Sunday, February 12, 2012

An amazing week

Where do I start? This week has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The friends I have made, the people who have been touched by God here in Thailand, the food! All amazing!

The Thai people are wonderful, they never stop smiling! The other night Kym and I had the pleasure of having young Thai people sing to us at church.

We have also really enjoyed watching Nathan, the youngest of the team, do his magic tricks here. The Thai people adore Nathan and it's no wonder why, he has really embraced the people and the culture here.

Since my last blog entry, we have managed to create a 35m trench (a lot of digging!) and then placed piping in, soak wells and cement in order to create a drain that will run away from the house. This was a monumental effort. I tried my very best to help but found the conditions so tough to work in. Kym, Steve and Derek blew me away with the effort they put in each day, these guys are hard workers! Nathan didn't mind getting dirty either, putting on the gum boots and going in the mud!

We have been so busy here, yesterday was our first day off. We went for an hr and a half drive and enjoyed an elephant ride. After that, we got to feed the elephants bananas. When I can, I will add some of the photos so you can see it for yourself. It was a lot of fun, they really are gentle giants!

We also had an hour massage yesterday, which cost the equivalent of $6 AUD! I was in the same room as Kym and he was hilarious, making the lady who was massaging him laugh! Thai massages involve a lot of stretching of the muscles and boy did we need that!

I haven't done much shopping as I'm planning on doing that in Bangkok, but I did manage to buy a polo shirt. It cost me about $28 and in Australia would have been at least $60. Great value.

Today we went to church and Kym provided a great sermon on John 15. He really grabbed the attention of the Thai people. It's incredible to see the Thai people learn about and love God.

I've just witnessed a four hour event where the Thai Christian community have come together to showcase singing, dancing, including breakdancing (Nathan got in on that too, he's an awesome breakdancer!) and games and prizes. The event was held outside a shopping centre and I'm hoping some of the people who came along and watched become Christian.

It's a sad day to hear that Whitney Houston has passed so young (48) but also a great day for those who have come to know God.

To my friends and family back home, I love you all and miss you and look forward to seeing you soon.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Update on the Thai Mission Trip

We arrived in Bangkok on Sunday and caught a four hour bus to Korat. We were tired but also very excited to be there. We met Tom at a shopping mall, where we experienced our first authentic Thai lunch. Looking around the busy mall, it became apparent there were very few Westerners in the complex!

My meal cost 35 baht, which is equivalent to about $1.10! For this amount, I received rice, chicken and pork. The food was amazing.

After lunch we headed to the block and discussed the plans for the week, which would include having sand delivered.

Here is an original picture of the block... 

The block needed a lot of sand and by Wednesday the trucks began emptying sand into the block, as you can see below...
Whilst there on Wednesday mid morning, we watched a local use a technique that gets rats out of the ground, so that he could have some crispy rat meat for lunch! 

And we have a winner! Winner, winner, rat for dinner!!!

It's been great catching up with Tom and the guys are really enjoying this trip so far - the building of relationships, with one another and the Thai community, the amazing food on offer and being able to share our spiritual journey. Each morning we are discussing a chapter of Nehemiah and finding that his story can inspire us and help us to continue to grow.

Below is a photo of the guys at our favourite noodle spot, located across from our accommodation...

Yesterday we built stairs for Tom's staircase and I will upload these photos another day. Other activities we have done since arriving in Korat include going to the markets, which were massive and had the best coconut drinks ever, and catching up with members of a local church last night for dinner. So far it has been an incredible journey.

God bless!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Less than a week till I go!

Today I finally received my timetable at work, which enables me to write my 42 relief lessons I need to prepare before I head off to Thailand this weekend!

The thing is it's not just writing 42 lesson plans, it's also preparing them, so photocopying, creating activities etc! Today I got one of the five classes written for the two weeks. Given the Year 11s come tomorrow, it's going to be a super busy week!

I managed to raise about $1500 for the trip, which is a fantastic effort and I'm so grateful for the friends and family I have. The only item left to sell is a LeBron James NBA jersey that was donated to me by a friend who received it as part of a package when he went to see Miami V Boston in the NBA playoffs.

For those living in Australia, it's worth bidding on! The link is below:

With two and a half days to go it only has one bid and five watchers, but I'm sure it will go for a lot more than $30! I'm expecting at least $100, if not more.

So I have had my Hep A and Typhoid shots and purchased my malaria tablets. My aunty Rhonda has made me a Survival Kit to take with me. For those who are curious, it contains the following items, listed with some funny comments to go with it:

Tiger Balm - for protection against Tigers!
Hydralite Pills - for dehydration if insufficient beer.
Paw Paw Ointment - to guard against pawpaw overdose.
Bushman + - repels for hours.
Zinc stick lip balm - in case of sun attack.
Sunscreen - protect from sun attack.
Jellybeans - to keep energy levels up.

Okay, so after a couple of jokes she suddenly got serious! I guess that attacking sun is no laughing matter!

So in less than a week, I'll be in Korat, Thailand! I could really do with some words of encouragement so please feel free to leave a comment this time.

Here is a map showing where Korat is, in relation to Bangkok and other cities/towns in Thailand.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday's Wine Tour Fundraiser

The big event was finally here...the Swan Valley Wine Tour, which was organised by myself and my mate Neil.

