Monday, October 29, 2007


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..."

Friday, October 26, 2007


I found out after the YWAM staff meeting yesterday that the reason I was asked to speak at the last minute was because the scheduled speaker had to cancel at the last minute. As I said, this was good news for me. Not only because I want to speak as many times as possible since that's why the Lord brought me here, but also because I didn't want my only interaction to be bringing a word or rebuke or warning. You know. Walk in, slap 'em, wipe your hands together and never be seen or heard from again. Part of it probably stems from the "people pleaser" in me. I didn't want anyone to be mad at me!
I must say, the feedback has been unbelievable. Sam, especially, has heard good reports and others came up to me yesterday and said how much they needed to hear that word for various particular reasons.
It's good of the Lord to allow me to see some of the fruit of my obedience. We don't always have that luxury, do we? It seems as though He has been extra present and gracious to me this whole trip. I never feel like I am adequately expressing my gratitude. My feeble efforts seem to fall far short of all that wells up within my heart. I am a woman of words, so when the words don't come easily or express my sentiments adequately, I feel like I'm failing somehow! I got the feeling the Lord was slightly amused because He reminded me as I was reading, "Practicing His Presence" that He knows my heart and the deep groanings of my spirit. Articulating those things, or trying to, only makes me feel better! And it's true. It does. Because I want to be sure to offer gratitude on the same scale as the blessings.'s a fairly short and easy walk from P & S's house to the base. Walk up the street, turn left, walk a few blocks, turn left again. Walk straight to the big orange building with the web address in giant letters across the front. As I walked I was lost in thought going over what I was going to say and then lost in prayer as I asked the Lord to speak through me and then...just... lost. I don't know how I did it! I retraced my steps to try and find my bearings but nothing looked familiar. But did I panic? NO!
I saw two motorcycle cops standing on the side of the road and dum-da-dum! I whipped out the handy-dandy business card Sam had given me earlier with directions to the base written in Thai. They read it, talked things over a minute, flagged down a passing motorcycle taxi, gave him the card, motioned for me to jump on the back (yikes!) and off we went. We turned around in the middle of the street, pressing between the cars and trucks, turned a couple of times and voila! He dropped me off at the front door ten minutes before the meeting started! The cost? 10 baht, or about 30 cents. That's what I mean. It's been like that the whole time.
Sam asked me to give roughly the same talk I gave at the Women's Day Celebration, which was Jordan's story, which becomes my story, which becomes God's story. Jordan's suffering, my suffering, but ultimately, God's suffering when Christ was separated from the Father through death creating a cataclysmic event within the eternal Godhead.
I think it loses some of its momentum when it has to be told sentence by translated sentence, but I just kept reminding myself it's not the person or the delivery that empowers things. It's the dunamus power of the Spirit of the Living God, and therefore, the results are up to Him. I love being off the hook!
I want to tell you a secret. Except that once I post it on this blog it won't be a secret anymore. It's a bit of a problem, but I feel compelled to share it despite the fact that it was for me. There have been about a dozen or so times in my life when the Lord spoke to me so clearly it may as well have been audible. Last night was one of those times. I was laying in bed trying to express my gratitude like I just explined to you and the Lord practically interrupted me and said, "This is just the beginning!"
This wasn't a new thought. My Wednesday night prayer group has been telling me that for months. The pastors and elders in our church confirmed it prophetically when they prayed for me the Sunday before I left. The teaching director at the Bible study I attend sensed it when we had lunch together a few weeks ago and I was telling her about this trip.
So I've had a real sense of excitement and expectation. But when the LORD spoke it to me so clearly last night I got scared! Really scared. Terrified.
I was suddenly feeling a lot less judgmental toward Moses whining about stuttering and trying to disqualify himself from the call of God on his life. I'm not a stutterer, which was what fueled Moses' sense of inadequacy, but I have other, more potent things fueling my own.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling of utter desperation. I feel completely and totally unable to do whatever it is He is leading me into. Which, I know, is exactly how I'm supposed to feel! But at the moment, that little bit of insight wasn't much comfort!
It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks to the contrary, I am intimately acquainted with the deep, dark recesses of my heart; my fears; my deep insecurities; the selfish ambitions I am trying to lay at the foot of the cross and the bankrupt, unfinished work of that cross in my life and heart.
But I don't want to be like Moses who argued with God to the point of really irritating Him by focusing on himself instead of the power of God, which was really the issue anyway. I want to be like Mary who, when she heard she was specially chosen to bear the Son of God said, "Behold the bond servant of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word."
I don't know who all is reading this, but the reason I am giving you a private glimpse into the privat places of my heart and all God is doing is to let you know He wants to do the same in you. Whatever your "This is just the beginning" is, God longs to fulfill His call in you life. He is no respecter of persons, remember? Maybe your call is more "behind the scenes" like intercession or hospitality or giving. Mybe you are supposed to support someone else, run your church VBS program, host a Bible study or fellowship group. It doesn't matter. Let's do it scared together! Let's abandon ourselves to the marvelous, extravagant, exciting, scary call of God on our lives! Then one day we can gather in heaven and compare notes to the eternal glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As my time here is winding down I find myself anxious for home and the comfort of all your familiar faces. Jay says the flights look pretty bad (remember, I am flying stand-by) so please pray for God's continued favor in bringing me home safely, with ordered steps and in business class!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Finally! That Jay guy is gone and I'm back! Just kidding, of course. We had a wonderful time together which I will tell you much more about, but oh, how I have missed you all! We had free computer access at the Internet cafe in our hotel, but I couldn't justify the time it would take to write everything I wanted to say when our time was so limited and we were supposed to be enjoying the much-delayed, much-anticipated celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. So pardon my absence, but I couldn't take you along. Three's a crowd--much less the lot of you--and all that. I know you understand...
The problem with not writing every day is that I can't remember all the details of everything I want to tell you! But I'll try. This was certainly a far cry from our honeymoon trip to the as yet undeveloped Branson area way back in 1982. So grab your favorite beverage and take a mental trip with me. I'm buying...
