We'll start with our 8th day in Thailand!
On January 26th we left Pattaya and flew to Chiang Mai. Finally, we were arriving in our "home" for the next 3+ months!! Our friends (and Thailand partners for The Sound of Hope) Ray & Candice Ward picked us up from the airport and we enjoyed a nice dinner out together...
It was SO good to see them again - to catch up, to hear their hearts, and to just be together. Rusty clicked with the Wards back in 2007 on his first trip to Thailand and has loved them ever since. It was fun to finally be together in Thailand - just the 4 of us!
We ate dinner at a little restaurant by the river. My favorite things were the lights and the lanterns in the trees....these are common around Thailand and I think they are so BEAUTIFUL!
We also got to see something really special as our dinner came to an end.... traditional lit lanterns being released into the air! First it was just 3 or 4...but soon the sky in front of us was full of them!
If you've seen Tangled then it was JUST like the scene from the movie...and we were even right by the river so we could see them reflected in the water just like Rapunzel! I know it sounds cheesy but I thought it was a really neat experience! They actually have a holiday where they release thousands of these lanterns into the air, but it's later in the year. These were likely released for a graduation celebration.
This picture doesn't do the scene justice, but the lanterns are the little lights
you see right in the middle of the photo, going up into the sky like smoke...
But, the way the night ended was the best part of all! We were able to present Ray and Candace with a large financial gift that was given specifically for their work in Thailand by a very special donor - Rusty's cousin Sam! As I mentioned before, he is incredibly generous, and he blessed us with our largest one-time gift ever for The Sound of Hope. It was great confirmation that God is working through our trip here, and we LOVED getting to hand that money over to our partners and friends for their work with the children!!!
We can't wait to see what happens next for The Sound of Hope!