You know the term “bun in the oven?” Being pregnant in this brutal Bangkok summer heat has added a whole new depth of meaning to the phrase. Not only do I live in an oven, I literally am an oven. But like I’ve always said, God rewards the sufferers of this heat with mango season. Thank God for the mangoes.
We’ve been in our new house for just over 2 months and have already had 1 cat sitting job and 12 guests stay. Our house is a short commute to the airport so we have caught a few of those 12 guests when they arrived and on their way out. Many of you know how much I loved full time ministry as a Bible worker and how seriously concerned I was that life would be over as I knew it when I became a wife and a mom. But God has blessed us with a big house capable of entertaining and hosting people which makes me so happy! Let us know when you are coming to visit and we will have a room ready. We live at the end of a quiet road that always has a breeze. The loudest sounds from outside are the frogs and birds. Many people have shared the exact thoughts we had, “You forget you’re in the middle of a giant city when you’re here.” God has truly blessed us with a retreat even in the midst of Bangkok. We love it.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our family and especially me with this pregnancy. Baby and I are doing well! We are even managing to get out and walk everyday. A big thank you to Natalie Wood for making that possible! Her husband, Jon Wood, was due to fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand and making a stop at our place along the way. With just a couple of days notice before Jon’s departure we made a request of him to bring us a jogging stroller. The roads are terrible and the strollers here rattle apart, we’ve already had 2. We needed a heavy duty piece of American made machinery. Natalie spent an entire day hunting down one for us in time for Jon to deliver it to us. The thing is, God’s thoughts are higher than ours and we had no idea the plans He had for that stroller.
ต่าย is our next door neighbour. The literal translation of her name is Rabbit. In English it kind of sounds like the word Thai but with a ‘D’ in front of it – DTHAI. We made friends over the fence mainly due to Asher’s noisy antics. She was an English major in college and speaks perfect English making it easier to get to know her. She seemed to always be home and I started to realise in her pajamas at any given hour of the day. I guessed her age to be about 20 and thought it strange that she wasn’t attending school or working (Turns out she’s 35! Thai people and their ageless skin…). Finally one day I asked why she didn’t have a job. She opened up to me that her father had passed away 4 years ago which threw her into a deep depression. Since that time, she has hardly left the house. If it wasn’t for a friend of hers visiting every week and forcing her to shower and get out of bed, she said she would never leave. Enter Asher…
Jon had just arrived with the stroller. Asher being obsessed with the novelty of it starts telling ต่าย and drawing attention to it. It was early evening and so I invited her to go for a walk. “Right now?” I really wasn’t considering right then, I had a house full of guests and dinner to prepare for them, but when God opens an opportunity to spend time with a neighbour, dinner will be a bit later and a lot simpler.
We enjoyed our time together and decided to go again the next day which was a Friday night. Our 4 house guests were invited to speak at a church and then spend the afternoon visiting. I mentioned to ต่าย that Asher and I would have to take a taxi to our regular church to which she offered to drive us. “I’ll drive you and pick you up.” After telling her it was only an hour long class for Asher, she decided to join us. This was her first visit to a Christian church. She’s taken us again since then too. We’ve even spent a day at the mall having lunch and playing with Asher together. When she visited her psychiatrist he was so proud of her for leaving the house so much. He told her that he believed Asher and I were angels sent to help her! Then scheduled her next appointment for 5 weeks out which she said was the longest she’d gone between appointments since her dad died.
ต่าย has confessed to me that before we moved in there were many days she didn’t get out of bed. She would just sleep all day. “But then I hear this little voice outside. I hear Asher playing in the morning.” I cut her off and start apologising for my noisy monster. ” No, no. I like it. I hear him and it makes me want to get out of bed and come talk to him.” I almost started crying. How awesome is God? The joy and laughter only a child has God used to cheer up somebody everyday and I had no clue.
Sometimes making sure I’m home by 5:45 at night is inconvenient. We’ve had to cut certain trips to the market or a friend’s house short, but it’s all worth it. We may not be sitting down and opening up the Bible together but don’t think people aren’t studying God when you’re with them. They are learning what Jesus is like through our interaction with them. As we get to know each other spiritual topics come up just from my life experience. Brian and I have been praying for her everyday and I’ve especially had a really big burden to talk to her about prayer. But Thai people are very cautious and thus, extra sensitivity, patience, and tact are required when sharing about Jesus. Three areas I’ve always struggled in! God is good though and brings up the subjects in His perfect timing. Just last week she went on a trip and visited an old catholic church. She showed me pictures and was telling me about it and I explained that not all churches are fancy like the Catholic cathedrals. She brought up the topic of Catholic and protestant, which I was shocked she knew about, and then asked questions about the differences that gave me the opportunity to share about many things, prayer being one of them and also address some errors in Buddhism that they share in common with Catholicism in a tactful way. There are so many good stories to share but it would take so long to write out. Please keep this young woman in your prayers and her friend Mek who we are getting to know. (He is the one who visits her every week). She is so special to me.
A quick update on some other subjects as I wrap this up… We have decided to stay in Thailand to deliver this baby. A hard decision but God made it clear that this will be best for everyone. As for the business, God has put us in contact with some great people to help us set things up. Just this morning on our walk we stopped to talk to a neighbour who happens to know everything about the climbing community in Thailand. Just miracle after miracle. Please pray God leads us to the right location soon and that our hearts will stay faithful seeking His will and not running ahead. Waiting is so hard! But God continues to set work in front of us to do while He sets the details of the business in order.
Thank you for taking the time to read our update and continuing to pray for us. We love you all. We miss you all. Looking forward to eternity where we’ll never part again.
Brian, Jessica & Asher Atwell