It’s difficult to sum up the many activities that we’ve seen and participated in during the past month. Suffice it to say, we’ve been immersed in a very new language and culture here in Northeast Thailand during the past months. We’ve been to three funerals, village and district-level merit making ceremonies, two very cultural parades, a rocket festival and two monk ordinations just in the last month. Below are some pictures. Click the picture to get a better view. Enjoy!
Recently I’ve been doing daily life interviews out in the village. Great fun. I’ve noticed a lot of variety and flexibility in many people’s schedules here that I wouldn’t have predicted just by observing their behavior. For instance, I met a guy my age who sleeps during the day and drives a van at night. I met an older lady who wakes up at 3:00 AM to prepare meat to sell at the market. She can then cat-nap as she sells the meat to customers. I met a retired guy who can’t sleep so he goes fishing and waters the garden at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 AM.¬†¬†As a bonus, the activity gives me an excuse to walk up to complete strangers and start a conversation with a purpose. It turns out (not surprisingly) that people enjoy talking about themselves and their day.
In the past, we’ve created a lot of newsletters. In fact, you can head over to Issuu (http://issuu.com/ricbruce) and check out newsletter archives going back five years. We’ve been pretty faithful with it, too, and lots of you have read them (thanks!).We’re doing away with those things once and for all because they just don’t work well in 2014. We’ll still be blogging. We’ll still send out email newsletters (sign up here). We just won’t foist that old medium on you anymore. Here are some areas in which we’re stepping up our communication with you:
Check them out for the very latest pictures, videos and short updates from our ministry. Sign up for email newsletters or check the blog often for more info. Love to all! -Ric, Sharon and Rye.
Today a friend posted on their Facebook, “I’m always curious as to what others eat during their week. I’ve been told my meals are sometimes weird or crazy, but to me they are normal. What is normal for you? What is usually seen on your dinner table?” Hm… I realized I haven’t posted nearly enough about the food we eat here for the exact same reason. It just seems normal to us… So here is one dish that we just can’t get enough of as a sample:
yam pla duk foo
¬†This stuff is magic. Delicious¬†catfish that’s flaked and then fried,¬†served with an incredible dressing of unripe mango slices, shallots, spicy chillies, dried shrimps, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. Of course no two recipes or palettes are the same so you never know what you’ll get if you order it somewhere else. Brilliant.
Ever get that feeling like you’re a traveling circus? We do all the time. Everything that we do is watched very carefully and talked about prolifically in this tiny new environment. It’s incredible how many doors Rye opens with his boyish grins, blueish eyes and big sighs. It’s great… but sometimes we feel like fish in a tiny bowl or that ant under the microscope. “It takes a village,” right? We’re praying that we can turn all this attention into positive relationship-building and language-learning opportunities. Pray for us! It takes super-human patience sometimes.
Our adventures have led us home at last! It feels great to be getting stuff out of suitcases once and for all. Sharon and I have discussed what we’ll do when we finally have EVERYTHING out of those black cages. We’ll probably throw a party, then stack the suitcases and ceremoniously burn them. Maybe it won’t be quite that extreme.
We hit the ground running, buying the furniture, supplies and other things in town. Now I’m planning our various projects: building a carport, doing some plumbing, installing air conditioning, building a wall and digging some ditches are high on the list. We have two weeks before our official language learning kick-off to get the house in shape and to begin to develop some relationships here in the village.
The night after we got back we threw a party for ourselves, a very culturally appropriate thing to do. We ordered some “sets” of the internal organs of various animals, some bitter vegetables and lots of unrecognizable seafood-type stuff. Slap that on a charcoal grill surrounded by soup and voil√†: Village barbeque. We’ll get some pictures up soon.
If you could speak Thai fluently where would you start explaining the gospel? Many might begin with John 3:16, wanting to get right to the heart of the “good news” about Jesus. Unfortunately, although this verse succinctly¬†sums up a lot of truth, it would be very confusing for a Thai Buddhist.
Take, for example, the phrase “for God.” The word you would use for “God” would leave Thais wondering which God you were referring to. When you say this God “loves” a Buddhist would be thinking, “Shouldn’t this God have released all longing and desire and reached nirvana?” When you go on to say that God “gave his only son” a Thai Buddhist might get hung up on the idea that this “God” had a son. Having a son is problematic and rather awkward for a spiritual being. The most confusing section of the verse would be when you mention that the goal of Christ’s death on the cross is for people to achieve “eternal life.” For a Buddhist, this isn’t desirable at all as “life” is equated to “suffering” and the goal of traditional Buddhist thought is the extinguishing of all suffering. They seek to end the already endless cycle of birth and rebirth!
Can you see how this would get rather confusing rather quickly? Pray for us as we seek to lay a firm foundation before we share the gospel with those we come in contact with. We really want to communicate clearly and make sure that these questions are all answered before we confuse people! Check out this YouTube video that explains this more in depth:
This year we’re excited for a lot of reasons. For one thing, we’re headed back to Thailand excited to begin digging into the Phu Thai language and culture. We’re also very excited for what is going on in our lives, as we get to share the miracle of our son with our friends, family and coworkers.
Perhaps what makes us most excited is the promise that God made to us in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.‚ÄĚ We know that God has promised that his Word will not return void and as we trust Him to continue to perform miracles and open doors on our behalf we know we can trust Him to provide the power we need to keep going.
God bless you each and have a very happy and warm New Year of joy and discovery.
Ric, Sharon and baby Rye