It’s been about a year and a half since the Yu Family moved to Thailand to serve as full-time missionaries with ZOE International. The Yu Family had been faithfully serving at IBC until September 2011 when God gave them the opportunity to relocate to Chiangmai, Thailand. They have settled into their new home, David is working full time at ZOE, Ester is busy caring for their three children (the youngest born in Thailand), and the boys (Ian and Eli) are both in school. I thought it would be a good idea to check in with them to see how things are going. For many of the new visitors/members to IBC, this will help you give you some information about what they are doing and hopefully stir up some interest in supporting them in the various available ways.
You can also follow them on their blog at: http://yufamilythailand.blogspot.com.
Describe what you are doing in Thailand. What do you hope to accomplish?
We work with an organization called ZOE Children’s Homes (www.zoechildren.org), which cares for orphans and rescues children from child trafficking. Most importantly, ZOE shares the gospel with the children and raises them in a safe, healthy, Christian environment, while also providing the best education and vocational training for them. We hope God can use our education, experiences, skills, and passion to further ZOE’s mission to rescue children and share Christ with them. David will manage the Children’s Hunger Fund’s food distribution program, which networks with village pastors to distribute food and other necessities, while also providing pastoral trainings and accountability. He’s also involved with teaching at ZOE’s Ministry School, counseling, developing protocol for different programs, hosting short-term teams, and supporting the Child Rescue Team as needed. Ester primarily cares for the family at home, but assists with writing/editing projects and will help with counseling and parent trainings.
Why and when did you decide to become missionaries?
David’s father became a missionary to Russia when David was in college. When David attended seminary, he hoped to be involved with cross-cultural ministry in the future. Ester participated in short-term mission trips in college and was involved with a campus missions group. It was through these experiences that she developed a heart for overseas missions. Ever since getting married in 2002, we’ve been praying about and looking for a place to serve abroad.
What are the most difficult aspects of life out there?
Heat; language barrier; health care; health concerns due to air quality, pesticide use, lead poisoning, and poisonous bugs and reptiles. For most missionaries out here, the greatest difficulty is maintaining financial support, but we’re so thankful this hasn’t been a burden for us as we have the generous support of our church, family, and friends.
What are the best aspects of life out there?
Cheap, tasty food; building relationships with the Thai people; and working alongside individuals who have the same passions and burdens we do.
How has your time abroad changed your view of world missions, if at all?
It hasn’t changed our view of world missions, but just confirmed the need for laborers who are suited for cross-cultural ministries. Also, it has also confirmed the great need for “senders,” as most missionaries struggle out here to maintain financial support. Missionaries have to leave for months to years to fundraise and then return, which is unfortunate. It’s hard to find supporters who will give consistently every month over a long period of time.
For those thinking about going on long term missions, how can they prepare themselves? Any advice?
Go on various short-term mission trips. Evaluate whether you are able to work with others, particularly in a cross-cultural setting, adapt to other cultures and foods, and work alongside different temperaments. Evaluate the experiences, education, skills, and passions God has given you to consider what you can offer on the missions field (i.e., gift of learning language, evangelism, discipleship training, etc.). Pray through books like Operation World, research about the countries that stand out to you. Read books like World Missions by A. Scott Moreau, Gary Corwin, Gary B. McGee; Paradigms & Conflicts by David Hesselgrave; and Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper. Build healthy relationships at church and around you for accountability and to receive affirmation that you are called to serve abroad, particularly with your church leadership.
What is your community like?
ZOE provides opportunities for fellowship and accountability. We have monthly gatherings for all the missionary families to fellowship. We’re also assigned accountability partners/groups to meet every other week. We worship on Sundays at a missionary church, but we usually just attend and then leave. Many of the ZOE missionaries attend the same church, but we only have an opportunity to chat for a short time and then leave. We occasionally have lunch with another family with children of the same age. We try to volunteer once a month on Sundays to provide child care in the nursery or teach a children’s class. We also fellowship with a small Korean American community, all the husbands were pastors in the US and now have their own organizations or volunteer with an organization. We also try to build relationships with Ian’s classmates’ families. Because the families (including ZOE) are so busy with ministry and family, there isn’t much time and energy to build relationships outside of those areas. If we find families who are open, we pursue those relationships.
What does your family do for fun?
Go to the mall; go out to eat; go to a nearby animal park; let the kids play in indoor play areas; find a babysitter so we can eat and watch a movie, but usually we end up renting a movie on itunes; invite families over.
Do you feel like you are fully adjusted to living in Thailand?
We’re pretty settled, in that we can drive ourselves to where we need to go, make purchases as needed, know which Thai cuisine our family likes, know which stores to find our items, get by with our limited Thai, etc. We’ve had many learning experiences where we’ve received the wrong order, poor quality items, and other opportunities to lose money, but we’ve learned the Thai way of “sabay sabay” (all is well) and “mai pen rai” (no problem), even in challenging circumstances. Most of the time, there’s no getting your money back or complaining about poor service or quality. And though difficult, we’re getting used to the heat, rain, humidity, bugs, MSG, no hot water in the kitchen, toxic car fumes…
Do you have any highlights in the past year you want to share?
Allison’s healthy delivery and development (she’s managed to avoid most of the boys’ illnesses), Ian learning to read, Eli being diaper-free, Henry & Wayne’s visit, and our 10-year anniversary.
Do you have any strange/funny story about living in Thailand that you can tell us?
We bought a couch at a small furniture store where many missionaries get affordable pieces. Shorty after it was delivered, we started seeing tiny larvae on the floor nearby. We realized it was coming from the couch. A Thai friend called the store for us and got the store to offer an exchange. We picked a smaller couch, so the owner said he’d make up the cost difference using a higher quality cushion. Within months, our couch felt like we’re sitting on wood. Live and learn.
Other than IBC and family, what is one thing you miss the most about Los Angeles?
Ester: Being out & about in West LA (here, I’m pretty much stuck indoors b/c of the heat), David: Weather
What are some of the ways that our church members can support your family and efforts in Thailand?
Doing exactly what IBC has been doing. We are fortunate and incredibly blessed by the love, financial support, and prayers of our church family. Having met many missionaries out here from various backgrounds, we know our situation is not common, so we thank God every day. But yes, financial support, prayers, regular communications via email, phone, Skype, social media, packages with items we can’t buy here, etc. Thank you!!!