In the morning, Neil and his wife Annette arrived at 9am to pick me up. All we needed to do was pack the prizes and the art work and make a stop at Woolworths to pick up the food and drinks and grab some ice. Seemed simple and I was confident we would get to Burswood to where the bus was picking us up from, by 10am.

As it turned out, the morning was very stressful! Woolworths put the wrong bar codes on our platter selections and it ended up taking about 15 minutes to sort out. By then, we were under pressure to get to Burswood on time, and when we found roadworks on Albany Highway it became apparent that we would be late.

We arrived at Burswood at 10.15am and packed the bus. A head count revealed there were two people missing! It was an old work colleague and friend, Briohny, and her partner that were absent. I attempted to call her, twice, but each time it went to message bank. At this point my stress levels were really rising! I left a message saying to meet us at the first stop, Houghton Winery, because we really needed to make a move!
As it turns out, Briohny, who was almost struck by lightning the day before, forgot all about my wine tour!

Once the bus was leaving, I knew it was time to just relax and enjoy the day. We arrived at Houghton winery where a private tasting had been arranged.

The good thing about Houghton is they allowed us to taste their premium places like the Barossa in South Australia, this is normal practice, but in the Swan Valley there is more emphasis on promoting the more affordable wines due to these being the ones most people buy.

Next stop was Oakover Wines, which produce a lot of easy to drink wines. The group sat in a semi circle and enjoyed the wine tasting. The host, who had spent the early hours of the morning cleaning up the area due to flooding that occurred on Friday, had one wine covered up and guests were asked to guess what type of wine it was...I guessed correctly, it was a Cabernet Merlot.

For lunch, we stopped at Maali Park, which was suggested to me by Swan Valley Tourism! Not a good choice but fortunately the platters of mini croissants with ham and cheese, roasted chicken, lavish gourmet rolls and a meat and cheese platter made up for it.

At lunch we held two raffles, one was a $5 raffle for a stretched canvas original painting, titled 'Just a Moment'. We raised $105 for this piece and my mum actually won the prize, but gave it to Annette as a gift :)
The $1 raffle which had several prizes, went very well. We raised $110, selling 110 raffle tickets in the space of about ten minutes!

In addition to the $215 raised from the raffles, I was able to make a further $325 from proceeds of the event. That is a total of $540 raised from the wine tour, which is a great effort.

After lunch, we visited Wild Swan Distillery where some of us tasted the spirits on offer. My favourite turned out to be the chilli vodka, which had a kick but wasn't too hot! Some of the guests discovered ice cream for sale next door!

Our final stop was Sandalford Estate Winery, which was a lot of fun. Here, the host allows you to taste from the bottles till you are done! It's not a case of them putting a tiny tasting in your glass and then moving on to the next. Sandalford also arranges for cheese to be put out and the host only speaks at the start - he was really entertaining too, showing us a couple of awesome items for sale, including a port glass which has a glass straw attached, as you pour the port it comes up through the straw for you to consume. Mum bought me two of those.

As an engagement present to Brianna and Cheyne, I also shouted them a bottle of wine.

Here are some photos from the day:

To cap the day off, I went to the WACA and watched the Scorchers win the semi-final of the T20 Big Bash against Shane Warne's Melbourne Stars.

Overall, the day was a success and I'm grateful to everyone who attended and made the day possible.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thank you

A big thank you to David's mother for donating towards the Mission Trip.

Her generosity will enable the five of us who are on this mission to take out Tom and Tuu for dinner. Tom and Tuu are the missionaries who we are assisting with the building project. Can't wait to report back on this trip.

Tomorrow is the wine tour, I am really looking forward to this. Should be a great day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

God given talent!

The amazing thing about this journey so far is that I'm having people help me who I have never met. A young, talented artist by the name of Reece Henry is the latest to help me with my Mission Trip.
Living in the 'small world' that is known as Perth, it turns out that Reece is cousin's with a friend of mine, Kurt. He also knows other people who I have taught, gone to school with, or just met at some point in my life.
An ex-student and the man behind the legendary Facebook chill out page, Soul Canvas, David, approached Reece about coming up with some art work as a donation for my Mission Trip. I had seen some of the art work on the Soul Canvas photo album and was amazed at the talent we have here.
Reece has donated a piece called 'Just a Moment', which is all about focusing on relaxing, being peaceful and taking time out, having some 'me time'.
Below is a copy of the art work...

I will be having an exclusive raffle for this art work, with only 25 tickets going on sale at $5 each. That means that you have a 1/25 chance to win! While the winner will be announced at Saturday's wine tour, tickets can be bought by anyone who is keen to win, up until the 25th ticket is sold.

If you aren't attending the wine tour but would like to buy a ticket, please contact me on my email address: to arrange purchasing a ticket or two. For Soul Canvas fans I am seeing David on Friday afternoon so you can give him the money to pass on to me if you'd like a ticket.

Whether you win or lose, you're helping me get to Thailand where I'm going to be spending a lot of time digging, so it's worth the donation!

Digging, digging, digging, kinda reminds me of a book I read and film I watched called Holes! Anyone remember that movie?!

Well that will be me next month, digging holes!

All for an awesome cause!

God bless.