Just before we came to Thailand, I was asked to be girl's dean for the Education Opportunity Foundation (which you can read more about in the Bairs September Update in the Newsletter Archives). This month I have been starting training for that position.

It's a new role, and as most new roles are, it includes a steep learning curve. So, I have been thinking about two seemingly opposite ideas, that co-exist in this mission, and probably exist with any missionary endeavor). The two ideas are: past experiences are preparation for the job, and nothing really prepares you other than prayer.

As far as the first one goes, I'm thankful for the following past experiences.

  • Enjoying traveling a lot--which includes appreciating the life-skill of flexibility.
  • Playing musical instruments, including taking violin and guitar lessons (although I sure wish I had more lessons under my belt).
  • Working as a teacher's assistant, honing the love of young people and teaching skills.
  • Working as a registered nurse, which taught me scheduling and how to juggle caring for many people.
  • Being a mom and learning to nurture.

...All these life experiences seem to be useful in being a dean.

However, as the language barrier continually reminds me, these “qualifications” are not enough to get the job done. I'm praying for miracles. Since I can't talk much it makes me think more about my actions, since many times it is the missionary's character that needs no translation. God has to do it through me, and I feel quite helpless sometimes.

However, I have concluded that this tension—between using the skills I have and realizing that I can't do it of my own power—is a good thing. Using my talents is required by the Giver (see Matthew 25:14-30), but so is realizing my need to depend on Him for everything. Even Jesus, speaking from the humanity that He took upon Himself, said, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30), so surely I also need constant help from God.

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

Written on September 28th, 2012 , Mission Field

We have begun one of the most important tasks of missionary work: learning the local language! We are so excited to be starting Thai classes! Actually, there are several local languages, of which we would like to learn two, Thai and Karen. We are taking Thai language classes from a private teacher, who is coming to our place to teach us. We chose to start Thai because it is the main language, and so most interactions, like shopping, will be in Thai.

Since we have been here, the most difficult thing is not understanding everyone. I guess I didn't realize how much of my adult identity was wrapped up in reading, writing, and speaking. I feel so helpless when I listen to the people around me, even kids, and it just sounds like gibberish.

Our first lessons have a few phrases, like “sawatdee” (“hello”) and “pay nay kha (“where are you going?”)?” But the focus is on the main phonetic sounds of Thai. To be precise, we are learning to babble in Thai!

Learning to babble is actually more necessary than it would seem. Thai has several sounds that English does not. They have one vowel, for example, that is approximately in between a short “i” sound the short “u” sound. Working on that vowel has, unbelievably, made my tongue muscle sore. Then there's the “ng” sound, which we have in “-ing” words, but unlike English, “ng” can start a word. Thai not only has a “d” and a “t” sound, but also has an in between sound where your tongue hits the back of your teeth (it's also described as a non-aspirated “t”). In our lessons, our English “t” is spelled “th” and the non-aspirated sound is spelled “t”. Oh, and they don't have either of the English sounds for “th” in their language at all. Confusing, don't you think? Our Thai teacher says not to worry, just keep practicing and listening.

After we master the basic phonetic sounds, we will start to learn a few words at a time, and a few phrases at a time. Already, I get excited when I hear one word that I know from our phrases. Who knows what the Thai person is really talking about, but at least I recognized one word they said.

I feel like a baby, or toddler, trying to learn how to talk all over again. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) In this case, it seems that I need to become as a little child to help others, of Thailand, to enter into the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, the humility needed for learning a new language seems to be part of Jesus continued work in changing me to be like Him.

Written on August 26th, 2012 , Mission Field

They say that first impressions tend to be lasting impressions. But since I also realize I'm dealing with culture shock, I'm trying to explore all aspects of this problem, so I don't stay negative about it. The problem? It's the ants. It's a bit complicated to explain, so please be patient with all the background information.
First, I must mention I am so thankful that we have been provided an appartment for a "mission house"! It's actually the EOP Girl's Dean's house adjacent to the Girl's Dorm. It is big enough for our small family, especially since our children small. (In fact, I am thinking a bigger house would not be enjoyable right now, due to the ants.)
We were told that the students cleaned the house before we got here, and I can see evidence of that. However, I'm learning that it does not take long for a house in Thailand to get messy. Daily sweeping is a necessity, as well as daily washing of countertops.
Houses everywhere have dust to clean, and dirt to sweep back out of the house. Our cement floors don't hide the dust and dirt. However, that also means they are easy to clean and mop.
But then there are the bugs. I guess since it is a moist environment, it seems that we have a higher insect population than I am used to. I am thankful for intact screens in nearly every location of our house. Only the kitchen screen door has holes in it. At evening time, we keep that door shut, so the mosquitos and moths don't come in too much. Crickets sometimes sneek in, maybe when we open the doors, and occasionally I see a cockroach (usually dead). But, of course, we can't keep all the bugs out, espcially the ants, which enter through almost invisible holes. Dead bugs are found in corners of the house almost daily.
We have geckos in our house, who live in the attic, but come in through space between the ceiling and the wall. They eat up a lot of bugs, and make cute sounds; I consider them friends since they help eat moths, mosquitos, and other insect pests. I do have to clean up their tiny dung, but I can deal with that.
But the main reason to clean so fastidiously is because there are ants that eat dead bugs, food scraps, juice or milk splotches, medicine drips, and even gecko dung. Perhaps I wouldn't mind the ants if they didn't also bite us! Some of the species have a mean bite too, maybe not as bad as fire ants, but almost that bad.
The ants around the sink bite, and the ones at the computer desk do too. I squish them whenever I see them, or sweep them out of the house, but they still come every day. It seems that keeping the house clean reduces the number of ants, so if I clean a lot, we don't get bitten so much.
I recall a Bible verse about ants. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise."
(Proverbs 6:5-7) Although it's not very pleasant to think of myself as a lazy person, I appreciate that this proverb urges me to compare my work habits to those of the ants, and study how to improve. The ants come daily to eat, faithfully. I'm not used to sweeping daily, or washing dishes immediately (yes, the ants like to eat off of the dirty dishes, too); and although I am used to putting food away and washing counters after meals, in the States I could wait half an hour before getting to that if I wanted to.
So, even though part of me just hates the ants (due to their biting habit), I think the ants will be a good motivation to learn more dilgence. I'm choosing to be thankful that God gave me the "ant problem"--I know He loves me, and will make me a more diligent worker for Him through these tiny teachers.

