Approaching 6 Months

Finding it hard to believe the six-month mark is approaching.

Lots of highs and lows over the last few weeks since I returned from Christmas in the States.  I know that’s fairly typical of life overseas, but the extremes lately have been, well, extreme.  Chalk it up to having a different perspective on things now that I’m here on a one-way ticket, the initial glamourous luster of missions having somewhat faded, and my Thai language progressing to the point that I can no longer feign ignorance as to what’s going on around me.

But there are plenty of positive extremes to celebrate.

We kicked off a “version 2.0” education and job training program for women at The Well mid-January and, in less than a month, have seen some amazing things happen. The women learning metal-smithing technique from Chelsey are creating absolutely phenomenal jewelry pieces and are having lots of fun doing it. The student leaders now running the jewelry floor with minimal supervision are taking the business to a new level. The sewing team is mixing up their product lines with new stuff like laptop sleeves (putting Etsy vendors to shame…)  Students interested in music are accelerating after their guitar or keyboard lessons sometimes faster than the teachers can teach. Women are excitedly checking in with Skye, our resident nurse teaching health class, when they carry around a water bottle instead of their usual red sugar-water.

There’s nothing like fresh starts to infuse some excitement and new energy into life and ministry here.

I spend my time changing hats between teacher (media/communications class), auntie (working in The Well’s children’s center), friend (bar outreach), photographer (for the jewelry business and awareness raising/communications functions), house mom (running the volunteer house), student (plugging away at Thai language and working on my thesis), and trying to squeeze in some street basketball or soccer with neighborhood kids if we can handle the heat and polluted air.

On the other hand, the reality of living far from home in a culture I often find hard to understand (and sometimes hard to appreciate) is starting to wear on me. That coupled with facing some extremely difficult, complex ministry situations has left me at or near the end of my rope on more than one occasion.

But amidst the struggles and chaos, I also get to sit back and let the little life-giving and joy-bringing things soak in.

Such as… the football-team worth of little tacklers running, jumping, clinging to me and nuzzling their snotty noses into my shoulder upon arrival to the children’s center… a scene set to “repeat” for about four hours twice a week.

Such as….  when I pitched the idea of my media/communications class publishing a monthly newsletter, I had one of my students step boldly into the position of Editor-in-Chief, citing maybe she could be a real editor someday.

Such as… cooking Thai meals with Jup and realizing we can have serious conversations in Thai. Though our conversations are rarely serious and generally involve more laughter than decipherable words.

Such as… sitting down with visiting pastors, authors and missionaries and discussing new and innovative ways to challenge cultural paradigms, create healthy community, train up disciples and, well, just try to live like Jesus.

And so the list continues.  I might be missing out on a lot at home, but I can’t imagine missing out on THIS.

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  • Comments (5)
  1. Your honesty about your time in Thailand is refreshing. It’s encouraging to hear that just when you feel empty, God gives you new experiences to fill you with his joy. So awesome!

    • Randi Leister
    • February 13th, 2011

    I am so amazed at all the gifting God has placed in you, and even more how you are going to the extreme to let Him draw it out and use it for His glory. I’ll be praying for you this week my friend, and I know our Father will supply your every need. Blessings on your head!

  2. HOWDY!

    Good stuff and congrats on a small but important milestone! Good job at trying to focus on the positive. You are in that really tough stage, where even when we try to focus on the good stuff the frustrating stuff smacks in you in the face, over and over again. Well, I am glad I went before you! Let me be a testimony, look what God has done. When I was at 6 months I thought ” ok maybe you picked the wrong guy God and I should head back to corporate America”.. And other thoughts along that line. Was so frustrated. But though I am dumb sometimes, I stayed committed and the dividends have been monstrous.God has done more with this “slow” man then anyone would have guessed, specially me. The dividends I see now are amazing, but the dividends I believe in for the future are beyond my wildest dreams… WAHOO. So I think I just bragged a bunch on your blog, oops, what I meant was. Things get better, its gonna be awesome in time! Hang in there! Remember how much smarter, nicer, tactful, and prettier then I am you are and you can expect greater dividends then me!!! YEAH!!

  3. more talented, more country, harder worker.. I can keep going.

    • Russell Laird
    • March 15th, 2011

    I’ve been busy with getting my fiancee settled in and been slow to getting around to reading this. I saved it though and finally got around to it.

    Those pictures are priceless! Glad to hear that the priceless experiences outweigh the frustrations!

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