Sunday, September 24, 2006

Culture Shock, Jesus, and Coup

This post has been evolving in my mind for a week or more. Hopefully you will make sense of my ramblings.

We have been in Bangkok now for 17 days. It sure feels like more than that. Maybe that is because everyday is filled with tons of pieces of information, some I can understand, but most I cannot. I have to ask about almost everything! Things we take for granted I just don't understand. Like using a public toilet. Completely new experience. I will save you the details! Or which water is acceptable to drink. Why can't you have a snack in your room (answer: the ants will carry it off before you can eat it yourself!) And don't even ask me about driving in Thailand! It will be years, I am afraid, before I will fill confident in either my ability behind the wheel or my sense of direction. People who have lived here for years still aren't sure about directions. Everything here is new or different. Did I expect to be the same? No, at least not in my head. But it is still unnerving (even for my native husband). And humbling.

Every once in awhile, though, I catch my self feeling "familiar" here. Like, I know the way home on the side streets (its like a maze). I ordered what I wanted at a restaurant in Thai. Ok, it was just water, but I did it, she understood me, and I said thank you, all in Thai. Yeah! And my favorite is when Thai people talk to me in English. I know, I know, that is not really being "familiar" in the since of adjusting to the culture, but it is relational, and I am longing for that, even if it is superficial. A week ago, we were at my in-laws "ranch" in the country. We stopped at a road side vendor for some food. When I finished, I decided to walk along the little strip of shops to explore on my own. In front of one shop, there was a 20 something year old girl who began to talk to me. We talked for quite awhile, as she was very friendly. When it was time to leave, I felt like I made my first friend. Our children are definitely an asset in relationships. Just about anyone will stop and talk to our children and then us. I love the interaction. Thai people are so friendly, so kind, and so giving.

When I am week, discouraged, vulnerable, or sad, the Word seems to have so much more impact on me. I am sure this is why the Lord uses difficulties in our lives (culture shock being the one for me right now.) We tend to "listen" better. Such is the case these last few weeks. Everything I read seems so incredibly relevant.

The first week we were here, I read a little devotion based on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- for we walk by faith, not by sight-- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

My mood about our circumstances was not a good one. I began to read this passage and realized that I was longing not only for temporal things but a perfect life. I was longing for something that would not happen until heaven.

Christ left the PERFECT culture to come here out of submission to the Father and love for us. And when He got here, He didn't try to live near the same standard of living (I am speaking of the comforts of heaven) that He was used to. He had a purpose and He sacrificed for it. His one goal was to glorify the Father by saving those He chose.

I wonder, did Jesus suffer culture shock? I think living surrounded by sin was difficult for Him.

I want to be pleasing to Him, to have a right perspective about things that won't last and the things that matter most. And I want to long for Heaven more.

We sing a song at our church in Payson. I happened to see the lyrics right after I read this passage.

I'm Forever Grateful
You did not wait for me to draw near to You
But You clothed Yourself with frail humanity
You did not wait for me to cry out to You
But You let me hear Your voice calling me
And I'm forever grateful to You
And I'm forever grateful for the Cross
And I'm forever grateful to You
That you came to seek and save the lost
Finally, about the coup, it seems to be a very low key thing here. You probably know more than me, since A) I don't understand the Thai news broadcast, and B)those responsible for the coup are controlling the news anyway!

Regardless, those around me seem unbothered and unaffected at this point.
More later.
PS We went to church today and I ran into an old youth leader of mine from KC who is now a missionary here. I'm still in awe...

A Sad Day

I have been looking forward for so many days to get my hands on this computer and let you know what's been going on. Now that I can finally have some computer time, the news is not what I was hoping to share.

Yesterday, we had our first prenatal visit with our doctor. We went in and interviewed him. I had some reservations about him but he was very kind and we decided to proceed with the first visit. He wanted to do and ultrasound to check the due date. I really didn't want to, but he insisted. I just wanted to hear the heart beat. But he couldn't find one. We went to have another ultrasound done and the second opinion was the same.

