Missions Moment – Thailand

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Terry Gibbs, Wycliffe Bible Translators

Thank you for your kindness this past year. Your prayers and support have been a blessing to me. December turned out to be a busy month, so I thought I’d write these few things below.

 

At Work

While I was sitting at my desk at Payap one day, the office door opened, and Caryn walked up to my desk and said “We’re having marital problems”. Then from the other office door, Carlos (her husband and one of our linguists here) walks in, and I look at her and said “I can fix anything, but I am not able to fix this kind of problem”. He walks over and says “She needs a new computer”, then Caryn says “No I don’t, it just needs fixing”. He says “Yes you do”, and she says “Let him look at”. I sitting in my chair smiling at them, and the other 3 people in the office were calmly laughing. Then I said “Wait a minute Carlos – I’ve got the solution. You give her a $1000, and she can go buy a new computer”. He looks at me, shakes his head and walks away. The whole thing was very funny and they were both smiling the whole time. Then I said to Caryn, “Let me have a look”. Well 4 hours later with lots of software fixing, and re-soldering of the power cable going to the computer, it was again, just like new. When Caryn came to pick up the computer, she was happy to see that her favorite 8 year old Toshiba computer was still able to work well.

 

Christmas Eve

Sunday morning I attended church and the pastor’s son from the U.S. presented the Gospel message. The pastor of the church had previously arranged that just before the sermon, we all would get to hear Luke 2:10-11 spoken in many different languages. So at his bidding all of those who had been previously selected, came down to the front as a group. The format was, each person was to say which country they were from, and then say which language they would be speaking.

The 21 presentations were:
New Zealand – English
Nederlands – Dutch
Faroe Islands – Faroese
Mongolia – Mongolian
Pakistan – Urdu
Singapore – English
Hong Kong – Burmese
U.S.A. – English
Philippines – Tagalog
Hong Kong – Cantonese
Hong Kong – Akaha (Thai)
Korea – Korean
India – Bolo
India – Hindi
England – English
Italy – Italian
Scotland – English
Thailand – Thai
Chinese – Mandarin
Germany – German
Ukraine – Ukrainian

 

That Evening

I had been invited to join a Filipino church get together, which also included some people from Pakistan. I walked around and talked with people a bit. Later on we sang several traditional Christmas songs in English. Then we had a wonderful meal which was arranged smorgasbord style, with all kinds of interesting foods.

 

Late Night

I previously asked someone to join me at an 11pm Christmas candlelight service at the Chiang Mai Community Church. There were probably a couple of hundred people there. As we were walking back to the car, after the service had ended, it became clear that the restaurant across the street was packed with many people having a good time, and they were listening to a very loud band. So I thought to myself, here we are enjoying the Peace and Joy that God gives us, and over there they are having a good time, but are oblivious to what true happiness really is.

 

That Evening

I had been invited to join a Filipino church get together, which also included some people from Pakistan. I walked around and talked with people a bit. Later on we sang several traditional Christmas songs in English. Then we had a wonderful meal which was arranged smorgasbord style, with all kinds of interesting foods.

 

Late Night

I previously asked someone to join me at an 11pm Christmas candlelight service at the Chiang Mai Community Church. There were probably a couple of hundred people there. As we were walking back to the car, after the service had ended, it became clear that the restaurant across the street was packed with many people having a good time, and they were listening to a very loud band. So I thought to myself, here we are enjoying the Peace and Joy that God gives us, and over there they are having a good time, but are oblivious to what true happiness really is.

 

Around Town

Public transportation here consists of using either a red truck (Song Theaw) for 20 Baht (60 cents) or a TukTuk (3 wheel covered scooter) for 100 Bhat (3 dollars). I sometime intentionally take the TukTuk so I can have some fun with the driver. What I do is, walk up to a parked TukTuk, and say to the driver in English that I want to go to Bangkok (which is about 400 miles South of here). I intentionally slur the word Bangkok and when they cannot understand what I’m saying, then I say “krung thep mahana khon” (Bangkok) in the Thai language, which they clearly understand, and then I quickly say 20 Baht. Well that surely gets their attention, and usually they just wave their hand and say no or they just stare at me (since that is way too far for a TukTuk to go, and certainly not for only 20 Baht). But then I quickly say “Pom Pude len” (I’m just joking) and they get this relived look on their face. Then I give a local destination and off we go. Along the way I get out a 20 Baht bill and fold it in half and then hide a 100 Baht bill and a tract so that they are not visible. When we stop, I get out and attempt the hand the guy the 20 Bhat bill, which he does not want to accept, since he is expecting 100 Bhat. I then encourage him to take it, which they usually do, then I motion to him to look inside the folded 20 Bhat bill. When they see 100 Bhat, they are relieved, and they notice the tract (which I hope he will read). So humor helps break the ice.

