Let me just say, Qatar is AH-MAZING! Aaron and I avoided it for awhile concerned that It might not be the safest layover spot, but after doing more research we realized it’s totally ok. Thankfully on this trip back to Thailand, the cheapest flight also […]
So my cousin Brandon came to visit!! We were super excited for him to come visit, not only because he was bringing a few last things we needed for our house (house tour coming soon!) but also because we miss our friends and family SO much! Having him plopped on our couch just like old times finally made nongbua lamphu feel like home!!!! His visit wasn’t only encouraging to us, but also to our whole group. Being in an isolated group, we spend a lot of time with the SAME people doing the SAME things. When visitors come, they bring fresh ideas, jokes, and games, and it’s appreciated by everyone!
We had so much fun touring Brandon around our crazy little town, but also introducing him to our new friends! After a week in our town and our crazy meeting I wrote about in our last post, the three of us were off to Bangkok for the English circuit assembly!
Why is this so special? I’m not sure if many branches do this or not, but in Thailand they hold all the assembly and school programs in Thai, Japanese, and English. Because this country has SO many need greaters, they do this to help encourage us and keep us going. So most of the need greaters in the country fly into Bangkok to attend. This one also happened to be our annual pioneer meeting the day before as well. The programs were AMAZING and it was incredible being with an auditorium full of need greaters serving all around the country!!! We had 399 attend the pioneer meeting, and 908 attend the circuit assembly. It was really cool and almost shocking for me to see how many families with children were at the assembly! I met so many sisters at the pioneer meeting not even realizing they were moms until I met their family the next day. I found it so encouraging to see whole families being able to serve where the need is greater, many of them long term! We were also able to meet older ones who have been serving in Thailand 50+ years! Definitely an encouraging crowd, and really reminded us we are not in this struggle alone!
Here are some of our favorite points from the program:
Matthew 6:32 reminds us Jehovah knows what we need. It’s so important for need greaters to remember this scripture because Jehovah can anticipate our individual needs. He knows our dietary restrictions and whether we can handle a “Thai toilet” in our home or not. He knows what we really need to be comfortable in our assignment!
Mark 1:35 reminds us that Jesus got up early in the morning to pray, while it was still dark. At that time of year, the sun rose at 5:30AM. but since it was still dark, he may have gotten up around 4:30-5 AM. But it’s not like he went to bed early the night before… if you look back at verse 32, it was after evening had fallen that he STARTED curing many people. At that time of year the sun set at 7:30. So Jesus probably didn’t go to bed until very late at night. We may be very busy, but Jesus was busy too. Are we making the time to work on our relationship with Jehovah like he did? If not, maybe we need to wake up at 4:30 to do it!
On reasonableness- when Paul wrote “let your reasonableness become known to all men” to the Philippian congregation, he was under house arrest. He must have missed all his adventures and missionary tours very much, but he wasn’t sitting around planning missionary tours 4,5&6. Instead he readjusted his goals and was reasonable. He found a new way to be encouraging- writing letters. The brother then asked, as a need greater, do you feel handcuffed by learning a new language? Do you feel some of your talents are being wasted while struggling in Thailand? Maybe readjust your thinking- be reasonable and try to encourage in a new way. Set for yourself realistic goals. Then you will see progress and you will be happier. More joy and satisfaction comes from reasonableness serving where ever you are.
On keeping up a spiritual routine while learning a new language- one brother was interviewed who struggled to maintain personal study when he first moved to Thailand. He felt such pressure to learn the language that all his time went into that. He tried to include language study into family worship to combine them, but it always just ended up being a language lesson. Him and his wife really struggled to maintain their joy. Now that many years later they are beginning to learn a new tribal language, they learned the importance of always being sure to complete personal study before language study. This means sacrificing learning the language fast, but they know maintaining spirituality is more important. We should never take our freedom for study for granted.
Decisively reject wrong thoughts, including negative thinking! When negetive thoughts linger, they become more powerful. They come form the mind, but can control the body. Decisively rejecting them removes their power. Feed on the mind of Jehovah instead, and make personal study a priority.