Pun was amazing. He prayed with me and encouraged me all day. He was a rock for me. We are both sad, but not without hope. When things like this happen, God's Word becomes even more alive and meaningful. That is what we are experiencing now. God's peace and His Word.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Finally Living in the Land

It's Monday and we have now been in Bangkok for 4 days. Wow. I still really can't believe we are actually here. Let me back up and give you a preview of the last 6 days.

We left SLC Tuesday. Very difficult goodbyes with family and loved ones. You should have seen us with all of our carry ons. We forgot that our 2 toddlers, who could each have 1-2 carry ones, would also need to be carried on! It was quite comical actually, trying to pass through security taking off 4 pairs of shoes each time and then putting them back on, then carrying bags, and more bags, and car seats, and 2 sleepy children, and me blubbering all the way! And we were late! We were the very last to board!! Agghh! But due to very kind airport and Delta employees, we made it. And so it seemed to go the rest of the way to Bangkok. Not that there weren't any difficulties, but overall it went fairly well.

Upon arrival in Bangkok, the traffic overwhelmed me. Oh my! I can't see myself ever having enough courage to drive here. It is absolutely crazy! Thank goodness for public transportation.

Since arriving we have been able to see nearly all of Pun's extended family. 18 of them and most of them live right on the same block. They are a very kind and generous family. Pun and I have also spent some time with his great aunt. She is 102 years old! She is blind and pretty much house bound. Helen and Daniel are warming up to her. Actually, Helen really enjoys going to visit her. As many of you know, Pun has a burden for his whole family to know the Lord and especially this aunt. Yesterday, Helen told Pun they should go tell her about Jesus dying on the cross for her. We were both touched. She and Pun went to visit and begin to share with her. Pun is praying for more alone time with her.

As I sit here typing, my mind is going in 100 directions. There are so many new experiences I want to describe for you. To say the least, it is overwhelming, exciting, emotional, scary, and fun. Maybe I am just tired! But it is impossible to tell you everything so as the days go by, I will try to give you little pictures of what life is like.

If you are wondering...Yes, it is extremely warm and humid here. Unusually so for this time of year. But the thunderstorms are awesome!

The first night we were here, we all woke up around 3am (2pm MST) wide awake! So we went outside in the yard and began exploring the night life. Among the highlights were the lizards and the giant snails (in there shells). The lizards climb on the walls inside. I can't figure out how they get in, but they don't bother anyone and they are fun to watch. Helen and Daniel and I love to find them! Pun's parent's yard feels like a tropical paradise. You really don't feel like you are in the middle of Bangkok at all; there are too many exotic plants, trees and flowers, not to mention the little creatures! Maybe I have just been in Utah too long.

Eating Thai food has become adventure in itself. There are many wonderful new foods and fresh fruits and then there are some that I will need to acquire a taste for. I have never been a big fan of vegetables, nor much of a healthy eater. That is all about to change! The pineapple and bananas are incredible, and the grilled meats delicious! There are just so many new flavors. The children are doing fairly well with it all, although Helen has a craving for pancakes! Funny, since she never asked for them at home.

I am surprised at how much is written in English here. Street signs, store signs, and products in the store have a fair amount of English. And there are so many US brand names here. At times I find myself thinking how similar things are here compared to the US. At other times I am shocked by the differences.

Other news some of you may not know, is we are expecting our 3rd baby in April. His family took the news well. We were waiting to tell them when we arrived so we didn't post anything on line. Birth in Bangkok will definitely be a new experience. No more homebirth, it is illegal here. So we have found the only hospital in SE Asia that does water births right here in Bangkok. Thank you, Lord!

Tomorrow we will be leaving to go to Pun's parents ranch for a few days and then on to the ocean for a few more. It should be very nice to see some of the country side.

My computer time is extremely limited right now. If you email and I don't respond, it is most likely because I can't get to the computer. This may go on for the next month or so until our container arrives. I also have no way of uploading pictures for now, either, which is a shame. There is so much I want you to see. It will have to wait.

For now, know that we miss you all and think of you often.
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