One Week Out!

Friends,

It’s time. In just one week, I am planning to be home in Colorado and am looking forward to reconnecting with many of you! I fly out from Chiang Mai on the seventeenth, and am planning to be in Colorado Springs for about three weeks. From there, I am preparing to return to Bethany Global University, in Minnesota, for my final semester the first week of January.

These last few weeks have consisted of lots of preparation for transition, goodbyes, and final adventures, along with logistics such as finishing up coursework for this semester and packing. The only word that seems sufficient is “bittersweet.” It has been difficult to say goodbye. I have been deeply impacted by my time here and the people I have lived alongside. I have friends that I do not want to part from; there is work that I do not want to leave undone; there are ways in which I have felt like I just started to really gain momentum – depth in relationship, greater proficiency in language. Yet I am also content with knowing that my time here was for a season. Too, the Father has used knowing that my time is limited to make it so much more sweet in some ways.

Furthermore, I have a growing excitement to return. I am expectant for what the Father has in store – both in the near and more distant future. I am looking forward to time with family and friends; attempting to share my heart with you through stories and pictures and answering questions; familiar Christmas traditions and festivities; Colorado mountains; and being a senior on my university campus. I am nervously excited for what the future holds, as well. Those “uncharted waters” still feel intimidating, mysterious, and infused with potential. I also feel like they are slowly beginning to take shape and form – a shadow of what they might actually become.

I was struck this week by how much Romans 12 speaks to my time here. I have attempted to debrief and reflect on this season, and I know that I will continue to do so in “bits and pieces.” It is difficult and somewhat overwhelming to attempt to truly do so, yet at the same time, there are a few key themes that stand out to me. These themes include what I have learned about Thai culture and myself, aspects of this internship that have been most significant to me, and ways that I hope to implement what I have learned in the future. I am so grateful for how the Holy Spirit has worked and provided. Including through each of you.

As I prepare to end, I want to share a brief story with you as a glimpse of what you have been part of: I have developed a friendship with a university student, pursuing her Master’s degree in Mathematics. She identifies herself and her family as devout Buddhists, but she is still very open to foreigners and Christians. She has been a lot of fun to get to know. I met her through the English conversation group my church facilitates, so when my pastor planned a “goodbye party” for me, she was sure to go. It was such a sweet blessing to me. The pastor invited people to share words of encouragement with me, and my friend tearfully expressed her appreciation for my friendship. She shared that she felt like many of her fellow classmates were too focused on themselves to be good friends, and that she really valued our time together.

We had only connected a few times throughout the course of my time here, but we had a couple significant conversations and fun outings. I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to continue to use my church and potentially the new interns to continue to befriend and minister to her. I think he uses the context of relationship as a powerful means of communicating truth. I hope and pray that he used me to breakdown some of the barriers that would keep her from coming to Christ in the future. I have experienced the power of intercession in this context in some unique ways, and I want reiterate to you that your investment in me and into the Kingdom is and has been powerful and effective. Thank you for being part of my story and my journey in this season.

 

With love and blessings,

Kristen

As you feel led, please continue to pray for me in this time of transition and as I seek the Lord for future steps in ministry and other relevant decisions. Please also know that I would love the opportunity to partner with you in prayer, especially in person, if we get the chance. Please feel free to reach out!

 

P.S. If you will be in the Springs, I sure hope I get to see you on the 19th at my house, 6:30pm (or whenever you can come!). If not, I would love to facilitate another time for us to connect.

Advertisements

You’re Invited!

Hi Friends!
Upon my return to the U.S., I would love to have the opportunity to connect with you in person to thank you for your love and support, share about my time here in Thailand and unfolding plans for the future, and hear updates from you! Your partnership in this journey has been invaluable to me.
Your company is requested…
Date: Tuesday, December 19th
Time: 6:30pm-9pm (feel free to come and go as you are able)
Where: The Massey Home – 4884 Wandering Circle C/S, CO 80917
Contact: kmassey14@bethanygu.edu (please feel free to email me for my number)
*Light refreshments will be served.
If you’re in Colorado, I hope to see you on the 19th! I plan to return to Minnesota for my final semester at BGU in early January.
With love and blessings,
Kristen

There is Much to be Grateful For…

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I look forward to saying, “Merry Christmas” in person to many of you in just a few weeks! I hope you had a sweet time celebrating within community this week, and that this season continues to be marked by joy and peace. This month I have consistently been reminded of the character of God as our Shepherd. This picture carries great depth, and I have been struck by its implications as it relates to my life personally and in the context of ministry. For example, as some of my teammates and I have gone prayer walking among men and women in bondage and darkness, we have recognized commonalities with “the valley of the shadow of death.”

