the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

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It all comes down to this: Maesalong Akha Update

I've been trying to write an update on the story in Maesalong this morning and have been struggling to find the words. I just can't narrow down all the stories into a cohesive update. So instead of finishing that post, I began catching up on the emails that have been piling up on my task list. In one email, I'm connecting with a family that we have never met but has contacted us and has been praying for us along with their church. As I shared with them, a little bit of the background of our ministry I wrote the following paragraph, and felt that it would be good to share this paragraph with all of you:

... We've seen a lot of death on the way. We've seen our ideas of what ministry looks like crumble. We've seen everything that we had "saved" lost. We've lost a baby through a miscarriage. We've seen our Akha church family torn apart by leaders who don't understand Kingdom Authority.

The Washing of FeetBut we've seen life as well. We've seen God keep us in Thailand when financial arguments said it was impossible. We've seen Jesus minister through our hands and feet when we were called to keep our mouths closed. We've seen the birth of our beautiful daughter Abigail, and await the birth of our second daughter in October. And now we are seeing Jesus minister again as we are being called to display that the true Church does not function as a kingdom that imposes authority, but as one that humbly serves the broken children of God towards unity, in order that the lost children might see God by our love for one another.

That last statement shares the heart of where our ministry in Maesalong exists today. We are bridging gaps, [trying to be] loving to those who are hurting (read "hurting" both ways), and sharing our hearts with those who are willing to listen.

Please continue to pray for our family, for Pastor Joe, for Pastor Phillip, for our Akha mom and for the Akha of Maesalong.

The Story in Maesalong (or, "What all those depressing facebook updates have been about")

Before we get into all of this we have to first say a heartfelt "thank you" to all of you. Friends, family, strangers, leaders... you have all been so supportive of us and your prayers for Maesalong have been felt. I know that most of you follow us on facebook, but for those of you who don't, we want to share some of the "lowlights" in our status updates over the last few weeks:

Maesalong Status Updates

  • PAUL (July 18, 2010): ...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many. "Matthew 20:28."
  • LORI (July 18, 2010): Heading up to the village tomorrow to attend some meetings. Prayers appreciated. In other news, psych is back and does not dissapoint.
  • PAUL (July 19, 2010): lots of confusion in Maesalong right now. heading up there, but could use lots of prayer.
  • PAUL (July 19, 2010): near disaster in the meeting this morning, but some well timed apologies have led to some more mature conversation. keep praying for our church and for the Akha of Maesalong.
  • PAUL (July 19, 2010): is brokenhearted.
  • LORI (July 19, 2010): really rough day today.
  • LORI (July 20, 2010): home from the village, spent and brokenhearted.
  • PAUL (July 21, 2010): reeling from the last few days, I'm sitting in a meeting with all the pastors in our organization unpacking all that is happening in Maesalong.
  • PAUL (July 22, 2010): we get a break today from all that's been going on. teaching at the monthly pastor's training tomorrow then back up to the village on Saturday.
  • PAUL (July 24, 2010): change of plans. instead of going up to the village this weekend we're going to practice fighting this battle "not under our own power". pray for maesalong.
  • PAUL (July 24, 2010): heartbreak after heartbreak with news out of maesalong.
  • LORI (July 25, 2010): up at 4am worrying about the trouble in MaeSalong. prayers still appreciated. this can't be solved by human wisdom.
  • PAUL (July 25, 2010): "sovereign stillness whispers 'trust in Me'."

So that should catch most of you up to the vaguery of our 140-character updates. Now for the background story, it's fairly convoluted so please bear with me as I try to unpack it for you... For a number of months, we have heard rumblings in our village that an Akha pastor who lives in Bangkok has had a problem with our pastor and with the way the church in Maesalong is being run. We'll call the Bangkok pastor "Phillip" and our pastor "Joe". Six years ago, Phillip was on staff with Akha Outreach and was very involved with the Maesalong church. However, five years ago he and his family left for Bangkok and joined another organization which paid for Phillip to receive his masters degree. Currently, Phillip is neither a part of our church nor a member of our nationally recognized church denomination (Akha Outreach Services). He has had no contact whatsoever with the leadership within our organization, and refuses to answer calls or attempts at communication.

Phillip legitimately cares for Maesalong and loves the Lord. The people of Maesalong adore him. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way in his study of leadership he has learned about earthly power and domination rather than the Authentic Authority of God. We heard, indirectly, that he was coming up to our village to have a three-day Bible study, but quickly realized that his sole intent was to remove Joe from his position as pastor of Maesalong.

