But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
– Mark 13:7-10
Finding our focus
At the beginning of this month we (and our luggage) arrived safely in Thailand. After two days of orientation at the OMF office in Bangkok, we drove to Lopburi, a smaller town two hours north of Bangkok. Here we were assigned a furnished house, where we can live for the next 12 months. The following day, the orientation week started at the Lopburi Language Center (LLC), OMF’s language and culture study center, where we also started our language study a week later (with our friends from Singapore, see photo below right).
During this time, God, through His Word, reminded us why we are here: to preach this Word and His saving grace. Especially on the more difficult days (and there certainly are), we can hold on to that: God is worth being in Thailand.
A new culture, a new way of belonging
We are currently getting used to the fact that almost everything is different: the food, the traffic, the language, the manners. Sometimes funny, sometimes completely incomprehensible, sometimes very frustrating. Almost every moment of the day is a potential learning moment, which is quite intensive. When we open the gates of our house (picture below, first house on the right), the neighbors observe us. Our goal is to be a witness of our Lord to them as well. Would you join us in praying that we may learn that our focus should be here? With God, with our family, with getting to know this new culture, this new way of feeling at home?
(By the way, did you see the house altar at the end of our street? There is always incense burning, fresh flowers and food to appease the spirits of the house. In return, the spirits protect the house and its inhabitants.)
Daniel Training: is that where you learn to pray?
So right now we’re on Daniel Training (DT), a program designed to help new missionaries in their first year with language and cultural training. Can you guess why it’s called Daniel Training? When Daniel and his friends were taken into exile in Babylon, they had to be educated for three years, teaching the literature and language of the Chaldeans. At the end of the three years they stood before the king, he discovered that they were ten times better in wisdom and understanding than the magicians and wizards who were in his kingdom. They had to take the time to really learn the language and culture to impart the wisdom and knowledge that God had given them. The DT therefore hopes to enable missionaries to communicate adequately and well and also gives us practical tools to understand the culture and to find our place in it. Each day we both have two fixed hours of lessons (individual with a teacher), and two hours of self-study. Next to that, we are also supposed to study at home, and above all practice in real life moments, for example when we go to the market.
During our teaching hours, the children go to daycare at our school in the morning, in Thai. It’s quite funny to hear that (especially Hannah) remembers some things better than us, and can say different colors and animals in Thai just like that. At the moment there are also three other children, with whom they can play wonderfully.
In the afternoon we try to work on their schooling. Fortunately, our toddlers are very happy with crafts, reading books and playing games. Our house has no outdoor space, so getting rid of their energy is sometimes a bit of a search. The warm temperatures are not always inviting to run outside either. It is sometimes a bit of a drive, but the first playgrounds have now been found!
Praise and prayer
We praise the Lord
- For a good arrival in Lopburi.
- For a house, a car and daily amenities.
- For a good start of the DT program.
- For the good health of our family.
- For a (Religious Affairs) visa for Jesse (valid for 1 year)! If all goes well, we can pick this up next week. Afterwards, the dependency visas of Katrien and the children (valid initially 3 months; after Jesse has his work permit, it will be adjusted) can be applied for. Would you please pray?
- For a smooth processing of all visa applications.
- For a new chairman (NL) and practical helpers (BE) for the home support team.
- For more individual partners and churches who want to go with us so that we can achieve 100% budget coverage (monthly deficit of 420 euros).
- For settling well into our new home and Thai culture.
- For attention to God and each other in our family, and for our marriage in this most demanding time.