Hello from Chiang Mai! These last two weeks have been filled with sessions and new experiences as we become oriented with our new home. This week we are surveying potential ministry opportunities with which we will begin working next semester, and then we’ll get into full swing next week with language classes, ethnographic research, Bible study, and lots of practical application as we build new relationships and learn to live as student-missionaries in this cultural context.
Upon arrival, I was reminded of the need to be filled continually by the Holy Spirit and to cultivate a thankful heart. There is so much to be grateful for! I was struck one morning of how perfect my room is for me: I get hardwood floors, 2 massive windows (one being a sliding glass door that goes out to a balcony!), a wooden wardrobe, drawers and a bookcase, and a spacious size to share with just one other person. I’m excited to share a home and live life with my 4 teammates; it has already been an adventure!
I’m also so grateful for my leadership and their intentionality these two weeks. There have been multiple things that they have initiated that have particularly ministered to me. I appreciate their intentionality with and investment in our preparation so that we can be successful. And… they know how to laugh a lot and have fun! They make an amazing team. 🙂
In the midst of taking in a lot of new things and working through a variety of topics relating to life in Thailand, I am grateful for the opportunity to also take small steps in applying what we’re learning. For instance, we are slowly growing in our confidence in using the language. We’ve learned to “put ourselves out there,” be willing to make mistakes, and to simply start practicing what we know. The first time we went out on our own to practice language, I was nervous and found myself “drawing a blank” when it came time to actually speak, though I had practiced the simple phrase just moments before. I’m a lot more comfortable now, and am excited to continue to grow in my comprehension and retention. My vocabulary right now basically consists of knowing how to ask “how much?” and the names of a few meals, but that in itself feels like an accomplishment! Fun fact: In America, cows “moo,” but in Thailand, that would be an order of rice with pork.
We’ve also had the opportunity to become familiar with our new home by going on adventures and exploring the area. I particularly enjoyed participating in “The Amazing Race.” We toured the city in motorized tuk-tuks as we completed mini challenges, including visiting an ancient temple and the ruins of the gate to the old city of Chiang Mai, having a conversation with a monk, inviting pigeons to perch on our person, eating a cricket, getting a fish “foot-massage,” finding the train station and a Thai mailbox, and having lunch at a waterfall. We’ve also explored markets and malls, which have provided opportunities for making observations of the culture and practicing our Thai, as well as trying new foods. I think I am already developing a higher spice tolerance, but it’s still very low for how the Thai like their food! I have really enjoyed most all the meals I have been served, though. They place an emphasis on balance, including spicy, sweet, sour, and bitter in nearly everything.
The Thai people have been very friendly and helpful to us. It has been fun to visit local churches and shops, to meet our neighbors, and to have a friendly exchange just walking down the street. They place high value on honoring others and allowing them to “save face.” It is also important to maintain an attitude that is cool and calm. This evident even in how they drive! Though the main roads are often busy and they have no problem with driving close together and even cutting one another off, it seems that they are willing to yield to one another where appropriate. Along the same lines, honking is used to make another driver aware of a possible oversight, but not with any aggression or anger. I also find it interesting that they have very few traffic lights; instead, they have U-turns. Thus, rather than cutting across traffic to make a right turn into a destination, the driver has to pass his destination, make a U-turn at the next opportunity, and then turn left into the desired location. This seems to work especially well considering how many motorbikes are on the road.
Times with the Lord have been vital and sweet. This semester we are doing an exegetical study of Philippians. I’m amazed at the new perspective I have of Paul’s letters now that I am on the mission field! I’d love to have you jump in with us if you’re interested. Also, we read a book during orientation called, “Help! My Halo’s Slipping” that might be an interesting read for you. It’s the story of a missionary’s first term in central Thailand. The author, Larry Dinkins, does a good job at making it interesting and real, and it’s a quick read. Lastly, if you’re interested in pictures, feel free to check out the Gallery tab or follow me on Facebook/Instagram!
It’s hard to know what to share as it seems that SO much has happened in just two weeks. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! I pray that God deeply enriches your life in this season and draws you into greater intimacy with him. I’m grateful for this opportunity to partner with you on this journey. Thank you for participating in God’s purposes in Thailand!
Love and Blessings,
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
- Ministry and Church – Within the next couple weeks, I will need to make a decision on what ministry I will be working with next semester and what church I will attend. Please pray for wisdom and discernment.
- Relationships – This semester is primarily devoted to language learning. A massive part of that process is building relationships! Please pray for open doors and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading, as well as comprehension, retention, and effective strategies for language learning.
- Emotional Support – As my team and I adjust to a new culture and way of life, please pray for us to be filled with the love of Christ, for our minds to be renewed according to the mind of Christ and an eternal perspective, for grace to walk in the truth of who God is and who we are, and for opportunities to laugh and enjoy the many aspects of life here as a gift from God.
- Thailand – Thailand is Buddhist laid on a foundation of animism. The holiness of God resonates in a new way here as it is evident that the view of God as a person, moreover a Father, has massive implications on the Thai worldview. Please pray that we would gain new revelation of the Father’s heart for Thailand and grow in our understanding of how to effectively communicate the Gospel so that it resonates at a heart level with the Thai people. Pray for God’s love to be made clearly evident.