Sunday, February 21, 2016

State of the Whertvines 2016

Well, I haven't posted and update except for pictures since December, and not a true update for a few weeks before that. So here is the bulleted version:

November:
Weekend of the 13th-15th NCU Graduation
Friday the 20th - 2nd Annual Loi Kratha
Friday the 27th - Thanksgiving

December:
Learned we are pregnant with number 2
Friday the 11th - Christmas Party (last class day of semester 1)
Sat-Sun 19th-20th - head of English camp for 4 schools in Chiang Mai
Dec 26th - Last day of finals
Dec 28th - Last day to submit grades

January:
4th - Turned in syllabi for 3 subjects
11th - First day of Class
13th - Call2All Chiang Mai's first day with our Chinese for Communication Majors
15th - Call2All runs our Friday nights
20th - C2A @ NCU
21st-24th - Zac to BKK/PangKabi for an English seminar/competition prep w/ 3 students
22nd - C2A @ Classic
27th - C2A @ NCU
29th - C2A's last day @ Classic

February:
3rd-7th - Deanna in the hospital with a bacterial stomach infection
11th-14th - Zac went on a silent retreat
20th - Heading up NCU English Camp

So, true to form, the beginning of the second semester has been pretty insane per usual, trying to cram the end of one semester and the prep for the next semester into two weeks. I got put on a committee which goes over all of the exams and final grades for our department, so that adds in to it. Call2All Chiang Mai was a lifesaver in January, and hopefully will be a partner with us for some bigger things on down the line. They were running a discipleship school with around 30 Chinese people, and they came and did some language activities with our students and invited some new students over to Classic for our Friday nights who normally I wouldn't be able to invite.

But I have also been struggling to put into words exactly where we are are right now. I'm burnt out yet again, and for me that means I get depressed and it's hard to not become all woe is me in my updates, so I avoid them. However I need to get this out there for all of you have been supporting me, and for those of you who have been on the fence about it, or maybe for some of you who have never considered it but you actually should be supporting us. 

What we are doing now, and where we are is a dream I've been chasing for 7 years and right now we have a foundation that could be built up into something amazing but we are lacking in two places: Financial/Time and Personnel resources. I combine financial and time together because time is money. I put in at least 60 hours of work at the university each week between my subjects, extra projects (English camps), meetings and seminars. If I am going to stay full time with the university, then I have to start doing classroom research and get it published. So all my time is tied up with the university because they are my full time employer, make up 1/2 of my income, and provide my visa. Which means I just don't have the amount of time I want/need to take our ministry to the next step.

I actually had a little Bible study going last Nov/Dec, but I couldn't keep it up because I didn't have the time/energy left over to prepare and make it worthwhile for two students coming. We are able to make the connections we need on Friday's, but haven't been able to transition beyond this because there just aren't enough hours. So I need to be able to buy that time back from the university.

The other part of that equation is I'm trying to do all the ministry stuff by myself. Anne is taking care of Deanna, dealing with being pregnant again, and trying to keep the shop running. The kitchen which was paid for from fundraising last year has helped us be able to keep up with the expenses related to supplies and paying Anne's mom for cooking in there. But we need some partners. We need someone who has the same heart to reach university students for Christ who can help with the Friday nights. We need a Thai person with management experience who can run the shop and keep things in line. Anne is great at customer service, but we have discovered she doesn't have the personality to be a manager, and with taking care of a toddler while trying to do somethings she isn't gifted at has been trying to say the least. We need help in the form of people coming alongside us.

Call2All and YWAM may have those people who are ready to commit to the ministry we have here. Or maybe that person will be a manager who we will need to pay, but can take the shop into being profitable.

Our dream as a family is to have three kids, and be able to send them to a good school to give them the education they need to excel in their futures.

Our dream for our ministry is to:
1. Use our Friday nights for outreach and relationship building
2. Disciple our students and teach them how to do the same
3. Provide jobs and job training for those who are in need of it
4. Partner with local churches and ministries to do outreach to this community

But we can't do this where we are. If we are going to be able to take care of our family and be effective in our ministry, then we need partners, but I also need to be able to move from full to part time at the university and still be able to provide the things our family needs. So here is a basic break down of what we would need currently:

 
Car


$285
Rent


$170
Electricity


$115
Water


$15
Phones


$30
Internet


$60
Food


$600
Insurance


$170
Clothes


$115
House It.