In addition, I had a conversation with a friend who identifies herself as a devout Buddhist, and she identified a distinction in our beliefs regarding the issue of dependence. As sheep, we rely on Jesus as our Shepherd, but Buddhism is built on the assumption that people must depend on themselves to determine their present life and their ultimate fate. This conversation has “stuck with me,” especially as my classmates and I have studied barriers and potential bridges to the Gospel in this cultural context.

Lastly, Jesus as our Shepherd has been a comfort for me in this season of transition. This week in particular, I have been struck by a roller coaster of emotions as I begin a series of many “lasts,” as I entrust to the Father anew those who have become dear to my heart, and as I prepare to enter a season in which I am especially aware of my need for his leadership.

This month also included the Thai festival, Loy Kratong, commonly known for the floating lanterns. It is quite a site to see the sky and rivers filled with lights! My teammates and I also facilitated a Bible study in Thai with a couple of our friends. We certainly relied on them for help, but it was a big moment for my heart as I had much anticipation leading up to our time together. I was particularly strengthened by the time we enjoyed sharing testimonies of how the Father has worked and provided in our lives. I have also been greatly blessed by my church community here. They have really opened their hearts to me, and grateful for the friendships I have developed, the opportunities I have had to serve alongside them, and the ways in which we have drawn near to the Lord together.

In the midst of many painful and sweet moments, I have been grateful for the strength of your support on my behalf.  May the Lord richly bless you in this season, and may you experience in greater measure the reality of Jesus as your Good Shepherd.

With love,

Kristen

Thank you for praying…

Closure: As my classmates and I enter our last few weeks of internship, please pray for healthy closure and opportunities for meaningful goodbyes. My teammates and I are also planning to leave for a weekend debrief retreat, and I would appreciate prayer over our time together and before the Father. Please pray that during this time and in the coming weeks that we will healthfully process and prepare, in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Breakthrough: Please pray that Thai people would see their need for someone outside of themselves; as Lord of the breakthrough, please pray that the Holy Spirit would breakdown spiritual strongholds and cultural barriers, and that their hearts would be open and receptive to the Gospel. Please continue to pray for P’ Three and her son who are still in bondage within the commercial sex industry here, and for holistic healing for Debra.

Protection & Health: Please pray for health and protection over my teammates and leadership, as well as over my formal ministry, Compass 31. Half of our team here (4 Junior interns and 2 of our leadership) will be preparing to move to Ubon Ratchathani next week to support and pioneer ministry in that area. My classmates and I will begin traveling as early as the 15th of December to return to the U.S.

…It means so much.

Peace in the Storm – October Ministry Update

“For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). This has been a particularly striking concept for me this month, as I have been in the process of studying Ephesians, growing in my relationships, and seeking to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As a team, we have spent some time meditating on the holiness of God, and I have been struck by the multiple dimensions of this word. That God is holy certainly means that he is pure, righteous, and just; yet he is also utterly unique in his love and grace and kindness, too. He is the God of great compassion, and the God who does not overlook injustice. Furthermore, we are led to grapple with things like knowing an incomprehensible God, and becoming like he who is incomparable. That Christ himself is our peace is a profound declaration of the holiness of God.

This month has been rich with symbols and significant moments, and I want to invite you into some of the things that have been on my heart to share with you. Friends, thank you for standing with me this month in prayer and support. I am grateful for so much.

This month I had a few unique connections with some of the people I have developed friendships with during the course of my time here. In light of the many factors that could serve to be barriers in relationship, such as language and cultural differences, I feel like it is a significant victory when I connect at an emotional level with Thai people. This month, that has included laughter and fun, as well as sadness and difficulty. It is especially significant to me when these interactions happen in Thai; I appreciate seeing some of the fruit of my study, and the ways in which my friends are so patient and gracious with me as I learn.

October has been particularly significant to Thai people because it marks the one year anniversary of Rama IX’s passing. It is difficult to express how important he is to Thai people. Out of respect and sensitivity, I will only share briefly at this time; however, this nation and its people are in much need of our prayers on their behalf. Thank you for your willingness to answer that call to the extent that you are able. It has been a unique privilege to be in Thailand during this season of deep grief. I have been impacted in many ways by the conversations, experiences, and observations that I have had. Please specifically pray for strength and comfort for Thai believers in this time.

