Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's Already Spring, and New Years

Spring has Sprung in time for New Years

It appears that, after a few days of weather in the 50's, winter has come and gone and temperatures are rising, as are plants in farmer's fields.

This photo is from a quick trip I made out into the countryside, and happened to notice that the farmers had already started their crops for the new year.
farmers field thailand

I'm not sure what they might be growing here, but they were all in nice rows, which worked well for the photo.

A day or so later, I drove out to my favorite nearby rice field and noticed there too, new rice was just sprouting.

A new field of rice! One of my favorite foregrounds when taking pictures of the sunset.

It seems sort of fitting for new plants to be growing out of the earth as the new year arrives, and I don't mind being in a climate that makes this possible.

With the new year almost here, I want to include one resolution for the new year in this post:

  • Post new updates at least twice a month for the next year (2015) on this blog!

Which means the posts might be a little shorter, and more specific. I also hope to include lots of pictures, which has been something I've really enjoyed doing in 2014.

It's interesting to reflect and realize that I started 2014 with a 6MP point and shoot camera that really couldn't do a lot. A few days into 2014 I upgraded to a Canon Powershot SX 280 HS, which offered 12 MP, great zoom, full manual control, and really great photos for the size!

But by the summer, I already felt like it was holding me back, so I upgraded again to the Sony a6000 (24MP, which is funny how that doubled each time I upgraded) and now it's me holding the camera back from its full potential.

Anyway, I'm excited for 2015, for continuing to learn new things, travel to new places, volunteer in Southeast Asia, and live the life God has created me for.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter in Thailand

It is Getting Cold Around Here...

Sit and watch the sunset from this convenient bench.
Winter in Thailand means that it stops raining, and drops into the 60's at night (sometimes). 

This isn't ideal if you're hoping for a white Christmas, but for most other activities, especially outdoor related, this is ideal.

I've been taking a lot of drives around the countryside on my moped, as the weather is perfect and all you need is a light jacket for morning or evening rides. This has afforded me a number of great photo opportunities of the less touristy variety.

I recently drove up a long windy road that twisted through a little village, and led to an amazing mountaintop view of the sunset. And while I enjoyed the view and sunset, it was the rural village and people who grabbed my attention.

Some of the nicer houses at the top of the mountain
They live in very simple accommodations, with many of the houses made of corrugated metal or plastic pieces, and other miscellaneous materials. The roads were a mix of cement and red clay, with most walls having a reddish color from the dirt. Bits of building material, old vehicles, and other items were scattered around. Chickens were everywhere, as were kids and mothers.

I didn't stop to take any pictures, because I didn't want to disturb or make a scene. But it gave me the chance to reflect on the many things I take for granted, and to be thankful for them. especially in this holiday season.

It is so easy, even living in Thailand where poverty levels you rarely see in America, are literally around the corner form your house, to get busy, get caught up, and forget about thankfulness, and about the people around you.

I'll be trying to slow down a little over the holidays, between trips into the mountains, to be thankful for what God's given me, and look out for people around me. And I hope to encourage you to try something similar.

Vietnam for a Day (or a few)

Near Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
I had the chance to visit Vietnam for a few days in November, and it was a great experience. The trip went so fast, it almost felt like only a day.

I always find it exciting and interesting to see a new culture, and the Vietnamese culture is very different from most cultures I've seen before. They have a fairly strong french influence that was evident in everything from the food, to architecture, both of which I am a fan of.

Many of the buildings in Vietnam were taller, thinner and more elaborately decorated than buildings in Thailand. It wasn't uncommon to see a 4-5 story house that was 10 feet wide (at most) and 30-40 feet long. I have no idea why they make buildings so tall and thin, because in most situations space didn't seem to be a problem.

Rice Fields and Mountains - Thailand
has plenty of them to explore.
The food was a nice experience, as bread and coffee were plentiful, along with a number of more Asian oriented dishes.

Overall, the parts of Vietnam I visited were a lot of fun, but not necessarily somewhere I would go back to. There are lots of new places to explore.

