It is now Tuesday evening, the 8th of February 2005 here in swelteringly hot Buriram, Thailand. Of all the things on our wish list, hot water heaters have now moved to the lowest echelon. Whew! It is scorchingy hot and it's only early February--- and March, April and May aren't even here yet. It's gonna be a hot four months ahead.
I guess that room air conditioners for at least two of the bedrooms should move to the top of the priority list. I will pray for that fervently.
We have been quite busy as of late--- with a lot of activity at the university, at home and at the church. In the meantime, we have had only one inquiry from someone indicating that they are willing to help us with part of the funds to secure the old mazda station wagon car for the use of our pastor, I mentioned earlier. The pastor has been using this car for the past month now on loan from his friend and it is beginning to show all kinds of problems, lights, fuel pump, radiator, so perhaps it is a good thing we haven't made arrangements yet to buy it. I think we will look around a little bit more. Better safe than sorry. The single email reply was from our dear friend Cordella in Canada. She will be speaking with the mission committee at her congregation to see if they can help to put together some of the funds needed to purchase a car. Thanks so much Cordella for making this effort.
Stephanie Wheeler arrived as scheduled on the 23rd of January. I picked her up at the Buriram airport facility, located 38 kilometers north of the city at 6:30 p.m., took her to the house to shower and change clothes. After eating a quick dinner she had to repack her bag for a gruelling 8 hour bus ride to the mountainous province of Loei. Didn't seem to phase her one bit. She had arrived in Thailand only that morning from Cambodia where she had been part of a youth ministry team in Phnom Phen for the previous month. She loved the adventure. She and Belinda Trumble, our one other Aussie volunteer, joined in participating in a three day University sponsored English encampment at Phu Rua National Forest, fairly close to the Laotian border. Two hundred students, 12 teachers, 4 buses and a mini-van--- what a convoy we made crossing northeast Thailand. Loud music blairing on the karaoke machine til 3:30 a.m. I had to finally insist that the bus driver turn it off--- it was deafening and I needed my sleep.
The weather was ideal--- cool during the day and chilly at night. We left on Sunday night at 11 p.m. and arrived the next morning at the camp site at the agro-center near Phu Rua. We were completely surrounded by mountains that were simply majestic! Camp activities were fun, invigorating and we walked up and down mountains. I walked 5 to 6 kms per day, mostly uphill but it helped me sleep good at night. On the floor, on a mat, with a quilt and pillow, with a rat biting the wood near my head. But no coffee was available to drink for nearly three days. I was getting desperate until Wednesday morning when I finally came across a coffee stand. 2 cups, please! Unfortunately Stephanie's visit has come to an end--- she could only stay two weeks so she left last night. We bid her "bon voyage" once again at Buriram airport. She is a darling and we do hope she comes back again sometime.
We have some potential activity stirring in America and in Australia at present. Some concerned and caring folks in Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, California, Arizona, Mississippi and Texas as well as in Camden/Sydney Australia --- have indicated their desire to help us out some here--- each is still in the early planning stages, no definitive word yet but we are hopeful.
One new donor has been added to the list. Thank you Dan C. for the help this month. Carol McCreanor, from the American Bank of Texas is trying to arrange a bankwide appeal for support for this center. She is a member of our friend Pastor Terry Spark's church in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
Another group from Florida International Unversity is considering a fund-raising activity for us as well. Last year they helped raise over 1,500 dollars for an orphanage in Haiti. Still no confirmation as of yet that we are the ones they will choose to help. In their last letter they told us that other institutions and centers are being considered as well. Teddies on a Mission. org from Brisbane also contacted us for information about our center but since the first couple of emails they have also been silent.
Another family contacted us (The Trina Lewis family from Pennsylvania) and asked if we were interested in distributing teddy bears they had gathered for kids here in Thailand. We answered with a resounding "yes." We have now heard from them this past week and they are busy readying more than 2,000 teddy bears for shipment to Thailand. Her son and nephew began the idea and it spread quickly at their high school. It seems that the spirit of compassion has taken on a new meaning everywhere. God bless you all. We will make all the necessary arrangements to divide and deliver this precious cargo to so many deserving children and the various children's centers and orphanages here in Thailand. Now we have also heard from Carla Winston and her two chilren Kye and Shon in Southern California who want to send some specially prepared bears as well.
We did receive a wonderful first-time surprise package packed with toys today---3 lovely stuffed bears, a stuffed purple dinosaur, an ernie puppet, a big plastic dump truck, some building blocks, hanging plastic monkeys, three small cars with wobble drivers and three videos--- bananas in pajamas, tele-tubbies, and hoolie doolies or something like that---all really neat stuff indeed! from the (Leah) Pearse family from Gwynneville, New South Wales, Australia. We loved the stuff, kids are elated. Thanks so much!!!! What a wonderful treat for the younger kids and this mom and dad are grateful that the kids are on such a high road at the moment.
Here in this district of Buriram province there is a recently opened troubled boy's facility that now has 91 boys aged 6-18 in residence. These were kids who got in trouble for the first time and who were sent to this new facility in Buriram province for rehabilitation in lieu of incarceration at a refrom school setting. The welfare department has asked us to do follow-up visits there and see if we can provide toys for the younger children. We will do our best to help them. We have also been asked if we can help through the welfare department the children and families that lost loved ones in the tsunami--- all 110 families. 33 children in this province alone lost both parents and they are prospective candidates for placement at TreeHouse.
We are presently capable of accepting between 7 and 10 more children, depending on their gender and ages. We have basically run out of space for boys. Nonetheless it does give us hope that we can do a whole lot more to demonstrate Christian love, care and concern in taking care of these children, who are most assuredly, the least of His brethren. On a visit to one school the Ban Muang Gaa Phittayyakhom (secondary School) we placed 1,000 new testmants. We spoke with the director there who informed us that there are many children in that viillage who need help to stay in school. Many orphans also live in that rural village which is some 40 kilometers from Buriram City. Miss Sangjan informed me that she will investigate the possibility of referring some of these children to us for services.
We are looking around at some large tracts of land (30-40 rai in size, 2.5 rai equals one acre) on which to build a much larger facility--- to include a school for 300 kids (aged 4 -18, to include kids from grades kindergarten through grade 12) and housing to accommodate around 240 kids or more as well as construct accommodations on site for some 30 staff--- teachers, caregivers, and facilities support staff. If we can get this project up and running, it could make a major impact on evangelization efforts here in northeast Thailand. Pastor Garry from Family Life Centre in Camden is scheduled to meet with a group of businessmen called the global arms partners to see if they wish to become involved in this project here. He has also made contacts with Compassion in Australia and the Rotary Club to find out if they might be interested in helping. We are focusing on investigating areas located within a radius of 20 kilometers distance outside of the city where land prices are not so steep. We can buy more than 30 times the amount of land we already possess (less than 1 rai) for the same price as we paid originally for this first parcel of land we are on because we are located inside the city limits. By the way, and for your information, a rai is 1,600 square meters in size (40 meters long by forty meters wide, an acre measures 4,000 square meters)
Any future expansion will take place where land is much more reasonably priced as long as we can easily access to the area by road and if power transmisson lines and a reliable water source of supply are available to support the project. Still, farm land has to be raised and land-filled to a depth of at least a half a meter higher if it's in rice producing areas to avoid innudation during rainy season. That can be a bit costly as well. Each 4 cubic meters of landfill (one 6 wheel-truckload 4 cubic meters) costs 170 baht (about $4.50 US dollars per load), and it takes an average of 500 truckloads per acre to bring the land up to half-meter, or 1,000 truckloads to raise it to a a level of one meter.
Final exams begin at the university next week and I have seven classes to prepare final exams for. Since I teach drama classes to second year college students ---3 groups of them we have scheduled multiple rehersals before we do stage production in front of cameras and audiences. The three groups of English for hotel classes that I teach have to have a major exam as well, so I must prepare audio-tapes, listening test questions and answer sheets for these two hour exams. Oral exams are scheduled for 50 more students that I have in on-the-job-training courses for tourism and hotel this Friday. On Saturday morning, 1,467 elementary and secondary school students will also be testing at the university for determining their skills in English language proficiency so I have to be present to administer these exams as well. At least we have some seniors from the English program university students who will take care of the grading.
Meanwhile, at the TreeHouse, the kids are all fine, some have the usual colds, and sniffles, bumps and bruises. Coco Eileen, our two year old charge, is talking more than ever. We purchased some more children's DVD cartoon movies to add to the growing collection of suitable entertainment. Garfield, the Incredibles, King David, Shark Tales etc. The movie Garfield was a sensation at our house--- Fil, one of the delightful six year old twins, thought the character was named "Gar-Fil" and so that is what he is currently calling himself. Sam is still Ultraman, Fern is currently Fire-Starter. All superheroes are welcome at this house.
Tawnee is progressing well in school. So is Somsak, Mon and Meow. Thienchai is about to begin computer maintenance technician training at the university. He will be unpaid for this but will be developing some critical skills which he will be able to use to support himself in a computer career. He is meanwhile working evenings as a waiter at the local restaurant Au Ueng and getting some tips. Pak continues to take care of the heavy duty stuff at the center as he has been unsuccessful in lnandng a fulltime job yet.
Cartoon is doing her best to keep up with all the work at the center and continue to take classes at the weekend alternative school center toward her high school diploma. She does a lot of housework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and childcare and is the greatest help we have ever had. When we have volunteers on site they contribute a lot to relieving Cartoon of all these burdens. Belinda does most all of our gardening as well as loking after the kids and teaching them, helping me teach drama classes and even doing voice-taping of dialogues for my drama and hotel classes. Phongsri wrote an appeal letter to the government to try to get some financial support for school costs on behalf of Cartoon's brother Nad (aged 8) and her sister Nid (age 13). Surprisingly, the government response was positive. We then set up two accounts, one for each and the government has authorized the sum of 6,000 baht to apply towards their school costs and is expected to deposit the money directly to these accounts. ( in the amount of 3,000 baht each).
Our other who reside part-time and live with families during the week: Peauk, aged 13, is progressing nicely at school and with us practically every weekend. She will come to live with us full time beginning at the end of the school term in March. So will Giyat, whose name means "glory". He is also thirteen years of age and from the same village as Peauk. He is also her cousin. He is currently in grade 5. His grandmother, Yai Sawat, is well known to us and she has been asking for us to take him in for ther past several weeks. We will make space for him. Piyanut, aged 17, is on target in school as well.
