Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Working on new video

Last week the team traveled down south a couple hundred miles to do an interview with a young man who was Buddhist and is now an Baptist pastor. His is a wonderful story of the Grace of God in the life of people. Kelly Billigsmeier is in charge of doing this video. She has been here 3 weeks tomorrow and has hit the ground running and is working hard every day. Her knowledge of the subject matter is so wonderful. She is teaching Tom and I things that will make our videos much better and easier. I can't tell you how good it is not to have to train a new comer, but to have someone come who is already skilled.

Tom and I set up the lighting and camera equipment today to film the opening of the video I am doing on Asim and Tina, our Pakistani translators who are now living in Texas. It took us 7 hours to set up to film 3 sentences. Let me repeat that: THREE SENTENCES!!!!  This happens when you are understaffed, under skilled, and old. Setting up is quite a chore. First we had to move all the furniture out of the living room, then move in the lights, camera, and a few props. It started to pour down rain, which likely would mean a power outage, but instead one of the computer power supplies went down and had to be taken to the repair shop. Anyway, three sentences later, the day is now over and tomorrow we will begin to record the narration for Asim and Tina's video. Both Tom and I will have to do the recording. I was hoping to have this done by the end of this week. Not likely. I am a master at under estimating how long something is going to take. It's not the things that I am actually working on that I underestimate the timing on, but how many interruptions will take place that will push back my work. I can figure out most of the time how long something will take, but when you work an hour here and an hour or two there, in between the many things that just "come up" that have to be dealt with, a one day job turns into a week.

Right now our house looks like a cyclone hit it. I can cook, clean house, do laundry and iron, or I can do video editing, but I can't do both... not any more. This week I worked on editing, therefore tomorrow I will wash, iron, and clean house. Another small glitch that pushes back the video production. Friday I will work on the narration. Yes, Friday. Unless...something comes up.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wow. A year and a half since my last post! Now, that's Funny

Wow, more than a year and a half has gone by and nary a post from me. Ah well, I am still alive and well on planet earth and have been busy. Right now we have a new short term missionary with us having just arrived only 3 days ago. Her name is Kelly Billigmeier, from one of our supporting churches in Maryland, and she will be with us for several months working with everything involving video and photography. We have several video projects that we would like to be able to complete before we come home on furlough in early February 2014.

Right now Kelly is the only American working with us. Carolyn Chambers, who was with us for 4 years had to leave us to return to the US to help take care of her Dad who suffered a massive heart attack. She is greatly missed and was an incredible help to us for the 4 years she was here. Our Thai office manager, Pookie, started to college this year and is not in the office very much nowadays. For several months it has been just the two Hmong men, Tom and me. In other words…we are severely understaffed. We know that Kelly will be a great help to us and we are so glad that she is here.

Tom’s birthday was last week. He was 62. My birthday will be next week and I will be 61. I feel each and every year. Tom and I are getting old and we can really feel it. My philosophy of age goes like this. Zero - 39 = young. Forty - 69 = middle aged. Seventy to the end = old. After 70 you are living on “borrowed time,” which means…OLD! Our missionary mentor, Bro. Milton Martin, says “it’s not the years, it’s the miles.” On my highway of life counting up the miles, tooling along, at some point I was run over by a Mac truck. So, while maybe not chronologically old yet, my miles have caught up with me and I am very tired. I am looking forward to going back home to Texas, spending time with my church and my church family and watching Duck Dynasty on HD TV. Priorities are very important. I will probably eat crunchy Cheetos while watching the duck people.

Some weird things cross my mind as I think of going home for several months. I don’t have any decent winter clothes having lived in perpetual summer for the last 10 years. I had a really nice purple sweater and a very nice long sleeved shirt, also purple, but I traded those at a market in Africa 2 years ago for some very cool African souvenirs. The thought of having to start wearing panty hose again is also a rather unpleasant thought. Haven’t worn those for 10 years either. I think
I have a pair of “real” shoes in Texas. Hope so, anyway. All I have here are Crocs, which are very casual but comfortable. Casual attire is really the only thing worn here in Thailand unless you go to some formal event and even then most people do not really dress up in the way Americans would recognize. I’ve managed to live here in Thailand for 10 years with only blue jean skirts and a few khaki denim skirts. Oh, yes, I also have some shirts and blouses, in case you were wondering.

When I go home this time, I am taking my good cookware. My pots and pans in Texas are sub-standard, and I am always looking for my stuff that is here when I try to find a pot or pan to make dinner there.

