Tom and Candice and their three children (Claire, Eliza and Silas) have been working with RMM in Thailand for seven years, and are heading back to the field after two years spent in the United States. They spoke to us about the challenges of returning, what has changed in the two years they’ve been gone, and what Thai dishes they’re looking forward to most.
When are you leaving to go back to Thailand?
We are moving out of our house in Columbus on June 20, will spend a few weeks with our families in Delaware and Virginia, and then fly to Bangkok on July 11.
What have you been doing while you’ve been in the States?
For the past two years, Tom has been working as Asia Regional director (giving oversight to the work in that region) and Candice has been the staff writer at RMM. We’ve stayed in touch with our friends and team from a distance and Tom has made two trips back. We had the opportunity to share about the work and the needs in Thailand in churches here and with a number of people. We haven’t seen the immediate response we hoped for, but seeds have been planted and we pray that God is calling more workers.
Our kids attended public school and we had a great experience with a little elementary school at the end of our street. We met a lot of international friends through the school and also through International Friendships at OSU. We enjoyed unique experiences (for our kids) like Vacation Bible School, libraries, sledding, choral camp, Columbus’ parks and bike trails, and all four seasons! We’ve prioritized time with our parents and siblings and feel especially grateful for those good memories.
What excites you most about going back?
We have considered this time in the States temporary, and have always planned to return to Thailand. That simple fact helped all of us to embrace the time in Ohio as a great (but short) experience and helped us to maintain our excitement to go back. None of us have lost that desire and we praise God that we are all on the same page! We’re excited to reconnect with our team and the believers again. We’re excited for the potential ofall the things that God wants to do in Bangkok. We want to view the city with his eyes and find the people who are the most interested in learning and walking toward Jesus with us. We’re excited to go back in a setting that is obviously not Christianized, so we can see and celebrate small works of God. We’re looking forward to just being back in Thai culture that we love.
What’s most challenging about going back overseas after time spent in the States?
We’ve been reminded of some of the opportunities for our kids that we are giving up. Saying good-bye to our families and the conveniences of life and the resources here is hard. We’ll really miss the library where we spent a lot of time and checked out hundreds of books! The logistics of packing and moving internationally can feel overwhelming.
Are there any changes in your team and ministry you’d like to share?
There has been some turnover on the team. We have three new team members (including Efrain and Sujen’s baby Gabriella, Jonatan from Nicaragua, and Anna, a teacher). We will be regrouping as a team this year and plan to spend a lot of time praying and talking about what our focus should be moving forward. We feel like with our past experience and things we’ve learned, we can have a more focused vision from the beginning. Our goal will remain the same: to plant churches which are simple and reproducible, meeting in homes and spreading among natural networks. We have begun to see these simple churches form in Bangkok as well as a neighboring country. Please pray that God continues his work of multiplication and that whole households come to know the truth.
Who is your sending church, and how have you connected with them during your time in the United States?
Our sending church is London Christian Fellowship. It’s been really good to worship with them again over the past couple of years. The kids really loved the chance to go to Sunday school, be in the Christmas play, things like that. We liked being a part of a small group and getting to know many new people at our church. The hard thing about connecting was not living in the community where our church is located. We are so thankful for them as a sending church. We have a committed support team from our church and a very supportive pastor (Rob and Doris Swartz) and we are grateful for their care and prayers, not only for us, but for the whole team and for our Thai friends.
What Thai foods are you most looking forward to eating again?
Candice: garlic chicken with a fried egg
Tom: crab curry
Claire: pad thai (noodles) and oyster omelet
Eliza: sticky rice and yam (spicy seafood salad)
Silas: som tam (papaya salad)
What has God been teaching you during your time in the United States? How are you hoping to apply those lessons to your work in Thailand?
Tom: I'd say that being away from Thailand has reminded me of the need for patience in the work – the need to think long term. In the situation it's easier to get impatient and to feel like nothing is happening.
Being away gives some perspective. I've heard and thought a lot about the importance of spending a lot of time in prayer, and I hope that I can make that a priority as we return and get back into the routine of life there.
What’s the weather like in Thailand?
The weather is hot, year round. You can picture us heading into a summer that will last for years and years! The rainy season is beginning now and the dryer/hotter season is roughly February/April. Tom loves the heat, so he’s happy to leave the extreme cold of Ohio winters behind.
How can supporters and church members be praying for you during this transition?
- good communication within our family
- a suitable house and a neighborhood where God wants us to be
- good new relationships with landlords/neighbors
- that the kids would adjust as well back to Thailand as they did to America
- success in language study (Candice will be learning to read and write in Thai)
- unity of vision for our diverse/multicultural team
- that Thai friends will come to know Jesus!
For the kids:What about going back to Thailand excites you most?
We get asked this question a lot!
Silas (age 6): Seeing our new house – I hope it’s like our old house in Thailand and that there’s a hole for looking through to spy on the girls. I want it to have room for a dog. I want the dog to sleep in bed with me and I’ll wake up and check on him.
Claire (age 12): Thailand is one of my homes, so I want to go back. I look forward to hearing Thai language again. I’m looking forward to the hot weather and wearing dresses a lot. I’m looking forward to going to my new school and to see what it’s like. I think it will be really great. I can’t wait to see my Thai friends and team friends again.
Eliza (age 10): I’m looking forward to everything Claire said, plus, the food!
What would you want kids in the States to know about you?
Silas: I hope my friends here remember good times we had like playdates. I hope they know that I will be speaking a new language –Thai. I want them to know that Thai culture is different. We have different foods and speak a different language
Claire: I would like kids here to know I am just like you! Just because our family are mission workers and live in another country, we are not different. I’m a normal kid; I like to read and roller blade and I like rabbits. I’m not extra brave, I’m a little scared, but I know it will be okay because we’re doing it as a family and because God wants our family to do this. I would love to have pen pals in America. I’m a faithful letter write so if you write to me, you’ll get a response – presto!
What’s school like for you, in Thailand?
Eliza: I have no idea! We are going to a new school in Bangkok, called ICS (International Community School). We took a tour of it once and it’s big and had a swimming pool. It had a nice library. I will learn in English but there will be a Thai class too.
Claire: I’ve gone to a lot of different schools in the past, and recently I realized I was in my Thai kindergarten longer than any other school. I also went to Thai Catholic school, was homeschooled, and went to two public schools in Ohio, but I like the change and I’m really looking forward to seventh grade at ICS. I hope I’ll be able to make good friends with the same interests as me and that I’ll have a patient, fun math teacher who’s good at explaining things!