It’s Summertime in Thailand…
Well, sort of… there are only three seasons in Thailand, the dry-hot season, the wet-hot season, and the cool (but still hot to Americans) season. So these past few months have been the dry-hot season when school is out. In mid-April, there is the annual Songkran festival which has the distinction of being the largest water-gun fight in the world. For three days people carry water-guns and buckets and get everyone and anyone wet. This year, the Thai government still had COVID concerns so instead of huge, city-wide battles, there were only small, private, parties allowed. This was the first year since we have lived here that we have been able to participate and as you can imagine, the kids loved it!
…We are Glad to be Back.
We have been back in Thailand for a couple of months now, we have settled back in, and have been trying to catch up. Language has had its frustrations, like accidentally ordering the wrong food because I said the wrong tone… but that’s just a humble reminder that we live in a different country and sometimes things are just harder. The awesome part is that Thailand is “opening back up” since being closed for the Covid pandemic and there has been a significant increase of movement of people, incoming tourists, re-opening of shops, new shops and just more of a bustle. We are guessing this is what Thailand is “normally” like as we have yet to experience life here without the restraints of a global pandemic (we first arrived into the country a month before it closed up). In some ways it feels like a rebirth which brings forth hope. Though many here have suffered losses due to economic challenges and there has definitely been a feeling of hopelessness, we pray that hope will be restored and that many would find that hope in the message of the cross.
In addition to getting resettled, we have been reconnecting with the staff and children at the House of Love. We made it back in time to celebrate the end of the school year in March before the kids left to spend time in their villages. The House of Love staff organized a graduation ceremony for eight of the House of Love residents graduating from preschool, high school, and college. It was so wonderful to honor the accomplishments of these children and young adults. We were also thankful that Kim Brown could be here to celebrate with the residents before she returned to America.
In one of the conversations we had with the college students last year, it was expressed to us that because they were not able to grow up in a family unit, they wanted to experience what that really looked like. That stuck with us so we are trying to build an open door with them so that they can experience our fun, messy, imperfect, loving family. Several of them come over weekly to enjoy a meal with us, hangout, play games, and we have been diving into deeper conversations. We look forward to seeing these friendships developed as we live out the unconditional love of a family centered on God’s unconditional love for us.
Ever since the government has not allowed students to attend schools since last year, the House of Blessing daycare has not been able to be open. But as you remember, the teachers took this as an opportunity to bring school to the children! They have been visiting the homes of each child every week to bring homework, talk with the parents, and pray together. Thankfully, just this week the government has given us the ok to allow children to come back when school starts in June! We are very thankful for the connectivity and relationships to develop over the past year but we are also thankful that we are able to open back up and welcome students back to the daycare.
We thank you all so much for your love, prayers, support and encouraging words. Thank you for being patient with us, thank you for checking in with us, thank you for caring deeply for the staff, residents and students at House of Love and House of Blessing! We are all so very thankful for you!
Alise & Mark Juanes
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” – Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
Some Prayer Requests and Updates:
Praise God for the 8 residents who graduated! Pray that God would continue to guide them and provide for their needs, especially those who have graduated college and high school. Pray for them, that they would seek God’s wisdom as they ask, “What’s next?”
Pray for unification, deepening of relationships, and trust amongst the staff and administration of House of Love and House of Blessing. We are all still navigating the newness of how different life is after 25 years of Kim’s leadership and figuring out all of our roles, it’s not easy.
Pray for our families continued learning and understanding of the Thai language and culture so that we can dive deeper with those around us.
Praises that our family is starting to finally feel connected with a church community here. Please pray for friendships for our family and especially for our kids.