Lights! Camera! ..Uhm, what’s the Arabic word for ‘Action!’?

boat in water
This could be one of the worlds greatest films ever! At least we think so 🙂

No doubt, you have heard about the auspicious film we plan to make this summer in Sweden? If you haven’t then you need to eat more Kebab, Falafel, and Syrian meatballs! I assume these are all foods found in Syria. My team and I are gearing up for setting the stage, if you will, to rub shoulders with real Syrian people – refugees mostly – to make a film that will bring hope and healing to a people who have needed it for a long time.

Much of the talk about Syria centres around terrible events like the civil war, the Assad regime or a bunch of countries arguing over how we will stop the madness. But, tucked away on a back shelf of dreams flickers a little light, which is being shaped into a full-fledged film script. When the script is done, it will not be just another news report. Nor will it be the 50 kubillionth eye-witness documentary. It will, in fact, be a drama film made for Syrians, with Syrians and by Syrians.

syrian film crew
Meet our team members – from left to right Steve (USA), Aaron & Teresa (Hong Kong, USA), Ismael (Palestine), Bill & Kristi (USA), Åsa (Sweden), Shirley (Zimbabwe), Rob (USA) Not pictured – Malek (Syria), Sharon (Canada)

I am impressed with the level of expertise and commitment of our team members. Firstly, we represent seven different nations; this helps keep our cultural perspective broad. Secondly, most of us have lived at least several years outside our own countries; this helps keep our attitudes toward other cultures humble, a key ingredient to making a cross-cultural film like the one we will make. Finally, our teammates are highly skilled in many key areas necessary to meet this type of challenge: script-writing, directing, fund-raising, even the most crucial jobs like: removing duct tape from the side of a building after a shoot, or bringing an actor a glass of water!

One exciting aspect for me is that I get to represent the amazing country of Sweden with all its amazing people and all its amazing nature and long sunsets. Hey! I guess I’m a bit more Swedish than I thought I was. As one of the film’s producers, I spend much of my time emailing back and forth between our global team and our Swedish contacts. And then I email everyone else as I raise funds and camera gear. Occasionally I even get sneak peaks at the script as it develops on that ‘back shelf’.

SRFP Syrian people
My team and I are gearing up for setting the stage, if you will, to rub shoulders with real Syrian people.

So, if you’re even half as excited as I am about making a film for Syrians – what an epic thought! – then I invite you to be part of our secret Facebook Group to stay on top of the latest news. Just send me an email or Facebook message and I’ll add you to the group.

The Darby Family

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There are no igloos in Thailand

After inviting a young Thai couple for dinner recently, we decided to play a game of Charades we had brought from Sweden. We figured, “Hey! The cards are illustrated, so everybody will understand the word even without knowing Swedish.” We realized after pulling a few cards, however, that there are no igloos, polar bears or Northern Lights in Thailand!

2015 Year In Review

Hey You!!

Did you ever blank on someone’s name, and resort to calling them “you”? Well, If you’re receiving this email, it means that you are not just a “you” to us, but a special part of our lives, even if I (Rob) still can’t figure out how to merge a [NAME] field to make you feel even a little bit more special. Comfort Ye! We have not forgotten any of your names! Note to self: Learn how to merge fields in my email so people feel more special.

So, please do grab a cup of your favourite beverage and celebrate the end of 2015 together with us.

#1 This One Thing.. Family

One of the biggest parts of our lives is family. We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with family, friends, and supporters here in Chiang Mai, as well as during our trips to Sweden and the USA. It doesn’t matter how tired we are at the end of those visits; we are soon ready for more!

 

#2 Our Boys Our Joys

When Veronica and I see the way Rasmus and Lucas allow God to work in their lives, it is an inspiration to us. We mostly appreciate the way they enjoy each other’s company. And we also love taking them on Mommy and Daddy dates! See some more pictures of the boys here.