We left Bangkok Sunday evening and flew to Krabi (khrab-EE-- gutteral "h") Town where we took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel. We checked in and wandered around looking for a place where we could eat something we recognized. It gets dark early here, around 6:30, and everything springs to life about an hour beforehand. We found a fresh market where mystery food abounded but weren't adventurous enough to try anything. We kept walking the dimly lit, bustling streets and eventually came to a floating restaurant where we were seated by the water and the waitress/cook/busboy/cashier helped us order off the menu. Help being a relative term. I think she pointed out what she wanted to cook, but I had a delicious garlic crusted fried fish. With, you guessed it, white rice. The fish are served whole and the eyeballs are supposed to be a delicacy. Right. And some people climb Mt. Everest for the experience, but that doesn't mean everyone should, now does it? I passed. Out. Not really, but when I offered them to Jay but he passed to. I swear. Some people are just too unadventurous. You'd think, if you traveled half way around the globe you'd try everything!
The next morning we boarded the open-sided, exhaust spewing truck to the port where we were herded like cattle into (thank God) the air conditioned upper cabin of the ferry for the nearly two hour boat ride to Phi Phi (unfortunately pronounced "pee pee," so every time someone said it, I had to go). I felt a bit of claustrophobic panic welling up inside me as soon as I sat down. The sides of the metal seats poking into my plus sized American fanny didn't help matters any, but I got as comfortable as I could, squelched the panic and dozed most of the way. I woke to Jay nudging me saying, "Oh my gosh! We're here, look at this place!" I glanced out the window and saw huge jungle covered granite bumps rising straight out of the most incredible turquoise water I have ever seen. As we disembarked the ferry and walked up the concrete landing we felt as if we were walking into someone elses dream. We kept poking each other and hoping they wouldn't wake up and have to go to the bathroom...
We were bombarded by locals hawking places to stay which included everything from thatch covered huts right on the beach to resorts; they trailed behind us shouting and flipping plastic covered pictures in three ring binders as we walked past. Others offered long-tailed boat rides around the island and snorkeling trips. Jay kept saying, "My ow" which is supposed to mean "no want" in Thai, but with his Oklahoma accent all it did was make them laugh hysterically. There are no cars on the island but that didn't stop them from asking if we wanted a taxi. We declined, as most of the accommodations were within walking distance, but I can only assume the taxi was a bicycle as I never saw any other mode of land transportation. Not even a rickshaw.
Jay and I had made prior reservations at a place called, what else for Zollers?, "Cheap Charlies," and found it rather quickly having to stop just once for directions at a dive shop run, thankfully, by English speaking Australians. "Just around the corner to the left, mate. Right next to the 7-11. You caan't miss it. Goodday!"
And sure enough, there we were. Right smack dab in the middle of everything. Our second floor view was of one of the narrow brick streets teeming with the dark brown-skinned locals and tourists of every nationality and the shops along the opposite side offering more of the same. Rooms, day trips, Internet access, long-distance calling, souvenirs, beach clothing, etc. Our simple, small but adequate white-tiled room had both air conditioning (not necessary) and hot showers (necessary). There was lots of construction going on in anticipation of the high season which runs from November 1st to March 1st.
We dropped our bags and set off to explore the island. We'd heard the hike to the lookout point was a must, so we dutifully found the brick trail that led to the concrete steps. About ten million of them. Just before we got to the last of them we met a fellow coming down and Jay asked if we were almost there. "You're about half way!" Funny guy, I thought, but he wasn't kidding. A narrow concrete path picked up where the steps left off and we meandered with purpose through palm tress, a land mine of old, fallen coconuts and vegetation of all varieties up the steep incline to the top of the mountain. Barefoot. Or at least I was. I'd bought a pair of cheap rubber flip-flops that immediately began rubbing blisters in between my toes.
Believe it or not, there was a building--I thought it was a mirage--offering a restroom for 20 bahts, bottled water for 20 more, pop, light snacks and ice cream treats. I was so dehydrated I passed on the restroom but we bought some water and stood on a huge flat rock overlooking the breathtaking sight below. The island is shaped like a figure eight, the mountainous ovals are dense with jade green jungle forests and the narrow middle section (maybe 200 yards across) is crammed with hotels, shops and canvas covered vendors and white sandy beaches on both sides. The long-tailed boats lined the shore begging for customers and boats of every possible description were anchored in the crystal clear blue-green, bays.
The overcast skies looked positively bruised, which made for better viewing as they effectively eliminated the glare of the sun and allowed for distant viewing. It was unbelievable. Absolutely spectacular. One of the most stunning sights I've ever seen. I can't imagine heaven being more exquisite!
The proprietors of the place had a picture of the devastation caused by the tsunami posted on a tree. It was easy to see how the water washed over everything and caused so much damage, but remarkable that so much has been rebuilt so quickly. Especially when you consider their means of construction is much more primitive than what you see in the U.S.
The climb down was much easier and having worked up an appetite, we found an all you can eat dinner buffet and ate the stuff we recognized. The next morning we set out on a snorkeling trip. There were probably fifty people on board with us and I think we were the only Americans. There were lots of Israelis who had just finished their mandatory military service--men and women, a couple from Spain, some Germans and one very interesting couple from Canada that Jay and I talked with most time we were on the boat chugging to the four different snorkeling locations. They have practically been around the globe and regaled us with their many adventures.
At the first stop we took a kayak, paddled to the small shore, traipsed into the water where you could see a hundred feet to the bottom, and planted our faces into another world. It was incredible! But the second stop was the best. We swam over a huge coral bed and there were thousands of varieties of coral, fish and sea life. We saw giant clams with their fat deep blue lips that pulsed open and closed as we drifted overhead. There were sea urchins, sea cucumbers, star fish, sting rays, one four-foot black-tipped shark (harmless, or so they said), coral of every color and description and hundreds of things I can't describe and can't even name. But the fish! Oh, the endless variety of fish! There were some as little as your pinkie fingernail, some four feet long. Fat ones, square ones, thin ones, pencil-shaped ones, clear ones, speckled ones, multi-colored ones, ugly ones (but not to the other ugly ones, I'm sure), beautiful ones, neon-colored ones and some that looked like they were lit from within. I was overcome once more with the incredible, endless imagination and creativity of our great God. I thought of Jordan the whole time! He loved fish. He was saving his money to buy a huge aquarium and stuff it with all manner of exotic fish. He knew their varieties and species and used to drag me with him to "window shop" at the pet stores in town animatedly telling me what all he was going to buy. I asked the Lord to find him wherever he was in heaven and let him know I was swimming in GOD'S aquarium and enjoying sweet memories of him.
