We’ve been attending the Bangkok International Church (SDA) which is English-speaking and primarily Filipino. We ventured there twice on public transport plus a fair bit of walking. It seems a bit uncouth to arrive to church drenched in sweat, so we decided to take a GRAB taxi instead, and public transport home. GRAB is the Thai version of Uber. You can map your location and destination on the app so the driver knows details ahead of pick-up and it thus handily bridges the language barrier. (We can now say — left, right, straight ahead — but it takes a bit more than that to get where you want to go! ;-)
At church we connect with Brian Atwell and family, fellow missionaries that we’ve known for 5-6 years. Last Sabbath, Brian took us to a small island in/near southern Bangkok. It has the “Thai navel academy” and a lot of boggy marshes with elevated paths. We got to see some bats hanging in trees a couple hundred feet away (and later flying). The fruit bats we saw are BIG… like a 5-6 foot wing span. (the mosquitos that showed up at sundown were almost that big too! :-P)
This same location has the little fish that scoot around on the beach with their fins! Pretty amazing…we watched one dive into a little hole in the sand… very fun! And these guys are little -- 6-8” long.
Sunday we planned a “weekly” shopping trip to “Makro” (think Cash & Carry). We took the electric sky train and walked about 20 minutes. Shopping went okay and we walked out with three very heavy bags. Called for a GRAB taxi…after 20 minutes of ”no drivers available” we picked up our bags and walked, flagged a taxi to the sky train and walked home from there. Suffice it to say we learned some principles of City Survival 101 — 1) “bulk” a.k.a. “cheaper" is not always better. 2) more quantity/weight is more work 3) locations not well connected to the transport system devour time. Or said positively… shop frequently, buy less and stay close to home!
Because of a long (and wonderful) day on Sabbath and an “extended" shopping trip on Sunday, I had less study time than a regular school day and felt very unprepared for Monday morning. I waffled between desperation and despair, but even as hopeless thoughts pushed their way forward God helped me see the bigger picture — this was one day and one week in a 6-month journey, it was not the end of anything or the failure of everything. Then he gave me the grace to recognize these negative thoughts quickly, to reject the lies that feed despair and in their place put thanksgiving and promises. —
You’re not prepared — I am sooo thankful to be in Thailand.
You’re going to fail — God has promised: "I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
I’ll never be able to do this — I am thankful for all of Jim’s help and support.
You can’t learn Thai, you have Parkinsons! — God's promise is that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
(and sometimes it came as a knot in my gut) — I am so thankful for our apartment - it is better than I had hoped for or dreamed of.
Even Monday morning while chatting with others before class, brief waves of despair would rise up. But that morning the tide of despair subsided and I am left with an arsenal of tools when such trials come again (God’s promises and an attitude of gratitude.) One of my favorite Bible promises is 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Casting down imaginations [and lying thoughts] and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." I’ve learned my biggest battle is not with people and personalities, or authorities and leaders, or trials and circumstances; it is with what happens between my ears. To reject the wrong thoughts that lead to wrong feelings, to choose to be positive in a negative world, to discern the lies I tell myself from the truth as revealed in the life and love of Jesus Christ — This is my biggest battle, but it is not mine alone; “thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57.
The rest of the week has been good, a little more balance, more exercise (details another time). Thai no longer sounds like babble to our ears. We hear words and tones even when we don’t understand them. Thursday night while doing home work we heard a loud explosive sound and all the ACs in the building stopped. The lights dimmed, the fan slowed to a useless spinning and for the next hour the lights faded and flickered as they worked on repairs. I had wondered what a power outage would be like in Bangkok, now we know!