Once again I find myself on a 12 hour train ride (which is actually about 15 this time) from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We just finished the company paperwork with the lawyer and taking some prayer time in preparation for the opening of what we are calling a ‘Center of Influence’; a place where we can make meaningful and intentional relationships for Christ. I am on my way back to Jessica and Asher who flew back this afternoon. Oh yeah, we will be in America in a couple weeks.
But let’s back up a couple of weeks. I arrived in Bangkok last Tues and made it just in time for my appointment with the lawyer. He assured me that setting up an American owned company here was still possible and we worked out some details. When we discussed visas is where things changed. Having switched our visas to Education visas made it very challenging to convert to the business visa we need to have. His recommendation was the last thing I wanted to hear; “you should go back to the States.” I tried to work out some other options, and actually found one, but after taking it to God in prayer, He directed us to go back. I have been very against the idea of going back and had valid reasons; expensive, long flight, leaving the field, long flight besides the fact that it is a long flight. But thankfully God revealed to me that there was a pride in my heart about it. I was trying to exalt myself above others in my mind by not making the trip to the States, acting as if I was better for staying in my calling. When i surrendered that, it was very clear He wanted us to go.
In a way it feels like we have been dying spiritually here with the lack of meaningful relationships. Don’t get me wrong, we have friends here that we are connected with, but when the majority of your relationships are surface level, it wears on you. Cross-cultural life is definitely challenging. God revealed that the trip was going to be a spiritual recharge for us as well as an opportunity to share what God is doing in the mission field.
Another area of pride God revealed to me was in regard to donations. We had decided not to ask for funds from anyone and just allow God to provide, and He has in amazing ways. But while we were in Bangkok we stayed with missionary friends who shared their experiences of trips to the States. They shared how their donors would share testimonies about how God blessed them through giving to foreign missions. Again I had to surrender that. I have always struggled accepting things from people, but Jessica put it in perspective for me. She asked how I feel when I am able to do something for someone else, “good,” I replied. So when you don’t allow someone else to do something for you, you are robbing them of that blessing. I realized that God was changing my heart again. This trip to Bangkok was an awesome growing experience, with much pride being surrendered.
We had some great encounters and have seen how God is leading in amazing ways to bring this work forward. He is putting together so many pieces of the puzzle that we didn’t even know existed. There are some exciting things in the works and in the next few weeks we will have some updates to share. It is such a blessing to see that God is in control. We look forward to having an opportunity to share God’s amazing leading with you in person. We will let you all know our schedule when God reveals it to us, but if you are interested in having us share at your church, feel free to send us an email and we can work out a schedule. We are arriving October 1st staying through Dec 28th. We are flying into LAX and are trying to figure out how we will get to Washington where our car is. We are debating renting a car to do our ‘Tour for Thailand’ which as of now we are thinking will involve LA, the Central Coast, Sacramento, Mt Shasta area, Walla Walla and Spokane WA, Bozeman, MT. and Phoenix AZ. We are open to traveling wherever the Lord directs though, so let us know and we will prayerfully consider it. This is a faith building trip as we basically emptied our bank account to buy the tickets and start the business paperwork. God is in control and we are along for the ride.
I just had an awesome experience for the dinner time on the train that I needed to add. The stewardess tried to hand me a styrofoam box which contained “khay jiaw” (omelet) I explained I eat only “Jay” (vegan) food. The railway officer was standing near by and asked if I said I eat “Jay”, I confirmed and he had the girls prepare me plain rice and went and got a bag of food from his lunch box, explaining he too eats “Jay” all year. That is significant because many Thais are vegan for 10 days during the annual “Jay” festival every November. When we tell people we eat that way all year they are surprised and tell us how healthy it is, but they love meat too much; such a blessed change from the response you get in America. So this man brought me food on a tray and then sits next to me. He asked where I learned about this lifestyle and I shared how I learned this from a Christian Church in America and they were interested. The 3 stewardesses sat down in the seats across from me and we had a 20 min conversation about why eating this way is healthier. They didn’t even serve the other people the meals they had for them until we were finished! They just watched me eat and listened to the railway man and I share. They asked why I could speak Thai and I informed them that I was going to open a “Jay” restaurant in Bangkok and the stewardesses asked if I needed people to come and work. It was such an awesome experience and such a loving rebuke. You see, I was irritated this morning when I was late to the train station and had no time to get food, knowing there would be nothing for me to eat on the train. Literally when they brought the food I was listening to a sermon where the pastor recounted his whole day of things not going as they should that resulted in him meeting a young man interested in studying the Bible, illustrating how God orchestrates all things. I just finished confessing my sin of irritation and lack of trusting His providence when the girl handed me the box. God is so good. He is so forgiving and redemptive and just loves to show us that He is there and in control; even when we aren’t perfectly cooperating with Him. This experience brought me to a deeper time of confession as I am so often trying to control ‘my’ circumstances and getting upset when they don’t work out, often missing the opportunities He is putting in my path. God showed me that He is faithful and knows the end from the beginning. We have nothing to worry about if we trust and obey. If your day is not going the “way it should” pray and ask God to help you see what plans He is leading you to, they are better than yours, I guarantee it.
We felt impressed to share some of the current needs we have:
Funds for the business startup. I gave the lawyer an initial payment to start the process, but we need to make another $2000 payment before he can register us as an American business. The total fees are roughly $4000 to start the company.
A vehicle for our ‘Tour’.
Fuel expenses for traveling and visiting churches.
Places to stay along the road, preferably with some of you.