River Valley Community Church
888 S Edgelawn | Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-844-9115
Sunday Worship at 10:00AM

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thailand Update - We are back from Thailand!

Monday (6/17) was our last day in the village.  We taught our last English class with the teachers of Pang Tong.  It was great to see all of the improvement.  They were very thankful and asking when we would be back.  On Tuesday (6/18) we traveled to Chiang Mai.  Peter and Phil left at 5 am with all of our luggage and drove 6 hours through 1,854 curves.  Ochie and the rest of the team took a 30 minute airplane ride.  We did some shopping at a wood village and a jade factory.  In the evening we went to the Night Bazaar.  Everyone displayed their bartering skills and showed off their bargains.
 Wednesday (6/19) we were picked up and driven 2 hours to a White Karen village, Baan On, in the Chiang Dao province.  This is the village where our Compassion Child, Chinnakrit, lives.  He is 12 years old, we have been supporting him for 8 years.  We were met by the Pastor and Compassion Center team.  It was a great time of learning more about the ministry.  We walked to Chinnakrit's home where he showed us how to weave a basket.  His family supplements their income by selling these hand made baskets.  His sister makes the bottom, his mother makes the sides and he finishes off the top.  It was great to see him in person again and give hugs.

 Thursday (6/20) we left the guest house at 7:30 am (all our bags were packed) for an elephant show.  We saw elephants play soccer, basketball, darts and paint beautiful pictures. We also went to the Umbrella factory and had some of our items personalized with beautiful paintings.  It is amazing to see hand-crafted items being made in our world of automation.  We started our trek home at 5:30 pm (5:30 am your time) from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then our 7 hour flight from Bangkok to Tokyo and then 12 hours from Tokyo to Chicago.  We arrived in Chicago at 8:15 am Friday (6/21).

 Again...we appreciate your prayers, encouragement and support.  Please join us on Monday, July 8th at 6 pm for some food and a time of sharing what the Lord is doing in Thailand.

God Bless,  Sherilyn

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thailand Update - Private Oasis

Happy Father's Day!!

Hello everyone! We've had another fantastic day in Thopsuk that included church with fellow believers this morning, a trip to the market in Mae Hong Son, and some time swimming at a nearby waterhole. Church here looks quite a bit different than most churches back home (women and men sit on opposite sides of the church and everyone sits on the floor). Yet we have been continually reminded that even though we have many differences from the people of the Red Karen village, we are united because we serve the same God. We may not look, act, or think the same but we are brothers and sisters in Christ. What a blessing and privilege to be able to worship and grow closer to the Lord with fellow believers from half a world away!

Today was our first day in quite a while to have a lot of free time as well as no English lessons in the village or at the schools. We thoroughly enjoyed the day off by playing with several children from Thopsuk at the waterhole that's less than a mile up the mountain. The setting for swimming couldn't be any more beautiful, it is like having your own private oasis. Some of our team members mentioned that they felt like they were in a scene from a movie. Everyone had a great time cooling off from the heat as well as jumping in from tall boulders surrounding water. We were all impressed by the Red Karen boys who were naturals at quickly climbing up and across the rocks before jumping from some pretty significant heights. Some teammates also played volleyball and soccer with the children from the village.

We are feeling very rejuvenated from the rest & relaxation we got today. We're sad our time at Thopsuk is almost over, but we are looking forward to our last day of teaching English tomorrow. Thank you for your continual prayers while we are here!

Leslie Girk

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thailand Update - And we danced!

 So-wa-de-kah! (Hello) Jamie A started our devotionals in the morning and we each read a verse from Colossians chapter 3. We each had to pick a verse that stuck out to us and share it with the group. I chose verse 8, "But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language". It's so easy to get angry about little things and use our words to sometimes inadvertently hurt someone out of our discomfort. I thought this was a great reminder to remember to keep a calm spirit and ask the Lord for help when our emotions get out of control.

 Today was our longest day of teaching English! We split into two teams to tackle two schools for the day. My team was Jamie G, Danielle, Anna, Mr. Kingsbury, Leslie, and Jamie A. and we went to Pang Tong (where we've taught several times already this week) early in the morning to start reviewing our previous English lessons. Then they served us lunch! We had yummy fried rice with pork, fried chicken, cucumbers, these awesome spikey fruits that have a name that is way too complicated for me, and chocolate crackers! Then we did 2 hours of teaching restaurant, airport, and beach vocabulary.