In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do. Hopefully I will post again within the next year. Adios for now and maybe forever. I am finished making promises to write more later. Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In my last update, I said that I would write again in a few days or a week. What a liar I am. It has been almost one month, but time flies by so fast that I can miss whole days sometime. There was this movie I saw once with Richard Gere. He was a defense attorney defending some nutcase on the pretext that he (the nutcase) couldn't remember killing somebody because he "lost time." This is not exactly the same thing, because I know for a fact that if I had killed anybody I would remember. I have been working steadily for nearly 2 weeks learning a new computer program so that I will be up to speed when our new video equipment arrives here in Thailand. So, you see, it has been a concentrated time of doing the same thing every day. One day runs into the next and before you know it 2 weeks is "gone." However, if during that 2 week period I had actually killed anybody, it would have been out of the ordinary, and I would have remembered.

Moving on. It is now Friday night at 11:00 PM. Tom, Carolyn, Pook and I went out to our regular Friday after work evening meal. Pook had been listening to Tom and I talk about Korean food. We both hate it, but I hate it more than Tom does. He can actually eat some of it. I, on the other hand, can stomach very little of it. So Pook decided that she just had to have Korean food just to see what it was like for herself. There was a new Korean restaurant recently opened pretty close to us, so we opted to go there for our evening meal. Unfortunately, the food was very authentic. I chose a dish that I was familiar with (did I mention that we lived in Pusan, South Korea for 6 months?) Anyway we all ordered our food. Mine was beef soup and 765 tiny side dishes, just like they do it in Korea. Everybody else got a main dish and they also got 765 tiny side dishes that were different from our tiny side dishes. Washing dishes in a Korean restaurant must be a nightmare to die for. Everybody liked their main dish, but the side dishes were a real cultural extravaganza for Pook. Kimchie, which can only be described as a variety of weird veggies all soaked in vinegar until they are fermented, is kind of the Korean national dish. It comes in millions of varieties and I can barely tolerate any of them. I am not a vinegar person. But Pook is a very brave person who likes a challenge and likes to learn and try new things. So she tried everything that we had and we had about 9 kinds of Kimchie. As we were leaving the restaurant, I asked her if she enjoyed her cultural experience and she said that she did very much enjoy the experience. I asked her if she liked the food enough to eat it again. She said "No." I took this to mean that she did like the cultural experience of learning what Korean food actually tasted like, but she didn't like the food itself. On the way home in the car she mentioned that she didn't feel too well. Kinda like me the first time I ate Korean food. Tonight was the first time in 10 years that I have eaten Korean food and hopefully I won't have to eat it again for another 10. Next Friday night we have plans to eat Japanese. Pook likes raw fish and loves other Japanese food as well. I only like raw fish if it is cooked, preferably deep fried in nice light batter. I have trouble even watching people eat raw fish. I don't like the smell of raw fish either, so Friday night should be another interesting experience. I am going to sit as far away from Pook as I can, so that I do not see or smell the raw fish. When I walk past fresh, raw fish in the market, I have to hold my breath and hurry through before I have to breathe again. I must have had a really traumatic experience as a small child in the fish department to have these issues.

I talked to my daughter on the phone today. She lives in Lithuania. I was supposed to call her at Christmas. The last time I talked to her on the phone was December the 12, which is her birthday. I must have "lost time" somewhere in there. But they are all OK. If I don't hear from them, I know that everything is OK. If things are not going well, I hear immediately. Likewise, if I call her ever...she wonders if somebody died or is in the hospital.

Everybody is OK. Pray for us. Time is flying so fast that we are losing it. We need health and strength to do our jobs. The Lord is blessing our ministry here in Thailand and we are looking forward to some things coming together that have been in the works for awhile. We will let you know more about this as the time gets nearer and more finalized. In the meantime, I will write more later, maybe soon, or maybe not. Depends on if I find that time that I lost somewhere.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 is GONE!!!

Another year has flown by, we are all older and hopefully wiser, however...we are not any faster. The office here in Chiang Mai has been closed since Dec. 23 and will reopen again on Tuesday, Jan. 3rd.

Pook went home to LopBuri for Christmas with her family. Everybody else stayed here in town and rested and enjoyed cool weather. It is nice to wake up of natural causes. No alarm clock to jolt you into consciousness , just coasting awake as the sun filters through the window. Really nice.

As many of you may have noticed, the world did not come to an end at the dawning of 2012 like the Mayan calendar predicted. The Mayans practiced human sacrifice which proves that they didn't have their act together anyway, so why would anybody listen to them? So now, since the world didn't actually come to an end, it is time to plan for the year ahead. I was waiting till today to actually begin planning just in case, but now it is time to get it in gear. I only have 3 and a half hours to get 2012 mapped out. Here are my plans so far. Tomorrow morning I plan to get up, Lord willing.

