* Originally written 13 August 2016 *
On August 8th, ten of us boarded our flights at LAX, beginning the first leg of our journey to Chiang Rai, Thailand. The flight itself was relatively uneventful & we wiled away the hours with in-flight movies, books, praying, & doodling. The lucky ones even managed to get a bit of sleep in. Exhausted, we landed in Taipei after 14 hours in the air.
We then spent our 18 hour lay-over exploring the city, trying new food (pork buns were our favorite for SURE), getting boba at the shop where it originated, & mastering the Taipei metro system. Our next flight took us onward to Bangkok where we landed at 2:00 am & made our way to our AirBnb, & finally, to sleep.
These last few days have been entertaining as we explored this city prior to landing at our permanent location in Chiang Rai. It certainly hasn’t felt like a huge adjustment considering I’m now across the world from where I was before. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that it’s still pretty early, the metropolitan feel of Bangkok, or just being comfortable in Thailand in general, but whatever the cause, I have felt God’s grace in this period. It has been so enjoyable to spend time with these friends laughing, worshipping, & exploring.
Just this morning,* the five of us processed some of our impressions after the last four days. Buddhism is heavily engrained in Thailand and literally every aspect of Thai culture, from art to daily life. “To be Thai is to be Buddhist” the saying goes. Even in respect to Thai government– the king is thought to be an avatar of a god, the incarnation of Vishnu. Interestingly, the Thai people don’t view themselves as particularly religious, taking a dismissive attitude towards the idea of God. Yet Buddhism as practiced here is a sort of folk-Buddhism, where Buddha is “Lord Buddha” & appeasing the spirits is vital for a successful life.
As we left & as we continue our journey here, we are praying that God would reign here. That the Thai people would be able to find true peace & not live in fear. It seems like a stark task ahead but we know that God has not forgotten Thailand nor did He call us here for a fruitless labor. He can break into the darkness & bring healing to this nation.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57-58