Monk Chat II

The Wednesday night monk chat was incredible. A team from Truett McConnell College is also here in Chiang Mai. The monks invited them to come and share about Jesus. When our students got to monk chat the monks had already heard about Jesus from the other team. The monks were very curious about Christ and had many questions. So, our students had some unbelievable opportunities.

One monk walked into the room with some of our students and said, “please tell me more about Christ.” They spent monk chat with their bibles open explaining the gospel to him. Incredible! Pray that God will continue to work in the hearts of the monks here. Pray we will have more opportunities to share the gospel with them when we return on Friday.

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Monk Chat

Monday night a group of our students went to the local wat (Buddhist temple) for Monk Chat. Monk Chat is a time when monks are available to, well, chat. People can ask the monks about anything. Our group talked with two monks, Kavu, who is a professor of Buddhism, and Vara. Needless to say, it was an interesting conversation. The monks really challenged our students, but our team used the opportunity to share the gospel. Our students said the experience confirmed their faith in God because they saw how hopeless and dark the monk’s worldview was.

Pray for our teams as they go back to Monk Chat Wednesday night and Friday night.

From Chiang Mai

Our team has been in Chiang Mai, Thailand since July 13. I have done a terrible job of blogging about our trip so far, but over the next few days I’m going to try to update more frequently. Honestly, when we first arrived I was so tired from 36 hours of travel that I neglected blogging. Then, for the past two days we’ve all been incredibly busy, often doing ministry until 8 or 9 in the evening.

We have three teams working at three different sites. My team is teaching English at a school in a nearby village. Kristen’s team is working at a refuge camp, teaching English, prayer walking, and doing evangelistic gatherings in the evenings. The third team, led by Matt, a youth pastor from Alabama, is working at a local orphanage. Two of our girls are teaching English to the orphanage workers and spending time with orphans. The guys on that team are doing hard labor; yard work, painting, and even laying some sod.

Things are going well at each site and all of our students are doing great. Continue to pray for us please.

Brandon

Mexico Day Four

Today (Tuesday) was great!  Both home building teams jumped right back into working hard.  The homes are coming along very well.  The roofs are almost complete and all the sheetrock has been hung and mudded.  Tomorrow we will sand like crazy on the inside, install the windows and doors, and finish the roof.

The VBS at Pastor Juan’s church is going very well.  There were a few more kids there today than yesterday.  Halie and Sarah had a great time at the VBS and immediately asked me if they could go back tomorrow.  We meet an amazing young man, Nicholas, at the VBS, too.  He is a sixteen year old boy, without any sort of family.  Basically, he lives at the church and helps Pastor Juan with various task. His attitude is so positive, especially considering his situation.  Our students absolutely love him!!!

Tonight we had Poblano’s Taco Stand for dinner.  Their crew came in and set up in the courtyard at YUGO and cooked tacos for all the groups here.  It was amazing.  The tacos are steak with cilantro, tomato, onion, avocado, beans, and wrapped in a corn tortilla… delicious.  We all sat around, ate our tacos, and drank cokes in a bottle.  Of course, we had a crew of guys who refused to eat Poblano’s and walked down to Mi Ranchito, which is our group’s favorite taco stand.

Pray for us on Wednesday.  Kyle Lapioli is sharing the gospel with all the kids at VBS. His lesson is “Jesus Is the Only Way.” I think he is going to do an incredible job!  Wednesday night Cliffton Jacques is going to preach in the church service.  His first time preaching to a church is going to be through a translator, so it should be pretty exciting.  I’m sure he’ll be slightly nervous, so pray that God will give him peace and really speak through him.  We’re going to have a few students share testimonies, too.  Pray that God would use our team to encourage Pastor Juan’s church.

Thanks for your prayers and support.  We are seeing God do some incredible things here.

Brandon

Mexico Day Three

Last night (Sunday night) we had dinner with the two families we are building homes for.  It was great to get to know them!  Team Taco is working with the Yanez Family.  You can get to know them by checking out this video.  Team Burrito is working with the Vega Family and here is a video for them.

Early this morning Reland rode with me over to Walmart which is next to Home Depot and Applebees.  I know some of you just freaked when you read we went to Walmart… they do have those here.  In fact, it is only about 15-20 minutes from where we are staying.  So, Reland and I bought a cart full of cookies, juice, and cups for the VBS we’re doing this week.  Kristen is leading a VBS at Pastor Juan Munoz’s church in San Carlos, which is a rural neighborhood outside of Ensenada.  It was an interesting experience.  The first song playing when we walked in was “The Reason” by Hoobastank followed by a series of tunes by Mariachi bands.  Even though everything was in Spanish it was easy to navigate through the store because it has almost the same exact lay out as every Walmart I’ve been in.

Later in the morning we traveled to our three jobs sites.    Today about 25-30 children showed up at the VBS.   Everyone had a great time.  They started with Rec as all the children showed up.  Cliffton clothes-lined a little girl playing red rover and so that ended rec time.  Kristen taught a bible story (in Spanish).  All the kids made foam hats for craft time.  And then everyone dug into some wonderful cookies and fruit juice.  DJ worked hard on his Spanish skills, but came up alittle short. They played a game of ‘duck, duck, goose’ which is ‘pato, pato, gonsa’ in spanish.  DJ forgot the word gonsa and shouted “Kwanzaa” instead.  Not exactly the same thing, but nice try.