The last stop was "Monkey Beach" and, as promised, monkeys. They look cute, but they really are nasty, dirty, mischievous little creatures. We fed them pieces of pineapple and at one point they charged the crowd sending us scurrying back into the water. Jay, not willing to be intimidated by a twelve inch monkey, crouched down and offered another chunk of pineapple to one of the adults (an adult monkey, I mean). It came up and took the fruit from his hand then sat there staring at him as it ate. Naturally Jay had to e-mail our kids and tell them about being the "Monkey Whisperer." Yeah. He's funny like that...
Despite the overcast skies and our best precautions (Casper, I mean Jay, practically drinks sun screen--right kids?! They know!) we managed to return a marvelous shade of bright pink. A nice late October sunburn! A fading souvenir.
Jay finished "Velvet Elvis" (have I mentioned that book?!) while he was here and also read a book by the guy Phil Visher who invented "Veggie Tales" called, "Me, Myself and Bob." It's his great story of making and losing not only a fortune, but also his Veggie Tale creations and how it was the best thing that ever happened to him because of all God showed him about himself in the process. It's a great book. But the part Jay latched onto was this guy's insight into the relationship between Walt Disney (his inspiration) and his brother Roy, whom most people have probably never heard of. Walt was the visionary and Roy was the nuts and bolts guy. He was the one who decided if Walt's ideas were feasible and affordable and then, if they were, figured out a way to make them a reality. If Walt was the "front man," Roy was equally important in his behind-the-scenes role. Disney Land and Disney World would be nothing more than a man's grand dream if it hadn't been for Roy.
When Jay put the book down he said, "You're Walt. I'm Roy. You're the visionary, I'm the practical, calculating guy. If we work together, there's nothing God can't do through us." I nearly fainted. Can you believe it, Fran?!
Anyone who knows us, even casually, knows we have had a fairly rough 25 years. We spent more time pulling apart than working together; more time letting the irritants take center stage than each other's strengths. We've wasted a lot of time. But no more. We made a promise to pray together to seek God and let Him work though us as a COUPLE, united in vision and purpose and in service and devotion to His glory. We sealed it kiss.
Now I know we have to walk it out, that there will be tough times and relapses into old ways, but God has done a real, live miracle. One I have been praying for without really believing for a long, long time. A lot of you know that, and a lot of you have been praying with me and believing where I couldn't.
We thanked each other and thanked God for sticking it out. For hanging in there through the roughest of times, through our shared pain and loss, through everything. We shared the good things about each other, the strengths, how we needed each other, how I was glad I was his wife and that he was my husband and vise-versa.
We parted in the Bangkok airport and he began his four stop, 32 hour return to Tulsa and Pat and I drove back to the house where a nice bed with clean sheets awaited me. Sam called before we left Phi Phi and asked if I would share at the YWAM staff meeting today (Thursday) and I said, "Of course!" It seems the message about grumbling had its place and was well received, but I am very happy to be able to share the things of God I am most passionate about and am grateful for the unscheduled opportunity.
There is more, of course. There is always more! But that seems like a fitting place to end for today. I am sharing some of the deep and painful and private things of my heart with you in order to allow the Lord to give you hope wherever you need it; to give you faith that whatever it is you need and long for, He delight to do for you; to remind you He is the God of the impossible and nothing is too hard for Him!
I want to soak in the things of God until my fingers and toes get all wrinkled and pruny, and I want every single one of you to jump in the pool with me until we have seen all God has in mind to do!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Greetings once again and my apologies to all of you who e-mailed to tell me you read these blog entries in the evenings and didn't hear from me last night. Having Jay here is cramping my routine! But in a good way, of course. It's just that he thinks he needs to be on the computer too and by the time I was ready to write this morning (your evening) he was ready to go do what we had planned for the day.
So in an attempt to practice what I've been preaching and die to my flesh and serve, (OUCH!) I opted to go on with our plans and try and write this evening. Good thing too. We would have missed the events at the rose garden if we had waited any longer to leave. But let's start with yesterday....
My new buddy "Richard" picked us up at noon and took us to the Grand Palace. He was shocked to find a parking place in the crowded and inadequate parking lot a few blocks from where we were going, but I wasn't! He kept saying, "theese izz a goot day!" (That probably sounds more Mexican than Thai, but work with me) He stayed with us for the day and later dropped us off where we met P & S.
We walked past the street merchants with their wares laid out on thin blankets on the sidewalks hawking and chasing you down the sidewalk, relentless in their promises of a bargain; the food carts with the hibachis built into them and chicken and fish stuff I've never seen and all the smells wafting past your nose from every direction; the fruit of every color and flavor and description just begging you to taste it; the knock-off "designer" goods; the beggars; the street muscians with their open cases filled with the sparse coins of the compassionate; the dogs meandering in and out of the streets and the stores...
We finally reached our destination and the people at the gate checked our attire after we bought our tickets and decided whether or not we were dressed appropriately. We passed. For those who aren't, they have a place where you can leave your passport as collateral and don a wrap skirt or what have you. No bare shoulders or too short shorts allowed. That sort of thing. Sacred ground. Modesty rules. The web site said no toes showing so I brought socks to slip on but my fancy, sparkly two-for-fifteen-dollar flip-flops from J.C. Penney's must have impressed them because they waved me right in. Good thing too because it's HOT here. Humid. You want to bathe twice a day.
For 500 baht (roughly $15 bucks) a Thai guide who spoke English offered to give us a tour. We might aught to have had him recite a few sentences in English before we agreed because he was very difficult to understand. Though by the end of the two hour or so tour I was finally getting the hang of his heavy accent. Or he was speaking more clearly. Or I didn't care anymore. Or all of the above.
Anyway, from the brochure: "The Grand palace complex was established in 1782 and it houses not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218,000 meters and is surrounded by four walls 1,900 meters in length."
Now folks, I'm an American through and through. I am an American who was part of the colossal failed experiment way back when to convert the United States to the metric system. Which means I failed along with the rest of you, but by any reasonable standards, the place is HUGE.
It's an elaborate complex with three main sections. I won't even begin to try to describe everything to you. You'll just have to come yourself. I'm sure Pat and Sam won't mind! But I will say that everything: every building inside and out was stunning in the complexity and intricacy of artistic detail. There wasn't one square inch that wasn't covered in beautiful hand-painted Chinese porcelain, mosaics made from tiny pieces of colored glass and mirrors, hand- painted wall coverings that told history in much the same way as the Egyptians, but much more intricately, and gold leaf everywhere. I've never seen so much gold. There was so much of it, it didn't even look real. I've described these type things before as being gaudy, and that's probably as accurate as anything I could say. When I think of something being gaudy, it means to me it's overdone, it's extreme, it's too much. And it was on the one hand, yet on the other, it was overwhelmingly and utterly beautiful and mind-boggling and mesmerizing. It was sensory overload on every circuit. Like Wal-Mart at Christmas. Only different. Only worse and better and magical and crazy and foreign all at the same time!