I also want to share with you about some of the ways my role at Compass 31 has developed. First, my teammate and I had the opportunity to serve as substitute English teachers this month. We enjoyed the opportunity to further develop relationships with the girls and staff that we work with. They were very gracious with us, and it was a positive experience. We have also started to work more intentionally with Debra, one of the young girls in our care. Debra is the daughter of one of the mothers that we serve. She is smart, independent, and a conscientious older sister, but right now is predominately nonverbal. As a team, we are seeking to love Debra well, and walk with her and her mother through the processes necessary for her healing. A dominant focus for me has been to develop trust through bonding with her, as well as to engage in interactive activities with her. Both of these are strategic to her development. We are already seeing progress, and are praying for full and holistic healing.

Thank you for taking the opportunity to engage with me and what the Father is doing. As my time begins to come to a close here, I am reminded of the many ways that you have been a source of strength to me. I am so grateful that you have been part of this journey thus far, and I am expectant for what the Father has in store.

With love and blessings,

Kristen

 

Please Pray

  • Please continue to pray for the advancement of the Kingdom in Thailand, and for the strengthening of the church here. Please pray for fruit from the relationships that my team and I have had the privilege of investing in. Please pray for favor over the capacities in which my teammates and I serve and minister, and specifically for Debra.
  • Please pray for the new junior interns as they continue to transition and adapt to life here, specifically that they would make meaningful connections and develop effective language learning strategies and habits. It has been really neat to walk alongside them in this season.
  • Please pray for healthy closure as we prepare to transition back to the States, and for wisdom and discernment as we consider future steps and ministry plans. There is much in my heart in this regard, and I look forward to sharing more with you upon my return.

 

Thank you so much for your support and partnership in prayer. I count on it.

A Stroke Patient, A Fortune Teller, and A Fishmonger

God chose the weak things… despised things… things considered foolish by the world to reveal the hope of the world (1 Cor. 1:27-28). In a climax of what appeared to be utmost defeat, the Cross revealed the power and unfathomable wisdom of God (v. 18, 25). This month I had the sweet privilege of vising the city and some of the surrounding villages of Ubon Ratchathani, located in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand. This is an area that is highly unreached with the Gospel, and has become a focus of future ministry for my school and the mission we are sent through.

There are many stories that I would like to share from this trip, as I gleaned many new experiences and insights; however, for now I will just share a glimpse. During my time, I visited several small house churches in some of the villages outside the city. Most of the people living in these villages are either elderly or are children because many of the young and middle-aged adults move to major cities to find work.

One of the missionaries I worked with shared the story of how they first developed a relationship within their target village, and thus developed an entry point for further connections. This is an important strategy because relationships are so highly regarded in this cultural context. Their connection was as stroke patient. This woman had previously lived in Bangkok, but was abandoned by her husband after her stroke, and out of necessity moved back to her village. The next two believers in that village were a fortune teller and a fishmonger. With them, a church was born.

The missionary shared some of the ways that they have seen the power of God at work in these women’s lives, such as how the Holy Spirit led the fortune teller to give up her only form of income and trust him for provision. Rather than tell her directly that she must not participate in fortune telling anymore, the missionary encouraged the woman to ask God what she should do. The woman returned the following week and said that God told her she needed to stop fortune telling and trust him. So she did!  Out of all those in that village, these were the first to come. These woman could easily be seen as weak vessels, yet God used them to establish a community of believers in a village that had previously been resistant to the Gospel.

This month we started studying the book of Ephesians, and I have been greatly encouraged by Paul’s exhortations to the believers at that time. One of the concepts that has particularly struck me is the picture of Christ being seated in victory over every form of authority, including every dominion, title, and age (Eph. 1:21). Paul later writes that we are seated with and in Christ (Eph. 2:6). I am struck by the truth that just as we have salvation through faith in Christ, we also have victory in him. Our position in Christ is dependent on Christ. I believe I’ve had the opportunity to see small glimpses of this being practically worked out in life here, particularly in the context of spiritual warfare. I’m renewed in gratefulness for Christ’s work on our behalf.

