Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy events in Sawang Dandin Baptist Church

My Father is one very happy man here these day.

Mr. Sutisak (or Tangmo) the first new convert of our Santisuk Baptist Church is now a High School teacher and an active church leader there.

Miss Michelle Garcia, one of the regular and faithful friends of our youth and a regularly camp counsellor who helps out in Sawang Dandin who came up special for the baptisms.

Five happy girls and and one boy from Sawang Dandin Baptist Churhc and one young man and one young lady from the Santisuk Baptist Church who followed the Lord in Baptism with Pastor Duane Harper a prayer warrior and help in our work. Three of the young ladies in Sawang Dandin starting coming upon his urging. He flew here from Wisconsin to participate in this event (much to our pleasure and surprise!). On far right is Mrs Thonbai a godly member of the Santisuk Baptist Church who has led many of the young people to the Lord over the years.

Morning worship in Sawang Dandin Baptist Church

Miss Oom recieving the broken bread in her first time after Baptism to partake in communion (our rule considering Baptism obeidence to the Lord).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2009 October "Light Camp" at the Sawang Dandin Baptist Church

Special English Classes for the young men in our camp.

Lots of room in our new Dining Hall (North-East Thai Teens like sitting on the floor on mats to eat--most meals! How convenient!

Almost ready to eat. We big people get to sit on chairs.

Volley ball action.

Even at night with our new flood lights.

Don and Gail Craft, Missionaries to Thailand, "CRAFT EMAIL NEWS UPDATE, October 20, 2009
Thailand News – October Thai School Break. Camp!
Yearly, during Thai Public School break, we have our yearly "Light English Camp." This year for the second year in a row, we had our camp right here on the Sawang Dandin Baptist Church facility. Never before had we such a complete "campus" as this year. Since my father, Donald Craft (Senior) has been living with us as part of our family, his comfort and care has demanded us giving up one bathroom and my office meaning we would have been short one room and one bathroom. Well, we were able to resolve this by adding an 800 square foot addition to the "parsonage" building to include a large covered open air "multipurpose" area which we use for meetings, dining hall, and parking for the second church vehicle (which is used to pick up the young kids for our church here). We also added another room for a girl’s dorm, and two Thailand style bathrooms with a washing sink for cleaning up before meals.
This year’s camp had five volunteer helpers, which included Miss Liz Stevens, a short term missionary who taught English, two men from the Philippines who taught English and Basketball and a Thai Bible school student and a Thai Pastor, Phairat Senakhun from near Bangkok. Camp went very well and the Bible studies and classes went real well. See our blog to see an update report with pictures. We also had a cook and music leader from our Santisuk Baptist Church. It was a great success and I believe we can look forward to many more good camps here at our church facility in the future.
Our two church plants where we are involved continue to grow and see fruit. We see new people saved regularly. Last Sunday we had a baptism here in Sawang Dandin.
Family News – My Father, now part of our family and ministry.
It has been nearly six months since we brought my Father, Donald Craft (Senior) now 80 years old, here to be with us. Dad seems to enjoy himself and we have dad’s personal maintenance funds to share in our expenses – he now shares in our expenses and enjoys that since he is using his funds to help with our ministry – a real help with the current downturn in American economy. Dad is physically healthy and doing much better now that his physician has reduced much of his medications to only those he needs for good health. He is on modern memory medication and is in much better health than he was when he first came here. Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which is an incurable and degenerative disease of the brain. He is still very early in symptoms is quite aware of things going on around him and still has a sharp memory, meaning he loves to listen to sermons, Bible study, loves watching classic TV programming (like Andy Griffith) but is slowly loosing his abilities to carry on a coherent conversation. He interacts well with our Thai Christians, loves to sing the old hymns, participate in our family devotions. Our Thai friends being Asian culture, all feel this is a noble thing to do since elder care at home is a major issue in Thailand.
It is hard to believe it is almost November. Some of you have told us you are seeing snow, but none is to be seen here (ever!), I am happy to report! But we do have somewhat cooler weather from now until February. Last November, Gail invited everyone we knew in town and she cooked (would you believe!?) sixteen turkeys with all the trimmings including stuffing, cranberry sauces, pickles and gravy for an "American Thanksgiving," now a regular tradition, around here. I think she made 30 pies too. It is great fun, food and an outreach into our community.
Prayer and Praise
Continue to pray for our financial needs as we are somewhat affected by the economic downturn. Pray for the discipleship ministry going on here among the many new contacts and the leadership training we are doing. Pray for the camps and year end programs. Pray for our fellow missionaries, Rick and Lisa Caynor and their two children. Lisa has been in a coma for two months after a car accident. She is showing ever so slow improvement but may still have a long way to go before she may be normal again. They had finished two years of Language school and were opening a new church center in the South when the accident happened. Pray for our continued generally good health – we are 57 now by the way. Praise the Lord for spiritual growth among us and the Christians here. Pray for those who we are training for leadership.
Yours in Christ,Don and Gail CraftOur USA based phone number is 586-797-9019, (rings in Thailand! But a local call for Michigan) Our Email:
Our web page as follows: Our Home Address: Don and Gail Craft, PO Box 1 Sawang Dandin, Sakon Nakhon 47110 Thailand Don and Gail Craft are ABWE Missionaries to Thailand doing church planting among the Romprakhun Fundamental Baptist Church Fellowship of Churches as a fellow missionary with the PABWE mission.If you desire to help our ministry, please send your gift to our mission ABWE, Inc. Gifts for our projects, can be designated. Tax deductible gifts for our ministry can be sent to the following address: ABWE, Inc., PO Box 8585, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8585 USA with a note, "For the work and ministry of Don and Gail Craft, account number 0130353."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hands washed and ready to eat!

