February 2023 Newsletter
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream..."
Jeremiah 7:7-8 ESV 
Dear family, friends and our entire support network,
It's great to be writing to you all again! We hope and pray that each of you are truly well. We're excited to share some updates and pictures. For Marie this month has been one of encouragement and breakthrough in some major areas, for Ethan it's been a month of taking leaps in language learning. He is on fire supplementing class time with an awesome online teacher he has found to be super helpful. :) One of the biggest highlights from February was getting to spend time with workers from an undisclosed nation. We got to hear from them, pray together over their nation, worship collectively and ask lots of questions. God truly used that time as a catalyst for breakthrough for us and our team.
We are learning language, language, and more language! Everyday we are plugging new phrases into our flashcard app, trying to read street signs and fumbling through talking with the baristas, waitresses and friends we've made, laughing along with them as they help correct our tones and graciously receiving their praise at our progress thus far. It is the BEST when we can understand a little more each time we get to connect with friends here.
Our team has moved into the second level class offered through our Thai School. Basically it's all about employing our vocabulary and written learning into making *grammatically correct* sentences, so that has been difficult and exciting at the same time! :)
We are beginning to see more and more how the language is such a reflection of culture and vice versa - they are so interconnected. For example, Thailand values familial hierarchy and honors elders more than western countries currently do and this is reflected in the Thai language: every single member of the family has a unique title. In English we often use "grandma" for both our maternal and paternal sides of the family, but here they are two different words! "yâa" is the paternal grandmother and "yaai" is the maternal grandmother. It matters! Things like this show us how language uniquely and inherently communicates ideas of value within the society.
While Ethan found his athletic outlet early on in getting to Thailand (basketball at the local stadium), this month I finally found mine (or re-discovered it haha). I used to loved running in the States and I found a race in Trang coming up in July! What better way to celebrate being here for a year than to run a race in the community? I started training for that and I'm hoping to find some running buddies, perhaps join a running club here if I can find one! It's been awesome to get out early in the morning and see God's unqiue and beautiful creation here. Without fail, every time I go running I'm cheered on by onlookers, "sôo sôo" or in English, "fight fight!" they'll usually say as they smile at me with a thumbs up. Thailand is quite accurately known as "the land of smiles" and for that and many other things about this country I am continually thankful!
Last Thursday we had team intercession over the city of Trang. Every week we come together as a team to pray over various topics: this week we were praying for God's will to be accomplished in this city! In addition to Trang, we are believing that Thailand will be fully reached with the gospel, that all 77 unreached people groups would have adequate access to the good news, that all 24 unengaged people groups with no known Christian witness would, within our lifetimes, have an indigenous church established within them.  We also are praying and believing that God would raise up Thailand as a great mobilizing and sending nation to its neighboring nations in Southeast Asia and beyond! Would you take a moment to pray this verse over the country of Thailand?
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Isaiah 49:6 ESV
Follow the button below to read more about unreached and unengaged peoples.
We finished our read through From Buddha to Jesus by Steve Cioccolanti and are now moving onto Thai Culture and Society by Roger Welty. Each week we have a team meeting processing how we are all doing in adjusting to Thailand and processing what we're learning through our Language and Culture phase curriculum. We've found some cool historical movies to supplement our reading about Thailand and have loved getting to visualize Thailand before so much modernization hit the country. Marie and Brandon have been slowly working on writing and are praying about some preliminary steps God may lead us in before diving into the thick of writing & publishing. More on that in the next few months!
Marie's Reflection - Establishing Roots
As you all know, our entire team is in a season specifically dedicated to learning language and culture. This will be our main focus for another year and a half and we wanted to share with you all more of what that looks like! We hope it not only helps to give a better picture of what we're doing, but would even serve you to connect to other cross-cultural workers you know or may come to know in the future!
When I think back to when we were initially talking about the "language and culture phase" I realize that I didn't exactly know what that meant. Well, I knew that it meant reading culture books and going to Thai class (that's definitely a big part), but I didn't know it would be soooo much more than that. We're realizing that it really does engulf every part of our lives. From doing laundry to grocery shopping, it's an all-day every day kind of thing. With that, our eyes have been opened to this much more all-encompassing adjustment season that we're in and God has brought so much peace, comfort, and encouragement to us through this deeper revelation of our current season.