It was like seeing the best National Geographic issues come to life right before your eyes. I never could quite fully comprehend that this wasn't a Disney Land attraction but was, in fact, over two centuries old! It just took on that sort of make-believe quality. I think it was because there was just so much of it.
Any one building or room or wall or ceiling would have been enough to look at for hours--that's how intricate the detail--yet it was building after building, room after room, wall after wall, ceiling after ceiling for acres. Like the magnificent work of 1000 Oriental Michaelangelos. It was breathtaking. There were huge statue interpretations of the evil spirits guarding the various entrances with their animalistic legs arched high and distorted faces; there were half-lions, half-roosters, half-monkeys that if I showed you a picture of, you'd recognize. We saw the elaborate costumes, the gallery of ancient weapons, the history, legends, mysticism and deep beliefs of these people and how it still influences and effects them today. And like a cultural Eveready bunny, it just kept going, and going and going...
We saw the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, carved from a huge block of jade and one of the most venerated sites in Thailand where the people make their way through the patchwork quilt of tourists to bow before it and pay respect to the lord Buddha and his teachings. It's enshrined on a traditional Thai styled throne made of gilded carved wood. It looks fairly small sitting way up there close to the high ceiling in a vast room and is, in fact, probably no more than two and a half feet high. It sits in the "lotus" (cross-legged) position and wears a gold costume coinciding with whichever of the three seasons Thailand is in at the moment: summer, rainy or winter. At the beginning of each season the costumes are changed in an elaborate ceremony presided over by His Majesty the King. It's a big deal. Our guide interrupted himself both when we entered and as we left to bow down in the ritual manner before the Buddha. Others were laying small flower wreaths around the base of the base (if that makes sense) and lighting incense. I couldn't help but be impressed with their sincerity but was equally distressed by the misguided works righteousness. That's what Buddhism is. Works. More works, better works, ritual works, hidden works, painful works. Part of what Jesus came to set us free from--part of helping us just BE in Him rather than thinking we had to work ourselves into something. It's like an entire country of Oriental Pharisees. The really good ones adhere to five laws that mirror the intent of the ten commandments and speak of sin. I just don't know what they do about it. The solution seems to be to keep trying. Be better. Live better. Recycle, so to speak, to a higher plane. Hope the next life is better. Hope you eventually reach nirvana.
Our guide kept telling us how The Great Buddha" had gone through all the (nine?) levels of reincarnation and achieved nirvana, or ultimate enlightenment, so didn't have to continue recycling. He kept explaining points about his religion and saying, "we not so different. You believe/say/ think/do (such and such) and so do we!" He seemed utterly convinced and positively gleeful about it. I didn't know where to start, how to even begin to bridge the chasm, so I just smiled.
I just finished reading, "Velvet Elvis" today. This sentence really doesn't have anything to do with that last one, or maybe it does, but do yourself a favor. If you only read one book this year, make it that one. Then call me and let's talk about it. If I came all the way to Thailand just to read this book it would have been well worth it. Really. Buy it. Read it. Let's talk.
After our tour "Richard" dropped us off at the tallest building in Bangkok where we went up to the top (82nd) floor and looked out over the city from the moving, circular observation deck. Again, it is impossible to describe. There were buildings of every size, shape and description for as far as the eye could see. They went all the way out to the curve of the horizon and disappeared into the haze. On all sides! This place makes Tulsa look like a blip on the screen. A microchip. I was raised a city girl, but I couldn't live here. There's too much of everything. It's very hard on my ADHD.
The buffet on the floor just beneath the observation deck was absolutely fabulous and I think I had everything but the rice! Really, they had everytaste sensation you could think of. We sat by a window and chatted and ate too much and watched the sun set and the night lights sparkle and the endless stream of traffic, like ants going wherever ants go, flow beneath us in a steady stream of synchronicity and movement. It looked like the spindly, wagging red and white tail of a living, breathing serpent. But there was no end to it.
Sam just called and they have had to admit Pat to the hospital! She got sick last night after dinner and is dehydrated so they want to keep her overnight. Please pray for her. One of the things they told me almost as soon as I got here was how fortunate they have bee in rarely getting sick. So of course, I feel guilty and responsible! Why do we do that to ourselves?! Like kids thinking their parent's divorce is their fault...
Anyway, please lift her before the Lord. I will write tomorrow about the rose garden tour Jay and I took today. It was nice, but there really isn't that much to tell.
One final thought, though it's not a quote, but one of the many ponderings of my heart is this: Is there any culture, ancient, recent past or present, that any of you know of, that doesn't have laughter or some form of music, dancing or spirituality? Or one who had access to gold that doesn't hold it to be extremely valuable? Just wondering. Because I can't think of one so I'm pretty convinced these things are universal. Interesting, isn't it?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Good morning! At least it's a good morning in Bangkok! I don't have much time to write as the taxi is due to arrive soon, but wanted to give a quick update.
I spoke at the YWAM staff meeting yesterday afternoon and gave a message warning against grumbling and complaining based on Numbers 11. It was not the message I wanted to give--I had a couple of others I put together before coming that would have been a lot more fun! But every time I prayed about it, the Lord was quite clear I was to give that one. Like my friend Vicki said, it was akin to pastors preaching about tithing. Not a message they like to give necessarily, but one that helps us walk in obedience to the things of God. I told them if it wasn't a message of correction for them, and I hoped it wasn't, to receive it as a word of warning. I am utterly convinced that we have a spiritual responsibility to constantly submit ourselves to the Lord for correction, for guidance in the necessary housecleaning and instruction in greater obedience. If not, we are in danger of squelching the Spirit and rendering our witness ineffective. It is crucial for all of us, of course, but perhaps all the more so for those who have given their lives to be on the mission field. What good does it do to give yourself to His service if there are attitudes which prevent us from being useful to him?
There was such a sweet spirit in the room and the worship was so effortless and sincere I kept questioning the Lord's leading as to the message. Sam introduced me, though I've got to tell him to quit referring to me as their "old" friend (!) and did the translating for me. When I was finished Sam concluded by encouraging everyone to receive the message and lay it before the Lord to see what the Lord intended for them to receive. I was surprised to get quite a bit of positive feedback afterward, so felt reassured that I had heard from the Lord and been obedient to His leading. That always feels good!
