We visted the Royal Flora last weekend. It sort of reminded me of the state fair, minus corn dogs and funnel cakes. Now, we could get all the pork balls on a stick we wanted, some hard boiled eggs and whole grilled fish, but no fried cheese, chocolate covered bacon or Philly cheese steaks.
The Flora lasts through the winter months and features landscaping beyond your wildest imagination. We spent about four hours there and covered only about half the park. It cost us about $10 altogether to get in. It probably would have cost $10 or $15 apiece to get into something like this in the U.S.
I am so happy to give you an update about our first week of Discipleship Training School at Create International. God is moving in a big way in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I am attaching a short summary of the week that will be used, in part, on the Create International Web site at www.createthailand.com, but I wanted to give you a few more details.
I won’t lie, the first week here was hard. I miss home. It is different here in the busy city. Lots of new and different smells and sounds fill the air, but as we are surrounded by the roars and purrs of vehicles and motor scooters (TONS of motor scooters), we also are surrounded by God’s great beauty. Thailand blossoms year ’round and is abundant with nature. Chiang Mai is at the foothills of a great and glorious mountain with a name no one here knows, which I think is strange, but atop the mountain is a temple so large it is visible from thousands of feet away. Doi Suthep Temple, which sits on the tip-top of the mountain, is a well known landmark in the city. Rumor has it, the king and his family often vacation there. The king has been very sick, however, and the last I heard, he remains in the hospital. He is very honored here. Thai people love the king, and his photo graces nearly every street in Chiang Mai. He has done a lot for this city, and they honor him for it.
This weekend, the prime minister and one of the king’s daughters visited the city during National Children’s Day. We did not get to see them, but traffic was hectic. Traffic in Chiang Mai is crazy, crazy, crazy anyway. The streets remind me of alleys in the States. They are extremely narrow, but that does not stop the flow of traffic. Scooters zoom in and out between cars. One of the Youth With a Mission staff members described the traffic as a river: it just flows. When a car pulls out in front of someone or someone walks out into the street, the vehicles just move around them and carry on. A river was a good description – very few traffic lights, and I have yet to see a stop sign.
The Create International center is in the northwest portion of the city. Every street – every single street, with few exceptions that I’ve seen – is full of shops and stores. Many shops are just set up in homes. Business districts are lined with shops and open grills. Walking down almost any street, one can smell Thai spices mixed with exhaust fumes and incense. It took me several days to get used to it.
Most shops are very rustic. All shops in the main district sections, which are literally everywhere, are open shops – no doors to the front, and restaurants all serve their customers outside because the whether is warm all year. Right now, afternoons are in the 70s and 80s. Mornings are chilly, but the air warms quickly when the sun rises. It truly is lovely this time of year. Soon, it will get hot, much like a humid, Oklahoma summer. Open markets are everywhere, and this is where one can find everything and anything for little to nothing – cheap, cheap, cheap. We had the opportunity to visit several markets. At the markets, vendors cook everything and anything, sell clothes, tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, and everything from cell phones to jewelry. They really are exciting to visit. We also have been to a couple shopping malls, where we saw a few tastes of home, like Dairy Queen and Dunkin Donuts. We didn’t get ice cream, but we might have grapped a chocolate donut … or two, for breakfast the next day. 😉 I have lots of photos posted on Facebook of the places we have been.
We eat traditional Thai food everyday, although the food we eat is not generally spicy like most Thai food. The restaurant that cooks our meals tones down the spices since we have so many nationalities here. Rice is served with almost every meal. Sometimes, we get noodles. Tonight was a true treat, as we were served sticky rice, roasted chicken and papaya salad. It was very yummy. The chicken cracks me up. They serve it just chopped up randomly with bones and all. There’s not such thing as getting the thigh, or a wing or a breast. You just get a hunk of chicken, and you have to pick the meat off. It’s very good though. Last year, Create had a cook that fixed all the meals, but she was unable to cook this year, so they order from a restaurant around the corner. Most of our meals cost about $1.25. That is a pretty typical price for a meal in Chiang Mai. Market prices for food are even cheaper.
