Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lord, What Would You Have Me to Do?

  I know, I still have nearly four months left here in Thailand... But I can't help thinking of leaving. Raquel only has less than two weeks left until she leaves. Maybe that is what has made me think about it lately.

  I haven't just been thinking about leaving though. I've been thinking of the great need here-the need of more medical assistance, teachers, translators... The list goes on.

  I was told not too long ago that they may be losing some teachers for the next school year. They are trying to set up a medical missionary type program for the graduates who are teachers already and for this year's graduating class. If God blesses and all works out, that means at least four or five teachers will become students again, which places a bigger strain on the school to find teachers. 

  My heart burns every time I think about it. What if I could come back next year? I could help teach again! I could help with other things too. That would be so awesome! I would absolutely love to come back for a whole year! I can't help but get excited just thinking of the possibility!

  But then reality hits again. Haley, you don't know if it can even happen yet. Yes, there is a great need here. You could be very useful. But you forget you have no money to come back. Yes, that is true. I could not come back without God providing the necessary funds. But our God is a God of miracles! It was a miracle that I got here, and if I come back it will be a miracle then as well.

  My prayer is, "Lord, what would You have me to do?" I know Sunshine Orchard could use my help, but I don't know if this is where God wants me next year. Will you please join me in prayer? I greatly appreciate it!

  I'm so glad God has brought me here to help these people, and I would love to come back next year if that is God's will! If God moves on your heart to make this dream a reality, please let me know! :) 

  A big thank you to all of you who helped me get here! I can never thank you enough for being willing to sacrifice so I could come. If you can't give financially, then please just pray. Prayer is powerful, and I know God will provide if He sees best!

  Thank you all so much! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oh, Love That Will Not Let Me Go

  I began writing this post Sunday morning... :-)

 I'm laying here in a hammock, with the breeze blowing in my face, looking out across a very special piece of property which is home to more than 300 precious people. The sun is shining. It isn't too warm; it isn't too cold. A dear friend rests in a hammock near me. She isn't well. I am her "nurse" for the morning. I pray she heals soon...

  There is no place I would rather be at this moment. This is where God has called me. This is where He wants me to be. And I could hardly be happier. :-)

  There are just so many reasons to love this place. True, there are difficult, unpleasant things too. But the good far outweighs the bad!  Every day I can thank God for many blessings He sends me. There are just so many precious things here, how could I ever leave? I know, I still have 4 months left. But I can't help but think how much I will miss this place and all these beautiful people.

  I can't help but smile as I look back to when I first arrived here. I was so scared.  I wanted to go home so badly. All I could think of was asking my mom to buy me a ticket home as soon as possible! I didn't want to be here- to face all the new people, the new way of living, the new challenges. I didn't think I would survive. But now? Not a single one of those fears and feelings remains. The opposite of those feelings now holds me firmly. I realized the other day with thankfulness to God that I would be perfectly content if God said, "Go, and stay," and I found myself a more permanent resident at the Sunshine Orchard Children's Home and Learning Center. I get excited just thinking of that possibility! :-)

  Here are a few memories from the past few weeks... Some are spiritually strengthening-others very comical! But all are precious moments that bring me joy. :-)

  I was standing in the back of grade 4 while Tharamu Raquel taught the energetic youngsters. I looked down at the notebook of one of the boys near me and there discovered my name written neatly on the top of his paper. Raquel had written my name on the blackboard some days before and I suppose he wanted to remember how to spell it or something. You can't help but smile. :-)

  This day we were in Mae Sot on a shopping trip. After we ate breakfast, we took Moo Koh Paw and Naw Blet (her sister) to the hospital. Outside of the hospital was this sign: "Unwalkable patient, Place here." Hehe... Asian English can be very amusing at times. ;-)

  We saw another sign in Mae Sot that said: "Give 100% to live 100%." Oh, how true that is! If only everyone could truly realize that, how many more completely happy people this world would have! This was a good reminder for me that if I am holding any part of myself back from God, I cannot expect to live happily and fully. Surrender is the key God has given. It won't do me any good if I don't pick it up and use it though.

  While Raquel was reading sentences on the blackboard with her students, we all got a good laugh out of one of them! Raquel: "OK, this one says, '_I_like_to_eat_red_- no, not children!! Chillies!!! We don't like to eat children!"

  After AY one Sabbath, Thara Dee Htoo came over to shake Mr. Meyer's hand, who was standing by me. After shaking Mr. Meyer's hand, he shook mine. Turning to Mr. Meyer he asked, "This is your daughter?" Mr. Meyer replies with a laugh, "No, she's not my daughter. I'd claim her as my daughter, but no, she's not my daughter. She's a student missionary here from America for a while."  Hehe!  I had to laugh at that one...

