Our Newest MK

Allison Jessie Yu

Our ZOE Ohana just got bigger! Last month we welcomed the newest member of the ZOE brood, Allison Jessie Yu, born April 20th at 11:30 p.m., tipping the scales at 7 pounds, 5 ounces and measuring 19.3 inches.

Baby Alli is the youngest child of David and Ester Yu, also our newest missionary family to arrive in Thailand. Alli is a delight to her older brothers Ian (6) and Eli (3).

Ester and Alli

The Yu Family joined us last August from California where David was serving as an associate pastor at their home church, Immanuel Bible Church. Before Ester was a stay-at-home mom, she worked as a teacher for Santa Clara County’s juvenile hall and was a social worker and program administrator for Children’s Home Society of California. As they prepared to make the move to Chiang Mai, the Yus found out that they would be blessed with their third child. A less faithful couple might have changed their plans, but not Dave and Ester! An amazing family and a very brave mother: epidurals are not allowed in Chiang Mai!

Welcome Allison, our newest MK (missionary kid)! We are so happy you’ve joined us and we are looking forward to getting to know you and sharing in this incredible adventure and journey called life!

Find out more about the wonderful Yu Family at their blog.

The Yu Family (minus Alli)

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Sweet & Savory

Creamed corn, yes … but CORNED ICE CREAM?!

A recent article about how American food makers have adapted their snacks to suit the palates of overseas eaters reminded me of one of my favorite things about life in Thailand.

When we first visited Thailand in 2006, we were delighted with the wide variety of (to us) new and interesting snacks to be had. We had our fill of these strange but tasty treats, and then – like Marco Polo bringing pasta back to Italy from China – loaded up a suitcase with as much as we could to bring home to share with friends and family!

Thai Local Style Chips

Now that we are living here, we continue to enjoy the offerings found on the shelves of local markets. Of course, there are the “homegrown” snacks that may be found primarily in Thailand or Asia, but which you usually don’t find at Safeway or Costco. Treats such as fried bugs, juicy grubs, muu-ping, and khaoneaw dum (sweet purple rice baked in a segment of bamboo). Then there are the “local” brands of chips, nuts, and other savory snacks and assorted sweets including cookies, ice cream, sticky-rice-and-mango and the world’s best banana chips! Finally, we come to the subject of the afore-mentioned article: big American name brand snacks – with a decidedly “foreign” twist.

Sweet Basil Chips

Peking Duck Chips

Ron and Drake are primarily “salties” while Cissy and Elli tend to be “sweeties.” So you can usually find a combination of savory and sweet snacks in our “snack drawer” at home. Of course, all of us like ice cream. Unfortunately, Thai ice cream has not yet evolved to the level of even the “store brand” standard found in America. Think “frozen styrofoam.” In any event, you’ll not find our family favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream in any supermarket or grocery in Chiang Mai. But if you have a hankering for corn in your ice cream, you’re in luck!

Hot & Spicy Crab Chips

Nori Seaweed Chips

I think the Thais are ahead of the rest though when it comes to things like “man faràng” (potato chips). The sheer variety far outpaces the choices back home. And it seems like they are coming out with a new flavor almost every other month. Steak-and-Lobster, Peking Duck, Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Seaweed, Sweet Basil, Hot and Spicy Crab, and on and on. These come in both the “local” brands as well as international brands such as Lays.

Lobster Chips

Bacon & Seaweed Chips

Cookies, too, come in a wide assortment of flavors. For instance, the venerable Oreo can be found in regular, strawberry, blueberry, peanut butter, and chocolate varieties.

Blueberry Oreos

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Oreos

Thai “pretzels”

Of course no place is perfect. Thailand is not a haven for pretzel lovers. There are big, soft pretzels available at some of the shopping malls, and if you look hard enough, you can find the occasional bag of skinny little pretzel sticks that have made the long and stale journey from the American heartland. But don’t set your heart on a big, hard, jaw-breaking salty pretzel. For that, you’ll have to visit the Keystone State! And if you crave chocolate, your best bet is to wait until a visitor from home or a returning missionary brings you some fresh Hershey’s or other brand from the U.S. Otherwise, you’ll be eating something that came via “slow boat” if you catch my drift.

