That’s right, March 11th will mark our sixth month in Thailand… time flies! As per usual, this month has been full, and I believe that God is at work. Furthermore, though I try to be faithful to express it, I cannot overcommunicate how blessed I am by your partnership, encouragement, and support. As I have been confronted with and processed through many things this month, I have been struck afresh by the truth that I am not alone, and that I don’t have to be self-sufficient. Though this reality is rooted in Christ, it often finds expression in his body, the Church. With all its inadequacies, I’m grateful to be part of this family as we move toward the fullness of unity and restoration in and under Christ (Eph. 1:10, 5:25-27).
A Few Highlights of the Month:
- I had the opportunity to visit a government school in a village outside of Chiang Mai and participate in some activities with the kids.
- We had four full days of seminars regarding intercultural communication, the history of Southeast Asia, and contextualization of the Gospel, which provided great insight for my team and me as we continue to seek to engage as learners in this culture.
- I got to visit a 3D art museum with my team and our guest instructors – we had a lot of fun!
- We completed over 150 dolls since I began to work with Compass31 as part of the entrepreneurial project our girls participate in.
- I had the opportunity to try chicken organs! It was difficult for me to enjoy since I’m not used to considering organs as food, but it was a good experience, and I can add it to my “list” of things I’ve tried.
- I began my 25th year on earth this month! I’m officially a quarter of a century old.
- I had the opportunity to go to the “Grand Canyon,” a water park here in Thailand, and had a great time.
Please continue to pray for me and my team as we study Thai, specifically for opportunities to effectively practice in the context of relationship. It is such a gift when our friends are willing to slow down and allow themselves to be inconvenienced so that we can better understand and learn. I hope and believe that this will ultimately result in blessing them, as I have gotten glimpses of this being true, but it can be hard to work through the barriers upfront. This month I particularly focused on days of the week, times of day and telling time, and basic conversation, such as asking questions, ordering food, giving directions, and telling someone about a friend. My progress has felt slow, but I can definitely say that I am learning!
This month we have been studying the relationship between the government and religion in Thailand. We have also been preparing and learning about how to better engage in informal interviews with local Thai people. My goal is to attempt to gain an “insider perspective” of some of the core values of the Thai people and how that practically influences their lives. We are seeking to continue to uncover deeper “layers” of the culture and beliefs that make up and are a product of the fundamental worldview of the people of Thailand. Something I have been struck by is the holistic nature of religion in Thailand. It is meant to pervade every aspect of life. My Thai teacher used the phrase, “it’s in the blood,” to describe the influence of Buddhism in Thailand. She shared with me and a teammate that from a young age, children are taught a love for their nation, religion, and the royal family. This is perpetuated and reinforced in families, schools, the government, and by society at large.
At the same time, there is a form of religious tolerance so that though Buddhism is heavily dominant, it is generally accepted and even assumed that people will adopt practices from other religions. For example, as I have mentioned before, Buddhism in Thailand is heavily influenced by and intertwined with Animism and Hinduism. Furthermore, people generally do not have a problem with a Thai person becoming a Christian, but the expectation is that they will still be Buddhist. At a governmental level, the king is expected and declared by law to be Buddhist, but government officials do not have to be Buddhist, and historically have not always been. These dynamics present a challenge, but also an opportunity for the effective spread of the Gospel. For example, as believers, we are invited into a new Kingdom in which the way we live is shaped by and reflects the values and culture of that kingdom, and the character and nature of the King. Historically, the Gospel has not been successfully rooted here, but God’s hand is at work and transformation is happening. My prayer is that some of these values that I am discovering in Thai culture will be transformed and redeemed to represent Kingdom values as the people of Thailand turn to God as their ultimate King.
A Few of My Favorite Things:
- Getting to worship with the Body of Christ in Thai! My ability to do so is limited, but using the little that I know in song is such a special gift to me.
- Practicing Thai and encouraging others in their English in the context of building relationships and working together.
- Getting to laugh with little kids – I get to interact with some cute kids!
- Enjoying walks in the mornings or evenings around my neighborhood.
- Being shaped by the Word of God – slowly, but beautifully.
Thank you for allowing me to share some of what I have been learning and experiencing this month. I pray that you are reminded afresh of the Father’s delight over you and the reality that he is our refuge and strength. May he refresh you with his living water and minister his hope to you anew. I pray that his Word would fuel you in worship and vision, so that you may persevere in faithfulness and truth. I’m grateful for you!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
- Relationships: I have been struck afresh this month, particularly in light of our seminars, of the importance of developing a context of trust that is “strong enough to bear the weight of the Gospel.” Learning the language is a vital part of this as it communicates care and develops my understanding of the culture of the people I get to engage with. Please pray for wisdom and capacity to invest and engage in the ways God would have me as I continue to seek to be intentional with this season.
- Health: Please continue to pray for health and healing as some in my community face difficult challenges in this area.
- Ministry: Please continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in our midst, particularly within the girls seeking to live in restoration and freedom and those directly involved in walking with them. Please pray for protection, wisdom, truth, and restoration for everyone involved in the work. Our desire is that God’s perfect will is accomplished in Jesus’ name.
- Personal Vitality: Please continue to pray for spiritual vitality and grace, for a deepening relationship with God, and for continued revelation of his character and purposes. Please pray for discernment and discipline as I seek to live into and out of the expectations our Father has for me and to invest myself according to his priorities and design for me. Please pray for a renewed revelation of the Father’s love and my identity in Christ.
Thank you so much for saying yes to this journey! I’m so grateful for your investment in my life and the kingdom. Bless you in Jesus’ name.