We are able to see the finish line ahead and are definitely standing out on a major level in the community now. By God’s grace all will be finished in the next few weeks.
With new windows installed and a bright red F5 paint job on the front we are definitely a contrasting site in the land of white buildings. While red and yellow are the colors of the two opposing political factions and we were warned it may not be a good idea to use it, we went with what we thought was best and so far the response has been good. During painting everyone walking by stopped to look and I had a woman, seeing me
looking at the paint, tell me that she thought it was beautiful. God is helping us to be more and more noticed, which we pray will cause Him to be more noticed. This is just the beginning of standing out as finding vegetarian food in the area is extremely hard and thus different. But God never told us to be like others, but to “be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds. That ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) I mentioned last month about Tong and Wiang, our management team possibly going to get some ministry training in the South; well God worked it out and they have already returned from their intensive course and are excited about all the things they learned, especially in regards to health and food preparation. They have moved into the building and are helping us move toward opening day.
One way they are helping is by informing me of things that I don’t know and ways I am being taken advantage of. One such case was the guy replacing the windows. I asked if he would haul off all the old ones and the broken aluminum window covers and he said he would do it for an extra 1000 baht ($30). Well Tong told me I could sell all of it. We scheduled with a shop to come assess all the windows and give us a quote to buy them for the following Monday. On Sunday we were getting ready to eat lunch, Jessica already had it on the table and I said “I think I need to go to the building.” She, very graciously, sat down to another meal alone as I ran back to the place that has consumed so much of our time lately. When I arrived there were 3 pick ups out front loaded with the aluminum and all the windows. They chose to come on the day everyone else takes off. Well I promptly stopped them and had to physically unload everything myself. There were many workers and they were upset and saying I needed to pay them for the work of carrying everything downstairs. God helped me to stand firm and not back down but tell them to discuss it with their boss. When the guy came and looked at everything the next day they gave me 14,000 baht (around $420) for it all. That would have been a big loss. Just to show His faithfulness again, God did this to show He was watching out for the work here.
Those of you have been with us for a while will remember Jessica having a dream of fish painted on the walls of the center. Well we had completely surrendered that idea to the Lord as we had no money for it and didn’t know anyone who could do it for us even if we did have money. Well again God worked it out. Some missionary friends of ours were in the U.S. and attended ASI. They saw a booth for a business called Murals for Missions and took the card. They contacted the guy and he agreed to come for 6 weeks. Our friends sponsored the whole thing, save supplies, which they have also covered the cost of some, and he arrived just 1 month later. He has been working for only 1 week but already the place is AMAZING! God has really blessed us with the opportunity to have him come. Not only will he do the underwater scene in the cafe but he is planning on making the restaurant floor look like a jungle scene. I will attach some pictures but my iPhone 4 camera does not do it any justice.
I mentioned last month that we had surrendered the upper 2 floors (fitness center/climbing wall) to God as we had received no donations toward it and were needing to make sure we used the funds we did have to finish at least the lower floors. Well I told the builder to just leave that area alone and not paint it or anything. He told me he would paint it white for free so that it at least all looked nice. The cost on his bill for that was around $1700 so that was a huge blessing. Well then 2 weeks ago I received an email from a man in Canada. He got our contact from a mutual friend. He has over 35 years climbing experience and has built multiple climbing walls all over the world. After corresponding a bit he decided to come with a team of 12-20 other people to build the wall for us in March. This is part of his last message, “I have a couple of builders signed on already. Have some artists in mind for the design work, some world class climbers, climbing coaches and route setters in mind as well.” We are super excited for this opportunity! I sent them the design the climbing company made for us and they said they could build it in 3 weeks! On top of that the quote we were given was for $92,000 and that didn’t include crash pads which are very expensive and necessary. Well he said, after gathering prices of things from me, that they could build it for between $20-40,000 depending on the cost of crash pads which I haven’t been able to find! That was such an amazing answer to prayer.
We also had the privilege of having the Global Mission Urban Center Director from the GC come to visit and bring a group of church leaders from the local division who were
working on their Masters in Missiology degree. It was very encouraging to hear church leaders supporting the model we are using (which is God’s model not ours) and encouraging church leadership to allow their lay-people to work in the capacity that God has called them to, which isn’t always under the official church umbrella. I was given the opportunity to share how God had been leading us and how if we simply trust Him and follow His council He will bless the work.
