Leah and Natalie's news

Two years on...
We’ve been here for two years now. In that time we’ve been through really uncertain times like having to evacuate our home twice; we’ve had to stand strong in prayer for a country that was going through a natural disaster; sometimes we’ve pondered and cried even, craved to be at home where we would be able to be a ‘normal kid’... a place where we wouldn’t be classed as a ferang (foreigner).

But despite how hard life can often be here, how difficult and challenging it can be, Natalie and I can honestly say that we wouldn’t take back one minute of our time here. God has taken us through experiences to show us His power and His love for us, no matter what difficulties we go through.

Leah and Natalie celebrating their Dad's birthday

In this link letter, we really want to share with you a story of a young boy who we work with at the place of grace. A child of God who has inspired us all and who I’m sure will inspire you too. This is my story of our little Thai brother...

Threadbare clothes

It was the first day of the children’s group at the place of grace. My heart was thumping, ready to leap from my throat. I couldn’t control how excited I was at finally getting the chance to speak to these children, children that I had wanted to work with for so long. The first thing that I noticed as I sat down eagerly next to two young Thai girls was their appearance. Their clothes were paper thin, with dirt coating what seemed to be every seam of cloth; there was also gaping holes and rips scattered around leaving the clothes hardly wearable.

My first instinct was to bring my sewing kit in and patch up their clothes in order to try and make them look brand new for them. Then the realisation came that pushing the needle through the already barely-there cloth was just going to make the holes worse. Problems like this can be really challenging when you want to do everything you can to help these underprivileged bundles of joy but it’s their way of life and sometimes that’s not always possible.

A hungry little boy

A boy with threadbare clothesThat same day a little boy walked in, which wasn’t too unusual to see with many other young boys wondering in every now and again. The thing was, though, that this young boy was different. He wondered in with no t-shirt, no shoes and dirt caked all over his body. I smiled at him and kept an eye on him as he wondered around aimlessly, wondering whether to go and join him in playing with the toys that he was eagerly playing with. Every time I drifted over he would stare inquisitively but then wander away to a corner with his toys. The other children wouldn’t play with him either. When we would do the food craft he ravishingly ate every crumb and licked his tiny dirt coated hands with a grin on his face. It didn’t seem too hard for me to know why he always seemed so hungry when I saw how his ribs were showing so prominently.

Praying

As the weeks went by, we kept trying to encourage him to play with us and the other children. He really struggled at first but got used to it after some time and eventually started to want to play Snakes and Ladders with us. This would always be very cute or narak as we say in Thai, as he would always move the counter backwards when the dice was thrown, and he couldn’t count the numbers; he didn’t even seem to mind though.

Every week we always do a simple sketch to illustrate a Bible story or a point that we want to get across before then praying, before they run in a stampede over to the craft table. Most of the children squint with their eyes or say amen five times in a row in the middle of the prayer. But the little boy whose name we found out was Feng always prayed with his eyes closed tightly and his tiny hands clamped together, never to be ungrasped until we’d finished.

Playing at the Place of GraceThe startling thing was that even when all the children yelled amen at the top of their voices, he still had his eyes closed; every week he does the same thing. One of us would always have to tug on his arm and say his name very loudly before he would get up. Of course this was the sweetest thing ever for us and we were so intrigued that he was praying so eagerly, but as the weeks went by we started to notice that something seemed to be very wrong with his hearing.

For instance, I remember seeing him playing in the corner alone for a long time and calling him from a distance to come and get some fruit as he loves food so much. He wouldn’t turn around though, even when I yelled out his name, and had to go right up to his face where he could see me before he seemed to notice that I wanted him. Our first instinct was to find out what was going on and so we inquired with his older sister Moe who enjoys the group every week and his guardian who is his grandfather. They told us that he’s always been like that and unfortunately he can’t go to school because he wouldn’t be able to learn very much with his hearing.

Six years old

Feng is six years old; he is a lovely, lively little boy who wants to be loved but also has a mind to learn. When we play Snakes and Ladders with him, which is his favourite game, he screams and jumps up and down in delight when he wins (we have to pretend as the little poppet can never manage to get to the end without us missing a few counts!). The tragedy is that he deserves a chance to learn – when I play with him I see the twinkling shine of determination in his eyes. His grandfather has to look after him and six others, all under 11 including a one year old who likes to throw rocks at her siblings heads (when I write that, I’m not joking), and a baby who is aged under six months.

They live in a slum community and hardly have enough to eat. They all sleep on one large, weestained thin mattress at night, above the rotting rubbish that lies underneath the foundations of their hut. The grandfather loves every one of his grandchildren and I honestly see how he loves them from the way he looks at them but he hardly has enough money to feed them all, never mind get little Feng help.

Feng has always showed incredible determination and has a kind heart that would always try and help his family. He told me once that in a few years he’s going to go to work doing something to help his family. Tears were welling up when I heard him say that; I thought he is six years old and he’s already thinking about providing for his family despite being partially deaf. He is inspirational.

In the Place of Grace

Please pray:

  • That Feng can get the opportunity to go to school and get the help that he needs so that he can live a better childhood.
  • That we could have wisdom in how to help Feng and how to pray for him.
  • For all the children that we care for at the place of grace. Pray that we can shine a light in their difficult lives.
  • That we can be a positive witness to our non Christian friends at school and that we can feel the love of God mightily in our lives so that we can give it to others too.

Life can seem tough; in fact as most of us know, life is tough and as we get older life only seems to get tougher. However, when you see firsthand what a little boy like Feng has to live with, it changes your life. I am a lot more grateful now than when I was thinking about what I have in my own life. We challenge you today to focus on God’s blessings in your life and to see how you can help (even just with prayer) someone who is struggling or is less fortunate then you.

Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers; it always greatly encourages us.

We are looking forward to visiting this summer.

God bless,

Leah and Natalie