Justine's friends honor her during a photo shoot for her 13th birthday. Very fun day for her.
Justine’s friends honor her during a photo shoot for her 13th birthday. Very fun day for her.

Greetings friends!

I hope harvest is fruitful and going well. I love seeing all the wheat cutting photos on Facebook. It makes my heart happy … and a bit homesick.

We are having a great month though. The heat has broken, and the rains have started. Hallelujah!

And I have much to tell you since our last update.

STUDIES

I finished my master’s studies coursework! I managed a 3.73 GPA, with all As and one stinking B. Don’t get me started on how unhappy I am with that ONE B! But the completion of 33 hours is a HUGE blessing! My thesis will focus on the International Declaration of Human Rights and Freedom of Information and how these acts affect justice, particularly in Cambodia and Southeast Asia.

I chose to focus on Cambodia, rather than the whole of SE Asia, for obvious reasons if you keep up with us. I will continue to pray and fight for truth, justice and freedom in that country using the tools with which God has equipped me.

CAMBODIA PROJECT

– Speaking of Cambodia, I recently had the honor and privilege to go again. I went to our friend Vuthy’s wedding. The girls stayed back to attend the wedding of one of their youth pastors. Vuthy was our very first outreach host the year we joined missions. We spent two weeks at his family’s home in the village helping to teach English classes.

I saw so many friends this trip and even made three new Kiwi friends. Together, my new friends and I climbed a mountain (on motorbikes) and made a plan to meet again next year. Our future meeting is not to visit only but to make good on a dream we discovered we’ve all been burdened with for several years: we want to drill a water well and install a water system for Vuthy’s village.

All three of us have stayed at the village. We’ve bathed in the pond water, eaten food cooked with it, watched the cattle and children alike drink from it. Just last month, one girl suffered two bouts of typhoid from consumption of the water. Water filters are helpful (we sent 13 three years ago, although to a different area), but they don’t last forever and often are not replaced after they no longer work. A water system insures generations of healthier people and longer lives.

We are still gathering estimates and details for the project, but if you are interested in any way, shape or form to help financially or otherwise with this project, please shoot me a message. I will be sure and keep you updated. I cannot tell you how important this project is to me. I have dreamed of it since the first time we visited.  Please pray for miracles and events to fall into place!

In another project for Cambodia, I was privileged to help a pastor in Cambodia design some flyers for his ministry. It was a small thing, but it made me feel really great to be able to contribute in some way.

Three days in country was too short, but it did give me the breath of air I needed and a boost of energy to continue to pray the light and love into Cambodia. And the next time I return hopefully will be to help install a new water system!

WORK AND MINISTRIES

– Two of my English classes with the Royal Thai Navy have ended. Students have moved on to their new posts in England, China, Australia and the U.S. One of my classes will continue through September, and soon we will get a new influx of students.

This week we have been interviewing Naval attaché candidates. We have more than 100 candidates who would like to be Naval attachés. We will whittle down the prospects to only 10. It’s been great hearing about their careers and personal lives during their interviews. It has really opened my eyes yet a little wider about Thai culture.

Last week one of my students sent me a link to a movie he had gone to the theatre to see. He said, “It’s a ‘God’ movie.” I asked him how it was, and he said, “It was … not boring!” haha! I think he was trying to tell me it was “better than good,” but he lost his words and concentration a bit. Ironically, at the moment we were talking about it, I looked up to see a man working on the ceiling in our foyer at work, and he was wearing a t-shirt that said “Jesus is my superhero.” It was a strange, wonderful experience.

Please pray for my current students who study so hard each day. They are here on scholarship and take that very seriously. Please pray for good test scores and a greater understanding of how important their service is to this country.

– I had a fantastic time with the youth group on my birthday (June 5). A new girl from India joined us and had me grinning from ear-to-ear all morning. You know, there are just some kids like that! She was full of spunk and questions, and I hope to see her again soon.

This month we are learning about the importance of prayer. The kids will paint canvases to decorate a room in the sanctuary now used as a prayer room. At the end of the month we will celebrate for the finished project as well as honor our director who is returning to England with her family.

Can you pray with me about our youth group and possibly taking on a few responsibilities that will be left open upon our director’s leaving? I am a team leader now, but I would like to be more active with the youth program as a whole. At the same time, I keep thinking, NO! I DON’T WANT TO DO ONE MORE THING! I’ve been having this inner struggle for many weeks, so I’m trying to be obedient, but honestly, it’s been a hard thing to commit to. At least I’m honest. J

KIDS AND FAMILY

– Justine is a teenager! Justine celebrated her 13th birthday with friends at a dog café in Bangkok. Weird, we know, but it’s the going thing.

Both the girls have almost wrapped up the school year. Jaynee will be a freshman and Justine an eighth-grader.

– Jaynee started working for a friend of ours. She is helping him paint his house. She’s excited to be working hard and earning her own money. We are very proud of the work ethic she has developed.

– The boys started their new school year last month. Albert is in 11th grade, and William is in 10th. Both boys, at this stage, must complete three years of military training while in high school so that they do not get drafted into the regularly Thai Army upon graduation.

Albert had his tryouts last year, so he has completed a year already. William took his physical test last week to see where he should be placed. He scored in the “best of the best.” We are so proud of him. This gives him great opportunity if he should want a military career. With his test scores, he could enter into the officers’ program, which would eventually lead him on all sorts of adventures and learning experiences.

Both boys are starting to think about their futures. I love hearing about their goals and dreams. Please pray that they find their talents and giftings so that they can lead productive, fulfilling lives and give back to others.

In their personal lives, Albert just got braces, so we have enjoyed teasing him a bit as he tries to get used to them! He’s been a good sport. J

– Russ will finish up this term at university and then enjoy two weeks off, which he will spend training at a Muay Thai (Thai boxing) camp on one of the islands in southern Thailand. For me, this doesn’t sound so enjoyable! Ha! But he will love it, and I’m grateful he gets this time to practice something he loves. When he returns, his summer courses will begin, and it will be back to the grind for him.

I think that about wraps it up. I feel like something is brewing in the near future, but I can’t tell exactly what. Maybe it is the youth group; maybe it is the Cambodia water project; maybe it is something else. In any case, it will be possible because you help make it that way. Thank you so much for sticking with us in our fifth year in Thailand!

Please join us in our prayers, and if you have anything to add, please do not hesitate to contact us. We love you all and hope harvest and whatever else you’re up to finds you well.

We love you and miss you.

Many blessings,

The Russ Family

(collectively: Russ, Korina, Joseph and Kelsi, Albert, William, Jaynee, Justine, Shanti)

 

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