Thailand
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Strange New Creatures

Strange New Creatures

I am convinced that I no matter how long I live in Thailand, I will continue to run into strange new creatures that I have never seen before.  The other day when I was bringing groceries into the kitchen, I saw on the floor what looked like a scorpion.  However, on closer inspection, it didn't have the telling scorpion-tale but rather a long needle tail.  I got down on the floor to take some pictures, hoping it was not too dangerous.  Eventually I scooped it up in a dustpan and threw it out the front door, not wanting to upset nature lovers who were saddened by my blog about killing the snake that got into our house.  Today, I learned from a fellow missionary that my scorpion wanna-be is actually a vinegar bug.  It has a better sounding name in Spanish, but my friend could not recall what the name was.  Apparently, the long needle on the rear of the bug shoots out a smelly vinegar type spray when the bug is upset or scared.  Fortunately, getting scooped into the dustbin was not disturbing enough to get shot with vinegar.

 

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Foreign Husbands Pay Off For Thai?

When I was in Thailand (1999-2002), I encountered numerous foreign guys looking for Thai wives or Thai women dreaming of finding foreign husbands. Granted that some of these Thai/foreign couples have wonderful and happy marriages, it was my observation that the majority of these marriage fell far short of what a marriage could and should be. First of all, the foreign guy usally speaks little to no Thai and the Thai women has little to no English. How can you know that you want to marry someone if you can hardly talk with them on a deep level? The answer is that you have low expectations for what you want out of marriage. As you can see from the article below (from "The Nation", one of Bangkok's English language newspapers), many Thai women see foreign husbands as an opportunity for financial security, greater social status. And the foreign guys are often seeking out a beautiful submissive Asian woman to cook, clean, and take care of their other "physical needs" (if you know what I mean).

On the plus side, foreign guys have a greater reputation for marital fidelity and not abusing their wives to their wives than do Thai men. This is a generalization, I know. I have known many Thai men who by all outward appearances love their wives very much, been faithful, and treatly them wonderfully. However, many Thai women have had the exact opposite experience and seek out foreign husbands in hopes of avoiding the abuse and heartache of their previous relationship(s).

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Thailand Coup

It looks as if the coup in Thailand is going to be a bloodless overthrow of an unpopular prime minister. I went to pick up some Thai food tonight from our favorite little Thai place down the street and asked the folks there what they thought about all that's going on in Bangkok. There consensus was that it is good for Prime Minister Taksin to be out of power. I don't know enough of Thai politics to give a definitive opinion about whether this is a good thing for the nation or not but I do know that despite his repeated electoral victories, he was quickly becoming a heavy handed, and thus unpopular figure in the country. As a related side note, when I was in Thailand in July 2004, I was told that Taksin's unofficial policy to deal with the illegal drug problem was this: Hire off duty policemen to covertly assasinate drug dealers.In any case, Sun and I are hoping and praying that things will settle down in Thailand and return to relative normalcy (and democracy as well), and that God will use this coup to speak to Thai hearts about the lack of peace and security in this world, and drive them to seek the peace that only Christ can give. And since there

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Learn About Thailand

I was on the MTW Thailand site and found that they had a really good page with lots of info and photos about Thailand that you may find interesting if you want to learn more about the country and people that we are going to.   MTW Thailand Info page link: http://www.mtwthailand.org/thailand.html
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Demonic Happenings at the New Airport

Demonic Happenings at the New Airport

This Monday, Dec 4th, we'll be flying to Thailand and arriving at the newly constructed Bangkok airport, which opened in September 2006. The construction of it was plagued by a series of accidents and the Thai authorities decided to bring in a bunch of Buddhist monks to chant over it for good luck. The following excerpt from the Bangkok Post (Sept 24, 2006) tells of the bizarre event that happened during the chanting ceremony and gives some insight into the spiritual realities that shape the lives of Thai people.

 

“Last Saturday there was a large ceremony held at the new BangkokInternationalAirport which is due to open this week. Ninety-nine Buddhist Monks chanted on masse to improve the luck ofthe new airport. Half way through the rite, a man appeared quivering and began to speak in a commanding voice claiming to be the guardian spirit of the airport land. He ordered that a proper spirit house be built at the airport to allow for its smooth operation. The man, who was unidentified, later passed out and woke up to find the spirit had left him” (Bangkok Post article, 24th September, 2006)

 

The spirit world is very real to Thai people. Please pray that they would understand the true nature of the principalities and powers of this dark world and would come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Our New Home

Our New Home
Here are some pictures from our new home and environsThe street where we are living

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Lopburi Sunflower Fields

Lopburi Sunflower Fields
Last weekend we had a chance to go see the sunflowers fields in a nearby town that are quite well known in this region and extremely popular for photo taking. Joshua was a bit fussy but we had a good time taking photos and spending time together.

