Thursday, September 3, 2009


Just wanted to give a quick little update before I have to head out to Burma for a standard VISA run on Saturday. I'll be coming home on the 22nd of this month and leaving from Chiang Mai on the 21st so it's going to be a long flight home! The plan right now is for me to spend the first few weeks back getting everyone caught up on what all I've been up to and doing presentations and getting videos and pictures ready to present. If you're involved with a church who would like to have me do a presentation just let me know! I already plan to give presentations to all of the churches who have supported me so don't you worry about that guys, I won't leave anybody out.

Please keep these last few weeks I have left here in your prayers. I'm going to miss the kids and everybody so much and I know it's not going to be easy to leave but I am so excited to be coming home too! I also ask that you keep my health in your prayers as well. One of the other volunteers and I caught a bug, we're not sure exactly what we've got, and we've been pretty sick the past two days. Not something we need when we're training our new volunteers and I'm getting ready to come home! You've all been wonderful to me so far and I'm looking forward to reconnecting with all of you!

God Bless - Matthew 28:19-20

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Additions to the Agape Family

About two weeks ago, we received a little boy and girl from the Government orphanage in Chiang Mai. The little boy is 11 months old and has been in the orphanage for 10 months prior to being at Agape and needs lots of prayers as he's struggling to adjust to how things are at Agape. He is such an adorable little boy but is a little insecure and always wants to be held. It's so hard to try and not hold him every time he cries, but it's so much better for him to know that we love him in other ways and that we want to give him lots of attention without him being held 24/7 than for him to feel he has to cry to get attention.
The little girl also is having a bit of a difficult time in adjusting. She's about 3 years old and is right about the age that most people start having memories that they carry into adult-hood so it's been a rough road for her so far. She has a wonderful laugh but doesn't bless us with it too often yet. Please just pray that she will feel safe at Agape and will see how much we all want the best for her so she knows that everyone here is very willing to love her for everything that she is!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July Updates!

This month has been one of the busiest months that I've spent here at Agape. We had a volunteer go back home and gained two more within two weeks of each other! Camilla, from Denmark, and Carmen, originally from the Philippines but now living in the United States, were both new additions for us this month. Carmen was here for about two weeks while Camilla will be staying for a six month stint. Please keep them both in your prayers as Carmen will be traveling and Camilla will be the veteran volunteer after I come back home!

Apart from the new volunteers, we've had good news involving the houses that the older boys and girls will eventually be living in. Agape's founder, Avis, took a trip to the U.S. a little while back to raise money to finish the project and has finally raised enough to complete the houses! This is such a blessing because the kids will be able to live in a family like setting with a married couple to help take care of them. It's things like this that truly reinforce my belief that prayers truly are heard and answered! The kids will be moving in within the next month or so if everything goes according to plan; it's such an exciting time for everyone here!

Our newest addition to the Mother-Baby Unit also had her baby this month! A healthy little boy who is being taken care of by the Agape staff while his mother stays in the hospital. He is absolutely adorable! Most of you who know me well know that I am not a "baby person," but looking at this sweet little boy (who was only three days old when I got to see him) just made my heart swell with the knowledge of how incredibly precious life is.

Unfortunately for us, our twos and threes, along with a few of our infants have developed cases of pink-eye so we have to keep them isolated from the rest of the kids so it doesn't spread! Since we are a little short on help right now with only two volunteers (Carmen works with a different group since she's only here for two weeks), I've been helping with the sick kids and haven't gotten to interact with the others for about 5 or 6 days. Although, on my first day helping out one of our infants, Kattika (pronounced kah-tee-kah), needed changed and fed so taking care of her that day kind of fell to me. That's right, I was taking care of an infant. Shocking right? She was probably the best behaved infant I've ever seen so it was a cinch to take care of her.

Apart from a few of the kids being sick, it's been a pretty good month for the rest of us as far as health. The H1N1 (swine) flu has finally come to Thailand and just recently to Chiang Mai so when I go out, I have to wear a face mask as a precaution. We don't want any of the Agape kids to get sick! It's been blown a bit out of proportion, thanks to our wonderful friends in the media, but it's really not as bad as what some people make it out to be.