$30
School


$335
Entertain


$60
Misc


$60
Student Loans

$500
Ministry


$400
Savings


$500
Tithe


10%
Total per month                                     appx $3700

To break down some of those numbers a bit:
1.  They are all converted from THB and rounded to the nearest 5. So depending on the exchange rate these numbers will increase and decrease. This is four people, if we are able to have baby number 3 the cost will increase accordingly
2.  The car payment covers our monthly payment and yearly expenses e.g. oil changes, insurance, taxes, new tires, etc.
3.  Utilities (rent, electricity, water, internet) are at the coffee shop. If we can continue our work here, then we will move in there for the next 5 years and try to purchase.
4.  Food is $5 per person (4) per day. That is where the baby formula for baby 2 is in this budget.
5.  Currently, I don't have insurance, but it would be similar to Anne's which is around $35, and for two children, Deanna's is around $50 per month plus a little for my estimate.
6.  Clothes, this is where the diaper budget is located.
7.  Savings is for taxes, flights, visas for Anne, big replacements (e.g. computers, appliances, phones), and other unexpected expenses as they come. To bring our family of four to the US will cost $4,500 (baby 2 flying for a small fee, at current prices, will go up and down according to the world economy)
8.  Student loans. At the moment, I don't make enough money to have to pay taxes so my monthly loan payment is $0 right now but accruing interest. If we move up to this level of support, then I will have to pay taxes and that means I'll have to start repaying my student loans as well, which will be at least $500 per month.
9.  School: That cost per month is just the tuition and doesn't cover all the other fees. The fees are for Grace International School. It's a Christian school here with a great educational program. here is the breakdown:
  a. Tuition for a kindergartner: appx. $4000
  b. Kindergartner plus first time application fees and other school fees: $6700
  c. For a senior: $7,500 before other school fees (no first time application fees)
  d. This is for the 2016-2017 school year (http://www.gisthailand.org/wp-content/uploads//downloads/2016/02/Annual-Tuition-Rates-standard-2016-02-05.pdf) and will increase before Deanna or peanut make it to school.
  e. So we need to start preparing for this last year. 
10. Ministry is $100 per week x 4 weeks in a month. At first this will be too much, but will help with getting the shop up to where it needs to be to attract customers with what is left each month. Then it won't be enough if we reach our goals, but the coffee shop will supplement it.  
11. Tithe keeps screwing up my final totals every time. But 10% for that, and then the final total

We can expect a portion of this to keep coming from my part time work at the school, but only if the school keeps me on when I drop to part time. Or else all of it will need to come from monthly support. It will of course change and adjust as we grow as a family and ministry, but our goal is to live here in Chiang Mai and do discipleship with university students. This is the cost. It's actually a very conservative estimate because I'm holding out hope that Classic will become a profitable business, and be able to supplement some of those things, but if it doesn't, we'll still have a location for our ministry. Anne has also started selling insurance and nutritional supplements to try and find us some extra income

Right now our total income is about $1500. I'm burnt out half from the hours I'm putting in, half from the stress of not knowing how we can keep doing this. And we can't. We need to see our monthly support grow by at least 4 times. And if it doesn't, then we can't keep doing things the way we are doing them.

So right now we need your prayers and we need your help. I want to put my heart into the ministry we are growing here, but I have to be able to take proper care of my family. And our family can't do these things alone. Please be praying that God will provide both monthly financial support we need, and in partnerships.

The NCU English camp is over, so my extra time for that will be put towards trying to raise that extra monthly support, and we'll see where we are by the end of April. Love you all.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Starting Again

2014 was a year of many, many changes. We had a beautiful daughter, moved twice, had our ministry location taken away and then blessed with a better one, hosted a team from Purdue University, helped host an international weightlifting tournament, had some great events with our ministry including: Valentines, Halloween, Loi Krathong, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; and we've started a coffee shop that is slowly getting more customers each week. We've been blessed with new friends, getting to see old friends we had lost touch with and have had out current friendships grow stronger. It was a great year, even as rough as it got.

Now we are looking forward to this next year and all that it holds and we are asking you for lots of prayer. I'm just going to list everything that could potentially happen in the next 12 months.

