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...


Karen said...

Wow, Merri! What an experience you are having!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and what you are learning.

How are you feeling? Not to be incredibly personal on your blog. . .but do you have any news on the baby? I was sad to read about that. I'm praying for you!!

Merri said...

Hey, Karen
Thanks for being such a great commentor! Yes, it is quite an experience. There is so much more to it, but by the time I sit down at the computer to write, my mind has a hard time putting into words.

About the baby, we are very sad, but so thankful to the Lord for His peace. It appears to have stopped growing around 7 wks and I am 13 now. Still have to do a D&C tomorrow or the next day. I know you understand.

Karen said...

Yes, Merri, I do understand. You have really been on my heart and in my prayers the last few days. I'm so very sorry!

The D&C isn't bad. You'll be okay.

One thing that always comforts me is to know that I will have a couple little people in heaven that I get to meet and get to know. It makes heaven seem so much closer.

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