Thanks for stopping in and reading. If you have any thoughts or questions, leave them below int he comments. The pictures are a variety from around Chiang Mai, and Vietnam.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Launching Businesses

Launching a Business to Fund Orphanages and Missionaries

Took this picture on a sunny afternoon while
enjoying an ice coffee.
In my first college business class I immediately learned two things: I love business (and especially marketing) and I making money is exciting. It would be easy to get caught up pursuing a life where money is the end goal, but for me, my end goal is glorifying God, so money is just a tool, or resource, to accomplish that. (and this is something I have to remind myself about.)
So I'm volunteering for an organization, and trying to help them make money, which is a lot of fun. 

Over the last few weeks, I have been helping with launching an online business that (hopefully) will not only help people, but also generate a profit which will be used to fund the organization I'm here with, and an orphanage and other missionaries they support.

It is exciting to be learning and practicing new business ideas in the internet realm, which is growing more and more important each day. I am amazed at the opportunity I have to not only gain experience, but help with projects that have a lasting and beneficial impact.

In the month of October, I worked with my team to create a new website, film a couple hours of training resources, develop PDF content and come up with a lot of the details surrounding the business which reminded me of how much I enjoy it all.
Wat Chedi Luang, located in the center of Chiang Mai, is one of the more famous temples here.

I would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers in the next few weeks as we work to launch a business, and that it would accomplish our goals of helping people, and generating a profit.
I used to wonder why Thai food was so spicy. This was at a local market that had everything from cell phones to water buffalo.

This was in a terraced cabbage field on the
edge of a large  hill with an amazing view in
almost  every direction.
I've also been trying to explore more of the area around the city I live in, which included drives to some beautiful valleys, a trip to a huge market, and relaxing on houseboats among lots of other fun things.

The pictures are from some of the places I've been trying to visit and explore, and I hope you enjoy the insight into life in Thailand. It is a beautiful country (like most countries) but you have to take the opportunity to see the amazing sites around you.

I am enjoying the opportunity to be back in Thailand and explore this fun country, and thanks to everyone who helped make that possible.

If you have thoughts or comments, leave them below!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Right Back Into It

It Feels Great to be Back in Thailand

Looking down at a valley filled with clouds
I have been enjoying settling back into living in Thailand and it has been fun to go back to the places I enjoyed when I was here before (like CoCo's Curry).

It's only been a little over a week, but I am already straight to work on a few fun projects. I will be working on a fairly diverse selection of projects in the next few months, including starting or working on some internet businesses and continuing to provide general help with Stop Slavery's website and social media. 

Temple at Sunset
I generally try to help where I can for the many missionaries and organizations here, sometimes providing help with internet marketing related questions and needs. I may also continue working with Stone in Shoe.

Although it has been getting up over 100 degrees some days, the mornings are really nice and cool which makes for a perfect time to go for a drive and explore the hills around Chiang Mai. Last week I went for a drive and found some amazing views of the clouds filling up the valleys. 

Life is a little hectic at the moment, and I would appreciate prayers as I move into a new house this week, and as my organization moves into a new office. I am looking forward to things settling down a bit more.

Thanks for visiting and reading, and leave a comment if you have thoughts or questions to share! Also, enter your email in the box on the sidebar to get these posts by email.

God Bless!
I love taking pictures of rice fields at sunset because it is so relaxing and quiet. I have no idea what this structure is, but it seems like it has been around for a while.

On a side note, if you're ever looking for a house in Thailand, check out Expat Homes Chiang Mai. They help find homes for people in Thailand.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Round 2 - I'm Returning to Thailand

As Soon as I Left Thailand, I wanted to Return

It has been a few months now since I spent 7 month volunteering in Thailand with Stop Slavery. I've had a chance to take a break, enjoy life, visit the beach, and realize that there are huge opportunities ahead, and returning to Thailand is one of them.
Beach time with my sisters

So I am excited to share with you that I will be returning to Thailand in September 2014 to continue working with Stop Slavery along with some other great organizations and projects.

