Well, it’s still July for a few more hours so we’ve made it just in time!! What a month! We didn’t realise how complicated it could be to change countries till we started the process! It’s our hope that our last months in the UK can be focused on spending quality time with all you lovely people! We still have lots to sort but in other ways we can shift our attention to finishing well here. We’ll be staying with family and would love to spend time with lots of our friends and supporters as these connections really matter. We have felt relationships strengthened as lots of you have journeyed with us through this difficult month. Jon will continue working until the end of August and then we will leave Shrewsbury after our commissioning service on 7th September. We have a week booked with the community on Iona and also some time at Lee Abbey where Simon Guillebard from Burundi is teaching about radical responses to the Gospel. We also need to find time to brush up on our very basic Thai!
Last week Elliot and Sam finished their year at Crowmoor school which was sad as it marked another ending for them. A year ago they couldn’t bear the thought of leaving their last school/nursery but quickly put down roots in their new setting and God provided wonderful friendships. We are confident that the same will be true of this next move but are giving them the space to be apprehensive. Sam’s teddy often confides his worries about living in Klong Toey and they are sometimes things we would never think of such as ‘what if I don’t like pineapple?!’ Elliot is better able to discuss what he’s feeling but forms such deep attachments that we worry about how he will cope in such a impermanent setting. Your prayers for these two are greatly appreciated, especially that emotions can be dealt with healthily rather than leaving scars for the future. Speaking of scars, the TB jabs were fairly traumatic and we still have another round of jabs to go so please pray that these are uneventful! Also that we as parents find ways to provide stability through all the changes ahead.
The boys went to stay with Nana and Grandad in Carlisle whilst we had a sale of our belongings and moved out of our house. With hindsight I think we made life hard for ourselves by laying everything out and expecting it to sell, quite possibly the most vulnerable we have ever felt! Our aim was to raise enough money to cover the flights and we made it almost to the penny. However, there was so much ‘stuff’ that the sale hardly made a dent and we had the horrible job of packing everything up for charity shops at the end of the day. It was an important lesson in the value of our belongings; things we had loved couldn’t even be given away! We did get to do up a bedroom for a little friend and that cheered us up! The fact that God provided no more than what we needed reminded us that we can’t rely on our own efforts to raise funds. He continues to provide through the generosity of others which doesn’t cease to amaze us. Thankyou!
As I (Elise) write, Jon is taking part in a Men’s Rites of Passage retreat in Scotland that other UNOH workers recommended. He has been teased mercilessly about what it might involve (!!!) but our genuine prayer is that the time will be significant for his spiritual formation and mark the start of a new life stage. He also attended a two week residential course on tropical medicine which was super valuable. While it was focused on ‘resource poor settings’, Jon was able to draw attention to the increasing problem of Urban Poverty where resources are plenty but cannot be accessed by those in most need. Since the boys are still in the capable hands of grandparents, I have headed to the North Devon coast where I am walking, swimming, reading and staying in B&Bs along the way. I have grabbed the opportunity to reflect and re-charge! I am missing Peggy the dog though, who moved into her new home with Celia a few days ago. We will continue to walk her through August which eases the transition a little!
A moment that stands out for me this month is hearing the story of the wise and foolish builders at a toddler service with Sam. He listened intently but I could see that something was bothering him so I asked him afterwards how the story had made him feel. He pointed out that our new house will be built on stilts over a swamp and that is not a good building place. He was so right and had entered into the story more deeply than me! We then chatted about the difference between physical and spiritual security (okay, maybe not in those words!) and how we are in the safest possible place when, by God’s grace, we obey his call on our lives. That can include going to some pretty ‘foolish’ places where safety comes to mean more than the absence of danger. In our reading God has been speaking to us about the need for deeper spiritual roots as we are pulling up a lot of physical roots. As a family we are challenged to make changes to our daily routines in order to include more rhythms of prayer and worship that will keep us tied to our Identity in Jesus. We are reminded that living in community with other Christians will be hard at times but will also be what God uses to sustain us in a difficult setting.
In Klong Toey, our team leader Lish has just returned from Sabbatical and the yearly UNOH team retreat in Australia has recently taken place. As we catch bits of news and chat on skype we are super excited to be part of this team! The political situation in Thailand is no longer making the news but the outlook remains fragile for migrant workers in particular. We shared on facebook recently the heartbreaking story of little Aum’s road traffic accident and poor hospital care. With support from the UNOH team and neighbours in Lok 3, Aum’s health is progressing way beyond expectations! Thankyou to all those who contributed to her medical fund. In some ways we wish we could give a better picture of what life will be like in the slum and what we’ll be doing but we just don’t know. We are more certain than ever of God’s calling and his faithfulness in getting us to the point of moving but we’re learning to chill out and let his purposes unfold in time. We will definitely begin by concentrating on language study and spending a good chunk of each day in the Lok 3 neighbourhood. Hopefully our newsletters will get more interesting once we are there!
Thankyou for reading friends, please get in touch if you would like to meet up this month. If you have indicated that you would be willing to support us financially, it would be wonderful if that could be set up soon through Stewardship (follow link at https://jonandelisefletcher.com/partner-with-us/) so we know how much more is still to raise. Also, we would love to see you at our goodbye service and lunch on 7th September at Crowmoor which will be here in no time!
Love from Jon, Elise, Elliot and Sammy xxxx