Posted on October 18, 2020 Common Ground
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Sa wat dii kha!

Hello amazing ministry partners around the globe. We are so blessed by you, by your prayers, by your support, and by your commitment to walk alongside us in so many different ways, even from across the seas. Thank you! We know this year has been trying and taxing in so many ways through many unexpected twists…we truly appreciate you! We thank God that NOTHING is unexpected for Him and we know that He sees each one of us! I pray you continue to have hope, knowing you are seen, heard, known and loved by our creator God and even when life seems grim and uncomfortable or even scary….I pray you can remember and know that He is still at work, even if you don’t see it.

Our family has been doing well and we definitely feel God’s hand in helping us to adjust to a new life and a new culture. Mark and I recently passed our written Thai kindergarten test….yay….we can officially read and write as much as 5 year old Thai kids! 🙂

We have been enjoying getting to know the staff and children at House of Love and House of Blessing. Like any relationship, it is slow and takes even longer with the language barrier, but their trust has been opening up to accept us a little each time. One of the biggest moments of noticeable openness and acceptance of our family happened a couple months ago. We were invited by Yuleybeh, the current co-director of House of Love, to help them plant rice in the fields behind the home and office.

We arrived in the afternoon before the HOL kids returned home from school, we were going to wait for them, but our kids were excited to try and so we got to planting with a few of the HOL staff as well as the teachers from the House of Blessing preschool. By the time the HOL kids arrived we were knee deep in water and mud; I (Alise) had been painted with mud a few times by our own kids. The HOL kids hurried out and joined us.  Have you ever experienced the bonding that happens when you just work side-by-side with someone else? It could be your own family, well known friends, or even a complete stranger, but God uses that time to bond people as they labor together for a common purpose. We didn’t have to plant the rice, we could have watched from the office, but we wanted our family to experience rice planting and in return we were blessed to work alongside our friends at HOL. God used that common ground moment, the working and laboring together for the purpose of a common goal, to open a deeper connection and more acceptance of each other. That night, at dinner, our boys were invited by the House of Love boys to come sit and eat together. That was the first time that they felt comfortable enough and felt accepted enough to leave our side and go sit with them. I love how God used even the simplest, almost tedious, task to build opportunities for relationships. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20

We continue to trust in God and in His purpose of having us here. We continue to trust in Him that there will be more opportunities for deeper connections with the people at House of Love as well as those in our slow-growing community. We seek God for opportunities to share His love with those He puts in our path. We are encouraged by the words from Jeremiah 17:7-8 and pray that they will be an encouraging reminder to you (especially if you are feeling like you are in one of those “desert” times of life). “But I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. He is like a tree growing near a stream and sending out roots to the water. It is not afraid when hot weather comes, because its leaves stay green; it has no worries when there is no rain; it keeps on bearing fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

May you be encouraged (even as some of you labor from a screen) that God is still present and He CAN use any moment to draw you deeper with Him and with those you are in contact with. May you see those opportunities and see God working in them!

Sending love and blessings from afar,

Alise & Mark Juanes

Kim Brown taking a break and watching while some of the staff and the Juanes family starts to plant some rice.

Kolin with a bundle of rice, preparing to put them in the water.

When the kids got home from school, they were excited to plant rice (and play in the mud.)

In a few months the rice will be ready to harvest like these in another field.