It has been a while since we have written a blog, so we will be spoiling you all with 2 blogs in a very short time frame. Please keep posted!
It has been nearly 3 months since we returned back from the UK on our 3rd Home Assignment! We also marked and celebrated several dates in June – Sarah’s Birthday, our 5th wedding anniversary and at the end of June, noted that it has now been over 4 years since we have been serving and living in Thailand! Where has the time gone!
For us coming back to the UK for Home Assignment is always bittersweet, since we really miss the ladies we work with, friends and family we have formed in Thailand and now regard Thailand as home. However it is always a joy to see family, friends and visit the Churches in the UK.
For Sarah, it was good to see her Mum, since whilst in Thailand she has been very concerned about her health. Unfortunately last year November her Mum fell and broke her hip and coupled with late stage Parkinson’s her mobility has suffered. Thank God, she looked much healthier than when we saw her last year. Her mobility is still not great, but she still has all her faculties, she loves to sing even though her voice is sometimes affected by the Parkinson’s and is still a strong prayer warrior.
We would like to say thank you to all of the Churches for your amazing hospitality, support, encouragement and prayers. It always overwhelms us to know how much support and generosity we receive.
We were warmly welcomed back to NightLight with gifts and hand written notes on our desks. It was wonderful to see all the women. While we were away 4 more women joined NightLight. However 1 of the women unfortunately left and went back to work in the sex industry, we are hoping she will return. The rise in the number of women coming forward so far this year, is amazing, since this means more women are feeling encouraged to leave the sex industry and walk in freedom. Please keep these women in your prayers, we will explain more about these women in a future blog. In the meantime please keep them in your prayers.
A wonderful miracle has happened in the bakery! Sarah and Julie (who assists in the bakery) had been praying since the end of the last year for extra help. It was very specific as to who the person needed to be, with Sarah being the only Thai speaking person in the bakery, so she had to do all of the translation. We didn’t even get round to advertising for the post, we just kept praying!
Here is what we were praying for – Job Spec:- Someone who is a Christian, a Thai national that speaks English well, someone that comes with all the skills and elements of baking and sugar crafting (since there is no time to teach a new teacher, with time taken up teaching the women and completing customer orders), someone who would be able to help Sarah with the admin and marketing, with management abilities and someone willing to accept a very low salary!
At the time our prayer request seemed like a tall order, since there are not many Thai Christians in Bangkok, many of the Thais that speak English well, generally choose to work with bigger companies that pay generous salaries. Baking and sugar crafting is still fairly new to Thailand, so to find someone with these skills was going to be hard and if they did have these skills they would probably either go to work for a top hotel or open their own business!
Well… Our God is the God of impossibilities! During July whilst we were still in the UK. A young Thai lady in her early 30’s, walked into the bakery to say that she had been living in the US for the last 15 years; she explained in excellent English that someone at her Church had told her about the work we were doing in the Freedom Bakery at NightLight. She explained that she is the only Christian in her family and has been a Christian for 6 years. She then went onto explain, she has just in the last 1-2 years made the transition from being an Accountant to training in bakery (patisserie) and sugar crafting skills and only just arrived back from the US in June to relocate to Thailand. Would we be able to use her in the bakery?…
Sarah received the information about her whilst in the the UK. Paul & Sarah begun praying about it and felt a sense of peace about it. We arranged to meet her when we got back to Thailand. After 2 lengthy interviews and happy to accept the very low salary that we could offer! The Freedom Bakery is please to introduce a new member of the team called Panita. She started on the 1st September and is already becoming a great asset in the bakery and administration. Having another Thai speaker especially a Thai national is a huge weight off Sarah’s shoulders and a great help. The women are also warming to her well.
In September the bakery successfully showcased their cakes at an an expat event. It was wonderful to see the women at the
event, interacting with the Thai visitors that were taking an interest in their spectacular cakes; with the women confidently answering their questions. This year has seen the women skills and abilities climb to a new level and as teachers we are having to assist much less. They are even now telling us how to do many of the techniques! Which is a great testimony to how God is working in the bakery.
On the 21st November, the bakery will welcome a new trainee, she will join the bakery as an apprentice. She has just recently left the sex industry and is determined to move forward with a new start. Please keep this in your prayers as we prepare to teach her, walk alongside and help her step into a transformed life
The Freedom Bakery has again this year, been nominated by Entrepreneur Now Asia in the Social Enterprise category. We have been invited to attend the award night which is due to take place on the 23rd November. Even if we don’t win an award, we know that the ladies have achieved so much and beyond.
NightLight Ladies Growing in Confidence
We had the wonderful privilege to witness recently one of the NightLight women *Niim play with the band at in the International Church we attend. The International Church has a congregation of more than 1000 people with about 50+ different nationalities (over 2 morning services). *Niim plays and leads worship at NightLight’s Church plant, which normally has a congregation of about 30! So a much lower numbers than she is used to. This was a first time experience for her playing in front of such a large number of people, but she approached it with such confidence and grace. God really used her. It made our hearts smile!
Give Thanks For:
Our time spent in the UK. It was a blessing to be with family, visit Churches we already knew and make links with new Churches.
The bakery women that coped so well on their own, whilst myself and Julie were away over the summer period.
- The women that have made the decision to leave the sex industry and come to work at NightLight.
The new Thai member of staff that God has provided for the bakery.
The Freedom Bakery successfully exhibited their work/cakes at a expat event.
The Freedom Bakery being nominated again this year, for the Entrepreneur Now Asia in the Social Enterprise category.
God giving *Niim the confidence to play in the International Church.
