At times it seems crazy to me that we’ve only been in Thailand for two months. So much has happened and our days are full. We are entering our second month of language school, which is going well. Learning a new language has its challenges but it also has its joys – like those moments when you actually understand what someone is saying or when you’re able to carry on a bit of a conversation with someone in your new language.
Between language studies and finding our new life rhythm as a family, we’ve began getting to know the staff and students at Dton Naam, we’ve found a church we love, and we’ve gotten connected to a local house of prayer. We feel so blessed to have gotten established in so many ways so quickly as we know it can take months to find these kinds of connections when moving to a new city.
We are also glad that the Lord has made it easy for us to make friends here in Bangkok. We were forewarned when we came that the city is not at all like the smaller Thai towns in that people tend to keep to themselves a bit more. While we find this to be true, we also find that Jed has a way of drawing people in. It seems that every time we go somewhere with him, everyone wants to talk to us and be his friend. As a happy little extrovert, Jed seems to delight in the attention and is quick to greet folks with a “wai” (the traditional Thai greeting), a wave, and often will blow kisses as we say goodbye without being prompted to do so. But even without Jed with us, our friendliness is rewarded with people responding in kind. Just yesterday, a security guard at the plaza our language school is in waited around while we were talking with a classmate to talk with us and see how we were doing.
We’ve also been seeing a friendship form between us and Angela, the owner of a coffee and noodle shop by our school. One day we decided to stop by her shop for a cup of coffee before heading up to class. Though we had only seen her once before, I (Amy) was chatting with her and asked how she was doing. She began to respond with the typical, “fine” but then changed her mind and said, actually she wasn’t fine. She shared with us that she has brain cancer and the doctors haven’t given her that long to live, but she’s lived longer than expected. We immediately asked her if she knew of Jesus, and she said she had but that she’s not a Christian. She told us that she believes God, whoever He is, would save her from this cancer. We told her that Jesus loves her and wants to heal her and asked if we could pray. She agreed and we took her hand and prayed right there for the Lord to heal her. She was so appreciative and said that God sent us to her. We’ve since made it a point to go by Angela’s shop two to three times a week at least to build friendship with her. During one of our visits, we asked who Jesus is to her. She shared that she likes what Jesus teaches and that she feels more peace when she goes to church than when she goes to the temple so she really likes going to church. We are trying to find a weekend where she has time to go with us as she stays rather busy. We also hope to have the opportunity to sit down with her for a meal and just see what the Lord does.
Another new blessing in our lives is that we just purchased a motorbike this week. We are learning how to navigate the city and maneuver through traffic jams, but find that the main thing having our own transportation saves is money rather than time as there are almost always traffic jams and limitations on where you can turn right or take a U-turn to get onto the side of the road that is heading the direction you actually need to go in. Because of this, we’ve actually found it’s more convenient to drive our motorbike to Jed’s daycare and then walk the mile or so from there to language school and then walk back to the daycare at the end of the day rather than trying to drive the motorbike the entire way. As I was explaining this to my Thai teacher, she laughed and agreed that this method of getting Jed to the daycare and us to the school was probably best and, as a bonus, we get to get some good exercise in.
We truly feel so blessed and know things are going well overall, but, we have also had challenging moments – moments where our new culture seems overwhelming, moments where we aren’t connecting well as a family, and moments of grief and loss as we experienced our first loss of a family member while living overseas. Almost a month ago, on Mother’s Day, Amy’s aunt passed away after being told just three days prior that her cancer was advanced and she had about six months to live. The doctors had done a surgery to improve her quality of life and help her live out her last days independently, however, she didn’t come out of the anesthesia well and asked for no heroic measures. The loss has been challenging but in the midst of it all, we know the Lord is good and are leaning on Him. As Matt shared, it encourages us in these times to know that we are in the perfect will of God and we believe we are in a season of preparation for the years ahead.
Matt, Amy and Jed