a new level of nomadic
It has been 6 months since my last post and in the time we’ve moved around so much I feel like we’ve reached a whole new level of “nomadic!” We honestly have not stopped moving, and there is no end in sight!!! Since I last wrote, we spent one last month in Trang. It was quite the challenge since the other need-greaters were all away, and I’m very proud of Aaron for getting through it! Some weeks Aaron was the only elder here so he had a lot of responsibility caring for all the talks on the meeting. Most weeks he spent about 30-40 hours just working on talks. I was caring for up to 9 bible studies also which was a lot for me to prepare for, but also a wonderful blessing. We had a lot of fun, grew stronger, and learned ALOT more Thai! But now we are glad the summer is over haha!!!! I made this video to show everyone what a week in our life is like here in Thailand!!!
Unfortunately our time in Thailand was cut a little shorter then expected because Aaron’s father passed away. Most of you know he was sick for a very long time, and was often in and out of the hospital. He went to the hospital for observation and most weren’t concerned, but when we got a phone call from Aaron’s mom just after lunch (our time) we knew right away something bad was happening. It turns out there was internal bleeding and his heart just stopped. We bought the first plane tickets we could home, but we couldn’t have done it without all the help and support from our congregation. Within minutes of us telling them the friends showed up at our house. We packed up as quickly as we could, and a couple in the congregation drove us 5 hours to Phuket international airport. Because we wouldn’t be back home for 2 months (this all happened 1 week shy of our already scheduled trip home) friends in the hall helped clean the house, finish our laundry, and even finish washing our dishes. We literally just got ourselves ready for the airport and the congregation took care of everything else. When I asked other friends if they could pick us up from JFK Monday at 1, the response was “yes we will be there! 1 AM or 1PM??” We are so touched by everyones love and care for us during this time. We were surrounded by so many true friends “born for a time of distress” and we will never forget everyones kindness!!
After our visit home, we were off again to Asia! First stop was the Philippines to meet up with our family who attended the international convention. While we were there a friend reached out to us inviting us to attend their SKE graduation in Indonesia!!! We felt a little crazy adding this to our schedule, but we thought this might be a once in a life time experience and we went for it!!! It did NOT disappoint!! One of my favourite talks was about Jacob and how he wrestled for a blessing. The brother said we will have to wrestle in our assignments, we may even get a limp as Jacob did. But be sure there is always be a blessing. We are here learning a new language- the limp is that we might just be bad at it, or always have an accent no matter how hard we try!!! But the blessing?? We get to tell people about Jehovah, maybe even for the first time ever! Our families too have limps and blessings. Their limp? We are far away. They miss us. But their blessing? they get to have all these amazing experiences through us, and they have Jehovahs favour by supporting us. Like Jacob, are we willing to wrestle too??
Another talk we loved focused on Mark. When he left his assignment of assisting Paul, he felt that he had a valid reason. But it wasn’t given in the Bible so maybe we don’t judge or compare. Shortly after, Paul fell sick and probably wished he had his assistant there to help him. No wonder he was upset. But like Mark, sometimes we have to make decisions others don’t understand. But despite others not understanding, Mark kept doing the right thing anyway. Then when Barnabas wanted to bring Mark along again, we all know Paul was against it. Imagine how Mark felt then? Maybe he was embarrassed that two mature brothers were arguing over him? Then he had to work alongside with Timothy who was his replacement when he left. But there were no hard feelings. They all worked together. Even when Paul was in prison, he specifically requested Mark because he was a great comfort. Mark was never an apostle, he was never a prophet. He had to make hard choices and despite misunderstandings, he remained “useful for ministering.” Thats what defined him. We cannot control our circumstances, and we cannot control what other people think of us. But if we stay useful, Jehovah will bless us like Mark.
After the SKE graduation and a special tour of the branch in Jakarta, we were off again back to Thailand. We were very nervous about re-entering the country because due to cost we chose to fly out of Krabi instead of Bangkok. NOW we know, that was a big BIG mistake!!!! In Thailand different airports are controlled by different military groups. Some are tourist friendly, and some are not. Now we know Krabi is NOT!!! I can’t write exactly what happened here, but please feel free to reach out to me personally and I will be happy to tell you the story! Basically we were initially denied entry into the country even though we have a valid visa, and only by an accident (but we know was totally Jehovah’s help!!!!) we were able to be let through immigration. That was one of the scariest moments of our life but we now feel like “real” need-greaters having been through that and experienced Jehovah’s hand in our defense.