Lastly, I've gotten lots of questions as to when I'll be coming back state-side and it looks like I'll be coming home around the third full week in September. I don't have a fixed date just yet so if you have any comments or suggestions as to when you'd like me home, just let me know! It hardly feels like I've been here for this long already, but time has just gone by so fast. I'm finishing out my Thai lessons and actually have to rush to get the last few hours in before I head back home. Don't think I'll be fluent when I get back, I'll just know enough to get by. When I come back though, I'll definitely make sure I learn lots more!

Prayer Requests

-Please keep the volunteers currently at Agape and the ones we will be receiving soon in your prayers! Living in a whole new country isn't easy and we need to help each other out as best as we can.

-We will be having one of our long-term volunteers going back home for a vacation in early September. Prayers for both her travels and our work at Agape without her would be greatly appreciated!

-As always, finances are a big concern! God always provides when we ask for it, so please keep up those prayers for me. I have faith that God will give me exactly what I need.

-Getting closer and closer to the end of my stay at Agape has made me a little more homesick than usual. Probably because I'm excited about seeing all my friends and family again! Please just keep me in your prayers that I'll be able to keep my focus set on the kids and not let my heart wander home before the rest of me does.

-The newest mother in the Mother Baby Unit at Agape needs a lot of prayer right now as well. She has a lot of things going on in her life that could really use the Lord's hands.

Getting to Know the Kids

Last month I talked about one of our nannies at Agape, so this month I'll get back to focusing on the kids I help take care of!

Siwanon (pronounced sea-wah-non) is one of the three year olds that I work with and has one of the largest personalities that I have ever encountered! He knows what he wants and is ok with telling you all about it. Most of the visitors we get will be greeted by this adorable little boy with a big hug around the knees and a beaming smile. It's always fun to watch him interact with new people as he has no problem introducing himself and then asking you to come play.
When coming into work at 6 a.m. I can pretty much count on him greeting me with a "Sawadee Khap" and so much energy that I'm instantly awake and ready for what the day will bring! He has recently begun the adoption process and will soon be making his way towards his new home. We're all so happy for him and excited about this new part of his life that is about to begin!

Another of our little boys, Narong (pronounced Nah-rhong), is in the fours and fives group that I work with. To be honest, he was the one that it was hardest for me to connect with in the beginning. He didn't stand out in the way that some of the others did and just seemed very quiet unless he was determined about doing something his own way. Fortunately, as I've learned more Thai and have been able to talk with him a lot better, I've grown to love him for all the ways that he isn't like the other kids.
When we get done with the showers at night and can just relax for a few minutes before sending the kids off to bed, he'll come over and snuggle in my lap. I can always tell when he's done something that he's really proud of because he'll come over to me and say, "Mae Alissa! Look at what I just did!" and he'll wear the biggest smile you've ever seen while you tell him how wonderful what he made/did was. I feel so blessed for knowing him and the way he always seems to have a joyful spirit.

Friday, July 24, 2009

June Updates

Hey everyone! Sorry this update has been so long in coming, these past two months have been a very busy time for all of us at Agape.

My visa expired on the 8th of June so I had to make a trip up to Mae Sai on the Thailand/Burmese border to get it renewed. The bus ride was pretty standard, and safe, for all of you who were wondering! They even have the option of A/C if you'd like to be cool for the 5 hour bus ride. The only eventful part of the trip was when we got closer to the Burmese border and the border patrols had to get on the bus and check our visas and passports for nationality; to prevent Burmese nationals from illegally crossing into Thailand. Not a big deal for someone as white as me. In fact, I barely even got a glance even though only one person asked to see my passport!

There was some good news on the new volunteer front. An American named Heidi came to volunteer for just a month on summer break from college and was a welcomed addition to our volunteer team at Agape. I admit, it was nice to have someone else living in the volunteer house with me. It gets a little lonely living by yourself when you don't spend a lot of time going out into town! Her time here went by quickly, but I have no doubt that she had a large impact on the children. It's easy to tell the people who love what they do and their actions always show their heart's intent.

