Living Away from Home

As we have written before, we have been homeless now for 11 days as flood waters wrapped around the streets of our condo. Since we left, the flood water levels rose up to one meter at the intersection by our home. Down the road a bit more, the flood completely swamped Kasetsert University, leaving the campus under 1-1.5 meters of water. With this murky, pungent black water flowing down our road we are glad we decided to heed the government warning and skedaddled out of the area.

In retrospect, we are glad that we left as the only transportation from our home has been the army trucks that are acting like buses. We would have had to walk almost a mile to the local mall to catch the truck, only to pack into the truck and move at a snail’s pace out of the flooded area.

Despite having enough food and water and plenty to occupy our time, we left our home behind. What good is it to be stuck at home and unable to do what we came to Thailand to do?

The past few days, we have been living at the 7-story church building and center for Foursquare ministry in Bangkok. We moved in with friends at the church which houses several people on a regular basis.

The catch word of flexibility on the mission field becomes ever more the reality we live in during this crisis. We’re just going with the flow. It makes it nice when you don’t have to spend time thinking about what you will wear in the morning. I have three dress shirts to rotate through the two church services each week and one pair of dress pants.

The first few days seemed fun and even a bit thrilling as we waited for the waters to keep creeping down the road from our condo to the place where the church building sits. We kept checking Twitter to get the minute-by-minute updates of shops in our old area closing due to the flood, water levels in our neighborhood, and updates on where the water was now.

The water has yet to come here and force my wife and daughter to the north of Thailand. So we just keep waiting. As days drag on, we wonder when the water will finally recede by our home…only to wake up yesterday morning to read that the Governor of Bangkok says his present to us for New Year’s will be a dry city. Thanks for the optimism. This morning brought better news, the major roads should be dry within 7-10 days.

We keep doing what we can to make the most of our change of scenery. Last night, we threw together a movie night with others from the building and community. If nothing else, this time as new pastors of the church is drawing us closer and closer together with the people of the church…and hopefully knitting them together as well.

The other morning, my wife spent a little extra time making a yummy breakfast, some eggs and toast. Well not really toast but bread. She apologized for the bread knowing that I understood the situation we were in. Yet when I bit into the bread, I was a little more surprised than I expected. Where was the butter!? I asked her why she hadn’t buttered the bread yet? Yet? She answered me, we don’t have any butter here. What can you do? I just shrugged my shoulders and ate the bread happily. If you have no butter, you have no butter. I knew we just have to keep doing to make the best of what we have knowing that a lot of our normal amenities are at home.

Now I know that our situation by no means is similar to many who are suffering at this time. Our neighbors a couple of floors down at the church building are Burmese migrant workers. With the factories they came to Bangkok to work in flooded and closed, they have no money to purchase food. Now they are returning home to Myanmar. Others from the Burmese congregation are flooded out near their factories but afraid to leave the legal migrant zones for fear of fines or worse, they are staying in their cramped apartments without electricity or food. In that area there is no place to buy food, and without jobs they have no money to buy food with. The Burmese pastor treks out there to chest high water via army truck a couple of times a week to deliver food to his people.

I think of other friends just north of Bangkok that have stayed in their home to protect it from thieves. They have stuck it out on the second floor of their house for nearly a month now. My friend cannot wait to get out of the house again. I can’t blame him.

…and for me, perhaps one of the biggest sacrifices comes at the hands of limited internet access. In the building, there is only internet on the first two floors. This means, between my wife and I we probably check the internet twice a day…

We do know that others have it far worse off than we do…but we can’t wait to get back to things as normal. You know with butter on the toast and a few more shirts to choose from. Or maybe this simplified lifestyle can go farther?

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