For Christmas this year Kashmira’s mom Diana_surprised us with an unexpected visit over the holiday. We had a absolutely marvelous time sharing our city, Christmas caroling, looking at temples, exploring the markets, showing off our favorite places, and cooking a holiday feast fit for a king – including homemade egg nog!_Delighful, from beginning to end. Thank you Rick for sending Diana, and thank you Mom for making the trip! _
Happy Birthday to Ally! Today my one and only sister turns 15 years old. What is the world coming too 🙂 ???
What does a taxi cab driver have to do with the gospel?_On the way home from_an evening out with my friend DaveI got into a really good conversation with my taxi cab driver. So good, in fact, that he missed the turn off the main road into our little university community. I noticed this right away, in_the way that you recognize something is happening, but don’t really catch onto the significance of the event. The meter said about 150 Bht. He didn’t notice this right away. But I didn’t know that, I just assumed that_he was going too_fast to make the exit, and was planning to_take the_first U-turn bridge (______ – “glap roht”) he could.__We_then missed the first U-turn bridge also. So, in a very Thai way of doing things, I started to point out the U-turn bridges that come every 1.5 miles or so, as a way of letting my driver know that we had missed my stop and needed to turn around. As we kept driving down the road, getting further and further from my home, my driver started to say that he felt __ (pronounced “ngohng”). Since I didn’t know what that word meant, and he couldn’t explain in English, I decided to look it up my handy dictionary._As we passed our third U-turn bridge_I_read in my dictionary_that he was feeling confused (or disoriented…)._ By now the meter said_200 Bht. I asked him what he was confused about, and he said it seemed like we should have passed the university already, but he hadn’t seen the big Tesco Lotus supermarket out in front of the road that you turn off of… at which point I cheerfuly explained that we had passed the university about four U-turn bridges ago (we were passing another as I spoke) and told him that was the reason why I kept pointing out the nifty U-turn bridges as we approached them, but that I figured he knew something I didn’t and so that was why I thought he kept driving us down the road (though admittedly I was starting to count the number of plates of fried rice I could have_bought with the extra money I would be paying for my ride home tonight). __ Now some taxi drivers would do something like this on purpose, taking their foreign passanger_for a longer ride in order to run the meter up, making a larger fare. (This happened to me just the other night_with a sweet little old lady taxi driver.) Or maybe if they did make a mistake, they_would count it as good fortune._But the man taking me home tonight was simply confused. He had good reason to be. It was late. He doesn’t come out this way very often. And because he starts work at 6:00am and finishes after midnight every day, often sleeping only 3 hours a night, he was very, very tired. He also has three kids at home, two teenagers and a toddler. Immediately he started to apologize, feeling great shame for his mistake._He would have kept apologizing for the entire extra_20 minutes it took to get home from that point if Kashmira hadn’t called, giving me an opportunity to change_the subject. Against my objections he turned off his meter – saying in word and deed that he felt so_bad about making this mistake,_that he would_pay for the extra distance himself._And as_we_pulled into the street that leads to_my home he tried to ask me for a ridiculously low fare, explaining that he had made the mistake and that he really should have to pay for it. Now normally the ride_should have cost me 150-175bht, by the time he turned off_the meter we were up to 22obht, and if he hadn’t turned off the meter it would have been 250-275bht._So I_paid him_300bht, insisting that he take it. And as I did so, I explained to him_that because I believe God has forgiven me so much, it is my pleasure to forgive him for missing my turn. And_that is_when_I started thinking about_good news for taxi cab drivers. _You see he did make the mistake… and in normal life he would be the one to pay for it – by giving his customer a discount (to pay for their lost time) and by covering his own lost time (which is lost money to a taxi driver) and his lost gas_all out of pocket. This is kind of like our normal lives. We make mistakes, and we pay for them. But the good news that comes from Jesus is not like normal life. We make mistakes,_and he pays for them. When we miss our turn, and our first U-turn bridge, and_another_U-turn bridge (before even realizing we missed our turn!), all that we have to do is take the next U-turn bridge we see,_start heading in the right direction and allow Jesus to pay for_our gas and our time, not letting our shame/guilt_cut_us off from relationship with him._(Interestingly enough in_Thai_one word for repentance is ______ “glap jai” meaning_literally to_make a U-turn in your heart.) Please don’t get me_wrong – this is not_intended as a pat myself on the back blog entry – nor do I assume that Christians are the only, or even the most likely group to pay extra money to taxi cab drivers – unfortunately more often than not those who call themselves followers of_Jesus have a reputation for being stingy – especially when it comes to tipping. All that I am saying is that tonight I was reminded of how grateful I am that God doesn’t make me pay for_everytime I miss my turn because I am tired,_and that tonight I am grateful I had the chance to model that part of who Jesus is to one tired and delightful young father who is brave enouch to drive a cab in Bangkok for the sake of his family.
Our first Thanksgiving in Bangkok! This year we went to a fancy Japanese dinner where you cook meat, seafood and vegetables in a boiling pot of soup right at your table, and eat sushi too. Then we explored an art show called 9 Days In The Kingdom. Finally we shared some fancy take-out ice cream. Yum!
