"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord..." Psalm 19:14

Friday, August 28, 2009

a choice was made

UGH! (That's my favorite interjection right now. :) Honest Holly-moment...I miss you all a lot (and that's an understatement!). The Puyallup School District contacted me and told me that I'm being recalled...and it just brought about a lot of feelings. I mean, I knew I'd be recalled eventually, and I knew I'd have to pass at least once or twice. But, I don't know. It's like, all of a sudden, I'm in Bangkok...and it feels more like a choice than before. I just chose this life over my old one. Just makes it harder.
(Karshner friends, I cannot believe it about Sarah -- wish I could have at least seen everyone's reaction to her return. Amazingly AWESOME!)

So first, let me tell you what I don't feel. I don't feel regret, or disappointment, or frustration. I don't feel like I made the wrong decision. In fact, God has been gracious in making very clear that I am supposed to be here right now. No doubt. I'm at peace with where I am and so delighting in all I have here in Thailand.

Yet at the same time, I am feeling deeply sad that I'm missing out on life with all of you, and I'm kind of afraid of what the future holds (I know, this I shouldn't feel). I want so badly to trust God in these next few years...but it is so hard. I always knew I was a planner, but I didn't realize a synonym for that is control freak. I have to know what's happening all the time.

So I will find rest in what I do know. I know that God will make clear my next step when the time comes. I know that God is in control (even when I think I am). I know that God's plans for my life are far better and greater than my own. I know that His love for me is unfathomable.

I am hoping, pleading that I can go back to Puyallup in the next couple years and, in a sense, continue what was started there. But, this too, He knows. And though my battle cry sometimes turns into a weak, hesitant whisper, I will still surrender...for He is worthy.

Jesus, my life is yours.

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard. That you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
-Psalm 62:11-12a

Monday, August 24, 2009

One month to the day!

Me and Karly with our matching Thai phrase books!

Yes, on July 24, 2009...exactly one month ago today...I stepped foot in Bangkok, Thailand for the very first time. In honor of this momentous anniversary, I am going to teach you all the Thai I know so far. Which...isn't much.

Okay, you ready?

Sawaddee Kha! (or Sawaddee Krup if you're a guy)....Hello!

Mai chai cohn Thai...I'm not Thai. Oh, you might not need that phrase.

Poot passat Thai mai dai...I don't speak Thai. Probably won't need that one either.

Kahp Kuhn Kha/Krup.....Thank you

Djeng ma!...That's cool! (My Thai friends taught me that one. :)

Aaaaand...that's about it. I know a few more, but really, pray for me, because this whole "learning Thai" thing is pretty stinkin' hard. (It's not essential to learn, but I'd sure like to know a little!) I hope to get a tutor sometime, which the school will reimburse us for -- awesome!!

Lastly, though, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you, for letting me share my thoughts and my heart and my story with you every step of the way. Thank you for reading (aka listening), sharing comments (helps me know you're there), and for praying too! It is a tremendous blessing to me and encourages my heart whenever I miss home.

And, this whole blogging thing, I love it so much I actually believe this is one reason why God sent me here!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I was moved...before I moved.

The truth is, I am a radical at heart, and there’s this thing in me that knows I am just waiting, waiting for…for what? For a leader to follow passionately and boldly? For someone to go first? I look at the church in Acts, and those who followed after You – and it cost them everything. And even if doesn’t cost me my life here – shouldn’t it cost me more than I’m giving? Is it that I’m unwilling? Is it that the time is not right? Is it that I am afraid? Jesus, I pray you show me. How do I give my all? How do I live this life radically for You?
- journal excerpt [January 10, 2009]

Sometimes, when I look back, I can fool myself into thinking that what I left just four weeks ago was exactly the life I wanted. But the truth is, even though there was so much to love back home, the core of me always knew: I was destined for different things. And I don't mean "bigger" things, because every place and every role has its significance in God's eyes. I really just mean different things.

God is fulfilling in me now desires, and passions, and joys that I've tried so long to satisfy...but all the while, He was simply moving me...before I even knew I was going anywhere.

Monday, August 17, 2009

answered prayer...and other less important tidbits

Got to visit The Well today, which is a ministry that reaches out to some of the sex workers in Bangkok. (If you didn't know, this is a huge problem in Thailand. Many women fall into it, because it's the last option for making decent money.) The Well helps these women create new work (like making greeting cards and jewelry), educates them, and shows them Jesus. I actually found their website before I even got the job officially at ICS. I was inspired by the work they do (check out the link above to see the site), and I knew I wanted to somehow be a part of it.

As I've been praying about where to serve, I got in contact with The Well and found out they actually have ways that I can help!! Many of the students would love to learn some musical instruments, so I'm going to go once a week and teach a little guitar. My friend, Kristi, also is going to come and teach piano at that time. We're not uber-talented in these areas, but it gives us an opportunity to build relationships with these special women. What a huge privilege and answer to prayer! So amazing that we can be answering their prayers (for needed help) and they could be answering our prayers (about where to help)...at the same time. I'm soooo excited! Please pray for wisdom as we try to connect with these ladies and show them God's love.