This month we also welcomed eight new interns to Thailand, which also marked our one year anniversary of living here. It has been a unique privilege to welcome these new interns into our life here, and to have a role in helping them adapt to their new home. The prospect of “passing the torch” to them is still bittersweet, but I’m expectant for what the Father has in store for them – and us.

Finally, I have continued to work alongside the ministry of Compass 31, to study the language and culture of Thailand, and to engage in my church fellowship here. I have greatly appreciated your support and covering as I have sought to be faithful and consistent in the roles and opportunities the Father has provided. I have had many encouraging, as well as many difficult, experiences that are invaluable to me. One victory that I was encouraged by this month is that I wrote a simple introduction about myself in Thai and shared it with three of my Thai friends for a homework assignment. It was a neat way to grow in my language abilities and build context for relationship.

I have written long, but I pray that you are blessed by the knowledge of what you are part of. Thank you for sowing into my life and enabling me to experience and participate in some of what the Holy Spirit is doing here; I pray that we are both changed by it.

In Christ,

Kristen

“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

Thank you for praying…

Your investment in prayer on my behalf, and on behalf of my team and the people I get to work alongside, is a precious gift to me. As you remember and have capacity, I would greatly appreciate continued prayer for the rest of my time here and the various relationships I am involved with, as well as wisdom and direction for future plans that the Father would have me step into. Thank you, too, for praying for my own wellbeing and growth in relationship with the Father. I am grateful that we serve a good and trustworthy Leader; the Shepherd of our souls.

The Beginning of the End

Hi Friends,

I am excited to write to you for this month! I hope that you are well, and that this letter is more than just another email in your inbox, but serves as a blessing to you. As I’m sure you are feeling the effects of summer coming to a close and the transition into a new season, I too am beginning to internalize the reality that I am finally a senior in university, and that I will be returning to America in just four, seemingly short, months.

In some ways it is difficult for me to think about returning home; perhaps because now there are elements unique to Thailand that feel like home too. I was struck this month by some of the ways I have adapted to living in Chiang Mai, so that some of the practices that I have adopted are now easy to take for granted. I know that it is not unique to me to feel that it is hard to hold multiple places dear to one’s heart. It is surely intertwined with being a sweet privilege, as well.

I have been thinking about the Psalmist’s phrase that our God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10 NLT). I want to continue to cultivate the heart posture in which I am living out of an attitude of provision, rather than poverty, particularly as it relates to the resource of time. He is more than enough; he isn’t limited by any degree or dimension of lack, and it is He that is working on our behalf.

In addition to our continued work at the Direction for Life house, I am excited to share with you that this month our outreach team has continued to build relationships with some of the women working in prostitution in our “target district,” and has also begun making some new connections. Your support and covering are dear to me as we endeavor to partner with the Father in reaching those who are still held captive. Please pray for Faya, Star, and Isaac as we develop new relationships with them, and continue to intercede on behalf of Smile and Three. Thank you so much for being part of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. (To clarify, Isaac is a homosexual male, known as a “lady boy,” who lives and identifies as a woman.)

This month I have continued my language and culture studies, as well as finished working through a study on the book of Galatians and a course on evangelism, discipleship, and church planting as it relates to this context. In particular, I had the opportunity to have several thought-provoking and encouraging conversations with a few people in my life about their experiences serving in this context. I was also excited about the personal victory of a forty-five minute conversation almost exclusively in Thai with my tutor about her experiences living and working in a village in northern Thailand.

It’s amazing to hear about some of the ways God has and is working in Thailand, especially in light of its heritage of deep bondage. In my interviews, we talked a lot about the importance of building trust and credibility in the context of relationship, specifically within this context. At least in part, this can be done through serving, consistently being present, and effectively relating to the felt needs of a community. This is much of the heart of “incarnational ministry,” as we seek to demonstrate and effectively communicate who God truly is and how he relates to us. This principle also makes sense in light of the value placed on loyalty and community mindedness in Thai culture.

Friends, thank you so much for putting forth your time and resources to continue to be part of this journey. I’m expectant for what the Father has in store for my remaining time here, and have much in my heart to share with you when I return.

May you sense the Father’s smile over you,

Kristen

Recount

Hi There Team!

I pray that this month has been a blessing for you and your family. I keep reminding myself that it’s summer there! Living in the tropics is starting to feel pretty normal, though the heat is still a little much for me. Lately there have been some decent extremes in which it has gotten quite hot, but then there have been a few times where I have actually gotten cold!