June was a fairly laid back month as a whole. There were the usual happenings with lots of small blessings mixed in. Trips and outings with the kids help to remind all of us why we do the work that we do. Little girls smiling up at you and asking the kinds of questions that only children can will always brighten my day and make my heart swell. And let's not forget about goodnight kisses from little boys! In this respect, June was a very blessed month and a quiet one as well. Nothing wrong with that!

There was a small amount of excitement at Agape when a new mother-to-be came to stay at the Agape Mother-Baby Unit. The Mother-Baby Unit is a part of Agape where HIV positive expecting mothers and mothers with small children can stay until they get back on their feet. Agape's newest addition was well into her third trimester when she came to stay and we're looking forward to seeing her baby's entrance into the world! Please keep her in your prayers, she has had a rough past and needs the Lord's touch as much as anyone!

Prayer Requests

-Please keep one of the nannies at Agape in your prayers. Her name is Ooy (pronounced like the oye in oye vey). She has a young son that recently had Gengi fever, a fairly serious disease contracted from a certain kind of mosquito found in Thailand. He has a rare blood disease as well and has to undergo transfusions on a regular basis so getting Gengi fever just adds to Ooy's worry about her son. They both need lots of prayer right now!

-I also ask that you keep the influx of volunteers in your prayers as well. Heidi is leaving on the 5th of July and we get two more short-term volunteers on the week of the 17th so there are lots of comings and goings this month! We all need prayers that we can live well together and that I can be the best host possible for these women.

-The trip to Burma reminded me of how long I have been here and how much time I have left at Agape. I definitely need prayer to keep up the work that I'm doing and to be able to say my goodbyes when the time comes! I don't even want to think about the end of September when I'll be getting on a plane to come home, so much of my heart is at Agape.

-Please keep my finances when I get back, and for these next few months, in your prayers as well. The amount of Baht per dollar that I get for exchanges has dropped from 38 Baht per dollar to 33. It doesn't sound like a lot but if you have to exchange 100 dollars, you get a lot less than before! 

I truly appreciate all the prayers you all have said for me while I've been here! I know how much influence the power of prayer can truly have, and I count myself blessed to know that people back at home love me so much.

Getting to Know the Kids

This month, instead of talking about two of the kids, I thought I'd talk a little about the nannies at Agape. I know, hearing about the kids is nice, but the nannies really help these kids and teach them so much that they deserve to be mentioned as well!

Mae Ooy (we call all of the women who work at Agape with the children 'Mae', which means mother in thai, as a prefix to their given name) has worked at Agape for quite a few years and works with the 4-5 year olds. She works with another nanny, Mae Goy, at the school our kids go to during the day at Agape. The kids all have the utmost respect for her and she does a lot of good work with them. Her son is the little boy mentioned in the prayer requests, and she's had a little bit of a rough patch lately. 
Even though life has dealt a couple of hard blows lately, she keeps a smile on her face and a strong faith in God. She is such an inspiration to both the other nannies and the international volunteers. Learning more about her and all the things that have happened in her life and the way she leads her life just let us all know how much she loves the kids and being at Agape. I'll try to include more about the nannies at Agape in the future, they really are such an important part of the kids lives at Agape!

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Video Up and Running!

After a little over a month of editing, picture collecting, and revising video formatting, my video is ready for viewing! The last video had a sound problem due to formatting, but this new one is good to go. Please feel free to take a look and tell me what you think.
This video is meant for showing to my home church at Southwinds Church of Christ and should be easily downloaded from my YouTube account. You can access my YouTube account by clicking on the videos section located at the bottom of this page.
Thanks again for all of your support and I look forward to hearing your comments!
God Bless

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Financial Status

I discovered this past month that I am a bit short in funds and, although I have been budgeting, there have been a few unforeseen costs such as going to the doctor. Since I have been the only volunteer at Agape for the past month and a half, there have been a few extra costs pertaining to the volunteer house; there are usually at least 5 other volunteers to split costs such as gas for the stove and general household items. With just myself I've had to take care of these by myself, which is by no means a complaint, it just tends to add up over time. If anyone would be willing to donate funds, please let either myself of Gena Hopkins know! I appreciate everything you all have already done for me, and I know that you're all praying for me as well. If you can't donate, then please keep up the prayers! I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer and that God has His hand in this situation, as He does in all other situations.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

May Updates!