We were even more grateful to Jehovah’s help when we returned home and found out we would have 4 publishers from our congregation get baptised the following weekend!!! Even more then that Aaron was asked to be the brother to baptize them!!! Such an unexpected privilege!!!! 3 of the 4 are from a family of 7 who stared studying in January. They came from a christian background, but they were so unhappy with the local church because the felt very prejudiced against because they are poor. A few years back, a couple preached to them at their home, but they didn’t think anything of it at the time. fast forward to January, and they stumbled across one of our videos on Facebook of all places! They knew at that moment they had found the truth. They went on the website, found the nearest kingdomhgall, and showed up at the meeting the following Sunday!! The family consists of grandma, her three daughters, one of which is married and has 2 sons. The father was apparently very abusive and they had a very bad home life. Now, he is one of the kindest, happiest, most loving brothers!
Over the summer they really wanted to come to the regional convention, but because it is so far the travel and rooming costs are very difficult for everyone to afford. They had saved up a long time to be able to come, but because of the rain they just couldn’t save enough. They had just enough to get there, but no money left for food. They sat down as a family to decide what to do, and they all agreed that they would come all three days of the convention and just not eat. Even the two young boys were on board with this plan. Also, the last time they left their house it was robbed, every single item was taken inside. I think it is amazing that as a father, he didn’t decide to let his family go ahead and he would stay behind to protect the house. It was so important to him to be there also, and he trusted Jehovah enough that it would all be ok. And of course, Jehovah took good care of them. Friends in the congregation later found out that the family wasn’t going to have any food at the convention, and they wanted to help, but they themselves didn’t quite have enough. (conventions are so hard on everyone here!!!!) Aaron and I were on the last month of our trip to Thailand before returning to work, so most of our funds had run out too. But of course we knew we had to help. Little did we know my mom had shared this experience with my grandparents and some other friends in America and they wanted to help. They were able to send us money, which ended up being the exact dollar amount we had spend on the food for everyone at the convention!!!!!! With that we were able to feed 15 people 4 dinners and 3 lunches, so everyone had enough food!! It was a good witness too that brothers who didn’t even know them wanted to help them be part of the convention. It was living proof of the love Jehovah’s people show each other!!!!
The other sister who was baptised has been studying for many years, and despite family opposition has progressed very well. A big challenge for her was that because all the best schools in Thailand are christian schools, her 8 year old daughter would have to switch schools. Her daughter is extremely shy, and she cried and cried and cried because it was so scary to go to a new school with so many new kids she didn’t know. Her mom was very worried about her but knew it was the right thing to do. After only a few weeks in the school she made friends and is now doing great.
The week after the assembly we had our English assembly in Bangkok, which was then followed by our circuit over seer visit. We thought we were just about to settle down into a routine when we got a surprise e-mail from the branch!! Our Bethel in Bangkok is about to begin a two year renovation project, and we were invited to come help for 3 months starting February 1!!! We don’t have a lot of information about it at the moment, but if we can accept it we will need to go to Laos to apply for a new “volunteer visa” that is sponsored by the branch. We also will need to buy all new clothing because we don’t have any jeans or high vis or steel-toed shoes!!! Finding any of that in our tall sizes in Asia will be another miracle from Jehovah!!! Our biggest issue right now though is there may be a possibility we need to provide our own housing in which case I’m not sure if we can afford that on top of our rent and bills in Trang. So we will wait to find out more details. This also probably will change when we are able to come back to America, since we are unsure of the terms of our new visa. May the nomadic life continue!!!
As far as our congregation in Trang is concerned, everyone is doing well. Aaron and I both have 3 bible students each, two of which have been coming to meetings. Our Coordinator and his wife were reassigned to a new congregation, and the coordinator and his wife from that congregation have been assigned here! So we are anxious to get to know this new couple. All I know is that they are special pioneers also. The husband is Thai and used to be a monk before becoming a Witness, and his wife is a Japanese sister who moved here as a need greater. We have one month left here before (possibly) heading off to Bethel! So we will try to squeeze in every last minute of service, time with friends, and enjoying the beach and natural beauty Trang has to offer before heading off to a gross smog polluted city! We are looking forward to keeping you all up to date as our future adventures unfold!!!!!