Tuesday January 27, 2009 Maekhlong

“Special friendâ€? Lek came hotel for us 5pm led us on brisk walk two blocks to nice car in which man waiting who turned out to be her boyfriend from Bangkok, nickname “Lukâ€? (pron. “Luckâ€?) age about 40 a guess. He and she then led us off on ½ mile walk to the evening market that moves from place to place. Lek very gregarious and greeted 20% of the hundreds vendors there. Bought us sweets and after wandering market walked to lovely park described elsewhere for sit down and chat. Luk said his back hurts due to motorcycle accident and he needs sit frequently; I commiserated telling of my sore back and what relief sitting down for me too. Chatted for ½ hour or so, all in Thai so much chat, little communication, but learned Luk from Chinese family, lives Bangkok, had cross border trading business with Malaysia, trading what I’m not sure, but the spike in fuel prices bankrupted his business so he’s trying to figure out what business to pursue next. Nice guy. You know you’re getting old when a couple middle age folk take your elbow and lead you across the street which is what Lek and Luk did every patch thick traffic. They next hosted superb dinner at street stalls; won’t bore you with menu; you’ve already read too much about Thai food I’m afraid. Next they took us to big Thai wat/temple across street our hotel, oldest most revered wat in Maekhlong. There they purchased various votive articles including enough for us to do the traditions. Judy and I really perplexed at what to do at that point. There appeared to be no backing out without giving severe offense, we prayed to the Lord asking/trusting Him to lead us for His glory. We went along with them in the traditions, all the time praying to the One and Only True God while they were doing obeisance in Buddhist tradition including all of us lighting candles, placing them in a certain way, placing bouquet flowers in certain place in certain way, applying super thin pure gold leaf to a Buddha statue, all the while our praying to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting His word, “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” (1Co 8:4) and then last of all lifting the elephant. This is where our Lord showed Himself King of all. Situated at the bottom of the steps leading down from platform holding Buddha statue was a cat-size elephant made of lead. Luk told me, or at least I understood him to say, that any man who “believed he had everythingâ€? (Buddhism is subjective, all about what is within you; not objective, has nothing to do with a personal external living God) could lift the elephant with his little finger hooked into ring on elephants back. I watched Luk, young and strong, lift elephant the prescribed two times, his little finger growing red and trembling with the strain. I knew there was no way this old man could do the same. I prayed to the God of all strength, omnipotent, our Lord and Savior, that He would intervene. Not I, but Christ then lifted the elephant twice, no pain, no strain. God did it. Glory! Outside the wat, we stopped, Luk said I had the right thoughts; I said most clearly, definitely, “Noâ€?, I could not life the elephant, I’m old man, God did it in His strength. Luk taken aback, clearly, and repeated my words back to me, seemingly meditating on them. Lek for her part looked either shaken or angry or both; we’re not sure. All we know is: what a privilege the Lord has given us!

Wednesday January 28, 2009 Samut Songkhram (Maekhlong)

Yesterday was Gong’s weekly one “day off.� A member called from village few miles away requesting visit. He cheerfully gave up his free time, went, member led him to six different homes of unbelievers spread over a wide rural area, to preach Christ. In one, he prayed for wife of man whose business is somehow to pray to Satan and practice magic, making money at it. Sense of evil about whole situation was thick. Man calls wife his “assistant�, but she’s really his slave. She has become increasingly crippled, almost immobile. Gong prayed laid hands and prayed to God for her healing, then moved away from her a few yards, and in Jesus’ Name told her to rise and walk, which she did, to the amazement of many onlookers who testified she had not moved that well for long time. Can’t remember if any further immediate fruit. At another house, a “ma-chee�, Buddhist nun, female monk, who serves full time in wat (temple), and who wears a simple all white robe similar to the orange robe of the monks, was virtually immobilized with frozen lower extremities, Gong did exactly the same with her, laid on hands and prayed to God for her healing, walked away, called her to get up and walk in Jesus’ Name, she did, haltingly, but in manner many onlookers proclaimed not seen in years. All went outdoors and discovered (to much shock, I’d guess) the “spirit house� a small wat on a pedestal in garden of most Thai homes, in this one of which the three votive bowls in which offerings of food, money, etc. are made to the spirit who owns that home’s land, had been shattered, presumably by the spirit in fury at Christ’s assuming His rightful place as King in the home. The ma-chee immediately she declared she wanted to believe in Jesus. Gong put her to the test, telling her she must immediately put off the white robes she’s worn for years, and by which she’s known, respected, even revered by some. She said she would, and he plans to return today to check the evidence. I was emailing at office when he returned late afternoon, hot, sweaty, tired, his “day off� spent, but content. All we can see points to the brother being a biblical spiritual gospel worker of a sort we are privileged to know too seldom. The ma-chee thus apparently becomes the third person born again an adopted child of God saved through Christ via His work using this little church in the twelve days we’ve been here.

