GTL-GMA Chiang Mai Thailand

Well, this is a bit over due. We’ve been back for a couple weeks now and have a ton to report. Our newsletter about the trip to Thailand should go out in the mail today. (I really need to get out of this habit of sending them out on the last day of the month.) But we have much more to share than would fit into one of our letters.

So we’ll have lot of material here to supplement what went out. We have lots to report, pictures to show and some videos as well. I think I’ll kick it off with a few words about Thailand itself and some photos. In the coming days I’ll put up more about the conference itself and the people that were there.

Thailand is a beautiful country. There are very good reasons that it is a top tourist destination for people from all over the world. Chiang Mai is a great example of this. When we were in the hotel or out in the city, most of the Thai people we would see were working. Most everyone else was a tourist. Every ride in the elevator up to our room was an opportunity to hear a different language and meet someone from a different place. Ingrid got to use her German on more than one occasion.

Matched up with the natural beauty is that things are much more inexpensive than in the states. At night we usually ate at a food court near the hotel for roughly three dollars a person. That’s dinner, a drink and some sticky rice with mango for desert. Along with the visa situation I mentioned in the previous post, these all add up to make Thailand a great place for us to hold a conference.

You can read up on Thailand in quite a few places. I recommend wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. They both have tons of good information, maps and pictures.

Getting there and back, from Orlando, takes almost exactly 30 hours. That includes the time in airports. Actual flight times vary as coming back is somewhat faster due to the jet stream.

While were there on this visit it was very warm and humid. This wasn’t too much of a problem as the vast bulk of our time was spent in a conference room anyway. When we were out, even at night it was pretty hot. And right now is the time of year around Chiang Mai that they use fires to burn clear land for farming. So there was a constant haze in the air. I’d guess visibility wasn’t more than 2 or 3 miles at most.

The people of Thailand are exceptionally friendly and polite. They are soft spoken and show great deference and hospitality to guests. It really is a wonderful place to visit. Getting their from the U.S. is a little bit expensive but I’d wager that the savings once their make it very worthwhile even if one was on a purely recreational visit.

So there’s a very brief summary of where we were. Next post I’ll share more about some of the people at the conference and what kind of work we were doing. Below are some photos. Click on them to see more about it, and clicking again will get you the full sized image.

Ingrid and JR in Thailand

Ingrid and I have been in Thailand for a few days now. I would liked to have blogged about this earlier on but things were just too busy getting ready for the trip and then we were underway. I’d like to explain why we are here and what we are doing.

Why we are here is a two fold question. The primary reason is to have meetings. We are involved in 6 days of meetings that cover 3 different things. The first two days were focused on our Global Technology Leaders (GTL). This is a group of men that provide leadership all over the world in how CCCI can use technology to reach the world for Christ. We have participants from all over. We discussed wide ranging topics on what is happening in our areas and what we would like to see happen. Ingrid led a session where she presented data she had analyzed on some of our on-line communities and tools. After that we did a day off.

The next 2 days of meetings, the first of which was today, are for our Global Measurements Application (GMA) partnership. It is mostly the same people that make up the GTL. GMA allows us to track what God is doing through our various ministries and then plan and lead from that information. It’s an important part of ministry and a high priority of our global leadership. We meet regularly with the people who manage and implement GMA for each area of the world. Supporting GMA is a very large part of my work and I’m very much enjoying this time with my counterparts that I work alongside virtually every day. A key part of these meetings is just reinforcing those relationships that take place via email, skype and such tools.

Our last 2 days are software training. A couple of my co-workers (one from Singapore and one from a closed country) and I will be teaching the other attendees to use software called Drupal. Drupal is a powerful tool for building many different types of web sites. GMA is built on top of Drupal and we are leveraging that platform for many other uses.

That is the big part of why we are here. The smaller point of why we are in Thailand specifically is due to the fact that many of those in the meetings come from places where getting a travel visa can be difficult. Many parts of the world are closed to them. For example our co-workers from Africa can have some difficulty traveling to a number of places. Thailand though, is easy for them. On top of that we already have staff here who can set up the conference and things here are not as expensive as many other places. All that adds up to make Thailand an ideal place for this kind of meeting.

Next Sunday, after everything is done, Ingrid and I will fly back to Bangkok. We will take a couple days to visit the city and then we head home. Later I’ll put up a post just on the travel aspect and what it is like getting from Orlando to here and back.