We are adding Noah and Ayjang as well, ages 4 and 9, two boys, the sons of Muay, one of our dearest friends from Korat to the list of kids to get school assistance next term. Muay Wiset is the daughter of one the first Christian pastors who minstered for forty years in Korat province. Her father died a number of years ago and Muay's husband abandoned her and their two boys a couple of years ago for someone else. Unfortunately, this result is quite common in Thailand where Thai men relinquish their responsibilities in search of new adventures and conquests. Over the years Muay has helped us whenever she gets up to Buriram by cooking the most delicious meals for the family here at TreeHouse. She also lives with her aged mother and tries to keep everything going in that household as well. Please pray for her and that the Lord will help to meet all her needs according to His riches in glory.
Phongsri stays busy keeping up with directing the day to day activities at TreeHouse, arranging food purchases, doctor visits, schooling efforts and church business, as well as attending frequent officially called meetings concerning center activities and meeting welfare department requirements.
More news later when I can get some time to sit down and compose my thoughts. Once again to each of you who have answered the call, thanks for your interest in and the prayer and financial support, as wewll as for the great kids' stuff you all keep sending to keep this ministry alive and well.
His willing servant in Buriram Thailand, Roger Walker, Phongsri and the gang at TreeHouse
Here at TreeHouse my wife Phongsri and I are ready to build another building to take in kids but that could take some time and a lot of money which we do not have. We would invite anyone interested in serving the needs of these children to come out and help us.
We urgently need your help! We need potential and dedicated donors to consistently support the work here. We need another car to be used by both the pastor and my wife to do visitations and minister to the flock at Hope Church and all the necessary stuff to reach the local people here for Jesus. Please remember to pray for us regularly and help financially us if you can.
Issue Number 43; Sunday 23 January 2005,
Urgently needed: Your help to help with caring for orphans created by tsunami relief. We now have three email addresses available: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Go to previous newsletters to get details on how you can help these families.
Meanwhile, we expect an additional 10 children some time in ther near future. The wonderful folks at the Camden Life Center Church in Sydney Australia are offering to help sponsor some more kids in the villages in the outlying districts as well as helping out here. We can assist kids in the various villages who help look after their aging grandparents and still keep themselves in school. We can cover the school expenses---tuition, books, uniforms and meals for these children; we will contiue to support them as best we can until they graduate from high school--- to keep them from dropping out of school. It saves kids from being forced to go into prostitution to earn money to help their desperate families. Kids often feel compelled to do whatever it takes to support their families and that is why we have nearly 2 million young prostitutes in Thailand and a substantially high AIDS/HIV rate. Some of them are there by choice, but many others are compelled to do so.
We are praying to secure a big piece of land outside the city area about 15 kilometers from TreeHouse to start a new facility and hope to plan a future school for poor kids to attend who might not otherwise get the chance to continue their education or prepare for their future. Still in the dream vision stages, and undergoing lots of prayer for guidance at this point however.
We have already added two kids this past month: Peauk (aged 13) and Piyanut (aged 17) We are awaiting others. On Thursday, January 20th, Phongsri, the pastor Ajarn Pastor Sawat and I attended a Welfare Department held at the Phanom Phiman Hotel located o our university campus grounds meeting to discuss helping some additional children in need of assistance. The government has recently opened a center in Buriram, about 12 kilometers from us here at TreeHouse, near the Kradong Forest Sanctuary -- for boys who have been in trouble with the law--- and now 91 boys have been placed there so far. Some of the children there are as young as six years old, the oldest 18. The facility has no toys available for the kids. They asked us if we could help secure some things for kids and to come visit the facility and visit the boys as well. Meanwhile, we have also been contacted by a family in Pennsylvania who are planning to send teddy bears to tsunami victims in the south. They had a toy drive at the school where her son and nephew attended and by the end of one week had accumulated 1,000 stuffed animals which they are planning to ship to Thailand to be divided among the other orphanages in Thailand in need of toys for their children. We have reqested some toys be sent here to be distributed to the children at the detention center home here and through the welfare department to the kids in the 110 families from Buriram province who lost loved ones in the tsunami last month.
We are currently considering buying a ten-year old light blue mazda small truck/pickup car with loads of kilometers (160,000 + or maybe 260,000+) on it to help in ministry. Ajarn Pastor Sawat's car is ready for the bone heap at this point. His old clunker has got to be 20 years old, has no bumpers, tires that are bald, engine that constantly misfires, smoke belching from the exhaust pipes, and no back windows for the second pasenger seat area. Although the car will be in Phongsri's name it will be primarily used by the pastor to minister in the community. Our area is quite large and we have cell groups in six locations and all need weekly pastoral visits. The car costs 50,000 baht (divide that number by 37 baht per dollar US and it comes out to around 1300 US dollars, or in aussie dollars to about 2,000). The presnt single owner of the vehicle is a member of the church in Korat, a teacher, and is willing to take the money in installments over time without interest. We would have to pay 10,000 baht down and carry the balance for 20 months at 2,000 baht per month. We would, however, much prefer to pay it off quickly. We still have not regained any of the funds we used up to pay off Cartoon's parents' indebtedness which guaranteed her stay here for the next two years. She continues to go to school on the weekends and helps look after the kids, cleans around the house, does laundry and prepares three delcious meals each day at the Center.
Meanwhile Belinda Trumble, our volunteer from Sydney, is doing her utmost to help out. What a godsend she is. She gardens, paints, cleans, looks after kids, teaches the kids English, plays games, is learning how to cook Thai, helped to make a couple of audio-tapes for students studying with me at the university and assists me in teaching the drama classes. She also did one English camp this past week at an elementary school in Lamplaimat District and is going on a trip to participate in another English camp tonight along with 12 more teachers, and our second volunteer, Stephanie Wheeler who will be arriving tonight at seven o'clock only to be back on a bus at 8:30 p.m. for the three day camp to be held at Loei. 216 second year english major (Buriram Rajabhat University) students going in a four bus convoy---oh, are we ever gonna be busy! Stephanie Wheeler also from Sydney Australia is planning to be with us through February 6th--- and we do welcome her, straight off a mission to Cambodia, she just arrived in Bangkok this morning from Cambodia and will be in Buriram this evening and is going with us to camp!
Here at TreeHouse my wife Phongsri and I are ready to build another building to take in kids but that could take some time and a lot of money which we do not have. We would invite anyone interested in serving the needs of these children to come out and help us.
We urgently need your help! We need potential and dedicated donors to consistently support the work here. We need another car to be used by both the pastor and my wife to do visitations and minister to the flock at Hope Church and all the necessary stuff to reach the local people here for Jesus. Please remember to pray for us regularly and help financially us if you can. Till later, saints!
For His Highest Glory,
Roger Walker and the TreeHouse gang
From Newletter Issue Number 42: January 7,2005
Time is of essence. We have so much to say yet not enough time to write and let everyone know what is happening out this way. By now the entire world has heard of the devastation caused by the 26th of December tsunami wave that struck 12 countries of Southeast Asia. We too, have been affected. Here is the latest from us:
Further updates thought you might be able to use information.
I checked our book listing orphanages in Thailand, there is only one in Phuket called "Foehn Foo Laa Pattana Dek" a private organization that lists itself as a group which helps people in the city of Phuket and families who need assistance.
Their address is:
6 Tannon Chumporn
Tambon Talat Yai
Changwat Phuket Thailand
telephone in Thailand is 07-5224385 (dial 001-66 first).
We called them and they said all aid must be approved through the government.
Got back from meeting with Mrs. Piyanat Sangiamsak-Thompson on Wednesday morning, Mrs. Nat is the welfare assistant director for Buriram. She has provided the following information:
To coordinate delivery for Phuket send aid shipment through welfare department in Phuket.
Their Address is as follows:
Salagarn Changwat Phuket
Amphur Muang Changwat Phuket 83000 Thailand
Telephone number is 07-621-2726 Fax 07-621-0415
Mrs. Nat also told me that 110 families have lost loved ones from here in Buriram Province. They expect more losses but these all have been officially presented through welfare department.
Three districts in Buriram province suffered a total of 110 casualties. Breakdown of casualties from Buriram province so far are as follows:
Chamni dead: 13, injured 14, lost and presumed dead 48 (total 75) Nonsuan: dead: 4, injured 23, lost 7, Nang Rong: dead: 1. Mrs. Nat is trying to determine surviving family members status. Probably many children will be orphaned as a result. Usually both parents go to do construction work and then leave their children with grandparents and in-laws. Nat said these families will be needing help. She has to visit and find out the status on each family, do a breakdown of surviving members, economic situation and needs, short and longterm.
Here is her address and number if you wish to contact her directly. Nat graduated with her Masters in Psycholgy from Australia and is married to an Australian who teaches here in Buriram. He is from McClain, New South Wales. His mother works for the Salvation Army in McClain. Telephone Thailand 66-44-611-050 and/or 6644-614481, private mobile number 06-865-8655.
Nat said they needed to get help to the families here and if you wish to do so you can send to:
Office of Social Development and Human Security,
Welfare department Changwat Buriram, Tanon Jira Road, Amphur Muang Buriram 31000 Thailand.
Her email address (official) is
The welfare department has an account to be used for helping Buriram victims. Bank Account Info:
The Krungthai Bank, Buriram Branch, account Name: Buriram Provincial Office of Social Delvelopment and Human Security, account number 308-1-06436-8.
Mrs. Nat told us they would send receipt copy to those who send funds.
The following news story appeared in the San Angelo (Texas, USA) Standard Times Newspaper recently
Disaster extends orphans' trustee
By Rick Smith
January 2, 2005
The terrible news from disaster-ravaged Southern Asia might sound like a faraway disaster movie to many of us.
But for a former San Angeloan living in Buri Ram, Thailand, the rescue effort means continuing a mission he began a long time ago.
''The mood everywhere is grim,'' Roger Walker said in an e-mail interview last week. ''So many people are depressed but have been marshaled to donate clothes, food, money and blood. Communication lines are a bit difficult but still operational.''
A former member of the Tree of Life church in San Angelo, Roger oversees the Isaan region of northeastern Thailand for the Gideon's International ministry. He visits schools and distributes New Testaments.
Roger and his wife, Phongsri, also operate Tree of Life House Christian Children's Center and Orphanage about 621 miles from the area of Thailand hit by the tsunami.
