Our family wanted to give you all an update on the past couple of months of 2014, which have been beyond crazy for our family, here in the mission field.

In October, I (Austin) helped lead our 3rd Year MDiv students (International and Thai) from McGilvary College of Divinity to do a four day evangelism trip on the border. Like all things here in Thailand nothing really worked out as planned.

The trip started out with someone crashing into my truck. Thankfully, no damage done to my vehicle as they hit my rear steel bumper (money well spent). Not the best of omens but we then prayed and moved forward. An hour outside of town my engine started to make a noise and I stopped immediately, when I got out, oil was flowing out of my truck where the oil plug should have been. Since, I had the oil on the truck changed the week prior it didn’t take me too long to diagnose the problem. Anyway, to put a very long story short the truck ended up back at the dealer who replaced my oil and they took a month to do a complete engine rebuild.

Meanwhile we had to change our plans very quickly for the evangelism trip with even the location being changed as well. Not an easy task when you have about 15 students to care for. Praise God though we were able to link up with many friends and ministries in the town of Mae Sot and our students gained a great deal from this experience of sharing the gospel. You can see more in the following pictures below. 

Students do a children's camp at a Burman shanty village on the border

Children Evangelism Camp

Night time Evangelism Event

Children's camp at local Burmese church


In November, Sinte and the kids headed out to Burma for a few weeks. First Presbyterian Church of Midland, TX helped arrange the trip so Sinte could check on a children’s home project that they support there. Meanwhile, I stayed behind to finish a paper on last doctoral class as well as wrap up my teaching for the semester. A fifty page paper was turned in to Fuller Seminary the night before the family arrived back to Thailand and my finals were done and graded as well.

In December, our family then hosted Pastor Scott from Australia to do some training with a Bible School on the border that we have a strong relationship with. Scott was doing so well that I even left him one night there by himself while I had meetings six hours away at Bung Klung Village where there are some ministry issues being sorted out. One of the exciting moments I had was when I was given an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a muslim couple who have been building relationships with the Christians at the school. It was a wonderful moment to be able to witness both stand and say they desired to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In this part of Thailand I have never heard of a muslim converting to become a follower of Jesus Christ. Please do pray for this couple as they desire to share their faith with others within the large muslim community in the area. Because of safety considerations, I won’t be sharing their picture or names.

Pastor Scott teaching at the school.

 

Meal at the end of our training time that we had together.

Pastor Scott with a local Karen pastor and friend who heads the bible school.

After returning from this trip with great rejoicing, our family then started to get ready for our last trip of the year which was to Happy Home. This trip however was a mixed bag of good and bad news. On one hand there were smaller ministry issues to be handled this trip (relationally speaking that is). Also, many of our projects including our fish and pigs appear to be doing very well. Meanwhile, the farm had a poor rice season. This hasn’t happened in two years, so they received a mulligan. However, I had to speak to the Happy Home Committee quite strongly in encouraging them to do better. Some changes were made for the upcoming year, and I hope this leads to some improvements. Sinte stayed busy with our family, providing pastoral care to the Boardmaster’s family and being a great sounding board for the kids at Happy Home. Meanwhile, I was doing a lot of preaching for all the Christmas celebrations in the area, having meetings with the Happy Home Committee and discussing/creating plans for the future. Ewing and Eliana felt it was their duty to play with all the local village children, the kids at Happy Home and also that they got to know all the animals at Happy Home too. They also served as protectors of the Happy Home pigs whenever they ate, they chased the other local village pigs away. Things are certainly changing at Happy Home and I want us to grow and change positively alongside these changes. I’ll be reporting more on the happenings at Happy Home in our next newsletter, but I hope the following pictures show a great deal describing our time there.

 

Heading up river while bringing supplies to Happy Home.

Surprised that some of the trails have now been widened enough to allow for motorcycles and small tractors.

Kids having fun together.

Eliana was our little 'Pig Pen' for Christmas.

Planting Mustard

Discussing the expansion of the fish ponds. We have so many fish now that we need to expand our ponds.

Our pigs are growing and we're holding this litter longer in order to grow them up and sell them to make more money for Happy Home.

 

Our rice fields were expanded this year, but we received less rice then last year for the following two reasons.

The first problem is that we have a large pack of wild boars that have found our farm an easy target. We plan to hunt and trap them better this year!

The second issue was water. Our irrigation ditch took two big hits from landslides this year, and that caused our fields to dry out for two weeks.

 

Naw Mu Mu Aye a recent graduate of Happy Home who now serves as a teacher at the local school.

Saw Pi attended Happy Home until 7th standard and then left to help on his family's farm. I met him in the jungle on this trip. The next day I went to his village and he gave me a nice gift of four squirrels for dinner.

Christmas meal together with the children at Happy Home.

Worship at Happy Home

2015 looks to be even a bigger year for our family and ministries (how that is possible, I have no idea!!!). Rakchat will be graduating from his MDiv program in May and will then be investing his time heavily in managing our projects inside Karen State, Burma while also doing some evangelism and ministry work. Sinte is looking at options for her future ministry hopes while juggling the life of being a mother and homeschool teacher. I, Austin hope to be finishing my dissertation for my Doctorate in Missiology this year, as well as continuing to manage our many Farthest Corners projects. Thankfully, I’ll have off from my teaching commitments at McGilvary Seminary from January-July of this year to continue in my research and get a lot of my dissertation written up. So I am planning on some very long days and nights to finish this race God put on my heart over two years ago.

Please continue to pray for our family, we certainly need all the support of love and prayers we can get. We’re so grateful to have so many wonderful churches, family and supporters to be behind us in this ministry work. As always thank you and may you have a blessed New Year.