October’s Come and Gone

The world seems to be spinning faster than ever these days. I could say that October has come and gone, but considering February was the last time we posted an update here, we are nearly at the point of saying that 2015 has come and gone. So with nothing less than long-lost resolution or perhaps a little pre-New Year’s Resolution, I share a recap of 2015 so far with a with an ever pressing desire that updates will come more often.

B.LightyearThis year, a deep love of Toy Story and all things Buzz Lightyear have overtaken our household. Charlie jumps from couch to couch to infinity and beyond fighting off the evil forces of Zurg and bath time.
Lila has found a love for singing this year and her songs grow clearer every day. She turned 2 in September and at some point burst into Let It Go and a love of Elsa and princesses. It is a blast singing songs with her.

Charlie got his first set of roller blades and learned to skate. He also learned to ride his bike with no training wheels. Grandma and Grandpa Stroud were a big help in this as they visited for much of October. The kids loved spending long days playing with Grandma and Grandpa.
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Jay saw some big job transition at Payap. His new position is in the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace as Program Integration & Facilitation Coordinator. The Southeast Asian Studies Center merged with IRCP and Jay is overseeing marketing development including all new branding, print materials, and a new website developed at ircp.payap.ac.th, as well as continued development of information about Southeast Asian Studies programs at seasc.payap.ac.th.

Along with marketing, he is coordinating monthly events on campus which help students and faculty to gain vocabulary to be able to conceptualize our ideas of peace at a personal and spiritual level, relational level, and global level. Once we begin to understand what we mean by peace, we can discuss steps for pursuing it. The hope is to have students form a club that IRCP faculty will oversee and mentor.
J.BandJay continues to write music and record, share, and perform every great once in a while. In July, he released a recording of a new song called The People Live in Wait. Click the link to listen.

Melissa has been working hard in the International College at PYU helping students find their way toward graduation but much more toward success, whether in class or maturing mentally, spiritually and socially. She keeps very busy and loves helping students from all over the world get connected at Payap. While many universities claim to be international in Thailand, Payap is truly international. The International College has about 300 students that represent 30 different nationalities. Some classes might have 15 different nationalities studying side-by-side. Teaching intercultural communication to a group this diverse is challenging and it makes for a very natural cultural laboratory where students quickly see how important it is to understand the world and communication from different perspectives. While challenging, it has been very rewarding.
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Both Charlie and Lila seem to be moving faster and faster every day. Charlie’s quote of the last month has been, “Look how fast I can run!!” Mostly we just try to keep up. As we move into the holidays, we’d love to keep up with you as well. Drop us a line via email, Facebook, or in the comments below and share your journey with us!

Jay, Mel, Charlie, and Lila

Heading North

Hey friends,

We have had a busy summer. We got to see many of you as we traveled back to the States for a month over June / July. It was great to get to relax and introduce Lila to her Great Grandmas and aunties, uncles, and cousins who were not part of the grand parade of visitors passing through Bangkok last fall.

As soon as we returned to Thailand, we loaded all of our possessions onto a truck and headed North to Chiang Mai, our new city. Melissa and I both started new positions at Payap University in mid July. Melissa is the Head of International Campus Life and I am the Director of the Southeast Asian Studies Center. Our positions have kept us very busy but we are at a point where we really love what we are doing now. Melissa has been teaching a class called Truth and Service as well as planning all sorts of student activities and I am redesigning the incoming study abroad programs here at Payap.

Charlie and Lila have settled into life as well. Charlie attends a local bilingual school and Lila attends a daycare not far from our house. Both love their schools and have lots of smiles coming and going to school each day.

First Day Before School

First Day Before School

First Day Before School

First Day Before School

First Day After School

First Day After School

First Day After School

First Day After School


























We’re all smiles!

It was quite a challenge to find the right house in the right area but we moved in just a few weeks ago and are slowly getting settled. Due to special gifts from some of you who have donated funds via Grandview Baptist Church in Iowa, we were able to purchase a car. This has become a great need for our family, but not something that we could really afford until now. We are so thankful for the generous gifts that made this possible.

