It’s early in the morning here, the air is clear and cool, there is a symphony of birdsong punctuated by the determined crowing of roosters. From the sounds outside we could be on a farm or a small village instead of the second largest city in Thailand, and for me this connection to the ‘bush’ is a daily reminder that God is real. Next year it will be 10 years since we saw God overcome impossible odds to allow us to buy this overgrown ruin and slowly turn it into a home and a quiet place of refuge from the hustle and bustle around us. It is the longest I have ever lived in one house or place in my life, so Chiang Mai is very much home at this time for me, but more so for Mitchell and Songkran who were born here.
I have just finished writing an email to a missionary wife who is learning Northern Thai and has made friends with a group of Northern Thai ladies that meet for drinks every Friday. None of them understand anything about Christianity or are really interested, but they like telling stories. So she asked them whether Songkran could come and tell them stories from the Bible and they agreed. Songkran had an interesting time last week telling the first of seven stories from the life of Joseph. The ladies have asked Songkran to come again next week, which is the best possible outcome, and if they remain interested then we have many stories that all join together and follow the great story in the Bible right through to Jesus’ return. As she tells the stories she can ask questions and check what they really understand, and that helps us to make sure it is consistent with the meaning in the Bible and we can make changes when needed. We have been praying for years for an opportunity like this and we are excited that God has being working away to make this happen.
This weekend Songkran won’t have a chance to go as we will be going three hours north to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a Christian mission that has served the poorest of the rural poor in many ways, and especially in agriculture. I have had the privileged to work alongside them off and on over the years. Most of the staff themselves come from the same villages they serve and it’s very humbling to see how they serve God with so little themselves. I am looking forward to catching up with friends and celebrating village style, with freshly killed village pigs and chickens plus exotic spicy dishes served with mountain rice.
The missionary that started the ministry left to serve other people in other countries about four years ago. He was a good mate and I am looking forward to a good catch-up as he is coming back especially for the event. Making good friends can be hard as people come and go for all sorts of reasons, and this is one of the downsides of living here. God has been good in bringing a new circle of expat friends through Mitchell’s school, and there is one guy from QLD in particular who is great value and we yarn away about all sorts of things, including sport. It is a great blessing to me even if it is a great mystery to the Thai Mums who can’t figure out what we could possibly be talking about.
Mitchell has just had two weeks of school holidays and will go back tomorrow, and we will be in the normal routine of taking turns to take him to and from school through the ever increasing traffic, which is worse when it rains. Now that the wet season’s ending and the cool season’s coming, the morning run to school on the motorbike will be chilly with thick coats, but the afternoon pick-up will be beautiful instead of baking hot and smoky as it is for the rest of the year.
We regularly thank God for protection while riding the motorbike, as on average there’s about one motorbike death a day here in the city, and on most weeks we can see some kind of accident as we go about our normal routine. We thank God for so much that He has given us and for the team of people with whom we work. We see God at work changing people’s lives one small step at a time, and making a difference in the world in the same way. In what God has called us to do here we don’t see much that is spectacular, but we see many small things, and for some reason it is deeply satisfying to see God working His will out through the ordinary things of life.