I am writing from Chiang Mai at the moment. As the saga of registering my truck will *finally* come to an end today (or so I’ve been assured), I am taking the time I have to focus on our future in Thailand. Last week, our family took a much needed vacation to Hua Hin, a city south of Bangkok along the western gulf of Thailand. We spent the week seeing sites, swimming and, basically, decompressing from our first year in Thailand.
Our trip to Hua Hin allowed us to disconnect from the stresses, both distant and near, that we’ve faced since being here. This was an amazing time for us, necessary in fact. Thanks to some friend’s sage advice to get away on a regular basis, we’ve decided to set regular times to do this so that we will have lasting staying power.
We’ve endured a lot this past year. Here’s a short list to name just a few of our challenges:
- Truck engine burning out, getting engine replaced, overheating again, multiple trips back and forth to Chiang Mai to get it registered in our name
- Skin infections (staph) due to a different level of humidity than our bodies are accustomed
- The occasional infestation of worms accompanied by the bodily fluids they evacuate from us
- Financial arrangements for my previous retirement plan made increasingly difficult due to our residence in Thailand (this took 4 months to complete the process)
- Learning to navigate the Thai Visa extension process
- Culture Shock compounded by a longing for home and the familiar
- The joy and anxiety accompanied by the news that Shannon was pregnant followed by grief when our baby miscarried
The list goes on, but you get the idea: it’s been hard. During the miscarriage, the question of whether we would return to the States became front and center. Our longing for things familiar was never stronger than at that moment. Thankfully, our trip to Hua Hin was quickly arranged and brought us the relief from all things dramatic…. at least for the time we were there.
The interesting thing is that we didn’t really do a lot while we were there. No Bible studies, intense prayer, counseling… We simply enjoyed ourselves and played with the kids. But somehow, we came back stronger. We had decided to stay in Thailand before we went on vacation. Our time in Hua Hin helped to solidify that decision. As we waited for our time to return to the work we’re here to do, we found ourselves strengthened. There’s something to said for waiting within the context of faithfulness. It calls to mind the writings of the Jewish Prophet, Isaiah:
But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.
That last image of walking without becoming tired is what we’re grabbing hold of. We want this journey to endure.
As Shannon and I conferred about the past year, we were able to set goals for what we want in this new season. The farm has been the main focus up to now. Moving forward, I will continue to manage and research for the farm (check out the Charis Teaching Farm blog and facebook page), but also take a health education role with The Charis Project. Shannon will continue to volunteer at the Charis Marketplace ( the shop where the farm sells its produce and Charis sells secondhand items with proceeds supporting the community engagement fund), begin hanging out in our friend’s village again exchanging English/Burmese with the younger children there, continue to be available to the community engagement arm of The Charis Project to address various needs that arise there, and pursue her own dream of writing by creating content for our own site, the Charis Project’s blog and other websites. We will redouble our efforts at language acquisition and hope to find a new house to rent that will allow us to be closer to the work that we do.
We look forward to sharing our journey during this year with you all. If you would like to be a part of bringing theGoodLife to the people we serve, please visit our Support page. We are always looking for new partners.