After 6 months of looking, fixing, building, painting, re-flooring, and moving we are officially moved! Our new house is already a huge blessing with more space and a much more convenient location. We are slowly working through the house room by room to make additions and improvements. This whole experience is quite different from one we would have in the states as we are not permitted to own property here. This leaves us with one significant option…to rent long term. We were fortunate to find a great landlord that is willing to give us a very good price on a long term lease and even help fund many of the improvements. This sounds very “un-western” to us as we would never pay for improvements in a rented house in the west but it is really the only option we have here. When we were negotiating rent we had to factor in what the cost of the improvements would be and then bargain for a rental price (fixed over 5 years) that would give us a return on our investment early in the contract. Over the long run this will be a very economical option for us and we are really excited about it! To see some before and after pictures of the remodel CLICK THIS LINK.
After vising people all summer long I came to the realization that we do not always do a good job at communicating what our actual responsibilities are. So, here is my attempt to clear that up so you can know how to more specifically pray for us. To see the interactive Google Map of FCF ministries click here.
Nate currently serves in two distinct but closely connected roles. First he serves as the Executive Pastor of Chiang Mai Christian Fellowship (CCF). His responsibilities in this capacity include: the development and oversight of CCF programs; the volunteer structure that enables these programs; as well as the development of the church’s ability to fulfill its mission to glorify God by supporting and empowering the community of believers that attend CCF. He occasionally has the opportunity to fill for Tim, the senior pastor, as preacher.
Secondly, Nate serves as the Executive Administrator for The Family Connection Foundation (FCF) which is the Church’s mission outreach to Southeast Asia. His responsibilities in this area include the development and oversight of 15 projects and 80+ Thai staff and foreign volunteers that work with the foundation. As a legally licensed Thai foundation FCF serves the projects through providing developmental and legal oversight, visa and work permit management, financial processing and management, media and IT support, logistics, community development, networking, professional development, recruiting and many other services. Ultimately, Nate is charged with running an organization that empowers, supports, and encourages ministries all over South east Asia.
Kara is the backbone of the Ullrich household as a full time mom and wife. Aiden is almost four years old and Kara has her hands full during the day stimulating his personal growth, while buying groceries and managing our family’s “Operating Budget”, and keeping the house in order. As the primary Thai Speaker she keeps our lives from crumbling before us on a daily basis as we live in a culturally different and diverse community. Also, while working from home, Kara participates on FCF’s media team as the Script & Copy Writer, developing writing for FCF projects and missionaries. Her job is to tell the stories of what God is doing in Thailand by way of script and print. You can read Kara’s writing on our website (www.thaiconnections.org), in FCF orientation materials, project brochures and also hear it in the project promotional videos as well as the missionary support raising videos.
At this point we both have more work to do than is within our power to complete. Daily we must look to God to see how HE is going to complete our tasks for us. Sometimes it is through extreme productivity, sometimes it is through good friends and support systems, sometimes it is through divine wisdom to know when to and when not to participate in different activities. Daily we find ourselves needing Christ, in which He always comes through. We end most days with a feeling of humility, knowing that we cannot accomplish what God has given us without HIM. Please continue to pray for us as we manage our lives here, personally and professionally. God has presented us with big needs and has also equipped us to serve a lot of people. We are intimidated and humbled by this realization but also given great confidence that God promises the needed provisions for doing what He has called us to.
If you’d like to find out more about the Church the Foundation or other ministries we partner with please visit our page online at www.thaiconnections.org and take a look around.
2012 went by like a whirlwind. We traveled 30,000 miles and visited too many people to count! It was a great time of reconnecting with family and friends. However much we longed to stay for the winter in the states, it was back to Thailand for us.
