24 Mar Sometimes You Have to Step Back to Step Ahead

We have been back in Thailand for almost a month now. The USA time was amazing and very busy, which included great moments in Virginia and across the East Coast with churches, supporters, and family. Now, to be sure, we have definitely hit the ground running: from Khao Lak, to the Burmese Border, and to the Northeast (Isaan).

Kim Teaches on the Burmese Border.

Mae Sot and the area along the Burmese border is a place of untold struggle and pain for likely at least 150,000 Karen/Burmese displaced people, refugees, or asylum seekers. Last week, Kim went to teach in a staff training school about working with vulnerable functional orphans, and doing non-institutional orphan care. In recent years, Kim has become a regional expert in this field. She is passionate for these children and families at risk. During most of the week, Mae Sot flooded and they had to carry on mostly without electricity and running water.

John Heads to the South and Northeast.

Visiting the Keeping Families Together program, the child development centers, and the Bang Sak Training Center kept John and Kim moving forward through their jet lag in the first week back from their USA home leave trip.

After that, as Kim went to teach, John joined Step Ahead Thai staff on a visit to our Economic Development work in the Northeast of Thailand.

Training Northeast Thailand’s women’s groups in this poorest region builds new economic opportunities and strengthens families.

Elephant Encouragement.

Who doesn’t love elephants? Here Kim poses with a new friend we stopped to visit along the road in Southern Thailand. Makes us remember to take time to stop and smell the roses or stop and hug an elephant!

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Sometimes You Have to Step Back to Step Ahead.

That’s essentially what three pastors from our supporting churches told us last year. Yet, when they said it, we wondered, “How could such a thing possibly happen?”

Well, let’s just say God miraculously opened several doors and opportunities for us. First, to be in Ireland for several weeks in later August, where we will live and learn in the midst of a working sheep farm outside of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Kim has always wanted to “shadow a shepherd”, to practically learn more of the core of our curriculum and mode of operation, which comes from Psalm 23, and the Parable of the Good Shepherd. Then, we will amazingly enjoy, because of the magnanimity of more friends, two months on the Greek island of Andros in their small villa: a beautiful place of very limited distractions or interruptions of media, meetings, communications and internet access.

So, for the first time in over 25 years, the Quinleys take a sabbatical to: rest, refresh, pray, read, talk, meditate, and perhaps prepare to write, and then step ahead again.

The formal definition of sabbatical runs along these lines: a “ceasing”, a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in several places in the Bible. In Leviticus 25, there is actually a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year. In the strict sense, therefore, a sabbatical lasts a year. Well, we won’t take a year, but God has miraculously made a way for these months. We are grateful and pray that God will do all he has in store for us during these very special days.

With gratefulness and love,

John & Kim

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