Tag Archives: help me Lord

the suffering missionary.

There are some groups of people that subscribe to the notion of the ‘suffering missionary’.  You know, the idea that being called overseas as a missionary is a death to your former life of joy and pleasure and a birthing of a life of misery and woe.  This ideology is held by missionaries and laymen alike.

I think the thought pattern is all somehow tangled up in support raising:  If you’re not suffering, then you’re not being used for the purposes of the gospel.. and so you can’t get any money and then you can’t eat… so now you are suffering…and so on…and so forth…

Maybe I’m wrong. Regardless. It should be no surprise, I do not subscribe to this notion.

But today, I am writing to tell you all that I am SUFFERING.

SUUUUFFFFEEERRIINNNG.

Yes.

I have this increasingly intolerable struggle with microscopic red ants.

The freaking things have decided that their new favorite place to live is inside my towel.  So this evening, after an impromptu and uncharacteristic evening shower, I wrapped my vulnerable, wet body into my nice, dry towel and was immediately molested by thousands of the little suckers.

They just go right for it.  I literally just picked 15 of their itty bitty bodies off of my body and am now full of red itchy welts.

WHAT’S MORE is, as I was transcribing this blog in my head and lathering myself with anti-inflammatory/anti-itch cream, I felt a tickle on my foot… I look down there was a HUGE freaking COCKROACH on it.  To which I reacted to by smashing its body several times with my journal. I didn’t even scream. This has become common place.

The struggle is real.

In conclusion, I am suffering, so please send me all of your money.

Thank you.

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cultural. adaptation.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 5.12.52 PM

  1. The handling of bugs and other woodland creatures: 

While it is not appropriate to claim that I remain ‘cool’ or ‘calm’ in the presence of the creepy crawlies… I have come a loooong way.

For example: It’s rainy season.  This mean it’s the season of my all time favorite insect–the flying termite.  I hate these stupid and arguably harmless bug with every inch of my being and usually have to wrap my head in some sort of protective garb in order to keep them from burrowing into my hair and never coming back out.  Yes.  BUT… the other night, we had two friends over for dinner and when the assigned time came for these bugs to begin swarming around my head and… I DID NOT retreat into the house, nor did I wrap my hair in anything.  Perhaps this was a one time scenario, but it seemed momentous at the time.

Another example of my adaptation is in relation to those dang huntsman spiders (go here if you need to be reminded of what I used to be like…).  Just the other day I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom and I saw one peeping out from under my bed.  Instead of springing up in panic, I sat there and calmly told him that we could co-exist as long as he kept his distance.  I trust he has kept up his side of the promise… and what I don’t know, I want to keep that way.

There are other examples of this, but if I want you to read this entire post, I suppose I should get moving on.

2. My perception of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ weather:

We are coming off one of the hottest hot seasons Thailand has known in many years… like at 60 years.  (I want to say 100 years, but then someone might fact check me and I may be exaggerating…) It’s been hot.  We had week after week into months of weather hitting 110, 112, 114 fahrenheit with overnight lows of 85, 88, 90. Overnight. Lows.

I do not sleep in air conditioning.  This particular year I had three short stays in peoples’ homes where I was blessed with a climate controlled bedroom.. but those nights only made nights back in my bedroom nearly impossible.  At home, I would wake up in the middle of the night literally dripping in sweat.  It was hot.

Now that the rains have begun our highs are only 97…95 and this Tuesday it gets down to a HIGH of only 91.  With overnights lows as low as 75.  And guess what.  I get cold at night.  Instead of waking up in sweat… I wake up to add a blanket and/or turn off my fan.

This is adaptation.

3. Personal hygiene:

Over the course of my short life I have somehow gained the reputation of being… how should I say?.. dirty?  In Thailand they have a phrase ‘สกมก’ (sokmok) which roughly translates as ‘dirty homeless person’.  This is a word that has been used to describe me.  John Huffman likes to tell hyperbolized stories of my lack of feminitiy and seemingly displaced desire to shower.  It was not uncommon for me to go 2, 3…4 days without showering.  Looking back, this is slightly embarrassing… but, what can I say?

In Thailand, this is not acceptable.  Thai people shower at least twice a day, every day. Regardless of activity and sweat levels.  Twice a day.  I was a walking offense.  However, those days are behind me and I can proudly say that I shower–at least–once a day, but often two–even three times a day.

I have turned a page in my life.  So long สกมก. Hello being clean.