''If you were to look at a map of Thailand, it resembles an elephant's head,'' Roger said. ''The long peninsula looks like a trunk, and we are located in the ear region.''
The area where he lives is about 1,000 feet above sea level - well out of flood range.
That doesn't mean he hasn't felt the horror of the disaster.
Roger has been an overseas missionary since 1988. He supports his family by teaching drama and English at the local university, the Rajabhat Institute of Buri Ram. He also assists in the university's field training program for tourism and hotels.
''That's why I am so concerned, as so many of my graduated students are posted in the most devastated areas with the highest concentrations of tourists,'' he said.
The fallout from the disaster will also have a direct effect on the orphanage he and his wife have operated since 1998. They are making plans to bring 10 children orphaned by the storm to their shelter.
He said officials in the disaster-affected area had announced there was no place to send the children. A Christian group in Australia is trying to raise funds to transport the children to the orphanage, he said.
Roger said rescuing the storm-orphaned children will fill the shelter to its capacity - 26 children.
''That is about all the space we have available,'' he said. ''We could build another building, but that would take some effort. We have the land to do so, and our plan all along is to take in or support 100 kids or more.''
Roger said he rarely has a chance to return to the states for visits. He has no plans to move back. He and his wife plan to continue their missionary work and orphanage in Thailand.
''Ministry to orphaned and abandoned children is our heart's desire,'' he said.
Aside from family and friends, what does he miss most about Texas?
''I do miss Roy Zesch's restaurants, especially the barbecue sandwiches,'' he said. ''Doing without American products is a way of life for us here, but once in awhile someone sends us salsa, tortillas and refried beans to keep me ever-Texan.''
End of news story
From Newsletter Issue Number 41: December 17, 2004
Dearest Saints in the Lord,
His highest greetings at this the holiest time of the year
What a series of magnificent blessings we have been experiencing lately!!! Both with sisters Sheryl and April Sweet sent here to help from Texas (our Texas gals hail from Red Oak, Texas), along with a hotel chock-full of 23 youthful and God-sent volunteers from Sydney and Canberra Australia who were here from December 2nd through the 11th, led by our dear friend and mentor Pastor Garry Bradford.
One of the Sydney Team will rejoin us on December 23rd to become part of our volunteer force. Her name is Belinda Trumble, a third year university student from Sydney. Belinda plans to remain with us here at TreeHouse for about six months. Welcome to the Team! Stephanie Wheeler, another volunteer from the Sydney Australia area will come join us at TreeHouse from January 23rd to February 7th 2005. Other visitors expected include the Pereira's (Adrian, Susan, along with their children Jonathan, Joanna, and perhaps their older children Jason and Julian) from Dubai, UAE, Patrick McMurtray and his 18 year old son Benjamin will be with us also for a few days during the extended Christmas season from Jackson Mississippi, USA and Heidi Gesche, who is working in Japan at the present wrote and said she planned to come spend some of the holiday time with us also. We are awaiting the arrival of Salina Salter from Abbotsford, Vancouver British Columbia, Canada who will be stopping by for her third time on her way back to photography school in Cairns Australia. She plans to pop in around January 6th or so and stay a few days. We all just love Salina!!
Our special needs at this time are considerably fewer this month than in the previous months, --- thanks to the overwhelming help and generous financial and labor support of these 23 wonderful volunteers from Sydney and Canberra Australia from The Camden Life Center Church.
We encountered a seriously emotional crisis situation during the evening of Monday the 13th when were were initially forced to bid a tearful goodbye to Cartoon, our beloved 17 year old, as her father has returned to their home in Ban Yang and insisted that Cartoon return with him to Chonburi Province to assist the family in doing "construction work." We tried desperately to convince the family that Cartoon needed to stay with us and complete her high school education and we offered to pay off the balance of the family's outstanding debts although the amount of around 900 dollars (33,000 baht) equaled more than 90 percent of our entire accumulated savings which we had been slowly accumulating in order to meet government requirements to have a minumum of 200,000 baht in a frozen account to guarantee all future bills be repaid from the Center. Nonetheless, without hesitation, we offered to pay off her parent's indebtedness involving an overdue and unauthorized loan on a piece of property belonging to her aunt. Phong had withdrawn this amount earlier that day from our account for this purpose.
The obstinate father initially refused and claimed he wanted to pay off the debt himself, of course utilizing the "resources" of his daughter. Then his wife added that they also wanted to build a house and they needed her to work to make it happen. Previously this family had sold Cartoon into prostitution at the age of thirteen in order to provide them an income and to support their gambling and drinking problems. Fortunately, she was rescued by the members of Cup of Cold Water Ministries last year (the Larson's of Aurora Illinois and Alan Casper, a dedicated Teacher and servant of the Lord from a Christian School in East Texas) and through our connections with them we took her in.
Cartoon has grown so much in the Lord since that time. She is and always will be a part of this extended family. Our hearts were truly breaking over this matter so we emailed many of you to join us in asking the Lord for a quick solution to the problem and to pray a hedge of protection around her so she wouldn't be forced back into prostitution to gratify these materialistic demands of her father and mother.
The effect of the prayer was dramatic and quick, as we had delivered Cartoon to her village on Monday night, only to be able to go back to retrieve her on Tuesday night as Cartoon's father relented at the last possible moment and finally accepted our offer before he headed back by train to Chonburi alone. We arrived at their house where we paid off the her parent's loan in full in front of a number of witnesses and were given an agreement that Cartoon would be able to remain with us here at Tree for the next two years so she could complete her high school education. Now we are temporarily "broke" as we had to literally clean out our only savings to pay off her parents debts, which we gladly did in order to protect her from such serious consequences. But tell me, what father or mother wouldn't do everything to protect his or her own child from such a fate? Although we currently have no money at all in our account and that could mean a slender Christmas as far as providing gifts for the children are concerned, the spirit of Christmas is the love of Jesus Christ for his least of the brethren and that is a price we are willing to pay! Cartoon is back with us and we are rejoicing. Thank you one and all for praying for the work of the ministry here in Buriram.
Some minor work still remains to be done at the Center but nowhere near what we had been needing previously.
Only these projects remain: 1) To repair the roof to prevent further leaking (serious leaks occurred during the past rainy season) 4,500 baht (112.50 US Dollars).
2) We also need to see about doing a roof extension over the patio area located at the front of the house and over the driveway area in order to reduce the levels of reflected heat at the front of the house 16,000 baht (400 US Dollars).
3) We still need to replace the ceiling tiles in the girl's dormitory area (due to rain damage this past rainy season) which will take 10 boxes of tiles at a cost of 140 baht per box, total: 1,400 baht (35.00 dollars US).
The re-sodding of grass on the sports field on the adjacent playgrounds area began on Saturday the 18th of December after locally hired workers spent the day of the 17th clearing the area for planting, spreading the sand and fertilizer on the ground before applying the squares of grass so it took only two days to complete this part of the job (we initially planted 400 square meters of "yah naa noie" grass). After it was planted we measured off an additional 250 meters which still needs to be sodded at a later date (an additional 11,750 baht is still needed to pay for this ---this amount includes the cost of purchasing the grass, sand, fertilizer and covering the cost of labor for installation ( altogether the sum of all of it is 47 baht per square meter which equates to $1.15 cents USD per square meter) the wonderful group of young people, ranging from age 12 to 40 something(?) from Sydney assumed the cost of this initial re-sodding project after clearing the land and purchasing all the necessary items for surfacing. Both a front-end loader and a bladed tractor and dump truck were brought into service on the 4th of December to scrape the land smooth and remove the mountains of rubble and debris to prepare the way for the wall building and play-grounds construction!!! The dump truck driver hauled away 11 truckfuls of debris before the job was completed.
While they were here at TreeHouse, these incredible Aussie volunteers (whose contant chant was: "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: oye, oye, oye!") also constructed a four by five meter half court basketball court in the playground area using concrete pavers,sand and cement, cleared the field and surface of the play areas of rocks and rubble in our adjoining property in preparation for resodding, painted the second building on the adjacent property (which serves as a residence of my father-in-law and brother-in-law but which will eventually become part of the center property); they revamped our inner courtyard and gardens, paving the inner courtyard areas completely, remade the pre-existing flowers beds, fully planted them in ornamental plants, repainted the front, interior and original side walls of the property!!!!
They also entirely re-landscaped our front area and painted our front property street wall and planter box a beautiful cream color after replacing the clay soil and then completely filling these with potting soil, rich black soil and planted them in beautifully flowering shrubs in bright yellow and red; they also rebuilt and painted and repaired, and replanted the interior courtyard planter boxes as well as the one which runs along the entire front wall of the house, painting the garden planters and water pots in the garden area the most beautiful shade of soft violet purple. We have since moved a couple of units of the children's playground equipment into the courtyard area so the younger kids can play in a more protected environment.
These youthful and energetic volunteers also cleaned and repainted the wall surface along the interior side of the center playground area and resurfaced the existing partial wall at the back of the property. The contracted wall builders are now in the process of completing a new wall around the property. Everywhere you look you can see the significant transformation of the TreeHouse Center facilities.
5) The Outside Property Wall Building: Work is well in progress--now eighteen sections of the planned twenty-three section wall are nearly complete as of this evening: The estimated date of completion of the entire retainer wall is Friday the 24th of December 2004. Work is progressing rapidly and it is great to see the wall going up so quickly. Workers have been arriving on site at 5:15 a.m. each day. The chawping (smooth re-surfacing of the wall with a mixture of cement and sand) and priming of the wall surfaces for painting of the wall and adding two moveable gates will begin as soon as we can secure enough money to do so.
Originally, the cost of construction of this cement block property wall around the adjacent playground areas was expected to be very expensive. Bids received from three potential building contractors had been submitted and ranged from approximately 90,000 - 99,500 baht. However, we were able to get a Christian contractor at the last minute to assume the project construction at the beginning of December; he also happens to be a member of the Hope Church from Nakhon Ratchasima Province (Korat), and a dear friend of our own local pastor Ajarn Sawat. He is now overseeing the building of the wall and he agreed to complete the wall for the price of only 65,200 baht which represented a massive savings of more than 35 percent off the other bids which were presented locally. God is so good!!