There are several things on my heart to share with you from this month, and I am again renewed in gratefulness for you. I often feel that it is beyond my ability to adequately depict what you are part of, but I pray that by the Spirit of God, he continues to reveal to you the ways in which you are participating in his kingdom, as well as greater measures of his heart. Your willingness to benefit me in partnership with him is a precious gift to me.

As I’ve sought to intentionally partner with the Holy Spirit in my relationships, I have been encouraged to see him move and minister. This month I have had opportunities to continue to connect with one of my friends from church who has become a Thai sister to me; serve and develop relationships with other students at my church through English conversation practice; connect with a woman currently working in one of the red light districts here; and welcome a young woman and her son into our Compass 31 family.

 

I would like to take a moment to share with you a little bit about my experience in the Red Light. Nearly every week, my team and I go to a specific strip to prayer walk, be light and make connections, and exemplify healthy family-like relationships. Though I feel like I have been making significant improvements in my language ability, I have still struggled with being intimidated in the process of making connections with the women working in the bars. This has been something I have been praying about, and I have been asking that the Holy Spirit help me to be sensitive and responsive to his voice and leadership. In addition, this month we had several training sessions that were focused on equipping us to work effectively with young women who have been exploited and abused, and I was strengthened in vision and the desire to use the tools I’ve been given.

Last Tuesday night my teammate and I turned down the dark, narrow street that marks one of the most oppressive parts of this red light district. It’s cluttered with bars, loud music, and strings of lights. As we walked, a woman called out to us to come in and play some pool. We crossed the street to hear her better, and decided to take her invitation to go inside, hoping to make a connection. It was evident that this woman was under the influence of something, but she was friendly, expressive, and enthusiastic about the opportunity to connect with us. She was easily impressed by my limited Thai, and shyly stepped out in practicing her English. We drank soda, played pool, and laughed a lot, all the while getting small glimpses into the story of this beautiful woman. It was most definitely a bittersweet experience, but I am grateful for how the Father provided the opportunity to meet and engage with her. I would love to invite you to partner with me in prayer for her. I hope to continue to connect with her in the coming weeks, and want to actively trust the Father to accomplish his purposes.

I was struck by the connection between our celebration of freedom on July fourth, my connection with the woman in the Red Light, and the privilege we had of welcoming another woman into the process of restoration and freedom. It is such a gift to see the Father’s hand at work as we invest in prayer and seek to be faithful with what he has set before us. He is the God who heals. He is the God who makes outsiders, insiders. He is the God who sacrificially loves with profound willingness, unto immeasurable joy. I am still very much in the process of grasping and living by the truths of the Father’s love, provision, and capacity, but I am honored to be on the journey.

To continue, one of our key focuses with regard to culture has been on power and authority in Thailand. It has been really interesting to consider the distinctions between Thai and American culture, and the implications that they carry. Our team had an insightful and provoking conversation about how this relates to Thailand’s future, especially in light of recent events. We are in a uniquely significant time within Thailand’s history, and in the midst of the unknowns, I think that it is in the Father’s heart to move in profound and redemptive ways. Interesting to note is that Thai people tend to operate according to a high power distance and a communal mindset. They tend to highly value loyalty and to be content to fulfill the expectations of their role. They also value harmony and cohesiveness, and are likely to engage in confrontation indirectly as a way of facilitating this.

Thank you again for joining me in this journey. You are an integral part of my team and support system, and I pray the Father richly blesses you.

Held in the Father’s Hand,

Kristen

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:1-2 NLT

 

Would you join me in prayer?

Please pray for Emotional Resilience: The work I get to be involved in is profoundly beautiful, but is often emotionally demanding.

Please pray for Relationship in the Red Light: Our team is currently connected with three women in our focus district. Please pray for grace, peace, and breakthrough.

Please pray for Our Incoming Interns: The juniors are working hard to be fully-funded, and we are excited to welcome them to their new home in about 6 weeks!

Please pray for Strategic Engagement: As we seek to continue to invest and finish our time here well, please pray that we be faithful to the roles the Holy Spirit is inviting us to fill, including in our studies, relationships within the community, and team.

Thank you.

 

 

T Minus 6 Months

Beloved Friends,

It’s a privilege to write you again, and I pray that you are well. This month has been uniquely marked by relationship. It has been such a gift to see the ways that the Father has faithfully and graciously worked, and particularly encouraging in light of some of the specific areas that we have invested in through prayer. Thank you for your continued partnership. I hope that you are encouraged with me that his purposes are being accomplished.

