Well, my time here is winding to a close, and so, my time with you as well. Though I may need a "debriefer" of sorts to help me process it all! It's been a marvelous journey and I can't tell you how much I have appreciated all of you who have faithfully read, prayed and gone with me!What a treasure my friends, Bible study ladies and prayer partners are!
The days have flown off the calendar like tree leaves in an Oklahoma tornado! I can't believe it's already the 29th (here), that I will no sooner arrive back in Tulsa than it will be November, that daylights savings time will have already taken effect and along with it, the depressingly earlier sunsets. More than that is the notion that once the tires of the plane scorch the runway, my routine will commence. That's not a bad thing, mind you, but after so long away it will be a bit of an adjustment going back to being a housewife! Please pray for my transition. It might sound silly, but even Sam warned me about the "Elijah syndrome" once I return, so I know it is something to be on guard about.
I met a "friend of a friend" yesterday after church (yes Elaine, we connected!) and she took me on new adventures!
She asked me if I'd been to the temple of the "reclining Buddha." I hadn't. I thought the concrete replica of the sleeping Buddha was impressive enough in the "Ancient City," so I was completely unprepared for what I saw.
Can you say "giant"? As in GIANT? Oh my gosh! I'm really not good with numbers and distances and measurements and have no illusions of converting from metric to "western" measurements, but this thing was HUGE! It filled an entire building. It was this giant, massive, gold, Buddha, laying on its side looking ever so worldly and satisfied. The soles of its feet were taller than a six foot man, so just try and imagine the rest of this thing! The temple had to have been built around it, yet there wasn't much extra room. The ceilings were high (25 feet?) and the pointy head of his cap looked like it was touching the upper corner of the room. And it was ALL gold. Incredible. Unbelievable. Wish I could have seen Solomon's temple...
The Buddhist friend of my friend from CBS bowed down and payed homage to the image. She asked me if I wanted to do the same, but I politely declined. It's one thing to view a false image or idol and another altogether to bow to it.
The temple grounds were more of the same extravagant, beautiful, gaudy, detailed, intricate drawings, painted porcelain and elaborate detail I have described before. Being an art major, I can't help but be in awe of the craftsmanship, workmanship and artistry that defines the temples. It's a graphic reminder of the gifts and creativity God has bestowed on His creation whether these gifts are used for HIS glory or not. The flip side of all of the magnificence is that so many are "missing the mark."
We left the temple grounds and rode a tuk-tuk ("took took," but you have to throw the words together and say 'em real fast! --They are the three-wheeled motorcycles with two short bench seats and a canvas canopy that are culturally famous here) to the teeming street markets.
I don't think you can imagine the sheer volume of humanity; the crowded sidewalks with the street vendors (I think we have ordinances against this in the US!), the constant jostling and jockeying and pressing and maneuvering of every step and the endless bumping of flesh unless you have been here! It's indescribable.
Then there's the constant stream of taxis, like catfish in a stocked pond; the even more plentiful yellow vested motorcycle taxis, the "sky train" monorail system with its ribbons of runways cris-crossing the city, the buses with neon murals painted on the sides, and the cars of every variety and description. It's like NYC on steroids!
ANYWAY...we rode the tuk-tuk to another area where we ate lunch at one of the many, tiny cafes that line every street in the city, it seems. I'm convinced no one in Thailand actually cooks for themselves or their family. Yet they eat here--constantly. It's part of their culture. You can't walk 20 steps without encountering another street vendor and always, always, the seemingly impromptu tables and chairs set up right on the sidewalk and people slurping and eating away morning, noon and night. Metal pushcarts, some with built-in hibachis, line the streets or stroll along hawking their delicacies. You see whole chickens being offered at 6:00 in the morning, fish balls and fried, sweet deserts offered all day long with the cacophony reaching its crescendo after dark. Talk about the city that never sleeps! I'm serious when I say it's an onslaught of ADHD acid-tripping overload!
Jutaret (my guide on this "magical mystery tour") explained in greater detail the designation of different colors for the seven days of the week (hence yellow for the king who was born on Monday), the eight positions of Buddha, (one for each day of the week and for some reason, a second position for Wednesday evening!) and the alms that are "suggested" for whichever day you are born on. Again, I remind you, the day of the week a Thia is born is of much more significant to them than the date we Americans ascribe to.
But enough of that! I spoke in two back to back sessions for the women in leadership at the church Pat and Sam attend. This was the last scheduled gig and somewhat up in the air when I got here. But (I think) after I spoke at the "Women's Day Celebration" at the church, they decided they wanted me to stay and give the message today.
In the first session I used 2 Corinthians 4 about being "clay pots" for Christ and allowing the shikinah glory of His presence to shine through us, broken pots that we might be, for His sake and for His glory.
In the second session, I felt the Lord tell me on THE TAXI RIDE TO THE CHURCH to be vulnerable, expose my "claypottness" so to speak, and share with these lovely women who I am (a broken clay pot!), what God alone has done and continues to do in my life, and what I hope He will continue to do with me in the future. I invited them to join me on the journey of being joined with Christ and ever increasingly conformed to His image.
It was overwhelmingly well-received and I was elated that God has used my willingness to be vulnerable to touch hearts. It's not easy to expose your garbge to others, and even more difficult to do it with strangers. But I did, and God honored it.
Afterward we went to lunch at a lovely restaurant right next door to the church and I was able to mingle and talk on a more casual basis. It was good for me; I can only hope and pray it was as good for them! They want me to come back and I want to--but without all the flights and connections... I was hoping they would all just come to Tulsa!
Well my good and faithful friends, my prayer warriors, my hand-holders, my Bible study ladies; I look forward to seeing all of you, hugging your necks and being in your presence. I mean it when I say I couldn't have done this without you.
May our good and gracious misunderstood and maligned God be glorified, and may His kingdom be advanced as each of us endeavor to do our part to fulfill His call on our lives.
I can't thank you enough for taking this journey with me and holding me up in prayer. May it be given back to you, "good measure, pressed down and shaken together..."