 Then when we came back (after a little siesta) and Corae set up some speakers and played some thai music outside for us. The women dressed us in traditional clothes and had us learn a Thai dance with them! Some of the villager men brought gongs and cymbals and played them while we danced. Then we used these long sticks to pound rice and  we sifted rice. Then we went into the church where the people asked if I could perform some classical ballet for them! Peter and Corae found the nutcracker on youtube and I danced for the villagers! Then the children did the hokey pokey and the cupid shuffle. It was such an amazing experience to share our cultures with these wonderful people in the presence of such an amazing and innovative God who created so many beautiful people.

 Thank you for all of your prayers and support!
 Sarah N

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thailand Update - By the Burma Border

Today was another busy but wonderful day in Thailand!  We started off the day reading from Jeremiah 17:5-13, where it talks about how we should only put our trust in God, and not in any other object.  This morning, Peter took us up the mountain to the Chinese Ban Rak Thai tea village, which is a Chinese refugee village right by the Burma border.  We were able to spend some time sampling different types of tea and eating authentic Chinese food.

After lunch, we went to visit the Doysaeng outreach village.  In this village, they practice Animism (the belief in spirits).  The headman of this village recently became a believer, and he has been trying to encourage other members of his tribe to trust the one true God.  As of now, only 5 members of this tribe are believers.  Many of the others are waiting to see what bad things will happen to the headman now that he has upset the spirits.  Please pray for the encouragement of our brothers and sisters, and that God would show himself to be more powerful than the spirit world so that others may come to know Him.

This was also our last day teaching English in the village.  I have been working with the men on how to give directions to the tourists that may come to visit the village. It's been a long and slow process, but very rewarding!

Thanks for your prayers!
Rebecka  :0)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thailand Update - Our God Is So Good!!

Sawatdee-kaa from the Land of Smiles, friends and family! We are getting ready for bed on Thursday night of our trip, having finished our second day of teaching English to faculty at the school and our third night of teaching English to all ages in the Red Karen village of Thopsok. It has been wonderful to see the progress being made by our hard-working students! I have also been blessed to see how God is using all the different skills, talents, and personalities of our team to work together as we teach. We have a wide variety of skills among us and have gotten to work with pretty small groups of students. It is so great to see each English teacher meeting his or her students' needs to improve their English. I have been continually amazed by God's wisdom and goodness in putting together our team for this trip, including random little me from Wichita, Kansas who just "happened" to be in Bible study with a young lady who just "happened" to work with Leslie, who just "happened" to go to church at River Valley while she was a student at Trinity with Allison. Our God is so good! Or, in Thai, Pra Jao soong san dee!

This morning we got the pleasure of experiencing some more of Thailand by going on elephant rides through the jungle! It was beautiful and fun! Anna and Reece practiced speaking "elephant," instigating some responding trumpeting from the elephants. Everyone enjoyed themselves and plenty of pictures and videos were taken! After a delicious lunch in Mae Hong Son (including tropical fruit smoothies!), we were treated to learning how to do some weaving from one of the ladies in Thopsok. She is making purses to sell to help pay the medical bills for her daughter, Li, who has a heart condition. Needless to say, we bought all the purses, and told her we'd buy more if she got more done before we leave next week.

After our weaving lesson, we traveled up to the school for more teaching. We reviewed the homework assignment (everyone did a GREAT job introducing a "friend") and the previous day's lessons, then moved on to more sounds (including work on SH and CH), and directions and prepositions. Tomorrow, the school teachers have meetings so we will be doing outreach in a Chinese village instead of teaching, but will return for a final day of teaching at the school on Saturday. Then Ochie prepared a tasty dinner of cashew chicken (we are definitely not going hungry over here!) and then taught people in the village. The children have picked things up pretty quickly as they receive some English lessons at school, but we have worked more slowly with the adults. I have had the pleasure of working with the women for two of the three nights and have been so blessed to see their progress. Instead of asking "How are you?" in the village, they usually ask, "Have you eaten?" or "Where are you going?" We have been working on these questions and answers and they are making some great progress and a few are even able to hold simple conversations with us! We are greatly encouraged to see our students' progress and we know it is thanks to God's help that we are seeing so much success from their hard work!

Please pray for our friend Pen, one of the girls from Samaritan Creations, as she is traveling tomorrow (Friday) to visit family that she has not seen in years and is nervous about telling them of her new faith in Christ.

God has been encouraging me lately to grow in my love for others. This trip has been a wonderful opportunity to do so, both with my teammates and with the people of Thailand. I will leave you with 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 "Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more..." Please pray that our team would love one another and every person we meet with the love that God has so freely, but at such great cost, given to us!

Thanks for your love and prayers and support!

On behalf of the team,
Jaime Andrews

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thailand Update - Sa wat dee krab! (Hello!)