Bible Memory.

with icons ....

Pastor Phairath Senakhun making a point.

And of course, the Flag cerimony how we start each day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Finishing faithfully, Rev Arturo C. and Phebe Inion,

"Pastor Art" and his dear wife, Phebe made one last visit to Sawang Dandin before his return to the Philippine Islands to retire.
Pastor Arturo and Pastor Surasit, pastor of the Santisuk Baptist Church.

Here are some photos of this get together.

Song and fellowship because of the Grace of God in our hearts.

Over the last year Pastor Art has faced a number of challenges to his generally good health and has decided that he would finally go on full retirement status and return to the Philippines. Even though he partially retired a few years ago they continued to serve in a new church plant in Bangmot near Bangkok. Pastor and Mrs. Inion are the pioneer Baptist church planters in this province, having a direct hand in the salvations of hundreds of souls and a part in many fundamental Baptist Churches in the province of Sakon Nakhon which are on going works and reaching out in the pattern Paul the Apostle espoused in 2 Timothy 2:2, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." We were not able to prepare ahead of time for a surprise visit, but a number of the ones who are the results of the direct and indirect ministry of the Inions came for a special Sunday night reception to fellowship and honor them together here at the Sawang Dandin Baptist Church.

Life with Dad, what a pleasure!

My last real post here was back in May and perhaps late July is kind of late to get caught up but believe me these have been exciting and busy months here in Sawang Dandin. So get a cup of coffee and "sit down and read a spell" and let me catch you up on what we have been up to.

First off, Dad is here and has been for almost two months today. Gail brought Dad back by airplane late May and we drove home to Sawang Dandin. It is an interesting new challenge to become reacquainted with one's father after being pretty much separate for nearly forty years. Of course, we spent some time from time to time while on furlough (or home ministry) but it is a different story if you are going to actually make your father part of your family. Since Mom has been with the Lord ten years ago next month, it has been a challenge to know what we should do about Dad. I would dread leaving the mission field to care for family, but many missionaries have had to do this. So we are doing kind of an expeiment. Thai law and other major steps to moderizations has made Thailand a true retirment destination.

