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Dear Friends & Family,We praise God for a good three months in the Northeast, despite the untimely death of Karl’s father that brought us back to the U.S. two months earlier than expected. God was very good in providing us with many helpful people to supply what our family needed - clothes, supplies, manpower, babysitting, finances, conversations, fun times, and opportunities to talk about what God is doing in Thailand, and in our lives. Many thanks to those who had a part in our time in the Northeast this past fall.On Jan 10th, our family flew to Southern California where we will be living until our return to Thailand in late 2011. Coming directly from the bone chilling Northeast, it has been fantastic to walk to the park with the children in shirt sleeves. Many of our things are still in suitcases though we are quickly settling in to our new home and surroundings.
In January 2015, Karl took Joshua up Khao Lom Muak (เขาล้อมหมวก), a peak of about 900 feet in Prachuab province during a family vacation. Joshua did surprisingly well on the hike and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Here is some footage of Joshua telling about the hike while siting on the peak, as well as some clips from the hike down. It is a bit hard to hear Joshua sometimes, so turn your computer / phone volume all the way up.
As our family thinks ahead to going back to Thailand, we’ve entered in to that weird transitionary stage that comes at the end of home assignment (furlough). We’re still here in the States, but our days are numbered. Our thinking has begun to shift.
Any missionary who has gone through this experience should be able to identify with many of following signs that home assignment is coming to a close.
You know that home assignment is over when...
Instead of buying more food, you start eating that box of food in the cupboard that you haven’t touched in monthsThe deciding factor in making new purchases is whether you can take it with you
I thought I was prepared for most of the questions that would come at us as we returned to the U.S. We had been planning to start a year of home assignment in the U.S. in December but because of my father’s death we hurriedly moved it up to the beginning of October. I knew that there would be questions about how long we’d be in the area, where we are staying, and when we’d be going back.But there was one question that totally blindsided me. Some people have asked, “Are you going back to Thailand?” Are we going back to Thailand?! In my mind, the answer was obvious. “Of course we are going back to Thailand!” Why would anyone think that we are not going back?
After mentioning our up-coming home assignment (or "furlough") in our last prayer letter, we received a curious email. “I didn't know missionary work also has furlough. In our education sector in the States, furloughs are mandatory for schools due to budget cuts. Is your furlough due to a budget cut or do you just need a break?” This email reminded us that outside of missionary circles, there is some confusion about why missionaries go on home assignment. Is home assignment just a code word for a funding raising trip? Is home assignment just a big long missionary vacation? Is home assignment like a sabbatical? Do missionaries go on home assignment when they get fed up with their host culture and just need a break? There is a bit of truth in all of the above. But there is also a lot of misunderstanding. In this post, I’d like to look at some reasons that missionaries go on home assignment in hopes of creating greater understanding between missionaries and their supporters back home.
We've been in Singapore for about two weeks now and are well into our Orientation Course (OC) at OMF's International Headquarters. We are here together with other new OMF missionaries (and their children) from a variety of countries - USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Philipines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, etc. There are about 40 adults and 16 kids. Fortunately, there are some kind grandmas from UK and Australia are helping with childcare so that Sun and I can attend the lectures and not have to watch Joshua all the time.
The content of the lectures have covered medical issues (insurance, malaria, dengue fever, where to get medical advice and care on the field), finances (how OMF financial system works), the vision and mission of OMF International, times of Bible study, prayer, and worship, and meetings with the International Directors and Intl Medical Advisor. Joshua was able to get his six month shots right here at OMF HQ so we didn't have to go look for some place around town or wait.
It has been really good to finally arrive back in Phra Baht after four months in the States. We got in on Saturday evening and found our house in fine condition, with a very green yard due to all the rain during the past few months. Two of our banana trees had big big bunches on them, still quite green. Pastor Jarun and his wife had been taking care of the place while we had been gone. We are thankful for their help and are glad that they have been able to take advantage of our house while we have been away.Aside from the surroundings, we really enjoyed seeing folks at church on Sunday morning and beginning to catch up with what has been going on in their lives while we have been away. One fellow may move to another province soon, one woman has changed jobs because her employer wouldn't allow her to go to church on Sunday. Sun chatted with two elderly ladies who may be interested in helping us with evangelism. Sun and I are both feeling rather strong these days and eager to get out there and share the Gospel - both on an individual basis and in more direct evangelism - tracting and open air evangelism. On Sunday evening, we got to chat with our neighbors who had gathered across the street from our house in the community area for our neighborhood. A few months ago, the neighborhood committee put in some