I'll be doing some of the same things I worked on before, including marketing and social media for Stop Slavery and working with Stone in Shoe. I'll also be helping with some new projects that will be geared towards raising funding and awareness for anti-trafficking efforts.

Thailand was recently downgraded on the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US government from a tier 2 watch list to a tier 3, the worst level. What this means is they aren't doing enough to combat human trafficking, which means there are lots of opportunities to help make change happen in Thailand and I am excited to be close to the action.

I would appreciate your prayers as I transition back to Thailand, especially in the following areas:

  • Travel details, a place to live, and transitioning back to Thailand
  • For the other members of the team I'll be rejoining in Thailand
  • That God would be working through us to not only to reduce human trafficking in Asia, but share the hope and love of Jesus.
  • That God would be glorified
I'm setting a tentative return from this trip sometime in the summer of 2015.

Cocos curry
My favorite restaurant in the world now has a location in Chiang Mai!
If you would like to keep up with the things I'll be doing in Thailand, you can enter your email in the box at the top of the right sidebar and receive an email whenever a new post is published.

Head over to the contact page if you have questions or thoughts and want to get in contact.

I'll be keeping this blog updated with pictures and news as life happens, so check back often. If you're interested in supporting the work Stop Slavery is doing, visit the donate page to learn about fundraising needs.

Thanks for visiting, and I really appreciate each of you who helped this trip, and the last, possible through prayer and financial support!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Review of 7 Months in Thailand

thai market bugs
Only $1 for a bag of bugs

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

I'll be honest with you, living in Thailand was a blast.

Each day offered new adventures and challenges, whether it was trying to figure out exactly what you were eating, or getting through a crazy morning commute, you always had to be on your toes. Each day was also rewarding, as I learned more about Thailand, and worked on exciting projects for Stop Slavery.

There were plenty of struggles and stresses along the way, but these are just opportunities to learn and grow.

I want to share with you a short graphic that hopefully gives you an idea of some of the things I did, and experiences I enjoyed:

thailand graphic numbers
Click to view full - A short graphic with some numbers
There were plenty of exciting stories from my time in Thailand (like riding a moto-taxi through Bangkok). And I will always remember the villages and orphanage I visited in Cambodia. These are experiences that I can learn and grow from.

handing out bibles
Pastor Paul handing out Bibles
I am amazed at how much I learned from spending just seven short months overseas. I learned a great deal in my field of work, getting more experience with blogging, social media, internet marketing and WordPress.

I learned a lot about the current situation of modern slavery not only in Southeast Asia, but throughout the world and had the opportunity to meet people and see organizations heavily involved in anti-trafficking efforts.

God's faithfulness and blessings in my own life were incredible to see, and experience.  I come away recognizing that sometimes when we take small steps and risks, God blesses it in big ways.

I also developed awesome new friendships and was encouraged by so many people who are living overseas because that's where God wants them, and they were willing to go.

Smiling kids in Cambodia
We each have opportunities, whether in our home town, or across the globe, and these opportunities might be challenging, but they often lead to greater things. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Thailand, and what a fun time it was.

Thanks to everyone who supported and prayed for my trip. It has left an indelible mark on my life and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I have plenty more I would love to share, so if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay tuned to this blog, or get in contact using the form on the contact page.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Coming to a Close

7 Months Goes By Fast

In just a few days I'll be jumping on a plane and heading across the pacific, back to America, as my trip comes to a close. It is amazing to me that I've been living in Thailand for seven months now.

White temple in Chiang Rai
My time in Thailand has been incredibly rewarding as I have learned many different things, and gained a lot of life experiences.

The work I've been doing with Stop Slavery has remained interesting and fun as I've used some of my marketing skills, and learned some new ones, to help generate awareness for modern slavery and get Stone in Shoe going.

The experiences I've had I can't put a price on, from the places I've seen, to the people I've met, this trip has been invaluable.

But probably the best part of the last seven months has been learning more about who God is, and recognizing His guidance and direction in my life. The way things sometimes just 'work out' are clearly not by chance, and it is fun to see this occurring in my life and situations around me.

