International Ministries

Preparing a Place

October 29, 2003 Journal

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Thailand. Right now we are enjoying slightly cooler weather and the rice fields around us are showing new heads of rice and we are encouraged by the potential of a good harvest.

Our village and indeed the whole area was hopping for days, a week or so ago. Have you made your basket yet? How many are you making? Have you bought the stuff to go inside? How much money are you putting in this year? Have you got any crisp bank notes? What animal is your village making? When are you making it? Is your daughter coming home? - Yes, she wouldn't miss it.

Last month saw the end of Buddhist lent and most families made an offering early in the morning at the local temple and the event passed with little fuss or ceremony. But then people really got into the swing of things. What is it all about? Well it's about having fun now and putting something away for the future. It is also about caring for loved ones, who have passed away and being part of a community.

It was really a community event. On Wednesday most of the men in our village got together and made a horse, for fun they made it Pegasus, a flying horse. They wove the frame from bamboo strips and covered it with cloth and decorated it. A neighboring village made a bull. All together ten villages made 10 different things. While men were creating, a number of the women were cooking up a storm and the village ate together.

Apart from the animals, baskets were woven. And these baskets were filled with all the essentials of life. Rice, garlic, chilis, salt, fish sauce, sugar cane, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap powder, notebooks, pens, pencils, canned fish, if you like it, put it in. It is for the after life, make a deposit now and consume it later, seemed to be the idea. Similar baskets were made up for those already gone and names attached. The temple monks later received the offerings, blessed them and "sent them on."

The temple had an almost fete or fair atmosphere as sellers came with snacks, drinks, balloons and other goods for sale. The kids were running around and periodically would return to mom asking for more money. Many of the women were dressed in traditional costume making a lovely background for the day. Men and the women were waiting for the animals to arrive and as the animal from their village arrived they would go out and meet it and lead it and the village offering into the temple. The monks received and chanted all morning but for the most part it seemed more of a social event.

We hung around chatting to folk. One young woman told me she didn't really believe that she would get her stuff back in the after life but she really enjoyed the day and had in fact made a 5 hour trip to come home to share in this time with her friends and family.

The whole event had a fun community feel about it. Everyone was there; students and neighbors continually greeted us. Fun. Yet there is a sadness as these people are trying on their own merit to do something they cannot. As Christians we can be assured that Jesus has prepared a place for us. Please pray with us that Thai people will come to know Jesus and have the assurance that He will care for them both in this life and the next.

Thank you for your prayers for us over the last month. The holiday English programmes went well. It was a good time for us to meet and interact with more of the parents. We have started our regular classes again and students continue to drop in for help with homework and to use the computers.

We also had opportunity to join in a retreat with other Christian workers in Thailand and were blessed by the fellowship and the teaching.

Prayer points:
Pray for our team meeting on the 13th & 14th of November.
Pray for us as we continue to build relationships and share our faith with our neighbors.
Pray that God will touch the hearts of those around us so they will see their own spiritual need.

Thank you for partnering with us in this way and sharing your gifts through the World Mission Offering.

Yours in His kingdom,

Larry and Jan