SHARING WITH YOU THINGS I HAVE BEEN THROUGH… since we got to this land where the Lord has been leading us to. Journey with me…
I’m Home. We landed 12:05 am Thailand time of September 12. Thailand is an hour delayed Philippine time. It was an amazing sight. Bangkok looked sooo huge from up above! I cannot forget the feeling of excitement as we were ready to land. I was worshiping, I was loving God. I was praying for Thailand. When we finally touched the runway, I remember closing my eyes and whispered, “I’m home”. No, I don’t love the Philippines less. Every drop of blood in me is still Purely Pinoy. But to be called by God to minister in this country and to wait for 9 years for us to get here made us love this great nation as well. When I say “I am home”, I meant that in my spirit, I know this is where God’s “cloud” is leading us for now. This is where I will stay.. for now.
Our house. Sometimes I feel guilty living in such a lovely house. Our teammates picked this one for us, and I personally think it is too big for our small family. But then again, I was considering the thought of housing some people in sometime– like we always do! Family from back home visiting, short term missionaries maybe, missionary friends wanting to rest from the field and yes! of course… young people. Young peoooopppleee!!! they would be so welcome.
Shopping. For a promdi (from the province)like me, I was overwhelmed at the big malls. If I lived in Manila, I would not be surprised at the variety of goods to choose from when shopping. Here are some things I have observed:
>> When shopping, you can take the trolleys down to the parking lot and leave them on the parking space.
>>They use so many plastic bags! Like a plastic bag per at least two or three items! di nagtitipid?
>> It’s my first time to see cookies sold per kilo. haha!
>> Oh, yeah. I cannot help but notice how crisp and “freshlooking” their bills are. Wow! Then I remember that I was told, we are not supposed to crumple them because it has the face of the person they respect the most. Opps… I neeeedd to be careful!
>> I was shocked when I bought a fish, they asked me if I wanted them to “clean” it. You know, get the internal organs and everything. I readily said “yes”! But I was even more shocked when they asked me if I wanted them to cook it for me. Here? in the mall? Cook the fish? For free!!! It just blew me away. No, it was too kind of them. I said I will do it myself..
So trusting! I cannot help but notice some shoes outside houses. Like no one steals them? I know Thais leave their shoes outside but is there a safer place to put them to? Nike shoes, expensive and not so expensive ones alike all outside the church. Whooa! So trusting of them!
Taga Presensya ko! I really fell in love with Thai worship. Like Cebuano songs, I believe nothing can touch our hearts more than worship in our own tongue. I loved seeing Thais worship with passion. It did not bother me that I cannot sing along, not this time. I know one day I will lead worship in Thai! But for the moment, I can enjoy His presence. I don’t have to know the words to worship. Taga Presensya ko! I live in the presence of God. No matter what the language, I know my way to the presence as His Spirit guides me. I just had a funny experience in our first Sunday service in Thailand. I was enjoying God’s presence when they started to sing this song. “Hey, that song sounds so familiar,” I thought. I began to think what the English version is. I am sure I knew the song. But I was thinking, No, they cannot be singing that! But I was sure, they were singing “Oh, holy night”– yes! the Christmas song! I was arguing in my mind why on earth they were singing that… in church! But why not? There is nothing in the lyrics that says “Christmas” I reviewed the lyrics in my mind as I sang along. As long as the heart is right, nothing can go wrong. Go, girl… just worship! haha!
Nationalism. I cannot help but notice Thailand flags displayed on people’s houses, stores, even in beach cottages. I asked someone if they were required to put them there. I was told they were not. It was their choice. I was wowed at their nationalism.
I felt guilty to be holidaying in the first week we were there. I think it is too early to be resting! But if it is a treat from someone, why not? We were taken by P’Lorrie, our director to Pattaya, a beach tourist destination. We were with the church full time staff. What a way to start missions! We really had a great time, especially the kids. It was a good jump start for them. At least, missions would not be something traumatic for them, like being away from loved ones and cousins. On being an Mk (missionary kid)– Ria says she doesn’t like it. She loves it!
One funny thing that happened on our way home though, was on the ferry boat from the island were so many foreigners. I was shocked to see a couple sitting before our bench- they were actually sooooooo public about their affection. I began to be uncomfortable because I had the kids with me. Good thing both of them wanted to sleep. I was relieved. I was shocked to see the couple sitting next to us. Two men who were equally handsome and manly, one’s head lovingly on another’s masculine shoulders. waaah!!! Joey hates it when I stare. I cannot help it! it’s my first time to see such a pair!
Loneliness creeping in.. After Pattaya, we visited the university that we were “targetting”.. it is a big university with students who, shockingly do not and cannot speak English. Then a sense of helplessness and loneliness began creeping in by this time. The work is enormous, so huge.. but here we are, like babies who cannot even communicate. Ria told me one time she wanted to go home and be with her cousins. I cried. How in the world would I let her understand everything? I begged God to let Him in His grace somehow “explain” it to Ria– I myself, by the time she said it, was lonely.
Before we went to Chiangmai, we went to the mall to get some food to eat on the train. I was wearing my heeled shoes after church and we were so in a hurry to get home and do some packing. I was walking and walking around (the single motor we took took us to the wrong mall, one I was not familiar with) and I just could not find the bakery section. I began to ask around. To my dismay, nobody understands bread. Some just ignored me. Me and my temper…I really lost it there. I just cried when I saw Joey. My feet were sore, I just had enough. It’s not funny anymore. I just broke down.
On the train, I just opened the laptop and began looking at some pictures. Old pictures like the PCGAMI summit at Nasuli, Pillars pictures of different events, the pictures at the airport of us happily waving goodbye to our family. Honeymoon was over. I was not smiling anymore. In fact in the train, I was sobbing quietly. I miss home. I miss Pillars. I miss knowing what to do. Now I just felt like I don’t know anything at all! I felt helpless. I knew God was with us when He sent us, but the question is, where do we begin? with whom? where, God?
World Outreach Consultation.
I am so proud of World Outreach. During the entire course of the consultation, I realized how blessed we are to be a part of this family. They are so open to new ideas and ministry styles. I have seen World Outreach’s many “faces and facets” in so many parts of the world. They have welcomed us warmly as well. To be a part of the worship team was a great honor too. Being newbies in the group, they gave us this chance to minister. It was funny though, how we did it. Being a multi-cultural group, some sang in Thai while I sang English.
The wonderful sessions in the evening were refreshing. But the last day was for me, a day to remember. Max Chismon came to lay hands on Joey and me. He began to pray probably one of the most gentle and yet powerful prayers ever uttered in my hearing. He said, “God, let Joey and Raya cast all their burdens at your feet,… including their past successes and triumphs. Let them give it up to you now… at your throne”– the first part of Bro. Max’ prayer I totally understand. For those who know me and my mala-telenovela past, I completely understand laying aside burdens and problems, past hurts andfailures at the feet of Jesus. But on my successes, I think I need to understand more. I realized that I cannot move on with the ministry here because I kept looking back at my previous successes– very wonderful youth ministry back home, raising up leaders I am so proud of . God, in His gentleness just spoke to my heart… He wants it. He wants Pillars, He wants my pride, He wants the positive things that happened in my life as well. He wants to do a new thing but He cannot do it unless I let go of things– no matter how precious they may be. I need to stop comparing my ministry back home with the ministry here. I need to be gracious to myself that at this point, I still cannot speak Thai. I just heard God’s Spirit saying “Child, it’s alright“. I just sensed Him loving me– me! not the things I can do for Him.