 

#3 Today’s Reader

Rasmus loves reading books. At age 1 1/2 he helped us win a year’s supply of diapers in a Pampers video contest when I once filmed him in his diaper, reading a book. It might be noteworthy that the book he was reading was upside down. Who knew he would be such an avid reader today? I am pretty sure he has already surpassed me in the number of pages he has read. For those of you who know me, I guess that doesn’t say much. But I’m still really impressed!

 

#4 Artist and Mathematician

Lucas’ favourite past-time is drawing and counting. He is rarely seen without a pencil or pen in his hand. We framed and hung one of his pictures on our wall to remind us of the creativity God has put into him. And he is also fond of making mathematical observations everywhere he turns. The other day he was explaining to Veronica how simple 10 + 6 is the same as 9 +7. Duh Mom!

#5 Grounding Our Connections

We believe that to stay grounded and know who you are, and where you come, from means making time to reconnect with good friends. Last summer, in Sweden, we carved out some calendar time to spend with our good friends, the Thiessen family, who work in Nepal. It’s so cool to see them all change and grow every time we meet. You can see a few more pictures here.


My Food Ebook FOR SALE!

Do you like eating food? Do you like supporting mission? Then how about buying my ebook called Food Portfolio? It’s full of foods and drinks I have enjoyed living overseas. You can feel good knowing your money is going to something bigger than food and drink! Note! It is only available on iPad. Sorry Android users 🙁
Buy it here.. Now


#6 The Age Of Travel

I think our boys have collected nearly 100 flights together since they were born. We are a family of travellers, and the boys have their own system down pretty well. They pack their own little carry-on bags with all the necessities. I imagine if they ever owned an airline together, Rasmus would prefer that all seats be First Class, and Lucas would make sure their flights were the fastest on earth!

#7 New Home

No, these guys are not our new roommates. They are the movers who helped us put our furniture into our new rental, in a really great neighbourhood close to work, school and friends. Thank you God for finding the perfect home for us! I love how relaxed Thais are, when they can plop themselves down into someone else’s furniture, as if it was their own, and light up a cigarette.

#8 Party Time For Al

Date nights are something we have missed since moving to Thailand. But now that we have developed some deeper friendships, the boys get to enjoy sleepovers, and Veronica and I get to spend some quality date nights together.

#9 Classical

One of Veronica’s passions is her violin. This autumn she got to perform in a beautiful theatre in Chiang Mai alongside some well known Asian pianists. What a classy event that was! I recorded the entire concert. You can listen to it here.

#10 Photography

One of my passions is photography. I get to do cool photo shoots like this one – a graduation photo of a missionary  ‘kid’ from Chiang Mai. And the cool thing is I get to do what I love and sometimes make a little extra money on the side. You can see more of my grad and family photos here.

#11 A Rare Treat

Usually, Veronica’s and my work schedules keep us separated. The romantic in me often laments how nice it would be if we could work together more often. Well, last spring we got to work together on part of a film I was involved in. I was directing a live animation scene in a green screen studio, and Veronica got to be my script advisor. The thing that made me most happy was when she said she actually really enjoyed the entire day! You can watch the film here & photos here.

#12 Clovis

A family newsletter just isn’t complete without the family dog. Clovis, our beautiful Thai dog has proven to be a real gem. She has gained control over her addiction to chewing up welcome mats and plant leaves, and instead has turned her hobbies towards killing snakes, cockroaches and rats around our graden. She still is clueless as to what the words “Clovis! Come!” means, but other than that, she’s doing pretty darned well!

You can see Clovis kill a snake here!

God’s richest blessings & Merry Christmas to you!
Rob, Veronica, Rasmus and Lucas

Thai Noodles – 2013 Year in Review!

This Newsletter is dedicated to my father Dan Darby (see lots of pictures here) who died of lung cancer. I was fortunate enough to arrive back in Angels Camp in time to be with him before he left us to be with Jesus. He died two days later, on 9 November, 2013. – I love you Dad!