The organization is made of imperfect people, we will be disappointed at one time or another. One sister was interviewed who was so hurt and upset by the actions of others that it cause her to loose her joy and struggle to go to meetings. Then she read an article that reminded her “a person who does not enjoy his service to Jehovah gives evidence that he lacks appreciation for Jehovah” She felt her loss of joy was disloyalty to Jehovah. She then changed her view of challenges to “surprises from Jehovah” and we know that whatever Jehovah gives us will always be good!
Recently we took a few days off to head over to Chiang Mai. On the top of our list of things to do was visit the elephant sanctuary!! Many elephant tourism companies in Thailand are very harmful and cruel to the elephants. Riding them with a strapped on “chair” is especially harmful and causes long term damage which shortens their lifespan. Asian elephants are endangered and should be protected, not exploited for tourism.
The elephant jungle sanctuary cares for rescued elephants in a humane way. They do not allow riding of any kind, but instead allows tourists to come and help care for them. We loved how much time we got with the elephants, and had so much fun just playing with them. Our day consisted of feeding them, giving them a mud bath which helps improve the quality of their skin, and giving them a bath and playing with them in a nearby river. It was AMAZING!! Because the elephants are so well cared for, this was one of the most amazing experiences of our life!! All the elephants were free to roam and do as they please. They were so happy and playful and it was so amazing to be with them in the jungle. It really felt like a day in paradise!! We were too busy having fun that we didn’t take too much video, but here’s a little glimpse into our day!!!
For anyone interested in visiting the sanctuary while in Chiang Mai, here’s the link to their website:
Hello friends!! We’ve had a busy week with the visit of our circuit overseer and his wife! We were a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect but the week turned out to be a great success!
A few things about our awesome new CO- Their names are Peenong(brother/sister) Somphoat and Peenong Hitomi. We only use first names here so I’m not even quite sure what their last name is! He is Thai and she is Japanese. He first met Jehovah’s Witnesses when he was about 20 from his friend who was recently baptized. They were in a band together. His wife grew up in the truth and moved to Thailand to serve as a need greater when she was 20. She has been serving here 9 years now, and they have been married for 5. They have been in the circuit work for 1.5 years. They don’t have a house in the circuit, but instead have everything they own in their car and just travel from congregation to congregation. In some congregations they stay with a family, in others that are more well off they are put up in a hotel. Our group had a sister who was away on a visa run so they were able stay at her place. Also the congregation is responsible for feeding them lunch AND dinner since they don’t have a kitchen of their own. We had them over for dinner, which was our first time having company over our new home! I was super stressed since it was only my second time cooking with my new kitchen set up, but after blowing the fuse from using the toaster oven and the hot plate at the same time, everything went smoothly 😍
Aaron and I weren’t expecting to get very much out of the visit because we hardly know any Thai, and I was even a little depressed thinking about sitting through our pioneer meeting not having a clue what was going on. So you can imagine our surprise Tuesday at the meeting when he hands us the outline to his talk in English!!! And then through out his talk, he would say the scripture in Thai and then repeat in English for us, and say little things in English like “we are moving on to the second point now” It brought tears to my eyes actually being able to understand what he was saying. I was very touched that he was making a special effort just to help Aaron and I along. That’s how it went the whole visit- the pioneer meeting, MS/Elders meeting, Sunday, etc. The local needs part for the pioneer meeting and some of the field service meetings were previous videos from broadcasting, so even that we could understand since we had seen the videos before! We felt very included and very encouraged!! Looking back, it makes a lot of sense that he accommodates need greaters in this way because there are so many serving in Thailand. His wife was a need greater, so she especially was very understanding of the struggles we are having and she was very encouraging. And they were both very excited to practice their English with us. They have been learning because there is no CO training school here in Thailand, so if they get invited it would be in the Philippines and it would be in English!! So they have been working very hard to learn so they can go to school.
The meeting on Sunday was pretty exciting since we had 31 in attendance! We all brought food for dinner afterwards. This is the second party in only 3 weeks we’ve had in our kingdom hall. 😜