Author Archive

Teaching English Vs. Learning Thai

A few months ago a new student started in my English class.  Hesitant to participate and having never learnt English before, she quickly withdrew and decided that it was just too hard.  Given the circumstances of her past and remembering my own tearful experiences of learning Thai when we first moved here, I didn’t push the issue, instead agreeing to just let her sit in the room and listen.

About a month ago, she starting bringing her English book to class and wanting to join in.  It has been so challenging for her.  To pronounce the words is extremely difficult for her and to remember the vocabulary, seemingly impossible.


Recently, one of the ZOE volunteer staff organized a Thai tutor to come and teach the Thai language at ZOE.  It has given all of us ‘non-Thai speakers’ the opportunity to learn to read and write Thai at our workplace.

It has been fairly challenging so far.  For some of us, to remember the Thai vocabulary and symbols seems (equally) impossible!



And so I find myself between these two worlds.

Teaching English, where the progress is slow and sometimes leaves me questioning what was actually achieved, and being a learner myself and seeing how gradual my own progress is – causing me to wonder whether I’m ever going to “get it.”

This morning, I went to teach my first English class as usual.

But something was different.  Very different.

The girl I mentioned earlier was actually smiling as she recited her reading list with the rest of the class.  The boys, who just a few months ago were hiding under the desk, were practicing their words too… and then they all did handwriting and… participated in the game I’d prepared… and they even came and wrote some answers (in English) on the board.  I nearly had to pinch myself.  Was this the same class?

Just when I was asking “Is it all worth it?” I realize again that it is!  It is!

These children are totally worth the waiting for.

It was the breakthrough that I had been praying for.  Where their trust begins and their determination takes off… the start of a new season!

And, with my Thai study, I can only hope that I too find that level of determination.  That one day my Thai teacher will go home with a sigh of relief and quietly exclaim, “It was all worth it.  She finally ‘got it!’”

Thank you for your interest and support of all our ZOE children… they are totally WORTH IT!!




When LOVE is Definitely in the Air!


February 14th is commonly known as Valentine’s Day around the world, but here at ZOE love was already in full bloom in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.

ZOE had several staff “tying the knot” this month and we enjoyed celebrating the two weddings which, incidentally, were just six days apart!

Congratulations to Am and Ploy on their February 1st nuptials as well as Toom and Chuu who were married on February 7th, 2013.

Below are a few pictures from these two very special days.

To both couples, on behalf of everyone at ZOE, I know that God had a wonderful plan when he brought you together as husband and wife.

We pray that you continue to trust in Him and enjoy years and years of togetherness and companionship.

God bless you.

Am and Ploy

Toom and Chuu

I have a four-year-old.

He loves playing this game with me when he wakes up in the morning.  It’s a game where he pretends to be a caterpillar and I wrap him up in my bedspread really tightly like he’s in a cocoon.

After trying to keep still for a minute or two (which is very challenging for him) he starts to emerge, but not as a caterpillar anymore, as an amazing butterfly.  He takes the part very seriously, acting out how it takes a while before he can actually fly when he finally breaks free of the case, even resting for a while to allow his body to dry and harden before he can take his first flight.


One of our family’s favorite books is a lovely Max Lucado story about two ordinary caterpillars, Hermie and his friend Wormie, who discover that with God, they are not so ordinary. God tells them, “Don’t worry. I love you both just the way you are, but I’m not finished with you yet.” God makes the ordinary extraordinary.

But what’s all this got to do with ZOE you may ask?

Well as I play with my little guy and read Hermie’s story, I am continually reminded about how God isn’t finished with any of us yet.

And just like we are a work-in-progress, so too are the amazing children living at ZOE.  Their transformations are some of the most dramatic I have ever seen.  I get the pleasure of working with children that the world might label as “damaged stock” or “unworthy,” but I know God sees them as miraculous, unique and one-of-a-kind.

There was no mistake when God made these kids.

God has a purpose and a plan that is good for each one of them.

And each one goes through their changes at different rates.  Some of them might need a little longer before they take their first flight, requiring extra time to crawl out of their cocoon and wait for their crumpled, soggy wings to dry and expand, but when they do eventually emerge as butterflies, there is something incredibly beautiful about their metamorphosis.

Did you know that butterflies can’t fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees F (30 degrees C)?

Would you join me in helping our special ZOE children and teens to keep warm?

Let’s drench them with our prayers, love and our commitment to see them have their lives transformed and fly!


A Christmas Blessing

Did you receive a Christmas blessing this past Christmas?

I did.  An elderly neighbor who doesn’t even celebrate Christmas (but knows that we do) came over to our house and gave our family a cake.  Not just any cake either.  The very Christmas cake that I had seen in the shop and deemed too expensive to buy.  The one I couldn’t bake myself because we don’t have an oven.  The one that reminded me of a taste from home as we celebrate our third Christmas in a country that is not our own.

I was touched.  I even shed a little tear.  I felt very blessed.

Did you give a Christmas blessing this past Christmas?

As Christmas approached, both our family and the wider ZOE family were looking for ways to be a Christmas blessing to those around us.

With the busyness of Christmas, it can be hard to steer away from just thinking of your own family, and your own needs, can’t it? But it’s so much fun to see how you can bless others too, not just by giving presents, but also with the gifts of your words, actions and your prayers.

On December 22nd the ZOE family, staff, missionaries, and parents headed out to three different locations geared up in working clothes and ready to be a Christmas blessing within our community: whatever that looked like!

We set out, not knowing exactly what our tasks would be.

Cleaning toilets, sweeping, raking, or picking up trash?

The enthusiastic group that I was in, met at a local school.

Our “job” was to clean all the mats used on the floor both in the taekwondo room and play areas.  The strong smell of bleach was enough to encourage us to work at top speed. Within a few hours of backbreaking, knee-burning scrubbing, the job was complete.

With huge smiles of gratitude on their faces, it was a joy to witness the appreciation of the school’s staff, who said this task would’ve taken them at least 3-4 days to complete!

I love being a part of the ZOE family.  With selfless dedication to each task, the three groups really were a great example of God’s love.

Which, of course, is what we are truly celebrating at Christmas time.

Pushed to the Limit


Recently Kevin Wong led a team from the PCJC (Pacific Coast Japanese Conference).

As with most of our short-term teamers, Kevin was pushed out of his comfort zone during more than one occasion during his visit to Chiang Mai and the ZOE Children’s Home.

Check out this video to see exactly what pushed Kevin to his limits.

Kevin later recounted, “I learned from this experience and many others like it on my trip, that a faith in Jesus Christ often requires us to take risks and over-come our fears—even fears of eating juicy bugs and getting an upset stomach!!!”



Shoes: Making Kids Smile

ZOE-Building a Sustainable Future