I don't have plans for the future yet, but I'm pretty sure someone does...

A Big Thank You!

Finally got around to riding an elephant
I do want to say a huge thank you to everyone who encouraged me, supported me and prayed for me while I've been in Thailand. What a great blessing it has been to have a team of people across the world joining with me to fight human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

It has been very encouraging to hear from people at different times while I've been in Thailand and I am looking forward to getting back to the states and seeing many of you.

Until then, I would appreciate prayers for the travels ahead.

Thanks again, and God Bless.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sunsets and Sunrises

A Month to Go!

Palms at Sunset
Lately I've been stopping to enjoy the sunsets and sunrises in Chiang Mai and it has given me time to reflect on the 6 months I've already spent here in Thailand.

I am amazed at how fast 6 months can go, it seems like just days ago I was setting out to Thailand to work with Stop Slavery. At that time, I wasn't quite sure what I would be doing, but I was ready to jump in wherever needed.

Upon arriving I quickly joined in on the exciting project of starting Stone in Shoe, an artwork company with the dual purpose of selling great art, and supporting anti-trafficking through awareness and funding.

My background in internet marketing made it easy for me to join in with the small team in launching a start-up. I enjoy working on the SEO and Content Marketing, figuring out how to market and develop the site.

Dew at Sunrise
And now, almost 6 months later, we have a website (mostly) finished, relationships with artists, printers, framers, and suppliers created, and a pretty good idea of where we are going. There have been a handful of challenges along the way, and some things have just taken longer than expected. In other areas we have found surprising breakthroughs, so its been an up and down ride so far.

But sometimes I wonder if I'm doing enough, if I'm accomplishing what I thought I would get done.

I want to make a difference, to do as much as possible, but I have to remember two things: First, I have certain skills and abilities, and I should focus on using my strengths in the ways I can (I shouldn't, for example, try to write and perform a song to raise money or awareness, because that would end terribly). Second, God has prepared things for me to do, and so I should focus on doing the things created for me to do, and not worry about things I shouldn't be doing.

It is quite freeing when you start to realize that you're not supposed to do everything.

Krabi, Thailand

So over the next month I'll be focusing on doing as much as I can in the areas I can make the biggest impact, especially, the Stone in Shoe project.

If you're interested in learning more about Stone in Shoe, you can follow the link to the website, or contact me in a comment below, or on the contact page.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you are also living in your strengths, and not worrying about the things you're not called to do.

PS - Hope you enjoy these pictures of sunsets and sunrises from Chiang Mai.

Sunrise in Chiang Mai

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Travels - Cambodia

February has been Filled with Visiting Several Amazing Places

This month has gone by fast as I enjoyed two separate trips. The first trip was 5 days in Siem Reap, Cambodia where I visited the Stop Slavery Orphanage, several villages and Angkor Wat. Then a few days later I left for Bangkok, and Krabi, Thailand.

It has been incredibly fun to visit these different places and I am thankful each day for the opportunity to see new places, and learn new things.

I'll cover my trip to Cambodia in this post, and make a 'part 2' for my travels to Krabi.


I went to Cambodia with Buddy Rathmell, founder of Stop Slavery, on a quick five day trip at the beginning of February. We checked in on the orphanage sponsored by Stop Slavery there, and looked into several other mission projects at nearby villages. We also did a little sightseeing at Angkor Wat.
An enclosed area at one of the temples in Angkor Wat
Visiting Cambodia was en experience I will never forget. Angkor Wat was an amazing collecting of temples, each with a massive number of intricate structures as well as carvings on almost everything. I was astounded by the shear size of the structures and walls that surrounded them, along with the number of different temples.

Lots of other people also there to see Angkor Wat
But what I will likely remember even more vividly than Angkor Wat are the people I met in Cambodia. Ranging from the indigenous pastors and missionaries to the children at the orphanage and villages, they were all a joy to meet and get to know in just a few short days.

One of the villages
At both the orphanage and villages, I was surprised at how little the kids had compared to western standards, and yet they lived quite happily. It made me realize that I should both be thankful for what I have, and also not put my happiness in stuff.