Also installed at the Hope of Buriram Church and completely paid for by the Team from Camden Life Center Church from Sydney Australia durin their time here---were five new desperately needed wall fans!!! The team also bought and installed three new ceiling mounted fans in the TreeHouse facility as well in replacement of those which were no longer functioning, repaired and painted the outside wall of the church hall area, and purchased, fitted and hung two new interior doors in the church building. The church facility is now far cooler temperature-wise and a lot more comfortable and much more presentable as a place of Worship for our mighty and loving God.
During their stay here in Buriram (they had to be housed at the Tepnakorn Hotel due to the large size of the group) the Sydney youth were quite busy in ministering the gospel everywhere: they participated in two major feeding programs along the Cambodian border at Aranyaprathet at the Rongloe market Area (some 200 kilometers away), where they fed approximately 100 Cambodian street urchins a real feast on Monday the 6th and Friday the 10th; while here they paid for and helped to distribute more than 1,100 pairs of shoes and boxes and boxes of donated school supplies (pens, pencils, crayons) to many many poor children at three rural elementary schools on the 8th, fed 300 kindergarten through 9th grade students a delicious meal followed by ice cream for all 300 of them at another school on the 8th, participated in two volleyball games and a dinner-concert with 35 teachers from the local high school on the 7th, which was attended by the Buriram Provincial Director of Secondary Education.
They also performed a fantastic musical concert and drama and preaching service led by Matt Lesamana, music leader Dave and the members of the annointed music worship team, followed by a combined drama presentation lead by Crystal about repairing broken hearts, also involving a number of the team members and our two Texans, attended by more than 500 university students from Buriram Rajabhat University. At the close of these presentations 8 university students came forward to accept the Lord.
The Sydney Team also were invited to participate in our regular worship service activities the previous Sunday (December 5th--Thailand's Father's Day) conducted by the team at Hope of Buriram Church included a presentation by Pastor Garry of the Australian flag to our pastor and congregation, followed by lively music, and especially highlighted by the personal testimony of Youth Leader Karina Turk, all of which resulted in four more people accepting the Lord at the end of the service there.
In addition to all of the above efforts, a 13 year old village girl by the name of Peauk, a granddaughter of one of our oldest and most faithful members, Yai Sawat (aged 75) was also sponsored so now she can continue on school without worrying how to buy uniforms, books and supplies and another young lady by the name of Piyanut--nick-named Pee), a 10th grader from a very poor family who attends Pattara Bophit High School, has also been sponsored to cover her educational costs of books, tuition, uniforms, clothes, shoes and needed supplies so she may remain in school. "Pee" lives with her grandparents who are quite poor and elderly. Pastor Garry gathered 3,000 baht in support for Pee and we have decided to add an additional sum of 2,000 baht (a total of 125 dollars US) to help make her life in school a bit more comfortable. She has a solid 2.68 average ( on a scale of 0.0 - 4.0) and is considered a very good student by her teachers.
I am so grateful to the Lord for sending Pastor Garry Bradford our way for he has provided us with some magnificent counsel and direction on improving not only our facilities, but future vision and ministerial outreach efforts here in Buriram. We are so very blessed to know and befriend this fine man of God and look forward to spending a great deal of time with him in the coming years.
Now with Allen Huth's expected return in May 2005 to organize two more Gideon camps in our part of Thailand to supervise bible distributions and placements in these previously unreached and sprawling neighboring provinces, the future looks bright for reaching Isaan with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am certain that someday soon the Lord Jesus Christ will richly reward the efforts of each of fine young men and women for all they have done on this magnificent mission trip. We truly expect to see continued and huge harvests of souls resulting from their incredible, sacrificial investment in time, money and effort for the Lord.
Please prayerfully consider sending a donation of any amount towards paying for those still needed repairs relating to the grassing, roofing and ceiling improvements, for continuing ministry outreach efforts and to help provide for Christmas gifts for the children at TreeHouse.
Otherwise all the kids are thriving except for minor colds etc, and we are in generally good health. Remember us here in Buriram Thailand during this time with your continued prayers and generous support. Hats off to the Sydney Youth and Pastor Garry Bradford for a splendid job well done!!!
Dear ardent and faithful supporters and prayer warriors of TreeHouse Center here in Northeastern Thailand:
It's now early October and the weather has changed for the better at last. Apinan, nick-named Pak, aged 19 and who was our first resident at TreeHouse, arriving here in January 1998, is now back with us temporarily as a helper. After being on his own for a while he has returned, now nearly finished with his high school education at the weekend adult education center. He is awaiting results of his grade 12 exams given a couple of weeks ago and should have good news soon. In the meantime he is taking on the groundskeeping chores and doing maintenance around the center such as grass mowing, land-scaping and gardening and heavy duty cleaning chores at Tree so he can earn some badly needed money. He recently applied for a warehouse staff job with our one large department store center here in Buriram. Long hours, lots of loading and unloading of goods from trucks and low starting salary await him at Taweekit Super Center but at least he will have a place to start from.
Tong, aged 13, a young lad who has been with us at various times during the past year whenever the wat school is out of session is once again back with us. He is a great helper around the house and the kids really missed him. Coco Eileen, our youngest charge at age two, went running up to him and kissed him when she saw him come in Friday night. She walks around the house holding his hand. He was so surprised by her spontaneous reaction when she saw him come in with the welfare worker. We have been unable so far to have him assigned to us permanently as his parents dropped him off at a Buddhist monastery more than 2 years ago and never returned to get him. Since they did not sign the necessary release documents at the welfare department he is not able to be permanently assigned so we can only get him here during school breaks. He will be with us through the end of October and then again during the short end of year holiday period. Tong loves to dabble in yard work and usually bulks up during his visits as the food here is far more delicious and far more nutritious than the food given to children at the wat schools.
Mon (Narumol) is growing like a weed! She is long and lanky these days. Meow is becoming more ladylike then ever, Somsak is still so serious about his sports and guitar-playing and he is quite good at this point. I nick-named him Elvis after hearing him sing and play guitar last week. He grinned from ear to ear when he heard me say it and now prefers that I call him "Elvis." He is also teaching Tong to play the guitar t this time. He also seems to be having his first crush on a young lady and has been seen lolling about chatting with her more than once at the end of the school day.
Thienchai is getting taller and taller, more handsome each day and my students are constantly inviting him to join them in activities on campus. I took him and Tawnee to English camp at Sataheep Naval Installation this past spring and he was quite popular with the students. His mobile phone is constantly going off all during the day. He will be 18 years old in mid-October. Sam, at four years of age, is so full of himself these days. He is built like a wrestler, or should I say like Mr. T? Anything to do with Superman, Batman, Ultraman, Mot Daeng (Red Ant, a Thai and Japanese super hero) Power Rangers or any other super hero is just for him. Fil and Fern, our delightfully cheerful six-year old twins are his dearest playmates. They join him in many of his fantasy adventures. Now he has taken to looking after Coco Eileen who idolizes Sam. He even changes her diapers, makes her bottles and brings candy to her. If I buy him a treat on the way home from school he also reminds me to get something for Fil ad Fern and Coco as well. As soon as we arrive home he runs and personally sees they get their treats as well. Sam is my constant companion, asking me where I am going and then tries to tag along every time I leave the house. Car repair center, computer internet center, office, class, train or bus station. This morning he was trying to convince me to take him along to Bangkok to get our volunteers.
Phong took Pak, Tong, Somsak, Thienchai, Meow, Fll and Sam to Quarterly Church session camp with her at Khon Kaen last Friday morning (the 8th-11th October). I had to get up at 4 a.m. to get them ready to take over to catch the bus at the church. Forty members of our congregation attended the camp this session. Phong also serves on staff as treasurer and secretary at Hope of Buriram Church. Many others could not go this time due to work situations etc. I had to work so I remained in Buriram to look after Tawnee Dawn, Coco Eileen, Fern and Mon, as well as 17 year old Cartoon and the three recent foreign arrivals, April (20) and Sheryl (23) Sweet from Red Oak Texas (near Waxahatchee and Dallas area, our teen-mania kids) who are staying with us as volunteers until May 2005 and Anna Stewart (21) who is here for a month and who is from Sydney Australia. She is expecting to be with us to minister the gospel and help out at the Center before rejoining her family after an eight month stay in Canada. I traveled to Bangkok by train last Tuesday evening to meet these fine young ladies. I returned Wednesday night by plane in time to rest before celebrating with the kids my own fifty-seventh birthday on Thursday the 7th, and then had to send off Phong and seven of the kids for four days of rallies, games, seminars and praise and worship events among the many other activities scheduled on the campus at Khon Kaen University from the 8th to the 11th. I was able to get my grade reports in on time for all my students. They were due in the dean's office by Friday morning but then we received a few hours reprieve until 3 p.m. as many teachers had not finished in time. Oh, busy, busy, these days!
Tawnee, our artistic loving eleven year old daughter, has to stay behind for preparation tests for entry to the secondary school next year. She was recently notifed that she had taken first prize for the term in Math and third in Thai language at Buriram Anubol School. I have duties at the university and no vacation time available until March. Coco Eileen had her second birthday party on Sunday the 3rd of October and she was so excited with her beautiful new red dress. We had to do the cake routine, singing happy birthday to her over and over again and blowing out the candles. She had us re-light the candles three times before she was satisfied with the celebration activities. With all the kids here she loves to sing happy birthday. We do have a lot of these parties or so it seems. Three birthdays in August,(Fil, Fern and Meow all on the same day, the 17th) one in September (Mon), four in October (Coco, me, Somsak and Thienchai), two in January (Pak and Cartoon), two in April (Thienchai and Phong), one in June (Tawnee), and one in July (Sam). That's a lot of cakes, ice cream and presents to be purchased. That doesn't cover it all: there's still Valentine's Day, our wedding anniversary, Children's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas Day to contend with, too!