Today bought a little furniture to make our small hotel room into an apartment. Chatted in struggling Thai with nice lady running furniture shop who mentioned daughter would like to practice English with us, so returned this evening when she, nickname “Pot�, home from school. Age 18, lovely, shy, and we spent delightful 1 ½ hours tutoring her in English. She obviously delighted with what we did and they indicated they hoped we’d return. Mother followed our teaching along with daughter, amidst serving customers of their home and office furniture shop. Another precious relationship opportunity the Lord has given “right out of the blue.� We plan to return a couple days a week for an hourly session. This evening had world class Padt Thai (Bt.25 or $0.75) at what has to be the planet’s most exotic location, cooking cart and dining tables smack dab on the train tracks as they emerge from Maekhlong Station and enter the town market which sits astride them and makes way for the trains in manner previously described elsewhere. The Padt Thai vendor sets up shop after last train of the day. Hard to describe how dark and murky is the setting where the tables are. Our mealtime entertainment featured the largest rat we’ve ever seen. No kidding. Easily as large as a guinea pig. He darted in an out of a junk wood pile next to the tracks and our table, diving into a small bag of food garbage hanging on the pile not ten feet from our plate. Tried to photograph this robust rodent, sat still for long time shutter trigger finger ready, but the clever fellow refused to oblige.

Thursday January 29, 2009

Couple weeks ago nice lady while we on bus in Bangkok initiated chat with us. Entering our hotel room this morning saw same lady exiting room next door, she looked at us, started exciting chattering in Thai, asking if we remembered her, finally it came to us who she was and we chatted (much Thai tongue, little understanding) in hall for fifteen minutes till she had to leave. The old “small world� thing, over and over. Got haircut, barber shop, most customers old men, I fit right in, was there hour and half in spite of going early 7:45am. Going for haircut clearly a social event, not just utilitarian thing, much conversing among the four barbers, all the customers, barbers work very deliberately, most men get shave with haircut, seem in no hurry, my haircut very good, Bt. 60 ($1.75).

When we lived here 1969-72 we had pet dogs for children, no dog food available in all Bangkok, we had to make our own of boiled rice, meat scraps, and no small animal vets in whole country. Today here in small city we count at least three shops within our normal walking range fully dedicated to pet food and supplies. What a difference forty years of econ development makes; what evidence of the emergence of a middle class populace that did not exist forty years ago.

3pm lunch around corner from hotel in foodstall one among zillions nearby not yet tried; one worker very eager chat, revealing proudly her son a card dealer in Las Vegas. Future openings here we believe.

Afternoon walk “waylaid” by Chinese/Thai mama who plied us with tiny sweet oranges, determined snag us speak w/daughter English, she looked reluctant but warmed up to us; we helped her English. Name Jee-ra-wan nickname “Tan” leaving Saturday for London and 2nd yr Bloomsbury intl school studying Bus. English. Mama Catholic, she/we agreed same God, God is One. Spoke briefly with her of Christ and His Cross. “Than” very nice. Father trades coconut palm sugar, buying locally, selling Bangkok and other prov. Mama showed us samples but disparaged them as not pure but mixed with ord. sugar. Promised give us 1/2 kilo. pure palm sugar early April. Brothers, one a lawyer locally in law courts, other works Japan Chemicals co. BKK. Mama sells “gluay ping” roast bananas from cart but taking CNY week off. Becoming obvious a westerner could setup private English tuition here and make a living. Must be careful regarding visa type avoid run afoul of regs.

Friday January 30, 2009
While walking market after sharing bowl noodles breakfast local bus slowed down passing by and on whim we jumped on just to see ride its route, see new territory, ended up going to town Dahm-newen-sah-doo-uhk 12 miles north through coconut plantations, markets, over canals, fascinating. Rode same bus back. Bt.17 each one way (50 cents) Nice slow driving ideal for rubbernecking. Judy got excellent haircut nearby beauty shop $6 equiv. Gong&Da appeared unexpectedly take us lunch, delicious. Told Buddhist nun convert to Christ forsook lifelong white nun costume and is showing signs of true belief. A few other church members live near her in Am-pah-wah town, so church is praying to God about starting cell group there. Learned Gong&Da, converts to Christ from Islam, among all the other wonderful work they do in and for Christ Jesus also have periodic Muslim ministry work in Bangkok, encouraging and teaching about 20 converts from Islam scattered among several churches there, and also teaching would-be evangelists in the bible college there about gospel preaching to Muslims. Occasionally on Fridays Gong worships our God and Father on location in a local Muslim mosque and engages Muslims regarding Christ in that context, maybe sorta’ like we did in Buddhist wat, but unsure. They asked Chuck preach/teach one Sunday each February, March. Delighted. Tried pay for lunch, was kindly refused. Gong said he’s teaching church that for 150 years for missionaries have been giving to Thailand, Thai Christians, the Thai church, and now it’s time for Thai church to grow strong and begin giving outward in like manner. Some church members daily earnings from work no more than what lunch cost today. What Christ does in these dear ones is magnif.

Friday evening. Wonderful news. Da just told us as we’re emailing and waiting for prayer meeting (7pm to midnight) that she’s just returned from doctor having learned she’s pregnant and we’re the first people after Gong she’s told. They’ve been praying for years to the Lord to bless them with a child and His kindness is showered on them.