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Christmas 2022-Our Trip Home

Dear Family,

The Home-leave Dad Plan  
Our arrival time gets closer, and I increasingly realize how homesick I am. It is a deep feeling with which I'm sure you are familiar. My citizenship is in Heaven foremost, and I have heard how much in these years away things have changed in my home country. Still, I can't stop loving America and Americans in the deep reaches of my heart. I pray to see revival as people come together in prayer there and here in Thailand.
We earnestly look forward to a reunion with friends, family, and church. 

Christmas, then Google Maps
During this home leave, we are looking forward to Annabelle graduating from Clemson and spending time with the Bowen family, who took her in as their daughter for all the years of her return to America and University. We then plan to drive down after Christmas to my parent's home in Palm Coast and then to Angie's parents in Old Town. It has been well over four years since we have seen them, and we long to see them. We hope to visit Pioneers as well.

Happy New Year!
We're super excited to spend the new year reconnecting with friends and our church family in and around Jacksonville. We are so thankful for how they have made this all possible. We thank friends who sacrificed their homes, finances, and vehicles to help us for God's glory.

Years of His Grace
 We got arrested in the Middle Kingdom after an investigation of our missionary activity in our home by fifteen homeland security officers. Then we were asked to leave the Middle Kingdom. We fled to Thailand after a visa run to Singapore, a short PI conference in Colorado, and a later visa run to Laos. We returned with our current visa and have been living and working here since then.

Kingdom of Thailand Opens
We saw doors open, not only for the one in five people here who are Chinese but also for the Thai people, who are vastly unreached (70 million and less than 1% Christian).
As we continued gospel outreach, we saw more Chinese baptized in Thailand than in the big country! We began to see a shift in our ministry to the Thai people and Thailand. Wanting to work in Thailand for a visa, I volunteered for charitable works. I received a work permit through a foundation named Goodwill Community Foundation. 

We had just returned to Thailand from Laos with our new visa when Covid hit. We had seen it go everywhere in the world, but here and then, it arrived with all the confusion and hardship—most Thais lost work. The average Thai accepted reduced salaries for the same workload to keep their job. A couple we know would run their air-conditioning in one room for just 1 hour a day in the hot season with temperatures in the 100s.
We delivered many care packages with gospel literature to the underemployed: old folks' homes, villages, and neighborhoods. 

What it Looks Like Now
Two years later, people still wear masks everywhere, in markets, shops, and even outdoors. 
I've started working this year as a project manager for another foundation Peaceful Communities Foundation, where we are doing more of God's work near the borders. We encountered community needs like safe water, roads, sanitation, and disease with almost every outreach. So, I started studying community health evangelism, which helps communities sort out these problems for themselves as we come alongside with the hope of starting Bible studies and churches. 
For Angie
In addition to helping Madeline to reach her full potential, Angie works to give relief to an orphanage in our town. She works in an educational organization that helps missionary kids with education and a special needs community that enables families with members that have disabilities to thrive.

Reach Chiangmai
The major work we have engaged in has been going out into the markets, praying, and evangelizing as we train local believers to do the same. We began a network named Reach Chiangmai, with the vision of the gospel reaching many in this city and a movement outward as people catch fire for the Great Commission. We have seen this network grow and advance into Chiangrai to the north and soon East Thailand.

High School and Autism
All the while, Madeline has been working on graduating high school. It's hard for her as she has autism and some complicated comorbidities that make it harder to study and do everyday life. We have been blessed with better care here than she might receive in America. Through the gifts of a speech therapist/life skills coach, a school psychologist, her IEP team, counseling, and an online autism coach, who calls in weekly. Most of this is at no charge... So we feel blessed at all the attention the Lord is giving her here and the freedom it gives us to focus on getting the gospel to this nation.

Tom and Angie's Health
Angie was diagnosed with Hashimoto's, a thyroid disorder, a while back but has been able, with the help of doctors here, to manage it and even get healthier. I have had a few health concerns, but with prayer, we have seen much improvement and can even say that we are in good health, confirmed by our annual physicals a few days ago. Thanks for your prayers.

Prayer Requests
Please pray for us on our upcoming long flight to the US and for our arrival, our stress levels (esp. for Madeline), and jet lag.
Pray as we wrap up and leave these ministries here that we will be given favor by the visa authorities to leave and return with this long gap in our volunteer work.
Please go to our website and set up a chat with us while we're in the same time zone starting mid-December. We have a form under the support page to help set up a conversation.

Please also be in prayer as we seek to increase support for our monthly budget by $700/month before we return to Thailand in March.
We are praying for new partners to fill the:
        3 - $100 slots (1-already filled)
        4 - $50 slots
        8 - $25 slots (1-already filled)
Our expanded budget includes housing and utilities, groceries, medical insurance, mission projects, vehicles, repairs, visas, work permits, language education, communication, travel for conferences, training, fleeing countries hostile to the gospel :), and home leaves. I'll try to put a progress graph on our website.

What just happened to you
This email gives you all a good bird's eye view of what's been happening with our family. We hope it inspires prayer, partnership, and conversations during our time at home in the US. We love you all, and please leave a candle in the window for us. 

God Bless You in this Sacred Season,
The Matthews Family

Tom - Family and Ministry