Living life overseas is an exciting adventure! New cultures. New languages. New sights. New smells. New sounds. Familiar foods at the supermarket (such as peanut butter) costs an arm and a leg. Raw meats lay out in all the stores and markets, producing an unpleasant smell. There are the little children who have to teach you how to say “train” (rot fai) and “purple” (sii muuang). There are the store owners who track your every step in their store and who will kindly remind/ask you to please take your shoes off before entering. Trashcans are nearly impossible to find. There is the public transportations, such as a truck with two rows for passengers called a song tao (literally meaning 2 rows), on which you can very easily get lost on if you don’t pay attention and miss the landmark where you get off (and thankfully, a 2 1/2 hour ride is only a little over $2). Then you have learn how everything you know as the Imperial system converts into the Metric system, and which Farenheit and Celsius degrees match to one another. All these things and so many more have welcomed me here in Thailand!
However, there is one thing that did not change in going away from the comforts of home in America: Real Life. And I don’t know if I really grasped the reality of this or not before I came to Thailand, but being 6 weeks into my trip, I think I finally have a pretty good idea of this reality. Life doesn’t stop and the basics of it doesn’t change with being overseas. I still go to the store to buy groceries. I straiten up my room every evening, and I sweep and do laundry at least weekly (sometimes more). I have to be at work 5 days a week and have language class 3 days a week. And I can’t forget about the homework (gaan baan) that has to be turned in every class! (Yes, even during my “summer break”!) I still need community, and it still takes time to find/build community. I play my ukulele and ocarina in the evenings. I am not magically exempt from the same struggles I have back home (this might have been the most shocking of all these). And the “I’m not in America” realization didn’t set in until a couple of week after already being in Thailand. And now, I do not wake up in the morning thinking, “Wow! Another day in Thailand!” because it’s just a part of life right now. Certainly throughout my day I am reminded over and over again that I am in Thailand (see the first paragraph), but that is an afterthought of my experiences. It’s just living life committed to Christ…in Thailand. And that’s the reality.
There have been many struggles mixed in with the joy of life here. It is difficult being so limited in what I can talk to people about; and then half of the time I use the wrong tone and nobody can understand me, or they don’t stick to the script of the two or three answers I know to the question I asked. When these things happen, it’s a blow to pride and a stripping away of comfort. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. It’s a constant praying against the pride that wants to rise up and discourage me. It’s rejoicing that you can at least by the food you need while providing a little humor for those present and laughing with them. It’s being thankful for the compassion and grace the Thai people show me as I try to speak their language.
I’ve been reading, learning, and reminded about the Lord’s mercy, compassion, grace, and justice in the last few weeks. Y’all, He is the most merciful! I have been on my face many times in the last weeks in awe of the great and tender mercy He continuously has shown, shows, and will continue to show. I have seen the truth of the gospel over and over again in my time here – and reminded how I don’t deserve this kind of relentless love. Yet He is continuously and freely showers it down – His timeless, priceless, free gift. He [Jesus] “was delivered up because of our offenses,” not because we were deserving, “and was raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25) What a great, awesome, powerful love! Rich in mercy; full of compassion; slow to anger; abounding in love. This is a real life truth; a truth that brings hope, and life, and peace!
The Lord’s mercy and compassions are new every morning! He is so gracious. O how He has carried me over the last 6 weeks! It had been such a rich time of learning, growing, experiencing, exploring, making mistakes, and discovering. Life is anything but dull; oh no, it is an abundant gift every moment! It’s hard to believe there are only 5 weeks until I return to the States, but I am ready to embrace every moment.
Written by Mary Grace Goff