Within my team as a whole, we have also had it on our hearts to intentionally cultivate a culture that welcomes the Holy Spirit and to live lives that are defined by his leadership. We want to be intentional with this season, and believe that he is doing some specific and intentional things in our midst. I would love to have your continued partnership in prayer for trust, love, and unity to flourish among us, and that our relationships with one another would be a witness to those around us of the Gospel.

I have also been encouraged by the opportunities I’ve had this month to continue to develop relationships with the girls and staff at my ministry. This month I had the opportunity to engage in some special ways, including intentional conversations and a fun outing, and was encouraged by their acceptance and reciprocation. The women we work with are so precious. Thank you for your sacrificial faithfulness in investing in their journey of restoration and freedom. Please also pray for some upcoming developments that we are working toward for increased effectiveness and impact.

In addition, this month we had our mid-internship retreat. It’s hard to believe that we have just about six months left before heading back to the U.S.! For our retreat, we met up with a couple staff members from our school, as well as some of our classmates from another internship site, and had the opportunity to enjoy fellowship with one another, teaching and reflection, and plenty of fun. I posted lots of pictures on Facebook if you’re interested; you can also see them here.

Lastly, we are continuing our research of the social structures within Thailand, as well as our study of the Thai language and the book of Galatians. This month, we have specifically focused on hierarchy and status, which is significant within Thai culture. Up until this point, we had primarily focused more on ascribed status; however, it was interesting to learn more about achieved status and the ability for someone to advance in their position. Parents often place a high value on their children becoming well-educated and getting jobs that pay well and are respectable within society. For example, many children are encouraged to become doctors, and learning English tends to be highly valued.

I am continuing to grow in my capacity to engage in conversation in Thai. This has been an area that is consistently challenging and rewarding. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend some time with a friend in a “language exchange.” We wanted to read the Bible together, so she practiced reading a passage in English, and then I practiced in Thai. There is something so neat about reading Scripture in another language. My comprehension is still greatly lacking for some of the vocabulary, but it was helpful to be able to recall the account in English as I attempted to understand what I was reading. Thank you for your continued support in this area; it has been such a blessing.

This week I was reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and the call to rely on faith. What a precious gift we have received, that “he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion” (Phil. 1:6)! I pray that you are renewed in the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s work on your behalf – within and through you, and that you are strengthened in faith through the Word and promises of God. I’m grateful for you!

In Christ,

Kristen

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He has anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor. 1:20-22).

 

Thank you for praying…

Vision Trip: In a few months, my teammates and I will have the opportunity to take a week to explore another context of ministry, including a different kind of ministry and/or location within the region. This is designed to give us opportunity to explore potential interests for the future, as well as to give us greater exposure to the work that is being done around us. Please pray for wisdom and sensitivity to the Spirit as we begin planning for this time.

Relationships: I’m so grateful for how the Father is leading and providing in this way. There are many things on my heart with regard to relationships, and I would appreciate continued partnership for depth and direction.

Renewal & Intimacy with Christ: I don’t at all want to negate the opportunities I have had for sweet rest and refreshment, but I do want to ask for continued prayer for my heart. There are several areas that I feel consistently stretched in, and also know that there are dynamics of spiritual warfare. I want to be faithful and abounding in love.

May Ministry Update

In this season of graduations, celebrating mothers, looking forward to summer, and the many other prominent features that are included for you, I pray for a renewal of the Father’s peace and grace over your hearts and families. I hope you have seen evidence of the Father’s hand of provision, goodness, and faithfulness in each circumstance. I am reminded of Jesus’ desire for us to live in the revelation of the Father’s love for us and to be united with him (Jn. 17:23, 26). I’m grateful that he has designed us for relationship – with him and one another – and that it is his delight to reveal himself to us in increasing measure.

This month we dove into a new semester, and as part of that, we have begun studying the book of Galatians. I am struck by the themes of Paul’s letter exhorting the Church to live in unswerving acknowledgement of the true Gospel of grace, of our adoption into the family of God, and of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I’m grateful for these precious gifts, and I have been challenged afresh to align my heart and life with these truths.