Our days are spent in class, and we have a very busy routine. We start with breakfast at 7 a.m. Everyone eats together in one location then washes dishes and cleans the kitchen. We then start class promptly at 8 a.m. – no excuses. Our leader is adament on discipling us, and she insists that leaders be on time and show responsibility. She is an excellent leader and has been with YWAM for 15 years. She is passionate about Christ and already has shown us how to worship God deeper in just one week. Each day starts with assigned Bible readings and journal entries. We will read the majority of the Bible during the next three months. Then we have 30 minutes of prayer time, when we must write down all our prayers. We sometimes discuss them and find where our budrens lie. It’s very cleansing and healing and helps us to grow together as a team. We have morning chores twice a week. My job is to clean the bathrooms. Fun. haha. Other students mop floors, do laundry, take care of landscaping and the septic system – whatever it takes to keep the office in order. We then have lectures from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. with different guest speakers each week. Last week, our lectures centered around the Bible, and our leader led the lectures. This week, we are studying “The Father Heart of God,” and a youth pastor from South Africa is guiding us through. Each week, we have new lecture topics. We eat lunch from 1 to 2 p.m. Then we do work duty for an hour. Again, we all have different tasks that help keep the office in order. My daily work duty is to keep the front office area clean and tidy and make sure our snack table is orderly and stocked. As disciples, we also are servants, and our leader assigns us work duties to remind of us that. At 3 p.m. once a week, we have one-on-one time with one of our DTS leaders – we have three who help. One-on-one time is spent talking about our concerns, praises, prayers, troubles – whatever is on our minds. It’s refreshing. Then twice a week, we have more class from 4 to 5:30 p.m. This is when we work on our outreach projects.
Last week, we received our first outreach project assignment. We are making coloring books! We will create, design and print them and then distribute them to children on outreach. Our focus is on Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist unreached people groupls. I am on the Buddhist team. We do not know where we will go yet, and when we find out, we are not at liberty to say where we will go, so please bear with us when we are serving God during that time. Communication will probably be very limited. One thing we have been asked to do, however, is pray for crayons! How fun is it to pray for crayons? If your church has a heart for unreached children, we would so appreciate a box full of crayons to take with us on outreach. Just small boxes of four to eight crayons are all that is necessary. Many of these children have never owned their own set of crayons or colored in a coloring book. Packages can be mailed to Create International, Box 46, Sam Yaek, Suanprung Post Office, A. Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50201. Sunday we spent the evening with other YWAM teams from the city and met an outreach team from, of all places, Florida! DTS students from Florida are doing their outreach in Chiang Mai. It was a nice “taste of home.” We also had a potluck dinner, with plenty of American comfort food dishes. That, too, was a nice taste of home. 🙂
We also learned last week about our evangelistic program that we will do here in Chiang Mai. We will help with a home church planting mission team by visiting students at Chiang Mai University every Thursday.
There is so much more we have done, like establish a worship team, something never before done at this DTS. I am a singer! Yikes! Pray for the ears that must hear me! ha! Seven of us form our worship team, and we lead worship twice a week – once on Monday mornings for an hour and on Wednesday evenings for two hours. We have two guitarists, three vocalists, a violinist and a keyboardist. Although we are without a keyboard right now. That is another need we are praying for.
I am truly loving it, and the girls are settling in nicely. I was lucky enough to get to attend their first three days of school with them. Within an hour, Jaynee came up to me and whispered, “Mom, I love this!” They are making new friends and getting along with my fellow DTS students. I love what God has done for us, and I can’t wait share my discipleship with others to glorify Him. This is EXACTLY what my heart has been looking for during the past few years. I am also starting to recognize where God is calling me, and I’m excited about that. I can’t speak about it now because I need more clarity and am not 100 percent sure what God is saying just yet, so I am just sitting still, enjoying this time with God and listening to every Word He is feeding me. Thank you for helping us get here.
I hope you all are doing well. Please pray for our mission team … and for crayons! 😉
We love you all!
Korina, Jaynee, Justine