God’s continued guidance in the bakery. None of what has been achieved has been in our own strength. The honour and glory goes to God alone for what has been achieved so far.
Please Pray For:
The new women that have started at NightLight in the last few months. Pray that God will provide them with the strength and encouragement to move forward to step into freedom and transformation. For God to give us the abilities to walk alongside them and support them. For God to help us love them unconditionally especially when things get challenging or difficult.
The new trainee due to start in the bakery on the 21st November, pray against fear or doubt that may creep in for her and that we will be able to support and teach her to the best of our abilities.
Sarah, who has been having problems with her left foot and needs to have surgery. If all goes according to plan the surgery is due to happen on the 19th October. She will be away from work/bakery for 1 month to rest her foot. Pray for speedy healing and recovery.
Sarah’s Mum – please continue to keep her health in your prayers.
Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. – Zechariah 4:6
*Niim’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
The time has gone so quickly since we wrote our last blog, thank you for your patience. Our first Home Assignment in the UK, has also gone by in such a flash.
It was great to see our family and friends and also visit so many churches. We did about 19 speaking engagements, clocked up over 3,ooo miles visiting churches mostly in the South of England from Bristol – Norfolk and stayed in numerous houses.
We were blessed & greatly overwhelmed by the wonderful hospitality we received. It was great to see and meet up again with some churches we got to visit before we first came to Thailand, but also extra special connecting with some new churches and building some lovely friendships. We would like to say a big thank you to you all, you made us feel so loved & welcome.
It was strange coming back to the UK after being away for almost 2 years, it did take us a number of weeks to re-adjust to the British temperature, which was much cooler when we arrived in the early part of May and we had a few alien moments adjusting to the British culture again! Somehow, we both struggled to eat with a knife & fork, preferring the Thai way of using a spoon & fork! Some of you noticed this and was very accommodating to our needs.
We got to celebrate Sarah’s Mum’s 70th Birthday a few days after we arrived. We were kindly given national heritage member cards, so we managed to take the timeout on a few days, to visit the beautiful and breath taking surrounding of quite a few British national heritage manor houses. Including for our wedding anniversary visiting the Thai restaurant in Windsor where we had our first date! Topped off with seeing War Horse at the New London Theatre for Sarah’s birthday. England has some spectacular locations, scenery, theatre, manor houses and it was all made even better with the lovely weather that kicked in while we there. We really did enjoy our time in the UK.
We left the sunny isles of the UK (leaving you all basking in glorious sunshine) on Tuesday 15 July. Even though we enjoyed our time in the UK, coming back to Thailand, felt so much like home. As we stepped into our apartment the feeling of home just engulfed us, it was quite emotional.
We have come back to Thailand’s humid torrential rainy season, the large group of frogs that bellow joyfully after a heavy rainfall, Bangkok’s gridlock traffic, the howling serenade from the stray dogs at night, loud Thai voices and the consistent all day into the wee hours of the night, banging of drums from the students over at the university behind us – it is a large cacophony of sounds… but we would not have it any other way!
We have been spending the last few weeks getting back into a routine and took a much needed break before going back to work at NightLight. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit Hong Kong for 1 week; a great lively city with lots to do. With accommodation being expensive in HK, according to our budget we stayed in what can only be described as the smallest room for 2 people ever! It didn’t spoil our time though. We managed to pack lots in, even with time out at 2 beaches.
The highlight was visiting ‘Kowloon Walled City Park’ – ‘Kowloon Walled City’, where some of you might know that British born Jackie Pullinger (author of Chasing the Dragon) began her ministry, ministering to the many drug addicts, Triad gangs, homeless & prostitutes via her charity the St Stephen’s Society for many years. Many of these people & Triad gang members are now believers or Pastor’s. It was a great reminder of the work we do with NightLight and continued insight into God’s great grace and redemption for all.
On our return to work, we were warmly greeted and welcomed back with open arms. We missed the women at NightLight so much and we spent much of our first day back, catching up with many of them. Sarah also went straight back into teaching baking on her first day and was super proud to hear about the continued achievements that the baking team have been doing in her absence. It is great to be home and we are ready for the next chapter in our journey.
Next week Tuesday 12 August is Mother’s Day in Thailand, it is a day that is highly revered as it also falls on the same day as the Queen of Thailand’s Birthday. It is celebrated with a 2 day public holiday on Monday 11 August & Tuesday 12 August, giving many Thais the opportunity to go home to visit their Mother’s for an extended weekend. On Friday 8 August NightLight will be giving out gifts to the many Mother’s that work in Nana’s red light district. Please pray that the gifts will be well received and for the conversations that take place.
Please join us in:
Thanking God for –
– Our time in the UK on Home Assignment. The precious time we spent with our family & friends and the many churches we visited.
– Our safe arrival back in Thailand.
– The holiday that we had before going back to work
Please pray for –
– This next stage of our journey, as we undertake various projects & continued outreach. Paul will be starting to teach Bass lessons to the ladies in Thai, pray that he will be confident to use the language and for the women that will attend the lessons. Pray as Paul continues to do the financial reports for NightLight. Sarah will be continuing to teach baking, write grant proposals for the project and begin the process of looking for possible locations for the baking project to operate from, please pray for the baking team that their motivation to move forward with the project continues.
– For an increase in jewellery, t-shirt & flower sales, so the process of paying the women’s salaries and benefits continue.
– For Sarah’s Mum’s health – Her Mum has Parkinson’s, pray for her mobility and for the care she receives. She has recently been in hospital for physio rehabilitation and other health issues.
– For our health, strength & emotional well being.