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June 13, 2019

A Taste of Our Lives

By Tom and Candice, RMM workers in Thailand

We would like to share some of our adventures of the past months via food pictures. We are following Jesus, and he was always breaking bread with friends and strangers, at parties and on the seashore. We are fortunate to have friends from many cultures and we love to eat the spicy and savory foods from those places. It's been a spring of lots of travel for us and we ate new foods (like goat milk and paella and couscous) and felt re-invigorated by witnessing what God is doing in other places, not just our small world here in Bangkok. Have a taste!

This feast of Pakistani food was made by my (Candice’s) friend and enjoyed following ESL lesson with her three youngest children. She cooks entirely on her tiny balcony because her one-room apartment doesn't have a kitchen. She urges more and more food on me and pushes wrapped leftovers into my hands as I leave, the perfect example of God's abundance and generous outpouring in our lives!

Hospitality is a highly held value in South Asia. Everywhere I (Tom) went, I was aggressively served lots of food and seconds (you must physically protect your plate if you don't want more!). Here we are "enjoying" puffed rice with sugar cane syrup and sour milk. Immediately after this, we were served a huge meal with rice! I spent about a week traveling with Hiralal,* visiting different groups of Hindu-background believers. The groups are small and facing family pressure, but their joy and peace were evident and I heard lots of testimonies of God's goodness. Family relationships have improved, children are getting educations and people are getting healed. God is doing a lot of transforming work. My trip concluded with a retirement ceremony for Protap,* the founding member of the team there. It was inspiring to hear his testimony of God's faithfulness throughout his life and his determination to continue mentoring other young leaders.

In Southeast Asia, we heard lots of ministry updates from the team including exciting stories of healing. One of the team members led Bible studies during the seminar about focusing our lives on serving God. Our shared meals and socializing are always a fun part of the meetings. We buy sticky rice by the kilo and eat mounds of it with a little chicken, fish, and spicy dips.

Church for us is also often centered around food. At Bang Na Christian Fellowship, we have a Thai and American feast each time we attend and eat together with people from everywhere; from Taiwan to Pakistan to the Netherlands. At Dwelling Place, (the Thai church where Tom and Claire help out with after-church English classes) there are always noodles or rice dishes to be enjoyed together at long tables. In our team church times at home (above), we love our Thai potlucks, only lacking the broccoli salad and cherry delight of our childhood potlucks!

We had the joy of visiting Candice's brother Raleigh* and family and enjoying hospitality, North African style with a beautiful couscous meal made by Opal.* If felt so good to sit around the table with family again and to learn about their life out in the mountains. We prayed there with JOY and anticipation for what the Father has planned! It was beautiful to witness their incarnational lifestyle and joy in the culture.

Paella in Spain! After North Africa, we spent part of a week in Spain at meetings with RMM. In little white houses on a mountain with spring bursting out all around us, we experienced a "mountaintop" time with God and friends and family. It was so good to study the Bible together, to share feelings, to hear from God, to hear from so many "on the same page" about ministry. Even though the focus was on the Mediterranean region, it left us encouraged and with new perspective for our work in Thailand too.

With the REACH team and Jada, enjoying breakfast for dinner before a Tennebrae service on Holy Saturday. The REACH team has wrapped up their time in Thailand and we can't quite believe how fast their time here flew by! They did a great job supporting the long term team, teaching English in a Thai church, tutoring refugee kids, working at Nighlight with trafficked women, and teaching English in a temple school. They also did some traveling and teaching in other areas as well as visiting our second REACH team in Southeast Asia. God has definitely used these three young women to encourage and teach many! Pray that the relationships they began can be an important step on journeys toward Jesus for some!

Please pray for Tom, Candice, and their family to continue having meaningful opportunities to eat and share life with the people of Bangkok and beyond.

*names changed and last names omitted for security

June 08, 2019

Expect the Unexpected

By Pablo, RMM worker in Spain

There is a saying here, which literally translated means, “Don’t put your jacket away until the 40th of May.” It means there can be cold spells until the first week or so of June, but Judi and I are second-guessing local folk wisdom and have gotten out our summer wardrobe. But you never know…

Isn’t that like God? Just when we think we have him figured out, he throws us a curve ball (which isn’t so bad as long as we learn to hit them!). Who can figure him out anyway? Even in little things. For example, several days ago Judi and I started out on a walk in the morning for the sole purpose of getting some exercise, but before getting back home we ended up stopping at some herbal shops and drug stores as well as eating breakfast. Totally unplanned! You never know... With God you can expect the unexpected!

Take the nights of “hymns and more” this spring. These meetings arose from our times of “church” with one friend, singing hymns and worshiping together. Soon we decided to involve others in it, and Judi invited a number of friends who like to sing to come for an evening of “hymns and more.” After four such encounters now, the participants are eager to continue when we resume in the fall.

In these gatherings, we learn the music (as these hymns are basically new to people here), but also the story behind the text. We also work on sight singing, as most of the participants don’t read music. We’ve sung in four different languages, and some of the people want to hone their English pronunciation skills, “… four of them mentioned a recent crisis they’d been through which had reoriented their view toward God, and how music and this group has had a part in the healing process.”as they also sing in other choirs. We end in fellowship around the table, talking and eating tapas brought by everyone. Our goal is that in each encounter people would leave full – as much emotionally and spiritually as in their stomachs.

The final meeting this spring was a special one. Each person had a chance to pick a favorite song from the repertoire. At the end each person shared a “take-away” from their time in the group so far. It turns out that of the eleven people present, four of them mentioned a recent crisis they’d been through which had reoriented their view toward God, and how music and this group has had a part in the healing process.

This was not particularly what we’d envisioned, but maybe it is a “curve ball” sent by God. Music and singing; need for emotional and spiritual healing… is there a connection? We’re still trying to figure it out and wondering what the next step might be. You never know… with God we can expect the unexpected!

Please pray for wisdom and creativity for Pablo and Judi this summer as they prepare to meet with this group again in the fall. Pray that they would continue learning how to hit the “curve balls” God sends them.