สุขสับต์วันคริสต์มาส – Merry Christmas! It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone – what a gift! And what a year! If you want to see some snapshots of this semester, please click here. I pray that this season has been a blessing to you, that you have had space to be refreshed and enjoy the community God has given you, and that you will have the opportunity to reflect over this year and look forward to the next with gratefulness and expectation. At the same time, I also recognize that some have also been met by heartache and difficulty. I pray that you would experience the tangible presence of the Father’s nearness, and that his presence would reassure and comfort you in the depths of your being.
This month has been marked by transitions and preparation for coming ones. The BGU seniors flew back to the States to finish their last term, a couple on our leadership team is moving homes, our team spent our first Christmas away from home, we finish up our formal language classes and our first semester of online classes this week, and we start formal ministry next week! As life so often seems to do, there’s so much that would pull for our attention and investment. I’m still learning about how to navigate these dynamics well, and I’m grateful that I have a support system and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the midst of it.
As I have given particular attention to Advent this month, I was struck in a new way by the reality that I am here because of Christmas – because Jesus came and will come again. Jesus came as Emmanuel – God with us – and his name means, “God Saves.” The head of the organization we partner with here shared with us that his names indicate his mission, and we are now ambassadors of that mission. I was also greatly encouraged by Deuteronomy 31:7-8, which says, “Be strong and courageous… The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Jesus wants to replace our fear and discouragement with strength and courage. What powerful revelations!
Now as far as this beautiful country I get to call home for the next year, this month I have primarily been studying the history of Thailand and how it affects the present, norms of nonverbal communication in Thai society, and how Thai people view their homes and the symbols they carry. I have particularly enjoyed my study of Thai history. We were assigned a project in which we developed a timeline over six weeks that outlined key events, people, movements, etcetera. I feel like I barely scratched the surface, but also gained significant insight. I discovered that much like the Unites States, Thailand’s cultural context is composed of a unique compilation of multiple influences, yet a unique value system has been forged that is distinctly Thai.
Thailand has also been and is currently home to masses of displaced peoples. Though the country has long been a safe haven for these people, in more recent history Thailand has lacked the infrastructure to continue supporting them and has also faced other challenges that has caused these people to be oppressed and discriminated against. The most recently deceased king played a significant role in seeking to break down those barriers by developing and promoting a variety of projects meant to empower and restore these people.
Lastly, Thai people tend to use forms of nonverbal communication that can easily be missed because of their subtlety. Thai people value maintaining composure as they do not want to be swayed by fleeting emotions. From my observations, it seems that the use of their eyes and a variety of smiles are dominant in how they communicate nonverbally.
Thank you so much for taking the time to join me on the journey, and for your investment in the kingdom.
Grace and Peace,
– PRAYER POINTS –
- Spiritual Vitality: Please pray that my focus would be in alignment with God’s purposes, particularly as I transition into this next semester. I want my reality to be shaped by his, in faith, and for his kingdom to reign in my heart. Please pray for grace, capacity, and wisdom in stewardship.
- Spiritual Breakthrough: Isaiah prophesied of a Light that would bring joy, wholeness, hope, and freedom to a people in darkness and bondage (Is. 9:1-7). As I have begun to develop friendships with some of the Thai people in my community, I have witnessed the need of this revelation and breakthrough. Thank you for investing in the spiritual heritage of Thailand; the Lord is at work! Please continue to partner with the Holy Spirit to prepare people’s hearts for the Gospel and its full implications.
- Team: Lastly, please pray for one another. It may be easy to assume that your common ground is me, but it’s Jesus and his mission. You are participating in the body of Christ at work! I’m so grateful for team, for the support and covering you provide, for the way you encourage me, for your faithful sacrifice…. Thank you, and God bless!