Five Years of Listening Lessons

Listening EarI don’t remember five years ago today very well…with a bunch of my brain missing and that cancerous tumor carved out along with it.  At this point five years ago, I was already at rehab at the Marianjoy brain trauma wing, slowly coming out of the fog of my surgery. Karyn remembers vividly, though…the total left-side paralysis, the thick-tongued, repetitive speech, the 30+ staples covered with bandages wrapped around my head, the appalling lack of social cues from a guy who just needed to get out of bed and go to the bathroom already.

She tells the story now of the gnawing fear setting in during those early post-op days in intensive care at Central DuPage Hospital–that at-the-precipice tipping point pushing her to believe the man she married was present in body, but irrevocably absent in mind and personality. I don’t remember much pain–just flashes and sounds of weepy reunions with my girls, and the steady, reassuring presence of the dearest, closest people in my life.

Yesterday, about five years after my foggy stay at the Marianjoy brain wing, I returned home from beautiful Bangkok Hospital here in Chiangmai, Thailand with the good news that my latest MRI is clear and God’s miraculous healing mercy continues to grace me with life and time to love Him and my amazing family more, and to begin my second year as Spiritual Life Director at Grace International School.

I may be a chunk of brain shy of the man I used to be five years ago, but over those 1800 days, Jesus has graciously filled in the gaps to help me understand more deeply than I ever have that I am loved and useful just as I am.  Five years ago, my spiritual life was driven by the nagging sound of my own voice–the false narrative that I really was able to make myself love Jesus more by the strength of my own will.  Now my hearing is improving–my voice is still there, yet not quite so destructively prominent as it once was.  Really, it’s not my missing grey matter, but I hear voices pretty consistently now–the sounds of my Father singing over me and his gentle Spirit quieting me with his love. Zephaniah 3:17 is a revolutionary daily soundtrack to listen to and live by.  You should try it for yourself sometime–turn the stunning promises there into breath prayers, like my friend Sally tried to teach me a long time ago…

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV84)

Do you hear him singing?  Listen closely with me and live.

Praying for True Conversion…

Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you. (Jon Nielson, Why Youth Stay in Church When They Grow Up)

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Can’t capture the heartbeat of my new ministry with third culture kids at Grace International School any more succinctly.

Even if I deliver the best sermons of my life in chapel this semester, it’s God’s work, by the power of His Spirit, to transform these amazing third culture kids to become devoted, lifelong followers of Jesus.  The heart of my work, along with Jesus-modeling parents, is to bridge the gap between chapel, the many activities of the GIS Spiritual Life Office and the life application necessary for students to intentionally choose to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling” in the passing periods of Grace International School’s hallways, in their relationships with their parents and their peers, in their lives with Jesus when no one else is looking. We can model Christ for students and give our lives to equipping them to apply a living, lasting faith, but only Jesus’ power can bring them to “true conversion”.

I am slowly learning the joy, freedom and power of prayer on behalf of the students, parents and staff here at GIS. Living in this reality gives me no less urgency to use my gifts and passions; in fact, I find myself all the more eager to find ways to whittle our spiritual life activities on campus all the more around the work of equipping students–giving them more and more opportunities to apply and discover the joy of practicing spiritual disciplines in their everyday lives when the spotlight isn’t on them as young disciples of Jesus in training.

Our First Six Weeks in Chiang Mai…

 

22 hours in the air -just a little motion sickness from the youngest, but that’s not a problem when the plane supplies such nice bags for these occasions!

2 weeks crashing at the home of a total stranger -so thankful for the hospitality and kindness of others!

4 new bicycles-great to have some wheels and mobility! Looking for a car and, hopefully, a classic Vespa for Jeff

3 days searching for a new home for our family-settled on a lovely place with a view of the mountains (see lots of pictures on our public Facebook Group Page: Kamphausens to Grace International School)

3 new kitchen appliances– not easy choosing and especially difficult when all the info is written in Thai but we love our water cooler! Clean and cold drinking water anytime!

3 busy girls-Anna made the U-14 volleyball team, Ellie made the swim team, Maggie is on the prayer team for HS chapel band and is also serving HIV+ orphans through a bi-weekly ministry called House of Love

2 chapel retreats-Jeff led two retreats on two different weekends, preparing middle school and high school students to lead chapel worship teams this year.

Jeff facilitates a time of confession, leading to prayer.  Students gather to pray over a friend.

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2 days substituting in kindergarten-Karyn was blessed by these incredible little people

Multiple trips to the immigration office, drivers’ license office, American Consulate, bike shop and uniform shop!

An adult missionary kid sent us an email inquiring as to how we were doing.  Then he went on to say that getting settled in a new country is a lot like drinking water from a fire hose.  Wow! That’s an accurate description…taking in as much as we can, as quickly as we can, but still missing so much of what is happening around us.

With thankful hearts, we reflect on what God has done through you and us the last several months.  In June, we began fund raising, hoping to get to Grace International School for the start of the school year and we did (Just a few days late, but who’s counting? : ) ). We purchased our tickets at the beginning of August and landed in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Saturday, August 16.  On Monday,  Jeff began work, the girls started school and began making this place our new home.

Out Latest Prayer Requests:

1.  We need a renter or a buyer for our house–it’s still on the market!  Even though we are prone to worrying about this huge outstanding financial responsibility, we trust God to provide a buyer/renter in His time!

2. Wisdom and insight for Jeff as he begins to become more familiar with his role as Spiritual Life Director at Grace International School–for a growing knowledge of the Spirit’s power and timing.

3. For the spirit of revival to break out in the hearts of students at Grace–for a deep, genuine desire to grow as lifelong followers of Jesus, integrated into every aspect of their lives as students.

4. For Karyn as she has started teaching ESL lessons to several Korean missionary moms in our Grace community.

5.  For continued healthy adjustment for our girls here in Thailand.  They expressed the desire at dinner recently to better discern God’s voice speaking to them.  We think that’s a wonderful way to pray for them–that they’ll learn to be able to trust God’s gracious guidance in the midst of a huge, challenging learning curve.

6.  Praise God with us for the many people and several churches who are contributing financially to support us as a family here in Thailand.  Pray with us for a full 100% of our support to be pledged this month.  You can support our family directly at give.teachbeyond.org (please designate The Kamphausens:  Acct. 40337) through TeachBeyond, our sending organization.