  It was morning and I was having my devotions. Before opening my Bible, as always I prayed for enlightenment and guidance. In my study, I came to a verse that was difficult to understand. The verse was Psalm 61:8, which reads, "So will I sing praise unto Thy name forever, that I may daily perform my vows." Perhaps this is an easy verse for some of you, but its meaning puzzled me greatly. I was trying to figure out how praising God could help me perform my vows. I felt impressed to ask God to show me what the verse meant. I bowed my head, struggling to not doubt, and asked Him to please help me to understand. I continued to pray and ponder the verse for maybe a few minutes. Suddenly, the interpretation flashed into my mind. I had no doubt that God had answered my prayer. David said he was going to praise God forever because he had made vows to do that and wanted to keep them daily. I could hardly contain my joyfulness and excitement as I thanked God from the bottom of my heart! Time and time again He has shown me that I can trust Him completely. I'm still learning... It isn't easy to reverse the thoughts of a lifetime, but praise God for His faithfulness and patience! :')

       One afternoon I was beginning typing class, and asked a bright young man named Saw Pah Noh to pray. Everyone closes their eyes, and I prepared myself to hear sounds of a foreign language. It wasn't long, however, before I realized I could understand what he was saying! This precious boy was praying in English! True, not everything was perfect, but almost! His words came slowly, and I could tell they were well thought out. Happiness flooded me as I knelt there on the cold tile floor and listened to my own language being spoken to our Heavenly Father. I told Sharon later, and she said she wasn't aware of any of the students ever praying in English before. :-) Keep up the good work, Saw Pah Noh!!  

   "Can I give you  hug goodnight, Haley Bug?' I heard one evening while preparing for bed. After Hannah went to bed, I was still thanking God for such amazing friends who could perceive and administer the very things I loved-a hug and hearing my nickname. :-) 

  During a conversation Sharon and I had, she said, "Micah, Gayle Haberkam's youngest husband-son!" Oops... Hahaha! I certainly hope she doesn't have more than one husband!

  At a birthday party we went to for the granddaughter of the pastor at the Mae Salit SDA Church...
Mrs. Steck: "Are all three of these tables vegetarian?"  Mr. Steck: "No, just the stuff on them." Oh dear... Hehehe! That's Mr. Steck for you! ;-)

  Morning had come too soon, and I was still so tired. I'm not sure if I heard my alarm or slept through it, but somehow I had overslept again. How could this have happened again? I questioned myself. Inwardly I groaned and felt positively miserable. I wanted to get up early, but for the thousandth time I found myself incapable of accomplishing the task. What do I do? Surely God cannot forgive forever... Is it too late? Am I forever lost already? My guilty conscience rang out loudly as I sat there on my mat. In my misery, I cried out to God to please show me somehow, someway, if there was still hope for me. I then looked at the verse of the day from the Bible app on my phone. Tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks as I read these words from Genesis 40:21- "And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:" Lord, will you truly restore me as Your servant? Why? I have done nothing to deserve such love! Thank You, Jesus... Thank You so much...

  I cannot fully comprehend this love so freely given by a Holy, Almighty God! It stretches far beyond my imagination. It encircles everything in the universe. It reaches out to each one of us-calling us to rest in the loving arms of a faithful Friend. Words cannot describe it. But this I know-it does exist. I have experienced it so many times! It will not let me go. I pray that I may never doubt it again. Will you pray that prayer with me, friend? Jesus loves you-yes, you! Please don't reject that love any longer. It waits for you-eagerly, longingly, patiently. Time is so short. You never know when your last chance could come. Accept His invitation today. :-) 

 Me and some fifth grade girls. They are so sweet! :-)


Monday, November 10, 2014

Lessons Never Cease- A Weekend Adventure (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of our adventure! :-)  For some reason Blogger is acting very strangely, so please forgive the messed-upness of this blog post. The pictures aren't all spaced evenly and the writing may be a little weird too. Hopefully it will behave itself in the future. :-)

The two sisters....

We listened to Mr. Steck read for quite a while...

It's amazing how comfortable the ground can feel when you're tired and when you haven't sat on chairs regularly for some months...

This was the view to my left, looking down at the road.

This was the view to my right, looking back up the trail we had walked on to get there.

Here is the view in front of me, looking across the road at part of two pagodas. It was beautiful!

God created so much beauty....

