Reading back through my last post, I couldn't help but laugh because we really had no idea what was about to happen, (which is probably a good thing, as we may not have come here had we known, haha!) It is probably only because we NOW feel we are out of "survival mode" that I have it in me to write and share about our journey.
We were expecting challenges adjusting to life in a different culture, some things exceeded our expectations, others fell short. Looking back, it's hard to pin point exactly what was the main issue was. Was it the unexpected visa troubles which meant Chris had to drop everything and leave the country, only to return and be told he may be kicked out permanently or go to jail? Was it the reality that preparing one meal meant going to 3 different supermarket for ingredients, taking over 2hrs? Was it having to drag the kids around in the heat from one appointment to another, not knowing the language and feeling like we were getting nowhere fast? Was it the stress and pressure that life here put on our marriage, which we have never had to deal with before? ...or was it Chris delivering our son at home in the shower, after spending weeks convincing the doctors here that I DIDN'T need a cesarian??!!
And, of course, at the same time hurting from homesickness and battling the constant thoughts of "How on earth are we going to do any good here, when we ourselves are struggling just to survive?"
Whatever it was, we are glad that THAT season is now over ...and we have not only survived, but become better for it! By Gods grace, we didn't break or regret our desicion to come, but grew closer, stronger and more convinced than EVER that we are meant to be here. Life still presents its challenges, but we are doing SO much better now that we can officially say we are feeling "settled".
So, what now...?
Language, language, language! Although it's not easy, we are committed to learning the language here so we can have real life, in depth conversations with our new Thai community. Chris goes to language school 4 days a week, I go 3 days, and the children once a week. Plus, there is a lot of practise going on around the house on our days off.
Aside from learning to speak, read and write Thai, we also had some other specific things that God spoke to us about for our time here. As I think back on them just now, I feel so encouraged that God is already opening the doors in these areas.
Firstly, we have taken over a "home group" here, which creates a great space for missionaries working in the area of anti trafficking to come and offload, and to be refreshed. We enjoy this mutual exchange of encouragement and ministry, which is much needed as life in this environment can be very draining, especially for those who have been here for years.
We are also about to start a "Family Home Church" on weekends. With similar intentions to the home group, we will also focus specifically on strengthening families and imparting into the lives of our children. We are looking forward to 'doing life' with other families who are here like we are, and we know God will expand these home churches into the Thai community as well.
We are also, along with 2 other Aussie families, in the process of starting up a 'home school co-op' under the auspices of an established Learning Centre here. Homeschooling has been so much more challenging here with lack of resources, community and time. For numerous reasons, many missionaries don't send their children to the schools here, so we are hoping this co-op will be supportive, encouraging and also a bit of relief as well, with rosters ensuring that all parents get a break! There is also a very small number of Thai's that homeschool - with even less support than we have. God has already brought some of these people into our path, so we can clearly see that this is yet another way to share the gospel and love on Gods children here. We have great plans for this co-op, and will share more as it unfolds!
Now that Harrison is settling and I am recovering, we will also recommence regular trips back to the "Give Kids Hope" children's home, and start to see how we can invest in the lives of the Thai children there. GKH runs as a preventative 'Training Centre' for children most at risk of human trafficking. By educating and caring for Hill tribe children in the local villages, the terrifying reality of lifelong sexual slavery has been swapped for a safe, bright future with all of their needs being met and many more opportunities than they would otherwise have. Thanks to more than a decade of work from our friends, the children there are thriving. Plus, we love spending time there! Another thing we specifically had on our hearts was to take in and support young, at-risk, pregnant girls, and to support them into motherhood. We have even set aside 2 small bedrooms in our home for this particualr kind of minisrty. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we were contacted by someone to see if we would consider taking in a local girl in need of this kind of support. We have met with her (she is very sweet) and with her current carer a few times, and although our hearts immediately said "YES", we wanted time in prayer before committing, as we wanted to make sure we were really "ready" for this - for our sakes AND for hers. Fast forward to this last week, and by faith we have offered for her to come and live with us, although there are still some circumstances we need to work through.
And of course all of this happens in between pacing the floor day and night with a newborn baby!
If you would like to find out in more detail about the work we are doing here you can sign up for our monthly Newsletter email-out. Just send us a message and we'll add you to the list!
We are so very grateful to be blessed with on going financial support from people back in Australia. This has allowed our family to both set up here and start to actually feel 'settled', as I described above. As we now start caring for others, the toll on our lives inevitably increases and part of increased cost is, of course, a financial one! So, we would like to ask you to consider partnering with us on this mission by committing to supporting us monthly for the rest of 2018. We already have people faithfully giving anywhere from $5 a month upwards, and no amount is too small because - trust me when I say this - your money goes a LONG way here! If you would like more details on this please let me know.
Love, blessings and missing you all,
Jess & the Tribe xx