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.
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).
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.
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."
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?
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.