Thoughts on our first year in Thailand

When I was a boy, I never imagined I’d be driving down the road in Thailand trying to find poinsettias for my Swedish wife! You can never underestimate God’s plans for you life, can you? 

Eleven months ago Veronica and I rolled our two children and ten pieces of luggage through Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport to being our journey to Thailand. When we arrived in ChiangMai we we expected to confront major culture shock, but thankfully it hasn’t been bad at all.

However, one of my biggest shocks has been the price of our car. When we sold our fairly new, clean car back in Sweden we thought, “This should be enough to get us a really decent car in Thailand. But we were wrong; we actually paid more for our 1996 Toyota Corolla here in Thailand than what we sold our 2003 Skoda for back in Sweden! If that doesn’t let the air out of one’s financial tires, I don’t know what does.

But let’s exit this road of complaints so I can share one of my hi-lites after moving to this good land. Now, this may sound a bit shallow, but one of the best things, so far, about living in Thailand has been the Ice Cappuccinos. They are so yummy, and sweet! On a hot day – which is most days in South East Asia – an Ice Cap (or Capu-bon which is the Thai nickname) provides one of the most satisfying tastes in the world. And the cool thing about buying an Ice Cap at a small cafe is that I get to practice my Thai language a lot, which has been our goal for this first year.
Click the word to see and hear “Iced Cappuccino” in Thai

The Thai people are always willing to stop and help you learn their language. They’re also very inquisitive. I’m hoping that, as our language progresses, these conversations and friendships will lead to deeper talks about Jesus, and life, and everything that entails. (Watch year 2 for details.) It’s tempting to skip language learning, and get right to “ministry”. But we’ve heard too many stories about how that shortcut leads to a dead end.

Think about it. Would you really want to get to know someone who moved to your country, if they never cared to learn ‘your’ language? Language learning is ministry! Even so, I am humbled by how gracious and patient the locals are with us as we try to learn.

For Rasmus, This first year seems to have gone quite smoothly. In the beginning he had a hard time feeling comfortable in his new school setting. It’s an international school, run quite differently from his Swedish school. Still, he has finally managed to make some good friends. He just recently invited 14friends to his birthday party. We’ll take that as a good sign that all is well.

Lucas started Kindergarten this year. He has actually had a harder time making friends, mostly because he gets rather shy when he’s in large groups. Believe it or not, I was that way when I was his age! But, just as Rasmus has made friends, Lucas too is becoming more social among his classmates, especially since returning from a month in the States.  Really, all it takes for Lucas is to have enough time to get his social motor warmed up.

Both boys are doing quite well learning stuff at school, even if their learning styles are quite different. And we have made a real effort to speak both our native languages with them so that they are fully bi-lingual. Now, if only we can get them exposed to more Thai kids so they can learn a third language.

Veronica’s first year has been more challenging than when we lived in Sweden.. duh! She is finally experiencing a bit of what I experienced the past thirteen years in Sweden, which is, she is now the one who can’t get her sentences out fast enough to keep up with the conversation. Still, I’m impressed that she can read Thai already, but I can’t! She started taking on a couple of projects at School of Promise, a Christian Thai school near our house. The school was started as a way to prevent trafficking, and has around 90 kids enrolled.

As for me, I recently travelled to Southern Thailand with a team of around 15 people to make a short, drama film for the Southern Thai Buddhist people group. The entire film was shot on the Southern Thai peninsula, in their local dialect, with all indiginous actors. The film is called ‘The Dream’, and it tells of the struggle to escape bad karma by trying to gain merit through doing good works. ‘The Dream’ is in the final editing stages and will be uploaded to Indigitube.tv when it is finishedYou can browse all of our films and animations there.

As a family we’ve enjoyed learning to adapt to a new culture together. We’ve been applying the 40% rule – They say that when people move to a totally new culture they generally can only accomplish about 40% of what they would normally do in their native land. This has proven true for us here in Thailand, and we find ourselves out of gas at the end of nearly each day. At least it makes for a good night’s sleep! 