As our language study continues we are hoping to start posting some of our favorite little “Thai-isms”, things that we find surprising or amusing about the Thai language. Here is one of our current favorites: “Roong Phak” is a colloquial term for “Police Station”. The literal translation is “Place to Rest”. When we asked our Thai teacher about this he said that it was referring to the jail, or the place where someone who is arrested has to spend the night, but we thought that just maybe there was an implied double meaning…? More to come in the coming months…
Summer Camp #1
Earlier this month we had the opportunity to spend 10 days helping out with two childrens “summer camps” held in the south of Thailand. Beautiful Phang Nga province was hit harder by the Tsunami of 2005 than anywhere_else in Thailand. Several months after the Tsunami YWAM and the Evangelical Church of Bangkok pulled together a summer camp designed to love the children in the region. Since that time this summer camp has become an annual event with_more students from Baan Jai Diaow_helping out each year.
Travelling on the overnight bus from Bangkok to Phang Nga was a little surreal. On the bus were 30 some-odd “farang” (foreigner) high school and junior high youth group kids, a smattering of parents, a youth pastor, 20 Thai_college_students, and us._Inside the bus it_kind of felt like a youth group trip in the states. Outside the bus we were still in Thailand. Not so much like a youth group trip from the states. Especially when pulling into the all-night rest stop where it was easier to find dried squid and shrimp cakes than oreos and funions :). More than 200 kids came to the first camp, it was well organized, fun, and a great example of foreigners and Thais working together. More than 70 of the kids decided that they wanted to get to know Jesus by the end of the camp. We helped with registration (a little) and odd jobs (a lot). Kashmira’s highlight was seeing one troubled little girl go from hitting, biting and scratching to smiling and asking if Kashmira had ever played with clay before all in the span of about 30 seconds during crafts one day.
The last day of the first summer camp was Songkran – Thailand’s new years festival and three day long waterfight. Every kid showed up at camp with a watergun. Groups of Thais of all ages_piled into the backs of_pickup trucks with garbage cans full of ice water dousing anyone_within reach. Or if a truck_wasn’t available, then they would stand on the side of the road with hoses spraying any passer-bys or attempting to get the people in the pickup trucks wet from far enough away to stay dry themselves. But nobody really stays dry. We didn’t take any pictures this year because we were too involved in the water fighting, but maybe next year we will figure out how to capture it on film.
Summer Camp #2
After the first summer camp_was over,_and_all the foreigners went back to Bangkok,_the Thai students from Baan Jai Diaow piled into a van and the back of a pickup truck and we all headed_about an_hour down the road to Daow’s home town. Thai people know how to party, and our first night at Daow’s was one heck of a party – everyone chipped in to make a seafood BBQ, complete with clams, crabs, fried fish, squid, fish curry and rice – it was a blast. Daow grew up on a rubber tree plantation out in the woods, went off to college in Bangkok, lived at Baan Jai Diaow, and is now on the performing arts team for YWAM Thailand._She is also, it turns out, an amazingly gifted summer camp organizer! The second summer camp was envisioned, planned and staffed entirely by Thais – and it was marvelous. We got to tag along to help teach an English segment of the camp as native English speakers. Maybe 30 kids showed up the first day, and over 50 came the second. At the end of each day anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen kids would follow us back to Daow’s house, and just play. They kept asking, “Why are you only here for two days? Why can’t we have more summer camp?” Daow is planning to bring people back down South to do another camp in 3 months – and the kids_will be_waiting. (We also got to explore Phang Nga province with our friends from Baan Jai Diaow before coming home… beautiful!)__
Please click on the link_to read_our hot-off-the-press (so to speak) spring newsletter – we hope you enjoy it: Journey Mercies #3.
P.S. Those of you whom we have a “real” address for can expect to find a paper copy of “Journey Mercies #3”, along with a picture/prayer card in your “real” mailbox soon. It’s a nice addition to any refrigerator._: ) P.P.S. If you are having a hard time following the link to our newsletter please download and install adobe reader (it’s free!) and then try opening the newsletter again. 🙂 P.P.P.S. Here are some new pictures from our life in Bangkok!
