Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goodbye my friend

Today is a sad day for me. Laurie, the English lady that I've lived and worked with since I've been here in Thailand left to move back to England. We both got to Thailand the same week in June, and have shared a room together while also sharing life together these past 3 months. She has become one of my best friends in such a short amount of time. The Lord knit together our hearts as we loved on the women of Thailand together - both those at SHE and the ones still working in the bars. But Laurie's health has not been good the past couple of months, and she needs to return to England for proper medical care. Tonight she boards a flight that will take her there, and this afternoon I had to say goodbye to her - at least goodbye for now. We both have the feeling that the Lord will bring us back together again in the future, at least for a couple of roadtrips if nothing else.

Laurie, I love you so much. I will miss having a sister here with me in Phuket to share life with. I am praying for wisdom and a miraculous recovery for you, and that the Lord will reveal exactly what this next step holds for you. My heart is selfishly heavy as I think about carrying on here without you, but I am excited for what is waiting just over the horizon of your life. May God truly bless you, my dear friend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Much needed update

It's been a while since my last post, and that has been for good reason. A lot has happened over the last week or so. I'm going to attempt to catch up on some of it now.

Last Thursday I was going around Phuket with one of the Thai girls, same as we had been doing for the last couple of weeks, to talk to local businesses about carrying some of the products we make at SHE in their stores. We had some sample boxes to deliver to some interested places, and as we dropped off the first box, I had to pull out of the business and make a U-turn on a relatively busy road. I looked, didn't see anyone coming, pulled out and was smashed right into my drivers side door by two Thai men on a motorbike. A lot of the next few minutes blurred together or are gone from my memory. I don't remember seeing anything until the glass shattered. I remember checking to see if everyone was ok - they all seemed to be. I remember the pounding pain of my head. I remember that the Thai girl I was with seemed really concerned for me. I remember looking in the rearview mirror to see the blood running down my face. I remember feeling like I was blacking out...
The next thing I remembered was the smell of something like menthol being rubbed under my nose. Slowly my senses were returning, all but my sight. I heard Mark's (director of SHE) voice. I asked him, apparently very calmly, if I was going to be blind for the rest of my life. Only later did we chuckle about that. After a few minutes, my vision started to return. The ambulance was there by then. They couldn't get me out of the drivers side, so they had to move the glass to get me out on the passengers side. They strapped this annoying brace around my neck and put me on a stretcher, rushing me to the ER while starting to clean up the blood now caking all down my face and clothes. Once at the ER, they went to work on locating any damages I sustained. One by one they checked my body parts. Remarkably no pain anywhere other than the wound on my head. They injected my head what felt like a hundred times (really probably more like a dozen) with painful needles to numb the area so they could clean and stitch my wound. Then off to X-rays. Nothing broken. No major problems. Praise the Lord! Before long I was free to go.

I spent the next couple days laying around at SHE with a headache, but not much else wrong with me. I went over the accident in my head, amazed that things weren't worse, as they seemed they should have been. Clearly the Lord's hand was on me protecting me. The Thai girl I was with didn't even have a scratch on her. A few days later the Lord dropped Psalm 91 into my spirit. "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all of your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone." I know His angels were guarding over me. I know He was there with me. Thank you all so much for your prayers through this experience. Now, only one week later, I've had my stitches removed and there is very little physical evidence left on my body of such an intense collision. Praise the Lord. Only He could do that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The other side of the hurdle

Today is a significant day for me. I've passed the halfway mark. As of today I have been gone from my home for 109 days, and although I don't have an exact return date, I plan to be back by Thanksgiving, which is 108 days from now. This fills me with a wave of so many different emotions even as I type the words. In some ways, 109 days have flown by. That is nearly a third of a year. And it seems like a blink and it was over. On some days at least. Other days drag by and I feel like I've lived at least 3 for every one. But that is definitely the exception. Laurie and I (the girl I live with here) keep finding ourselves in the same familiar conversation.
"I can't believe it. It's Sunday again, " one of us will muse.
"It's always Sunday in Thailand," is the response we invariably send back.
And it feels like it's true. Each week melts seamlessly into the next one with Sundays being one of the few noticeable markers between the quickly passing weeks.
In those ways I start to think, wow, I'm gonna blink and this whole thing is gonna be over. But in other ways, the thought of reliving this whole 109 days that I've been gone all over again before returning to the US seems painful and slow. That's another nearly third of a year still remaining. Surely I've been gone for way more than half my time here, I find myself thinking. How will I possibly have the energy to make it another 108 days?
Something about counting in days seems to keep things in an overwhelmingly long time period. However, when I think that in just 4 weeks I will head to meet a GI team in India, stay there for two weeks, and then return to Thailand for just 6 short weeks before the GI team that will return me to the US arrives for a two week Thailand/India trip, the time seems inexplicably short. Either way, I have a goal. And as Paul says, I press on towards that goal. But I do not want to let today fall from the foreground as I focus on the end.
I will try to remain fully in each day, living out the present as if it is my only concern, and only on those days I am truly longing for home will I break up my time remaining into months, weeks, and days (eventually maybe even into hours) to see the impending closeness of my return home...Home. That's almost funny to say now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Knowing God's love