We ate dinner and went to the airport to meet Jay's flight. We were milling around near the concourse entrance waiting for him to walk through. P & S asked me what he looked like and I was rather stumped as to how to describe him! The most unlikely men were walking through the gate and they kept asking "is that him?" I assured them I would recognize him when I saw him. For some reason I glanced over at Sam who was looking behind my back so I turned my head and Jay was standing right behind me! I nearly jumped out of my skin! He'd come out of a different gate and seen us standing there looking for him. It was SO good to see him! I'm really glad he is here and am looking forward to our time together.
He'd been up since 4:00 Wednesday morning so we went to bed shortly after we got back to the house. P & S talked with their daughter Rachel who is in Iraq, and she seems to be doing well and getting settled into her new environment. I'm sure it was comforting for them to hear her voice.
Jay and I are going to go to the "Grand Palace" in just a bit then do some other sightseeing before meeting P & S and another couple on top of the tallest building in Bangkok where we will eat dinner and look out over this massive, sprawling city. We will leave for Phi Phi Island on Monday and will spend three days and two nights there enjoying the beach and snorkeling in the clear, sparkling water before Jay leaves for home.
There are Internet cafes everywhere here so I assume I will be able to maintain the blog writings while we are there.
I have heard reports from several of you about the high winds the other night and the folks who were injured at Octoberfest as well as the heartbreaking news regarding the ORU scandal. Thank you for keeping me updated about all that's going on.
That's about it for now. As always, I thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Just wanted you all to see a picture of Pat and Sam since they are the ones who arranged everything for me here and I have referred to them so many times. You can see that all these years of living in Thailand haven't diminished Pat's huge, beautiful blue eyes! Everyone keeps asking me if they look the same, and even though it's been thirty years, I have to say they do! It's been great to reconnect. The fellowship has been sweet and the years seem to have melted away. Too bad I can't post a picture of Sam's quirky sense of humor...
I will write again later if I can but I need to go over my talk a few times before I give it this afternoon.


Okay folks, here's the deal. I write, then you read and respond. Let's go over this again. I'll go slowly this time. I WRITE. YOU READ. YOU RESPOND. It's quite simple, really. I do most of the work and you let me know it's worth it. That probably sounds really pitiful, but the truth is there is no way to tell you how much I look forward to your e-mails and responses to the blog. It helps me to not feel so far away, keeps me connected to you and gives me something to look forward to. When I wake up in the mornings I'm like a kid jumping from one foot to the other in anticipation of Christmas morning! The first thing I do is pour a cup of coffee and gleefully and expectantly log onto the computer to see who has written or responded. So work with me, will you?
Today was a fabulous day! Every day is a gift, of course, but when I teach, when I stand in front of a group of women and the little Baptist preacher hidden deep inside my proper, reserved, Presbyterian heart is breathed to life, and the Spirit of God energizes me and speaks through me, it's the greatest feeling in the world. There's no way to describe it. It's like being in the "zone" when you run. When you run for a while, if you've been doing it for a long time, there comes a point when you quit thinking about the rhythm of your feet hitting the pavement and the sound of your breathing and you just ARE. You are transported to a different plane. If you don't know what I'm talking about picture yourself doing the thing you love most; operating fully in the gift God has given you. Whether it's hosting a dinner party and exercising the gift of hospitality or speaking a prophetic word of confirmation to someone, it's joyful and thrilling and effortless. When you are doing it you are energized rather than depleted. That's how you know it's your gift.
Such is the case for me when God allows me the awesome privilege of speaking and teaching. Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk! But when I can talk with a purpose, infused with the "dunamus" dynamite power of the living God, it's what gives me the deepest sense of satisfaction I have ever known. Though having kids comes close...
So anyway, I got to do that today! I told these 70 some-odd women they had been prayed over for months, that they were there by Divine appointment. That my prayer group had been praying for them every Wednesday night and that the women in my Bible study were praying for me and them also. It was so good to finally see their faces after such a long period of anticipation!
I got to share the Gospel and the love of our great and awesome God with women from all over the world who are in Thailand for one reason or another. The response afterward was more than I could have hoped for. I knew I was seeing months of prayer being answered right before my eyes. So thank you Denise, Victoria, Betsy, June, Vickie, Sandy, Robin, Jean, Jay, the Paulas, my CBS core group, Kristen, Tara, my fabulous children and ALL the rest of you!
I told them a bit of my testimony then shared Jordan's story and weaved the Gospel into it. I told them God was the Master Surgeon and Jesus gives us a new heart. I told them of my deep grief and suffering when Jordan died and acknowledged their own suffering even though I didn't know what it was specifically.
But then I told them what God had suffered when He ripped Himself apart and squeezed and squeezed and squeezed part of Himself into a single seed that was planted into the belly of a woman and brought to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. How this great and powerful and incomprehensible God of all creation had entered His creation; had become one of us. I explained how He lived as a man and died as a man, yet was God and was separated from Himself for the first and only time in all eternity past, present or future. How there was a cataclysmic change within the Godhead. I explained that death is nothing more than separation from God and when Jesus died part of God was separated from God. It's incomprehensible! Who can grasp it? It's circular and crazy and unbelievable and staggering, the lengths He went to. For us.
I told them the sky turned black, the earth quaked and the rocks split in two because creation itself was crying out for its Creator.
I told them how Jesus hung in agony from the cross and wailed, "My God, My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He was abandoned; separated. It was an entirely new and agonizing experience.
I told them that He who has suffered exponentially, who suffers still because every day people are going to a place He never intended for them, could meet them in their present suffering. Because we all suffer something in this fallen world, don't we?
Maybe it's not the loss of a child. Maybe it's the loss of a marriage or a dream or a job or a ministry or desire or WHATEVER! We've suffered, haven't we? We've lost something. We've been undone. But none of us more than our King and Creator. He has suffered the most, and because of that, He can meet us completely wherever we find ourselves.
The Scripture the Lord gave me the day after Jordan died, when I was crying and sobbing in disbelief and rocking methodically in my chair with snot running down my face, was 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 where it says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." That's a lot of comfort folks. God gave it to me when I needed it most, and He delights to give it to you where you need it most. So ask Him.
I pray He comforts each of you (and I know what many of you have suffered & are suffering!) with His awesome presence and unsurpassed healing and compassion.