January:

Hosting a faculty dinner at the coffee shop (this week)
Mini-vacation, two nights in the mountains (please pray for safety)
2nd term starts
Setting up an activity with a group from a Texas high school and my students (next week)

February:
Valentines Day party @ Classic Coffee
7th annual NCU English Camp

March:
Midterms
Sending out requests for interns (to help w/ coffee shop and ministry)

April:
Easter Celebration @ Classic Coffee

May:
End of Year Celebration @ Classic Coffee
Finals

June-July:
Travel to the USA
Visit family and friends, Speak at some churches, Do a lot of fundraising

August:
Return to Thailand/Prepare for the 15/16 school year
(Prayerfully hoping) Welcome an Intern (or 3) for the next 6 months

September:
School starts
Back to School Celebration @ Classic Coffee

October:
Mid terms
Halloween @ Classic Coffee

November:
2ndAnnual Loi Kratha @ Classic Coffee (Loi Krathong/Yii Peng)
2nd Annual Thanksgiving Buffet @ Classic Coffee

December:
Christmas @ Classic Coffee
Finals

Of course this will really fill in. I am involved in two research projects with the University, I need to re-write my textbook for my Public Speaking class, have several other projects in the works with the Uni.

Goals this year for our ministry: Be able to start at least one discipleship group with our students, have better relationships with the 1st and 2nd year students, and want to start a time of worship at the shop as well.
The church Anne and I attend is growing and starting to meet out nearer to where we are so we will be more involved there as well as they will be more involved with the ministry here.

Goals for Classic Coffee: Build a new counter/bar, Add food to the menu, have one month in the black before we head back to the USA. After we come back, be able to remodel the kitchen and get more food on the menu, be able to start remodeling the inside.

Goals as a family: Continue spending time together, Move out of my mother-in-law's place and into a place of our own, get insurance for Anne and I (finally got insurance for Deanna in December)

So this is a much longer post than normal, but this is where we want to be headed this year. We really need your prayers. We are also going to need help raising funds to get to the USA and get around while we are there. The round-trip tickets alone will be at least $3,000 for Anne and I. Fortunately Deanna doesn't count as a full ticket just yet. But to end off this post, here are photos to highlight the past year.

Chris and Joy's Wedding

Thailand TESOL Conference

Traveled with the students to learn about meditation

U and Mim's Wedding

Valentine's @ Huen Whertvine

6th Annual NCU English Camp

English Club Trip to Mae Wang for elephant rides and bamboo rafting

Graduation Day!


Old high school friend and his wife visited

The second house we lived in this year

Faculty trip to the sea, Anne's and my first trip to the sea together


Two pictures of the team from Purdue

Learning how to do cloth diapers and squish my daughter's face into funny faces


Playing games to welcome the first year students

Visiting my students at their internship and getting feed back from the staff there

Visiting group from Myanmar (Burma)







Two most beautiful girls I know

Family and Friends visiting us at home

Deanna's first time at church

Classic Coffee grand opening!

My friend James back from Australia before he left for the USA

Classic Coffee Halloween

A' and Aom's Wedding

Loi Krathong/Yii Peng @ Classic Coffee
First Annual Loi Kratha

Anne's friend May visiting from Bangkok

CUTE!!!

4th year students doing their final project presentations

Thanksgiving @ Classic Coffee

Welcoming Athletes from 28 countries for the World University Weightlifting Championship

With some of the team from India

Serving as tour guides for some of the VIPs

Decorating for Christmas

Christmas @ Classic Coffee


Merry Christmas!



Monday, November 3, 2014

Opportunity out of Frustration

I last posted in May. I haven't had much I was ready to share since then. Sometimes it's hard to see the good things coming in the midst of hard times, but I'm gonna practice what I preach, and choose to focus on those positives. And they are wonderful.

The biggest and best thing to happen in all of 2014 is this little one right here. Ramida Deanna Whertvine. She's two and a half months old and amazes me everyday.

We are living at my mother -in-law's house right now, but the good in that is how willing she is to help us with taking care of Deanna. This has helped us have the time and energy for me to get my work stuff done and for Anne to have some time to come and help out with the coffee shop and on Friday nights.

The coffee shop is up and currently is covering its product costs. We are working our way up to be able to cover the cost of the rent, electricity, and employee. But we have been getting great feedback on our current products, so we need to focus on our marketing, getting some more edibles in there, and getting a few more pieces of equipment, namely another air conditioner, a cake display case, and a new counter so that more than one person can get work done back there at the same time.

