It’s like the party has come to our place – young men sit around drinking coke and laughing, their wives and girlfriends and children join in as the evening gets later and later. Sharing food, inviting stories. Our new neighbours are able to join in and laugh along.
There is also a motorbike in pieces.
One of the difficult aspects of our neighbourhood is the separation and competitiveness, one group sets itself against another, one family quietly feuds with another over years of bitter grudge holding. The old people against the teenagers, the better-off against the poor, the non-drug users against the drug users, the established against the new. Jealousies, old hurts, regular annoyances, hierarchies of perceived worth – we see these expressed repeatedly in the complaints and grumbles of our neighbours, their harsh words of judgement and their ability to make an extreme sport out of talking each other down!
We saw it most powerfully when our new neighbours moved in and experienced cold stares, gossiping and signs of animosity. They are new people, from a different neighbourhood – they don’t belong here. They are young with a baby, they are poorer, they are from different religious backgrounds – they don’t fit in here. They are receiving help from us – they are taking up resources..
In this physically crowded space new people cannot be accommodated, self-interest has centre place when there are limited resources. But more than that, our hearts are crowded and new people cannot be accommodated, self-interest protects our limited ability to love and to welcome and to share. Our hearts see little enough worth in ourselves.. certainly not enough to go around for others.
So Jon being approached by these young men offering to restore his old motorbike for free was a sign to us of something new. A gift of helping each other out.
So the motorbike is in pieces.
But the community has a little bit more togetherness. It is not just the motorbike being restored, it is our hearts being restored to love and welcome and share.
In a place of jostling for position and honour, for people accustomed to being used and using others, this show of reciprocal generosity and open-heartedness is, to us, a little sign of the Kingdom coming. This is what we long for.
Other highlights this month include welcoming our new teammate, Dianne (above right), who joins us from Australia. Please pray for her as she begins language study and transitioning into our crazy cultural setting!
Also November saw lots of celebrating around Elise and Elliot’s birthdays, and welcoming Jon’s parents and Granny as they visited our team. It was also our third Loy Kratong celebrated in Bangkok, the Thai festival where beautifully lit flower creations are floated away to symbolise letting go of the past. We bought our Kratongs from neighbours who made more money in one night than they would usually make in a month. They subsequently gambled it and ended up worse of than before. Sometimes letting go of the past is tough and change is frustratingly slow.
Please pray with us;
- For Bah Noi, our adopted aunty, who is currently out of work whilst her employers at the street-side restaurant have gone to harvest rice. She is prone to be chaotic but the lack of structure just amplifies this. She has worked some odd jobs with Jon but has a lot more time on her hands. Her friend died this week and she told us that they had made a pact to die together. Please pray for her as she ponders big life questions and becomes more involved in Housechurch.
- Our young neighbours reach regular crisis points as they try to juggle working and caring for a baby. This is not hard to relate to and yet there is little encouragement for them to keep trying. Please pray for peace in their relationship and good health/safety for their little son. Pray for us as we affirm them whilst managing the complex dynamics of being a boss in the jewellery project and a landlord.