Anyway, onto the less important tidbits:


  • Had a great first week of school. It's so fun getting to know my students better. If I could only get all 61 names down...
  • I get to help at my first Friday Night Fellowship with middle-schoolers this week. Pray that I can build deep relationships with students, and for good conversations.
  • Yesterday, at church, we got to see several people baptized...from Thailand, the US, Camaroon, Vietnam, and China, I think. They shared their testimonies first (in many different languages!), which was a real blessing.
  • I enjoyed my first massage here in Thailand. One hour foot massage for 200 baht (or about $6). Lovely.
  • Last of all, I've been seeing some elephants around my home!


...Except, I haven't gotten a good picture of 'em yet! Just not quick enough with the camera. But hey, good thing to end on, yeah? :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tourist for a day


Yesterday was the Queen's birthday, aka Mother's Day, in Thailand...which, for us, mostly meant no school! So we went out and explored. From taxi, to skytrain, to river taxi, we ventured through some of the most touristy parts of Bangkok. This nifty boat, from a ritzy hotel nearby, even picked us up for free! Then we went inside the hotel...but didn't stay long, because we couldn't even afford dessert in this place! Check it out...



There are more pictures of it in the slideshow below. This was just the room for tea and such.

Once we reached our destination, Ko San Road, we ate some fabulous Indian food at Heidi's favorite place. Ko San Road is crazy-busy and overflowing with vendors and shops and restaurants and tourists. It was weird to be around so many tourists. I think I like it better in our part of town, where Thais are excited to see you...and not so annoyed. Speaking of annoyed, the bug-cart guy freaked out on me because I took a picture of his cart. (Actually, he just made a pouty-face and pulled at my camera cord, but still.) I felt really bad, and I wish now that I would have paid him (some bug-carts actually have signs that say "photo 10 baht"), or at least asked him first. Oops!


So count yourself lucky, I risked my well-being for these two pictures:






















Was a fun, and exhausting, day all in all, but we were all glad to come back and go to bed! Here are some more pictures of the day...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The "whoa's" of middle school



It's only been two days, so I can't really say what exactly teaching middle school at ICS is gonna be like. But, this I know thus far...

Whoa...I have so much less to plan!! Two subjects? I figure I plan the same amount in a week that I used to plan in one day.

Whoa...I have so much time to plan. Seventy minute planning periods? Sometimes more than one in a day? Can this be true?

Whoa...6th graders in Thailand are so much fun! They even laugh at my jokes still (I thought I'd only see eye-rolling, ha.)

Whoa...These kids really, actually, truly want to learn! One wrote on his get-to-know-you survey that he doesn't like it when teachers play around. (I hope I never fit in that category! :)

Whoa...And I get to share about Jesus? I'm supposed to take time to build relationships with students, and put up Bible verses on the walls, and pray for them, and talk about my faith?

It has honestly been a joy, being a part of this school here. I am so encouraged by the students' enthusiasm. They've loved everything I've thrown at them so far -- from the sound effects on my powerpoints to the signal words I introduced today (Karshner peeps, you know what I mean! They are eatin' up those GLAD strategies!). One teacher I know put it very well -- You can still be cheesy with 6th graders in Thailand. And it's true, they like that stuff! Plus, as we all know, I would be cheesy whether they liked it or not!

I've also been so impressed with ICS's commitment to ministry. They have small groups, and chapels, and worship nights, and retreats, and outreaches all for students. I'm hoping to be a part of Friday Night Fellowship for middle schoolers. I also volunteered to help with the 2nd graders during Good News Club every week. (Thought I might miss those lil guys.)

I'm still praying about how to use the rest of my time. (To be honest, I'm getting kinda antsy.) I really want to be involved in some sort of ministry here in Bangkok, but I don't know what that means yet. May I have eyes to see what God has for me in every moment.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

sharing life

This, my friends, is Chatuchak Market (JJ's for short :). We went shopping there today, and (though it's hard to tell from the picture) the place literally has everything -- from Thai silk and t-shirts, to fluffy dogs and chicken kabobs. It was super fun, and we all came home with something, or thingsssss, I should say. On the way, we rode the Skytrain, and afterwards, we ate lunch at a nearby park. Below are some more pictures taken throughout the day.


I had to go to the Immigration office yesterday, to extend my visa. Two of the office people, Charlie and Sujimon, took me. They pretty much took care of everything -- which was just fabulous -- and when we finished, Sujimon and I even got to stop for coffee. Sujimon grew up in Bangkok but can speak English quite well (even though she wouldn't say so!). She was so kind to me -- buying my coffee and grabbing my hand when we crossed the crazy-busy streets -- but the best part of all was hearing a bit of her story. She told me about the friend who first invited her to church...and how she was just amazed at the love these people had for the poor and needy, so she kept coming back. She told me how after she accepted Christ, so did her brother...and her mom...and her dad...and eight other family members too. And then, she told me about the people in her family who don't believe...and how she just needs to pray for them more.