It is hard to fully convey the experience of seeing an extremely rural village, where some families live in one room bamboo and wood houses on stilts to avoid flooding. They use a well with a hand pump to get water that isn't clean, but its all they have. The village has various animals that roam about, and the only way to reach it is on small dirt paths.

This is how they get all of their water
Yet inspite of conditions that I would find difficult to live in, they were happy and embracing life. Huge steps are being made by a local widow who is sharing her life, and the Gospel, with one of the villages and on one of our visits, around 30 women and children gathered for a short church service. 

At the orphanage, Pastor Paul showed us around and I had a great time hanging out with the kids. They were so excited to meet new people, and were welcoming and friendly. I spent several meals with them and by the end of the trip they gave hugs as we said goodbye. 

I was surprised about how many things I took for granted in America, that the kids at the orphanage didn't have. Clean water from faucets, indoor kitchen, refrigerator, hot water, toys, and the list could go on. 
With the kids from the orphanage

Visiting Cambodia was a great opportunity for me to recognize not only how blessed I am, but that there are so many opportunities around the world for change and hope. Right now, Stop Slavery is making amazing progress in Cambodia through indigenous missionaries and it is incredibly encouraging. You can visit their website by following the link to learn more.

I could probably write pages more, but I wanted to keep this short and to the point. If you have questions or thoughts, be sure to leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

An Update with Pictures of Adventures - January 2014

Some Exciting Changes for Stone in Shoe on the Way

These steps (300 of them) lead to a temple at the top
of Doi Suthep, a mountain next to Chiang Mai.
As most probably know, the main project I am working on here in Thailand is starting an art business called Stone in Shoe with the goal of raising awareness about modern slavery, while also raising money by donating all of the profits to anti-trafficking organizations.

I've been working on this with Alex and Jess Sartore (check out their blog) for the last 2 months or so, although we took a few weeks a little slower during the holidays. That time over the holidays gave us a chance to look at where we were, and make some exciting changes.

While I can't divulge all of the ideas, one thing we are working on is revamping the website to make it easier to navigate, easier for us to use, and just a better experience overall. You can go visit and enter your email to be the first to know when we relaunch!

Other News

Although I took a few weeks a little easy during the holidays, things have picked up again and life just seems to stay busy in Chiang Mai. There are always things to do, whether working on things, or enjoying adventures around the city.

I got myself a new camera for a late Christmas present, to replace my 6 year old camera. Its nothing fancy but gets the job done and is fun to play with, so here are some shots from adventures around Chiang Mai.

This first picture is of a quarry in Chiang Mai that offers a great place to relax, and have a little fun. There are a couple of places to do cliff jumping from, and the water isn't as cold as one would expect for January.
The Quarry
The photo below is from the temple at the top of Doi Suthep, a mountain that overlooks Chiang Mai. It was very beautiful, and there was a lot of gold colored things.

Doi Suthep Temple
Before entering the temple area, you must remove your shoes. The young boy in the photo was kind enough to organize all the shoes.

Shoes outside the temple
There are many markets in Chiang Mai, and this is just one small market that goes on every night. One of the bigger ones is the Sunday night market, where they close down a whole street for almost a mile of street vendors and other shops.

Night Market
A shot of the crew here working with Stop Slavery and Stone in Shoe at a great little coffee shop. Beats Starbucks by a mile, and then some. From left to right, Vince, Jess and Alex.

The group
I find the rice fields very peaceful and relaxing, and they are everywhere on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. You can see Doi Suthep in the background.
Rice Field
Thanks for taking the time to read or at least look at the pictures, let me know what you're thinking!

I am excited for the coming months as progress is made on several projects with Stop Slavery, and I appreciate your continued prayers. I also want to thank everyone who is helping support me over here, you guys are great. Thailand is a huge learning experience, and it isn't even close to over yet.

If you have questions about what I'm doing, or about Thailand, leave a comment!

I'll leave you with this quote from Benjamin Franklin that has really resonated with me this week:

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”