Ah, I bet they have pretzels in heaven. (Probably chocolate-covered ones!)

Khaoneaw dum – sweet purple rice baked in a segment of bamboo.

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Top Time Two

Top and Cissy catching up in Chiang Mai.

There was a recent Top sighting in Chiang Mai city! Cissy was blessed with a one-hour visit with Top, our Thai “son.” In 2010, Top was a foreign exchange student who came to live with the Boyer Ohana in Hawaii before our move to Thailand in December of that year. Recently, he was up in our neck of the woods to visit the Pang Soong Lodge which provides workshops to study the environment. After three rigorous days of research, fieldwork and hiking, Top was ready for a nap. But he stayed up long enough to bring me up to speed on the latest in his life.

Top is attending an exclusive international school in Bangkok called New International School of Thailand. He goes to school with kids of all nationalities. Top is a junior now and is preparing to graduate next year and hopes to attend Chulalongkorn University, regarded as the best university in Thailand. Right now, he is planning to study Economics but is keeping an open mind to other options. Top reports that he will be visiting the Boyers this summer to help out with our work at ZOE Children’s Homes. We will look forward to a grand reunion!

This very special young man will always have a “Top” spot in our family – and our hearts!

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The More Blessed Way

The Tang Family has been a blessing and example to us from Day 1 in Thailand.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, we were the surprised and grateful recipients of a “RAK” – a random act of kindness. The Boyer Ohana arrived home unexpectedly early from ZOE that morn to be greeted by a wonderful example of Christ himself! One of our fellow ZOE missionary families, the Tangs – Rob, Denise and their four teenagers, Lauren, Kelly, Stephanie and Cori Anne – were busy washing our car, mowing our grass, raking our leaves and I think I might even have caught a glimpse of them washing Dong, the neighborhood mongrel! To their surprise we “caught them in the act!”

A spiffy and well-groomed yard.

Our 2000 Toyota Sport Rider (needs washed again!)

What a humbling experience and an important lesson for the whole Boyer family. We won’t soon forget their thoughtful gesture and have been inspired to follow the Tang Family’s lead by committing RAKs whenever and wherever we can!

Hang Dong: Obviously the “Before” picture.

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Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Moon Over Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

One of the first things we noticed when we arrived a year ago was something way up on the top of one of the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai. At night, the mountain of Doi Suthep is cloaked in total darkness except for this one spot which glows brightly. During the day, depending on the angle of the sun, a brilliant flash of gold can be seen there. We soon learned that what we were seeing was one of the most famous and revered Buddhist temples (wats) in all of Thailand: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.

Elli Buying Karen Handicrafts

Recently, we drove up the very winding road to the top of the mountain which, at 5,500 feet, offers wonderful views of Chiang Mai city, the Ping River, and beyond. The temple has given rise to the little village of Doi Pui Maeo where the chief industry is selling food, clothing, and souvenirs to the faithful as well as sightseers from around the world.

The original temple was built in the mid-1300s and has been enlarged over the years. Until the 1930s when the road was built, pilgrims had to hike up a small trail to get to the temple. Imagine how they felt when, upon the hours-long trek up the mountain, they discovered that they had to climb a 309-step staircase to get to the temple!

Only 309 Steps to Go!

Drake Makes a Friend

The temple complex itself is beautiful with bells, pagodas, shrines, and statues arrayed over a large ceramic-tiled plaza. Another dozen or so steps takes you up to a raised and walled courtyard area which, for Buddhists, is the most sacred area of the wat and one of the holiest sites in Thailand and where the smell of incense burning and the sound of monks chanting is ubiquitous.