It's funny because I had been meditating on Colossians 1:9 at the beginning of the month. Paul prays that the believers would be "filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord."  I am realizing that He has done this especially through the friends who visited our team and encouraged us with their experience in working cross-culturally.
When they were here, they shared a picture of our team as a tree. This tree has been uprooted and replanted into foreign soil. If you know anything about gardening, you probably know that replanting puts stress on the plant. The soil pH, composition, moisture, and sunlight all undergo change. This in turn requires the plant to re-learn how to thrive in that new environment by re-establishing its foundational root system.
Well, that's a really phenomenal picture of us right now in our language and culture phase of ministry! For example, we used to know how to get groceries and buy x y or z thing we may need. We used to be able to talk to our neighbors well. We used to have rhythms of life like exercise or recreation. We used to have ways we got our emotional needs met through friends/family. We used to know where to go to get a computer fixed. We used to have certain skills we could offer readily to others that gave us purpose and identity. We used to have a familiar church community. We used to be able to communicate to those around us with ease and efficiency. In our "re-planting" in Thailand, the majority of these foundational abilities were called into question, we were uprooted and replanted into a new place with its new social and cultural codes and expectations. With this picture in mind, maybe you've already connected the dots! This is really what much of our day-to-day life looks like right now: re-establishing all these roots in our new home.
Our friends continued to explain that there's a season after re-planting when the gardener doesn't expect that tree to produce a whole lot of fruit. The expectation is that the plant is busy underground, busy establishing its new root system. It's the foundation that needs establishing before the harvest can come and the gardener knows that! How relieving, how encouraging it was to hear that this is our aim and goal in these next two years: to simply re-establish our root system, trusting that there will be above-ground fruit to come in due season.
Last week our team had a conversation further processing what this means for us in this season: partnering with Him in laying this healthy foundation, growing and building as He directs! He's the Master Gardener of it all. There are so many new roots to form: the really big ones of language and establishing a base, to the smallest (yet truly significant) roots of finding friends and places we can go on runs in town. We follow His lead, trusting that by His grace we can come out of this season not merely surviving but thriving!
This is the "vision tree" that our ministry has used for the past few years. God gave it added meaning this month. He knows just how to relate to His people in a way we can understand!! :)
God's leading, encouragement and continued hand upon us and our team this month - it really does feel like there's been major steps of establishing and we are so grateful for those answered prayers!!
Ethan's continued relationships with friends. He's gotten to know another Christian from Malaysia he plays basketball with and had some other good conversations. Please continue to pray for genuine friendship, that our lives would be a witness and for our language learning to progress to share more with these men.
Our team members have likewise fostered some really beautiful relationships with others in the community. We're praying God continues to move through those relationships!
Prayer over filing our taxes, just that we would do everything correctly. If you know of someone who has experience with taxes for missionaries it would be a huge blessing to us to be connected with them. A supporter has recently given us a contact, but we wanted to include this prayer request here should we still need some extra help in the coming month.
Please pray for these names: Mike, Live, Golf, Tian, Boom, Team, P'Goi, P'Mook, P'Nok and her two children, P'Daranee, Kru Sue, Nueng, Bing Bing, Don and Gee, Jay and Chompoo.
Our Thai friend Ford will be doing his DTS in two months! If you could pray that this season would be a special time of meeting with God and that he would be activated into God's purposes for his life. If you would like to donate to the cost of his DTS we'd love to give you that information.
After looking at our budget for the coming year and recognizing the cost of living is higher than expected we are seeking to raise our monthly income. We also have the goal to begin saving for Ethan's upcoming DTS.
Marie - identity in Christ
Ethan - walking in Christ-likeness even in the smallest of things.
It's our joy to share and connect with you all in this way. As you've probably noticed we also love to share resources that we find helpful with the hope that it may aid you as senders and mobilizers in God's world mission, connecting you on a deeper level to the people you are helping us serve in the Buddhist world!
Below is a really joyful and encouraging testimony of a pastor we got to meet a few months ago. Our church hosted workers from the region and he lives in the province right below us. Ironically we did a gift exchange and we actually got his gift at random draw, yes it was extra blessed. ;D
Thank you for continuing to partner with us, we love and miss you. <3
Ethan and Marie Parks
"Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible."
Ephesians 6:23-24 ESV
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jer 17:7-8.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Col 1:9-10.
 "CTM Stories // Pastor Kritsada,” February 15, 2022, YouTube video, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VUF4qevVRn0