down like hello, thank you, my name is, what's yours?, cool, not spicy or a little spicy or nice spicy. I know how to count up to thirty. I pick up new things everyday and my thai friends are so impressed. They seem so honored that we want to learn their language and not just teach them ours. It makes it really fun!
The baht is the Thai currency and its really easy to use. The exchange rate is 35 baht to 1 dollar. Most places (not tourist places) you can eat a nice portioned amazing meal for 40 to 50 baht. Can you believe it!!! A plate is about 15 to 25 baht, sodas are 10 baht, water bottles are 7, a blended fruit and ice smoothie is 15 to 20.
Any McDonald's in Thailand? Yes, there are McDonald's here, and KFC and Pizza Hut. They are a lot more expensive, ends up converting to what we would pay in the US but it seems like a lot when you are used to eating for 40 baht! I have not eaten at McDonalds, but have eaten at Pizza Hut. They don't serve cheese on anything here and you get tired of eating Thai food everyday so on a day off we ate pizza and it was so great!
How about Starbuck's? I've had Starbucks twice. They are in the big shopping malls in the tourist area. I went over there on my first two days off. It was such a treat! Again, the baht price converted to the same amount in US dollars, maybe a little more!
Do you drink tea, coffee, water, soda, etc.? I drink mostly water here. I buy diet cokes, here called Light Coke, at the mini mart but you can't get it in any restaurant. So I've decided to not drink soda unless it can be diet. I make coffe sometimes or buy it at a little coffee shop right by where I live, 60 baht for an iced coffee. You can buy Thai iced tea at almost any road side stand. But it is made with a condensed milk, so I probably won't get it again until right before I leave! So much of the food is cooked in heavy oil, so cutting out treats like the thai iced tea is how I will attempt to not gain weight here. Of course the boys are losing weight and the girls are gaining and they eat way more than we do! Not fair!!
Are you sleeping and where? I'm living in one of the classrooms at the church we work at. There are four of us in my room. Our bags and sleeping mats take up all the floor room. My bed is also my couch, desk, and changing room.
Are you still in Bangkok? Yes, until 29 January. Then we take a 12 hour bus ride to the Northeast of Thailand to the Isan people. We will be in Ubanratchatawnie, for 10 days. Then we will be going south to a city that is an hour below Bangkok called Chon Buri. Then back to Bangkok to the church for one day and we fly back to Perth on 17 Feb.
Are you homesick? I wouldn't say home sick, but I do miss home. Being here makes me realize how nice of a place I come from. I miss the people, friend, family, my gym!, and the city itself. I miss driving down the roads that I know so well. Thailand has opened my eyes to that more than Australia or Italy ever did.

Well, I hope this proves I'm doing well and happy. I miss you all!!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last day of 2006!

Yesterday was my first free day in Bangkok. I now know right where to go on my next free day...Siam Square!! I reminds me a lot of LA, plus there was good cheap shopping. I only packed 4 shirts so I was happy to find two shirts to add to my wardrobe. The guys all came back with matching Ralph Lauren Polos in different colors, but they were only 180 baht so we are questioning if they are real!!

Things I'm thankful for...
A clean place to live and sleep
Pizza Hut for dinner
A welcoming host family

Happy New Year!! I love you all so much! Laura

Friday, December 29, 2006

touchdown in Thailand

Hello everyone!! Today is my first Saturday in Bangkok, Thailand, and my fifth day here. Bangkok is very different from Perth, Australia. The city is huge, so many people, so much traffic so little saftey laws, living conditions are much less then what is considered normal for us, and it is very dirty. This is my first time in a third world country, besides the few days I have spent in Mexico, and I am all the more thankful for the state I was brought up in. All that to say, the people are really nice, and friendly. Even if they don't understand you, they give the biggest smiles. I'm learning a bit of the Thai language to fit in as well as customs so I can show them respect.

My team of 19, 12 guys and 7 girls, is staying at a church. We are sleeping on mats in the classrooms and living out of our bags. We will be here for 4 weeks. The church is very small and in a three story building. The meeting hall on the first floor, classrooms (our rooms) on the second floor and third floor is where Pastor Sanguian, his wife Papah and their three kids live. They also run an English teaching program three nights a week, which we will help teach. We, the farang (foreigners), are the desired teachers by the Thai people because English is our native language. Yesterday we went to Ram kam hand University, a school of 600,000 students, and had lunch at the canteen so that we could meet students and tell them about our english lessons. We had many who are interested, and some who want to meet for lunch again. We talk to the students with a translator, who are different people from the church. Some students ask why we have come to Thailand and then we can share about what we have been doing in Australia and how God gave us a heart for helping people because of His love for us. Thailand is a country that is 95% Buddhist and a lot of people have never heard that there is a God or about Jesus. We met a girl yesterday who thought that God only cared about western culture and didn't love the asian people. When we shared with her that Jesus was not white, but that he traveled throught Asia and that He love all nations she was amazed. She had never heard this before. Many of the people we talk to also feel like they are locked into Buddhism because it is their family's religion; this is where we share that everyone will be accountable for their own decision, again a concept they have never heard. I'm finding it surprisingly easy to talk to people, they will sit for 15 to 30 minutes with you and really have a nice talk with you. We talk about all different kinds of things with them.
The next awesome thing that was waiting for us in Thailand is the opportunity for sports. We found on campus that every night there are many soccer, basketball and tennis games going on. When we showed up the first night to play, I went with the basketball group. We started shooting around on an empty court and within 5 minutes a group of Thai students came and asked if we wanted to play 4 on 4. Then more people came over and wanted to play the winner. This went on, swapping in and out, for 2 hours! While we were out we got to meet all kinds of new people and they are so friendly. We went back again last night and the same thing happened again. The guys from my team who played soccer experienced the same thing. We are all so excited about this! It is so much more than we could have asked for.
Tomorrow is Sunday. We will be joining the church for their Thai service at 9:30, to show them support even though we won't understand it!! Then lunch afterward. Robert from my team says two hours of church is worth it if their is food after!! We are all really loving the Thai food!!! A few questionaable things, but so far I have not been in a situation that I had to eat them! Back to Sunday...then we have the English service at 7:30 and we will be doing a skit during the service...we crack ourselves up when we do it so I hope they like it too!!
Today, Saturday is a free day so I am headed to downtown or China town with a few people to do some exploring of this enormous city!
I am now two hours behind Perth. Gotta head out! I love you all!! Don't worry too much, I'm safe and I go everywhere in groups of three!! Laura

P.S. Thank you for the Christmas gifts!! The money will go far here...35 baht to one dollar and most meals are about 35 baht. I just bought a pair of addidas sport shorts for 250 baht, about $7.30!!