Landing the Plane (October 2021 Update)
We have arrived in Thailand, and I am writing this update sitting in Bangkok. We flew through Phuket, an island city in the south, and had to spend 10 days in "quarantine" there. It was a nice family vacation at the beach. We got lots of pictures, and we were able to take Mary Ella to see the ocean for the first time, as well as to the Phuket Aquariam.
It has been interesting trying to get back into life in Thailand. There is always a little adjustment that has to be made, whether that be getting back to the foods we eat here or getting used to speaking Thai regularly again. Mary Ella is already learning some Thai phrases and has started trying to "wai" (the Thai greeting of putting one's hands together).
While we were in Phuket, we got to know several people, whether that be the hotel staff or the ladies who had a laundry shop just outside the hotel. Actually, it was pretty amazing, because God opened up two doors for me to share the gospel while we were there, within the first week.
The first time was with a man who was trying to rent me a jet ski at the beach. I was still really jet lagged that day, so I told him I would come back later because I love jet skis.
Then we started talking and he asked me about my tattoo, which says "Maranatha" in Aramaic. I told him that it was the language Jesus spoke which opened up a conversation in which he said he knew a little bit about Jesus (he also mentioned knowing about Islam). He seemed much more open than I am accustomed to; normally when talking to strangers in Thailand they can get very defensive when the topic of conversation turns to God. However, I felt like he wasn't defensive, so I continued to share with him what Christians believe about the grace and mercy of God, and went as far as to tell him that Jesus taught that we could not depend on ourselves in order to be right with God.
This was a very blunt statement in Thai, because there is phrase that sums up much of Thai Buddhist teaching which essentially translates to either "You are what you rely on" or "Do not rely on anyone but yourself" (“ตนเป็นที่พึ่งแห่งตน”). Obviously, very few people are actually able to live this way, but this is what is taught.
I had the chance to share the gospel with this man, whose name was Pon, which means "blessing" or "fortune" in Thai. I shared about the grace and mercy of God, and how he can deliver us from sin and karma. As I was speaking, he teared up, and then he shared with me about how he had been an alcoholic until a few years ago, when his so-called friend stabbed him in the neck. He now talks with a stutter, and that "friend" is in jail. I asked him if he had ever read the Bible, and he seemed confused, obviously not knowing what a "Prakampee" or Bible was. I went back to that same spot at the beach twice and never found him, so I ask that you pray with me that the seed that was planted will bear fruit. Pray that what I said to him will stick in his mind until he gets curious and gets on the internet to look up Christian teaching, and that in doing so he will find someone preaching the gospel online in Thai.
The second person I was able to share with was a girl who was around our age. She was the cleaning lady at our hotel, and she came to clean our room several days in a row. She was talkative, so I enjoyed her company. She told me about how some foreigners that come to Thailand are so kind and that they like to help Thai people, and bemoaned the fact that wealthy Thai people rarely want to help poor ones. I told her that was because most of the foreigners that come to work with the poor are Christians and explained to her why Christians are motivated to help people, especially the poor. I eventually sent her a post that I wrote in Thai explaining the gospel in a Buddhist context. Pray that she would read what I sent her and that it would pierce her heart. Her name is Dao (meaning star in Thai) and she is from Nong Kai, which is in the Isaan region, right on the border of Laos.
We are currently in Bangkok, and will be here for a few days to visit with some friends. Last year, when COVID exploded onto the scene, we unfortunately had to leave many of our friends with no closure, so this is a blessing to us. Pray that God continues to open doors to share the gospel with people here in Thailand, and that they would be receptive.
I have barely been keeping up with school work in the master's program that I am a part of, and have not been able to post any videos in the past several weeks. I'm frustrated with myself, but I know it will be much more manageable once we get settled in Chiang Rai (we fly there on Monday).
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