At the homes, we jumped right in.  Each group has a crew chief that is provided by YUGO.  Team Taco’s chief is Hernan, who we had two years ago and is extremely high energy.  Team Burrito has Randy, who is a massive Canadian and wears shirts like Al Borland which makes him look like a Goliath lumberjack. Both are great guys who are excellent at building and leading others to build.

Our leaders divided us up into three groups.  One group’s job was to cut every board that we’re going to use on the house.  The cut sheet is extremely percise and they don’t waste much wood at all.  Another group started framing.  The framing actually went very fast.  It was amazing to see them raise the first wall of the house.  Team Taco invited Ana Maria and Saul to help raise the first wall of their new home.  It was a great moment.

The last group began painting.  It’s crazy but we paint all the siding and trim before it goes up on the house. The paint crew worked hard and did a great job painting the siding and trim.  They also did a pretty good job of painting each other.

At the end of the day all the framing was up, the roof was nearly complete, and the siding was done.  It was a very productive day for both groups.  We’re excited to see what God has in store for the rest of the week.

For His Fame,

Brandon

Mexico Day One

Right now, I’m with 37 of the most amazing people traveling to Ensenada, MX.  I love all of these folks because they gave up their spring break to head to Mexico to build homes for people they’ve never met, all for God’s fame.  30 are high school students and then 7 are our fearless adults leaders.  Here is a quick update on day one of our Mexico Mission Trip.

1. Got a late start, completely my fault.  Let’s just say I made a slight delegation error.

2. Check-in at the airport was ridiculous.  Last year was extremely smooth, taking only about 20-30 minutes.  This time it took forever.  We all made it, though.

3. We had a layover in Dallas.  A few of us got to meet Mike Rowe from the TV show Dirty Jobs. More on that here. Then some of us ate at Dicky’s BBQ.  They give you a bright, yellow souvenir cup… at the airport… for a BBQ place… I don’t understand.  I guess so you can prove to everyone back home that you actually did eat BBQ in an airport.

4. Arrived in San Diego with no problems, and then….

5. Dave, Billy, Kristen, and I went to pick up the rental vans, while the rest of the group waited at the airport for us to pick them up.  The rental car company did not wow us with their speed of service and it took about an hour and a half to get our rental vans.  This entire time the rest of the group is sitting around at the San Diego Airport.

6.  Then there was some sort of construction emergency situation on Harbor Dr, which is the road the airport is on.  They shut down Harbor Drive and there was no access to the airport from the south side.  So we spent about an hour in traffic being routed around downtown San Diego in circles.  We finally figured out how to get to the airport from the north side of town and drove all the way around San Diego and back down to the airport to pickup everyone else.  So our plane landed at 12, but most of the group didn’t leave the airport until 3:45.  It was crazy.  The students were great, though.  All of them maintained awesome attitudes and were content to spend an entire afternoon at the San Diego airport McDonald’s.

7. Checked into the hotel.  Ernesto was waiting for us at the front desk with room assignments and keys already done, labeled, and ready to be handed out.  Ernesto is now my BFF.

8. Last night we went to Mission Beach and Belmont Park, which is right on the ocean.  There were some fair-type rides with plenty of places to eat and hangout.  It feels very “SoCal” there.  We got there just in time to see the sunset, it was great.

So far so good.  Pray for us as we travel from San Diego to Ensenada today.  Tonight we’ll meet the families that we’re going to build homes for, which is exciting.  Pray also that God will draw those families to Himself over the course of this week.  And keep praying for our students… this is an incredible bunch and I’m certain that God is going to use them greatly this week.

For His Fame, Brandon.

Dirty Jobs in a Dirty Place

I went to the bathroom standing right next to Mike Rowe today.  That’s right, the Dirty Jobs man himself.  It was incredible!!!

Kristen and I were standing in the A terminal of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport waiting for the rest of our group, when a very familiar face strolled past me and into the men’s room.  I said, “Kristen, I think that was Mike Rowe.”  She said, “It was Mike Rowe.” I said, “I’m going in.  Hold my bag.” And I took off it into the bathroom. That’s right, I stalked Mike Rowe into the men’s room.

And there he was using the urinal.  There was a free one right next to him, so I went for it and wedged myself between Mike and some random old dude. Standing there shoulder to shoulder with Mike I broke the cardinal dude bathroom rule, “Face forward and don’t speak.”  I had to take advantage of the chance to talk to him when he couldn’t leave.  The conversation went like this…

Me: I love your show, man.

Mike: Thanks.

Me: I’m sure you get that all the time, but maybe not at a urinal.

Mike: Yeah.

(extremely long pause)

Me: I didn’t really think through how awkward it was going to be for me to say I liked your show at a urinal.

Mike: Yep, pretty awkward.

Me: Yep.

(another extremely long pause)

Mike: So where you heading?

Me: San Diego.  How about you?

Mike: San Fransisco.

Me: Is that home?

Mike: That’s where the mail comes.

Me: (zip) It was nice to meet you.  Welp, see you later.

Mike: Yep.

Me: (in my mind) I drive a Toyota, but I’m thinking about buying a Ford.  And I’m going deep sea fishing next week with some buddies… would you do the voice-over narration for our trip?

Needless to say, our conversation was much more exciting for me than it was for him.  He was very gracious, though, and took a picture with some of our group even though I did everything possible to completely embarrass myself.  Pictures are coming soon.  Get ready to get dirty.