We have to adapt our Christmas holidays to our “culture” here a bit, but we get to splurge for a traditional Christmas dinner of sushi, shrimp cocktail and a cheese ball while playing games and wishing for air conditioning…ok, so maybe our holidays are a bit different then yours. We did have a nice, relaxing “stay-cation” where we spent time with family, enjoyed some holiday treats and worked on getting the new house ready to move in. The holidays have always been hard for us here, as we grew up with snow and the fresh scent of evergreen trees, but God has given us new traditions for the holidays that are fun, with an opportunity to truly remember and glorify what HE did for us. God is good and has always taken care of our needs, both emotional and physical. We hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas this year and that God will bless this upcoming year for you and your family!
In two weeks we will be moving! For 18 months we have been considering moving to a community closer to Nate’s office and many of our friends. In November we found a house that will serve our needs well, and is not directly within the flight path. God definitely provided for this opportunity as we were able to secure a home with low cost and a long term contract, allowing us to invest in the move and put down deeper roots in the community here. There is a lot of work to do over the next two weeks as we: fix floors, paint, and overhaul the kitchen. Unfortunately, as foreigners in Thailand, we are not permitted to own property, so the best thing we can do is to invest in a house with lower rent and a long term contract. Many of the changes we are making will be moved with us when needed but it takes a lot of work to be very strategic in how we invest. Please continue to pray for us as we make that transition.
A blessing in the short term is that for the next two weeks we have a guest in our home. Victoria (FCF Intern) will be staying with us as we move and then will be the first resident of the FCF transition house (our old house) after we move. It has been great to get to know Victoria better and share life with her. Her enthusiasm for Thailand and the ministry has been very refreshing and encouraging.
The picture in this post is of one of the floors we are installing. The house has old teak floors that are expensive to fix and maintain, but are in desperate need of fixing. A cheaper option is to do laminate flooring, which is relatively new to Thailand. The room will eventually become the office and guest room (hint hint).
Since October of 2012 our Media team has been working on materials to launch a scholarship program in 2013. Kara is participating heavily in this process as the script and copy writer. Keep an eye out for our February and March updates as they should include the launch of this program. Any video, brochures, and writing to accompany the program will have been written by Kara.
Kara also had the opportunity to work with some of our missionary friends to develop a script for their support raising video. We hope to post that eventually but for security reasons the family has not yet posted the video publicly.
Nate has spent the last two years working with Ken Wade (FCF Ministry Partner) and two other members of the local missionary community to start up a technology club at the local international school. Last semester they rebuilt a submarine from the previous year to be more efficient and streamline in the water. This included sourcing materials, engineering the hardware and implementing the design. We regularly have 8-12 students (middle and high school) participating in the club and it has turned into a great opportunity to invest in the kids. This semester we are turning toward programming and software development in hopes that submarine 3.0 will be able to include an on-board processor for more complex controls. For more information on what we are up to you can visit our Wiki Online. We have posted pictures, projects and future dreams of the club.
The picture in this post was taken right after its final water test with the core group of students.
In November every year Thailand celebrates Loy Kratong which is a Buddhist holiday expressing the release of bad karma in a persons life. Every year missionaries all over Thailand take advantage of this holiday to express a redemptive story or what Christ has already done for us. The sight of thousands releasing their burdens to the heavens is quite an awe inspiring site. It helps us remember each year that God has programmed us (Christian or not) to seek redemption and that often we are just looking in the wrong place. Pray that we would be able to challenge the people and culture of Thailand to seek true renewal in life rather than settling for the appeasement of spirits.
Click here to watch a video captured by Darin & Staci (FCF media team) at a holiday celebration.
In October Nate had the privilege of filling the pulpit at Chiang Mai Christian Fellowship while Tim (Senior Pastor) was traveling. He shared a message on Romans Chapter 8 on intercession. If you’d like to hear the sermon it was recorded and can be listened to online HERE.
As some of you may know I (Kara) am participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), which, as you may be able to guess, is writing a novel in a month. Or more specifically writing 50,000 words in the month of November. Its a time for writers to band together and write with reckless abandon, forgetting punctuation, spelling and too often their own plots.
This may be the reason why I have been lacking in the blogging area. So rather than procrastinating, because my creative processes are so consumed by novel writing, I am pulling out the archives and am sharing a story I wrote a few months ago.
Well without further ado, and before I change my mind….