It's very important that all of you realize how much I am suffering for the cause of Christ. I enjoy sweet fellowship with Pat and Sam in the evenings over dinner, go to bed when I'm tired, wake up when I'm not anymore, sip coffee Sam has ready to brew at the touch of a button, eat breakfast, answer any e-mails and write on this blog, then have uninterrupted time with the Lord, reading, praying and reading some more. It's really quite a sacrifice...
I walked to the base yesterday afternoon and Sam gave me the nickel tour before I sat in on the weekly staff meeting. It's a large facility, easily visible from the main drag if you turn to look down the right street. It's painted bright orange and has the web address in huge letters along the front of the building. There are five floors and various rooms and offices within its labyrinth. I think that's the word I'm looking for. I don't have my dictionary handy, but my point is, one could be easily lost within the maze. At least, this one could be!
There is a book and music distribution center where Christian books are translated into Thai and then sent to various churches and the few Christian bookstores in and around Bangkok. The sales from these items help finance other works of the ministry.
Of course there are lots of offices for the many activities that operate out of the building and I met all kinds of people from everywhere you can think of around the globe.
We went up to the rooftop and I was afforded a panoramic view. To one side is the freshman campus of the largest university in the world. It's an "open" campus, Sam explained, meaning the students can take courses on-line or or study on their own and just show up to take the tests. That kind of flexibility allows a lot of people the opportunity to get a degree and still hold a job or whatever else their schedule demands.
I think I am correct in saying the base was built where it was in order to more effectively reach the students when they are most open to the Gospel; before they move on to the other campuses and, like students around the world, become more educated and jaded and less reachable.
To the other side is a large section of swamp land and looks like the entire area did before it was developed within the last fifteen years or so. You'd never know it was that new to look at it. The apartment buildings and shops on the main thoroughfare look like they have been there for years. But this whole area is just one long stretch of buildings of all sorts.
During the two hour bus ride to Pattaya there was never a break in the scenery. It would be like driving from north Owasso to south Jenks (only further) if things were completely build up all along the highway. You don't know when you leave one city or area and enter another. It's a big and busy place. Tulsa seems a small town in comparison!
The room where the staff meeting was held had the only carpet I've seen since I've been here, though it occurred to me all the tile is a necessity in fighting mold and mildew in this wet and humid climate.
There were probably over 50 people in attendance and we opened with worship. It was sweet to my soul and a thrill to hear familiar worship choruses like "How Great is Our God" sung in English and Thai. I couldn't help but think of what it will be like in heaven when "every nation and tongue" will join in singing praise to the King of Kings.
When I closed my eyes it was as if I were in a time warp. The last 30 years melted away and I felt like I was in YWAM again! I can't express what that meant to me. I've lived another whole life since then. Married, raised a family, decorated a home, attended Bible studies, made wonderful friends, had dinner parties, buried a child and settled kids in college, yet it seemed as if no time at all had elapsed. It was a strange and remarkable experience and my heart melted with theirs and overflowed with gratitude to God.
We broke up into small groups for intercession and I was with the English speaking folks who are in language school until they are fluent in Thai and can move on the the areas of ministry to which they are called. There was a time of confession and one confessed his apathy and a couple of others their frustration in being patient with the process of being fully equipped to serve the Lord. I could certainly understand that! But I was so refreshed by the worship I couldn't relate at that moment. Besides, in my nearly fifty years I have finally begun to learn the value of not trying to bear fruit before the tree is ripe with blossoms. Truly, the Lord is the vine dresser and His timing and ways are perfect as He grafts us into His purposes.
As I walked back to the house I recalled a conversation Jacob and I had just before I left about how emotions wax and wane, but passion endures. When you are passionate about something you are able to maintain that passion despite outward circumstances, despite setbacks, despite time. Perhaps another word for it is faith. "By faith Abraham believed God..." He never lost sight of the promise, he never lost his passion for the things of God. As my own passion is revived, I realize it was always there. Dormant at times perhaps, but there nonetheless and beginning at last to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
As I was lost in my thoughts I was lost literally. I knew I should have paid closer attention to the path I took when I left for the base, but I was so caught up in all the sights and stepping over and dodging the huge puddles I neglected to look at street signs. But as God has done all along, the phone rang just as I was pulling it out to call Sam for directions and there he was on the line guiding me safely back to the house.
On the way, I saw the "spirit houses" in front of each home. The people here believe in evil spirits, and rightly so. But they believe the spirits will inhabit their homes if they don't build a separate building for them. They even take food to them! Seems strange, but then I'm pretty sure there are plenty of things we do that seem equally strange to them. They are not only outside the homes, but shops and malls as well. The bigger the building, the bigger the spirit house. These were the miniature shrines and temples I saw on pedestals as we drove to Pattaya that I mentioned earlier.
Pat teaches English as a second language at a nearby school and then plays tennis on Thursday nights so I chatted with Sam and watched amazed as he effortlessly whipped up a delicious dinner of fried chicken strips, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Pat walked in just as it was time to eat and we had a relaxing time around the dinner table. The one I am bringing home with me.
Sam asked me if the 10th had been difficult for me, and I was surprised to hear myself say no. Jordan was constantly on my mind, but the sting of the loss is lessened by time and by the assurance that I am fulfilling the call of God on my life. Still, it seems hard to believe three years have passed already.
There was a light rain falling when I went to bed so I opened all the windows that are on two sides of my bedroom and tied the tab curtains back so I could enjoy being lulled to sleep by the melody of the rain falling on tin roofs. Suddenly it turned into a monsoon! I couldn't believe how hard and furious it was falling! It was thrilling to lay there safe and dry in bed and hear the water crashing and cascading all around. I fell asleep in the middle of it!
I have a lot of down time which is actually quite enjoyable, but I am hoping there is some work I can do to be a blessing and make use of my time either at the base or at Pat's school. Please pray with me that I will be able to be about the Lord's business even when I am not speaking. While it might be the primary reason the Lord brought me here, it surely can't be the only one.
My prayers echos that of Judith of Norwich. "Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness and the exceeding wonder of grace.
I am guilty but pardoned, I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual brokenheartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross."