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

Digging Out

February just arrived and many of you in the States are digging out of snow storms and very wintery weather that comes with a reclusive groundhog.

We are doing well in the warm climes of Northern Thailand. It has been a very busy month at Payap University. Today we celebrated culture and talents with Payap’s Got Talent, a university wide competition. We had 14 acts ranging from vocal performances, traditional dances, and magic acts! it was exciting.

Next week is International Day and in previous years, this has drawn more than 1000 people to campus to celebrate cultures from all over the world. We are excited to see a lot of work come to fruition and learn a lot about the many different groups of people who are here on campus and here in Chiang Mai.

My little corner of the university is the Southeast Asian Studies Center. I am directing short courses and semester programs that dive deep into Southeast Asian culture, economics, language, arts, politics, and social issues. Check out more information here and if you know anyone who is interested in studying abroad and learning more about SE Asia, please pass this on to them. Our site is http://seasc.payap.ac.th and we are also adding content at Facebook.com/pyuseasc. Head over there and hit the like button!

Hope you all are having a great February!

Jay Stroud

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!

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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

Love Looking Back At You

Just before Lila was born, everyone kept asking me, “Hey Jay, are you going to write a song for your new daughter?” Just like with Charlie, I kept telling everyone that I planned to and that there was time. In the back of my mind, I was putting it off though. I wrote Charlie’s song Love, Dad almost a week before he was due. After I finished writing and recording it, he was in my arms 10 hours later. Knowing that our daughter was coming, I was a little worried about writing a new song for her because I was afraid she would be born within hours of her song being finished. We were excited for her to come but we also wanted her to wait for Grandma to arrive.

About a week before she was born, I finally wrote her song and over the past couple months, was able to put together a recording and this little video. Here is Lila’s song, Love Looking Back At You.

She’s Here!

Hey friends, we are excited to introduce you to:
Miss Lila Jolene Stroud
Born 9/7/2013
4:41am Bangkok local time
6 lb 15 oz (3.148 kg)
20 1/2 inches (52 cm) tall

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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

Growing Family

 

It’s a GIRL!  In case you missed the announcement, we are expecting baby #2 in early September!  Our baby girl will be the 5th baby girl in the Stroud family to wear this little dress above.  Her aunt and 3 cousins have already carried on the family tradition.  We are very excited about our growing family.

For my parents, this will be their first granddaughter after having 3 adorable grandsons.

Having one child in Bangkok can seem pretty daunting at times (friends around the world with multiple children are laughing at this) and adding another to our mix of work and ministry is going to bring some big changes, but we are excited about the timing and purpose of this baby girl in our family.

As we considered a growing family we began “house hunting” to see what is available around us with a bit more space.  We were absolutely blessed to come across a single home for rent right in our neighborhood.  Honestly, whether we were living in America or internationally, it never crossed our minds that we might be able to have a house!  So this is really exciting!  At the beginning of April we packed up our 2 bedroom apartment and made the move within just a week of finding this house.  We are settled and love it already.  We consider our home to be not only ours, but a gift to those we know as well.  So we have enjoyed all our friends who come and stay with us each week and find comfort and relaxation here too.

The house has a small green yard and lots of room for Charlie to run around.  He literally takes laps around the house daily.  I don’t think there could have been better timing for a 2 year old boy to have some freedom and space.  I’ll be in the kitchen with all the windows open and hear him flip floppin’ by every 30 seconds or so.  Next will come a squeal of delight as he chases a gecko up the wall.  And what could be better than having not one, but two water hoses to play with…

The house is located in a very quiet part of a neighborhood with a mix of single homes and small apartment buildings.  In fact we have a neighbor on one side, but not the other and no one across the street, unless you count all of the creatures who make jungle sounds night and day.  Safety was an issue of concern voiced by both our families and our Thai friends and just for peace of mind we have a wall, gate, rod iron “spears” and two beautiful levels of barbwire.  It’s beautiful really…

There is a small shop a few doors down where you can grab cold drinks and snacks and then one of the best parts is that in the middle of the ’roundabout’ (5 minute walk from our door) is a kids park, walking path and workout equipment.  The walk to the park is pretty exciting for a two year old.  He counts the doorbells on all the gates and searches for all the dogs that every house seems to have.  The park is full of life each evening and we look forward to getting to know some of the other families as our language develops.  So far, most of what I can understand is the older children yelling “farang noi” (little foreigner), but that’s okay for now, since Charlie enjoys doing his own thing at this age.

Life is full of daily struggles and questions, but the ever present joy and peace we have in Christ is what continues to guide us and encourage us here.  We have some big events coming up at the end of the month and look forward to updating you about our work here in Thailand soon.

Love,

Melissa, Jay, Charlie and 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.

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He’s such a fine strapping young lad.

We’re so very proud.

Talk to you next week!

Jay, Mel, and Charlie

Charlie teaches us a new word…

Charlie Turning On the Light

in Thai…

To speak another language fluently absolutely blows my mind.  For those of you who are privileged to have accomplished this, I envy you!

In the past I taught English as a Second Language in a program dedicated to helping Spanish-speaking mothers who had children  in the public school system in California.  There was an understanding that in order to help the children excel in their new environment, the moms needed to be able to communicate and understand English, as well.  I taught those ladies without any understanding of their situation, but how times have changed.

We don’t have a school aged kid just yet, but now I am the mom who needs to grasp a language that is so foreign to my ears.  This week I learned a new Thai word.  Not from our private lessons or a book, but from Charlie!  He doesn’t say or understand it perfectly, but for a 20 month old he is communicating well.   He always points to the lights or a light switch as says, “fais” (pronounced fies).  So I soon learned that “fais” was his word for light and I knew then that he wanted to be picked up so he could push the light switch.

Well, as his communication skills increase daily (he is a jabber box) it finally dawned on me that I should ask what the Thai word for light is.  Knowing that he often adds an “s” to everything, which derives from his familiarity with English, I asked if “fai” can mean light and sure enough, it does.  Thanks Charlie, I think we might learn more from you than from a book.

Speaking of learning Thai, we have been in private lessons for 13 weeks now (just 2 hours a week) and apparently are quite a bit behind the average student…learning the Thai word for failure this week was not a good sign.  Haha.  But, despite that, we have loved learning and actually feel like we’ve progressed a lot as this was our first formal introduction.  Honestly, we have all kinds of excuses for why we don’t practice more and all I’m going to say is that if you are ever given the opportunity for intensive language study take it!

If you are unfamiliar with Thai you can take a look and listen here http://www.thai-language.com/

ริน คุ ตะ (Mel) and  ซุ คะ ฟุ (Jay)

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