So, have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to fit? To work? To be fun? Well…it’s one of those days. Lots of things running through my mind, decisions to be made, ideas to be formed, videos to be edited, pictures to be taken, chaa yen’s (thai ice tea) to be drunk (drank?…I always get confused with the past tense of that word).
Sitting in my favorite coffee shop, it’s yellow on the inside and I’ve gotten to know the owners (a cute little family who just had their first baby girl)…and I started thinking. What a day. What a place I live in. What opportunities lie ahead of me. What mistakes I will make. What lessons I will learn. Somehow…it feels as though I’m on the edge of something and I’m not quite sure where it will take me. This all sounds very vague and “Alice in Wonderland-like” but really…it’s pretty scary…but amazing. I know I’ve changed so much while being here…my ideas about myself…my confidence level…my faith…my ideas about church…my hopes in sharing God’s love…my ideas about how to do that…etc etc etc. But now…as this time begins to come to a close (only about 4 months left…one of which will be filled with conferences and MK camps) I begin to think about the time as a whole that I’ve spent here…and the lessons learned along the way. I’m eternally grateful for the experience. I know I’ll never be the same. I hope I have grown closer to God and more like His likeness…and I hope that I continue to do so in the future.
Right now I see all the things that I used to be afraid of here…and all the things that I love here now.
-language – cultural inappropriateness – not sharing my faith clearly – not sharing my faith enough – messing up at my “job” as a photographer – not satisfying folks in the company that I work for – letting people down with my “results” – driving – getting fat from all the delicious food – and more
-language – cultural things I’ve learned that I now know how to handle – being able to share my faith in small ways and in big – loving my “job” and being confident that God’s equipped just for this time – aiming to satisfy and glorify only God and not man – I love to drive here and think I’m a better driver because of it – I love Thai food and have gained weight but then lost it again 🙂 – the friendliness of the culture – the relaxed nature of the culture – the community driven ideas of the culture – the mountains – the funny sounds I hear coming off the street – the prettiest flower in the world ลีละวดี lee-lah-wah-dee – and more
So fun to look back at how I viewed this place in the beginning and how I view it now.
As a last note…I love the rain. I never liked it in America really, but here, it’s like a breathe of fresh air. Literally. The smoke and pollution accumulates in the valley we live in and then the heat makes it worse. So…the first rain (the one I prayed for and asked others to pray for) was such a relief.
So as one song I really like says…”bring on the rain.”
For many reasons, this question is on my heart today…what is the core of being a believer and where should there be lines drawn? Not lines of separation per say, but boundary lines…lines that protect…lines that guide…lines that keep truth? In America, in college, I was faced with deciding against my friends, against my fellowship at school, against the things I had been involved in for two years, and go a different way because of my belief, to fight for and stand up for the Truth. It was possibly the hardest thing I had done at the time. I thought those days were over, and I would no longer have to deal with this idea of “having to draw lines” and “choosing to separate for the Truth.” I was wrong.
Although America does not compare to international places in terms of cooperation, love, and “One Goal” there is still a line that one must draw as a believer, a believer in the Truth. Where is the point where we can say, “Ok, this person doesn’t believe EVERYthing the same as me, but the core is the same (and that’s all that matters) so I can still fellowship with them, love them, and serve with them.” ? And…where is the line where one must say, “No. I’m sorry. I do love you. I do care for you. I do want to serve with you. But I cannot adhere to what you are teaching. I cannot go with what you are interpreting in the Word.” ? Does there need to be that line? And if there does…where should it be drawn?
I love this place because much of the infantile separation that occurs in the states is diminished, and almost non-existent here. It’s lovely. People working together for one purpose: to reach the lost, those that have never even heard the name of Jesus. Here, it is not a matter of “What church do you go to?” or “What denomination are you a part of?” but rather “Do you know who Jesus is?” and then when believing friends meet, sometimes you may go months or even years or even a lifetime before you even know what “denomination” they a a part of. It’s no longer “Are you SBC or Lutheran?” It’s simply, “Are you a believer?” And the answers? No longer, “I’m Methodist” but rather “I’m a Christian, a follower of Christ.” I feel like in America there is so much fighting, so much pushing away, so much judgement…in unhealthy ways. Ways that separate and defile what God made the church to be. It saddens me.
But…where is the line?
Have you ever thought about this, or dealt with it? Just curious…it’s worth thinking about…because one day…I’m almost certain…you’re going to face it.
I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to teach a photo class at Chueng Doi church (the Thai church my friends go to). This morning was the first class…we learned lots! And got confused a lot too (just kidding)…it did make it a bit difficult to have to translate it all (technical terms and such)…but I think the 9 Thai and 2 farang (foreigners) understood, enjoyed, and learned. So much fun…and such a blessing. Please remember the students (as most are not believers) and me (as I try to teach something that is dear to my heart…keep me humble…and able to communicate clearly). Thank you in advance!
These pics are some that a student/friend at the church took of me and others during the class.
Question from a student…
My faithful translator…P’Thum
One extra special student way in the back…
ขอบคุณพระเจ้าสำหรับเวลานี้ (Thank the Lord for this time.)
From different times, different places, different lessons learned…