‘It’s still alive!’ our neighbour reassured us as we approached our house, jet-lagged and negotiating newly collapsed concrete with our suitcases. It took a moment to realise she was talking about our rabbit left on our porch in her care. Alive and double the size more like! She went on to explain how the rabbit had refused to eat any of the food and hay we had left for it but had developed a preference for green beans apparantly consuming up to a kilogram a day! Our neighbour had taken the responsibility so seriously that she had been waking at 5am to feed the rabbit the moment she heard it stirring. Rather than leaving food in the cage she had fed it by hand throughout the day! This is the total devotion that always throws us off guard, an extravagant display of love. Now we just have the job of re-introducing a normal diet!
It was a busy but life-giving trip to the UK; a precious time of reconnecting with family and friends. Here are some highlights:
Seeing Elliot and Sam playing with old friends as though nothing had changed! Their diaries were as busy as ours! It was wonderful for the boys to have an easy sense of belonging and we are determined to do better at keeping in touch with their UK friends. Sammy learnt the important life skills of riding a bike and swinging himself on a swing! Elliot gave out his email address A LOT but in case you missed it you can send a message to the boys at email@example.com
Also…a wedding and camping extravaganza, time with Grandparents, seeing Peggy the
dog, visiting our Thai neighbour’s parents at their restaurant, speaking at the CMF developing health conference, visiting supporting churches, showing our teammate Camille the people and places we love, pub meals and too many cooked breakfasts, selling RoyRak jewellery, telling stories, hearing stories, wearing warm clothes, sleeping in 14 different beds!
Honestly, I’ve been finding it impossible to write since arriving back in Bangkok. So many mixed emotions that won’t sit still on the page! It really is great to be back amongst good friends and settled in our own home. The experience of returning has definitely deepened our sense of calling. One thing that stood out to us during our time in England was the importance of our role as advocates for our neighbours; celebrating the good and countering the negative narrative associated with ‘the urban poor’ . The last thing our communities need is people like us compounding the stereotypes that keep them down and I hope we represented them to you faithfully.
But while we were away I think my eyes became unaccustomed to some of the darkness here. There has been a process of being re-broken, of re-questioning and re-evaluating the very specific culture around us. Some days it has been too hard to look for God’s image in a mess of broken relationships. I once gave some sequinned flip flops to a neighbour, a mum around my age. She is tough and indifferent on the surface so I loved that she wore them around the slum, a bit of sparkle! The other day I saw an old man wearing those flip flops as he repaired a fence. They were caked in dust and almost unrecognisable. This is the man she sleeps with for drugs. Beauty is so often stolen here.
A line from a Rend Collective song has been my prayer recently; ‘In the darkness I’ll dance, in the shadows I’ll sing, the joy of the Lord is my strength’.
- For Roy Rak with a busy season of sales ahead! There is a new baby around the place – please pray that our youngest two staff will safely navigate this new phase of being parents and will take responsibility for the care of their child while staying in secure jobs. Please also pray that two particular women from Rong Moo will have the confidence to come and start working with us. At the moment they seem keen but can’t quite make the first step.
- For Visa and Work Permit renewals coming up next month.
- For the funds to come in to put a kitchen into the house we rent next door and begin using it for community events. Electrical work is under way this week with lots of people in and out!
- For Elliot and Sam settling back in at school this week.
- For many people around us who are suffering from stress and carrying heavy burdens of responsibility.