We believe that Dad is very happy here with us. But we must take on extra responsibilities having him here....well actually most of the work falls on Gail. Gail must plan and cook for one more person, considering Dad's likes and dislikes. Other than that, she must do more household management, which means cleaning, wash, ironing, folding, putting things away. But we are able to get help for some of these extra tasks. Earlier this year one of our college age Christian girls here asked Gail if her mother could help. At the time, with added responsibilities with our growing ministries here, it seemed like a good idea to hire her mother to come twice a week to help with some of the cooking and cleaning here. So when Dad moved in with we decided for her to work 5 days a week. Dad is paying for this care from his retirement income.

Other responsibilities added to our regular work are getting Dad adequate medical attention. We have found a aging specialist here, Dr. Bunchuay, who is now overseeing all of Dad's medications, making recommendations for his further care. We were also able to get some needed dental work done for Dad at our regular dentist here. Dad just had a filling repaired, and a new crown done. We are pleased to report that he is very pleased with the dental work and the price is amazingly low. These extra trips to Udonthani fifty miles from here on Dad’s behalf have been combined with needed trips for shopping.

Duing the last two weeks, we decided to remove my entire office from it's location which had an unsused Thai style bath room attached. We remodel the bathroom to be a western style bathroom with a regular flush toilet, a shower stall, a urinal (needed since Dad has to go to the bath room often), and handrails for extra support while walking and standing in the bathroom. My office had a very nice wall mounted air conditioner making it like a classy hotel room. We decided to keep the bunk bed and trundle bed in the room so he can have roommates when we have visitors. That project is all finished as of today. Some one suggested we get some kittens for Dad and sure enough he is having a great time with them.

Dad eats all his meals with us and we care for his taking medications--which means he is getting as good care as he was in a hospital with the added benefit of being able to get out and exercise, cut the grass some, and listen to Internet based radio and TV news and other interesting intellectual stimulation. Even though Dad does not understand my messages preached in Thai, he enjoys knowing what is going on, whether communion (which he partakes of with us) or singing where he sings out in English, he also likes having our daily family devotions and Bible reading and prayer. I also get him messages from his favorite preachers off the Internet for him to listen to almost daily.

Talk about stimulation! How many of you could roll the car window down and pet the trunk of an elephant reaching in the window of the the car? Well Dad has done this just over a week ago -- and lots of other fun things since being here. Thailand has lots of new fruits and vegetables to learn about. Dad has always loved to eat rice and Thai food (and Chinese food, etc) so he is enjoying life here immensely. He of course has his ups and downs, but since moving into his new bedroom, he has little to complain about and hasn't. He even is checking Email now ( ) and answering mail too. I also linked him up with his family via our Internet based Vonage phone ( 1586-797-9019 ) and he has spoken with most of his own family since being here. Isn't that great!

At the same time when Dad took over my office for his bedroom, we had to move my office somewhere, so we took our guest bedroom which is off our kitchen / dining room and church auditorium and make it my office. That is an ongoing project. One of the nice things about our recovery house/church facility is we did design it to be flexible and changeable. So with a few hours work, we were able to disassemble my entire office and begin to move it to the former guest bedroom. Two major changes were necessary: (1) I needed an air conditioner in the office. Thailand especially this time of the year is very humid and hot and sticky. I feel I needed to get an air conditioner for the new office – not only for me but for the printing of study books and lessons used in our ministry here. (2) we needed to replace the solid panel bedroom door with a glass door for sake of testimony here. We feel that anything done in a room with computers, with guests for counseling or group ministry should be done publicly. By the way the old office still had the glass windows between the office and the auditorium, which now have curtains for Dad’s bedroom. Today, the air conditioner was installed and we are hoping tomorrow we will have our new sliding glass door installed.
As we work to make our home a home for three, Dad’s income has helped with the expenses. In fact, we are able to meet many of our needs using some of Dad’s help with the ministry financially. This is an added benefit during a time when our support has dropped off and expenses have increased. We believe it is from the Lord that these events have taken place. Dad has spent his life supporting us and other missionaries and now in his senior years, he is able to actually be an associate missionary here. The youth love Dad and like to practice their English with him. Asians view caring for elders as a noble practice and our Thai friends all think we are doing exactly what we should be doing. We were pleased that our sending church leadership and our mission board also approved of this proposal. So rejoice with us as we enter a new phase of our lives caring for our aging father here on the mission field.