A Small Country Church

The past two Sunday, we have visited a small country church in the next province over from where we are living and going to langauge school. We drove with Ulrich, a fellow OMF missionary, and his family we found ourselves bumping and jostling over severe potholes as we made our way further away from the city and into the countryside. Brillant green rice paddies lined either side of the road way and small wooden houses on stilts and little mom and pop shops were visible every so often. We pulled the truck into the dirt yard in front of a concrete store-front type building where two side of the building opened up completely like garage doors. A handful of blue plastic chairs were lined up in about four or five short rows and we were greeted by a few of the believers who had already gathered. Like many church in Thailand, both urban and rural, the church was very small, with only about ten people or so in attendance, not counting Ulrich, his family, and the three of us. All of these dear saints are fairly recent believers, the one who has been the Christian the longest has only been a Christian for maybe five years or so. Some of the other have only believed a few months. Interestingly enough though, the youngest adult member of the congregation is about forty! In God's providence, He has chosen to call to himself a handful of elderly women who make up about half of this congregation of ten or so. The miracle of salvation is so obvious in the lives of these women since there is very little human reason why someone who has been a Buddhist for over sixty years would decide to make such a drastic break with a society at large which equates national and ethnic identity with Buddhist. The Thai say, "To be Thai is to be Buddhist."

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Christmas in Thailand 2006

There's a classic song that says "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" but almost nothing here in Thailand signals the coming of Christmas. A few stores have tinsel and santa hats but there is no snow, no commercial push for gift buying, no Christmas carols playing at the mall, no Christmas vacation for school kids, and no day off on December 25th. Any why should it look like Christmas is coming in a nation where over ninety percent of the population is Buddhist?With this said, there is a significant amount of curiousity about Christmas since it is, popularly, a Western cultural holiday that shows up in a lot of movies and English language learning materials that make into Thailand. Of course, movies mostly show the side of Christmas that has to do with Santa, Christmas trees, and gifts but here in Thailand, many Thai churches and missionaries seize upon people's curiousity about Christmas to share about the true meaning of Christmas. Schools and colleges are open to having Christians come and do Christmas activies (in Thai and English) as part of the school's English curriculum. Many churches (which there aren't too many of, to begin with) do special Christmas outreaches and evangelist meetings to present the true meaning of Christmas to those people brought to church by their friends.

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Bangkok Bombings

Last night in Bangkok, on New Year's Eve, there were a number of bomb blasts in Bangkok, killing three and injury several others. We are in the city of Lopburi, a couple hours north of the city, and so we were well away from what might be called the "danger zone". Funnily enough, we didn't find out what happened until my Mom called us on Skype this morning and told us the news. I had been out to the market already this morning and hadn't seen or heard anything out of the ordinary but then again we live quite a distance away from Bangkok and it is not so easy to accidentally overhear things in a second language.I went back out around noon to pick up some noodles for lunch and decided to get a Thai newspaper to read about what happened in Thai before I got online to check it out in English. Sitting in our living room with the newspaper and my Thai-English dictionary, I learned several new Thai words and phrases, like "die on the spot", "critical injured", and "sniff out evidence". Language learning aside, it appears that several small bombs went off at eight locations throughout the city, bringing New Year's festivities to an anti-climactic halt as people who had gathered for "Times Square" type celebrations headed home well before midnight as a safety precaution.

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Another Coup?

Sun and I went down to Bangkok last week to shop for some baby items that we couldn't get up country and everything seemed "business as usual" in the capital but as I have been reading the Thai newspapers recently, there is talk about internal dissention in the current interim administration and maybe more bombings or another coop. Please be in prayer with us for the Thai nation and people. Below is a brief update from the our mission's field director here in Thailand.

"OMF Thailand is presently monitoring the unrest in Thailand. These struggles are political, and not against foreigners, or religious based. There are rumors of another coup, and the army has stepped up it's presence in Bangkok and other major cities across the nation. OMFer's are staying away from large group gatherings, and government/military offices and bases. Please pray for God's daily protection and also for His peace. Even though most Western countries are advising their citizens not to travel to Thailand at this time, OMF leadership believes that it is still safe to come and to be here."

Work Permit

Finally got my work permit after a number of months of waiting. Now I am official authorized by the Thai government to work as a "missionary" and to "propagate the Christian religion among those interested, to instruct [church] members in the fundamentals of religion, and to teach the Bible." Well, I better get to work. I wouldn't want to violate my work permit, would I?

The French Are Coming!

The French Are Coming!

The city of Lopburi recently celebrated their annual Narai festival, in honor of King Narai who reigned over Thailand from his palace here in Lopburi about 400 years ago. Part of the story of King Narai includes ambassadors from France who came to visit the king and initiate diplomatic relations between Thailand and France. Later on, the ambassors, together with some Jesuit priests, all got knocked off because some higher up folks in the royal entourage were afraid that the priests were getting to close to converting the king to Catholicism. So, for the Narai festival parade, the organizers needed some white guys to be the French ambassadors. I thought it would be fun, so I volunteered. It was, kind of, but I felt somewhat ridiculous in my ambassador's costume, especially the wig. Even more ridiculous than the guy with the cone on his head in the picture below.

 

I was a serious French ambassador marching in the hot sun. I look silly enough being a white guy in Thailand, so why not put on some funny looking clothes to top it off?