4. The use of the Thai language:

Thai has become such a normal part of my life that I often speak Thai without taking into account who I am talking to.  For example, I had a meeting with one of my professors at University and as she is Thai, I naturally just started talking to her in Thai.  However, this was not appropriate, as I am in an international program studying about teaching English. My professor does not talk to her Thai students in Thai… let alone her American student.

Another example happened today in my classroom.  If one of my students needs further explanation of something I have gone over repeatedly in English, I will revert to Thai to ensure that comprehension is there. I have two students from English speaking homes in my classroom and today one of them was asking for further explanation.  I knelt down beside him and started explaining the activity to him in Thai.  He does not speak Thai.

This also comes out when I am with other English speakers and drop Thai words into the conversation because I cannot think of a word to express the appropriate message in English. How did I ever thoroughly communicate before?

5. I find Asian men attractive: 

Before moving to Thailand I had no interest, whatsoever, in Asian men.  So often I would get asked, ‘do you think you will marry a Thai person‘ and I would almost get offended by the question.  No.  I had this misconception that all Thais (and therefore, all Asians) are super short, super skinny and have weird voices. I also thought that all Asian people look the same.

Well, guess what.  Asians (and Thais) come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of personalities and all have very diverse facial features. Asian women have long been praised for their beauty, but I am here to say that Asian men can be quite attractive as well.

Of course I am not attracted to every Thai man that walks past me… but that wasn’t the case in America either.

For me, the surest sign that I have adapted to Thailand is that I have crushes on at least four Thai guys.

 


So there you have it.  After a little over three and a half years, I can say with some amount of confidence, I have adapted to Thailand.

 

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I don’t like going to church.

 

Yesterday at a staff meeting I took part in one of those ‘getting to know you’ ice breaker games… I’m sure you’ve played it.

Everyone sits in a circle, with just enough chairs for those sitting and one person stands in the middle (there’s no chair for the person in the middle.)  The person in the middle makes a statement like “I like cheese” or “I’m wearing a pink shirt” and everyone who shares the like of cheese or is also wearing a pink shirt has to stand up and then on the count of three, everyone, including the person in the middle runs and tries to find a new chair.  The person left standing is the new ‘man in the middle’.

You’ve played this game.

Anyway, yesterday after a bunch of rounds of this game and lots of crazy running around and getting to know one another, someone in the middle made the statement, “I like going to church”.

Working at a christian school with an entirely christian staff, one can easily assume… everyone stood up.

Everyone, that is, except for me.

Sure, I felt the urge to stand up… Thoughts like, ‘what will people think?’, ‘I’m a missionary…’, ‘I have to like going to church…’, ‘how bad will I look if I don’t stand up?’ flooded my mind, but I was compelled to remain seating.

What’s worse, I thought, lying to please the crowd and save face or being honest and raising a few eyebrows?

After the game was finished another missionary came up to me, she had noticed my being the only person sitting during the ‘I like going to church’ round and she wanted to comment.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but instead of assumed reprimand or the usual questioning of my devotion to God, she said, “Yea… sometimes going to church here is really hard.”

And that’s the truth.

Sometimes, going to church here, is really hard.


Before reading on I need to say, I come from a great church family in Omaha, NE.  The people in that church have become my family and have helped me grow into the person I am.  I love my church in Omaha and while, it’s not perfect and still developing, I would not be where I am or who I am without the love and support of that body of people.


Since living in Thailand I have regularly attended three Thai churches.

The first of the three churches was the most international and the most western.  The sermon was in both English and Thai, the worship was done in full Hillsong style and the Sunday meetings were held in a very air-conditioned, comfortable hotel ballroom. This was like the ‘adjustment’ church, while I was learning Thai.  This church was comfortable, the sermons were predictable and no one talked to you, so you didn’t have to get out of your comfort zone.

But in the end, I think that was the biggest problem with this church.  It definitely served its purpose in its time, but it was extremely comfortable.  There was no ‘community’ aspect to the church, no need to adjust to a new culture, no need to adapt to something unfamiliar… and so, after about 6 months, we (the Lorensens and I) transitioned out.  [No one noticed.]

The second of the three churches was a local Thai church near our home that many of the students from School of Promise attended.  As Caleb and I were both teaching at the school, this church seemed that the natural place for us to land.

The sermon was completely in Thai, there was no air conditioning and everyone ate lunch together that was prepared by members of the church.  At first this seemed ideal.  The church congregation was a community.  Everyone worked together, lived life together and shared church responsibilities together.