I am hoping now that I am settled into my new office life will be more on an even keel and I can get back into the swing of things with my needed communications with you and other supporters. My next post here will have some pictures of the changes as they have taken place here. One thing at a time. Thank you for your fellowship in prayer!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dad and his new apartment

Dad and one of the purring kittens.

The bathroom project is almost finished. Just some painting of the pipes (water and waste pipes are all blue before they are painted to match).

Here you can see my former office. Gail has set up the bunk beds and a reading library for Dad. I installed a computer with settings for seniors (big fonts, big icons and dad's email icons, his favorite links to Internet, etc.). With air conditioning and good lighting it will be a nice place for Dad to relax and live.

Our unused Thai style bathroom was truly the only room unchanged since we rented the house originally. After purchasing and remodeling the rest of the house we used it "as is." Incidentally, Thai people seem to like using these old style bath rooms where everything in the room gets wet during a shower or after regular personal business is done. That is why they call it a "Water Closet." During the fire recovery, it was the only bathroom. We were only using the the room for storage and once in a while for a secondary Thai style bath when we had guests. To remodel the room, the original "squaty potty" and former water storage containers had to be chipped out and replaced with a new floor, shower stall, flush style western toilet, a urinal, and hand grips. What a job. But something we thought we would do when we had a chance....well we now have a chance to do the renewal and make it the bathroom for Dad.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gail and My Dad

Gail has been visiting Hannah in Chattanooga Tennessee for the last couple days and getting through jet lag. Today (May 16) Roy, my brother, is picking up Dad and delivering him to Gail and my Daughter. On Monday May 18th they will fly to Michigan and see my other two children and their spouses and our other six grandchildren. Dad will be getting a visa for Thailand while waiting and having a nice visit with his family members and friends who are living in Detroit suburbs. Hopefully all paperwork will be done in time for scheduled flight date, May 25th. Then Dad and Gail will fly to Bangkok and I will be picking them up there. We have some paper work in Bangkok and will return to Sawang Dandin in a day or two. Then a new chapter in our lives, "Living with Grandpa" will begin. We think it will be fun and while extra work, a blessing to our lives. Asians here choose this status as the Asian way. So we trust it will be a good testimony and Dad will have more of a part in our work here. Dad has been supporting the ministry in Thailand for the last 29 years already, so why not! We appreciate your fellowship in prayer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

News around Sawang Dandin

One of the most interesting new items and one that has kept us quite busy for the last few weeks (outside of our regular ministry responsibilities which we have not let slide!) is the prospect of bringing my father, Donald Craft, Sr. here to be with us. Dad is now 80 years old and has a good retirement but unable to live alone at this stage. He had been attached to the farm property that Dad and Mom purchased for retirement about 20 years ago in Paragould, Arkansas. The problem is after Mom's passing away, Dad was pretty much alone. Dad had remarried back in 2001 to a very nice widow who was a nurse but after her stroke, her children would not let her return to Arkansas fearing for her well-being. After a number of years of separation, and Dad's refusal to leave his farm they annulled his marriage which resolved a lot of legal and tax issues facing them. So Dad was alone again and life is complicated when you are nearly 80 with bills, taxes, and deteriorating health which meant Dad could not drive and so on. Finally Dad was hospitalized just before his 80th birthday. Dad is still quite sharp but at 80 years, he needs family and we are the best option for him, I think for this at this time. We believe that Dad can help our ministry by being here too. We have plenty of room for him and he can eat with us and we can take care of his needs just as though we had children. But in Dad's case, he is paying his own way -- because of retirement and SS something that few children can claim. We also think that this may be provision for our ministry, not only in having another helper for our English classes and a person to help out, but also with some of the financial pressures we are under considering the world wide financial crisis looming.

