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:

Rasmus’ and Lucas’ school fees for the coming year

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.

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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Thai Noodles – September (update with photos)

tn_logoHi friends! Too much has happened to write it all down now. I’m with the Frontier Film Seminar staff and my classmates, in Southern Thailand, making a film for a Buddhist people group. Veronica is home with the boys.. probably playing Legos about now! Missing me, and I’m missing them! But this is sooo worth it. Enjoy the photos from the past few months! Note – The first few photos are from our time away with Veronica’s family visiting from Sweden. The middle ones are photos in our home. And the last ones are from my Frontier Film Seminar.

Watch now! – Out Of The Box

Click to watch this first edit of a Public Service Announcement my team made as one of our projects in the FFS. It’s called “Out Of The Box” and is a 60 second ad that another person wrote a screenplay of, and our team had to make the film. We had only a few days to plan, shoot and edit the entire ad.

Pray with the Darbys

  1. Pray for me as I join my FFS team to southern Thailand where we’ll be making a short film for a Buddhist, Unreached People Group down who live there, right near the beach. Life is rough sometimes, and I need to ‘suffer for Christ’ in these ways 😉 Hee!Hee! Pray for travel safety, team unity, and no accidents for our team, our actors or our camera gear. Update! We still need to find the right actor for our main character, a young teenage boy. He needs to be Southern Thai and a good actor. Please pray that God brings him to us.
  2. Pray for Veronica and the boys while I’m gone. They’ll be on their own. Although V is thinking about taking the boys to spend a few nights at a friend’s house who has kids.
  3. Pray for my knee operation. It seems our Swedish insurance company is being a bit directive saying that they have decided I should have my kneee operation back in Sweden. This means that they would fly our entire family to Sweden while I have the 20-30 minute surgery. Practically speaking, it seems like a waste of time and money, but they have the final say. Pray that they will use time and money sense and cover the surgery from here. We have excellent doctors in Chiang Mai, and people come from all over Asia and the Middle East to have these sorts of operations here; even some Europeans! Still, God knows all of this, so we need grace to accept whatever decision is made.

Support our ministry

Do you believe in what we are doing here in Thailand? Then please take a moment to visit our support page and make a donation. Thank you! Till next time, God bless yoo! Rob, Veronica, Rasmus and Lucas

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

Everyday moments

Regardless of where we live in the world, our days are filled with the routines of everyday life. That said, as I sit here and write this post, it doesn’t feel very “everyday” to find a train of strange ants carrying white eggs across our bedroom floor. Good thing my wonderful husband seldom lacks ideas of how to deal with different issues! Anyhow, here are some everyday moments from our life in Thailand right now:

In my Thai class, there is one girl from Hong Kong and one from Japan, and myself. They have both studied Thai in their home countries, so I can’t boast of being much of a star there 🙂

Veronica attends Thai class with three other foreigners two days a week.

One morning we found a tiny abandoned kitten right outside our gate. We named him Yoda because he looked so scrawny. He couldn’t move and was dying, so we took him in and fed him for a few days, much to the boys’ delight. Kittens need to be fed often and this one was sick as well, so we (Rob and I) were rather relieved when the vet offered to adopt little Yoda rather than have her put to sleep.

This veterinary asked us if she could have the little kitten we had found last week if we agreed not to put her to sleep.

During this time of the year the Thai kids start their summer break, so we got to attend a graduation ceremony at a Thai school. The school is called School of Promise and is run by some friends of ours. Except missing my favorite graduation psalm, it had all the familiar parts with speech by the principal and performances by the students.

Children sit restlessly as they wait for the graduation ceremony to begin.

Last, but not least, an old tradition in new clothes: Saturday candy! We biked to the store to let the boys pick what kind they wanted. Life is good.

Veronica takes the boys to the local store on her new bike to buy Saturday candy.

Resolving un-met expectations…

Last weekend, we went on our first adventure into the nearby hills. One should always keep expectations low in these parts. I was expecting to find the ‘perfect spot’ for our family to hike to where we could sit and take in the beautiful view.

This is one of th dead-end trails we took on our hike that day.
This is one of the dead-end trails we took on our hike that day.

Well, it didn’t happen quite the way I had hoped. Once we got a few Km’s out of town I began taking smaller and steeper roads until we came to a dead end and the head of a trail.

Lucas awlays wanted to run ahead. I was a bit nervouse coz I didn't know if there were snakes nearby.
Lucas awlays wanted to run ahead. I was a bit nervouse coz I didn’t know if there were snakes nearby.
Veronica shared some goodies with the boys.
Veronica shared some goodies with the boys.

We walked about 200 meters and came to a house. The man sitting on the balcony directed us back the other way, smiled and waved. So we tried one more trail, which led to another dead end. So we decided to drive back home, having un-met expecations of finding a great view.

Magnus enjoys a short rest in the shade. Sunscreen is vital!
Magnus enjoys a short rest in the shade. Sunscreen is vital!
Finally, we got a fairly nice view from the Orange Cup Cafe.
Finally, we got a fairly nice view from the Orange Cup Cafe.
The open-air cafe had a corrugated tin roof as its covering.
The open-air cafe had a corrugated tin roof as its covering.

But on our way, we stopped at road-side cafe which had a huge orange cup hanging from the tree beside the road. There we enjoyed ice cream, ice coffees and a lovely chat with the woman who owned and ran the open-air cafe.

