Happy New Year!
And it came to pass….. No mistake about it, 2014 was a difficult and challenging year. We lived in four different homes, not counting our stint of homelessness when we lived out of hotels. We knew disillusionment, stress, hardship – but always we knew God’s grace. And the difficult year ended well, with our new family of six kids settled in a home that meets our needs well.
Then 2015 rolled in on a tide of celebration. New Years is a big thing here. It’s traditional to give gifts on New Years, and we enjoyed picking out presents for the kids. We bought them each a fishing rod, which they received with great joy. They already have enjoyed a fishing trip, although they came back without any fish.
We also gave a couple of group gifts. We bought them a ping-pong table. The rhythmic sound of the ball pinging and ponging has come to be a constant background noise at our house. Someone is always playing at the table just outside our front door. It was a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) since we don’t have a yard and our courtyard area is too small for them to play much. The ping pong table gives these active kids something to do when we can’t take them to the park.
The last gift was a bucket of Legos. I was appalled by the price, but they have lamented for a long time the loss of the garage-sale Legos I brought over more than a year ago. They were left at the old children’s home, and the kids frequently mentioned that they missed playing with them. They were delighted to see these! If friends who send packages want to throw in a few Legos, we can always use more since I could only afford a small bucket.
Here, as in the U.S., we had a watch night service on New Year’s eve. Besides our kids and workers, we also had several guests who are Buddhists. Jum’s mother and niece who are visiting her for the holidays came, as did our handyman Nat with his daughter and nephew. Nat has become a friend and we hope he and his family will start coming to our church services. His daughter, Emmie, (Om Em) comes regularly to our Sunday School, often bringing friends. We ate, played board games, had a gift exchange, then joined together for group games. Paul spoke briefly, and we prayed as the new year began.
We went outside to watch the fireworks. I was sorry I didn’t have my camera, as we watched hundreds of floating lanterns filling the night sky. Fireworks shot out from them, making a colorful display. It was quite a sight!
What’s ahead for us in 2015? Only the Lord knows. We are still dealing with our adversary who keeps coming up with new ways to oppress the people and give us trouble. He has already sold five of the church properties, although the judge forbid him to do that. The buyers are trying to kick the church members out, and the people are panic-stricken. It’s the custom here for people to build their houses on church land, so we are talking about hundreds of people left homeless. Paul and Lek do a lot of traveling to distant villages to find out the facts, gather proof, and to calm the people. More legal battles are ahead. Please continue to pray with us that this wicked man will go to prison where he can no longer oppress.
Meanwhile, opportunities are opening up everywhere. We are both taking Thai language classes for three hours each morning. Paul hopes to have regular meetings with all the church pastors, as well as a preachers’ training school. I’ve been asked to teach an English camp at the kids’ school in February, and we hope to use the opportunity of teaching English to reach out to our neighborhood, too. We continue to have regular visitors to our Sunday School and church services.
And, of course, we have our children to raise – which is a challenging process. The honeymoon is over and we are into the nitty-gritty of teaching values and standards of behavior. We’ve been together just long enough for us to learn their needs and for them to learn which of our buttons to push. But we love these kids and their future – and eternity – make the troubles well worthwhile.
A special thanks to all of you who pray for us, and who give so generously so we can serve here!
Blessings from Thailand,