God’s plan is always best.

Last week our F5 team pulled off the largest event we’ve ever attempted, marrying the rock climbing gym and bakery, into an active, fun filled social event for a homeschool group. Confidence has soared and momentum is beginning to build. By faith we believe 2020 will be the year the F5 Center of Influence takes off! But first I want to share some breakthroughs with our team that have been amazing. We had been having some struggles with one of our staff for a while now and didn’t really know how to manage it. A local friend had suggested we fire him and while my human pride was liking that idea, the Spirit kept pricking my heart to love him and try to work through it. But how? I had tried. We had met and it kept seeming like we would work things out but after only a week things would be back to the same. Finally, with the intent of clearing it up whether it meant losing an employee and a friend, I went to meet with him. Turned out he invited all the team to join. I didnt feel comfortable airing his dirty laundry before everyone but he insisted and so the meeting began. After 6 hours of discussion, some yelling and arguing, praying and apologizing, we ended with a new team. Everyone had been having struggles with things but culturally it is not apropriate to discuss. Well after ‘forcing’ it out of them everyones shoulders were lightened. Now our burden was easy and the yoke light. We had given our challenges to Jesus and He was carrying them away. After closing prayer I tried to explain the concept of a ‘family hug’ or group hug. It was 3 minutes of crying embrace between us all and then individual embracing among us again. God knew what needed to happen. There was a break in the unity and God wanted to heal that so that He could dwell among us. Things started taking a rapid turn for the better not just in our relationships but also in the traffic to the Center. God wanted all walls broken down so that He could be represented rightly. Now to the regularly scheduled program.

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Jessica was at the end of her rope. She was tired of feeling so alone in Bangkok especially after a socially fulfilling summer spent in America with other mommy friends at the parks. A couple of friends suggested she join local Facebook groups in search of new mommy friends. She resisted as meeting people online had never been her thing. But she was out of options and desperate, so she went all out and joined every group to prove making friends online wouldn’t work for her. After being approved by the administrators of several different groups Jessica would write a short blurb introducing herself; how long the family had lived in the city, what her and Brian were doing in Bangkok with the gym and bakery, and the desire to meet up with other moms for play dates. Ironically, all it generated was business!

One thing learned from searching for “play dates ” in Bangkok is that there are multiple businesses that charge exuberant prices for just a couple of hours of fun. Then the idea struck, why not host a “play date” at F5! A couple of hours in the gym with staff supervised games, activities, and climbing for the kids followed by pizza downstairs sounded like a good plan. After suggesting the idea on a local Facebook group, a woman contacted Jessica from a homeschool group called the Vine. Wednesday was a day they didn’t offer classes and they were interested in doing a field trip to the F5 Challenge Center. She was suggested to consider it a P.E. Class for her students because they were lacking one and should include physical activity at least weekly! So, the appointment was set, December 4th. Then, the bomb was dropped; they had around 35 kids regularly attending their Homeschool Center! Initially, Jessica was hoping for a group of 15, so we capped the group to 20 kids. Could we accommodate such a large group? By faith, yes! But, the F5 Thai staff was lost. At first, they couldn’t conceptualize the idea of a play date or being able to serve pizza to so many as they hadn’t made pizza in over a year. The saying is, practice makes perfect!

And that’s what happened. The delicious dough is made a couple of days ahead of time and risen slowly in the fridge creating an exceptional crust. But pizza dough can’t be taken out of the fridge and immediately worked while cold. What time should the dough be taken out? The pizza would be served buffet style. Enough pizza would need to be ready when the kids came charging downstairs indeed starving after playing for two hours. What was the best way to make that happen? How many vegetables, and sauce, and “mozzarella” should be made ahead of time? Do we have enough plates for 45 people? Now the group called and has three birthdays, can we make dessert too? Who’s going to lead the kids in games? What games should we play? Oh and there’s the sink that still needs installed for the bathrooms on the floor we’ll be serving pizza, can somebody do that? There was a lot that needed prepared and with the help of the Woodward family, Thai staff, and some hungry local friends, the place got straightened up and plenty of “practice pizza” was happily consumed.

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Everyone enjoying pizza while our team builds connections with families.

December 4th finally came. Asher was so excited for the kids to come that he woke up at 5am that morning! The group ended up including 23 children and 18 adults. All of the attendees really enjoyed themselves and the F5 staff did a flawless job. It feels like momentum is gaining with all the team on board. Hosting the first “play date” was a big victory for everyone. It was great to have an event that involved the climbing gym and bakery staff. Plus each employee is gifted with kids so they were thrilled to throw a party for them. There are more ideas and marketing being done to attract other groups in the works. Now that our staff has the confidence to pull it off, they’re excited for more! Please pray for this weekly play date to attract enough customers to hold two a week. It’s a wonderful group of people to connect with because they are already thinking differently from society and willing to step out in those convictions. It would also help us greatly financially! Check out the video one of the staff put together of last week’s event. On Friday the application to extend our visa in country was turned in. We were approved for a 30 day extension while our documents are reviewed. Please keep the approval process in prayer. It’s expensive, stressful, and time consuming to have to leave the country every three months. We are praying earnestly that everything goes smoothly.

Thank you again for your continued support and prayer. You are also part of our team and none of this would be possible without you. We hope you have a blessed holiday season.

In His service, by His grace,

Brian, Jessica, Asher, Joseph & Prudence Atwell

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Prayer requests:

  1. For our visa extension. We have been leaving the country every 90 days and that has been a huge burden. We are finally able to apply for a one year extension. Please pray it can be approved.                                                                                         (The initial 30 day extension has been approved while documents are reviewed. Please continue to pray for this. The first one is the major hurdle)
  2. For a friends baby that was born early at just under 2 lbs. He is gaining strength but can always use more prayer.                                                                                                (We heard that he is going home soon. After so many months in the hospital i’m sure the family is ecstatic. Thank you for praying)
  3. That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord                             (We need to add at least 1 more for the gym and 2-4 additional once the cafe opens)
  4. For the resources we need, preferably through income sources, to cover our expenses. You can learn more below
  5. For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
  6. For us to be more intentional in our witness for God’s glory
  7. For guidance for Josh and Chitlada (Directors of Jesus for Slum Kids project). They have been seeing many changes in their work and they could use an extra special outpouring of prayer. If you would like to find out more check out their website here http://jesus4slumkids.org/ or email the Project Director Joshua Bauder at Joshuabauder@hotmail.com. You can also view their project featured on the program MissionTREK here

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