Bangkok feels like a different place at night. The air is balmy, the lights are bright, street stalls line the pavements and life spills out of doors. It’s the time when people go running or exercise in the outdoor gyms that you find in every park here. When I don’t have too much homework I run too and enjoy exploring familiar places in a different light! Its not all pretty though, the soi dogs become more territorial at night and locally there are faces we don’t see about in the daytime. I regularly run past one group of glue-sniffing teens and feel prompted to pray for them. If they take any notice of me its only to make fun of me puffing and panting! What hope do I have of any common ground?
As I left the house for a run the other evening, I met a local puppy called Cookie on the doorstep. He jumped along excitedly at my heels barking at me to hurry up when I stopped to talk! I was sure he would turn back once we left our little community but he was still at my side as we crossed the main road through Rong Moo and headed out of the slum. For a small dog he has some guts, he’d probably never been this far from home in his life! His lovely owner is in prison for a while, but everybody knows Cookie and gives him scraps. We turned a corner and there were the teenagers in the same spot… with some really scary dogs! These spotted Cookie straight away and came for him; I picked him up and ran till they were out of sight!
There was no turning back now, we were doing this run together! As he trotted trustingly behind me it was one of those bizarre moments of reflection on how much life has changed in a short time! I felt strangely blessed and only slightly put out by all the stares we were getting! Cookie visibly relaxed when we crossed the bridge back into Rong Moo and more familiar turf! But we still had the hurdle of the big dogs… as we approached the corner he put on the brakes. I picked him up and tried to look more confident than I felt. The dogs were asleep amazingly, and their owners wanted to stroke Cookie. We had a brief and unremarkable conversation but it left me feeling that the barriers of difference were less insurmountable. Maybe one day I’ll know their names.
As we’re starting to make friendships of our own with neighbours in this new place our hearts’ cry is that people will want to join us in the journey of knowing Jesus and being fully known by him. This seems an impossible hope sometimes as we persist in friendship that honours difference and has no expectations attached. The invitation to share our spirituality is unashamedly there but we are prone to expecting little of God. How great would it be if journeys of discipleship started out like that run with Cookie; if our neighbours got a glimpse of the life God offers them and ran after it for all they’re worth. How great would it be to run with someone through unfamiliar territory as we discover together that life is more breathtaking, more purpose-filled, more risky than we’ve ever known. The cynical part of us says this won’t happen but the hopeful part asks you to pray with us for journeys like these and thank God where for where these relationships are already happening elsewhere on our team.
- We have masses to celebrate, being stretched out of our comfort zones this month and surviving! It’s been a big adjustment but overall we are feeling settled in our new home. Thank God for his provision in guiding us here and providing friendship and welcome.
- Jon and Elliot went away on a 5 day sea-fishing trip with our landlord (also called Jon but a lot older!) and a group of his friends. They had no idea they were literally waving goodbye to land for the entire trip! The accommodation on ship (or lack of it!) and the intensity of speaking only Thai really stretched them both and they were ecstatic to arrive back! However they enjoyed some really precious time together and had massive respect for the kindness of our landlord. Please pray that this trip has set good foundations for a lasting friendship.
- With a Thai couple in our community we took a bunch of kids swimming last week and have been increasingly getting to know this fun group of kids in the houses around us during their school holidays.
- Its been good getting to know a Thai Christian family in Rong Moo that we met though a church that meets in another part of the slum. They’ve lived here a long time and currently foster five kids. They’ve been cautious of us and are quite disillusioned but essentially we have the same heart for seeing this place transformed. Pray for possible partnerships and support for them in their ministry to kids here.
- Elliot finally saved enough Baht to buy his rabbit! Her name is Flea.
- For Elliot and Sam beginning some more formal language learning after school. We were put in contact with some Thai Christians who are setting up as language tutors. While the boys have lessons, whichever of us isn’t doing a module at language school will have private tutoring for an hour. Our priority is to practice slang/colloquial Thai and then move onto some specialist language for reading the Bible with Thais. Pray that the relationships with our teachers P’Eek and P’Bun are conducive to learning. Please pray also that it isn’t too much at the end of the day and that Elliot and Sam feel motivated to learn and the lessons sink in deep.
- The rats have discovered we live here and moved in too. It’s a bit gross! Its also frustrating that the path at the front of our house has collapsed and floods with swamp water most days making for a hard time getting in and out. For now please pray for perseverance with this and that we stay well.
- For our teammates Jo, Jodie and Nut sharing with churches and supporters in the UK. Pray that God will speak a powerful message of justice through them to those that need to hear it. Pray that they will have opportunity to network and raise the profile of UNOH in the UK. If you can get along to the events they are running on our behalf in Shrewsbury or Carlisle we’d be extremely grateful – get in touch for details.
- For Elise and Camille covering the supervision of the RoyRak jewellery project while Jo is out the country. Pray for good relationships with the women in the project especially as they take on extra responsibilities. Also that jewellery sells well at all the sales we have running up to Christmas