The next part may take a little more time to sort out. However, the following day is Tuesday and the office opens back up which means back to the alarm clock jolting. We do not know what 2012 holds for any of us, but we can look back on 2011 and see God's hand of blessing and provision in our ministry and in our personal lives and in the lives of our family, friends, and co-workers.

Pook saw both of her parents accept Christ as Savior, Tom and my granddaughter, Kaylee, was saved in 2011. Thousands of Burmese Bibles went to their home. The illustrated Bible story book saw several new languages translated, one of which was Russian. The devil fought that Russian translation for all he was worth, but God had the last word and it was finally finished after almost a 3 year-long struggle to get it translated and proofread. Our Pakistani translators finally won their refugee status victory with the UNHCR, and are now on the fast track to relocation. They are growing spiritually by leaps and bounds and have real joy in the Lord. The persecution they have suffered in Pakistan is unfathomable to those of us who have never had to walk that path.

These victories were certainly not without struggles. The whole team here has been through the wringer with health issues, financial problems, and all the other things that satan throws in the path of those who are striving to serve God. But God has seen us through and we are looking ahead to 2012 with the anticipation that He will do the same again this year.

We do actually have a few plans for the upcoming year. We plan to expand our video ministry and are now purchasing the equipment to do this. This is a real step of faith, because the equipment to do this is not cheap. We are waiting on the Lord to see what and/or who He will send our way this year to help with this. We, of course, will always be striving to get the printed Word into countries where it is desperately needed. That project has been our life for over 33 years, and we are plowing forward with that, as we always have.

I will write more a little later, possibly this week or next. Until then I will answer a question that is asked me all the time by almost everybody. Everybody wants to know what we need and what they should pray for. I tell everybody the same thing. We need health, and strength to carry on, please pray for that. However, on the physical level I would like for you to pray for us to have a dependable vehicle. We have a van that is on its last leg and a car that goes into the auto shop yet again on Tuesday. Neither of these vehicles is dependable enough to leave town in, so we have to rent a vehicle every time we need a border run for visas or shipment of literature. So, please pray that the Lord would provide us with a good vehicle of His choosing that will meet the needs that we have.

Talk to y'all later on down the trail.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Lost November Somewhere

Wow, November flew by so fast I nearly missed it. Actually I did miss it here on the blog, but I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. No drama of gift buying, trying to figure out what people would like to have for Christmas. I have just made my life easy by simply giving money to all the people on my Christmas list. I figure it is a waste of time to give them stuff that they will return anyway after the holiday.

For Thanksgiving Dinner here in Thailand, our office staff all got together along with a new missionary couple and had a pot luck. It was truly an international dinner. We had Hmong, Pakistani, Chin, Karen, Thai and American co-workers here for the meal. Turkey is too expensive here, so the guys grilled chicken outside on the grill. Pook made pumpkin pies from scratch. Her first time and they were great. She is practicing up now for Christmas dinner having made 2 pecan pies for her pastor's birthday. Wow, the pecan pies were even better than the pumpkin. She is going to make a cheesecake for the Christmas dessert and I am going to bake a chocolate cake.

Last week was very special here. For the first time ever, Tom, Noah, Carolyn and I got to actually watch the small boat being loaded with 300 boxes of Burmese Bibles and 100 boxes of John and Romans. As the Bibles slowly crossed the river and landed on the other side, I couldn't help but think of Adoniram Judson and I wondered if perhaps he was watching from the portals of heaven as the Bible he translated is, after nearly 175 years, being put into print once again, having been abandoned by the Bible Societies for a new version. This old Judson text now has clear, and beautiful fonts and is being put into the hands of the Burmese speaking people that he labored and gave his life to reach. It was a very poignant moment, one which makes all the struggles that we go through here seem very small compared to what the early missionaries had to suffer to see the work go forward.

Noah, is the man that proofread and got the old Judson Bible ready to reprint. He will be leaving us in just a few short days. We will never know until we get to Heaven just how much his three years with us accomplished. We so hate to see him leave us, but we know that God will use him wherever he ends up. Another thought crosses my mind, seeing the Bibles going across the river. The Bibles are going home and so is Noah. God bless you, Noah. We love you very much and will miss you greatly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flooding in Thailand

The rainy season is not over here and flooding is bad. Many of the cities in Thailand are under water and many people are displaced and living in deplorable circumstances. The crocodile farm in Lop Buri, where Pooks parents live was flooded and the crocs all escaped. She has photos of a big croc on somebody's doorstep looking into a house. Her folks do not have water in their house and they are OK, but many of the provinces are submerged. The elephant birthing center in Ayuttya is under water and the elephants are all living on top of the wall that surrounds the compound. The whole city of Ayuttya is uninhabitable. And there are many smaller communities in the same situation. Jeff and Theresa Lange are in Chiang Mai now because they were told to evacuate their place down in Bangkok. The water is still heading south and the people who are supposed to know this stuff say that it will reach Patun Thani, where we used to live and where the Langes still live, in a day or two. So they are basically stranded here until something changes. Pray for them, their belongings, and all of our former neighbors who did not leave because they had no place to go. For those of you have been here and know where these places are, Thommasat University is being evacuated. The road between here and Bangkok is under water in many places and some communities are completely cut off. Please pray for these people. It is hard to describe in a blog how bad it is for many people here in Thailand.