I am supposed to speak at the YWAM staff meeting tomorrow afternoon. Will you all please pray that God will once again infuse my words with His power? I have given the other talk many times and with it comes a measure of confidence. Not so with what I feel the Lord wants me to say tomorrow and on the 29th. Your prayers are essential. I take great comfort in knowing so many of you are partnering with me in that regard. I pray for each of you as well as God faithfully brings you to mind. This is a joint effort!
Now I expect to see a few responses tomorrow! But even so, my heart is full, your prayers are felt and God is moving! To Him be the glory and the honor and the power forevermore.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

10-16-07 X 2

You greet one another here by putting your hands together near your chin as if in prayer and giving a single, gentle nod of the head. There. How many of you just tried it? And so I greeted my taxi driver, a native of Bangkok named "Richard" (Right. And I'm the queen of Siam), who picked me up at "Meester Sam's" house and drove me to the "Ancient City," which is not ancient at all. Rather, it is several acres of reproductions of buildings, temples, stupas, stone structures, sanctuaries and traditional houses that reflect the history of Thailand from all the regions in the country.
"Richard" explained that there are 50 districts and 74 provinces but I'm not sure if that is in Bangkok or all of Thailand. At any rate, as he drove me along the asphalt paths, stopping at the signs in front of the various sights, he explained in greater detail what I was seeing and shared some of the history of his country.
We saw a replica of the Grand Palace where the ashes of the kings are buried and which Jay and I will see the authentic version of when he is here. I don't know about the real thing yet, but the reproduction is gaudy and gorgeous--with its guilded key hole doorways, floor to ceiling murals and wall decorations in stunning, vivid detail, depicting events of governmental, military, religious and diplomatic nature and the traditional way of Thai life.
Which reminds me. The elephant is the national symbol of Thailand just as the bald eagle is ours. It was their tank in wartime, their backhoe in construction, their transportation through rugged terrain and their semis, loaded with men, tools, food and equipment taking them the places they needed to go.
Every white elephant born, presumably because of their rarity, automatically belongs to the king. He has a white elephant farm of sorts near his palace. Pat was telling me that one of the kings had sent one of these rare, valuable elephants to one of our presidents (Lincoln?) as a gesture of good will. Of course, the president didn't know quite what to do with it and that's where the expression of a "white-elephant gift" came from. Interesting, huh?
We entered the replica of the Wat Prom Min temple that's in Northern Thailand which houses a great, gilded, four-sided Buddha sitting on a raised platform. "Richard" explained that you always walk with your right side facing the Buddha, because to walk with the left side facing him it is bad luck. He also said that the need you bring before him dictates which side you go to in order to offer your prayers. For example, one side was for asking for children if you haven't been able to have a baby, another for financial prosperity, another for success with your exams and so on. There were incense, candles and fresh flowers laid at his feet.
Back outside we saw a giant sleeping Buddha, probably 100 feet long, laying on its side with his hands folded under his head and his eyes closed. If you pray to the sleeping Buddha, you are praying for peace for yourself and your family.
The steep roof lines, curved points and elongated spikes on the corners of the buildings so common in Oriental architecture are thought to keep the evil spirits away. Sam presumed the other day that they must have soft bottoms! I found it fascinating that even the architecture has been heavily influenced for centuries by their certain belief in evil spirits and mystical protection from harm.
As we were walking along I saw for the millionth time someone quite tenaciously picking their nose in public. It's not considered impolite or even gross here. But it's very strange for me to look over and see a beautiful girl or striking young man and the next thing you know they're digging for gold. Or anybody for that matter! Ewwww! I am struck anew that this is simply a cultural difference. But like the drip-dry squatty-potty, not one I plan on taking back home with me.
As we were leaving we came across another replica of a king's palace of roughly 800 years ago. The sign explained that the people lived happily in the vast kingdom and had a close, fatherly relationship with the king who treated them kindly. He was so kind that he had a bell hung outside the entrance to the court and the people could come and ring the bell and the king would do his best to meet their need.
Of course, I immediately thought of our King! We don't have to use a bell, we simply have to speak. It's called prayer. And sometimes we don't even have to do that because Scripture tells us, "He knows what we need before we ask." And He is kinder than any earthly king with resources beyond what any person, even Solomon, could amass, which He willingly offers us. Need wisdom? All you have to do is ask! Daily bread? No problem! Help with spiritual warfare? Done! The keys to the Kingdom? Laid at your feet.
I love it when the traditions and rituals of our own culture and others reflect the limitless aspects of God. Again, as I said before, there is evidence everywhere that, "The whole earth is full of His glory!" Truly every person is without excuse because God has used so many creative means to show us His Person and His heart.
My prayer is that He will show it to you in a new way today! 'Till tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Well, the taxi ride to see some of the tourist sights yesterday was cancelled due to technical difficulties. Chief among them is that I am an idiot. Or technologically challenged. Or both. The battery on the cell phone P & S have loaned me to use while I am here had died and after I charged it I couldn't get the darn thing to turn on. I kept pressing the green phone button, then the red phone button (just in case), the volume control on the side, the large button in the middle, the all the numbers trying to find the magic sequence. Nothing. I tried plugging it into the charger and pushing all the buttons again. I even prayed! Still, it mocked me with its silent uncoperativeness.
Finally I gave up and answered some e-mails then sat down to read a very interesting book titled, "Velvet Elvis." Sam was talking about it on the drive back to Bangkok Sunday and Pat found it in their crowded bookshelf (my favorite kind) and handed it to me. Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my brain, where no human being is allowed to go, it seems I heard this book is fairly controversial, though I haven't a clue why. Or else I just haven't gotten to the "controversial" parts yet. Or I am wrong about that too, which is always a glaring possibility. Anyway, it is a wonderful book, written in a conversational manner and full of fresh insights into this person called God and this journey called Christianity. I highly recommend it. And if you get to the controversial parts before I do, read them anyway and ask the God of all wisdom and truth to help you break out of concrete thinking and attempt to consider things you might not have considered before. Sometimes I think we Christians get "stuck" in our thinking and our theology and our traditions and doctrine. Sometimes it's good to be blasted out of our comfort zones and realize that God is endless and we will never uncover all the facets of His marvelous character and incomprehensible being. And that not everything we hold so tightly to be true might be. There are other pespectives worth considering.