Joe is a young pastor. As such, he's made a number of mistakes. These mistakes have reflected his youth, his inexperience, and his insecurity. In discussions with our organizational board, however, none of his transgressions are cause for removal. We have worked with him, watching him grow and learn as the church grows and learns with him.

However, pastor Phillip was apparently dissatisfied with the decisions of our leadership. When Joe was unable to answer a string of courtroom-like rapid-fire "answer yes or no" questions to his satisfaction, Phillip dramatically declared that he was leaving, that he would never set foot in Maesalong again, and that no one in our village would ever see his face again.

It was here that he had won. There is not an adult in that room, who had not had a husband or father threaten them in that way. Most of them have had fathers abandon their families, or husbands leave them - including Pastor Joe. As the tears poured and the emotion flowed "Please, don't reject us!", Pastor Joe's heart broke for his flock. Two hours later, Pastor Joe, with his face covered in tears and his body racked with sobs, resigned from his pastorate for the transgression of not meeting the standards of performance placed upon him as pastor.

That evening, the Bangkok pastor dissolved the church board of directors and appointed a new board. He said that he would be willing to allow our organization to appoint a new pastor, but it has later been made clear that if Phillip does not like the new pastor he will remove him as well and appoint his own.

In five years in Maesalong, we have had five pastors. The first left for money and opportunity, that was Pastor Phillip. The second was asked to leave because the established leadership did not feel that he respected them. The third left because although he pleased the 5-6 influential leaders, he had no interest in connecting with the members of the church and would only appear in the village on Sunday morning to preach and eat lunch with the leadership. The fourth, Pastor Joe, was cornered into resignation (although the core leadership played its role here again). The fifth pastor is yet to be determined.

Maesalong has a lot of problems, but every church, every person has problems. But recently in Maesalong some of the real core issues have become evident. When Pastor Joe resigned, there was true brokenness. All, but a very select few, were brokenhearted and in tears. One woman expressed the heart of the women in the group as she said, choking back her sobs "Pastor Joe, I don't know what's going to happen, but I can't express what I feel. I just really want to thank you... for taking the time... the time to teach us women how to read and write the Akha language... and now that you are leaving I don't know what we're going to do...". But it's easier to allow someone you love to sacrifice themselves for you than it is to be rejected by someone you love.

The Akha in Maesalong have been victims their entire lives. They are used to being threatened and unaccustomed to being loved. They cannot imagine going through the pain of being rejected again, so anyone who threatens to reject them holds power. A pastor who loves them and desires for them to get healed is constantly under the threat of being forcibly removed from the community, because he refuses to use rejection as a weapon.

In short, Maesalong has become a pastor-killing church. Each story has been unique, but at the core when things go wrong, the pastor receives the blame. However, the root issues of rejection are finally becoming apparent. "I will reject you before you reject me." Or "I will reject you because you rejected me". Performance. Power. The kingdom of darkness instead of the Authentic Authority of God.

We don't know what's next. We don't know if the village will become part of this other organization based in Bangkok, thus legally and culturally forcing us to leave. We don't know if the village will realize how they are being manipulated and respond in wisdom.

We do have hope. Our hope is for unity between the Bangkok pastor and our organization. Our hope is for unity within our own church. Our hope is that we will be able to continue to minister the love of God holistically to the Akha of Maesalong. Our hope is that all that the enemy has intended for evil, the Lord will use for good (Gen. 50:20).

Thank you for your prayers. Feel free to email us, facebook us or comment here on our blog with questions or comments that you feel led to share, and please keep praying for Maesalong.

Crisis in Thailand : Update

I'm at the Thai stock exchange. Broken widows & fire damage o... on TwitpicAfter the violence yesterday left buildings burned, 14 dead, scores injured, a national emergency and a widespread curfew, there are glimmers of peace this afternoon. Despite the updates of possible roof snipers and pockets of violence, the core group of 5,000 protesters have apparently headed for home. (Source)

We have heard from all of our Bangkok connections and know that they are all safe, although we have not heard if any of them have lost property, power or communication. After a short communication blackout for us last night, we have seen no other changes in our lives - except that our attention has been turned from our daily ministry projects to the news, updates and prayer for this nation.

In Chiang Rai, things seem unchanged... except for the oddity of our major grocery store not opening this morning. We were able to get to a ATM to make a cash withdrawal and our internet connection has been up and running all day. Apparently the curfew (8pm-6am) will continue to be in effect for our province for the next three nights, and many banks and schools will remain closed until next week. We are laying low, watching these events as they unfold. It is not the first political uprising we have seen here, as we have lived through a military coup, a dissolved governing body, closed airports, and multiple appointments of Prime Ministers. However, these events over the past 48 hours have been the most violent and costly that we have seen.