We have realized that our projected grand opening date of October 22 is not going to work. Being so wrapped up in this building project I have been completely disconnected from everything else it seems and I just found out that during that time the country is holding the funeral service for the king that passed away at that time last year. Culturally it would not be appropriate to try and hold a celebration during that time so we are looking for another date that would be more appropriate. We are also waiting for some electrical work to be finished before we can really know when renovations will be done.
When I brought in a guy to assess the building for air conditioning he said that because we will need so many units we will need far more power than normal. Most buildings here run on 220v, well our building will run on 3 phase 380v power. What that means is we needed to replace some of the existing wiring with much bigger gauge and also run additional wires per the electrical company’s requirements. The wiring is all ran and we are having the controller boxes installed today and tomorrow. The electrical company will come assess the work on Wednesday and bring us a meter hopefully the following week. Once we have power in the building then the a/c company can begin installation. Please keep this in prayer as my initial assessment of what our a/c needs would be was grossly underestimated and it is coming in at a much higher price than expected. But we know that God has been behind this the whole way and we can trust Him moving forward. We are waiting for an SDA a/c shop owner to come back with a quote as his original one was beaten by a competitor and he wanted to reassess some things.
This last month has been overwhelming and stressful for our family. I have been gone most days and then also working from home in the evening and morning. I am having to balance interaction with people in the States which usually happens early morning here and then dealing with the local workers who seem to do the majority of their correspondence late in the evening. I was wearing down rapidly and according to self-diagnoses was rapidly approaching burn-out. By God’s grace Jessica stayed cool with everything; thanklessly taking care of the kids and making food for me. Her prayer and support helped me to see what was going on. I started setting boundaries and God has been helping us find a good balance between home life, ministry as well as business. Please keep this in prayer as the enemy is really wanting to bring distraction, division and business into our lives to keep us from what is really important. I read an article on burn-out that talked about how we are surrounded by devices that raise our stress levels imperceptibly by sending us notifications and messages and making everything seem as if it is an urgent matter, thus we are always ‘busy’ tending to things that aren’t necessarily important. I have set up a lock on my phone that will not send me notifications between 5pm and 8am so that I can have time for my self, my family and most importantly God.
Please keep us in prayer as we seek to continue to find a right balance in our lives so that we can be a right witness to others of who God is and how He wants us to live. We also received a notice from the only church that was supporting us monthly; a non-denominational church that was covering 1/3 of the rent cost for the building, stating that they had not been aware we were Seventh-Day Adventist and would now be canceling their support. We specifically told the recently retired pastor we were SDA after our first meeting with him. Our guess is he must have known his church would respond this way but chose to not tell them. While this is definitely a challenge we are not discouraged as we have seen God lead throughout this project and we know He will carry it through. Psalm 105 has been a blessing to us over the last few days. Thank you all for your continued support and prayer.
In His service, by His grace,
Brian, Jessica, Asher and Joseph Atwell
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord.
- That we can remember where OUR actions brought us and that the only reason we are where we are today is because of His undeserved, unmerited grace that lifted us from there.
- Please pray that David, the mural painter, can get done what God would have him to in the time he is here.
- For donors to sponsor the fitness center/climbing wall construction (Roughly $40,000 needed to complete)
- For the funds to finish the renovations and furnish the center (Roughly $30,000 needed to complete) With my miscalculation of a/c cost this has gone up significantly.
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- For humility of heart
- God has impressed us that we need to open an official call for someone (or a family) to come and join our team to help with the climbing side of things. Please pray that God opens the right heart. If you know anyone with a passion for climbing, route setting skills and a heart for missions please send them our way
- For operating funds to get us started
- For people to help support our sister project in the slums to bring education to these oft neglected youth. Only $1000/year could send them to a private Christian school with room and board, less than $85/month. They are also planning to start a Pathfinders program but have no experience with this. Any help in this regard would be much appreciated as well. 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. (God has impressed the team to try and establish a small business to give their members from the slums some work to do, practical ministry skills and provide them with means. Pray that they can know the Lord’s will in this.)