We read until nearly sunset, then walked back to the car and drove to get some diesel before heading for a campground right next to this river...
It was a beautiful way to end the Sabbath- riding in the back of the car, gazing out the back window at the darkening scenery fading into the distance and listening to beautiful, uplifting music. We arrived at the campground after dark and went to bed as soon the campground tents were set up and we had moved in. I slept in a tent with Sharon, Mr. and Mrs. Steck slept in the other tent, and the other girls slept on the ground or in a hammock. That night I slept no better or worse until just before 3:00 a.m. when I awoke again and got up to use the restroom. When I got back to the tent, I discovered that I had a problem- all around my bed, in my Karen bag and on my backpack were little black creatures, scurrying here and there. Inwardly I groaned and cringed. What am I going to do now? I can't sleep with these ants all over my stuff! Why did they have to invade our tent? Why are the ants awake at this hour anyways? Don't they need their sleep too? I'm tired, but now I can't sleep, I pouted. Not long after I got up, Sharon also awoke and we discussed the problem together. We discovered that Hannah Steck and Raquel were no longer sleeping on the ground, and we guessed they too had experienced the ants. They were probably in the car, so maybe we should get the ants off our things and go see if we can put them into the car. This we did, and found Hannah trying to sleep in the car. She woke up and gave us the key to open the back. We then returned the key and walked down some stairs towards the river, only going down partway before stopping to sit and have our devotions. It was so peaceful sitting there in the darkness, listening to the river rushing by and talking to Jesus. I couldn't help but smile as I considered the way God had chosen to wake me up. I have had difficulty waking up early to have more time for devotions and had been asking God to please help me somehow. He certainly helped me that morning in a most unexpected way! Something that at first appeared to be a bother and annoyance turned out to be a big blessing. Another lesson- trials are often blessings in disguise. Lord, please help me to give thanks in all things- even the things that seem bad. After devotions, I went to the car to catch a few more winks of sleep before the sun came up. When everyone was awake and ready, we had a delicious breakfast of spaghetti made by Hannah Steck right here beside the river.                                                                                              

Here is where our tents were...

After breakfast, we finished packing up, then went for walk to this gorge and the surrounding interests.

The view from the bridge...

The view from the other side....

Here is the bridge...

On the other side of the bridge was this sign and a trail that we hiked.

These were some of the sites along the trail...

Off we went!

We hiked up on top of a very big rock. This was view we were blessed with....

We had fun taking some pictures up there...

We had worship up there, and Raquel attempted to take a short nap.

This was at the visitor's center.

After our hike at the gorge, we got back in the car and drove back to Mae Sariang, then down a long road full of potholes to the Salawin River. You haven't experienced a bumpy ride until you have ridden on a road like that... I literally came off my seat a couple times! It really was fun though. :-) This is a picture of the Salawin River.
We were able to go for a boat ride on the river which was very enjoyable.

It was so beautiful... :-)

Can you tell we had fun? ;-)

This is the village where we stopped to ride the boat...

   After we got back from the boat ride, we got in the car and drove the long, bumpy road out once again. It wasn't very long before Hannah asked if I wanted to ride on the back due to the temperature in in the back where we were sitting with no windows to open. I agreed and we asked Mr. Steck to stop so we could rearrange ourselves. It was so much fun, holding onto the basket on top of the car and trying to stay on while the car rolled over many dips and ruts.                                                                                              With Hannah and I riding on the back and Mrs. Steck, Raquel, and Hannah Powell sitting in the windows, we made quite the spectacle as we drove past or through small villages. We had many a villager staring and smiling at the funny-looking gullowahs hanging all over the car. I still haven't gotten used to all the stares...                                                                                                                                                         It was such a blessing to watch the sun sink lower and lower as we sped along, headed once again for Mae Sariang. Hannah and I talked nearly the whole time as we stood, watching the scenery fly by. I enjoyed it very much. You can learn and be blessed a lot by listening to the experience of others and how God led them. Friends are indeed a wonderful gift from God!                                                                                     We got back into the car shortly before arriving in Mae Sariang. In town, we stopped at a gas station to get gas, use the restroom, and buy some snacks for supper. Then we headed for Sunshine Orchard, but it wasn't long before Hannah and I were riding on the back again. The moon was so bright that night! The view out across the mountains was spectacular. I couldn't help but smile and feel my heart fill with thankfulness to my God who creates such beauty for His children to behold! After about 45 minutes, our feet and legs couldn't handle anymore standing so we rode inside the car for the remainder of the trip home. We pulled into the driveway somewhere around 10:30 p.m., totally exhausted, but happy.                                                          Although I really enjoyed our adventure, I'm happy to be at work once again here at Sunshine Orchard. I'm beginning to see that God can and will teach me new lessons no matter where I am. Even on "vacation" I learned a lot. I'm so thankful for a God that never gives up, but patiently teaches us and leads us! I know I wouldn't be here today if it were not for Him and His sustaining grace!