First, the good news is that our family is safe even though there are mass protests happening all across Bangkok province. We are located in Chonburi province which is about an hour drive away from it all. We thank all who contacted us out of concern.
However, the bad news is that Thai society is grossly polarized and there seems to be no good solution to the problem. Please pray for the unity of the Thai people, that this nation will not fall into civil war.
The second piece of good news is that a fifth UMC opened up in Thailand in Minburi, which is in Bangkok province. We had an opening service two weeks ago, and the building was packed. Pastor Sarah of the First UMC in Thailand (pictured with her daughter, Dr. Kate and Kate's fiance) preached at this historic event and consecrated Pastor Sila and his wife in this new church called Pradumri Bangkok UMC.
Now for some disappointing news. Jamie and Holle Wollin, who are Volunteer Missionaries at Phayao Bible College, will be heading back to the States and will come again next year after completing their seminary degrees. (Originally, the Wollins were going to complete their final coursework via internet from Thailand). The primary 'glitch' involved securing their visas. Because we do not yet have foundation status, we are dependent on the agency Phayao Bible College is affiliated with to obtain the visas. This did not happen within the time permitted. We then explored several other possibilities for keeping them in the country, one of which would work well. The good option was for them to serve with Muang Thai Foundation teaching English in their ministries in Northeast Thailand, but there were concerns as to whether there'd be adequate time and internet service available for them to complete their online studies with Asbury Theological Seminary. Other factors then arose. After much prayer and being guided by the Scriptures, the Wollins have determined it is best to return to Asbury at this time, complete their work, and then come back to serve at Phayao. This would solve many problems and give a fresh start. Please pray for the Wollins as they have many transitions. We will miss them greatly and can't wait for them to come back.
Some good news is that we met with Bishop Goodpaster and Rev. Jong Sung Kim to discuss the new General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) process for educating and credentialing pastors in Southeast Asia. We now have a set approved process and we will now be busy forming a Course of Study training center for Thai UM pastors and leaders.
We also spent several days at a United Methodist Asia Missionary Gathering in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
We had a wonderful time connecting with fellow missionaries. It was great fellowship but also a great source of knowledge, because we were able to find people who have done aspects of our ministries, and was able to give us wise advice and resources.
Today, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. There will be no turkey because we got back from Cambodia too late to defrost it. So we will have chicken instead. But we could eat bologne sandwiches for all we care, because we have all three sons, two daughter-in-laws, two grandchildren, and one young man (Allen Metcalf, who we consider to be our fourth son) is all with us to celebrate together. We know that we will have our family here for only a brief time, as they will all leave to go to college, graduate school, or seminary next year. God has blessed us with a wonderful family and we are soaking it all in while we can.
May the Lord bless you and remember to give God thanks for all He does.