We had expected two more volunteers would be on the way before the end of October: Originally Kathleen Alexander (aged 17) from San Francisco University was expecting to join us in late October. Unfortunately, Kathleen just emailed a few days ago to cancel due to some problems but hopes to make it out here some time soon. Hillery Wiebe is now expected to arrive at TreeHouse during the first week of November. Then in early December Belinda Trumble will join the staff to help, she will be coming here as part of a team comprised of twenty-four volunteers including a fairly large number of university students, a doctor in training, a nurse, a landscaper, an occupational therapist, some singers, a carpenter, a couple of teachers, a worship leader, a preacher, an accountant, and even a twelve year old girl who is seriously mission-minded, and all of these fine individuals who are led by youth pastor Pastor Garry Bradford who will be joining us from December 1st to the 23rd, to do some needed construction at TreeHouse and at Hope Church and at another orphanage called Bethany House located in Loei province along the Thai-Lao border. These youthful volunteers (mostly between 18 -24 years old) are from several of the churches in the Sydney and Canberra areas of Australia. Belinda will stay behind when the rest of the group departs and she will be with us on staff for a period of six months or more. Juliette Ringrose an her mom Sharon will also be visiting from 20 December to January 7th also from Sydney, Australia. Stacie Ashley a young miss from Manchester England is expected to be here in January 2005, and the Pereira family is also expected sometime in October (this month?) from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. They are planning on coming out for a short visit as their son Jason will be marrying one of my former students whom he met during an earlier visit and whom is soon expected to graduate from Buriram Rajabhat University, the Jim Larson family (including 5 kids) who work with a rescue mission organization in metropolitan Bangkok (hailing from Aurora, Illinois, USA) will appear soon for a weekend visit during the third week of October, and now 11 more girls from the Hope of Bangkok Church are expected to stay with us over the weekend of the 16th to the 17th of October, the MacMurtrays: Patrick, a former colleague, dear friend and great supporter of the work here and his eighteen year old son Benjamin will be coming to Buriram for a short three week visit to Thailand from the 19th of December to the 13th of January during which time they will journey to Angor Wat in Cambodia to visit the site of the ancient Khmer temple ruins. Salina Salter, one of our former volunteers and a favorite in our household will be popping in again on her way back to school for her third visit before continuing her study of photography in school at Cairns, Australia. Salina hails from from a small city of Abbotsford, near Vancouver, British Columbia. And now as of today I have heard from university student Stephanie Wheeler, another Aussie Lass who will be out with us in late January for a six day visit after completing a one month mission trip to Cambodia. A couple of others are expected from other countries are planning on stopping bye for a visit in early January, 2005. Such a constant flow of god-serving people this time of year.
We welcome so many wonderful guests who come out this way. The doors and hearts of all of us at TreeHouse are open for all who wish to come participate, visit, support or pray with us here. We now have three more Christian teachers on staff at Buriram Rajabhat University: Beth and Myda (two incredibly friendly and personable young ladies from the Philippines) and now joined by Brian (an experienced and dedicated teacher from Southern California, USA), all serving as part of the faculty for this upoming year. I am so pleased with each of them becoming part of the staff at the university. This morning Brian asked if we could have all of us meet on a weekly basis to pray for one another and I thank the Lord for finally, after seven years of intercessory prayer and petition for Christian colleagues, for making this all possible. I do believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have now entered into a time of favor with the Lord. How wonderful it is that the Lord answers our prayers for helpmates and God-honoring colleagues to help shoulder the burden of bringing Thailand to a saving knowledge of the Lord! We also have some new films on hand, Tim Lahay's Left Behind II, the Passion of the Christ, Omega Countdown, and Time Changer, all excellent films with which to share the gospel. I have put copies of each of these DVD's in the Hope Church video library, as well as providing copies of these films in the learning center of the Foreign Languages Department at Buriram Rajabhat University. Pastor Garry brought us some magnificent Christian worship songs from Hillsong Church in Sydney along with several other music CD's.
No more news for now. Keep us in your prayers. Keep praising the Lord and remember to vote. Pray for America and for victory for our beloved President George W. Bush and for overwhelming success in mission efforts towards achieving the evangelization of the world's lost millions of souls.
In His grace alone,
Roger and Phongsri Walker and all the wonderful kids of TreeHouse
Volume Four, Issue Number 39: Sunday 25 July 2004
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
Whew! It has been a very long time since I have put together a newsletter such as this. I cannot imagine going a full two months without writing to let you all know of the happenings here at the TreeHouse. I apologize to you all for not keeping you posted and up to date on the continued activities and blessings taking place out this way, thanks to your remarkable generosity and continuing intercessory prayers.
So much has happened lately it is hard to remember everything. I'll do my best so here goes:
Cordella, also known as "Amy" departed from Thailand on Saturday morning the 24th of this month (July) and is now back in Canada as I write this newsletter. She was a super-blessing to have with us. Amy developed some problems with her vision and also frequently contracts walking pneumonia. Early last week she realized she needed to get back to Canada to see about these problems. She had originally intended to stay with us till the 25th of August but her grandparents are due to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary and she would have been the only one in her family not in attendance. It was her time to go but we know she will be back with us again someday.
Amy's service and devotion to the local church, to the students at Buriram Rajabhat University and especially to all of us here at TreeHouse was incredible. Godspeed, Amy, and thanks for all that you have done to help us. Her congregation in Manitoba was so generous in their giving to the mission here as well and their unexpected gifts helped us overcome the hurdles of finance related to paying the school fees and various expenses for these children.
The children at Tree were particularly blessed by Amy's presence in our family. Phong loves her so much and can't wait till she comes back. Even baby Coco Eileen learned her name and is running about the house calling out "Amy," expecting to see her come around the corner at any minute. The games, the toys, the clothes, the teaching, the songs, the games (even Rook, one of my very favorite card games), stickers, crayons, paints, loads of photos--- Amy is quite a photographer as well. Thanks to her, we now have a strong prayer support group in Canada that she will make sure will be in prayer for us. We told her to send some more of her church-mates out this way. While she was here, she upgraded my web site and gave numerous suggestions on how to improve our way of finding prayer and intercessory support among the many who are looking to get involved.
We are also planning for an upcoming invasion of sorts in December---- a great one---- by the members of a church in Sydney Australia led by Pastor Garry Bradford. On December 1st they will be arriving in Bangkok and will be out here to help at the TreeHouse and at the Hope of Buriram Church where we attend and at another sister orphanage, Bethany House in Loei, along the Thai-Lao frontier. Twenty-three people will be coming out and reservations have already been made to accommodate and transport each of them. They are planning to be with us until December 23rd and we are eagerly looking forward to their visit.The group includes three preachers, two teachers, a doctor in training and a nurse among many others including a large number of students. Please pray for each of them as they prepare to come. We are putting together quite a program of activities for them and they are gathering the necessary help from fellow members of their church.
A few months back the government of Thailand announced they were interested in locating and helping the deserving poor and other projects to promote the welfare of many of Thailand's underserved and underprivileged. Phong and the pastor, Ajarn Sawat, wrote a joint letter asking for the government to help us by waiving the requirement for us to deposit two hundred thousand baht to a frozen bank account to guarantee we would be able to pay any possible debts incurred in opearting the TreeHouse. We did not know what to expect but the letter appeal was worth writing. About two weeks ago we received a follow-up letter from the prime minister's office informing us that we had been selected for some help. They are planning to deposit the sum of 238,500 baht divided into two deposits over the next year to our fixed account for that very purpose. The funds will not be available for our use but this will eliminate the requirement for us towards trying to raise that sum. We also agreed to accept a few more kids from the government, kids who have had no place to go as the government facilities are already chock-a-block full. These children are first or minor offenders and would have to be institutionalized otherwise. We will be accepting two more seven year old girls in the future from them.
Remember my last newsletter when we informed you all that we would be losing two significant long-time donors (all donors are critically important) because one was going full-time to the mission field and the second had resigned his job in the Middle East due to ever increasing circle of violence against westerners and is currently without emplyment? Well, the Lord did not leave us in a lurch. A most generous man from Georgia, whose name is Eric Fontaine, someone we have never met before, sent a major donation to Network on our behalf. We were running down on funds earlier this month and I had written to Misty, the administrator at Network to inquire about our balance of donations on hand that could be immediately forwarded for our use. One week passed from the time I wrote the email and I hadn't heard anything from her. I was getting ready to write a second inquiry when her answer arrived. I was a bit confused at first because she had started the letter as "Dear Dennis." I read the message and in it she indicated we had accumulated in our account a substantial sum of money from donors. The regular donations we had expected would normally be around 800 dollars over a three month period. The amount this time was exactly 3,375 dollars! I had to wait till evening to call Mistty to find out if this was in fact true. (oh me of little faith, especially beginning to worry how we would meet our debt obligations, and repayments on the land we had acquired.) When I finally got her on the phone she told me she had had a back operation the previous week and that was why she had not answered right away. But the amount of funds available was true! I had written down on several pieces of paper how much we needed to cover the repayments in full for the land parcels, provide for October tuition payments, the cost of my new annual visa and labor card, the life insurance and car insurance annual payments. I had also petitioned the Lord for additional funds to provide to our local church as most of the membership are very poor indeed. Our own bank balance was down to about 20 dollars and the church had less than 10 dollars in its accounts at the time. We are and have been regular tithers, trusting the Lord completely for our provision, strength, health and assurance that we are in His will out here. The Lord never ceases to amaze us in how He intervenes or contravenes in every circumstance that all ultimately brings glory to Him. With the tithe on these funds our church is now back on an even keel and work is moving forward apace. Funds are now available to do so much more, get things fixed etc. The group from Australia will be doing their best to help out as well. We are so grateful to the Lord for all that he has done for us. To each one of you who have prayed in our behalf, for those who remember us as we seek to serve the Lord on these fields white unto harvest, we are so ever thankful!
More later, but always in Him alone, Roger, Phongsri and all the children of the TreeHouse gang
May 24th, 2004: Greetings once again to you all. Rainy season is upon us. We have had some marvelous rains lately and the weather has begun to be a bit cooler than before. The onset of rainy season means instant relief but it also becomes somewhat more difficult for Phong to get about on her motorbike. But at least the temperature inside the house is more pleasantly bearable than in March and April and most of May.
The kids are having the best of times these days. Ever since Patrick and Meg McMurtray of Jackson, Mississippi brought us a new monopoly game during their February visit to the Center, there have been so many evenings of exciting play for Phong and the kids. I use that time to sneak back into my bedroom to watch Christian satellite programs from TBN--Trinity Broadcasting Network-- so I can be constantly refreshed with great gospel teaching, praise and worship in English. I am ever grateful to Adrian Pereira for making two trips out here just to make sure we had Christian satellite service available. I thank God for his faithful efforts and devoted watchcare over us. The Pereira family from Dubai, United Arab Emirates has been a mainstay as well over these past several years. Four times members of their family have joined us out this way to help improve facilities and share with the kids their incredible love.