Gail, my wife, is currently in USA and having a great time with our grandkids as she prepares to receive Dad. I decided that I would rather Gail go so I can continue my work here and she can use her spare time doing grandmother things with our seven grandchildren. Besides, I hate air travel and Gail doesn't mind too much knowing she will see kids as well.
These are good days for my Father too since we are able to help him have a happier time with family and we can help him with keeping in touch with family using modern communications such as Email, phones (with my unlimited Vonage Phone service) and other things we can help his quality of life, not to mention eating his meals with one of the best cooks on earth, my wife. Other care issues such as house keeping, medications, housing, clothing and so on are much cheaper in Thailand, so we believe that this will be good stewardship with Dad's resources. If you care to comment or have questions, feel free to contact me at my regular email, or call me on our Vonage phone. 586-797-9019

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is Thailand still a remote country? Hardly

Last week Gail and I went to buy some Air Tickets for her return to pick up my Dad, w.
e stopped breifly at a brand new shopping center here called "Carerfour" (kind of like a Myers) which had a KFC, Dunkun Donuts, Dairy Queen and so on. On the way back to Sawang, we noticed another big mall going up and sure enough, a McDonalds Hamburgers is going in there too with all the other resturants. This means that not only we westerners are enjoying an occasional stop for a hamburger or KFC but a majority of Thais also like them. Who would have believed that cities in Thailand would become so much like a suburb in any American city when we arrived here 29 years ago when we first came to Thailand? But they still need people preaching the good news! No amout of western influence will provide eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Church Camp

Children's special music in front of Camp auditorium with Theme poster for Theme, Walking Forward Together, a special World Missions emphasis this years.

Camp songs...what a lot of fun and laughs!

Ah, yes! Camp what a wonderful time for kids. Here skit practice.

Nearly 400 people at our annual Church camp in Chomtian district of Chonburi. The singing was great and the messages great and challenging.

Camp Music is prepared by a team from our Romprakhun Baptist Bible School. Here, introducing the Camp Theme song.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day two Camp in Sawang Dandin

Don translating Candice's testimony. In classes we taught about knowing God yesterday and had a special personal Testimony from American Volenteer Candice Christiansen. Her testimony about growing up in a environment which was hostile to Christianity was good for our youth who many are facing pressures from friends, family, school teachers not to become Christians
Game time in the sports area.

How we did not get any skinned knees, I do not know but the kids were having the time of their lives!

Having fun playing UNO with volenteer Miss Kristian Caynor (MK)

Miss Leza Morgan with her
upper Elementary age group at the ping pong table in youth building.

Mrs (now married!) Kaew Patangnang and her junior age kids with helper Miss Ning.

More game time and sports.

Running through the"Trees" game.

Prayertime with Tangmo.

Gail tells me that we have 45 campers today.

It has been a good week for camp with cool weather and overcast sky making outdoor activites good.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ready for a week at camp March 30-April 4 here at Sawang Dandin Baptist Church

Thai school summer break is here and lasts from March through Early May. Two of our regular "summer" ministries is Special Intensive English Classes and Youth Camp. But this year, with our enlarged and completed facility, we are now able to do both all at our one location. This year we have added the new sports area with Volleyball, Basketball with new backboards and hoops, and other outdoor sports without having to leave our church facility.

We are hoping to have a number of new prospects for the gospel here through our Camp. We have invited adults and youth and will be providing meals and sleeping areas for the youth that come. Some will come as a "day camp: and go home to sleep each day. There will be many opportunities to hear the gospel through our classes and evangelistic meetings.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

More wedding fun.

Tradition is fun! The family and friends of of the groom march up the street making all the racket they can. I kind of think this is like the Lord appearing with his saints!

The bride groom appears ready to take his bride.
Ta da da dum
Ta da da dum...
Gail played the traditional wedding march as the Bride appears and the announcement is made to stand.

The little group from Miss Keaws' Sunday School class all dressed up and full of excitement to see their teacher wed. It is never to early to lay spiritual foundations.

During the meal the couple greet family and friends. He is a hansome young fellow and she was so very beautiful!