We weren't at the coffee shop long, but our short conversaton was enough to encourage me...and humble me too. Man, I wish stories like that were more common. Maybe they would be, if we prayed for the lost with that kind of faith and urgency...or if we just shared our lives and stories more often with one another. We serve an amazing God -- may we never forget.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a pilgrimage


"Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts
on pilgrimage."

-Psalm 84:5


I think maybe I got homesick for the first time last night. It was like, I started to realize I am here to stay. (This is not bad, it's just...wow.) I hate that I don't know what's ahead, and I don't really know where home is anymore. I hate that I'm not in control. :)

May I remember that our lives are not about finding stability and belonging -- for those things are reserved for eternity. I'm trying to be two places at once, and I need to just let God have all of me. In perfect timing, I listened to a podcast of Calvary's service last weekend, and Pastor Ray encouraged us all to declare to Jesus, "I'm all in!" Like the guys playing poker. So that's my cry tonight. No matter where it takes me and no matter what happens to my own plans, I'm all in.

On a lighter note, I am WAY excited about teaching next week! The planning has seemed much easier in many ways, because I only have to focus on two subjects! We've been getting our rooms ready, and I got to meet the rest of the staff. My classes will range from 16-20 students each -- pretty awesome. And maybe you noticed the picture above, of my classroom door. It says "Miss Holly," because in Thailand, last names are so long teachers go by their first names.

I found a really great church last weekend. Please pray that I am able to discern how to use my free time well. Church involvement? Other ministries? Outreach? Relationships? Also, be praying for us as we prepare for our students. May our hearts and minds and classrooms be ready!


OH -- one more thing to note: I met a teacher this week from Puyallup!! Kristin's a PHS grad, and has often attended Calvary too. Encouraged my heart!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

overflow



I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.

-Jesus (John 10:10)

Sometimes it's good to pick a kinda long book of the Bible and read it all in one sitting. Of course, the trouble is finding the time to do that. I found the time (and then some)...on an airplane...headed for Thailand. I picked the book of John, because it is my favorite Gospel, and it sort of does read like a novel.

And I think there was some divine intervention involved too, because this running theme surfaced that I had never really noticed before. It wasn't anything new, but I think it was God's gentle whispers to my heart on a very eventful, very important day.

See, the book of John (I've now decided) is all about abundance. This is the book where Jesus says those famous words I quoted up there. He gives us life to the full. This is also the book where He tells us He's like water that forever takes away your thirst, and the bread of life that fully satisfies. Pretty cool. But, then, read on, because the stories in this Gospel also point to a God who is all about abundance.

Take the story of Jesus miraculously feeding 5,000+ people with five loaves and two fish. Amazing, right? I mean, even if they each got one tiny piece of bread, that would still be amazing. Yet, do you know what the Bible says? It says that Jesus gave them as much as they wanted...and there were leftovers. Again, this is a God who satifies in abundance.

I'll give you one more example (though there are more). Jesus sees his disciples, and they're struggling to catch just one fish on their boat. He tells them to throw down their nets, and -- as you can guess -- they catch some fish. But it's not like they catch 10 fish, or 20 fish, or even 50 fish. No, they caught so many fish, they couldn't even haul 'em in (153 in all). Our God is a God of abundance.

You'd think I'd be done, but the theme continues (can you believe it?). The best part of this book (I think) is Jesus' last moments with his disciples (ch. 13-17), his last moments before the cross. The Bible says that Jesus shows them the full extent of his love. He washes their feet. He prays for them. He comforts them. All right before He dies for them. Love...overflowing. Love...in abundance.

That part always gets to me. I read it often, but I never before noticed this phrase that Jesus keeps saying to his disciples during all of this. He says, "ask anything in my name, and I will do it." Four times in his final conversation, He tells them to ask and they will receive. Our God loves to give...freely and abundantly.

Two things came to my mind as this theme unfolded before me. First of all, I was deeply comforted, knowing that the God who put me on this plane and led me to a foreign land, is the God that gives and loves abundantly. His plans for my life are complete, fully satisfying, and overflowing with all of God's best.

Secondly, I wondered why we fail to ask. His love never runs dry, and He willingly gives to all who ask, so why do we fail to ask? Is it fear? Is it pride? Is it unbelief? Maybe it's because we're afraid of getting what we really want. Maybe it's because we know that this life of abundance is not about more stuff, or more self, or an easier road. It's so much greater those things. Are we receiving all that God has for us today? Or are we afraid to ask...limiting Him and the love He desires to lavish upon us?

I don't know what it all means, really. I don't even know where it's gonna take us. But I can't help but follow. So I'll keep asking, and seeking, and loving the God who loves us so abundantly, so extravagantly that He came and died on a cross that we might have life...and have it to the full.