It appears that the peak of the conflict has passed, although a majority of the root problems that initiated the conflict have not yet been addressed and future elections and political decisions are going to quickly stir up emotions and actions again, perhaps to violence.

So all we can do is pray, and trust that our Merciful Father will direct the hearts of these people. Please join us as we lift the nation of Thailand, a nation which has graciously permitted us to live and work within its boundaries and which is home to so many of our dear friends.

  • Pray with us for the governing bodies to make decisions that will be a blessing to the people of Thailand.
  • Pray with us for the military forces to be bringers of peace and stability.
  • Pray with us for the leaders of both political parties that they might find common ground to work together openly and honestly to bring this wonderful country back to a state of peace and to rightly represent the peoples of this nation in their actions.
  • Pray for those who have lost lives and livelihood, that they might be lifted up.
  • Pray with us for the hearts of the people of this nation, that they would receive the heritage of life that comes from the Kingdom of God.

Thank you for joining us in prayer.

Pray for Olive Hope, Rusty and Lynette's Baby Girl

prayinghands400Rusty and Lynette Polinder have been working with the Akha Youth Development Center here in Chiang Rai for the past couple of years and have been expecting their first child. Last night Lynette went into labor and gave birth to a baby girl 2.5 months premature.

Lynette is doing fine, but the baby girl is fighting for life. Rusty is currently in America & is flying out here as quickly as possible.

Please join us in lifting up the Polinder's and this precious little life that she might gain the strength and health that she needs.

Update 1: Sep 26, 2009 Cool story about the birth:

Lynette called us the night she was having the baby looking for the phone number for her OB/GYN. I looked in our contacts, but we no longer had his number, so I gave her Nancy’s phone number hoping Nancy might have it.

When she called Nancy, Lynette shared that she was currently in the hospital and in labor, but that the nurses at the hospital were unable to find the number for the delivering doctor.

With Lynette already in labor 2.5 months early, the last thing she needed was for the nurses to be unable to find the Doctor’s phone number, so as she hung up the phone with Lynette Nancy prayed “Lord, open those nurses eyes. They must have the number, please show them where it is” and left it in the hands of God.

The next day, Nancy visited Lynette and the new baby girl in the hospital and Lynette said to her:

“Thank you so much for getting a hold of Dr. Pitsanuk for me last night”

Shocked, Nancy said: “I wasn’t able to find the number last night either, who told you I called him?”

“Dr. Pitsanuk showed up in the hospital a little bit after we had spoken,” said Lynette, “and he said that you had called him and told him that I was in labor at the hospital and to come in right away.”

Whether it was an angel of God or a vision, there is no question that the miraculous hand of God has been on this baby girl and her birth from the beginning, and we are faithful that He will continue to give this little girl the miracles and strength she needs to hold on to life. Keep praying with us!

Update 2: Sep 27, 2009 Baby's Health Update

According to Rusty's most recent status update, "...Baby went from being on 80% oxygen to 20% over night! Our prayers are being answered. She will be given another shot for her lungs in a few minutes. Pray she does not have any negative reactions! We will have name for her soon. right now i want to call her "fighter". Thanks for all your love and support! God hears our prayers!"

Keep praying!

Update 3: September 27th, 8PM Thailand Olive Hope Update

Rusty arrived today!!  He and Lynette named their beautiful little girl Olive Hope. She was born 1.295  kilos and she is fighting for her life right now.

Today Olive had a Pulmonary Hemorrhage. DEFINITION: Pulmonary hemorrhage (P-Hem) is an acute, catastrophic event characterized by discharge of bloody fluid from the upper respiratory tract or the endotracheal tube. The incidence of P-Hem is 1 in 1,000 live births. P-Hem is present in 7 to 10% of neonatal autopsies, but up to 80% of autopsies of very preterm infants. When evident clinically, P-Hem is usually massive, is associated with bleeding in other sites, involves more than one third of the lungs, and has a high mortality rate.

Currently, she is not getting enough oxygen and they can not turn it up any more.  They also changed her antibiotic and they are afraid there may be some bleeding on the brain and are getting ready to do an ultrasound.

Rusty and Lynette (who has been discharged from the hospital) will be staying in our home in Chiang Rai which is near the hospital, and have a good support team around them - an American couple who speak Thai and have nursing and counseling backgrounds - but we need prayer for this little fighter to survive.

Let's keep believing for miracles.

