As the rains have got heavier, we plan our days to dodge the downfalls and the flooding. There is still no sign of a new walkway outside our house but we are thankful for a relatively watertight house. A friend recently asked Jon to do some repair work on her bathroom; she was worried that people could see in from outside. What Jon found when he went round the next day was an entire missing wall and the floor, apart from one corner with a squat toilet, entirely collapsed. He spent a frustrating morning in the mud trying to patch it up with boards.
It was a temporary job, to be continued after some careful planning, but this friend was overjoyed and expressed her gratitude by decorating our wooden cross with jasmine flowers. I wonder if she knew how fitting that gesture was? In directing thanks towards the true source of Love she gave us a reminder of why we are here. Not to be ‘saviours’ or to prove our own illusion of usefulness but to be changed by our encounters with others – to faithfully plant ripples of love that will continue after we have gone and be traced back to Jesus.
The flower garlands are symbolic of Thai culture – they are sold on the roadside for small change and threading them is one of the lowliest professions around. Our friend does not need to bring an offering that conforms with our own experience. Instead we worship a God who is all for diversity and finding beauty in the small and overlooked. We will hold on to this image!
A highlight for September was taking the teams from RoyRak and Upcycled Wares away for a weekend. It was great to be together outside of the usual work setting and get to know each other’s families better. We swam in a waterfall, hired bikes and generally enjoyed being out of the city! For one of the young women from RoyRak this meant settling three days of debt repayments so she was able to relax about finding money. As she let us into this daily pressure in her life, we gained insight into the violent world of high interest lending in the slum. We want to find sustainable ways to help with debt management as the project grows.
It has been the start of a busy few months of sales in Bangkok. This means very early starts and manouevering of large items into lifts that take forever to arrive! But it also means lots of opportunity to promote the talents of our existing team and bring in money to extend the opportunity of work to others. We are trying to prepare enough stock to see us through till Christmas so we are already surrounded by tree decorations and snowflake earrings – as if the warm weather isn’t weird enough!
We were so encouraged by the popularity of RoyRak jewellery and Upcycled products in the UK that we would like to ask for the help of supporters in hosting sales back home. It is a really practical way that you can help provide employment for some of our more vulnerable neighbours in Khlong Toey who struggle to access or to hold down less flexible jobs. Fair-trade principles, great quality and great prices make our products a brilliant option for present buying! Do get in touch if you can help!
For your prayers:
- Elliot and Sam are doing really well, loving school and excited for a visit from grandparents later this month! Please pray for increased Thai language ability and confidence that will help them feel more able to participate.
- Some of the boys that we take swimming have dropped out of school at age 14 and are making trouble around the neighbourhood. Please pray for protection from patterns of drugs and crime and for ways to help them be less bored.
- A new teammate Dianne preparing to join us at the start of November. Pray that God will be encouraging and equipping her and those she will leave behind in Melbourne.
- My training for the Chiang Mai half-marathon on December 18th! Pray that I can keep running even though its too hot and i usually don’t want to in the evenings! This will be raising money for a community workspace and kitchen.
- For the increasing opportunity that Jon has to care for people suffering with illness and praise God that there is lots of evidence of healing recently.