What do you miss overseas?
That is the question we were asked in our last missionary connect (the monthly web based meetings for Foursquare missionaries. http://fmi.foursquare.org/
We consistently are asked this question, so I thought I would post on it. First I always say, In & Out Burger, for locations, http://www.in-n-out.com/menu.asp or to those that know, Culver’s (which has now passed In & Out for the tastiest burger according to a nationwide survey). http://www.culvers.com/
However, when the conversation moved beyond the superficial items of favorite foods, Butterfinger, Dr. pepper and specialized jam from some valley in Oregon, we got more serious.
We all agreed that we miss our families and friends the most. One person commented that they miss worshipping in English. The fact someone actually verbalizing this reminded us of the value of worshipping in a native language. I have learned some songs in Thai, but there is no substitute for connecting to God in your native language. Well, only one substitute (worshipping in my spiritual language, but that isn’t a fair comparison).
We try to fill this void with podcasts of our favorite preachers and teachers as well as listening to worship music. But recorded music doesn’t replace live and fresh music moving with the spirit. But others posts or times should relate the idea that music and singing makes only a small part of worship. But this is what we know. Adjusting to services and songs in another culture and language takes adjusting.
With web 2.0 and access to music and pop-culture online, don’t miss much. The world is getting smaller, but relationships and language are the biggest things we miss.
We get easy in Bangkok as we share the ministry with several others from English speaking countries like Canada and Australia, and we teach English, (allowing for Thais to talk to us in English). All the English we get hinders us from learning the local language, so we have a catch 22.
Facebook helps, emails are nice, phone calls are good, snail mail with genuine cards make us happy, but nothing replaces a good visit with family or friends. Since most can’t pick up and fly to say hello, take the hints from the previous statement and let us know you are connected with us.
Today we celebrated Constitution Day in Thailand. Dec. 10 commemorates the day Thailand moved from an absolute monarch to a constitutional monarchy.
King Rama 7, the father of Rama 9 handed power to the people on June 24, 1932 moving Thailand toward western democracies.
However, Thai people still offer the highest respect for their king and he does hold the highest offices.
“All Thai constitutions, however, recognise the King as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of All Religions and sacred and inviolable in his
person. His Majesty the King’s sovereign power emanates from the people and is exercised in three ways, namely: legislative power through the National
Assembly, executive power through the Cabinet and Judicial power through the law courts.
from a book of essays on Thai culture…
Yesterday, the church celebrated Father’s Day during the morning service. They honored the father’s brining them to the front and praying for them.
I was struck by how the atmosphere was different from an American church service that morning. The church had Kelly (the head missionary), pastor Dton and Alue representing members of Our Home Chapel. One girl who leads worship brought her dad to the service as well.
The church is comprised of mostly under- 30, university students, young professionals and a growing segment of children from the slum community.
I could not help thinking of how much the young people and children who filled the room have a different Christian experience than Americans. Most of the members of OHC will be the lone Christian in their family. Some teenagers have had their parents come and pull them out of church service on a Sunday morning, many deal with an ostracizing from their family as they choose to follow God, but most simply come from families who doesn’t understand and passively play an unsupportive role in their faith.
How different it must be to be Christian in Thailand. Actually, I am reminded often of how it must parallel early church life. Many church services in the first generation of the church would have had gatherings with people being the lone representatives of their family. I get the impression from Paul’s letter to Timothy that his family connection in the faith was an exception rather than a norm in that era of the church. Paul reminds him of his sincere faith which he first saw in his grandmother, Lois and mother, Eunice, II Timothy 1:5.
Thursday night, we had the pleasure of meeting with some longtime friends in ministry, Darryl and Carlene Dahlman. They travel the Pacific Rim of Asia to facilitate a ministry of intercessory prayer.
I met the Dahlman’s 10 years ago in 1996 when they visited our area in Woodstock, IL for a summer sabbatical. I spent the summer with their son Nathaniel who later attended Life Pacific College with me as freshman. http://www.lifepacific.edu
The Dahlman’s connected with our church; new life Christian Center and Pastor Ted Olbrich at what could only be seen as a God moment. The Great Lakes District of Foursquare had been long searching for the right place to purchase land and own their own campground for summer camps and retreats. For years, the district rented facilities in Wisconsin but looked forward to the days of owning their own property. When Darryl showed up, he said I know the perfect place and took pastor Ted to the campground he grew up at a mere 40 minutes from New Life. The camp at the time was a fixer-upper, but the district jumped at the opportunity.
Now, Camp Hickory (please someone send photos or link a website, I had trouble finding images or sites for the beloved camp) serves the district in a variety of ways from youth camps to pastor’s conferences. I still remember playing volleyball on the new sand courts before losing my sight and one winter camp when we destroyed the newly laid sod in a game of tackle football (the grass soon turned to a field of mud, sorry Fred).
Thanks Darryl for helping find the perfect location. And dinner at the five star hotel with you was great. Too bad the piano wasn’t available, but it was good to see pastor Louise (one of the foursquare pastors in Bangkok) play piano at the Fortune Hotel. He plays piano there to support his family while they pastor with all their heart. The Dahlman’s are waiting until the airports clear enough stranded tourists, so they too can return to the US. Thankfully, the government is picking up the tab on this one.
Thailand shines on the evening of Dec. 5 by candlelight. The candles were lit at 7:29 pm to honor the king on his 81st birthday. Across Bangkok and especially outside the Grand Palace Thais lit candles in a yearly tradition to show homage to their revered king.
This year they wanted to bless him with good health as he missed his yearly speech for the first time in 62 years as king of Thailand. Reports say he is recovering from his fever and infection of the throat.
The tradition gave the country a much needed dose of unity as one and all blessed the king.
At the Friday night church service, we also lit candles and prayed a blessing for the king.
One of the big holidays in Thailand is Father’s Day aka The King’s birthday. I still remember one of Tina’s students asking her if American’s celebrated Father’s Day after we first arrived in Thailand. When they found out we did, they asked how if we don’t have a king.
The king of Thailand celebrates is 81st birthday this year. As the longest reigning monarch (62 years, he commands great respect from his people. He has devoted his rule to making Thai people thrive and flourish in his country. He travels to all parts of the kingdom to find out the problems of the people and has implemented numerous projects to help the less-advantaged.
For more on the king click here…
In the season leading up to the celebration, Bangkok begins to decorate for the honored day. Pictures of Thailand’s longest reigning monarch go up on buildings throughout the country. You can see more of how the city decorates here
Fireworks fill the sky and concerts play for the crowds as they gather in front of the Grand Palace. Singers who are invited to sing take it as a great honor. Some sing songs composed by the king as well as all genres of music for the evening.
We will be wearing our Yellow shirt with the rest of the Thai people today. Yellow is the king’s color as he was born on a Monday. Each day in Thailand has a color, and Monday’s is yellow.
This week something special happened, the moon smiled. Before you start laughing, the moon was a waxing cresent moon that looked like a mouth and then Venus and Jupiter shone like two bright eyes. As I was told this morning, this only happens once every 100 years.
The interesting connection is that Thailand is often called “The Land of Smiles.” Thais have so many reasons to smile, not always because they are happy. http://www.into-asia.com/thailand/culture/smile.php
We take this as a picture of God smiling down on His children. What a neat, visible sign from God.