Wednesday, February 8, 2017

There and Back again.... a Caleb story :)

I admit it... I'm shameless... but you already knew that :).

Ahhh.... I'm sitting here and listening to 'Hobbit' music while I contemplate my next line. I have my amazing journal at my side and a well lit room that has just the right mood for contemplation and reflection.

Our gift this year from the East Asia team :)

This story has three separate parts..kind of like some other stories we know and love :).

Waiting in Beijing before our last flight to Chiang Mai

Part 1: A.E.R.C. and other fun acronyms :)

Thailand was a marvelous success and this first conference started the adventure off right! I should have pictures... but I don't. So here are some made up ones that sort of help you understand the initial adventure.

The Gem Gallery 

Tiger Kingdom

Orchid Farm

So we did some nice touring before our first day... it was fun to see some new things. The first conference flew by! We had about 12 kids and we did Walkabouts and teaching and 20/20 s and art and much more... but the highlight for me was getting to have dinner with this amazing family! I got to know these people on my last adventure across the sea and it was so neat getting to see them again on this one.

One hilarious evening during this conference we went out to dinner at a local place and I had one of the worst meals of my life. Fortunately I did not get sick... but I did get to see Nadia laugh more then I ever have before. I ordered what I thought was roasted chicken... it was not what I would ever have expected.

So much laughter! 
One of the really unusual and neat things we got to do was go ice skating... I'm terrible at this but I had to try anyway since I was in Thailand and needed the story for my memoirs :).

This conference had a strong focus on the arts and this picture shows you the final art project that the whole group worked on. Every kid and every adult made a feather. Mine has a Superman symbol on it and is green... see if you can spot it :).

It was a great joy getting to know a new group and seeing my amazing friends (Nadia and Michal) do such a great job working with the kids and going with the flow! They are truly amazing youth workers! We had so much fun. We even got up early many days and worked out together, running up hotel stairs and then getting a much deserved breakfast. We practiced encouraging each other daily and that became one of the highlights of the trip. This conference flew by and before we knew it we were at our next location... 

Part 2: Trauma Healing

We did a brief Trauma Healing workshop? or something, during the weekend between conferences. We left A.E.R.C. on Friday at 5 and started our next thing at around 6:30 or so. There was a nice dinner in between :). Any ways... it made for a very long week, but God was so good and gave us what we needed. We finished up on Saturday after a nice 12 hour adventure through the 5 core lessons and were grateful for a day of rest on Sunday. 

Some art I did during the work shop :)

Sunday was very restful. We met up with Sami, who had flown in the night before. I tried to get him at the airport, but due to bad information on the flight arrival time, missed him coming off the plane. He had his own adventure... but it led him back to us the next morning. We ended our day shopping... that was so great :|. Okay, well... what was great was the food court where I had 2 of the best chicken wraps that I've ever had! This place was called "Walking Street" and had amazing prices and very unique stuff. 

Part 3: Suan Bua 

We ended up staying with the Cochrans for an extra night. By the time all was said and done we realized that we didn't need to be up at the next place quite as early as we thought and so enjoyed another day in, what I fondly called, Rivendell. Delicious food and amazing rest that helped these tired travelers on their quest :). Here is a picture of their house. 

Our final conference was so fun! We really have fine-tuned our schedule and activities and have found what I like to call the sweet spot! Here are some pictures that I find wonderful and hilarious. From fun hikes to quiet time havens to 'Pimp my Ride'. There is, alas, too much to share... so some highlights to end the blog... but after the pictures. For safety reasons I won't show pictures of the kids that we served... but, I promise we served some really amazing kids! 

At a wonderful restaurant holding my imaginary wife. Unfortunately Diane wasn't with me this time! 
From 2015

I loved getting to sleep so close to my cousin Sami :)

The amazing art of one of our students! 

I walked around during my Quiet Times but always ended up back here :)

Something about this feels like it could be a sermon illustration... 

The kids coming back to the room after their time with the Lord 

My cousin's spot! 

Nice wheels! 

The view from a local cafe... just up the hill.... waaaay up

A pond we found on an epic Sunday hike! 

Riding elephants :) 

I have no words... 

A member of our team lost their passport in a taxi when we first arrived. If they didn't ask you for that in order to let you check into the hotel, I suppose that it would be gone forever. We raced back to the airport and found the exact taxi driver before we even parked. Passport found and crisis averted... why? BECAUSE YOU WERE PRAYING FOR US AND GOD LISTENS! Thank you for your prayers that protected us from things we couldn't even imagine!

Seeing my cousin live fully in the spirit. The things he shared every day in devotions with the kids and throughout the conference were beautiful! He is processing the loss of his sister and God is doing amazing things in his heart!

I really enjoyed teaching a workshop one afternoon. It basically turned into an hour long question and answer time and it was really fun. I also enjoyed giving the charge to our departing seniors.

Playing soccer most evenings!

Seeing kids' lives changed! I got some really neat notes.  One that really stood out was from a teen who said that through this time they had decided to make Christianity their faith too and not just something they believed because of their parents. Another one shared how this time had encouraged them to stop doing some really damaging behavior. Another teen who had struggled with depression was given hope to keep pressing on because of the impact they have on the group. We lost a teen to suicide recently and seeing how that impacted us as leaders really opened this teen's eyes.

Thank you for your prayers and your support! God used you to send us and protect us and support us and that makes you a part of all the successes and good work that God is doing through us... because it's also through you! I'm so grateful for you!

It's good to be home. It's good to be mauled by my kids and not Tigers :). It's nice to be able to serve and support a wife that has given up so much for me. It's good to be back in the office again. There is no place like home... but in a way, Thailand has become a home away from home for me. Ten years is a long time to go back to a place.

Thank you for helping me get there and back again!

Does anyone else feel like it's really 11 pm when the clock says 10 am? Never mind....



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Diane is my beautiful wife and the mother of my precious children Creed 9, Asher 7, Liam 5, Echo already in heaven, Bella 2, and Serenity 6 months.