Update 4: Sep 28, 2009 7:00AM Thailand Rusty & Lynette's Most Recent Note

Dear friends and family,

We have been overwhelmed by the prayers, love, and support we are feeling from all of you. We feel like we are on an emotional rollarcoaster....trying to hold on to hope for our little one, making decisions for her care, and then being moments from thinking we will have to say good-bye to her. We named her together today after Rusty arrived...Olive Hope Polinder (2.8 lbs)...born at 28.5 weeks.

Today was rough. Started off encouraging. One important medicine that we were encouraged to get to her ASAP (surfactant for her little lungs that didn't have time to develop enough) was driven overnight from a friend of ours from Chiang Mai. She received her first dose at 1:00am last night and responded well, giving them the ability to decrease the level of oxygen she is on from 60% to 40%. This morning she had her second dose, and seemed to be responding well to that. This afternoon around 2:00 I was getting discharged from the hospital and got a phone call to come as urgently as possible to the hospital she is at (about 10 minutes away) and said she wasn't doing well. We arrived to find out she had a pulmonary hemorrhage and they needed to draw my blood for a possible transfusion. Her heart rate was dropping, as well as her oxygen level. We sang to her, prayed over her, and cried that we wouldn't have to say good-bye before Rusty landed and met her. It took about 25 minutes for them to stabilize her with a new respirator. They had to then increase her oxygen level to 100%...which increases the risk of other complications.

Current complications she has...PDA (a little hole in her heart that hasn't closed). They gave her medication for this tonight that helps 80% of pre-term babies with this problem. She also has an enlarged heart...but they said with the last x-ray that it seems to be getting a little smaller. Possible Intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in her brain). This can only be confirmed by an ultrasound which has not been done yet...this is the Dr's assumption by symptoms she is seeing. It seems like the pulmonary hemorrhage has stopped and is looking better. The bleeding has made this little one anemic, so this evening she was starting on a blood transfusion this evening around 9 our time.

They are having a hard time stabilizing her. She is on 100% oxygen...which we want to be reduced as soon as her little body can handle it. We thought we were also going to lose her this evening around 6:30 when he O2 saturation levels dropped to 10%. They were able to give her some medication to bring it back up.

We are exhausted emotionally and physically. So glad to be together again. Pray that we will have the strength we need for the moments ahead and the ability to trust Jesus through all of this. Pray for sweet little Olive...that Jesus would work a miracle and breath life into her little body.

One top of all of this we are having insurance complications and unsure what will be covered...so please pray for that.

Much love,

Lynette and Rusty

Image of Olive Hope at Chiang Rai Hospital: From Lynette's sister's blog

Olive Hope Polinder

Update 5: Sep 28, 2009 8:00 AM Newest update this morning via Facebook:

Not the news we wanted to hear this morning.Looks like there has been swelling in the brain overnight, we have a meeting with the doctors this morning. Pray for wisdom. Also have the Elders of our church coming from the mountains to pray healing prayers over olive this morning. The Lord is our only hope..I life my eyes to hills, where does me help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Update 6: Sep 28, 2009 4:00 PM Olive Hope's Evening Update:

When the Polinder's called the hospital first thing this morning, they were informed that the baby had suffered a seizure and wasn't doing well at all. Prayerfully, Rusty and Lynette made the decision to stop making heroic efforts to keep Olive alive, knowing the torment it caused her. When they arrived at the hospital, they said to the nurses, "Can't we just hold her? We just want to hold our baby." Minutes after she was taken from the incubator and placed on her mother's chest, her vital signs went up.

Suddenly, her temperature dropped and the nurses wanted to put her back in. Lynette pleaded to keep holding her, warming her with her own body heat. She held her for three hours, and Olive's tiny body seem to draw strength from her mother and begin to heal. Her will to stay alive is evident, and we believe this is the Lord's will for her as well. Please keep praying for a miracle.

Olive Hope

From their facebook update: We took her out of the glass, and lynette has been holding her to her chest. Olive loves the attention, and she seems to be doing well. There is much concern with the brain problems. We have just been singing God's promises over our little girl. She is part of a Covenant. She belongs to Christ! she continues to fight, we have seen progress since lynette has been holding her. Love you guys. Rusty

Update 7: Sep 29, 2009 2:00 AM Thailand Newest update from Rusty via Facebook:

Olive has made it through another day. Lynette and I are headed to bed. Very hard to leave Olive. Bethany(our dear friend) gets here in the Morning. Norm and Carol (Lynette's folks) in route as we speak. Lynette and I just sat and read all your comments! You have no idea how much your support helps us! Thank you!

Update 8: Sep 29, 2009 9:30 AM Thailand Newest update from Lynette via Facebook:

Olive made it through the night! Libby our dear friend took her through the night. Libby and Jan giving her skin to skin, praying and singing over her! Please pray as we meet with doctors today to understand what is going on in her brain. God touch her. Keep fighting Olive! And thanks to everyone fighting with us!