Unfortunately, the shiny ideal wrapping of this church quickly wore off and it became apparent that a lot of the ‘community togetherness’ was actually ‘community obligation’ enforced through guilt.  Missing a week of church was followed up by the third degree.  Performance, saving face and adherence to rules were more important than love and compassion.  I left this church after a year of begrudged attendance

The final church I was part of was a church made up of people that I still love and respect very much.  Coming off the bad experience from the last church, this church seemed like a breathe of fresh air.  Again, it was all Thai and very community orientated.  Everyone worked together and for the most part, lived together.  This church was a family and welcomed me in quickly.

But again, after a couple months of attendance, it became clear that the congregation was there out of religious and communal obligation, rather than out of pure satisfaction and joy.  Duty and tradition, adherence to rules was more important than the inner health of the individual members. I said a sad goodbye to this church family after a year.


So there is my church attending history.  I haven’t formally gone to church in the seven months.

What I have done, however, is:

-prayed together with my housemates

-shared meals with my neighbors

-helped get a woman out of an abusive relationship

-worshipped with released criminals

-prayed for my struggling classmates

-loved on kids who don’t get enough attention

-listened to my friends’ burdened hearts

-hung out with the teenagers that I live with

-travelled to Malaysia to be a companion of a lonely friend


I was recently pretty rocked by this blog.

In this blog, the author, talks about how Jesus never actually told us to worship Him–but instead, 29 times, He tells us to follow Him.  He gives a list of things that happen as people lay down their lives (and their religion) to follow Jesus.  This list includes things like: the hungry were fed, the sick were healed, people were loved and discipled and the religious leaders were challenged.

The author also highlights Mark 7:6-9:

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”


How often do we allow the ‘tradition of men’ to keep us blind to the commandments of God?

How often does ‘saving face’ mean that we withhold truth or compassion?

How often do we allow religious duty to smother stopping for the one?

I know I’m guilty.

I know that I often bow to the god of approval from man rather than hone into the God of grace. I know that I often begrudgingly say yes out of fear, rather than be honest with my desires.


So, with all of this going on in my head and my heart, I can confidently say, right now, I don’t like going to church.

But I LOVE being THE church. Following Jesus.  Saying ‘yes’ and ‘here I am God, I’m willing’ and ‘what do you want to do today God?’.  I love smiling at people whom I don’t know and praying for people I just met.  I love getting to be the vessel in which the Holy Spirit flows out of and being surprised in my times of quiet worship alone.  I love being the body of Christ in my neighborhood, with my family…

Following Jesus is uncomfortable. It’s unconventional. It’s unpredictable.  It’s uncontrollable.

Following the law is easier, clear cut, measurable… but it’s not through following the law [and going to church] that we will encounter God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”

So while I will surely be part of a formal congregation again in the future, for now, I just don’t like going to church.


verses to ponder:

John 14:6; Colossians 2:16-23; Isaiah 29:13

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#firstworldproblems…

Remember when I wrote about having a tokay lizard in our house? [[If you don’t know what I’m talking about you should read this post first.]]

Well, they’re back and the other night I sent Tracy this text:

(It’s the bottom text that matters…)

textJanuary 6, 2014, 23:14:

Tokay is above my ceiling making lots of noise tonight.  I keep imagining it biting a hole in the ceiling and falling on me : (

In the morning when I was sharing about my lack of sleep the night prior and about how I just kept throwing pillows at my ceiling to try to scare the thing away, Tracy told me that I’m crazy and that it’s completely unlikely that anything would chew through my ceiling.

She’s right.

I have a highly active imagination and sometimes I let it get the best of me.

Inhale.  Exhale.

Phew.

Well…

Tonight I took this picture:

hole

What’s so special about this photo, you may be asking yourself.  What is Caleb doing?

Oh, you know…. nothing… he’s just patching up the HOLE that was EATEN THROUGH MY CEILING!!!!!!!!!!!

IT ATE A HOLE THROUGH MY CEILING!!!!!!!!!!!

THE FREAKING TOKAY ATE A HOLE THROUGH MY FREAKING CEILING!!!

BAAAAAAHHHH! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AJADLKJ;AKDJF;KJASDLKJALKJADKL!

I’ve done a lot of jumping and yelling and freaking out this past 45 minutes.

I am not a happy camper tonight my friends. Nope. Not at all.

Where is the Tokay?