And that’s just where I am headed after I share one phrase for you in Thai.

Suk san wan Khristmas le suk san wan pii mai! – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Darby Family

Pray with us

1. Finances – Surprisingly, the cost of living here in Thailand is much higher than we had expected, the biggest cost being the boys’ school fees. We’re also praying for a second vehicle, so I (Rob) can avoid the hazards of driving a motorcycle in Thai traffic every day.

2. 40% – Pray that our days won’t leave us so tired, but that we’ll continue to get more done with less effort as we learn how things work here and as our Thai comprehension improves. We’re hoping to see a definite increase this coming year.

3. Safety – Please pray for safety as I commute to work on a motorcycle, safety for our health as we are surrounded by produced sprayed with pesticides (the highest pesticide use in the entire world), for our lungs during the burning season, March and April, and for general safety from insects, snakes and accidents around the house and out in public.

4. Unity – Pray for unity, first between Veronica and I, but also between our work co-workers. It has been good, but we know that Satan loves to cause disunity among us because it hinders all that we do.

PayPal donate button

Here’s how you can help support our ministry:

plane
Rasmus’ and Lucas’ school fees for the coming year

car
A car for safe driving
because it is safer to drive a car than a motorcyle. We hear about so many workers who get into accidents on motorcycles.

plane
Flight tickets
We’ll be doing travel for work and furlough trips on regular intervals. And recently we paid $4,000US for flight tickets to visit my father in America.

Do you have questions?
We’ll be happy to share with you if you’re interested. Just drop us an email.
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Language learning is ministry

Since quite a few years back I have been convinced that learning the language of the people where you live is a ministry in itself. It shows that you actually care about them and that you are willing to be in a humble position. Besides the obvious fact that it really helps in making communication possible of course. But now when we are in the middle of our language learning it can sometimes feel very dreary. The road to actually knowing a language is long. The fact that the language happens to be Thai doesn’t make it any shorter. Somebody told me it takes seven years of studies before you “know” thai. Who knows?

It's never to early to start learning a third language. Rasmus and Lucas are visited by a Thai tutor and are having a blast learning her language through games and lots of laughter..
It’s never to early to start learning a third language. Rasmus and Lucas are visited by a Thai tutor and are having a blast learning her language through games and lots of laughter..
So even though language learning is essential, it’s not always very exciting and we miss seeing clear results of our labour. That’s why I was very encouraged the other day when Rob came home. He had been at the celebration of Create International’s 25th anniversary and brought home an information booklet including very clear results from their work, film making. It was so wonderful to read about the fruit they are seeing, and to know that we will see similar things shortly! In August Rob will get a sneak peak when he attends their 6 week seminar in film making. He will be able to use the Thai he has learned when the film team heads down to a small village on the southern-most tip of Thailand to make a film for an unreached Buddhist people group. Below are a couple of the testimonies from field workers who have used these films made by Create International’s staff.

In case you missed it, Create International is part of Youth With A Mission. This is where Rob – and possibly myself – will work after our language studies. They produce evangelistic films for specific people groups, in their own language and relevant to the context of that particular culture. I hope you will be as encouraged as I was.

“As a result of distributing 4 million copies of the Mandarin evangelistic and discipleship film, we were told that 10 000 new churches were established.”

– National workers in China

“In North India, over 600 fellowships in four different Muslim unreached people groups were established, in one group alone 7000 awaited baptism-and they were all using Create International’s contextual gathering film to do this.”

– Paul Eshleman, VP Global Coverage in Campus Crusade for Christ

I know, I know. You can’t measure success in numbers – the most important is our obedience to the Lord – but isn’t it great to read about what God is doing?! We look forward to being part of this good work in a few months. Until then, we will keep doing what we know will generate fruit in the long run, studying Thai.

Until next time! (Pope-gan-na!)

