Dear Friends,

March was both a fantastic and a challenging month – here is my short report for the month. After a couple of days in Udon planning with Nujon and Ty, I took off for Tokyo and spent the 5th through the 11th at Tokyo Christian University teaching The Biblical Perspective of Mission” there. This is always a rewarding process for me and I learn more every time I teach courses there. The reality of the reign of God over all of his creation combined with his desire to bless his creation always captures me and gives me an increased sense of the importance and urgency of what we are doing in mission in Global Development Network (GDN). I left Tokyo for Bangkok on the 11th at 11:00am and the earthquake hit Japan at 2pm – I was blown away when I learned about this when I arrived in Bangkok that afternoon. I have been rocked by the compounded damage that the quake did to the country of Japan and its people. May God bless the Japanese nation and give them special strength and stability during this time of recovery.

At the end of the 2nd week of March I spent two days with Lee Purgason from the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, introducing him to the Sustainable Development Research Foundation (SDRF) work in Udon and talking to SDRF staff there. Lee is also a member of the Pasadena Covenant Church and one of the creators and administrators of the Perspectives Course in Mission which has a world-wide impact. I then drove up to Nan and spent the 3rd week of April working with Kru Chun, planning and setting up the work of the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) for March and April. We got hit with the Newcastle Disease and lost many of our black chickens – we are re-stocking our breeding stock with the help of a government agricultural center here in northeast Thailand. We have planned the two dorms for the Tutorial Learning Center (TLC) project at the CSD and are in the process of completing the first one. We are utilizing local materials and the “bamboo and straw” theme that symbolizes the CSD. We will be able to house up to 40 students in these dorms and hope to be able to start accepting students from the Sawa Tai school, which is right next to the CSD, in May when the new school year starts. We are also currently preparing a mountain near the CSD for planting rattan and rice and cardamom (in May we will be going to Laos to get great quality seedlings for the cardamom) - all of this is a CSD profit center effort and must be planted by the beginning of the rains in June.

The 4th and 5th weeks of March I drove down to south Thailand (it rained – “poured” and “flooded” the whole time) where I met up with Nujon and spent the first week evaluating and planning our work at the Phil Keillor Marine Research Institute (PKMRI). There are over 2000 white sea bass in the PKMRI nursery and grow out system and we plan to expand that to 4000 fish. We are also raising estuary grouper which are from the local area. The salt water tilapia are moving forward – we have two varieties of red tilapia which we are acclimating to a salt water environment. These will be used in our CHAC livelihood initiative in Songkhla.

The 5th week of March we spent with the Center HIV/AIDS Community (CHAC) staff planning and setting up all of the things we are doing there. The land for the construction of the new Center is being filled in as I am writing this. We have a basic construction plan for the new CHAC center. We will be establishing a clinic which will operate out of the Center and connect with the HIV/AIDS communities both in order to train and connect hurting people with the government’s provision for them. The CHAC leadership is highly enthusiastic about the new Center and is planning many activities which will respond to the felt needs of HIV/AIDS affected communities in the south – for example, classes on livelihood potentials for HIV/AIDS communities. We have also found a piece of land for the CHAC Fish Farm which is right alongside of a local salt/fresh water canal. It is a great location and just what we have been looking for. The PKMRI staff will be connected to the CHAC staff and will help train the people CHAC choose to run the farm that we will set up there. Each species of fish raised by PKMRI is appropriate for this “grow-out” farm in Songkhla as they live equally well in fresh or salt water environments. CHAC is planning another Easter celebration in May with another baptismal service. There are 9 CHAC communities right now and these are expanding as people come to belief. We worked through the CHAC relief needs. There are multiple communities that were hit by the winds and flooding the beginning of this year and more that have been inundated during the flood of March. Srinuan and the CHAC leadership are working with Nujon and Ty to get housing set up for those who where most affected by the storms. The SDRF has developed a model “relief” house that will provide basic housing for those without this. It will cost about $1,500 per house. We will be dealing with these needs during the month of April.

The Center for Applied Ministry (CAM) is SDRF’s church planting and leadership training branch of the work. There were 251 new believers added to the CAM churches during 2010. Praise God!

I will be flying to the States on April 7th and will be in California for meetings in Newport Beach, and San Francisco before flying back to Florida on the 11th. Joanie is planning to come out to join me in Thailand during the first week of May. We will be living in Bangkok and Joanie will be working with Excel in Bangkok while I continue to work around the country. This will give us more time together more often and will not necessitate long periods of time in the States when I go back for meetings.
One last item, Paw Sao who is 102 years old this year and is a veteran grassroots evangelist with the SDRF/CAM churches in northeast Thailand just got married at an Easter celebration for the Udon area churches yesterday. You can see the happy couple in the picture – she is 67 years old. God bless them both as they start a new life together!

I praise God for each of you! May you experience his health, stability and persistence in all that you do!

Jim Gustafson
President, Global Development Network