The ‘cold season’ hasn’t yet lived up to expectations! While some people wear jackets in the early mornings, we are just not feeling it! The temperatures are still in the low 30s but maybe it has been slightly less humid. November has been a month of Birthdays on the team and we’ve had a lot of fun and kept homesickness almost at bay. Elliot’s ninja party at a nearby Japanese fast food place was great for helping him settle. There is a very talented woman running a cake decorating business in the slum and we wouldn’t have managed without her this month! It’s the little changes like not making Elliot’s birthday cake (we would have struggled on a gas burner!) that can be unsettling. At the end of month two we’re reflecting on how much daily life has changed in a short time.
Toilet update: the wobbly squatty has gone and with it the smell! Hooray! We came home one day and our wonderful friend Pi’Poo of Cooking with Poo had replaced it and re-tiled the floor with materials left from rebuilding the Cooking School! Still not convinced the toilet is plumbed in but now it has a lid and is properly sealed we are not constantly reminded of it. The new Cooking School at Pi’Poo’s family home is now in use again following the fire. We had a wonderful house church celebration there where we prayed over the building our hopes for the future. House Church on a Friday evening is definitely a highlight of the week, we get to share life with some amazing people and hear what Jesus is doing in their lives (even if we only understand 20 percent!).
We spent a long day at the driving test centre this week and to our amazement came away with Thai motorbike and car licences. This is huge for us as we won’t have to rely on motorbike taxis to get around (saving money, time and hopefully our limbs!). We left home early as we’d been advised to start queuing before the doors opened at 7.30am and crowds of people flooded in. But we had a taste of being properly powerless as we found that we couldn’t understand any instructions and the system wasn’t set up to help. We were passed from desk to desk waiting for our numbers to be called. At first we felt quite indignant but eventually resigned ourselves to experiencing some of what our neighbours feel when they access services like healthcare. At least we now know vital road rules such as don’t drive if you are about to have a heart attack!?!
Module 1 of language school is finished and the transition to module 2 this week has been a bit of a shock. It is more focused on listening skills so the teacher speaks much faster. Real people don’t speak like text books unfortunately! It takes a lot of concentration and leaves us pretty brain dead by the time we pick up the children from school. Being in the city each day takes it out of us too! Others on our team had warned us how intense this season of language learning is and there is no pressure from them to ‘do’ much else except be going about our daily lives in the community. It is a blessing that we are both enjoying the lessons and the opportunity to study. We have a great class alongside us and plenty of neighbours willing to correct our homework! Please could you pray specifically for Elise remembering tones and Jon remembering vocabulary.
Elliot and Sam have settled wonderfully at their school and look forward to going. This month they’ve dressed up for the Thai festival Loy Krathong and also International day (39 nationalities represented at the school!). Loy Krathong is one of the Buddhist festivals that we can easily join in with; flower arrangements on banana palm are floated on lakes and rivers to symbolise letting go of the past and looking to the future. We joined hundreds of others in Lumpini Park when we went with Tan and his mum to float our Krathongs. The school breaks up for the Christmas break on 12th december which is a shame as Thai schools, including our language school, plough on till new year! Christmas will be an interesting dynamic as the season is heavily commercialised but the day is just a normal day in our community. We are feeling a real to challenge to discern what aspects of Christmas need to be celebrated and shared and what aspects of Christmas just impose western culture. Pray we can do this OK!
In January we are going to Melbourne for our UNOH retreat and to begin our Submerge training programme. This has been re-written and it looks like the modules will be really practical for understanding the Incarnational model of mission better; lots of reading and reflecting. Looking ahead we’d value your prayers as we discern what our roles in the team/community might look like longer term. It is likely we will move to a different house/area once we have better language and more idea of what God wants of us here. There is no rush to make any decisions, we are intentionally not tying ourselves to any particular places or projects for the moment. It’s hard still being uncertain as the last few years have been too! Please pray we can concentrate on getting steady foundations of language learning and family life while being attentive to new opportunities as they arise.