The world’s biggest water fight

My mom gave me a Fuji waterproof camera for Christmas. It was the perfect gift for what happened to me today; I joined the world’s biggest water fight. It takes place in Chiang Mai center, around the edge of the mote, during the Thai new year of Songkran. The water in the mote is free, albeit not very clean! People line the streets and draw up buckets of water to fill large trash bins fomr which they take smaller buckets and fill them and throw them on anything that moves. Others carry large buckets of ice water and throw it from their pickup tricks. The following images are from my experience today. Enjoy!

Drive by shooting near Chiang Mai

Sometimes I see a scene that I would love to shoot, and it may take a few drives past it before I decide to take my camera along. These scenes are a couple of such places.

Jungle shack 003

This first picture below was taken just beside the neighborhood where we live. I’m guessing field workers live in those lean-to’s under that huge tree. I’ll probably find out more when I learn enough Thai to ask the gate guards who work at the entrance to this road.field workers' neighbourhood
The other images were taken on my way to one of my favorite cafe’s where I sit and study my thai notes – and practice the language with the local cafe owners, all of whom are very helpful. The little shack is nestled in against the jungle growth and invites my eye back to it and beyond. Makes you wonder what’s in the jungle past there.

Jungle shack 002

This is what I see when I turn around 180 degrees from the jungle shack.

Palm tress in a field

Half done, twice spent!

This was a full week. We didn’t really do as much as we would do back in Sweden, or the States, but we felt twice as tired. They say it’s normal to only accomplish about 40% of what you would normally do when you enter a new culture. They were right. But we still had fun!
Enjoy the photos 🙂
PS Don’t forget to check out our storm videos below.

Video 1 – wires, trees and lamp posts swaying in the wind

Video 2 – high winds and heavy rain
Kraftiga vindar och spöregn.

Video 3 – Our family and Gabriella sit out on the front porch and enjoy the cooler weather.
Familjen Darby och underbara Gabriella njuter av det behagliga vädret.

Hard work and friendship

Our week was packed full of activities and work, in no specific order.

Make somebody happy, keep your promise

IMG_0370
The nun we met on our journey. I’ll never know if she got my message.
I once asked a talented photographer friend in Nepal to give one piece of advice to traveling photographers. She said this, “If you tell someone you’re going to give them the photo.. keep your promise!”

She then shared about a time she asked to photograph an old woman in a mountain village. She promised to bring the photo with her the next time she came through that village. The old woman sort of [chuckled] and said that in her long life many travellers had made the same promise, but not one of them ever kept it. So, my friend decided to break the cycle.

The next time she came through that village she brought along a printed photograph, found the old woman and gave her the print. She told me that this small act made the old woman extremely happy and it opened a door to build a relationship of trust with the old woman.

After hearing that story I decided to start doing the same. Already I’ve had several opportunities to keep my promise to people I meet in my travels. One such encounter happened this way:

One hot and sunny day, my friend and I were walking up a steep mountain road in Nepal. About half-way up the hill we passed by a nun and two of her students trying to take a group photo. But their camera didn’t seem to be working. So I offered to take a picture with my camera promising to send the picture when I returned home. She agreed, so I took the photo, asked the nun to write her contact information on a small piece of paper, and we parted ways.

Back home, as I was sorting through all of my notes and receipts, I discovered the crumpled piece of paper where the nun had not written her email address, but only the name of her ‘nunnery’ – I think that’s what they’re called. I should have paid better attention in Catechism!

“Okay Rob! Remember what your photographer friend said; keep your promise.”

Now I had a choice to make. I could simply consider my promise void because she had not given me a complete email address. Or, I could “take the dirt road” as it were, and try to reach the nun through the information she had given me.

With the powerful story of the old village woman etched deeply into my soul, I remembered my promise. I began searching the web – it actually took only 10-15 minutes – when I found something that seemed to match the name on the paper. So I sent the photo to the main email address and waited.

Sadly, I never heard back from the recipient, so I don’t actually know if the photo ever reached her. But I can sleep at night knowing I did what I could to keep my promise, even if nobody ever finds out.