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October felt very "2020" as the events were varied and rare and happening in succession. Read about this unique month and how God is using strange things in beautiful ways.
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OCTOBER IN THAILAND

THE MONTH IN HIGHLIGHTS

Action-packed, eventful, full of the unexpected (both lovely and harsh) - would all be ways of describing October. This month had it all.

Our kids had a 2 week midterm break from school and so it was wonderful / hectic having all 4 home for that time. We popped out of the city for a few days and while it may not be restful, it's always fun to have some concentrated family time. The COVID lockdown earlier this year has reshaped how we think about time as a family and time with others. There were also beautiful times with people as we had our first overnight guest in a long time, we hosted Thanksgiving and introduced some of our Thai friends to this tradition, and we were invited to spend time with a new group of people for Loy Krathong / Halloween. This year these holidays fell on the same day and Thais had a lot of fun blurring the Western and Eastern frivolity. Though these holidays are not significant to us in the same way they are to others, they are excellent opportunities to be with people and build community.

October has also been harsh. It has literally been a grey month as clouds and rain hung over central Thailand (and Bangkok). A series of mega storms from the Pacific have flooded numerous provinces in northern / northeastern Thailand and the military has been mobilized to help. These same storms have done huge damage, taken lives, and flooded communities in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Philippines.

Within Thailand, political tension has been building for months. In October these tensions turned into demonstrations. While most have occurred here in the capital, they have spread around the country. One Sunday our church had to move locations as protesters and authorities had clashed just outside of the building where we meet. The first Monday after the children's 2 week break was made a half day as protests moved into our area. At one point, a demonstration was 800 meters from our building. We know that this sounds very intense and hearing that there are tens of thousands of people on the streets evokes images of aggression, but these demonstrations have been largely peaceful. There are food carts, dance teams, and speeches. We don't mean to downplay the intensity and earnestness of the protesters, but we do have to suspend our Western thoughts of what mass protest looks like. Like many here, we are unsure what this is leading to and so we continue to pray for the peace of the nation and her people.
Apparently everyone needs a little more joy this year and so Christmas has arrived in Bangkok.
Wren was the loudest princess in the history of 2-year-old princesses. She's classy and forceful.
October also offered up a reminder that God is detail oriented. Amber had to renew her Thai driver's licenses but foreigners are now being processed separately from nationals (there is fear that foreigners carry COVID). Beyond the usual hoops to jump through (health check, forms, eye tests, reaction time tests, letter from the embassy), our district office responsible for licenses had a wait time for foreigners that meant Amber would be unable to drive for months. It's not un-doable, but as a family of 6 with little kids, transport matters! While in the waiting room, a Thai lady overheard what was happening and suggested Amber try another office further from the city. Amber went there the next business day and left a few hours later with license success. We know it is a small thing, but it matters. A "random" suggestion from a bystander made all the difference.
Matthew's garbage bag costume was 2020 themed - not pictured is a flower with a tag that said "2021" because we know good stuff grows from challenge.
With low COVID numbers, we gathered friends around the table to be thankful together. Homemade leaves and flowers made it faux-fall festive.
Connecting with churches, in Canada and in Thailand, continues to be a highlight. We're grateful for the opportunities to be together in person and digitally. COVID has pushed all of us in our creativity and it is so wonderful to see what is happening in and through local churches.
Our home church here did a series on who we are and Matthew preached on the joy of serving.
With their pastor still stuck abroad, Matthew is speaking at OASIS monthly.

A TIME TO INVEST

"It's that time of year again" is a tired refrain when it comes to end-of-year giving. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are a time when our collective thoughts turn further towards generosity, but it's not simply a time to give. Giving at this time of year isn't another seasonal tradition, but an investment into supporting others to finish they year well and set the foundation for 2021. We know that 2020 has strained resources, finances included, and so there are no demands and expectations here. Rather, if you are able to invest and want to be strategic with us, here are some of the areas we're focusing on as we head into the home stretch of 2020.
With no legal standing, refugees are detained in the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). Living conditions are harsh and detainees must be bailed out. $2,200 covers bail for a refugee allowing them to reunite with family and work towards resettlement.
Through ChildCARE Plus (CCP), you can sponsor a child connecting them to education and an opportunity to know Jesus. For $41/month, you can create lasting change in the life of a child and their family. CCP Thailand works in 20 communities across the country.
CCP partners with a boarding house in northern Thailand where Hmong (hill tribe) children live to be able to go to school. Normally their parents sell their crops to restaurants and hotels in the city, but COVID has ended that. With little income, the parents are unable to pay the boarding house. The children's meals need a boost. $22 provides one child with a month of nutritious food. There are 150 children at the home.
The Full Gospel Assemblies of Thailand (FGAT) is our national church partner. Many of the pastors have day jobs in addition to pastoring. Working in small communities means that their church salary is low. Because of COVID, many churches are unable to pay pastors. The larger economic downturn has also left some pastors without their day jobs. FGAT has an assistance fund to support these pastors. $640/month supports a couple in ministry and $340/month supports a single person in ministry.

WITH REFUGEES

Years ago, when we first became aware of the detention system here, the first refugee detainee we ever visited was a man named "Paul". We've never forgotten our conversation with him and continued to visit him until he was transferred to a facility hours away from the city. As it turns out, his wife and children are part of our home church in Bangkok (small world). They haven't seen their father in 5 years. Refugees can be released on bail and our church is working on reuniting Paul with his family.There's a fund going to cover the bail cost and you can contribute HERE.

At the beginning of the month, Life Raft International facilitated a training day for the volunteers in the Advocate Program. It was the second one we've been part of and it was taught by a social worker, and friend, from Step Ahead Foundation (an organization we shared about last month). Advocates are paired with a refugee family to be a source of support and community. We are volunteers in this program and it's wonderful as we see a genuine friendship growing with our paired person. This month we were even invited to their relative's birthday party.

Refugee communities are vulnerable at the best of times. COVID has continued to add pressure and strip away supports and resources. We believe being present in these communities is vital at this time.
Advocate training workshop.
Everyone loves birthday cake.
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Twitter
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Matthew
Matthew
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Insta

CHILDCARE PLUS

You may not be thinking Christmas yet, but we put hundreds of cards in the mail this month. Our CCP sponsored children took the time to draw and write and pray over Christmas cards. COVID has slowed down the postal system and so we wanted to make sure the cards have lots of travel time.

We're also looking forward to Orphan Sunday on  November 8. The global churchwill mark Orphan Sunday. It is a day to explore our "biblical mandate to care for the orphan, the fatherless, the foster child, the vulnerable". We encourage you to explore this individually and with your faith community. 
@CCP_Thailand
@CCP_Thailand
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@CCP_Thailand

PRAY WITH US

we believe there is strength in numbers

  • pray for those impacted by the rains and flooding here in Thailand and across Asia
  • pray for our family as we navigate the end of 2020
  • pray for refugees detained and separated from family
  • pray for dialogue and peace as Thailand explores shifting social and political norms
  • pray for the challenges of 2020 to be used to create beautiful expressions of God's love
This was Amber's drive home one evening with Daxon. We're perfectly ok here in Bangkok but many have been impacted by the rains.
Visitations are still not allowed for refugee detainees but food drop-off is ongoing. Pray for those in detention.

CANADIAN residents can partner with us through the International Missions department of the PAOC to receive a tax receipt.
AMERICAN residents can partner with us through our American sister organization to receive a tax receipt.
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