Brittney, Josie, and I will be leaving Bangkok, Thailand September 1st and flying to America. We will be in the States for 4 months. I wanted to write a short description of some of the plans, goals, and possible struggles we will have while being in America.
I want to start off by apologizing now before we even meet again for anything we do that seems weird or rude. That might sound silly for me to do, but I think we both might found out quickly after meeting why I’m doing this. Brittney and I have changed a lot since we have been in Thailand. Our role as missionaries is to adapt to the culture we are serving in just like Paul did so that we can be effective and accepted here (1 Cor 9:20-23). We have been doing this for the past 2 years now. Are we Thai? No. But, I would say that we are now becoming a weird/unique mix of both Thai and American cultures. There are things that the Thai people do that we like (and don’t like) that have become a way of life for us. Just a few examples of that is our eating habits have changed. We now eat more spicy foods and usually eat rice at least once a day, and sometimes for breakfast. Also we have adapted to the climate here. Its very tropical (hot) pretty much all the time. Some of our friends and places we visit don’t have air conditioners. So we have adjusted to not needing that, and sometimes now just run a fan at home. I say all this because we know we are going to freeze being home during winter time haha. Another thing that you might find strange about us is how we talk. Brittney and I have learned as much Thai as we could being here on our first term. Sometimes we will be speaking in English and just randomly say the next word in Thai. Also, this has happened to, we will be talking and come to a word in English that we can’t think of but we know it in Thai. That is a weird feeling. Another thing that will be weird about being in America is not being the minority any more. Also just being able to speak English all the time and everyone understand each other easily. I won’t have to form Thai sentences in my head before trying to talk to someone or be nervous about answering or making phone calls in a different language.. There are many other things but this will be enough for now. Our family and friends will point out many more things to us I’m sure the first few weeks we are with them.
So we have changed a lot, but so have our friends, family members, and supporting churches since we have been gone. I have heard this can be difficult and leave a missionary feeling left out. When we visit with our family and friends they will be talking about things that have been happening and we will feel left out because we weren’t there. A lot can change in a few years and I think that is going to be weird to see, because we still imagine “home” being like how we left it.
Also little things like trying to drive on the opposite side of the road again will be a challenge at first. We don’t have a car here in Thailand yet, but I have been driving my motor bike in Thailand for a while now. Brittney and I will also struggle with trying to communicate to people what its like here in Thailand. It is so hard to describe what life is like here and the spiritual darkness to someone who has never been. It’s not their fault, we know that. I remember the first time Brittney went to Thailand (Summer 2008, one year before I had the chance to visit), and when she got back how hard she tried to explain to me all the things she experienced. I couldn’t understand. I didn’t see all the big Buddhist temples, people worshiping spirits in trees and in statues ext like she did. So that is going to be hard for us; especially, in a short church service to explain what has happened, whats going on, and what we are going to do. But we will try our best, and I know our supporters will do their best to follow along and understand all these foreign things we talk about.
No doubt the biggest struggle will be leaving family again. We will fly out of Dallas January 5, 2016 to return to Thailand. This time our family will also have to let their grand-baby go. They will just have got to really know her and get attached. Please start praying now for them to be comforted and given grace during that time.
I better move on to sharing about what we plan to do. Here are our main objectives: Rest (we will have family to help out with the baby), be debriefed at the missions office, Re-energize physically and spiritually (maybe go to a Christian conference and concert), Spend time with family and friends, visit churches each Sunday that support us monthly, take care of some personal business that we can’t do while being in Thailand (hospital care, insurance, banking, etc), do some shopping, eat a lot of foods we miss, celebrate Brittney and Josie’s birthdays in October, Brittney and I will celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary by taking a mini-vacation, and we will all celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with family!!! Also during all that making time each day to study and improve our Thai. You can even ask us if we are doing that to help hold us accountable. I’ve heard its very easy to not study and regress in language proficiency while on a long furlough. We don’t want that!
We have been praying a lot and planing a lot to make this furlough an effective one. Brittney and I both want to use our time wisely while in the States. Our goal is to complete everything we have planned and then some.
We want to give a clear and faithful report to the churches and meetings we go to. We want our supporters to know what we have done in Thailand the past two years, and what we plan to do when we return. We will be talking about our ambition and strategy in starting a church in the Northern Suburbs of Bangkok.
Thanks for reading. We look forward to seeing many of you soon! We will share our schedule of churches that we are going to visit once that is finalized. Brittney and I can’t express how excited we are to see everyone!