I am overwhelmed by all of your prayers, love, and support. I wish I could respond more individually, but all of my time is either with her or trying to sleep. So grateful and thankful to have such an amazing group of friends and family holding us up right now.

Update 9: Sep 29, 2009 8:30 PM Thailand Update via Phone conversation/email:

The doctors did an ultrasound on Olive to check the damage caused by the cerebral hemorrhage. On a scale of one to four, she registered four - the highest level of damage. According to doctors, this means she will be handicapped in some way. Of course, Lynette and Rusty simply yearn for their daughter to live. They are seeing bit-by-bit improvements as they and their friends take turns cuddling Olive with life-giving touch. Please join with us in prayer that the damage will be reversed as the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ love on this precious one.

Update 10: Sep 30, 2009 2:30AM Thailand Rusty & Lynette's Most Recent Note

Dear loved ones,

Yesterday was such a special day. We were both able to spend hours holding little Olive on our chests spending time talking to her and singing over her, We have been overwhelmed by the e-mails, phone calls, facebook messages, and visitors. We are being held up by the prayers of so many we know and love, and also by many who have heard the news who we don't even know personally.

Today has been like each day so far since little Olive Hope has arrived...filled with moments of joy, moments of fear, moments of uncertainty, sadness, hope and thankfulness.

This morning she had an ultrasound done to assess the level of intracranial hemorrhage that she had the other night. There are four levels--one being the least severe with little long term complications and four being the most serious and highest risk of long term complications. Olive had a level four intracranial hemorrhage. The doctors are telling us that if she makes it she will certainly have serious cognitive and motor damage..(mentally handicapped, cerebral palsy...and the list could go on). There is also a high risk of blindness due to the high concentrations of oxygen they have had to keep her on. She is also still anemic so she is getting blood transfusions. And this morning she was very jaundiced so we had to keep her under a photo-therapy light most of the day. Because of her brain damage she is no longer able to blink her little eyes. They remain open ALL the time unless we reach and blink them for her. They only have her on IV so far and say she can't have any breast milk until they hear bowel sounds. My milk has come in, so as of now I have been pumping and storing it in the freezer.

Our hearts are aching for this little one. We are willing and ready to care for a little girl with handicaps if Jesus chooses to give her to us. Part of us is also hoping and longing to see a miracle. Another part of us feels very afraid...of all the unknowns to come. She has had every possible complication and to the most severe level thus far...and yet there is something in me that keeps holding onto some sort of hope. And another part of me that doesn't want her little body to suffer any longer. Thoughts are going and coming in all directions.

We have been asked today if we want them to continue aggressive treatment measures, or if we would like to stop those treatments and simply let her go. Yesterday I thought we were feeling ready to let her go because of how much misery she was going through...and now we have been through two days of holding her and seeing her vital signs increase...and I'm not ready yet to let her go.

All this to say...decision making has felt difficult, but today has been a day when I am going to bed with hope for life for this little one...

And just enough strength to make it through this day by threads. And exhausted.

Jesus has indeed been drawing us closer and closer to Him through this journey...our only place to find any hope in this circumstance.

We can feel your love and support all around us.

Love,

Lynette

olive3

Images and updates at Rusty and Lynette's Blog

Update 11: September 30, 2009 8:30 PM Thailand Status update via Facebook

Had a wonderful day today. Olive was on 30% oxygen all day. And her lungs kept up for all 10 hours i was with her. The nurses are taking such good care of our Olive. A day of hope...we will take it! Thanks for your prayers!

Update 12: October 1, 2009 8:30 AM Thailand Status update via A Window into Our World : Rusty and Lynette's Blog

Excerpt: ...Our BIG prayer request is that she would have bowel sounds so that they can begin giving her the milk and colostrum that I have been freezing. She has only been on an IV with dextrose and some other electrolytes and is soooo little and skinny. The Dr. says that there are many factors at the moment for why she has to be NPO (nothing by mouth), but the biggest fear is that if we give her nutrition before her gut is ready, she may get necrotizing enterocolitis... <-- read more -->

Update 13: October 1, 2009, 8:00pm Thailand Status update via Facebook

Olive's platelet count was very low today. They also found more infection in her blood. No bowel sounds yet. Lynette is having a hard time sleeping and starting to feel a bit sick, but thankful that her parents have arrived safe and sound

Update 14: October 2, 2009, 7:15pm Thailand Status update from Rusty via Facebook