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First Family Vacation

First Family Vacation
Sun & I are finally enjoying our first real vacation since our honeymoon almost two years ago. With the pregnancy and Joshua's birth, there was never really a good time to get away, not to mention all of the busyness involved with preparing to leave for Thailand. Joshua is at a good age now where we can start to do a few things with him and we all, especially me, need a break. OMF has nice holiday home on the beach in Southern Thailand that is available for missionaries.We've enjoyed sometime to sit back and relax, read, go for a swim, walk on the beach, and play with Joshua. Sun's had some time to do cross stitch and I am working on some books that I've been meaning to get to for a while. I am slowly working my way through Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray but I got sidetracked by a book of sermons by J. Gresham Machen that I found in the library here at the OMF holiday home. There is also a book on Calvin's life here but I don't know if I'll get to it before we leave in a few days.

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Idol Madness

We recently took a field trip to Southern Thailand to check out a potential ministry opportunity in Nakorn Sri Thammarat province and, among other things, we observed how much the people there are into a particular amulet called Jat-Tu-Kham-Rama-Thep. In fact, the amulet comes from Nakon Sri Thammarat and is so immensely popular right now that people come from all over the country to buy up these amulets and resell them at a 30-60 fold profit. Jat-tu-kham, unlike a lot of other amulets, is not a Buddha image but is an image of an ancient king of Nakon Sri Thammarat who has been elevated to divine, or angelic, status. Every place in Nakon is selling these things - restaurants, beauty shops, malls, convenience stores - everyplace. It's idol madness, really.Something really notable about the Jat-tu-kham, besides the fact that it is so immensely popular with Thai people, is the probable reason why it is so popular. I recently read an article in a Thai national newspaper's weekly magazine that said the Jat-tu-kham amulets are popular because what the amulet promises corresponds to Thai people's current needs - i.e. the desire to have money and get rich! The economy is down and people want something to help them make money (or get rich, perhaps). Listen to some of the names of the different editions (or models) of the amulet that

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Hot, Hot, Hot

When even the Thai themselves are complaining about how hot it is, then you know that it is hot. This is a particularly hot "hot season", and we are oh so glad that we have some A/C in our home. Our bedroom has A/C and baby's room has A/C and we will often turn it on around bedtime for a few hours to make sleeping a bit more bearable. Air conditioning in Thailand is fairly expensive to run, especially in comparision to the cost of living so we don't use it that much but it sure does feel good when we do.It is simply easier to get work done when you are cool. Going here and there in the heat is quite draining and I've heard from others what I myself have been saying for a week now: I'm exhausted. And I think the heat is the culprit. Motivation lags too when you feel like you are sitting in a sauna. Before I leave the house in the morning, I can already feel the sweat rolling down my back. Not a promising start to the day. But this is the place that God has called us to and we just do the best to put up with the heat and whatever else. Yesterday I was reading Ephesians 5:20, which says "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." That is a tall order and difficult to implement when I am feeling miserable because of the oppressive heat and sunshine that makes me feel exhausted. How shall I give thanks for something I find bothersome? Thank you God for reminding me of my human fraility and weakness compared to the power of the forces of nature which you have created and which reflect your power and greatness.

How Hot Is It?

In my last entry about the heat here, I neglected to mention exactly how hot it has been in degrees. Lest anyone think we are exagerrating or just wimping out, at one point it hit a high of 113 F (45 C) but there were many days when it was somewhere around 110 F (43 C). They do it in celesius here so initially it took some backwards conversion to figure out how hot it was in numbers that we can feel the emotional weight of. Praise God that it has started to rain more this past week and with that some cooler temperatures. It is still in the 80s and 90s with lots of humidity but it sure feels better than 110.

Transexual Students Get Own Restroom at Thai School

The number of trans-sexual guys in Thailand is enormous as the news video below illustrates. On the one hand, you could say that they are "accepted" in Thai society in the sense that there are no legal barriers to work, educational opportunities, housing etc. but all the straight guys ridicule them as girly men and they get about zero respect. However, when you look at the irresponsible womanizing, drinking, and gambling of many Thai men, I can understand why some boys either consciously or unconsciously end up taking after their mom, auntie, grandmother or whatever other kind, caring, hard-working woman raised them.

 

 

More Political Upheaval in Bangkok

It seems like big news always happens when I am out of the country. Tsunami. Coup. And now this. It remains to be seen how big this will become but large scale protests that threaten to shut down a part of Bangkok's infrastructure seem big enough to me. I am including below the link to the article in the New York Times. This news doesn't change our plans to go back to Thailand, however. We are currently wrapping up our time in the States and will depart for Thailand on September 30th.International / Asia Pacific Thai Leaders Face Challenge in Streets and Courts By SETH MYDANS and THOMAS FULLER Published: September 3, 2008 Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej called on the military to stop a battle between supporters and opponents.

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Thailand Ministry Photos

Enjoy this slideshow of photos from our life and ministry in Thailand. We will wrap up our time in the States this month and fly back to Thailand on Sept. 30th. To those of you who are praying for us and for the Thai people - Thank you.