August 2020


Every day we pass the kids play-area at the end of our alley. Most of the kids call us ‘Jon’ interchangeably … I, Elise, have given up correcting them! In the relative cool of the evenings it is buzzing. During the lockdown period, while local schools were still closed, I noticed that an impressively large trampoline with a safety net had been donated to the community. There was a lot of excitement!

For a couple of evenings the trampoline was the centre of attention, supervised by an adult volunteer who allowed two or three kids to bounce at a time. The queue was really long and rowdy! It seemed a bit strictly policed considering how free-range a lot of these kids are usually, but I was impressed at the level of organisation.

The next time I passed, I noticed that the play-area was locked. A few days later it looked like someone had attempted to dismantle the trampoline as the poles all stood at different lengths so that it was half tipped over. The kids were allowed back to play but the previously novelty item had become an obstacle in the middle of their space. Football and basketball were now played around the trampoline. It must’ve stayed like this for almost two months before it was eventually removed.

I’m not sure of the circumstances of the useless trampoline but the sight of it made me sad on so many levels. The potential for fun was huge! I don’t know where it came from or where it went but I’m sure that what was intended as a blessing quickly became a burden.

It was the dysfunction of adults that prevented its use. I have to include ourselves in that judgement as we didn’t offer our evenings to supervise. I suspect that there was conflict around ownership or safety or fairness… there is always something to fall out about. Poverty mindset can complicate anything.

I’ve been trying to identify other ‘useless trampolines’ in my life at work and at home; once life-giving things that have been allowed to fall into ruin rather than making effort to navigate their use in times of stress or change. Some are physical things – toys, stockpiled materials, a particular space. Most are more abstract – they are skills, passions, partnerships and ideals. I reflect on where their lack of use causes harm to me or to others? Does their use need rekindling or do they need dismantling to allow space for new life?

Many of us have this tendency to guard old ways of doing things, to hang on to remnants of ‘back then’ even when they clutter our capacity to see a good future. In the era of a ‘new normal’, one blessing has been acceptance of the need to adapt. Just because something worked once it shouldn’t become a shrine. Trampolines can be fun… but once they are not, let’s pass them on and seek God with empty hands for what is next.

family news

Our Family holiday was a wonderful time to read, walk, talk and rewind. We drove in stages down the East coast of Thailand because it is supposedly the least rainy side of the country in monsoon season! We enjoyed some deserted stretches of beach and survived mostly on instant noodles since tourism was so shut.

The highpoint was the time we spent on Koh Phaluai, a beautiful island with very few inhabitants and limited electricity supply! It was great wilderness time, up close with hornbills and trekking to some incredible viewpoints. We celebrated Bow’s 8th birthday in a teepee on the beach… which doubled up as the next night’s beach bonfire when it was blown down in a storm!

Sam managed to cut his feet to shreds in a rock climbing incident that involved a broken rope, lots of blood and a long cycle home. We wouldn’t expect anything less! He is pictured above enjoying the swimming pool despite needing to keep his feet bandaged for a week.

The kids have been back at school for two weeks and are settling in. Bow is loving the social aspect of school and is taking everything in her stride. Her teachers have been very sensitive to her additional needs and she is already leaping forward with vocabulary. She did her first homework with great joy tonight! The boys found it ridiculous!

In very exciting news, we have a new niece in the same country! Jon’s sister Fran and her husband Che welcomed baby Laywa into their family two weeks ago and we visited them in Chiang Mai. Baby therapy was just what we needed. We miss our nieces and nephs in the UK so much!

We had the chance to drop in to visit Bow’s friends and carers at the group home where she grew up. She lapped up the loving attention and the time to re-connect. We are so proud of her healthy attachments and trusting nature. There were lots of memories to talk about but her understanding of the world is expanding beautifully!

Our RoyRak project almost didn’t survive COVID but we are grateful that all of our staff are able to stay in employment for now. With a new website in place we are focusing on growing overseas sales and trying to tap into a wider market. It was disappointing that postage rates were still very high at the time of the launch but we have managed to negotiate some better rates and adjust prices. There is now free shipping on orders over $15 dollars so we hope this will encourage you to buy from us at!

Despite a glossier image for sales, the local work of RoyRak is still to develop and affirm our staff and their families. They continue to do an incredible job representing the community to visitors and amaze us with fresh creativity and initiative under difficult circumstances. The logo signifies mismatched parts coming together to make a beautiful diamond. We hope to find ourselves in a situation where we can offer that accepting space to other women and be making more jobs in order to keep up with demand!

Pray with us

  • For our neighbours who feel the daily strain of poverty. Pray for God’s justice and supernatural peace in situations where we struggle to see hope. Pray that God will keep us expectant of all he can do as his kingdom comes here.
  • For our UNOH Thailand office workers and our deepening relationship with them. Thank God for their uprightness and loyalty. Pray that he will grow all of us in mercy and understanding for each other’s weakness.
  • For Elliot, Sam and Bow as the novelty of school wears off and they get tired with 6am starts. Pray that they will stay fit and healthy and always be growing in love.
  • For financial breakthrough for RoyRak, that our attempts to increase sustainability will see fruit soon and the staff feel more secure in their jobs. Pray that we will model trust in God’s provision and that there will always, miraculously, be enough.

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