Thank you!

Avanza2

Amazingly, Lila’s one year birthday came this past week on September 7th and we had a little party with some very special treats. She loved the first attempt at donut pops (and I think it is safe to say that Charlie is a fan too.) Check it out in the video below. We hope you all are having a great September and enjoying the beginnings of autumn. Talk to you again soon!

Jay, Mel, Charlie, and Lila

3 Weeks To Go!

Hey Friends,

Just a quick update. Mel reached 37 weeks yesterday and she is doing great. Stroudlette has been giving some good kicks but doesn’t seem all too eager to make her entrance to this world just yet. Our friend Janeen from Iowa passed through town a couple times in the past two weeks and mom (Ilene) will be arriving this next Monday. Charlie is counting the days to grandma time and is very excited to meet Stroudlette as well. We are so excited to introduce you all to this baby girl and will keep you posted!

Jay

She Shall Be

In about 6 weeks, we will be holding a baby girl in our arms. She might very likely be here sooner. Yesterday Mel reached the 34 week point. August is looking like a very busy month for us here. We will have a friend from Iowa visiting briefly, I (Jay) will be taking an overnight business trip up to Lampang which is a city in the north of Thailand and mom will arrive at the end of August to help us out with Stroudlette as she makes her début in this world. The end of August will be here faster than any of us could imagine and with it will come a sweeter little girl than any of us could have imagined. Please pray for us this month as we prepare for her joining our family. We will post pictures as soon as Stroudlette arrives. In the meantime, here are a couple of life shots from the past few months.

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Charlie and mom enjoying the afternoon as we celebrated Jay’s birthday in July.

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Charlie has been playing along with daddy on his guitar.

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Charlie loves making his own smoothies. Maybe we can get him to open a business.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

Jay, Mel, Charlie, Stroudlette

Still Growing

Hey friends, it has been an eventful few months that has had plenty to update about, however we have been running too fast to slow down. I took a trip to Myanmar, we had multiple bouts with sickness, and a great trip to visit family in December. Most recently, Charlie celebrated his 2nd birthday. The big day was yesterday and he has had two parties so far and two more to go this weekend. By next week, there will be pictures. In the meantime, here is one from his party at Kids-D Daycare.

CharlieNemo

He’s such a fine strapping young lad.

We’re so very proud.

Talk to you next week!

Jay, Mel, and Charlie

May Day

Hey all, May Day is here and it has been more than a month since you have really heard from us here. The Strouds have been very busy with all sorts of fun. Here are a few of the highlights that we have seen over the past month:

Grandma and Grandpa Stroud came through for a visit and stayed about 10 days getting familiarized with the city. The had a great time and alas, Charlie got a good dose of spoiling. We hope to have them as regular visitors. Charlie hopes that Aunties and Uncles and cousins will come and visit someday too.

We had a great time celebrating Easter and all that went with it. Charlie was happy to explore the Easter basket full of goodies and still cherishes the soft bunny that lives with us now, though the candy from his basket mysteriously disappeared. We blame Grandpa.

We had a couple of great opportunities to get to the beaches just south of the city and they provided much needed relief and rest…once we got there! We decided to experience the train to get there and were thankful that Mom and Dad were with us to help keep Charlie busy. The trip that was supposed to take 3-3 1/2 hours clocked in at about 5 hours. This was not a serene, air-conditioned high-speed train you might be imagining. This was more like old west, clickety-clacking, windows open, 95F temps, standing room only, and sellers pushing through every 2 minutes with ‘cold’ drinks, hot soups, rice plates and desserts for sale. But what do you expect when a 250km train ride costs $5 US?

Once we arrived we found a peaceful seaside awaiting. Between the sound of the waves, the beauty of the hillsides around us and the general slow pace of life, we had many opportunities to relax and refocus.  It was wonderful.