Our Friday nights are still going. This past week we had a Halloween party, this week and the following weeks we will have a Loi Krathong/Yii Peng party, Game Night Tourney, and a modified Thanksgiving. Our goal this month is to grow the attendance from the university, and get more people from our church participating to really be able to start some sort of Bible study.

Mummy Competition @ Classic Coffee
Speaking of our church, they will be having cell group at Classic Coffee tomorrow night, and we are going to pray together and talk about how best we can work together to stat some bigger works out here. I'll give more details on that when we have finalized some things.

I'm seeing more and more, if we hadn't been evicted out of our comfort zone and forced to adapt, we never would have attempted the coffee shop this early, because it truly is too much for both of us right now. BUT... The opportunities that are practically hitting us in the mouth right now, the doors God is opening and the potential bridges that can be built, this was the perfect timing for all of it. Thank you for all of your prayers. Thank you for your words and messages of support, encouraging us to keep going. Thank you for your belief in the work we are doing. Everyone of you who reads these words, keeps up with us, prays for us, and send words of encouragement, you truly are our partners and help us to get up and get moving each day, and we would for sure not be here doing this with out you all by our sides.

Stay on the look out for pictures and videos from our Friday nights this month, and keep them in your prayers, We're gonna show you all all of the things that are happening, and next month I'll have more info about the big picture Anne and I are looking at.

Please pray for our health. Right now we are pushing ourselves hard getting all of this going and haven't been resting enough. I was down with small cold the last two days, but getting up and at it in the morning. Thank you all again.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Irons and Fires

For me, I have been subconsciously equating the new school year with the start of a new year. Over the last few weeks my contract as been renewed and I've re-upped my visa and work permits. So it feels like the year is getting started. And boy do I have a lot of Iron in the Fire this year. So let's look at those irons:

1. Ministry - This summer we haven't been able to connect much with our students, so really looking forward to this upcoming year. As of right now we are still looking for place to meet up. We may not have one until the year starts and we can get with our students figure out what works best for all of us.

2. Family - Anne is getting larger and as of right now we have 80 days until the due date. Big, big change happening right there. And we are looking to make our lives more stable for our baby girl and our sanity's sake. To that end:

3. Building a house - We have land as soon as the gov. gets the new deeds made and we nearly have house plans finished. We are taking the advice of family all around that if we are going to build, make sure it is a house that we can stay in long term and absolutely love and we are nearly there. Of course the next step means:

4. Taking our a Mortgage - If we are going to build, we don't really have the cash on hand to just outright do it, so that means going into a bit of debt. I'll go more into that at the bottom:

5. Classes - taking my classes from last year and kicking them up a notch. To do it will be a fun challenge. That's my main project at work the next two months.

6. Purdue - The university is partnering with Purdue to do a study about how to improve international trade from handicraft villages.... or something like that. So I'm going to go along and help as a translator but also to hopefully learn some. Anne and I have been looking into alternate streams of revenue and online sales has crossed our minds more than once.

7. The English Experience - As part of my contract, I need to do a project this year, so I am putting this together. It's something the students sorely need in terms of contact with native speakers, but it comes at a price. Have to see if my students and the university are willing to pay it.

8. Curriculum Research - I am co-researching with a fellow teacher the needs for a curriculum for the Tourist Police. If it goes well, then we could end up putting together something that would be published and used nation wide. That would be cool.

9. Other random things - The university always has this or that starting and needing 'volunteers', so we'll see what surprises they throw at me this year.

10. Moving (again) - We are going to take Anne's mom up on her offer and go live in her house (which she is not using at the moment). This way we can save money for the future as well as, when we get closer to Baby time, rent an apartment for a month or two near the hospital where our child will be born.

So like I said, quite a bit going on as we head into this new school year.

More on the house.

This house will be our base of operations for the foreseeable future. But we need your help. In the next few weeks we will be starting a fundraising drive for the down payment for this house. We need to get a few key details from owners of the constructions company we will most likely use, but when we have that, we will need to get going quick. Rough guesstimate is that we will need to raise around $6,000 to get thing rolling with the actual construction. This will be the biggest fund raiser we will have attempted yet, so right now wee need prayers from everyone as we move forward that God will provide exactly what we need when we need it.

Also be praying as we move out into the village about our ministry. This is a great opportunity to live near and witness to Anne's immediate family. It will also be a time where I am going to have to redefine the student ministry I have been pursuing since I graduated DTS. There is amazing opportunity if Anne and I have the wisdom to see it. So your prayers are deeply appreciated.