I don’t know.  Probably in my pillow case…waiting to burrow into my head full of warm hair.  It is cold season and the tokay is cold blooded.  He’s just there waiting for me to fall asleep.

But OOOOOH HO HO tokay–I’m smarter than you–I’m totally not sleeping tonight… or EVER AGAIN!!! Good luck burrowing into my hair!  GOOOO-OOOD LUCK!

Anyway, this probably doesn’t fit under that category of #firstworldproblems.  No,this is my life.  This is my life.

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woodland creatures and other warm fuzzies

I love living in Thailand.  And quite honestly, there’s not much that seems all that ‘weird’ or ‘different’ to me at this point.  Adaptability is a prized strength of mine and I do my best to take full advantage of it.

But, every once in a while I have a, “I don’t live in America anymore” moment.

Rainy season has been filled with a series of those such moments.

I’ve never lived through a rainy season before; they definitely have their perks.

For one, the hot, hot heat of Thailand has really cooled itself down.  It’s now raining pretty much every night, which has led to wonderful sleep and fan-less night and consistent running water in our house, and well…

ok, it’s mostly just the cooling effect the rain has that I love.  But, I love it oh so much.

But, with the perks, there are also the downsides:

-drying laundry has become rather…difficult

-I hardly ever want to get out of bed when it’s time to go to school in the morning due to the rain

-motorbike riding in the rain is not my favorite thing

-and then there’s my afro-puff.

But, it’s neither of those that I want to talk about today.  No, no.  The biggest ‘downside’ of rainy season has most definitely been the woodland creatures that have taken refuge in our house.

Now, I say, woodland creatures, and one may picture something like this:

Image

Those, however, are not the woodland creatures that I am speaking about–no deers or squirrels here.  Nope.  By woodland creatures I mean bugs.

bugs.bugs.bugs.bugs.bugs.

bugs everywhere bugs.

For example:

The amount of mosquito bites currently on my body is record breaking.

I opened my laptop the other day and out crawls… a cockroach.  Tracy gets in the shower, and over her foot crawls… a cockroach.  I move my fan to the other room, out from underneath crawls… a cockroach.

Ooorr…

my personal favorite

the flying termites that invade any and every night after a rain:

Image     Image

this is real life.

they get into our house and I do this:

Image

I don’t mean to–but, I cower in fear because of these nasty, flying bugs.  I have this (maybe irrational) fear of them getting stuck in my hair and never being able to get them out again.

This fear causes me to look a little more like the Arab part of my family…

Then, there’s the woodman spiders.  Nasty ‘ole things.

Image

These delightful things are found at the most wonderful times… like, coming out of the sink drain while brushing your teeth, on the bottom on the bottle of water that you just picked up, or just hanging out on the wall…you know whatever.

And it really doesn’t matter how ‘harmless’ I know they are and how they eat all the fore mentioned bugs that I hate so much and how they don’t want to eat mmeeeee, but I can’t keep my mind from going here:

spider4

SPIDER9

(spider pictures from here)

But, oh… the woodland creatures inside our home don’t quite end here.

The newest addition to our home–a Tokay.

We’ve had a family of them living outside of our front door for sometime now, but as mating season has ended and their offspring are ‘grown’ now, the male and female have parted ways and one of them took up residence on the inside of our house.

tokay2 tokaytokay3

Wonderful.

Honestly, this one bothered me the least…

During the day time we never saw him.

At night time…I would see him (the giant thing) if I got up in the middle of the night to go the bathroom—but I would just pray and go back to bed. The amount of small geckos in our house was gradually decreasing, along with appearances from the giant spiders.   It couldn’t be thaaaaaaaaat bad. (Of course, completely disregarding the fact that these ‘geckos’ are known to be vicious…but also having no idea what to do about it…)

That all changed today as the Tokay made an appearance in daylight.

We tried to capture the whole experience on video, but it’s mostly just shaking shots of the walls with Tracy, Geshem and I screaming as Caleb is forcing the Tokay out.

I write all this to say, I don’t live in America anymore and I’m a huge pansy when it comes to bugs and (apparently) lizards and I don’t know what in the world to do about it.

Lord help me.

the end.

****UPDATE****

I just went outside to turn on the well…because, apparently our ‘always running water’ wasn’t running…and was greeted by both a Tokay and a woodsman spider.  I thought it kind of humorous…in the ironic kind of way.

Baahhhhhh!!!!

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06/08/2013 · 04:15