Much better day. Olive was very happy to meet her Grandpa and Grandma Miller. She was very responsive today. She does have swelling in her brain, and we are concerned so please just pray that God will continue to heal her. Lynette slept for 10 hours ...and is now with Olive. I used to think facebook was a waste of my time, but now im so thankful for it! You have been our strength friends and family! Rusty From Lynette's Mom's Facebook (via a FB friend): Even though her Olive's head circumference increased last night, there are also signs of hope. She now opens and closes her eyes on her own. They were afraid of blindness and handicaps due to the bleeding in the brain. She had her first bowel sounds during the night, and so pray that they continue so we can feed her Lynette's colostrum and milk she is saving up. I believe God will heal Olive Hope "in his own time" and Lynette and Rusty are committed to take care of her regardless of the outcome as long as God gives her breath. They are counting the cost of what it will mean in Thailand, where handicapped people are treated rudely. he doctor and staff have been absolutely wonderful to Lynette and Rusty. Lynette and Rusty highly respect them.

Update 15 - Rusty & Lynette's Website

Lynette wrote a beautiful letter to Olive and shared more pictures on their website.

Update 16 - Lynette's Facebook Update

Good news from Lynette's Facebook Update: Sat Morning: Today Olive regained the ability to blink and could sleep with her little eyes closed. She also had one stool and had bowel sounds!!!! She will undergo another ultrasound of her brain on Monday to assess if she has had any more bleeding. Her head circumference is growing, so please pray for this. I have a cold so was not able to hold her for the last two days...please pray for my health. Sat Night: No complications to the colostrum thus far! They gave her 1 cc of colostrum 4 times today. A Thai friend of ours (Ichaya) is spending the night with Olive so that we can all get some rest. Rusty had a good time singing to her today. I'm trying not to touch her much until I am feeling 100% better.

Update 17 - Rusty & Lynette's Website, Sunday Oct. 4th

Praise God, Olive continues to show progress. Her digestive system is responding well to the colostrum. She is still blinking and sleeping with her eyes closed. However, her head circumference continues to increase. Pray for good news from the ultrasound on Monday Morning (Sunday evening US time). Read the full post here.

Update 18 - Rusty & Lynette's Website, Monday Oct. 5th

Here is the latest update on Olive Hope. Rusty and Lynette, are doing a great job of updating their own blog, so we will discontinue the updates on this post. Please continue to join with us in prayer for Olive and the Polinders and update your bookmarks or rss feeds to continue following the Polinder's directly!

Foursquare Zimbabwe

Please join us in prayer!

Philip Chimeto, the national leader of Foursquare Zimbabwe, collapsed last night after checking himself into a hospital. Pastor Chimeto, who is in Anaheim, Calif. following Connection 2009, has been diagnosed with cerebral malaria. He is in a coma and is now on life support.

The intensive care unit staff are currently giving him a platelet transfusion. Please intercede for Pastor Chimeto. Pray that Jesus Christ the healer will raise him up and completely heal his body.

Night Ambulance

I'm writing this update on my phone from our hut in Maesalong as Lori is driving to the hospital with a woman from our village. A few minutes ago (about 10 pm) we were called on to come see a woman who is having severe stomach pains. It was quickly obvious she needed hospital care so Lori is racing off with her to the nearest hospital (about 45 min away) while I stay back in my recent role of night caretaker for Abi (who, we are happy to report, is night weaned!).

Please pray for this woman and for safety as they travel to town!

In other news, day 1 of our village VBS has been a huge success. For our village and surrounding area we have 40 children participating in the event! This has been a long time coming and it is wonderful to see the fruits of the labour. Please remember us in prayer as we hope to do a total of 3 vbs's in different villages this month.

Thanks to everyone for keeping us covered in prayer and for all of your love & support!

Abigail is in the Hospital

Hi everyone, just a quick note.

Abi has been sick for the last three days with vomiting and diarrhea and a slight fever. This morning she got even worse and was admitted to the hospital here in Chiang Rai. Her blood work has shown no infections, but a severely low potassium level.

Please join us in prayer that she will return to full health completely and quickly.

Pray For Lori (and Abi, Esther & some Germans)

While I'm stuck in meetings discussing the new Akha orthography (actually, a really cool experience that I will fill you all in more on later) Lori is much more literally stuck in Mae Salong with a broken vehicle. You heard it right, our truck is broken again.

A very similar problem to all our other vehicle issues, actually, as there seems to be a crack in the feed from the radiator to the engine.

She has the baby, Esther and two German visitors - (one of whom is a doctor who just helped out with a free clinic in a local village, I'm sure that's another cool story that we will fill you all in more on later) - so her hands are full.

