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One Year, Still Here!

อยู่นี้หนึ่งปีแล้ว! Crazy how time flies. It honestly feels more like two years with all the lessons I've learned, and life I've lived. Here's a recap of the last year, and a glimpse into the next.

Our one year celebration! Complete with party hats.

The "Why" Behind Being Here

July 26th, 2022 I took off from the Spokane airport with my buddy Braden to meet up with the Parks in LAX. After our layover there, we boarded the plane to relocate to our new home, Trang, Thailand. It still blows my mind that after about 35 hours of travel, we began a new chapter of our life. One morning waking up before the sun in America, to watching the sun set over the Bangkok skyline. An (almost) instant restart. Quite honestly, I lack the words to describe the feeling. The strangest part of the whole thing, is continuing to wake up day after day in the new place, with no plans to head home. It's a life I wouldn't trade for anything, despite the struggles, homesickness, and strangeness of it all.

I can say this confidently, as I have before, because of the surpassing worth of Christ. When I consider why I came to Thailand, two parables and a passage come to mind. They explain undeniably why I not only had to come here in the first place, but why all of us must remain here steadfast. First, the parable of the treasure, and the pearl of great price.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field." “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it." -Matthew 13:44-46

About five years ago, I really found that treasure. I found that Jesus was who he said he was. That he died on the cross to bridge the gap of sin between God and I, and rose again so that I might be able to live with him both now, and in eternity. A crazy epiphany I grew up with, but never realized until then. However, I spent the next three years of my life following my own will, and disguised it as obedience by simply claiming, "I am doing it for the glory of God." Of course, that ended poorly. I was still living in sin that I was supposed to be freed from, and all of my worth was found in the things I was skilled in. Pride ruled my life, and I was crushed when the smallest roadblock happened in front of me. I was the lord of my life, even though I claimed Jesus as my savior.

When I turned 18, and heard about the unreached for the first time, it was undeniable what my life had to be spent doing. Through those three years prior, I got to see the mercy of God, his desperate love for me. In the frequent times of rebellion, Jesus was still at my side. He proved himself to be that treasure in a field, and I realized something vital to following Christ. If Jesus truly is that treasure, that fine pearl, then I must sell my whole life, desires, skills, and dreams included, just to follow him. Not only did I realize this, but my heart broke when I realized that billions of people were living and dying without ever hearing the name of the one who so lovingly saved me. If I truly wanted to follow Jesus, I had to be like him and go to the last, the least and the lost.

Through the last two years of really living like Jesus is Lord of my life and Lord of all, I have only found him to be even more priceless than I once thought. Jim Elliot, a missionary to a previously unreached tribe in Ecuador, once said, "He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." This has certainly been a fact in my life. It is a blessing of Jesus to have given me this life, where I have clearly left all I once knew, just to follow him here to Thailand. Of course I miss America. I miss my family, friends, hobbies, landscapes, and on and on. What is important to remember is what Jesus promises to us when we follow him. (Mark 10:29-31) Not only this, but Jesus promises himself. He is the pearl promised to those who sell it all to follow him.

“Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” -John 6:68-69

The whole passage I want to talk about is John 6:22-69. However, it is quite lengthy, so I would encourage you to read it, but I'll summarize here. Jesus comes to the synagogue in Capernaum, and shares a message about the bread of life. In it, he tells the people that they will not inherit eternal life unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood. Reading this passage, we know he was foreshadowing the last supper. At the time however, many people were shocked. They didn't understand what he meant, and I don't really blame them. We now know that Jesus was sharing that we must become like him in his death, and live like him. We must believe in him alone to be saved. He is the only way to the Father, anyone who dies without believing in him and following his commands will be cast into the place where there is eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth.

At this teaching, many did not understand or believe in Jesus' words. In fact, many of disciples questioned him, saying, "This teaching is hard. Who can accept this?" Jesus explains to those who were offended, that they must live by the spirit. For the words he shared are spirit and life. The flesh will not help them understand and follow, rather it is by the spirit one understands this hard teaching. Despite what Jesus says, many of the disciples leave. Jesus then asks the twelve, if they will leave too.