This is the Truth!

We timed our visit to coincide with sunset so that we could enjoy the spectacular views both by daylight and at night. It was a great time spent together as a family on a perfect, clear and cool day!

Chiang Mai City at Night

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Let the Games Begin!

Let the Games Begin!

It was a day filled with friendly competition as our ZOE kids took part in the annual Sports Day at their elementary school. The students were divided into three teams: red, blue and orange. The festivities began with an official opening ceremony complete with a flaming torch that was carried into the “stadium” by one honored athlete. Then, all spectators and participants rose for the playing of the Thai National Anthem.

Friendly Competition

The children competed in a variety of events including sprinting, 3-km run, 4-man relay, hula hoop contest, cheerleading and an unforgettable “dance off!” Fun and friendly fellowship was had by all.

Let me in, coach!

Our ZOE kids are blessed to attend a Christian elementary school affiliated with another children’s home. This is a rare opportunity for kids in Thailand to be able to attend a school where the Gospel is taught in all subjects. Eventually ZOE will build our own school on campus to allow for convenience and a safe, secure environment to learn. For now we are so thankful for this special school and its caring staff.

Of course, Sports Day would not be complete without a traditional awards ceremony including fancy medals and delicious snacks and goodies. Game on!

Winners’ Stand

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like … ?

Rudolph you ain’t!

Living in a country where less than one percent of the people are Christian, it’s no surprise that there are very few signs of Christmas about.

Remembering that beginning the day after Thanksgiving in America (or is it the day after Halloween nowadays?!), the lights and decorations go up, the radio plays Christmas songs non-stop, the stores are crowded with eager shoppers, empty parking lots become tree sale showrooms, and there are endless rounds of parties and visiting with friends, family, and neighbors makes the difference between here and there all the more pronounced.

Here in Thailand, you find yourself pleasantly surprised and a bit nostalgic to see a Christmas tree in front of a hotel or store, or colorful lights blinking somewhere other than a roadside bar. For the vast majority of Thais, Christmas is just another day. If it falls on a weekday, there is work or school to go to.

Holiday Cheer

A few of our friends have put up artificial Christmas trees but in our muubaan (neighborhood) of maybe 300 homes, I’ve only seen three homes with any outside lights. And, yes, thanks to Elli’s insistence, ours is one of them! We have a few strings of lights on the plumeria tree in our yard.






O Christmas Tree!

As for our other accommodations to the Season, Elli strung up a single strand of white lights in the shape of a Christmas tree in a little wall niche. And Cissy bought three little pots of poinsettia flowers.

Oh, yes! The music! We were able to scrounge together a decent playlist of Christmas songs to help us get in the proper mood. And just like the American radio stations, we started playing them the day after Thanksgiving, mostly in the car but also at home through our computers since we don’t have a stereo or CD player in the house. Our collection is very eclectic ranging from classic worship songs such as “Silent Night, “Away in a Manger,” “The First Noel,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “We Three Kings” to secular favorites like Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman” by Gene Autry, and Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” to Hawaiian songs such as Na Leo’s “12 Days of Christmas Hawaiian Style” and “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby” and more modern stylings like Taylor Swift’s version of “White Christmas” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” by Justin Beiber.

Cissy has also been busy in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies for one and all; the ZOE missionaries will get together for a Christmas party; and on Christmas Day we’ll gather at the Children’s Home for a special Christmas service, exchange of simple gifts, and a delicious lunch of pla taptim (tilapia).

But in light of the decided lack of lights and other holiday accoutrements, I, for one, welcome the change of pace this Christmas season. It certainly seems less stressful and much more relaxed. There is more time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday and what – or more precisely “Who” – we celebrate.

The air is brisk during the day and the sky is clear at night. Those same stars you see when you look up (be sure to look up!) are the very same we see from here. May we take our cue from those wise men of old:

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”

Merry Christmas to all!

It’s beginning to look a lot like ... someone needs help!

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