Love you all, and talk again after we finalize the house plans.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Love and lots of English

Secondary students at morning assembly.
The end of the semester at my university is like going 90 m.p.h to 0 with the click of a stapler. The entire month of February has been a mad dash to finish all the projects, complete all the classes, attend all the the events and grade all the papers. All of it leading down to yesterday at just after six when I printed off my last class grade report to be sent to the outsource committee, stapled and put it in the folder on my boss's desk.

Now to shift gears to get ready for summer, baby and a new term.

But first: Highlights:

- February first, went to a couple from our church's wedding. It was outdoors and beautiful.
- The next week got to speak to a local high school to convince them to come to our English camps. They laughed at my jokes. The jokes were in Thai. I'm happy with that.
Two teachers from the School,
Aj. Ying, and myself

- The 8th, Anne and I got to go to a random concert. We had fun. It was the international battle of the bands, so had music from all over the world, and even though it was sponsored by MTV, they didn't all sound the same.
- The 14th, our first Valentines Day as a married couple and this year a national holiday (thank you lunar calendars of Buddhist holidays) So what did we do? Since it was on a Friday, I baked cookies, and we borrowed a friends x-box and kinetic to set up a dance competition. How did go? Check out the video below:


video 
Special thanks to P'Aek for making this video for us

Our campers and staff
- The 15th, holiday weekend, sooo what better day to wake up at 6 am to go put on an all day English camp. It went really well, had our largest group attending and despite a couple of hiccups (probably only glaring to the people who planned the thing), went off really well. I'll have pics up this weekend.

After the camp I had convinced the frisbee players to come out to try and get my students involved in Ultimate. No students showed up but we still had a lot of fun for pick up. Then went home to a house full of students wanting to play more Just dance... gonna have to get my own some day.

Annie, Yo & Dao
-The 18th, graduation celebration for the two graduates receiving degrees this year. (Though one was in absentia). They let me pick the restaurant and the school payed for it. It was a great night. As they rolled me out of the place, one of our other students who had graduated the year before pulled up on his bicycle. Was good to see him.

Waiting on Elephants


-The 19th - My English club field trip was rescheduled. So I picked the best day to take a school trip for which I had to go along... My birthday. We went elephant riding and bamboo rafting, and ate good food by the side of the river. Then Anne and I went out to eat and to watch Robocop. The only downside that day was when I bought the ticket they forgot to mention to me that the version I was going to be watching was Thai dubbed. Fortunately action movies don't rely heavily on verbal plot developments and my Thai has much improved over the past 5 years.

- The 22nd & 23rd were graduation. One full day (9 am - nearly 9 pm) for practice, and then all day for ceremony and stuff on Sunday. But Anne got her degree, and we had enough to hire a photographer for the day since I was busy working the event. It was a great day.

-Finally, got all my school work done, ended the year buying some pizza for our students, and now, today, we go for our next ultrasound.

Prayer Requests: 
- As many of you know, we are going to be evicted from our house. We don't yet know when, but in the next month or two at the earliest. Right now we are looking around for the best option, meaning do we rent again, and potentially face this same thing again in the future, or do we use our rent money and make it mortgage money? That's right. We may be looking at buying a house.

My goal is to try to find a house that we can still do our ministry out of, but be comfortable enough to grow as a family as well. Hopefully near the university. So please pray that God would be guiding our search for that.

- A vehicle. We can't keep going on the bike with the baby on the way. A pregnant lady and fat white boy will probably break that little thing in too. But at the same time, with having to move, I'm not sure where we are at financially. Anne has found a little job to do for the next couple of months, and that will help us save up for down payments, but one the kiddo arrives, she won't be working for at least a few months. So with taking on a new house payment (weather purchasing or renting), and looking to take on a car payment, She and I are going to need some help. So be praying for us as well as we start trying to expand our support base.

- In a couple of months, two friends of mine are coming to help with ministry. They are coming to do some photo profiles of local ministries. Please pray for me as I start solidifying plans, that we will get in touch with the right places. Where my friend's photography skills can be the biggest blessing, and that I will be able to get the planning done while looking for a house/car and getting ready for next semester.

Love you all! We might know the Gender of the baby today, so if we find out, we'll be letting you all know as well. Lot's of love!

Zac & Anne