One of our DTS teams sent us this report from Thailand, after working a month in Bangkok. Now they have arrived in the northern part of the country, where they will work with the Karen people near Mae Sot. When we arrived in Bangkok, we had no idea what adventures God had for us, which gave us big expectations for our time here! When we took our first steps in this beautiful country, our excitement really started to grow! Even though we were tired after a long flight, we were filled with joy and happiness. It was exciting to think about the month we would have in Bangkok, before heading to some of the northern villages near Mae Sot. Here we are, one month later, so thankful for all we’ve learned during our time here. We’ve stayed at the YWAM base in Bangkok, and it feels like our home! The base has blessed us in so many ways. Showers, familiar toilets (not squatty pottys, which we’re tried outside the base) and Internet are some of the goodies we have here. But the biggest blessing has been the fellowship with people who share a common goal and purpose- to know God and to make Him known. The great thing is that it’s not only a goal, but that its a lifelong journey, as we’ve learned through many of our new friendships!
We have made many Thai friends, and they are beautiful! The culture here is very different from Norway; it is very warm and joyful. If smile at a stranger on the street, they smile back. Everybody is tan here, yet they love people with white skin. Due to this, they use “whitening” creams. So we have to be careful about which skin products we buy! The food here is also very nice! Thai people eat rice and noodles for all their meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was an adjustment for us as Norwegian bread-lovers, but now we really like Thai food! Another thing we love about Thailand is all the markets! So now all the girls on the team wear “alibaba” and “elephant” pants, as we call them. We also have to be careful about the way we sit and the way we’re pointing our fingers or feet. When we’re sitting, we have to have our feet down on the ground, and when we’re pointing, we have to use two fingers. If we’re not doing this, we might offend someone.
To further help us understand the culture, we’ve had a translator with us this last month. There are many people we’ve met who can’t speak English, and our translator has helped bridge that gap of communication. She is an amazing person, and we are so thankful to be working with her! The base in Bangkok is also very diverse. It is a meeting point for Christian teams from all over the world! So not only are we learning about Thailand, but we have also learned about many different nations.
Praying for the fortuneteller we met, along with our translator
Yet one of the biggest differences is the awareness of the spiritual atmosphere here. There are Buddha statues everywhere, and there are “spirit houses” all over. “Spirit houses” are said to be small houses where spirits of the dead people live. We have also gone for prayer walks during our time here. On one of these walks, we met a fortuneteller. We have noticed that these spiritual things have been challenging at times, as we’ve tried to talk with others about Jesus.
When it comes to ministry, we’ve done many cool things! The first days, we had a cultural introduction, and we went on a prayer walk in two Buddhist temples. The following week, we worked at the Nancy Ross Training Center with the NRTC Student Ministry. We had a lot of fun teaching English! We played many games and laughed so much! We helped prepare food in the restaurant on the base, painted and went on more prayer walks and for evangelism in the nearby university campus. In the evenings, we helped lead a couple of meetings. We praised God through worship, sharing testimonies and playing games.
The two following weeks we served at The Ruth Center. This is a ministry which helps elderly people living in the slums of Bangkok. We washed a huge house, we went on more prayer walks and house visits, and we helped with the “Dream Project.” This project gives elderly people opportunities to make items that they can sell, providing them with an income. On our house visits, we had many good conversations and strong prayers! Many people had a huge reaction to us showing them God’s love. Some of them started crying, and they where really touched by God. Its amazing to see how God is working in these visits and in the ministry! We are learning that it’s not about us, but about Him- everything that happens is to His glory! So far we’ve had a great experience, and we’ve learned a lot! Mae Sot is our next destination, where we’re going to work with the Karen people. Its going to be exiting to see what God has for us there!
Text and Photos: Kine Marita, DTS Student