All that insight was making me hungry so I walked up to the end of the block and bought two of the most tender and delicious pieces of chicken from a street vendor I have ever eaten. Actually, I bought one and was eating it on the way back to the house. It was SO good I turned around and bought another one! They were just 25 baht (baat) apiece, or about seventy-five cents, since there are roughly 33 bahts to a dollar.
My brain still operates in dollars so my first impulse when something is rung up on the cash register and it reads 275 is to panic! My heart starts fluttering and my palms get sweaty until I slowly calculate it in my decidedly unmathmatical brain and realize whatever I am buying is only slightly more than eight dollars. Still, it happens every time!
I picked up the paper when I got back to the house and read about a "long-tailed boat" and realized that what I had spent a paragraph describing in my last blog entry could have been summed up in three words. Ah, well. I will assume my detailed description was helpful and if I ever have occasion to write about "long-tailed boats" again you will know exactly what I am talking about! They also have the "Dear Abby" column which struck me as a bit of a giggle. I'm not quite sure why. They have Starbucks and McDonald's; KFC and the Michelin Man; signs in English and a million other American imports, but for some reason I wasn't expecting to find "Dear Abby." I guess everyone needs advice.
When P & S got home he wondered why I hadn't called him to tell him to send the taxi and I told them my tale of woe concerning the phone. Then, just like I knew would happen, Pat showed me the tiny, microscopic button no human eye could see on the top of the phone, slid it less than a millimeter and voila, phone service was mine. Geeze.
So today, phone in hand, I'm off to explore. Always with a fresh supply of toilet paper stuffed into my fanny pack. For some reason that has proven to be a nonessential item in the public restrooms which are interesting in and of themselves. Some places have signs that boast a "Western toilet" (who knew such a distinction was necessary?) the rest have a squatty-potty. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say the description pretty much says it all. But you have to remember these people are raised sitting on their haunches so it's probably not quite the adventure for them that it is for me....
Later today I am going to go to the base. Sam said there is some work I can do there which is a huge relief to me. When I am not teaching I feel rather self-indulgent and worthless so it will be good to feel like I am being helpful.
I teach tomorrow and Thursday and Jay arrives about 9:00 pm Thursday evening. I will try to write again later today if possible, or will be back at my post tomorrow morning!
As always, I thank you for your prayers and interest. And I leave you with a final thought to meditate on and drive you deeper in your life of dependence on Christ our Savior: "Three times in the Word of God we find a divine prescription for true prosperity. Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; James 1:25. The three-fold witness to the secret of true prosperity and unmingled blessing is devout meditation and reflection on the Scriptures, which are at once a book of law, a river of life and a mirror of self---filled to convey the will of God, the life of God and the transforming power of God. That believer makes a fatal mistake who, for any cause, neglects the prayerful study of the Word of God. To read God's holy book, by it search one's self, and to turn it into prayer and so into holy living, is one of the great secrets of growth in grace and godliness."


I keep forgetting to ask all of you to please pray for Pat and Sam's only daughter and middle child, Rachel, who is leaving today (Monday) for a 15 month tour of duty in Iraq. Her orders are for Bagdad. I know they would all apprecitate knowing countless prayer warriors are holding her before the Lord. I join with you in praying for her safety while she is there, her ability to do the job she is called to do and her safe return home. Thank you so much.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Hey there! Have you all missed me? Good, because I have missed you too! I will try to catch you up on things and paint a picture of everything I've been seeing and doing since I was last able to write.
We picked Pat up early Friday afternoon from the school where she teaches and set out for the roughly three hour drive, some of it in blinding rain, to Kanchanaburi (can-CHAN-au-ber-EE) on the River Kwai. This is the very river made famous in the movie, "Bridge Over the River Kwai."
The trick was to get out of Bangkok before the traffic got too bad, which is a relative term since the traffic is always horrendous! Despite the fact that there are police everywhere, there are no posted speed limits and so no speeding tickets are ever issued. It seems strange until you realize there isn't isn't much chance to speed in all the congestion, though everyone seems to make a valiant effort.
It's indescribable! Imagine the BA or 169 at rush hour, only with three times as many cars, people honking incessantly, and motorcycles and mopeds, some with families of four on them (two adults, a child sitting in front of the driver and a woman holding a baby) driving in between the speeding, tailgating cars. Most ignore the lane stripes and are constantly change lanes, merging into your lane even if you are still in it! They only need a couple of inches in order to think there is room to move in. Pat says you have to "drive defensively" here, but there is a real sense of taking your life in your hands the instant you get into a car. Though I must say, P and S are both excellent drivers. I can't wait until Jay gets here. He won't ever be able to criticize my driving again!
As we were going along I noticed a disproportionate number of people wearing yellow and I was told that it's the color of the king commemorating the day of the week he was born. On Mondays particularly, about 80% or more of the people wear yellow to work. We talked again about what will happen once their beloved king dies and Sam made the comment that if we were having the same conversation in a Starbucks here we would probably be quickly surrounded by policemen. To even openly discuss the eventuality of him dying is, to their minds, wishing it so, or could effect it coming to pass sooner than it would happen otherwise.
There are 65 million people this country that is two thirds the size of Texas! 94% would say they are Buddhist, some 5% are Muslim and the remaining 1% claim Christ. It is a never-ending mass of humanity.
In another blog I said to imagine everything along the highway from Owasso to Jenks being built up, but it would be more accurate to imagine the entire turnpike from Tulsa to OKC and beyond being one steady, endless stream of buildings, shops, car dealerships, street vendors, clinics and every manner of enterprise without a single break in the scenery. It's hard to fathom even as I'm driving past it all!
It gets dark here about 6:30, which has been very hard for me to get used to having come from daylight savings time and much later sunsets. It always seems later than it actually is. Anyway, it was dark when we arrived. We checked out a couple of places to stay right on the river and settled on one Sam found on the Internet called, coincidentally, "Sam's Raft Rentals" or something close to that and checked in. When I say on the water, I mean, literally, on the water. The small building of ten rooms, five on the water side, five on the land side, were built on concrete pilings in the river and were accessible by crossing a short grated metal bridge that linked it with one of several wooden decks of various heights.
The walls in the rooms were made of heavy rattan mats, the floors wooden, the roof corrugated metal. There was a narrow wooden railed walkway that wrapped all the way around the building. We got two rooms next to each other on the water side and when we were checking in Sam joked that they were probably wondering why he needed separate rooms for his two wives. I thought he was kidding, but apparently it is quite common here. It's a sign of affluence that indicates you have the means to take care of more than one family. As if one isn't enough trouble!