Written on July 24th, 2012 , Mission Field

May 16, 2012
The countdown has begun for our flight to Thailand, and there is so much to do! Getting visas, packing for the flight, getting rid of extraneous possessions, moving our stuff out east and/or storing it here, and more. We are excited to be finally going!
A lot of our friends have been wondering why we are able to go, when we didn't reach our original goal of $40,000. So Daniel and I thought we'd write out the re-visited budget. Some budget items have changed as we have gotten more information on what things cost, and some things have already been paid for.

Launch Budget:
Travel: $3,358.55 for one-way tickets to Bangkok, Thailand (we opted for one-way...round trip wasn't more economical this time, and we're not sure on flight date back). Train to Chiang Mai:$57.
Non-immigrant Visas: not yet purchased, estimated at $400 (the application to allow for a full year stay has to be completed in Thailand).
Thai Language School tuition (Daniel, and maybe Tesha, will likely be taking this course in Chiang Mai twice a week, to learn the language). $812.50 per person, so up to $1,625 per year needed.
Moving to WV/Storing belongings: Estimated at $2000-$4500.
Cell-Phone Disconnect Fee: $300 estimated.
Totals: $7,057.95 to $10,370.45.

Monthly Budget:
Tithe/Offerings (dependent on income): $170-$364.
Daniel and Tesha's Student Loans: $250 (current low-income payments) to $420 (standard payments).
Flight Tickets Savings: $350-$700.
Visas/Border Crossing Expenses: estimated $30-$250.
Diapers/Baby Care: $100-$150.
Food: $120-$240.
Emergency/Other: $100-$300.
Totals: $1,120-$2,424.

Already Covered:
Fundraising Trip: about $750
Dental Work: $250
Vaccinations: $140
Passports: about $210
Vehicle: We believe this is covered (estimated to be $16,000-$20,000 to buy a car in Thailand), since we have been offered a place to stay within only a few hundred yards of the All-Asia TV studio, and since we are told we can schedule the use of a truck (which I gather may belong to the Educational Opportunity Foundation which Tesha will be working with).
Praise God for His provision on these items! And thank-you to all who have donated!

Wish List:
Mac Pro laptop, video software and a professional camera: approx. $2000 for used, to approx. $4,000 new. This would help for Daniel to be able to work while traveling in Thailand.
Window Air Conditioner unit for the house in Thailand: $300-$400 estimated. This would be desired, not for temperature control, but for humidity control, as the humidity can produce black mildew and mold in the houses in Thailand.
Maybe Daniel will need a motor scooter for light travel.
Our Student Loan Payoff: If anyone is impressed to pay off our student loans, our combined total is around $40,000.

A big “Thank-you!” to all who have already given money or time or expertise to helping Thailand Gospel Media Project get started. You are very appreciated!

Written on May 17th, 2012 , Pre Launch

After five weeks of travel, presenting our project in seven churches and visiting family, we were glad to be back in our own beds. We are at almost 10% of our launch goal and we have over 10% of our monthly support (that we know of). It has been a week and a half since we returned, and we are still catching up on sleep. Once we got home, we caught fevers one after the other that thankfully lasted less than 48 hours each.

A prayer that was on my mind before our trip and during our trip was that out little ones would not be over taxed from hours in the car, and also that our car would hold up for the 4500 miles of travel. God blessed, and in other ways too, in that five weeks of travel we only had to buy three nights of hotel rooms. Gifts received before our trip also kept the monthly bills paid while we were away, too.