Please pray for peace for them, for safety and for a tow truck that actually can tow a vehicle (as opposed to the rope/bamboo contraption we dealt with before.)

Don't worry, we'll leave the vehicle in Mae Salong before we have Lori do anything dangerous.

Thanks for your prayers.

The Cyclone that Devastated Burma

With a million homeless and an estimated 100,000 dead, Myanmar (Burma) has been devastated by the Tropical Cyclone (Hurricane) Nargis. While we have only felt the effects of this disaster in rain and clouds, our neighbors in Myanmar have had their lives changed forever by this disaster.

Please join the world in prayer for the recovery and care for the survivors, and the emotional care and comfort for the families of the 100,000 who are feared dead. Pray also that the military government would be softened and allow the world to pour its resources into the compassionate work and recovery that is so desperately needed.

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Akha Dorm...

One of our good Akha friends here in Chiang Rai is starting a new ministry to Akha teenage boys. We were so excited when we heard about his plans and we wanted to share his project with you, so that you can join us in praying for him and the success of the ministry!

I want to help those who come from poor families and otherwise would not have an opportunity to continue their education by offering them a place to stay and being a mentor to them. Proverbs 22:6 says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." I believe that God has given me his heart for young Akha teenagers in Chiang Rai and I therefore want to open a house for about 10 young men so that they can live together in a Christian environment and can be discipled. I want to provide opportunity to use the young people's energy to reach out to other people, on campus and in the city.

If you're interested in learning more about this project or helping with financial needs, please check out the Akha Dorm website.

Goodbye 2007, Hello Future

Looking back at 2007 we realize what a great year this has been for us. God has been so faithful to provide for our needs, our dreams and our future. Abi is an incredible joy. Our house/language helper Esther has been wonderful for our language and relationships. The Akha clinic has been a great ministry. Our relationship with Akha leaders throughout Northern Thailand has grown. But the most exciting thing is that God has given us a vision for serving the Akha in the near future.

Many of you have heard whisperings of future plans, and some of you have gotten the details. We still aren't ready to post the full vision of the projects before us, but want to let you know how to pray for us over the next few months.

We are about to team up with a dynamic Akha family to begin a project to help serve the spiritual, physical and educational needs of the 30,000 Akha people in the greater Mae Salong region.

This family will join us in Mae Salong in April once the father has finished his master's degree from Bangkok Bible Institute.

We are heading into this new season with excitement and trembling, and ask for you to partner with us in prayer for these specific needs:

1. Provision for staff salaries for the family who is joining us 2. Guidance in expanding relationships in these villages 3. Specific, step-by-step direction in meeting these ministry goals 4. Expansion in our language to meet the demands of ministry and relationship with this family and with the Akha people.

Thank you for your prayers, and for all of your support!

Pray for Gary

Please join us in prayer for Gary - a fellow Foursquare Missionary here in Thailand. We just received notice from his wife, Paula, that he has been hospitalized. Here is what she wrote:

Please pray for Gary. About 8 hours ago, I took him to the hospital after he developed cold chills, extreme nausea, internal pain, weakness, and fever. His doctor looked at him, then sent him to the Emergency Room, where they did some tests, then checked him into the hospital. I just spoke to 2 of his doctors; one is an Infectious Disease specialist. They are not sure what is wrong with him, but think he may have an "e coli" infection or perhaps another type of blood infection. They have to wait a couple of days for the lab tests to confirm it. His doctor told me it could be a serious situation. Right now, Gary is in the hospital on mega doses of 2 different IV antibiotics. He was a bit delirious earlier, but when I talked to him about 30 minutes ago, he was trying to joke with me, though he was weak and in pain.

Pray for Esther's Family

Remember our language / house / baby helper Esther? Well she continues to be a wonderful friend and it has been a joy to have her with us these last four months. She is doing great in life, and we frequently have discussions about her future, spirituality and the world in general.

Esther had to quit school and work at the age of 16. Since her older brother is finishing tech school and her older sister was married very young, she was the oldest child who could work to help support her parents. Her first job was with a Thai woman and her foreign "Boyfriend / Husband". This is a tremendous problem in Thailand as foreign men flood into the country looking for Thai "wives". She was subjected to some awful stuff working for them and ran away back home. Finally she heard about us and called us up to ask if she could work for us.

As wonderful as it has been to have her around, it would be a tragedy if she worked as a house helper for her entire life. She is incredibly bright and we have helped her get into Thai "adult education" for a GED-type equivalent. We are looking forward to what God has for her in the future.