Sorry this entry has been so long in coming! This past month, I met with quite a few new challenges and obstacles. Being the only volunteer, outside of the volunteer supervisors, was a bit more of a challenge than I had previously thought. Of course I still loved working with the kids, and I never went into Agape dreading it, but there were days when I felt like, it would be so nice to have someone on a shift with me who could speak English and help me with the kids! The Agape Home has been a little short staffed recently, so it’s usually just myself and one other nanny with nine kids until the third nanny finishes her morning duties and joins us.

Although this is just a small obstacle to have to overcome, I feel that the kids would have greatly benefited from another volunteer or two. It’s a little difficult to entertain all the kids and get to know them on a more personal basis when you’re busy trying to keep the kids from picking on each other and from getting into trouble!

This is just a small obstacle, really. There are so many other things that could be difficult for me right now, such as homesickness or being lonely at the volunteer house. As it is, I feel blessed that I haven’t had to worry about those as much as I had anticipated. Knowing that volunteers are coming and that I can talk to family and friends makes it all much easier for me to deal with.

One of the biggest challenges that I have had to deal with this last month has been breaking up the routine and structure of the morning schedule at Agape. As a volunteer, I have access to quite a few different activities and supplies that the kids are able to use. When you work by yourself, you tend to let yourself fall into a predictable routine and you can fall into the trap of just doing the same things each day because it’s familiar and a little easy. With more volunteers, it’s easy to think of creative ways to have the kids spend their mornings before the morning worship. You wouldn’t think that this would be tricky to do; just think of things to do each day and let that be that. But even in doing this you can fall into a daily routine.

So, I’ve been doing a little experimenting with arts and crafts projects to keep the kids on their toes so to speak so we don’t always watch videos and play dress-up and color. And it makes it special when you get to do so many different things and the kids love to be creative! It is a challenge to always be thinking of things for the kids to do, but I welcome the challenge and I’m glad that I’ve gotten this opportunity to be able to do all the things that I’d like to. I doubt that I’ll get this chance again once volunteers come and it’s a good way for the kids and I to bond until then.

I have also been sick this past month with the rainy season starting and all the weather changes taking place. I’m doing much better now, but it’s never fun to be sick and then have to work with kids whose energy never seems to abate! I love the kids to death and would much rather be able to keep up with their antics than have to sit out because I’m under the weather.

Prayer Requests

- Please keep me in your prayers since I have been the only volunteer all month! I don’t want to get burnt out and any prayers for my patience would be greatly appreciated!

- Also, I’d like to ask that you remember the kids at Agape in your prayers. We have had quite a few with fevers recently, and although the ARV drugs are doing wonders for them, they still get sick frequently.

- I ask that you keep my Thai lessons in your prayers as well. It might seem like an odd request, but if I’ve learned anything since I’ve been here, it’s that the kids respect the fact that you can speak Thai and the fact that it helps lessen the language barrier’s restrictions is a bonus as well.

- We will be getting new volunteers in June and I ask that you keep their travels in your prayers as well. Pray that I will be an encouragement to them when they arrive and be the best host I can be.

-Please keep my finances in your prayers as well! There have been a few unforeseen costs that have come up while I’ve been over here, and prayers would be greatly appreciated!

- I would also ask that you keep The Agape Home in your prayers. They have been struggling with keeping staff members and have been pretty short staffed recently on top of a lull in donations being made to the home. The economic conditions throughout the world are struggles for the Thais as well and just ask that God’s hand be on the situation.

I would like to thank all of you who gave me your support, both spiritual and financial. This mission trip could not have been possible without you and I thank God for each of you every day.

God Bless!