Their response is mine, and I pray that I will keep this as my response as times get even harder. "Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life." They knew that even when things don't always make sense, even when persecution comes, even when they experience struggles, Jesus is the Holy One. He is the way, the truth, and the life. You see, I have found Jesus as the treasure in this field of the unreached. I've sold it all to follow him here. And where else would I go? He is the only one with the words of life. He is the only one with living water. I must follow him, and I must spend it all to tell every ear that has not heard that he freely gives salvation to anyone who follows him.

A Recap of Year One

Like I said, a lot happened. Here are some of the highlights. It's impossible to count every high and low, but remembering the times brings me to recall both hardships and joys as sweet blessings. To know God as a comforter in hard times is a blessing I wouldn't trade for an easy life. All that to say, here are some of the sweet highlights.

We made it to Trang on July 31st. Myself, Braden and Marie and Ethan Parks landed in Trang after a brief stay in Bangkok.

In August we spent four weeks meeting and prepping for our two year language and culture phase through prayer.

We started our Thai language school in September. The first of many hours studying and practicing this new language.

In October we began a mini School of Frontier Missions to help us prepare for ministry in a new setting. With a new culture and worldview, we learned some tips for how to engage Thai's with the gospel.

November brought Thanksgiving in Phuket, and a Spartan race. Definitely one of the craziest things I've done, and I know, I moved to Thailand at 19.

In December we celebrated Christmas for the first time in our new home. My roommates dog, Obie joined the family and our home got a little warmer. The smell of cinnamon rolls and the warm, cozy, weather made for a celebration to remember fondly as the years go by.

Not much happened in January, but in February I got to visit Satun (more on that in June) and I bought my motorcycle! I've un-officially named it Henry Jr. after my car in the US.

March was the Southern Thailand conference, where we got to meet the YWAM family that works in this region. This year, we doubled the size of YWAM in the South! Praise God!

April we celebrated Songkran, a national water fight on the hottest day of the year. All of my pictures are blurry, but we drove around in the back of a truck and SOAKED every person in sight. Even motorbikes got in on the fun!

In May, I got to see my Grandma in the Philippines. Later, our team went to the Asia Leaders Learning Conference to learn more about how to disciple Thais.

In June the Khon Kaen DTS Team came to visit us on their outreach! We got to go to Satun on a "Faith Day" and saw God lead us through the whole day. I even got to see a friend I made back in February! I pray for that friendship to grow even more as we take trips into Satun in the future.

Now we are back to July. We celebrated one year as YWAM Trang, and found out our focus nations. These are the places we will go on outreaches. While Southern Thailand is our priority, we want to mobilize Thai believers to go out, just was we have, to reach the last, the least, and the lost with the gospel. Check out this sick video to see where YWAM Trang is going to go.

For Year Two: Prayer Requests, and Practical Updates

With the first year down, and the second one up, here's what I want you to know, and to be praying about.

Obviously, our language studies need to continue. I am going to be getting tutored by one of our Thai staff. (Thank you P' Kwan!) I am hoping to renew my efforts towards learning, as I know I have a lot improvement to do.

As a base, we want to grow deeper this foundation of a Kingdom of God Culture. This means we need a lot of prayer for God to grow our unity, and teach us how to be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. Please partner in prayer with us as we seek to do the Father's will in our foundational time of Language and Culture Learning.

Lastly, I will be sending out these updates less often. I really enjoy writing, and I want more time to write designated articles/blogs. These newsletters will come either every quarter, or bi-monthly. I haven't decided yet, so give me some feedback on how frequent you would like these!

To my financial supporters;

Thank you for making this all possible! Your sacrifice to give every month hasn't gone without appreciation. I am so appreciative of your generosity. Thank you for a wonderful year one, and here's to year two of seeing God's faithfulness through you!!


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