We dropped our bags in our rooms and walked over to a nearby restaurant. I left the ordering up to them and they decided on a delicious coconut soup, a shrimp and coconut dish, some sort of fried fish brought whole to the table and always, the ubiquitous rice. It was all quite delicious.
Our bellies full, we walked back to the rooms and Pat soundly beat us at cards, then turned in for the night. Though I am decidedly a Ritz girl, I opted to leave the air conditioner off in my simple but adequate twelve dollar a night room and relish the tranquility and quiet of the river. As I lay in bed I thanked God with all the gratitude I could muster for allowing me to enjoy such wonderful new experiences.
The next morning I sat in a chair on the walkway just outside my room, the river just a foot away, and had my prayer time. The water was very brown from all the run off from the rains, the current noticeable, with boats and floating covered platforms you could rent for a party being tugged along by long slim boats with huge semi engines on the back. P and S said the river was high, and though it looked narrow to me, it was still plenty wide enough for the various boats to easily navigate.
Breakfast was "Western style" eggs, toast and coffee which we ate on a large wooden deck above our rooms overlooking the river. To the right were mist covered mountains carpeted in lush greenery and overhead the ever present billowing white cumulus and indigo rain-filled storm clouds. A large lizard some five feet long swam lazily past us, occasionally poking its head out and flicking its long, rope like tongue.
After breakfast we drove to the railroad bridge and walked across it then back again. We strolled through a large cemetery where so many young Australian, Dutch and other prisoners of war were laid to rest after they succumbed to the harsh conditions of the disease riddled labor camps and the back-breaking work of building the supply railway that ran from the eastern coast of Thailand to Burma in the west. I was deeply moved as we walked among the grave markers and I read the names of young men, most in their twenties and early thirties who died and were buried so far from their homelands. The inscriptions were brief but riveting. They were tributes from their families commemorating their bravery, how much they are loved and missed and promises of never being forgotten. My favorite one read, "To have, to love, and then to part, is the greatest trial of the human heart." It was a somber reminder of the sanctity of life, the permanence of death and the brutality of war.
From there we walked across the street to "The War Bridge Museum" and read about the history of the war and the bridge. I found it all fascinating. We met the Australian man who was responsible for the existence of the museum and he told us to drive up the road a bit to a place where the railroad ran through the limestone mountains and we could try to imagine the passage being cut and dug out mostly by hand by malnourished men.
Next to it was a "Monkey School" which a sign proudly told us was "the only one in town!" I thought it was just a quirky name for some sort of school. Turns out it's where they train these small, fawn colored monkeys to climb coconut trees and pick the coconuts. Who knew? It takes about three months for "the smart ones and a little longer for the not so smart ones." So next time you buy a coconut at Reasor's you have a monkey to thank!
Sam stopped at a street vendor and bought some fried bananas. He asked the price and surprised at the cost, told the old woman that they were cheaper in Bangkok. She started flapping her arms and yelling and squawking in Thai telling him he could go buy them there if they were so much cheaper! It was very funny but as we were walking away, overpriced fried bananas in hand, they explained that such an outburst was rare indeed because Thai (and all Oriental) people are very conscious of the idea of "saving face." It is very unusual for anyone to do anything that would be even remotely construed as embarrassing or shaming to another person.
After we'd seen the sights we went for a foot massage. It was very rewarding after walking all day. I moaned and groaned in appreciation and the woman kept asking P and S if I was enjoying it or she was hurting me! Trust me, I was enjoying it. I would have gladly paid her five dollars more to keep it up for another hour!
The girl massaging Pat said I had a beautiful nose! Pat said I'd probably never heard that before, but actually, Jay used to tell me all the time how cute he thinks my nose is. Not the thing most folks would think to comment on, but hey, I'll take what I can get!
I found it hilarious when P and S were telling me the Thais think all Westerners look the same! I mean, how often have you heard it said about Orientals? They have very different but equally descriptive ways of describing a person to another Thai. For example, they will say, "She has two eye lids," meaning their ;ower lid isn't hidden under their upper lid. They value and go to great lengths to protect their whiteness of their skin to much the same extent we go to great lenghts to get a beautiful tan. You would never see them sunbathing on the beaches the way we do. They will describe someone as being "black" who is just darker skinned than they are. I found it interesting that different cultures think different things are beautiful but have in common that we all aspire to some measure of it!
That night we ate at a floating restaurant and again I let P and S order a smorgasbord of delicacies new to my taste buds.
Sunday morning I sat outside on the walk in front of my room and watched as the rain pelted the water just two feet away. It was invigorating!
After breakfast we took a short ride up the river and back in one of the long, thin boats with the giant engines. They are somewhat hard to describe as they aren't like anything you would be familiar with. They are brightly colored, probably some 30 feet long, and at the widest point just big enough for two people who are well acquainted to sit together though you generally sit single file. The front comes up to a long graceful point. You are sitting right on the water under a cloth canopy. Coming off the back of the engine is a long pole with a small propeller on the end which is used for steering.
From there we drove about an hour up into the mountains to visit a young couple who have been through the YWAM DTS (discipleship training school) and have returned to his native village to plant churches, nurture the few believers that are there and set up other ministry opportunities. They fed us a delicious lunch we ate under the metal roof of a building they are constructing to house visiting YWAM teams just behind their rather primitive but adequate house. As if on cue, it started raining just after we sat down to eat and stopped the moment we got up to leave! The view down the mountain was spectacular! There was sugar cane on one side of the narrow property and tapioca on the right. Or so I was told. It looked like marijuana to me! Or at least like the pictures I've seen...
I was really impressed with the many visions for service this young man has. He is raising sheep and goats to help finance the call of God on his life. If any of you are so inclined, you would do much to advance the Kingdom of God in Thailand by planting a monetary seed in this young couple's ministry. After a short time of prayer we loaded ourselves back into the car and began the long drive back to Bangkok.
It's Monday morning here and while you are soundly sleeping, I am getting ready to shower and take a taxi ride into the city for some sightseeing. More tomorrow. Thank you again for your prayers, your comments and your interest in all God is doing. It is a thrill to be here and to have the opportunity to allow the Lord to use the gifts He has given me to teach and encouage others in their realtionships with Him.
I leave you with a final thought from George Muller: "The most intimate knowledge of God is possible on one condition--that we search His holy Scriptures prayerfully and habitually, and translate what is found there into obedience."

Thursday, October 11, 2007


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."
'Till tomorrow.