As we come to the writing of this letter and the beginning of a new year, our family is facing another big transition as we prepare to go back stateside for our one year U.S. home assignment in March.We feel excited by the prospect of seeing families and friends, and meeting many people from our supporting churches.At the same time, we feel a bit as though we have just begun to settle into our ministries, and it's already time to leave for a year!
This year was one full of opportunities and challenges!God has been wonderful in His provision for all circumstances.Chuck has been thrilled to witness almost 60 men from six different villages go through the process of withdrawal from drugs and going home changed in ways that have astounded their families and friends.Many of them found a relationship with Christ through their experiences.
The Akha Craft ministry that Ruth has been involved in has really taken off, and takes a good deal of her time and energy.The "home base" for the program is the first floor of the mission house.There are now five sewing machines, three full-time workers, and several hundred women who are being helped to have an income in their villages as they apply their traditional needlework skills to our products.They are also being given the opportunity to develop leadership skills and pride in who they are as Akha women.We try to share the love of God through this ministry and see it as an opportunity for outreach, as well.
Because the Chiang Rai branch of the New Life Center is connected to our property, Ruth shares some of her time with the girls and the staff there, both teaching English and music.She really enjoys the relationships she has built with them.Both Ruth and Chuck have found great satisfaction in participating as teachers in a new Akha Bible Institute just formed in May of this year.Chuck also spends the last few days of each month in Bible training at the Akha Churches of Thailand Center (ACT) where the pastors come from the villages to receive instruction in many areas.
Ruth is active in the women's work of the ACT, and enjoys working with them on their bi-annual retreats.There are usually anywhere from 125 to 300 women in attendance.Chuck is now helping the pastors and evangelists explore new ways to support themselves and their churches.For the most part, these involve agricultural techniques for pig farming, coffee planting, etc.He also spends a good deal of time visiting various villages to offer pastoral care and encouragement.One exciting development for Chuck has been the opportunity to have contact with the non-Christian villages of the former drug addicts because of the help that he and the Akha evangelists were able to give to their villagers.On December 29th, there will be a big celebration when all the former drug addicts will gather in one village to celebrate their "new life."
As our family prepares for Christmas this year, we are reminded of other Christmas's that have gone before, and we think fondly of family and friends in many places.Rachel is now a young lady of 14 years, and we are so blessed by her.She is a thoughtful, sensitive, and happy girl, bringing joy to those around her.Rebecca is approaching 13, and we are caught off guard at how she has changed overnight from a little girl to a young woman. Rebecca still loves trying to understand everything, is very caring, and brings a smile to those she meets.Kenny, at 10, is a fun-loving boy, very active, and a born entertainer.All three enjoy the company of our two dogs and four cats!We are happy to say that they have adjusted very well to our lives here in Thailand, and we have all made many Thai and Akha friends while living here.
We close by thanking all of you who have been supporting us throughout this year and our whole time here.Your support as friends, as prayer warriors, and as financial givers makes what we do here possible.We are so grateful for the cords of love that bind us together...In this Christmas season, we extend our love and prayers for you and yours--that you will experience the reality of Christ's love and joy in your life, now and throughout 2003! Hopefully, we will see many of you while we are home this next year...
Peace and joy,
Chuck and Ruth Fox