April Update

Happy Thai New Year!

Personal Update

Hello dear friends,

Oh how I miss you all!  I hope you are enjoying this great season of snow melting in your backyard, flowers blooming, and of course, the inevitable sporadic blizzard once you thought it was finally spring.  It is HOT SEASON here in Thailand.  This week is supposedly the hottest week out of the year and Thai people celebrate it in the perfect way--a three day nationwide water fight call Songkran!  The water fight inside my community was by far, the most epic water fight I've ever been a part of!  Everyone was involved--young and old played to their heart's content. Nowhere was off limits.  The streets of Bangkok were highly dangerous to anyone wanting to stay dry.  Everyone carried a water gun with them at all times, and even traffic would stop for a quick game.  People in cars would roll down their window to shoot people walking on the street (I may or may not have spent several hours doing just this).  I had a ball to say the least!

Life is always full of surprises, especially in Bangkok!  

 

Ministry News

Kid's program 

Every Saturday continues to be jammed packed with the kind of chaos only kids can bring.  Our kids are extremely energetic and they enjoy getting as out of hand as possible.  Obviously kids will be kids wherever they are.  Despite all the chaos, many of the kids continue to show spectacular progress.  More parents have been asking Sarah and I to tutor their little ones during the week as well.  Once we finish Thai language school we hope we will be able to take more students.  It's exciting to know there is interest!
 

English Class 

March and April has brought a lot of change to our English class.  Many of our students have been in and out because it is currently their summer vacation from school.  However it's nice to see our students spending quality time with their family during their vacation time.  This past week we were excited to welcome several new students into our class.  It continues to be a good time of learning and fun!

 

Community Building

This month has shown me how much love has grown between my neighbors and I.  It has been a busy time of deepening relationships and investing in these new friendships.

I'd love to share some specific stories with you:

At one point this past month I got a pretty nasty case of lice, but because of it I realized just how much I love my neighbors.  I had no idea what to do, but the teens I hang out with knew exactly how to help.  They sat with me for hours upon hours, day after day, brushing and cleaning my hair for me.  The amount of time and resources these kids poured into me left me tearing up as we spent time together.  I realized that I count these teens as my friends.  I love how God always puts teens into my life to walk along side of (I think I'm getting the hint....minoring in youth ministry in college was a great choice)!

As much as we love the teens, sometimes Sarah and I felt lonely without friends our own age.  God saw that desire and brought us very sweet new friendships.  We have met a great group of friends who are patient enough to talk to us in our broken Thai.  One friend has been especially sweet to us.  She has a son who just turned two.  We got to celebrate his birthday by going to the zoo a few weeks ago.  They often come to our apartment to study English and hangout.  Sarah and I trade off babysitting and tutoring.  It's my favorite part of living in my community.

I didn't expect my birthday to be that special this year...I just thought it would be a normal Thursday.  Then not only did my roommate and teammates go wayout of their way to make me feel special, but my friends in my community took it to a whole new level.  Our community leaders made my favorite Thai dinner (green curry) and had a small party.  It was a sweet time of talking and laughing together.  Even all the kids came flooding over to sing happy birthday and share in birthday cake.  Later I saw that the kids had colored pictures for me and decorated my door with those pictures!  That night one little girl knocked on my door and asked me to come outside.  She was hiding a plush toy behind her back and she thrust it into my hands as she gave me a great big hug!  Once again I felt so overwhelmed by how much I love the people I live with, and felt so special because of their generosity. 

The night before the first giant celebration of Songkran we decided to get stated a little early.  What started as filling up water balloons with some of the teens turned into a massive water fight in our bathroom and kitchen.  I'm not sure who threw the first water balloon, but chaos soon ensued!  Soon we were throwing cups and buckets of water on each other.  At one point the shower-head was used as a water gun and baby powder was being dumped everywhere.  It's a tradition to take baby powder or some kind of floury powder and smear it on people's faces.  Obviously that got messy pretty quickly!  The cleanup afterward was awful, but the memories made it completely worth it!

Prayer Requests 

  • Our good friends, P'Nok and her teen daughter Naam, were in a very bad motorcycle accident last week.  They both are home from the hospital, but Naam's leg was crushed and she is in a lot of pain. Please pray for Naam's quick recovery and for peace over their family!

  • For God to intervene on behalf of those suffering through injustices in Thailand such as poverty, political oppression, trafficking, spiritual oppression, and social oppression.  
  • Safety and peace in Bangkok. 
  • Blessings over the people in my community, especially the children and elderly.
  • For continued open doors, and healthy friendships.
  • That every person we interact with will feel the love of Christ.
  • That God continues to give us direction on how to serve our community best.
  • A deepening sense of God's presence in our community.
  • Health, especially now that it's hot season.
  • Positive language learning abilities for myself and my team.

Special Need/Prayer Request

My community leader and her husband have recently begun to receive counseling due to deep emotional turmoil individually and within the family.  Please pray for them as they endure this difficult journey of reconciliation and reflection.  Please pray that this counseling strengthens them as individuals, as partners, and as parents.  

Thus far, the counseling has seemed to be beneficial and the family desires to continue.  As of now the husband and wife are receiving individual counseling, but their eventual goal is to receive marital and family counseling.  New Counseling Services in Bangkok has given a very low rate of approx. $15 a session. They have asked us to seek funding, as the counselor feels that even suggesting that this family try to help pay may be too stressful. The funding will be a determining factor for them--whether or not they can continue to receive counseling, especially since their income is only about $200 a month. 

If anyone knows of any funding sources or would personally like to partner with us to help cover the cost or a portion of the cost, please email me at natalie.mastroni@gmail.com.

Above all, please keep this family in your prayers for healing and peace.