We are entering the week of Songkran, which is the Thai traditional New Year Festival. Thai people celebrate the Western New Year's Day for a whole week, Chinese New Year for a whole week, and Thai New Year (Songkran) for a week or even 2 weeks in rural areas. Thai people celebrate Songkran by throwing water at each other. There are huge barrels of water out near the street with a hose to refill it. A bucket is handy for kids and adults to dip water out of the barrel and throw at anyone within reach. There are also roving pickup trucks with water barrels and people skilled at doing drive-by soakings. So we know that we will get wet every time we leave the house in the next seven or eight days.
This year, we will celebrate Songkran with our oldest son Michael Patrick, our daughter-in-law Jude, our grandchildren Madeline and Michael Isaiah, and our son’s friend Allen. Michael will be working as a teacher at Anuban Chonburi School and will be helping us with writing Christian Education materials and with setting up our Thai website which will feature free downloadable Christian teaching and training resources. Jude will also be writing Christian Education materials and will serve as the staff writer for our fellow missionaries in Laos and Vietnam. Allen is seeking a job at this time and needs your prayers. He will be helping us with his computer skills on our Thai website.
We apologize that it has been more than a week since we last posted an article. When our son Michael Patrick arrived in Thailand, he had a medical emergency which required him to be admitted to the hospital upon the first day here. He then had to go to the hospital for the next 6 days in the morning and in the evening. This and other duties have consumed our time. Praise God, Michael Patrick is mending and is on his way to recovery. Hopefully, when the Songkran Festival is over, he will be fully recovered and they will all begin to learn to use the public transportation systems here and learn to ride motorcycles so they can gain some independence.
God has truly blessed us beyond all measure. One of the most difficult aspects of being missionaries for Sherri and I was moving away from our grandchildren. And now God has brought them to be with us and we are overflowing with joy! God is good!
Both Pradumri UMC and Bowin UMC are receiving new interns from Phayao Bible College. These four interns will be training to be Christian workers and ministers and we are glad to have them be a part of the United Methodist mission in Thailand. We will be introducing them to you on the blog in 2 more weeks when all of four interns arrive at the churches.
We also have good news concerning Pattaya, which many of you have kept in your prayers for a long time. We have a new United Methodist Church and a new ministry in Pattaya which we know the Lord will bless tremendously. Pastor Banya and the members of the Life Center Church of Pattaya have become the fourth United Methodist Congregation in Thailand. Pastor Banya is a strong, veteran Christian leader who is also the regional director for the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand. His will provide wise and effective leadership for this new work. Working together with Pastor Banya is Khru Mary (Khru means “Teacher”) Teacher Mary is a Chinese Thai woman who is a strong leader at Pradumri UMC. Mary helps to lead a cell group of Chinese Christians in Pattaya and is a gifted pastor. She will be serving as assistant pastor at Life Center Church and will be the pastor for Chinese Christians. This will help to make Life Center Church strong because it will fill a need that is not being filled at the moment, by providing a church where both Thai and Chinese people can attend. There are many couples where one spouse is Chinese and the other is Thai. Before this new ministry, these couples could not attend the same church but now they can. We will introduce them in a few weeks on this blog when we are able to get pictures to post. We just wanted to let you know the good news now.