We are just now finally starting to settle in after lots and lots of transitions these last few months (I wonder how many times you will see that line here in the next few months…?) It is fun to be reconnecting with friends, family and supporters – trying to figure out what it looks like to be living here with our whole hearts, but still staying connected back home. Skype is an amazing gift of technology (cheap/free Internet phone calling), and has enabled Iven to be a “virtual” math tutor these past few weeks, spending hours on the phone doing Algebra with his sister Ally (fourteen yrs old) for less than 3 cents a minute. Our day to day life for this next season of 6-18 months is centered around Thai language study. We meet with_Kruu Oo (pronounced “O”), our Thai_tutor, for 2 hours a day, five days a week. Then comes our glorious homework – usually another 2 – 3 hours of trying to internalize what we learned that day in class. Before or after class, four days a week,_we_will be_spending time partnering with, discipling and encouraging Thai college students. This partnership looks different every day – some days we will be teaching_an English class as an outreach to other college students, other days we might head to the slums together to do a construction project, or we could just end up_talking about life and trying to let God do more of the talking than Iven and Kashmira._ Our focused ministry to men working as prostitutes has been confirmed by God in a number of ways since arriving in country. Several divine appointments have introduced us to individuals who are “people of peace” (Luke 10:6) that will help us to start learning more about this forgotten group that_God cares so very much for._We have not even begun to_explore what this will_look like_as far as day to day life is concerned, but covet every prayer towards helping develop this long term vision. For now we are grateful to be spending the bulk of our “ministry” time with college students close to our home, and we are trusting God (and our leadership here in Bangkok) to help us transition into a more street focused ministry when our grasp of Thai language and culture matures. We continue to be pleased with the Christian community here at YWAM in Bangkok._The partnerships between westerners and Thais seem to be very balanced, healthy and fun. We are encouraged that even though English is the common language, everyone who has been here for any length of time is very comfortable in Thai, and most every meeting or worship gathering is either exclusively in Thai or translated into both Thai and English. Don’t get me wrong – we’ve already had our fair share of diarrhea, fever and a sinus infection from the other world. But all in all we feel incredibly privileged to be used of God to minister in this place. We are amazed at how much emotional, prayer and financial support the people of God_are providing, and we are exceedingly grateful. Thank you for all that you are doing to make it possible for us to be here.
On January 28, while our DTS returned to San Francisco for debriefing, we headed south for our own time of rest and reflection. Altogether we spent 9 days on Pi Pi Island, and 5 days on Lanta Island. Gorgeous. Refreshing. Affordable :). Just what we needed to re-energize before settling into language study back here in Bangkok. Most of our days consisted of waking up late and spending most of the morning reading scripture, journaling, or listening to some fabulous teaching from Urbana on our ipods. After a friendly lunch of green curry (kaeng keowan), we might spend some time in the ocean snorkeling, reading a mystery, sitting on a beach, or playing cards (after 76 rounds Kashmira was only ahead by 300 points!) Dinner might be fried fish followed by friendly conversation and a moonlit walk or more cards. One day we decided to try and walk around the entire island._This ended up being a little bit more challenging than we anticipated -_we had a lot of fun “bouldering”, or_doing some basic rock climbing, in the midst of discovering some truly amazing hidden beaches – but in the long run we didn’t complete our quest._In fact, about half-way through our journey we had to be “rescued” by a kayak because there was no way to get around one of the cliffs we encountered. Perhaps_the most interesting part of the entire adventure, though, was_walking_into “Pi Pi Island Village” from the wrong direction. The village is a high-end tourist haven – everything a foreigner expects of paradise, from swimming pools to palm trees to spas to invidual air conditioned bungalows. But in order to make this very “non-Thai” paradise exist there is an entire town filled with service staff and support services for the service staff. Seriously, an entire town! And honestly, that town, which most visitors will never see because of the “staff only” sign at its entrance, was the only part of the entire_island that really felt_”Thai” – probably because that town was the only part of the entire island where Thai people did not have to cater to foreign tastes and were free to be themselves!
Just_a few_observations on paradise…___
Hi friends – one of our lovely team members has been writing updates describing our time in Bangkok and Vietnam. We wanted to share these emails with you in case you were curious about what we have been doing these past two months, enjoy!
We’ve had a busy and exciting last week in Thailand!_ Thursday and Friday were both open ministry days._ On Thursday night the girls went to Pat Pong (the area of Bangkok best known for sex tourism) to prayer walk and worship._ God moved powerfully and we definitely had some divine appointments._ One group on a previous visit had prayed for a Thai student who had been involved at Baan Jai Diaow, but now was working in an unknown bar._ It was so exciting on this visit to be divinely led to him, out of all the people working in this area, and have the opportunity to remind him of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness!_ We’re praying that he will consider returning to BJD and opening himself afresh to God, as_everyone has been missing him.
Friday was “Fun Day” with the BJD students, we wanted a day set apart for hanging out specifically with them._ All 40-something of us showed off our bowling skills (or lack thereof) at a local alley._ Saturday was an off day so we spent our time exploring the city and meeting up with friends – quite a few of us have been bale to hang out with our Thai friends more than once, which has been very cool._ Relationships are so key in this ministry.
Sunday we went to the Evangelical Church of Bangkok with_some Thai friends_and really enjoyed the service, which included a college choir from a Georgia university, here on an Asian tour._ That evening, we got together with BJD and played soccer (guys) and handball (girls) on a court we’d rented privately._ A YWAM team from Wiscomsin came and joined the fun.
Monday we spent debriefing our five weeks in Thailand, and the guys did their usual sports ministry._ The remainder of our time will be Vietnam prep and spending time with BJD before we leave Thursday morning._
As a reminder, we leave for Vietnam Thursday January 11th at 9 am, and will be there until January 27th._ Only the leaders will have internet and phone access during these 16 days, so please do not worry about not hearing from the students._ I (Katie) will still be writing the updates, and Steve will be emailing them out to you._ This is just for security purposes.
YWAM San Francisco