Cordella Friesen, our lovely Canadian volunteer from Winnipeg Manitoba, joined us a little over two weeks ago and has already succeeded in winning the hearts and loyalty of everyone here. She even joined us out in the rain for a water game on the Friday night of the beginning of her second week with us, for the expected onset of rains in a game that the kids had devised by themselves. What started out as taking showers in the rain in our swim suits for me and my three and a half year old son Sam evolved into a free for all water sliding contest for all the rest of the kids and a hilarious water slinging marathon, and Cordella, whose background is in youth ministries, was right smack dab in the middle of it all. The kids have had trouble with pronouncing her name correctly so far,-- the twins Fil and Fern usually just call her "La-La" but with time I think they will all get it right.
She has even learned to bake bread and has done so on three occasions. When she reported to her a friend of hers about these new skills, he replied humorously that she was getting to be a bit more domestic and could have even learned how to bake bread there in Canada without having to venture all the way out here to rural Thailand to do so. Phong loves the fellowship and incredible help Cordella has provided. Watching the kids with her brings us great joy as well. They are all trying their hardest to learn English and playing games and singing as well as drawing, doing puzzles and coloring--because she loaded her suitcase with many treasures from her fellow church members prior to boarding her plane to come out this way.
Cordella spent four weeks in India on an earlier mission trip sharing the gospel door-to-door and is definitely a Godsent person.
The Hope Church of Buriram has warmly welcomed Cordella to become an integral part of the ministry efforts here. She has already started teaching English lessons to the members and guests on a twice-weekly basis. Yesterday morning, she sang a special song which she had Phong translate during Sunday service---she said it was the first time she had ever done so. The congregation really enjoyed her presentation and now the pastor has requested her to sing every week. She has really taken to learning Thai and seems to be making significant progress in her efforts. She is sure trying. Cordella arrived just before the beginning of the final week of my summer classes at Buriram Rajabhat University and has already befriended a number of the students who are eager to have her join them to help them speak English better. She is very out-going and so willing to help out in many ways at the church, and university and especially at the orphanage, including transforming my web site in a much more professional way and providing valuable advice and counsel. She has truly been gifted with many skills by the Lord, and it really shows, especially in the area of administration, an area where I definitely could stand some major improvements-- Her congregation, the Niverville Menonite Church which is located in the Winnipeg, Manitoba area provided TreeHouse with a significant donation, allowing us to be able to pay the kids tuition bills, books, uniforms and other expenses for school on time as well as helping towards paying off a portion of the remaining loan amount for the playground lands. It is so difficult to express in words to convey our sincerest gratitude to her congregation for their immense generosity! We praise the Lord for their timely assistance. We have also heard from the students of St. Mary's Catholic College in Cairns, Australia who sent a check along with a letter from their teacher, Janet Bellero indicating that the students in her class wished to continue to help support efforts here in the upcoming year. Janet was encouraged to get involved because of one of our dearest volunteers, Francoise Nozaic, who spent three marvelous weeks with us at Christmas time a couple of years ago had advised her to become involved. Felix Gooneratne an Australian now working in Bangkok has also joined in helping to sponsor the activities and children of TreeHouse. His deposit came at a crucial moment while we were desperately awaiting the transfer of accumulated funds from Texas which finally arrived last Thursday. Another potential donor from Singapore who has asked to remain anonymous has also indicated his willingness to help support the TreeHouse and is now working to get his own company involved as well in sponsoring the kids. At this point, we are beginning to see a season of change as more individuals are becoming involved in praying and supporting the ministry here. We are so grateful for the continued help of Daniel and Misty Westlund at Network in Arlington not only for working dilligently to see that our financial lifeline is kept open and on an even keel but who have repeatedly added their own funds to help out. God richly bless you all! The John Lah family (wife Robyn, and their four kids Danny, Simon, Nick and Samantha) whom we all love so very much also have also kept us going with gifts and helps and letters of encouragement from Australia.
Two of our regular donors are discontinuing support as of the beginning of June as one is going into fulltime mission work in Mexico and has quit his job. Eric and his wife Elena from the Chicago area will be moving out onto the mission fields in September in Mexico working with street kids. They had just returned from a three month stint there in Mexico and were now sure of God's calling to make it permanent. We now join with them as their prayer partners and wish them Godspeed in their every endeavor as they reach out to the lost and hurting people in Mexico.
Marvin Taylor, a longtime family friend as well as our longest regular sponsor for TreeHouse is also pulling out at this time, not out of dissatisfaction, but rather because he has resigned from his teaching position at Al Ain University and may be out of work for a time while seeking new employment elsewhere. He indicates in his latest email that he may rejoin his support again for the efforts here. Marvin's consistent help has been extremely crucial over these past six years and without his sustained support we would surely been unable to maintain the level of ministry efforts here. Once again we wish him God's richest blessings, guidance and success in his new endeavors wherever the Lord leads him.
We so pleased to continue to hear from these dedicated and generous monthly sponsors: Bobby and Cheri Wagner from Yuma, Arizona, and from Ed Shell, from the Hill Country north of San Antonio, Texas--all three of whom are teachers, two of whom I have also had the privilege of working while we were posted in the United Arab Emirates. Along with Marvin and Eric, as well as businessman Abraham Sam George and his lovely wife Ronnie and John Kuchemmen and his beloved wife Ajitha from Abu Dhabi these fine individuals have regularly provided us with a significant amount of financial support to the important ministry outreach here in North Eastern Thailand. Ivan Fernandes and his wonderful family in Canada have also been an integral part of the ministry here first when they were still in the UAE and on several additional occasions since they immigrated to Canada a few years back.
Yesterday pastor Po from Hope of Bangkok Church came to visit and to preach at Hope of Buriram. He arrived by early morning train (4:00 a.m.) and we were able to provide a room so he could get refreshed and rested up in time for services. What a pleasure to have this gifted man of God in our home even for a short time. Yesterday after regular services he encouraged the leadership of Buriram province's Hope churches who had gathered to increase their outreach efforts to bring more souls into the Kingdom of God
Two other Hope churches from this province which were originally pioneered by our group in Buriram city -- Hope of Satuk Church and Hope of Nong Kee Church -- joined us for a time of celebration and joint worship. We had just moved into our newly-leased building last month and Sunday was so packed with worshippers that we had to move all the kids outdoors so we would have enough space for the adults to attend. The kids were provided with Sunday school activities as well and the number of children in attendance is rising rapidly. Praise God for problems such as this! I look forward to the day when we can raise enough funds to buy this building and the units next door so we can expand again. We have been renovating these facilities and still have a way to go to get them "up to snuff." But they are definitely improving!
A couple of weeks ago, my employer, Buriram Rajaphat University, held a week-long tourism symposium/seminar for community members who are involved in tourist-related businesses. Among the forty attendees were two new hotel keepers. As I was one of the presenters at one of the three hour sessions at the symposium I had the privilege of providing 85 bi-lingual Thai-English New Testaments provided for by Gideons International Christian Business and Professional Men's Association to present to the two inn-keepers for the two new hotels in the province who were participating in the session as well as for a third resort hotel, the Erawan Resort which had recently opened its doors in Buriram. Rajabhat orientation will begin soon for the 2,400 members of the incoming freshmen class and we are preparing for a New Testament distribution during that time. As I am now entering my seventh year as a teacher here I will be given part of the program and time is included for the distribution activity. Praise the Lord!
Well, folks, I'll share more later with you all. In the meantime, may God's richest blessings be upon you all in every aspect of your lives. Pray for us.
We are now in the midst of a sizzlingly hot summer season here in Buriram and kids are all at home for the school break until late next month when they go back to start the new academic year. Boy do we ever need rain!!! And rain indeed has finally begun to appear to our great relief. We left Buriram at 3 a.m. on Thursday the 20th of April for Khon Kaen, about 220 kilometers northeast of Buriram to attend the annual Hope Churches of Thailand church camp which was held at Khon Kaen University at the Ganchana Piset Auditorium.
There were ten thousand participants in attendance during this the first week of a two week encampment seminar as there were too many churches and too many members expected to be accommodated in a single encampment. Another ten thousand people were expected for the second camp the following week. We had been awaiting the camp and the kids were fired up about being able to go again this year. Last year's activities were held in Chiengmai and it took a grueling 14 hours one way on the bus to reach there. This voyage was a mere three and a half hour trip although my air conditioner in the truck no longer works and desperately needs replacement. We came back with the smaller children on Sunday afternoon of the 25th, leaving the older kids to stay to participate in the sports day activities. We had to drive with open windows and it was hot inside the truck for us all. The older children would have had to sit in the bed of the truck exposed directly to the sun and under scorching heat so we opted to let them stay on at the camp till the following day. It was the appropriate move. They all returned on Monday on the church rented bus much better for the journey. At least the bus was air conditioned.
We have also been experiencing a bit of a financial crunch at this time--the wire telex of our funds from Network was misrouted by the sending bank and took some three weeks to be credited to our account here in Thailand. Thank God we were able to get these funds. Unfortunately they didn't arrive before we had to sell my darling wife Phongsri's wedding ring to have money to survive on. I must replace it as soon as possible. Donations have been quite limited this year and that is significantly affecting our ability to move forward.
Early in the month we purchased the adjacent land to construct the playgrounds as required by the welfare department. We have been waiting nearly six years to be able to make this move and at last we have the deeds from both adjoining parcels of land in our possession. Now we have to finish paying off nearly 96,000 baht in remaining balance of both parcels. We hope to be debt-free on this obligation within 6 to 8 months. My father-in-law to whom we still owe a balance of 40,000 baht for piece number one (original cost 100,000 baht) is patiently awaiting our repayment. In order to get the second parcel of land at the exceptional price offered we had to act quickly as the moneylender who held the paper on the land was preparing to put in on the general property market and a far higher price. By buying it we saved close to 60 percent off the market rate. So for the first time since we started out here at TreeHouse over six years ago, we had to borrow the sum of 60,000 baht (1,500 dollars) to purchase it. The market rate was 160,000! In order to make the loan I had to put my truck in as collateral against the loan and now we have been obligated to six months of payments of 11,200 baht per month (includes loan interest and origination fees of 7,800 baht-- (200 dollars at current rates) to pay off before the beginning of October. I have already made the first payment as of this Monday morning. I also had to make three trips to the US embassy in Bangkok during the month of March to apply for passport renewals and then had to make two additional trips to the Thai Immigration Office in Aranyaprathet (200 kilometers away) which is located along the Thai-Cambodian frontier to have my new visa added to the new passport before my visa was due to expire on 1 April. We had already purchased a new washing machine in March as the old one had finally contributed its last efforts before dying on us.