Today was a lot of traveling, indeed. After breakfast, Peter led us in devotionals and taught out of Exodus 24. Here he explained how we can often focus too much on characters of the bible instead of focusing on how God is working in the bigger picture. He went on to explain God desires for us to worship Him no matter what we are doing and how we are doing it. An essential attitude for such a day as this one was.

We had to make several stops in town before heading out to the Long Neck Village (village where women wear a brass coil around their neck making their necks appear quite long). In order to get to Long Neck Village we had to travel by motorized long boats that sounded like 57' Chevys. After 25 minutes we arrived, the women there are very dependent on tourism for financial support and love to get their picture taken. Some of the younger generation of this tribe have refused the tradition. On the journey back up the river, one of our longboats had motor trouble...But it turned out there was just some water in the gas.

After lunch in downtown Mae Hong Son, we were off to teach an English lesson to the teachers at Pang Tong boarding school. The teachers were eager to learn, but also loved joking around! We focused mostly on pronunciation as most of them picked up meanings quickly. After assigning their homework, we said "see you tomorrow", and headed back to Thopsuk for a meal that Ochie had prepared.

Now it was time for another English lesson for the Red Karen! My group (Anna, Allison, Jamie G., Me) taught the younger boys and girls. We reviewed colors, directions, introductions, and introduced animals. The kids were very good, but the boys get a little distracted! They all seemed to enjoy doing the Hokey Pokey the most, that, and Anna's animal impressions...Haha!

Teaching groups met for a prayer meeting after the lessons were over and a woman had made us all homemade treats (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves...yummmmm ^_^).

We came to find out that there is a women who is really struggling to pay for medical bills and just started making bags to bring in extra money. There is also another woman who would like prayer for a lump on her arm (it is getting more painful), her son in high school who is getting bullied, and her husband who is a heavy drinker.

Thank you for your loving support and prayer...

In Christ our Lord and Savior,

Reece B.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thailand Update - Red Karen Village

Our day today started off earlier than our other days so far. Most of us have been running on 4-5 hours of sleep today and our day has been very busy but God has been sustaining us with the energy to continue his work. We had very nice flights to get to Mai Hong Son and now we are staying with Peter and Ochie in the Red Karen Village. It is insanely beautiful here and the land here is still untouched by man in many places. It is also a lot cooler and less humid up here because of the altitude and lack of smog. Once we got here and got situated we had a lovely meal that Ochie prepared for us and then we were off to go visit the schools. We learned that two of the schools dropped out from the daily lessons so now we will all be going into one school each day instead of splitting into three teams. The first school we visited was the boarding school we will be teaching at every day. We met the principal and saw some of the school. The next school we visited was still in session and we got to talk individually with some of the kids while they worked on English homework. The last school we went to was strictly for visiting and they told us that they wished that we could come and teach but that they had been too busy preparing for a teachers' conference. After we talked with some of the teachers we were able to play volleyball with some of the kids on the grass. They were a lot better than we thought they would be, it was pretty impressive, and very fun. We came back to Peter and Ochie's and we played a volleyball game against the villagers, we all had some fun with that and their honesty while playing the scrimmage was truly admirable. After dinner we had the chance to meet the headman of the village. We paid him our respects and then went to the Church building. It was time to teach some English. We found that it was best to split up the village into five groups- the men, the women, the teens, the boys and the girls. Each group had a few of their own troubles picking up on the sounds or just remembering the words but they definitely know more than they did before. We are looking forward to tomorrow and continuing to teach English to God's children here and we pray that through our every action that we can shine God's light and express his love to the people of this village.

Thanks for your prayers ~ our luggage went through with only a $90 charge. Praise God!

Jamie Gebauer

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thailand Update - Experiencing God New & Fresh Each Day!

Hello everyone~

We had a wonderful day with the girls at Samaritan Creations. We started the day out with praise and worship. Jo led the devotions from the book of Nahum, reminding us all that our God is loving, but He hates sin. It's only because of the blood of Jesus that we can have a relationship with him. 

Next came our Thai and English lessons. Everyone had a good time learning a new language and getting to know each other better. One of the girls that we met from the bar came to visit. She said at the end of the month she will leave the bar and come and stay at Samaritan Creations. Praise God! The afternoon was spent making jewelry and helping to fill orders.

When it was time for dinner we were told to each sit in a chair. One by one the girls came and washed our feet. They told us how grateful they were for us and told us that God loved us. It was a very humbling experience. After dinner we were treated to a concert by a very famous Thai Christian woman. It was an evening of praise.

