‘…and I pray every night for an hour!’ So concluded the long list of ‘thambun’ (doing good) that our wonderful neighbour used to assure us that she is seeking to follow Jesus in the details of each day. ‘Bah’ is a longstanding member of our little house-church and her growth has been a beautiful encouragement during recent months. There was a silence after she spoke and I wondered if anyone else was feeling like they didn’t measure up! ‘But remember we don’t need to earn merit’ said Jodie eventually. Bah looked taken aback. She has heard this many times but merit making is so ingrained in Thai Buddhist culture that it isn’t unlearned overnight.
Before Jodie could continue, a Thai friend jumped in and proceeded to explain about grace and how Jesus has already ‘made merit’ on 0ur behalf; we are accepted by God when we take refuge in what he has already done not what we strive to do for him. The group went on to talk about how ‘thambun’ (doing good) should be a response to and reflection of God’s love rather than a means to earn it. Their own traditions provided the perfect framework for talking about a concept that Western Christians struggle to grasp. We’ve talked a lot in our team about how to contextualise Christianity in this setting and here were our neighbours doing it themselves! Please pray with us for a deeper understanding of how Thai Buddhist culture informs and connects with the Gospel.
The Grandma pictured in our last newsletter died a few days after we wrote. Her funeral took place in one afternoon rather than the customary three days because dying is an expensive business in Thailand. Some of us went to the water pouring ceremony followed by the cremation at a local Wat. We are hopeful that Grandma encountered Jesus in her last days lying alone. I certainly encountered Jesus in her and will always be thankful for how she opened my eyes to the experience of a life lived hidden away from view. Hopefully her memory will drive us to seek out and love others like her.
Over the last month we’ve had opportunity to spend time both in and away from Khlong Toey with UK family. We’ve loved sharing time and space together and feeling up to date with each other’s lives again! All our visitors did ‘Cooking with Poo’, travelled on a night train and visited at least one night market as compulsory cultural experiences! Not sure how well we did as guides but the best times were just sitting and talking at home and enjoying the everyday things together. Now they can picture where we are and feel more part of our experience here!
It has struck us that as we come and go from the community we have the opportunity to return re-charged and with a fresh outlook. We value this highly! However, most people here don’t get holidays at all and it is uncomfortable to come home and realise not much has changed while we’ve been gone. This sets us apart more than we would like. A part of us feels that our first year has been quite novelty filled and the real challenge of settling into some kind of normality still lies ahead. We feel positive about our move to Rong Moo and have been blessed by some deepening of relationship with a few neighbours there. Next month we’ll be writing from the new house! We’d appreciate your prayers for a smooth transition.
Praise God for:
- An amazing first week of school for Elliot and Sam: ‘the best ever!!’
- Providing our one year visas after lots of failed attempts and early mornings at Immigration.
- Significant and restorative time with our families.
- A great weekend of team building using the Strength-finders tool.
- Providing the funds we needed for building furniture and equipping the new house.
- Creating in us a growing love for our new neighbourhood