When Two Disciples Wed

Presenting Mr and Mrs Suchat Panantang

One of the greatest privilege in the ministry is to be host pastor when two godly young people in your ministry marry. This Saturday morning over 150+ friends and family of a new married couple joined together in holy matrimony. These two young adults, Suchat (nicknamed Matthew, a pastor's son and a mechanic active in our church here) and Miss Kaew (a Bible School graduate and helper in our work here for about five years) whom have decided to be married this February 28 here at our Sawang Dandin Baptist Gospel Center, the home of Sawang Dandin Baptist Church.

You could say it was "picture perfect" as far as the decorations, the provision, program and the unity of the churches here to make this one a great wedding. One of my burdens for this our first truly Christian wedding was a example to be followed by our many young people who live in a culture which is quickly crumbling because of immorality and family breakdown. While we do not seek to appease the world in anything we do, we recognize that the Lord himself honored weddings and preformed his first miracle at a wedding in John 2 and turned a wedding that was heading for a disaster of not enough supply into a joyous occasion by his turning the water into wine. (Wine, by the way, in the Bible is, of course, sometimes simply the beverage made from the fruit of the grape and implies the joy of the Holy Spirit which was the presence of the Lord at that wedding. We do not ever condone the drinking of any social alcoholic drinking).

In John chapter 4 Jesus again puts emphasis on the institution of marriage as a holy commitment before God in convicting the woman at the well of her adultery because of His (God's) acknowledgement of the legal human binding wedding ceremony preformed by the family elders. In Matthew and the other Gospels, divorce is marked as sinful hardness of the human heart. All this points out that there is a universal human law from the days of the garden of Eden of the purity of the marriage institution. The Bible tells us that "Marriage is honorable among all," and thusly, we sought to honor God and Thai ideals in this wedding.

One of our burdens with many youth who have responded to the gospel is how to teach the principles of God regarding marriage. Old landmarks in Thai society are gone today with widespread immorality and family breakdown. But God has graciously chosen to provide us with a fine and good looking young couple who live above the world and chose to honor God in a wedding ceremony.
Many of the things done in this wedding were carefully chosen to communicate the message that those who chose purity and God's blessing would be rewarded. As Asians, they had a customary counting of the dowry, honoring parents especially in a traditional bowing down to their families of the bride and groom, seeking their blessing on their new life together. But there were some wonderful western traditional additions, such as Miss Kaew's snow white gown, emphasising purity, the unity candle which quenches the flame of life from their mothers hand to one new flame together which showed their new independent life together. There was a ring ceremony emphasising their love. We show the legal document in the wedding in a society which says, "Don't register the wedding because it is too hard to divorce." We believe a wedding should be a life time committment and make that the bottom line in the vows, the announcments and the message.

It has been our hope and we trust the Lord that this wedding will be a model of a dedicated Christian family for future weddings here of young people who choose to honor God, that these young people can also aspire to. We covet your prayer for these people who came and participated. It was heart warming to see the delight in the eyes of the youth who love this couple to see them married in a "Cinderella" wedding (as Gail calls it!).

It was a humbling blessing to see them sitting alone in their automobile for a season, as they prepared to leave for their days of honeymoon (provided for by designated gifts) taking a few moments for a season of prayer. We know that both were totally exhausted by the days leading up to the wedding with all the pressures to have everything just right. And it was truly one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever seen in Thailand. How blessed we were to be part of it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joint meeting in Sawang Dandin and "Multi-purpose" cement pad

This past Sunday we had a joint meeting with the Santisuk Baptist Church here in Sawang Dandin. What a wonderful time of testimonies and sharing from the Word. Our church facility has continued to be a great blessing here in our area.

Our sports area has been enhanced by two new Huffy portable basketball backboard and stands, and other new equipment donated by a pastor friend at the Nontaburi Baptist Church in Bangkok. So in the time before the mid-week meeting here, the young people mill around in and out. For sports, we offer basketball, volley ball, takro, badminton, table tennis, and there were children playing Thai style jump rope using rubber bands. Others were playing with building blocks, dolls, and some were doing their homework here while waiting for the Bible Study. Neighbors were invited and the group is growing . Praise the Lord for one of the nicest church facilities in the province. God has blessed and you have been part of it through your prayer and support.