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Prior to coming to Chiang Mai, all of what I knew of Thailand was from a western perspective. “The King and I” (which is outlawed in the country), amazingly spicy cuisine and the red light district was all the information I knew about the country. Over the past week with the help of new missionary friends and the Thai nationals I have met, my knowledge has expanded and I have learned a few things. betsyalex_blog_alexelephant

Thai people are very polite and when thanking or greeting someone hold their hands together and say “Sawadee kap” (welcome) or “Capcuhn kap” (thank you). While there are thriving cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, most of Thailand is rural.

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The markets, and especially Chiang Mai’s famous night market, are open every night are filled with fresh food, colorful textiles and flavorful spices for you to purchase. The vendors are very warm and welcoming. My favorite food while in Thailand was a local northern Thai noodle dish. Pronounced  “khow soi”, this spicy coconut milk with red curry and noodles served with crunchy noodles on top was the one of the best things I have ever eaten.

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The public transportation is very similar to the Philippines, though they drive on the left. A tricycle here in Thailand is called a “tuk tuk”. The jeepney here is called a “songtaw”. Unlike a jeepney, you can ask a songtaw driver to go to a specific place verses the specific route like the jeepneys travel.

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While the Buddhist temples are architecturally stunning and ornate, they also break my heart over the deception and veil that is over the eyes of those who worship these idols. Most hotels and even the airport have places where you could choose to pray to these buddhist false deities.

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AGMF Country Moderator Sam Bowdain told us about missionary Daniel McGilvary. This man and his epic beard that would put any hipster to shame, would travel in a full suit in 100 degree weather to evangelize the Thai and Laos people. Many years after his death, there are still churches in Laos and Thailand from the descendants of the disciples of the original churches he planted in the 1800’s.

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The Asia Pacific meeting was a great time to sing in worship to Jesus together with our fellow missionaries. Former American Idol Contestant Phil Stacey and students from SAGU led our times of praise.

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We launched our region's new vision, mission and values and the “SpendYourself” marketing campaign. It was great to see and hear our coworkers’ response to the new brand. The video that the LyonTamer Productions team created was premiered with much applause and missionary after missionary were excited to use it to explain how they are “spending themselves” in Asia Pacific. Watch this video to see if God is challenging you to “spend yourself” in Asia Pacific.

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AGWM executive team members Greg Mundis and Jeff Hartensfeld challenged us how we could spend ourselves to reach the unreached and forgotten and have them no longer be without a relationship with Jesus.

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In addition to connecting with missionaries from all over Asia Pacific, we had a time to connect and glean from our coworkers from all over the Philippines. We also had a time to pray for each other during our meetings.

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We asked a lot of questions and listened to their wisdom, trials and victories as they have served over the years. We pray we can be the next part of what God is doing in Asia Pacific and the Philippines as we grab the baton and run our race of faith to reach the unreached and forgotten.

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After learning all that I have this week in Chiang Mai, I am excited to put into practice and challenged to see how the Lord will stretch me in Asia Pacific. Watch this video to see how you can continue to pray for Betsy and I as we continue along our journey.

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