We have also had the opportunity to begin specifically learning about the relational structures within Thai society as part of our culture study. I discovered an interesting aspect of the Thai language that gives evidence of the importance of family and understanding one’s position within the whole: Thai has different titles for one’s grandparents depending on whether they are on one’s father’s or mother’s side. There are also different titles for one’s uncles and aunts depending on whether they are the older or younger sibling of one’s parent. Furthermore, it is common to refer to people within one’s community with familial terms, such as “brother” or “aunt,” to demonstrate respect and connectedness. These aspects of the language demonstrate the importance of community and family, as well as the hierarchical structure of Thai culture, which particularly emphasizes respect and honor for one’s elders or people of high status. As I have shared in the past, these values are expressed in many forms within Thai culture.

I also had the opportunity to have a couple of conversations regarding romance in Thai culture. I enjoyed learning from one of my friends about the progression in her relationship with the man that is now her husband. Specifically within the church, there are many aspects of dating, the wedding ceremony, and marriage that correlate with the West, but I also learned about several traditions that are unique from my own culture. For example, Thai weddings usually include a dowry. In addition, it is common for people to have an engagement ceremony the morning of their wedding day, and to then have the wedding ceremony that evening! There are many traditional rituals that hold great symbolism, most often involving the blessing of the newlyweds for a happy and prosperous marriage, particularly from elders who are considered to have had a successful marriage.

We also had the opportunity to learn from a veteran missionary couple who visited our area for a couple days. It was such a privilege to glean from their wisdom and to enjoy their many stories. We discussed multiple articles that served to further challenge and equip us, especially as we prepare for living on the missions field long-term. I’m really grateful for the unique ways in which Bethany seeks to train us. It can often feel overwhelming in the moment, but I am also consistently met with God’s grace and goodness in a variety of ways.

Thank you so much for taking the time and making the investment to share in this journey with me. I am grateful for you, and am privileged to serve alongside you in God’s kingdom purposes.

With love,

Kristen

Please Pray

Team: I seem to use the word, “Transition,” often, but it also seems to be the nature of this season of my life. However, this month has been unique, in that in addition to beginning a new semester as an incoming senior, our team dynamics have also changed. One of our teammates has returned home due to personal reasons. I am so grateful for how our leadership worked diligently to care for her and to walk alongside her in that process. I think she left well, and we are expectant for what the Father has in store for her. As a result of this change, I also gained a new roommate! I would greatly appreciate your partnership in prayer for myself and my teammates in this season, specifically that we would each walk closely with the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Father wants to continue to develop us as a team and to draw us into deeper relationship with him and one another. Please pray that trust, love, and unity would continue to flourish among us, and that our relationships with one another would be a witness to those around us of the Gospel.

Leadership & New Interns: In addition to our own transitions, one of our Bethany couples is in the process of moving to Ubon, another area of Thailand, to strategically advance the Gospel among the those who are unreached. We are sad to see them go, but excited for what God has in store. The incoming Juniors are also in the process of developing partnership teams that will support them as they begin their internships this fall. We are excited to welcome eight new interns to Thailand in just a few months, and would love your prayer covering for them in this process!

Priorities & Capacity: I know that I ask for prayer in these areas often, but I continue to ask because I am grateful for how God has answered, and I am aware of my constant need for these things. As I seek to steward what the Father has entrusted to me, I want to do it according to his expectations for me and through his grace. Please pray that I would have wisdom and discipline to live according to what he deems is best through partnership with the Holy Spirit.

Safety: Rainy season is officially upon us. We are grateful for the coming coolness, though recently it has felt hotter than hot season due to the humidity; however, there has also been a significant amount of flooding due to unusually heavy rains for prolonged amounts of time. Please pray for safety and wisdom for the people of Thailand.

Rejoice!: There is so much to be grateful for! I’m grateful for glimpses of God’s work and the opportunity to experience even simple victories, and I am confident that you are a strategic part of them. After coming off of my break, it was such a gift to see areas in which I had progressed in language study, specifically in conversation. Thank you for praying with me in this! There is so much more that I hope to learn, but that is not to discount what I already have. I am also grateful for areas that I have seen personal growth, and am blessed by the role you have had in that process. He has also answered some of our prayers with regard to the project my ministry is taking on to empower woman to earn a healthy, safe living. There is certainly more that I could share, but I didn’t want to go without at least sharing a bit. Thank you again for your continued partnership!

Water Fights & Waves – April Update

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,

Kristen

“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