All of these trips and purchases cost us a great deal of money. Consequently our available funds are now at an all-time low. If God so moves you, please make a donation to Network International, P.O. Box 174200, Arlington, Tx 76003-4200 on our behalf. They will send the funds whenever there are sufficient funds in the account to justify a wire transfer. They will also provide tax receipts for the IRS. We will be needing help soon to pay school tuitions, books, fees and uniforms on Tawnee, Mon, Meow, Somsak, Thong, Sam and Thienchai in May. Fil and Fern's fees have already been paid. Altogether we have to fork out over 1,000 dollars to pay for school associated costs for these children before the end of May. There is no such thing as free education provided in Thailand as all kids have to buy their own books, pay fees and assessments, and must purchase and wear uniforms to school daily. Please help out if you can.....Follow the directions on the donations page by clicking on the button marked "donations."
For those residing in Thailand who wish to contribute to helping keep this center afloat consider a direct deposit to our account of the Bangkok Bank Ltd, account number 1010867313 in the name of Mrs. Phongsri P. Davidwalker.
Otherwise all else is fine here in Buriram. Kids are all thriving. Students are learning. Visitors/Volunteers scheduled to arrive include Cordella Friesen and Dana Nielson from Canada who are planning to stay about four months to help out and hopefully Elisabeth Barnes from Portland Oregon will be joining us out here as well. I also received an email from Ed Shell, my longtime friend and teaching colleague from Texas who is planning a June visit to Thailand and a trip to Anghor Wat at Siam Reap, Cambodia. We are excited about his upcoming visit.
Meanwhile another good friend, Bob Wilde, a British journalist working in Bangkok has written a beautiful letter about the work here at TreeHouse:
This is Bob's letter as it appeared in the Bangkok Nation:
A call for help for some of Thailands orphans
Published on Apr 25, 2004 Bangkok Nation, letters to the editor
Many charity organisations in Thailand are well-endowed and receive enough donations of money and material help to fulfil their missions. Whether one such charity receives more or less than another is neither here nor there the point is only that there be enough funding for the mission to go ahead.
But for some charities there is never enough and the reasons are many the organisations may be too far away from Bangkok to pursue active fund-raising, and often the directors are busy working at their everyday jobs and have no time to devote to finding support.
One such charity is an orphanage The Tree of Life in Buri Ram. Its directors, Roger Walker and his wife Phongsri, are very busy people; they have nineteen young people for whose very lives they are the only ones responsible.
They supply the children with clothing and food and educational opportunities and, above all, make these children feel cared for.
Their backgrounds are varied but the horror is there; some children have lost their parents to Aids; others have suffered unspeakable abuse from the people who above all should have cared for them their parents.
All the children are in need, and for some years now, Roger and Phongsri have managed to provide for the children.
Roger and Phongsris basic funding comes from Rogers teaching post in a nearby vocational college, and a few donors. But there is not nearly enough to support even their present operation, let alone expand.
Old age is a vale of tears and that is necessarily a sadness of life; but it is a crime and a tragedy that childhood should also be vale of tears.
Phongsri worries; so much depends on funds for the future. They are going to need Bt6 million over the next 10 years, over and above what little other funding is available to them. Sounds a lot, doesnt it?
Actually, its not. Its Bt600,000 a year for 10 years, and 100 donors need only provide Bt6,000 per year to sort this problem out for good for the next 10 years.
Thats just Bt500 per month for 10 years per donor; less than lunch money.
Then a new school can open; there will be more time available to Roger and Phongsri to devote to the childrens psychological needs, and these latter are many; minds damaged by abuse and cruelty take a long time to heal.
Roger and Phongsri welcome visitors and volunteers and any help you can give.Can you help? To help a needy child is surely the finest act of charity and compassion one can make. Go to the site to see for yourselves what fine work is being done:
The site includes details of how you can help. Also, the orphanages expenses and needs are carefully explained. You will be impressed; and any help you can give goes directly to the children.
God bless you Bob!
14 February 2004: What a fantastic and glorious time we had sharing the Word of God this past week. Coon Tim and I ventured over to Nong Kee (80 kilometers fron Buriram City) on Monday and distributed 3,500 scriptures at 6 different schools. On Tuesday we went to Pablachai District (about 40 kilometers from Buriram) where we gave out another 2,500 copies which we distributed at 12 primary and middle schools. On Wednesday we overloaded the car with more than 3,600 scriptures before heading out once more. We had to drive another 90 kilometers to reach our first destination (Lahansai) and then we completed distributions at three high schools and a middle school in Lahansai District and Pakam District before heading home in the afternoon with an empty pick-up truck and hearts full of joy. We now have no more small testaments on hand, having given out 60,000 copies of the Thai-only new testaments, plus over 9,000 copies of the large Thai-English testaments all since the 12th of December 2003! We still have about 3,000 large testaments on hand in Thai-English but these copies have been set aside for distribution to students during orientation ceremonies for the incoming freshman classes at Buriram Rajabhat University to be held in mid-June. We are now preparing a new order to Gideons' International for another large shipment of scriptures for receipt after June for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. Schools release for the summer recess/vacation period which begins in late March and lasts until the end of May when school is scheduled to reopen. Then we will once again attempt to provide scriptures for the remaining 800 schools that have yet to be reached in this province. Continue to pray for success in this venture.
Meanwhile, we are expecting a most welcome visit from Patrick and Meg McMurtray from Mississippi on the 27th to the 29th of February. We are excited about seeing these dear friends again. Then, during the first week of March, Jim Larson, Alan Casper and several others from Cup of Cold Water Ministries from the Chicago Illinois area will be coming up to Buriram for about a week. They will have reporters and photograhers along with them this time to document the progress of Cartoon, our delightful seventeen-year-old charge, for whom Jim and Alan played such a key role in rescueing from unfortunate circumstances in Bangkok when they were here ministering for the Lord before.
For the week of February 2nd to February 6th: Koon Tim and I visited 44 different schools in Amphur Sateuk and in the sub-district of Kandong where we gave out about 7,500 copies of the bible. We would have been able to do more but last Saturday evening my battery gave up the ghost and needed to be replaced. Besides that my car was due for an oil change and slight revamp as well. Monday morning my car was put in the shop so I was without my own means of transportation for a full day. I got up as usual at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning and discovered that the superbowl was being broadcast on the local Thai TV channel! I got my son to take me up to campus on Phong's motorcycle where I signed in and returned to watch the game in its entirety---this is the first complete football game I have seen in over 17 years. I truly enjoyed it. There was no half-time show however as it was being broadcast on Thai TV and they put on a filler during that time and returned to the game as it commenced the second half.
Last week was equally as super. For the work week of January 25th through the 29th we were quite busy. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Koon Tim and I were able to conduct new testament distributions in Khu Muang, Grasang, Huay Raat, Phutthaisong and Napho districts. And then I got the opportunity to expand beyond the borders of this province when I got the chance to drive over to the neighboring province of Surin! I was given so many chances during that week to hold ceremonies and speak with many students from grades 5 upwards to grade 12 and to give to them all, as well as to all of their teachers and to the school libraries copies of the new testaments both in Thai and in Thai-English. Praise the Lord for everyone of these opportunities to share the Word of God with so many who have never had the chance before to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Continue to pray the Lord's travel mercies on us as well.
The news about our distributing scriptures throughout this vast province in very widespread indeed and as we arrive at the various campuses many, many of principals have informed us they had been expecting us to come! They had heard about what we were doing through their friends and teaching colleagues.They also give us valuable and time-saving directions to the other nearby schools.
The week before (25-29th) we had distributed 7,700 copies of the new testament after giving out a total of 12,800 copies the previous week. We have now completed 349 separate distributions in the public school system to date, a vast system of schools which includes a total of 1,160 elementary, middle and high schools. The schools we are visiting are spread out over long distances and many of these rural schools are often quite small in size, and often with enrollments of less than a hundred students in their whole school. We have been up and down so many unimproved buffalo path-like roads, many gravel or dirt roads, so filled with potholes which are difficult to avoid and which make for slow-going.
In the midst of all this regular activity we were blessed by a special visit Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning (January 27th,and 28th) from Pastors George Nandu and Colin Nathan from Singapore from Rhema Inland Ministries. What a delight to have the opportunity to fellowship with these magnificent saints of God! Then, as soon as they departed, it was on to Surin for the planned annual sport's days activities for the thirteen Rajabhat Universities of the Isaan Region which was held at the Rajabhat Surin campus in nearby Surin province. That was just the beginning of something really exciting!
Surin Province is located a mere 55 kilometers from Buriram and takes only about 45 minutes to reach by car. We were excused from our regular teaching schedule of classes on that Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday as well so that all of our teachers could participate in the sports competition with the other 12 sister Rajabhat Universities located in the Isaan. These sporting events are rotated annually from campus to campus in the Isaan which is comprised of the 19 provinces in the northeastern portion of Thailand with a total population of nearly 20 million people-- and provide an ideal opportunity to interact and network with our fellow teachers in the university system.
As soon as we bid farewell to Brothers George and Colin I drove back over to the campus to sign in, then I doubled back to TreeHouse to load the back of my pick-up truck with 53 very heavy boxes containing about 1,100 scriptures to take with with me for the event---these are the large Bi-lingual Thai English New Testaments which we place in hospitals, hotels and give to college students--- since I would have the chance to visit several of the hotels in that city on my way to the opening ceremonies there. I arrived in the city of Surin at 2:30 p.m. and had sufficient time available to complete the delivery of scriptures to the Petkasem Hotel (160 rooms), the Tarin Tower (220 rooms) and the Huay Sanaeng Resort (60 rooms) as well as a short visit to the Rajabhat campus hotel (20 rooms). Each manager greeted me warmly and gladly accepted the scriptures for placement in their guestrooms.
I also visited the English department at Rajabhat Surin and gave them 160 copies. On Thursday after a festive day of sports action, including "Chackayyuur" (tug of war) in which I tried my best (we finally won third place out of the 13 participating schools---not too bad for an old man of 56!) I announced to my colleagues that I was hanging up my sports shoes this year as it is time to pass the mantle onto the younger generation of teachers who seem to have the necessary physical strength to handle it.
