Since returning from Thailand just over a month ago, (as you can see we did have some time for fun!) we’ve had to really hit the ground running.
In that time, our kids have had to jump into marching band camp (Monday-Thursday 8AM-9PM days), begin school, start youth group and ministry at church.
We had a Launch summer internship group return from the field (one intern was from Tami’s home church in Iowa!), a SIMStart with 20 applicants attending, and Tami’s dad passed away at the end of August. All this has happened since our return from Thailand!
You can see that there has been constant motion forward since landing back on US soil. But when we’ve stolen some time away to think back on our time in Thailand I have to admit that the experience was so large that it may take multiple attempts to communicate all that is in our hearts.
This blog entry is just one of those attempts. We’ve also tried through our prayer letter a video and a couple of emails.
Here are the “Top Three” that stand out:
1. Family. It was an unbelievable feeling to have my family with me in the same city I was in last year for SIM’s Global Assembly. Equally, both our kids wrote prayer letters to share their hearts about serving the SIM Thailand team. The response was overwhelming from both our partners in ministry as well as from our local church family. Our kids recognized some similarities with being in a foreign country, but also recognized the differences too! (Ask them, they’ll tell you!) It was almost like they were in Bolivia again, in a missionary context. Tami was able to meet with most, if not all, the ladies, one on one to listen to their stories, ministries, hearts and pray with them. It was as if the wind was blown back into her sails. She loved every minute of it. It was an incredible privilege for us to serve together as a family. Thank you for supporting us with your praying, giving and ultimately investing in our missionaries in Thailand!
As we shared our time and stories with the Thailand team, it became very obvious that we were a part of a much bigger family. One that served together, maybe on different continents, but one that share the same Father, and the same heart. “Hang Out Time” at night became “family time” as we laughed, played games and shared stories. We were incredibly honored to serve this group of SIM missionaries and lighten their load, even if it was only for a few days.
2. Team. Our team of 12 from SIM USA arrived in Thailand at different times. We were made up of different families, at different stages of family life: singles, teens and experienced missionaries. Each had a role to play. Each hit the ground ready prepared to serve their role. The IT guys were looking at computers soon after the start of the Spiritual Life Conference and the kids ministry teams were in full swing after stealing times away to plan together during the week before (still trying to overcome jetlag). The speaker had planned his messages carefully, dependent on the Lord to use His Word and Spirit to stir and encourage. I, too, had prayed through the worship sets, seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction and had practiced with the worship whenever we could.
Each had their role and God used it as a wonderful offering to Him! It was amazing to see each operate in their “lane”, doing what God had gifted and called them to do: serve the Thailand team. What a wonderful Body God has assembled! What a team! It was an honor to serve with them! All of our thoughts and prayers were stirred to consider, “Would God open other opportunities for us to serve in SIM Spiritual Life Conferences for our SIM teams around the world?”
3. Thailand. To see the needs and hear the language our team experiences every day was a bit overwhelming. The language itself was overwhelming. It was not anything like Spanish, though when stuck, I tried to speak it (thinking if they didn’t understand English, then they would know Spanish!) The food was delicious! We met some wonderful Thai brothers and sisters ministering to people with AIDS and using sports to share the gospel. We met beautiful people in the Night bazaar, sharing Christ when we had the opportunity (and where English was spoken), but always sharing a smile. We also rode elephants and stared down tigers!
We observed Buddhism first hand, which made an impression on all of us, stirred our emotions and drove us to pray even harder for God’s great gospel news be heard by more people, the Holy Spirit leading people to an understanding of the Savior that has been sent for them!
These are just a few “snapshots” of our time in Thailand.
Thank you for making this trip possible by praying and giving! The Thailand team sends their gratitude and thanks for sending us to serve them!
We are truly humbled by your support and prayers.