The past couple of weeks have found us very busy with work and play. Charlie got his first haircut and has been babbling up a storm. He hit 15 months this week and has begun to ‘assert’ himself a little bit, throwing lots of little fits and frustrations at not getting his way, but he is learning. At this point, he understands Thai better than we do and we expect he will start speaking words very soon. He listens and responds to many directions in both Thai and English.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We continue to face regular battles in language and illness yet we walk on, watching for the opportunities that God shows us to draw near to and depend on Him and to share His love with those around us.

Jay

Sawatdee Khap!

That’s “hello” in Thai and though I can’t say it just yet, I have learned that it is important to show respect to others and greet them.  So, I’ve begun to wai (bow with my hands together) to others and soon I’ll learn to say hello!

I’ve been a pretty happy camper lately.  My days are so full.  After a good 11 hours of sleep at night I’m ready to hit the ground running.  I love breakfast with Mom and Dad and then I get an hour of playing in while they rush around getting ready.  One of my favorite things lately is when I hear it is time to go, which means I get to put on my shoes!  I love my shoes!  I rush over and grab them of the shelf and even though I still need help getting them on properly, I’m learning.  Then it’s time to get in my stroller and we are off to catch a bus.

Daycare is still non-stop fun and I’ve found myself taking 3 or 4 hour naps lately!  Crazy – I never do this at home for mom and dad, but I just wear myself out at daycare.  You can see in the pictures that I’m a really good listener and it helps that all my friends know what to do.  Some of my newest words in Thai are “sit down, hug, lay down, all done, eat, clap, music and dance,” and come to think of it those are some of my favorite in English too.  Well, I think the pictures speak for themselves so I’ll let you just enjoy those.

Thankfulness – Daycare

Charlie loves Ajarn A!

Daycare is going so well – Yes, it’s official, Charlie loves daycare!  Last week I went to pick him up and he was walking around and playing with his friends when he saw me.  Every other day he would come running to me and give me a big hug, but on this special day he continued walking around and playing with friends until the phone started ringing.  That’s when he got excited and went to find the phone.   All the while I was standing there.  Finally his teacher, A, brought him over to me and I got a hug.  So then just this morning as we dropped him off, he jumped out of stroller and ran straight to the play mat.  Before we left we said “bye Charlie” and he waved back.

There are still many days when I want to just be at home playing with him and watching him grow by the minute.  Then I remind myself of the special time and place to which God has guided our family and I see his daycare as a blessing in our lives and God’s provision as we continue to transition into life here.

Being so social, he is loving it.  He loves the people, the routine, the music, dance, yoga, art, lessons, bubbles!  Isn’t it amazing how adjustable and flexible kids are!  I am learning that it is important to not project all of my personal challenges/biases/desires/frustrations on Charlie’s little life.  He is in God’s hands day and night!

Some of what I do every day…

 

Happy Birthday

First Birthday

Today was my first birthday!  And in following with the Stroud tradition of celebrating I have had three little parties!  First, I got to celebrate with Grandma Stroud last week before she left to go back home.  That was the best because I got lots of fun toys that I play with every day now.   When we moved here from the US I had to leave the few toys I had behind and so far I’ve done pretty well playing with yogurt containers and plastic water bottles, but even those can get boring for a one year old.  So, now I have some blocks and puzzles and even a xylophone!

Hi there!

My next birthday was with just mom and dad and me.  That was special because I tasted my first chocolate birthday cake.  YUM!  At first I just picked at it and then I started shoving it my mouth saying, ” MMMMM!”  Maybe it wasn’t my proudest moment, but I loved it.

Then just today, on my actual birthday, I went to daycare and brought my friends and teachers my favorite banana muffins.  We ate those together at snack time and then the BIG surprise happened.  My teacher bought me a Mickey Mouse birthday cake and they all sang “Happy Birthday” to me!  This was so much fun because these are my closest buddies and they made me feel so special.  What a year it has been and now I am ready to experience so much more – one day at a time.

Just found out I love Cake!

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