‘The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signalled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise’
Brennan Manning ‘Ruthless Trust’
There are times when you catch a glimpse of another person as God sees them and in that moment there is simply no questioning his love.
Bah Nee lay shivering on the floor drifting in and out of sleep as we met on Friday evening for house-church. Tears rolled down her cheeks and the usual bravado was replaced with a confronting vulnerability. We’ve often seen her unwell but never like this; never so close to breaking.
Jon drove her back to our house and examined her, concluding from her high temperature that it was a bad infection. With end stage liver disease we wonder how much more wear and tear her body can take. Bah Nee refused to go to hospital that night… even with company she is fearful of mistreatment. We pleaded with her to stay in our house but I guess she needed the familiarity of home. She was under strict instructions to hammer on our door if she got worse during the night. All we could do was pray.
We hardly slept. Imagining the worst, we found ourselves contemplating the prospect of life without our noisy, soft-hearted, dependable, generous, more-than-a-little-bit crazy Aunty! Love has that way of creeping up and surprising us with its depths sometimes.
At 7am Jon went to check on Bah Nee and found the door locked from the outside. A neighbour had seen her leaving at dawn and not noticed anything amiss. As we had left her the night before it seemed impossible that she could be on her feet, it didn’t make sense! We began a search of the local clinics, her workplace and her usual hangouts. Nobody had seen her at the motorbike taxi stand or at the whisky stall. We didn’t know whether to be cross or relieved!
She strolled up whistling later in the day, swinging bags of vegetables for our rabbit and completely unaware of the scare she had given us. It seems her body is not giving up yet! The next day she brought 15 family members along on our UNOH trip to the seaside. She was in her element collecting shellfish and singing louder than everybody else on the coach! What a privilege to share the experience with her.
This place we call home brings such contrasting emotions. It is hard to explain to someone outside our setting that we can experience a pull to engage more deeply and a desire to flee almost simultaneously! The promise of familiarity, of fitting in and feeling some level of control is never far away. How do we cling on to a sense of calling when there is crisis and disappointment in equal measure to joy?
Bah Nee is one tangible tie to the place God has our family right now. An unlikely relationship, we give and receive the honour of being known, of belonging, of encountering Jesus in each other. Faced with losing her, we were reminded not to overlook the blessings that are unique to here!
In The Neighbourhood:
We’ve had a few fun weekend trips with local children and families this month. Our network of local relationships is slowly expanding as we build mutual trust over time. Its been rewarding to see some of the children we’ve worked with for a while learning to swim. The extremely last minute wedding was exhausting but a huge success! We discovered our inner florists and basically blagged our way through (photos at the bottom of page)! With the start of rainy season, work on the new houses has slowed down considerably. Our house is not as watertight as we would like but it dries out quickly!
For various reasons, mostly triggered by the recent fire, we are exploring a move to purchase and slowly renovate a derelict two-storey house just a stones throw from our current house. This is only a possibility because of Trinity Churches inviting us to be part of their Living Stones Appeal and we are so grateful for the way they support and share our vision for incarnational mission. There are many hurdles to completing this plan but we are holding it lightly and trusting that God will provide for our future here.
We are working hard as a team to build up stock and finalise the process for online selling. We were super encouraged by the social media support last month and feel hopeful that we have a great customer base for launching sales. The practical demands of the business have been quite overwhelming for Nut and I recently. We’ve tried hard to look after each other but are looking forward to a quieter season where we can pour energy into the social elements of the project that we so enjoy!
One member of the RoyRak team is taking a huge step this week in moving out of the house she shares with her partner, his mother and his children from another marriage. She is not permitted by her mother-in-law to use the bathroom in the house so has to go to a local shop even if she needs to use the toilet at night. When I first met her she seemed resigned to being mistreated. She has truly blossomed in the stable environment of RoyRak and has taken on a confidence and creativity that I didn’t foresee.
Please pray that this young woman will settle well into her rented room close to friends. There are already frustrations with water and electricity supply slowing the process down and I worry that she will lose the momentum to complete the move. Pray for these practical considerations (she also owns almost nothing) and for a sense of peace.
- To own a puppy or not? Or two puppies perhaps? Our two favourite slum dogs have had a litter of two black and white fluff balls! We are already smitten and thinking of keeping one or both of them even though having a dog is not so practical when there is no space (think walking, pooing, fighting etc!) Its a head v heart battle – maybe not one to pray about from the front of church (could that be taken as a dare?!)
- Please pray for Ba Nee’s health, especially for easing of her regular symptoms. Pray that she will know how deeply she is loved by others and by her Maker and that this knowledge will continue to transform her and flow out to others.
- Pray for the kids in our community starting in their first few weeks back at school. Some are dropping out already and its hard to know what to pray.
- We’d value your prayers for our Bangkok UNOH team in a new season of leadership and trialling some new decision making structures. Please pray for overarching unity and for growth of exciting new signs of life.
- Pray for refreshing of our Thai language ability which gets stale from time to time and needs the Spirit’s empowering!
- Pray for Jon as he spends 10 days back in England enjoying time with our new niece Caty and new nephew Jude. We hope this time is refreshing and a significant time of reconnecting with family and friends.