Please pray for us as we travel on 2 flights tomorrow (in about 5 hours). We have to pay $1 per pound over the weight limit. The weight limit is only 20 lbs. per person. We came with 100 lbs. per person and only left 250 lbs. This could cost between $400-$900. Also, pray for Joy (she is the girl from the bar).

Thank you for your prayers.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thailand Update - 18 Foot Lizards

Hello family!

Today pastor Mike reminded us of something very important at the church service:  God HATES us.  We took a look at some of the attributes of God that we usually avoid talking about:  they're listed in Nahum... jealous, avenging, wrathful...  But how beautiful is it that Jesus took all of that anger and wrath upon himself!!  "He who does not believe that God will punish sin, will not believe He will pardon it through the blood of His son." - Charles Spurgeon.  The sermon was an awesome, humbling reminder and a charge to the 3 young ladies and 1 young man who were excited to be baptized today.  They were encouraged to cling tightly to God's generous grace and never lose sight of how sin devastates our Father. 

Guess where the baptism was held... at a local car dealership!  The owner is a Christian man using the back of his land for a church!  His generosity and focus on growing the kingdom is really encouraging to see!  Bpen was one young lady who was baptized.  Her story is gut wrenching.  She came to Bangkok ON HER OWN at 9 years old.  3 months ago, at age 22 she met Mike, Kay and Thom.  Even though she makes dramatically less money than she did in her previous job - God has proved His love and faithfulness as He has provided for her in every way possible! 

After a delicious lunch we were off to an afternoon at the King's park to play games and enjoy one another's company.  There were a few 18 foot lizards but we were safe in a paddle boat far from their reach, don't worry! 
Dinner was at the food court at Paradise Park.  Mmmm Thai.  Aroy Mak! (Very delicious)

Please continue praying for our group- safety, flexible hearts and servant attitudes!  Also, please pray for the 4 young ladies we all got to speak with at the bars last night.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would stir in their hearts and they would be prompted to call or even come and visit!  One young lady, Joy, will be coming by to check out Samaritan's Creations tomorrow morning at 8am!  Please lift her up and praise God for giving her courage to take that step toward a new life! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Day in Bangkok

Hello RV family and friends!

Your prayers and support are such a blessing to us!  We have had our first day in Bangkok.  We did not waste any time.  We got up early and had a nice breakfast prepared by the hospitable Samaritan Creations group.  After that, we headed to the slums.  There, we visited the Som Rang Tai Church.  They are undergoing many difficulties, and it was exciting to be there to encourage the new husband and wife missionary couple to that area.  Jo is the wife and she was once a bar girl, who now has such a love for the Lord and has an incredible servant's heart to serve the people in the slums.  We walked around the area and picked up trash. There is an incredible amount of littering in the slums.  There was trash and dog poop all around.  One goal of the church is to help the people experience clean spaces and feel loved by people willing to help take care of their community.  Next, we passed out bags of goodies and toothbrushes to the kids of families that the missionaries were stopping to visit.  The people were very thankful and even remarked that it was special to see the foreigners picking up the trash.  We were also able to spend some time loving on adorable, little children.  We were told that many of the children there are living with grandparents or other extended family members.  The little ones were anxious to be held and have attention. 

We packed some peanut butter and jelly for lunch, then we went back to Samaritan Creation and purchased some jewelry and other homemade masterpieces.  Don't worry, we'll be bringing several back for you to have an opportunity to purchase as well! ;)

Around 3, we went to the red light districts.  We went earlier in the day, so that it would not be as crowded and with hopes to have longer and more relaxed conversations with the bar girls.  It was such a testimony to see how the women of Samaritan Creations desired to go back and talk with the bar girls.  Even though, it was emotionally painful, they have such a love for these women.  It's not enough for them to just receive God's love, they also want to share it!  What a great example!

We split up into four groups.  Each of the groups prayed for God's healing as we walked through the district and saw many women and men searching for joy in a destructive way.  We were all able to talk to at least one girl and invite her to Samaritan Creations.  We will now pray for follow-through and God's redeeming love to be on each one of these girls, that they will turn to Him and be transformed!

After all of that, we went out for dinner and had our group's first traditional Thai meal.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their food and were pretty sharing.  We have a great team!

After debriefing, we are ready for bed and a shower (as the humidity is pretty intense).

Until next time,
Allison Kingsbury

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thailand Team Update - Landed Safely

Hi everyone,

We have landed safely and with all of our luggage. Praise God!! It is 1 a.m here on 6/8 and we are all just getting to bed. Samaritan Creations just moved into a new building. It has 5 floors and room enough for all of us to stay. Can't wait to see what God has in store for us tomorrow.

Thanks for all of your prayers, keep them coming ;-)

Team Leader