On our trip we spent one week at the JFA - MissionTV studio in McDonald, TN, where I gained some training in studio production and video editing. During that time we discussed the issues we would face in Thailand and we decided that it would be best to seek the Educational Visa and learn the Thai language. This is definitely important for missionaries and specifically so for our project in that we will be seeking native language speakers to put in front of the camera; speaking Thai will be necessary for networking, plus we will need to know what they are presenting. We also enjoyed spending quality time with our project administrators, Jon and Natalie Wood, and with all the GMI volunteers at the studio.

We want to thank all the churches for their hospitality and letting us present our project. We thank those that have supported us financially and we really appreciate all the prayers, too.

Written on December 20th, 2011 , Pre Launch

Here is a video update of our mission project status as of June 1st 2012.

Here is our first presentation of our mission call that was at Alvarado SDA church on October 8th.

Written on October 11th, 2011 , Pre Launch

Some are curious about our goal of $40,000 to raise for launching expenses. To some, it may not seem like a lot for a family of four compared to some other mission programs; yet others wonder why it could cost this much just to get to Thailand. Here is a simplified breakdown how we estimated this figure:

  • Travel (Round-trip* airfare; shipping of donated books, etc.; 1-year visas): $8,500 to $10,000
    *We must return to the USA within 1 year to renew our 1-year visas.
  • Pre-launch expenses: $1,750 to $9,750** $3,750
    Includes pre-launch eye, medical and dental expenses; rental/purchase of storage space for personal possessions; etc.
  • Electronic equipment: $1,750 to $4,000
    Includes computer equipment, software, camera(s), etc.
  • Education materials: $850 to $1050
    Books, software and tuition for language training; etc.
  • Vehicle expenses: $16,500 to $20,000 (we are praying that a vehicle will be available for us when we arrive.)
    With a family of four, two being toddlers, we will need a vehicle that can take car seats.
  • Miscellaneous personal items to be purchased before departure: $250 to $1200

**We are praying that someone will donate a semi trailer which should be sufficient to store our belongings and that God would provide a vehicle in Thailand for our use, thus reducing our goal from $40,000 to $20,000.

As you can see, we are now praying that we will receive a minimum of $20,000. We are also praying that funds would come more than we need so that the construction debt on the All-Asia TV Studio could be repaid and equipment for production could be purchased. We trust that the Lord will provide in one way or another for actual necessities that are not met by the time we leave.

Regarding our monthly support: Humanly speaking, we would love to have commitments for monthly support of around $2,000 per month. This would cover required annual travel to the USA to renew our 1-year visas, regular monthly expenses, etc.

We hope that we have given sufficient detail for those who are curious. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Written on July 21st, 2011 , Pre Launch

Over a year ago we received a call from God to be a part of Jesus for Asia state-side operations, but as the time approached for us to join them God redirected us to Texas, where I have been serving at Family First Radio Network for this past year. Our hearts still connected to JFA, we helped with Faith Camp 2010 (our second Faith Camp), which was a real blessing. We were not able to attend FC 2011 in person (our second child had just been born weeks before), so we were looking forward to watching online via live stream. The Sabbath before FC 2011 was to begin, we decided to watch a DVD of FC 2010, and it was then that God renewed His call and give me a vision for Thailand. So then, watching FC 2011 via live stream I was paying specific attention to the mission projects in Thailand. As Bill & Venie Osborn presented their work at the All-Asia TV Studio, I knew this was where God was calling us to serve.

About the All-Asia TV Studio: With over 66 million people in Thailand and less than .5% are Christian of any denomination, there is a great need to spread the hope and love of Jesus to the Thai people. The All-Asia TV Studio was designed to allow local language presenters to record (and someday air on satellite TV) evangelistic content in the local languages of the regions throughout southeast Asia.

There will be opportunities for Tesha to serve in Thailand, too, not only as a godly mother to our two children, but educating and training the people in health principles as well as caring for those who are sick. Tesha has her RN BSN licence and worked as a med-surge nurse for some years, and she has been keeping her license updated even though she has chosen to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. As it happens, the All-Asia TV Studio is right beside a medical training center run by our church, and the Chang Mai Adventist Academy is near by too.

How you can help: Now we are inviting you to pray with us that, if it is His will, the Lord will provide the funds for us to move to Thailand to work there for perhaps for the next two or three years or more. If funds are available in time, we hope to leave for Thailand around December 7. That means a lot needs to happen quickly! We are praying that the Lord will provide $40,000 for launching expenses by December 31, and we would like to have at least half of this by December 1. We would also like to raise commitments totaling $2,000 per month for support for our family over the years following.

Most of all, we solicit your prayers for divine wisdom as we help step out in faith on this mission endeavor. Please let us know if you would like to be a prayer partner and would like to be kept informed about special prayer requests.

In closing, God does not call everyone to a work in some foreign land, but He does call us all to work for Him. We pray that God is working in your life as well, showing you how to prepare for Christ’s soon coming and how to minister to others in your own circle of influence. If you are also involved in mission work, we would love to hear from you and pray for you as well.

Sincerely,

Daniel & Tesha Bair

Written on July 17th, 2011 , Missions, Pre Launch

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