As well as she is doing, her sister really needs your prayers. She married a Thai man who is an alcoholic, violent and abusive. They have a 3-year old daughter and Esther's sister is pregnant with their second child. The husband keeps threatening to kidnap and run away with the 3 year old. Last weekend the husband declared that he was divorcing the wife, but he keeps showing up (probably to take money for alcohol).

Esther's sister is despondent. She is not taking care of her daughter and has been talking about killing her unborn child as well as herself. Yesterday she asked Esther to take her daughter back to the village to live with their parents.

We, of course, are glad to let Esther take care of this family emergency and she will go back to Maesai sometime today and will stay there as long as is needed to make arrangements for the little girl, as Esther's sister refuses to go back to her parents.

Please pray for Esther's sister, for safety from her husband and for protection for the unborn child.
Please Pray for the entire family that they will have wisdom to intervene as necessary for the protection of all people involved
Please Pray for Esther who loves her sister and her niece and is caught in the middle of all of this

Please Pray this Week

We have a very busy week ahead of us and would love your prayer support.

Our week is so full because it is the last week of school break in Thailand, and everyone has decided that it is the perfect time for the annual events.

First, we are heading to Chiang Mai (today) to attend the Foursquare National Convention for Thailand. We will leave the convention early to come back to Mae Chan on Wednesday to attend the staff retreat for Akha Outreach Foundation. Then, we will skip a day of those meetings to head back to Mae Salong for our village's New Rice Festival on Friday. After a brief stopover in Chiang Rai, we will head back to Chiang Mai on Saturday for the Foursquare Missionary Retreat.

We ask for your prayers for Energy, Safety as we Travel, enjoyment of these events, and especially that Abigail will be able to handle all of this busyness.

Thanks for praying!

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Prayer Update :: Manoon

Thanks for your continued prayers for Manoon. He is still battling, but there have been some scary moments and he has been moved back to the ICU. The doctors decided that a tracheotomy needed to be performed, and now his body is much more relaxed for breathing, but there is still a long way to go. He has terrible sores all over and in his mouth from being on the respirator for so long and is still not very responsive - physically or mentally.

Continue to join us in prayer for his comfort, and that he would be made whole.

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Urgent Prayer : Manoon

We just received an email from the staff at House of Joy requesting urgent prayer for Manoon, one of the teenagers at house of joy, who was hit by a truck this morning on his way to school. Here are the details we know:

This morning he was riding his bike to school and a soldier driving a truck accidentally struck him, knocking him unconscious. We praise God the ambulance was able to somewhat stabilize him before rushing him to the emergency room, but he's been there for three hours already and is still not breathing on his own. His eyes are closed but his limbs keep jerking and fighting, and they just did a CAT scan and are concerned there may be blood on the brain. We are not sure yet if he will need emergency surgery. Please, please join together, maybe even call others whom you know have a heart for House of Joy, and pray for this precious 13 year old. Pray that God does a miracle and that his life will be a constant witness to all who see him. Pray for his younger brother who also lives here, and his family in the village that the Holy Spirit would comfort them and give them peace. We know God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask, think or imagine. He is able to heal Manoon.

Please join us in prayer.

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Pray for the Hostages in Afghanistan

I was surprised to learn the other day that this is not big news in America, in fact the people I was speaking to had not even heard that 23 Christian Korean volunteer workers, 16 of them women, have been kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and 2 of them have already been killed (as of August 1st). Apparently, even Christian news sources are disturbingly quiet on this story, although I have seen many updates and requests for prayer from the missionaries around the world.

The best sources I have found that are continuously covering this story are Eugene Cho and Michelle Malkin. I encourage all of you to visit their sites to catch up and stay updated on these developments.

Please pray for the remaining hostages, for their families and the families of the martyrs as these horrible events continue, and join us in asking for the release of the remaining hostages.

Please Pray for Lori's Mom

Join us in lifting up my Mom, Jan, in prayer over these next few weeks. She goes into surgery on Monday, July 9th to have her uterus and omentum removed. This surgery is in response to some "pre-cancerous tumors" which were laprascopically removed along with her ovaries about a month ago. This upcoming surgery is intended to be both preventative of further cancerous growth, as well as exploratory, in order to look for any other abnormalities which may be present.

Please pray...

... for her safety during the surgery itself. Pray that the surgeons would have God-given wisdom and understanding as they perform this major surgery

... for the eradication of any cancerous or pre-cancerous cells.

... for her immediate recovery in the hospital. Pray that my mother would experience a God-given physical comfort and emotional peace. Also, please pray for the nurses and family members who will be caring for her during this time.

... for her long-term recovery. Recovery from major surgery like this is expected to take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Please pray for quick and complete healing!

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