Then, as the afternoon wore on, I decided to pay a visit to the vice-president of Rajabhat Surin to see if I could arrange a placement for all the students and teachers at the Surin campus. He was most gracious, especially when he learned I knew a bit of Tagalog (Filipino language) as he had studied for his doctorate in the Philippines several years before. He took me to the president of the school who was sitting with four other university presidents in the lounge area. He told her what I had proposed and she graciously accepted 220 scriptures for her staff and said to come back to arrange for additional distributions for their 6,000 students as well. Then the President of Sakornikorn Rajabhat told the others that she had had a distribution in her school, presumably done by the Udon-Thani Gideon camp and recommended to her other colleagues seated with us to accept the scriptures as well. The president of the Korat campus then asked me to bring 14,000 copies to her campus for distribution to all the day program and weekend program students there. Korat itself is not located within our authorized area of distribution (which includes all schools, hospitals, clinics, military garrisons, prisons and hotels everywhere within a 75 mile radius of the city of Buriram). "Korat" or Nakhon Ratchasima which is its official Thai name, is located more than 130 kilometers from Buriram city (a distance of 80 miles) but praise the Lord anyway! we already have a Gideon camp located in Korat province and with which I plan to get in touch as soon as possible to arrange with them for the requested distribution there. Kalasin University's vice president was also present at the gathering in Surin and since they have only a few hundred students and staff at this point (they are the newest university in the Rajabaht University system) I was able to provide them with all the scriptures they could use. Rajabhat Roi Et's President, Dr. Chaloy, who has been my friend now for more than six years, said that he would send a truck down to my house to pick up 2,000 copies for all of his students. The chairman of the Roi-Et English Department, Ajarn Sontaya, also a long-time friend, became so excited when she saw the scriptures as she had been desperately seeking for materials to use for her classes in English translation. The Thai-English New Testament has both texts placed side by side so she said it would be the perfect book to teach from. God is so good! He took a two day sport's program and it resulted in the opening up of authorized distributions and requests for over 22,000 more scriptures! Now we have distributed over 145,000 copies of the precious Word since December 2002, with a balance of 11,500 scriptures (8,500 Thai only testaments and about 3,000 Thai-English testaments) on hand as I type this newsletter and all of which should be exhausted by end of February. We have two more weeks of school distributions planned for this month and then we will stop them for the next two months and then will start again in late May when the schools are slated to come back from summer term holidays. We will not be idle during that time however! We plan to use the available time during the months of April and May to visit all the clinics and hospitals in this province---23 districts have full hospitals and there are probably 700 or more clinics (with two to four doctors assigned to each) throughout the province as well. We have 2,305 villages and there is a central clinic facility established per each three villages.
More news later. God bless you all in the coming weeks.
Sunday 25 January 2004:
Dear friends, interested surfers of the net, fellow Christians, prayer warriors and intercessors as well as financial supporters of the TreeHouse Orphanage:
It has been a very long two weeks of activity that has been at times mind-boggling. We have visited so many schools over the past six weeks it is incredible. At this point we have now been to 270 different schools scattered around this vast province to make distributions of Thai new testaments to all students in the grades 5-12. This past week we visited a total of 75 schools---We also had a small accident during that time which caused some damage to the truck but it was only slight and easily repairable. We caught the rear of the truck on a cement gate-post as we were backing out of a narrow driveway at a small school in the Grasang district. I am very thankful that it was slight and in no way affects our ability to get out and about to do the will of the Father. The car gets a lot of bumps these days as we travel down what we can best describe as buffalo trails for roads---hard-packed dirt roads pock-marked with deep pot holes and craters. It takes a lot of effort to avoid the holes and makes the going slow at times. But God is with us as we go so it is not an impossible journey by any means. Continue to pray for us as we go about the countryside. I did a box count of the remaining scriptures and calculated we should be finished with most of the distributions in about three or four weeks. School term ends for the public school system at the end of March and we have a two month break until schools reopen for the new academic year at the end of May. We have distributed over 130,000 copies of the new testament so far since December 2002 when our first shipments begin to arrive. That does not include the 18,000 scriptures we were able to distribute in 1998. We have a little over 15,000 Thai-only new testaments left at this point and about 6,000 Thai-English new testaments. We will hold about 4,000 copies of the large Thai-English testaments for June distributions to be held during orientation week for the incoming freshmen class at Buriram Rajabhat University. Otherwise stocks should be used up by then.
I wrote to Mrs. Misty Westlund who handles our funds at Network International to request a check to pay for the Gideon camp annual membership dues of the local members of the Buriram camp and was very surprised to learn that we had accumulated a fairly sizable amount of donations---somewhat over 900 dollars in the account at this point. To those dear brothers and sisters in the Lord who have provided these needed funds, God bless you all richly and make your lives blessed in every way. Misty and her husband also decided they would use their own funds to pay the dues. God will be good to you both for being of such a help with the ministry. We encourage others who are sincerely interested in joining in to support the efforts of this ministry. We are not money-oriented by any means but adequate funds are critical to keeping this mission and orphanage afloat. I receive a monthly salary from my job as a teacher at the university of around 600 dollars before taxes---yes we must pay Thai taxes... Hardly enough to keep 13 kids fed and clothed and still do the other things God called us to do. Donations of any amount are vital to keeping us on the fields. There is no church or mission organization to support us, only a few dedicated individuals to whom the Lord has spoken to participate in what we do here. If God so moves you to participate send the donation to Network International provided here but also listed on our donations page and Misty will see we get it.
You may send donations to this address: Mrs. Misty Westlund, c/o Network Ministries Fellowship, P.O. Box 174200, Arlington, Tx 76003-4200. home addresses: 200 Hialeah Park, Saginaw, TX 76179. Phone number is 817-306-5568. E-Mail MistyWestlund@hotmail.com
We usually wait and wire money quarterly to try to keep the cost of sending funds at the most inexpensive rate.
PREVIOUS ISSUES FOLLOW:
Sunday, 11 January 2004:
Another beautiful day---they're always that way or so it seems... We have had a very busy schedule of parties, meetings, classses, trips to schools lately, culminating in the Children's Day Program held this year at Buriram Rajabhat University campus. Yesterday more than 30,000 kids were on campus to enjoy the ceremonies, shows, games and activities open to all students of this province. Boy was it ever hard to find a parking space. Many arrived in the back of construction sized trucks--packed tightly like sardines in tin cans! The kids from TreeHouse all particpated as well and seemed to enjoyed themselves. Three of the kids from Tree ventured off and got lost in the massive, milling about crowds which caused my wife Phongsri to panic for a time. It all ended well, as usual however.
Two very special visitors are with us during this week: Salina arrived from Abbotford, Vancouver, Canada for her second visit. She was with us for a month last year. She is such a doll! Reminds me so much of my own daughter Shelly in the states. She stopped in for a five day visit on her way out to Brisbane Australia to begin photography school for the next two years. She is super talented with a camera. She brought us some great photos from her last visit which we will be sharing as soon as we can scan then into the web site. She leaves tonight by train for Bangkok and then on to her new life in Australia! Are we ever gonna miss her! And we also had with us Gabriella Vidale, from London England who stayed with us for a couple of weeks as well. She arrived one hour after Salina. Gabriella is a muslim convert, and is very sincere in her beliefs. She pitched right in with the cooking, chores, cleaning and childcare and provided my wife with such a respite from keeping up with so much work here at the Center. We truly need full-time help, especially as more kids are on the way. Gabriella is striking in her beauty. She is half Italian and Venezuelan and could grace the covers of the best fashion magazines. She has been taking in a new view of Christianity since her arrival---relationship centered versus religion. I believe it is having a major impact on her already. Kids love her too as she is fun-loving and full of life at twenty-two.
Bible distributions peaked this week: We have now been to 181 different schools in so many places around this province. My car has taken a strong liking to travel or so it appears. More than 4,000 kilometers of driving around this month and I expect we will get in many more kiloeters of driving. As a result, we have put a big dent in the number of boxes of scriptures piled high on the floor of our dining room which has, for the time being, been converted temporarily to a warehouse. The huge shipment of testaments which arrived three weeks ago included some 68,000 scriptures (1,900 boxes), but that number has been diminished by 24,000 copies which we have delivered and distributed to students over the past three weeks alone. We have only to the end of March to get out the remaining 44,000 or so copies on hand as school summer term commences at that time. Only one volunteer is currently available to help me go-go-go these days, dear Coon Tim. I have been giving him free English lessons as we travel and he is learning quickly. I am so grateful for his coming along to help. He joined the Gideon camp last year and has been very faithful to help, especially since he retired from his regular job as manager of the provincial pest control department a month ago. He wants to go out to distribute testaments every day now. His wife is thrilled as well to see her husband becoming so committed to the ministry efforts. I still have to teach so we are limited to about three mornings per week. Pray he will continue to be available and remain excited about what we are doing in this ministry.
Well, time to close for now. Remember us in your prayers. Till later, in Him alone. Your fellow yoke bearer on the fields, white unto harvest
Roger Walker and the gang at TreeHouse
Issue Number 33. uptakes from Tuesday afternoon, the 30th of December,2003.... Monday the 29th we visited nine more schools, including three high schools and a vocational technical school along with five elementary schools and distributed 6,720 new testaments. It was back breaking work requiring us to go back to Buriram and reload to the maximum. The distance from Nong Rong is 55 kilometers one way. Today the 30th, we expected to distribute about 1,000 more copies but we went ahead and loaded another 2,800 copies in the truck just in case we came across some additional schools along our path; but we surprisingly had enough time to visit eight schools before 11:45 a.m. Four of them were high schools so we were able to distribute an additional 2,300 copies today before heading back to get ready to teach at 1 p.m. That brings the total distributions in the week to over 9,000 copies and we are planning a full day's distribution tomorrow on the 31st. This will be the final day of the year and we hope to get out another 4,000 copies or more. Three high schools are on the list, one with 1,500 students (Prakhonchai district's second largest high school), another with 2,000 plus (Baan Kruad Pittayakhom), located some 65 kilometers from Buriram and which is very very near the Cambodian frontier. It will take at least 45 minutes to get there by car. We are not sure of the exact number of students there but we know it has quite a large student population. We are planning to load the pickup with 3,400 testaments tonight so we can head out early enough to get there by 9:00 a.m. A third school which is an elementary school has some 500 fifth and sixth graders ( it is located in the Pablachai District). If we are able to complete these three schools by noon we will return to Buriram and reload to visit as many of the smaller schools we can within thirty minutes drive from Buriram.------------------------------------------------------