The boys share a yummy ice cream drink.
The boys share a yummy ice cream drink.
Everywhere you go in thailand, you'll find big green leaves!
Everywhere you go in thailand, you’ll find big green leaves!

A day at the Zoo

The elephant up close impressive creature --- Elefanten på nära hål är en imponerande skapelse
The elephant up close impressive creature

As part of our language course, we were all invited to the Chiang Mai Zoo. So, last Friday Veronica and I and Lucas joined the 15 or so other students for a random zoo experience. I say random because, for us, it felt random to be rushed from one exhibit to the next, sometimes at an almost panicky pace. The Thais, in this case, seem to enjoy staying in one large group and moving quite swiftly from one place to the next. If I let it get under my skin, I could have had a quite unenjoyable experience.

So Veronica and I decided to chalk this one up as a “Thai culture’ field trip rather than “zoo” field trip. And behold! the sting went away. It became a fun few hours of learning how Thais think and behave. I can’t say it felt very natural to find their rhythm. But, hey! We can’t expect to enjoy everything in life, right? I suppose that’s what will help us not just survive our new culture, but also learn to love it and enjoy everyday life in this good land.

Enjoy my photos from the zoo.

We all were carted around like cattle --- Vi slussades runt som boskap
We all were carted around like cattle
Some of our thai language teachers --- Några av våra språk lärare
Some of our thai language teachers
These lions were very alert --- Väldigt vakna lejon
These lions were very alert
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter --- Lucas låter sig roas
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes! - Äntligen! En paus
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes!

Thai Noodles – February 2013

a new season, a new taste, a new land

These are the first Thai noodles I bought since arriving in Chiang Mai. They were delicious!Guess what we ate for lunch today. Thai noodles! It happened this way. I rode my bike down a few streets and around a few corners and ended up at a neighborhood restaurant. I used my best Toddler Thai to order some food. The owner was gracious and waited as I stumbled over words that, for any Thai adult would be easy to say; words like “food” and “have” and “how long?”. What a gracious man he was! – I hear-by repent of any attitude I’ve ever held towards people who have tried to learn my ‘engrish’ language. – I’m encouraged by how many Thai strangers have willingly set down their coffee cups – and their agendas – to help me learn their language. And they tell me that I’m “Dee maa!” (very good) at speaking Thai. I hope they’re not just being nice.

What’s not so encouraging are the massive changes, and steep learning curve, our family is on as we try to settle into a completely new culture. Since we arrived a month ago, we’ve tried not to depend too heavily on the ever-helpful, and much appreciated, ex-pat community. Not that we want to avoid the ex-pats, because we’re ‘one’ of them! And several of them have been instrumental in helping us get settled. But we know all too well how easy it is to enter the ‘bubble’ and never step out again, where the locals are.

The woman on my right is the cafe owner. She and her employee (Ning) greet me with a friendly smile every time I stop by to So, to strike a balance, we’re doing little things like, hanging out at coffee stands and biking to the market, where Veronica and I practice our latest Thai words and phrases. And every time we go out, we’re humbled by the generous time and patience people show us to help us ‘get it right’. When it comes to language learning, I’ve never encountered a culture that has been as gracious and helpful to its foreign guests as the Thai culture.

It’s not as easy, however, for the boys to connect with the Thai culture. Most of Rasmus’ day, for example, is spent in class at a wonderful International school. But by the time he comes home from school, does his homework and eats dinner, it’s getting dark. He’s exhausted from all the new adjustments in his life. And the boys in Lucas’ pre-school co-op are all westerners, so he doesn’t get much of a  chance to meet other thai children his age there. But, he does get to learn some Thai through the language teacher who teaches them once a week.

Veronica and I are finding our way around the area so we can practice our Thai at the local market.In spite of these challenges, this first month has been tremendously easy compared to the challenging stories we’ve heard from others over the years. We’ve been able to move right into a well-furnished sub-let for six months, buy a car, open a bank account and set up mobile phone numbers, all with little or no hassle. So, the challenges we have faced, pale in comparison to the blessings we have received. We pray it continues this way. It’s like this Bible verse a friend sent to me recently when she heard I had been struggling for a couple of days: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him…” Jeremiah 17:7-8 Thank you God for blessing our family as we follow you into new places!

Pray with us

1. Language and culture learning – This is our main focus for the coming months. Veronica’s class is very intense and packed with new information, making it hard for her to take it all in. My class meets at a different time and has a much slower pace. So I need to push myself to self-study. Pray for us both that we find the right balance to get the most out of these coming months. The great thing about learning in Thailand is the many people we come into contact with and the openness they have towards us. What an opportunity to show Christ’s love back to them. As they say, “Language learning is ministry.”

bedtime Nabi2. Our boys – Our new changes are affecting the boys more than us. Please pray that Rasmus and Lucas begin to enjoy their new home and culture more. In reality, they have to adjust to two new cultures; the Thai culture and the Ex-pat culture, both of which are quite different from what they’re used to in Sweden.

3. Safety – The biggest difference we see between Thailand and the West is the lack of safety all around us. Chiang Mai has the nation’s highest traffic accident rate. The many motorcycles and cars that share the roads, and the lack of concern for traffic laws, make for a potentially dangerous driving experience. Cars are expensive, but if I had my way, I’d buy two cars to avoid the statistics of driving a motorcycle. Please pray for safety as we travel daily in this new environment. I’ll probably be buying a small motorcycle to get to and from work, which I’m not looking forward to very much!

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