The last 6 weeks since we have been back in Thailand have been normal. Normal...meaning we are busy as one arm paper hangers. Never a moment to stop and relax. Tom keeps telling me we can relax after we are dead. Somehow the humor of that statement is not hitting me just right. Tom and I have both had some health issues and have been to the doctor. We have been told that we are fat. Really!?!?! I hadn't noticed that!!! We have been told to exercise. I can't believe we are actually paying people to tell us these shocking things that we already know. To make a long story shorter, but not nearly short enough, we joined a swimming and fitness place. It is very cheap to join these kinds of things here in Thailand, so we bit the bullet and did it. We have been swimming several times and are feeling much worse than we did before we joined. Nevertheless, we are told that perseverance will do the trick. We are also changing our eating habits. It has been wonderful. Saturday, I threw up, Sunday I was wiped out, and I can't even remember yesterday at all. Today it is rainy and cold and I am not going swimming in the rain and cold. Pneumonia ya know, is not good. Tom is juicing green stuff (veggies) every day and drinking a lot of it. He is wondering why he has diarrhea. DUH! Why is diarrhea so easy to get but so hard to spell that you have to do a Google search? However, we are committed...not to an asylum yet, but to our eating and exercise campaign. Pray for us. Getting healthy is no easy job.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The First Month Back in Thailand

Tom and I are headed in to our 4th week being back in Thailand. Tom is just now getting back on his feet...literally...after a miserable time with gout that had him crippled and on crutches. He flew to Bangkok a few days ago to get another opinion about whether he actually had gout or osteoarthritis. Yes, it is gout, which is much better than needing a knee replacement which is what the doctor here told him. A second opinion is always the best way to go. He is up and around and feeling fine. Amazing.

David Martin, from our home church in Fort Worth, arrived last night and is right now asleep on my couch having finally crashed from jet lag. He is only going to be here for 2 weeks, so I hope he gets over it quick. I know that when I travel to the US or back, it takes me at least that long to get my days and nights back in order. Ah, well, he is much younger than I am and he will probably recover much quicker. I hope so. He was able to bring over the things that we had to leave behind for lack of space in our luggage. He brought coffee, and chocolate, as gifts. Yaaay!!!

We are sorry to see Alyssa leaving in just a few days. We were delayed twice getting back to Thailand, and we have not had near the amount of time with her that we would have liked. She is a really fine young woman, and she has an open invitation to come back any time. I certainly hope that another person comes over to take her place.

I have finally gotten all the checking accounts balanced. No small feat considering I have 7 bank accounts here and 3 in America to keep straight. Financial accountability is very high on our priority list. We know where everybody's money goes almost to the dollar. It is a job that I really do not relish doing, but I realize how needful it is. Starting tomorrow, I will begin to clean up some of the files on the server and store them on drives that can be stored elsewhere in case of fire, flood or theft. I like this job much better, but it is tedious and very time consuming. We are once again without a full-time tech, but we are managing as best we can with our limited knowledge.

This has been an incredible year for me. The trip to Africa and spending a good amount of time with our grandchildren was, of course, the highlight so far. I am also thankful that we were able to see some friends that we haven't seen in several years in a couple of our supporting churches. I got to see one of my most special girls that worked with us off and on for about 4 years. Susanna Domangue is not married with a wonderful husband and young son and another boy on the way soon. I miss her very much. Her Dad is the pastor of the Galilean Baptist Church in Houma, Louisiana. This church has been standing with us for over 30 years. It doesn't seem possible that time could go that fast. It was so good to see all the Galileans while we were in America.

I wish that there were a few more hours in the day. I usually tire out before I can get done what I would like to, but I guess more hours would help, would it? What I need is more trength and stamina. Pray for me to that end. And pray for our staff. These are our current regular staff:

Pook - Office manager
Noah - Burmese coordinator
Asim - Urdu translator
Klo - Karen translator
Jang Lang - Hmong translator
Kaw - Hmong translator
Carolyn - Foreign language coordinator

We no longer have a video editor or a computer tech on staff. Please pray that God would raise somebody up to take over these jobs.

Please pray for Alyssa as she travels back to Oak Harbor, Washington, that she would have a safe journey and that she would be able to share her thoughts and the things she learned here with her church.