The week after our family arrived in Thailand in February 2020, international flights were already shutting down so we were just settling in when everything changed. The past two years we have been getting to know Chiang Mai, the ministries we work with, and the communities around us. However, one new experience for us lately has been to see the “normal” Chiang Mai. While there have been plenty of business who stayed open the past two years, there are new restauants, shops, and activities opening we have never seen before. Of course, we are also learning new traffic patterns as the past month has brought more traffic than we have been used to. We are realizing that “our normal Chiang Mai experience” the past two years involved very few tourist and travelers but that was just a taste of the rich culture and society here.
Which means that life is starting to feel a bit more “normal” at the House of Love and the House of Blessing also. The local government has finally announced that schools can be open again. The House of Blessing daycare has been closed for almost a year, not that it stoped our teachers who visited students and their parents in their homes to check on them and give out school work so they don’t fall behind. But now the doors are open again and the students come everyday with smiles on their faces. They are excited to be together and eager to learn together with their friends and teachers on campus.
Last week the House of Blessing hosted a health educational seminar for the families of the students. The parents came to campus and learned from a nurse and dental hygienist about the best ways to help to prevent, recognize, and treat ailments such as Dengue Fever, Hand Foot and Mouth, and RSV. They also discussed good dental hygiene practices and the future problems that could arise if teeth are not properly taken care of. The seminar was very informative and of course khruu (teacher) Rey did a wonderful job engaging the parents with games, music, and a time of prayer. It was a blessing to be able to have the larger school community gather together on campus again. Every family who attended also was sent home with food and a large bag of rice. We are thankful for God’s provision!
Our staff did an incredible job of overseeing their education this last school year through distance learning and worked hard to keep all the children moving forward and staying on track. Last week the children had a few days off of school so we took a group outing outside the House of Love campus. The children were so excited to go out somewhere together as it has been a couple years since we have been able to do an off-campus activity, this was cause for celebration! The children and staff enjoyed riding skateboards and bicycles at a local farm/skate-park. They loved eating delicious food and drinks at the cafe and enjoyed seeing the various types of animals and gardens. It was a memorable time for everyone and the children keep asking if they can go back soon.
The college students of the House of Love are actually GOING to college. Hopefully long gone are the days in which they have to take college courses on their cell phone from their tiny dorm room. We are thankful for “normality”. The college students have been enjoying gathering together a couple times a month at the Juanes house to just hang out and be together. There is something about having a meal and playing games together that opens doors for deeper conversation, understanding, and connectedness. We are also scheduling a time once a month where we give them a little extra money to gather together at a cafe or wherever they decide, without staff members or anyone else from the House of Love, so they can just hang out and enjoy being together. The thought process is that these young adults grow up together as “siblings” at the House of Love and when they graduate high school they go out on their own, start college or work, and they don’t have opportunities or finances to be together again. By having these once-a-month cafe gatherings and bi-weekly home gatherings they are able to still be in each other’s lives and that brings them joy. Just last week after the gathering, one college student said, “I got so excited to see all these people that I grew up with come together. Every time one showed up tonight my heart jumped for joy. We grew up together but once we leave the House of Love we get so busy and don’t have time or a place to see each other. I’m really happy that we can be together.” We know God will use continue to use these get togethers so that these young men and women can have a voice and support each other. Twice a year we will facilitate larger activities for the college students as well. Our first larger outing was this past weekend and we all drove about an hour out of the city at a little cafe next to an elephant sanctuary. We all enjoyed the beautiful scenery and of course enjoyed feeding and petting the elephants.
God has some big plans gathering momentum at the CDPD in Mae Sariang as well. There is an agricultural project which launced just a few months ago and a new partnership with a wheelchair provider. We can’t wait to tell you more about that and share some pictures in the next journal.
with much love and appreciation,
The Juanes Family
One of our first outings in a year was to attend church service at one of the nearby Karen Tribal villages. We work hard to be intentional in keeping the kids connected with their tribal cultures and village life.
Elephants are an important part of Thai culture and history and now there are several sanctuaries in Northern Thailand. Being able to visit a cafe and be this close was such a great experience.