There was a strange unease all day. It felt like the City was holding it’s breath waiting for news. Rumours of an official announcement began to reach us. Everyone gathered around TV screens at 7pm to hear the unthinkable confirmed; the King of Thailand had died ending a seventy year reign.
Coming out of our friends’ house later that night the neighbourhood was united in silence. I spotted P’Oua sitting alone in the dark cooking food and realised that she wouldn’t know. Even here in the shared sadness there was inequality. She didn’t believe it till she had watched the broadcast over and over on our computer.
It is hard to convey the weight of this loss as our Thai neighbours received it. Viewed as ‘Father to the Nation’, the King has held a deified yet personal role. The outpouring of grief runs deep and it has been a surprising privilege to stand on its edge. Life is continuing as normal with everyone wearing black for one year and a haze of questions over the future.
Some time away in beautiful Laos with Jon’s parents was very refreshing. We hadn’t realised how tired we were until we got the chance to rest! Elliot and Sam got their fix of outdoor time and particularly enjoyed exploring waterfalls and caves all whilst talking non-stop to very patient grandparents!
A young couple from the jewellery project house-sat for us when we were on holiday, along with their three month old son. They are flourishing as parents, despite still being children themselves, and we want to do everything we can to support their chances of staying together as a family. We’ve invited them to stay on in one room of the community house next door to us and we are all adjusting to sharing everyday life. Knocking on the door at midnight to borrow our camping stove is just about forgivable when we get baby smiles in the morning!
Our community has treated them with suspicion as they are from another part of the slum. Their motorbike has been targeted just like ours was when we moved in last year and we really feel for them in this. We hope the presence of this little family may be a good bridge to connecting with other teenagers nearby but this will take time.
For now there is a new urgency to fundraise for the setup of the community space next door. They will be live-in caretakers and seem excited about getting behind some of the activities we plan to run. Today we sat together and prayed God’s blessing over the house and voiced our hopes for the future. Given the history of death and disturbance in the house this is an exciting change of direction! If you would like to contribute directly to the running of the community house next door, or to set-up costs, for example installing a kitchen, please do contact us about ways to give.
Returning home after holiday we’ve been really aware of the negativity that characterises neighbourhood interactions. Listening to people’s complaints about each other takes its toll and we can take on this negative outlook without meaning to. We’d value your prayers for being able to see beyond this to where Jesus is at work and to be able to hold out hope where it is lacking.
Please pray for the busy period of sales for RoyRak and Upcyled Wares. That we will have opportunities to advocate for our neighbours as we mix with the expat community and will sell well to further employment opportunities.
Pray that our interactions with the family next door will clearly show the love of Jesus, especially as life together in close proximity can be messy and stressful!
Please pray for our new teammate, Dianne, who joins us next from Australia. She will stay at a residential language study centre for 6 months before fully moving into the slum with us.