While you may very well still be getting snow, hot season has been in full swing here (along with some smoke pollution)! I have been relieved to discover that what we are experiencing is significantly less severe than last year, and am grateful to have conveniences like air conditioning, swimming pools, and ice cream to take the edge off. 😊
As our Father has graciously and consistently granted, this month has been such a gift. April has been especially unique compared to my time in Thailand thus far, and I am excited to share with you about some of my experiences, including the Songkran Festival and my vacation in Phuket. In this season, I also pray that you are experiencing the grace and provision of our Father, that you know his nearness, and that you sense his strength at work on your behalf. I pray that you are built up in Christ through communion with him and his body, the Church. I have been especially encouraged recently by Paul’s depiction of Jesus in Colossians one. What a beautiful truth that we have been brought into his kingdom and are held and sustained by his hand.
In anticipation of Easter week, I was unsure about what to expect as the time-frame overlapped with Songkran, famously known as the Water Festival, which is a favorite holiday celebrated throughout Thailand. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy rich times with my team, people from my ministry, and Thai friends in observance of both. I also had the privilege of hosting one of my dear friends and partners for a time as she explored Southeast Asia for a few weeks. This time resulted in a sweet combination of depth in reflection, worship, and conversation, and lots of fun and laughter.
Songkran has cultural and religious components that involve anticipation and preparation for a new year. It corresponds with the Thai New Year, Family Day, and a day dedicated to honoring one’s elders. The dominate focus is on blessing, including the symbolism of washing away the old and/or bad, and welcoming in the new; hence the water fights! It was such a fun experience to interact with complete strangers in a massive water fight over three days. There was an overarching sense of joy as people took time off to be with their families and to celebrate. In addition to being a great cultural experience, I think there are also some potentially power overlaps between Songkran and the Gospel, namely our redemption through the washing of Jesus’ blood, which is encouraging as I continue to invest in studying Thai culture and language.
This month has also been especially significant because my team and I had the opportunity to take two weeks to rest, reflect, explore, laugh and enjoy one another’s company, and refocus for the remainder of our time here. It is because of that this letter comes to you in the middle of May, rather than the end of April. 😉 It is hard to believe that we have just passed the half-way point of our time here! As part of my break, I had the opportunity to visit a large island adjacent to southern Thailand called Phuket with two of my teammates. We had a great time enjoying the beach, fellowship, and some extended times with the Lord. I especially enjoyed getting up for sunrise to take pictures and catching some powerful waves, as well as watching the sunset in the ocean’s swells. Our break has also marked a transition into a new semester. This is an especially significant milestone, as it marks the beginning of our senior year.
As we dive back into our regular commitments and routines, I greatly appreciate your consistent support and faithfulness to renew your concern for us in prayer. I believe our Father has some specific things on his heart for this coming season, and it is in my heart to invest well. As I have reflected specifically on this last semester, I have found myself deeply grateful for the victories and growth that the Father has provided, and for his continued grace to and over me. It is in my heart that you know the value you have enriched my life with. Thank you for continuing to walk by the Spirit in the grace of Jesus and for investing in the coming kingdom. It’s a privilege to be a child of God alongside you.
Love and Blessings,
“The Son is the image of the invisible God… all things have been created through him and for him… and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17