I stumbled upon this while searching online and wanted to share it:

"I can easily believe that the atom-holding, earth-spinning, galaxy-sustaining, life-giving Source of everything wonderful can do whatever he likes. Even the devil believes God’s power.
My difficulty is believing that God’s special love for me makes him long to use that power on my behalf...
Few of us doubt that God can do amazing things. The weak link in our faith is believing that he would do such things for ordinary, inconsequential you and me. We suspect we are not sufficiently special in the Almighty’s eyes to warrant such attention. Oh yes, ‘God loves everyone,’ but we have a hunch that by the time that love reaches us it has spread pretty thin. I’m just one of millions. Why would God want to focus his omnipotence on me?...
Awareness of how much we are loved is forever slipping from our consciousness. Partially in sight for a few days, it begins to fade again...
When you feel like a tiny blob in the seething mass of humanity, see the shepherd of a hundred sheep frantically searching for one. If he can be personally concerned for one, the omnipotent Shepherd of our souls can love all humanity and still be devoted to you. In the beautiful words of Isaiah, ‘As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you’ (Isaiah 62:5)...
No matter how you feel, you are the focus of God’s attention; doted on as though you are the only friend God has. If ever a man wanted to shower his bride with love, or his son with gifts, God longs to lavish you with his extravagance. Expect great things from God. Anything less is an insult to your almighty Savior. With your Lord impossibilities are playthings...
Let faith mushroom by seizing the fact that the Omnipotent Lord is powerful enough to use you – over-riding your every inadequacy - and loving enough to want to. Everything God touches is destined for glory. Even now, you are God’s ‘filthy rags to heavenly riches’ success story...
Christ’s shed blood proves God’s pledge of total commitment to me. Am I to pronounce that sacrifice inadequate and demand additional proof?...
Our life needs not spectacular confirmation but spectacular commitment. What more could the One who died for you do to prove his love? Let’s not slander the Holy One by imagining infinite love is so fickle that it fluctuates according to a person’s physical attractiveness, popularity or talent...
Whenever we eat, a child smiles at us, or we find shelter from the blazing sun or biting cold, we are experiencing God’s provision. Each day we receive literally millions of love gifts from God, and yet our hard heart and dull mind rarely overflows with awe at each expression of God’s personal love for us. If we could only open our eyes and begin to each day notice just a few of God’s innumerable love gifts to us, our enjoyment of life and awareness of how special we are to God would rocket heavenwards, bursting through the clouds into endless sunshine...
God’s love toward you is perfect. God is for you. He’s cheering you on. He’s on your side!"

I know sometimes I needed reminded of God's love for me. I'm encouraged by the verses in Ephesians 3:17-19
"...And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Definitions

When I first left the US I had some ideas of what I thought missions was and was not, but after being gone some 3 odd months now, much of that has changed. Here's what I'm learning:

Missions is taking THEM on a 30 minute jog, for the 5 minutes of quality conversation it buys you.
Missions is using the money you would have spent on a coffee to buy some strange fruits to share with THEM.
Missions is hanging out with THEM in bars and red-light districts.
Missions is playing badminton after work with THEM everyday, even if it means missing out on a shower or dinner.
Missions is letting THEM put seafood on the pizza.
Missions is telling THEM boys are stupid when they are crying over a lost relationship.
Missions is embarrassing yourself by learning to do a Thai dance (even when you're not sure what exactly it means - something about a BBQ chicken and a kabob) just because it makes THEM laugh everytime you do it.
Missions is continuing to play Connect 4 with THEM, even though they beat you every time.
Missions is giving THEM your new shoes, becuase you saw them sneaking around wearing them when you weren't looking.
Missions is falling asleep with a Gecko under your bed, so as to not appear too squeamish to THEM.
Missions is watching Thai soaps with THEM, even if you can't understand a word of it.
Missions is loving THEM even when they don't deserve it, cause who of us ever really does?
Missions is about making THEM one of US because of HIM and HIS love for US.
Missions has nothing to do with ME.