 

Out Walking

I met a lady from Canada who was in Chiang Mai alone. She wanted to find a place where she could learn the technique of giving a Thai Massage. I said that I knew there some businesses in town that provided such training, but I had no idea where any of these places were. We talked for a few minutes more, and I made some suggestions for things to do in town and places to go. When I handed her a tract, she seemed interested in reading it.

I met a Chinese girl who was walking around in a Buddhist compound looking at things. She spoke good English which was unusual for a person from China. We talked for a few minutes, and I gave her a map to help her see where things were located in the city. When I offered her a tract in Chinese, she expressed an interest in reading it.

I met another girl from China who spoke better Thai than she did English. We talked for a minutes or so, she did not want a map, so I then I offered her both a tract in Thai and a tract in English and she accepted them both.

I met a young man and his wife who were from Belgium. I remarked that we don’t get many visitors here from Belgium. She said that was probably due to it being such a small country; to which I agreed. They had just arrived in Chiang Mai that morning, so I mentioned several places to visit. I was actually in town during a week day looking for Christmas Cards, and I didn’t have my bag of maps and tracts with me. They both spoke good English, so I just said to them that they needed to believe in God and then trust in Jesus to be able to go to heaven. As I said that, the lady raised her hand and squeezed the upper arm of her husband. The rest is up to the Lord.

As I was walking along the moat and I noticed a lady a block ahead of me stopping and talking to someone, and then continue to walk. Two blocks later she again stopped to talk to someone. I thus concluded that she as looking for something, so within the next 2 blocks I gradually caught up to her. I said excuse me, I live here, can I help you find something? She said she was looking for Maya Court. I said that I didn’t know of that place, but I certainly knew of the huge Maya shopping center. She said she wanted to go shopping and buy some food. I said that Maya was another 20 minute walk straight ahead, but that less than 5 minutes ahead was a grocery store that has virtually everything you could want including western foods. As we walked there, we talked a bit. She said she was looking for Maya Court. I said that I didn’t know of that place, but I certainly knew of the huge Maya shopping center. She said she wanted to go shopping and buy some food. I said that Maya was another 20 minute walk straight ahead, but that less than 5 minutes ahead was a grocery store that has virtually everything you could want including western foods. As we walked there, we talked a bit. She said she was from Germany. I said that years ago, I had worked in Darmstadt for 2 weeks, and had taken a boat ride on the Rhine river and had visited Cologne. At one point I offered her a map, but she declined, saying she could not easily understand them. As we got to the store, I offered her a tract which she accepted.

I was walking past a grocery store and I saw an older man sitting outside on a bench seat and he had an Alaskan Malamute dog with him. So I slowed down and made a comment about having the dog here in Chiang Mai. I took that opportunity to sit down on the bench. We talked for a while about the U.S., politics, Chiang Mai and other chit chat. He said he was from Israel and had been living in Chiang Mai for 6 years. I gradually moved the conversation towards God and our personal lives. It was a friendly chat, back and forth. I ended up saying “We each need Jesus in order to get into heaven”. He said we all would get to heaven someday. I said ok, well I’ll be going now. As I stood up I realized an older Thai woman was walking directly towards me, but then passed by me, so I turned around and saw the man stand up and they walked away together; so he has a Thai girlfriend. Now I knew why he did not care about God and heaven, he had adopted her Buddhist beliefs. How sad for a Jewish person to have fallen so far.

While I was in a restaurant, I walked over to talk to a man who was sitting by himself. He said he was from Wales. I said not many people come from there. We talked for about 10 minutes. The conversation ended in a friendly way with him saying there was no need for religion.

I another restaurant I noticed a lady sitting by herself. I walked over and introduced myself, and asked her where she was from. She said Colorado, and I said “So am I”. Then I asked to sit down for a minute and we began talking. She was born in Colorado, but her family had moved to Utah when she was 2 years old. She thus grew up with Mormon beliefs and did not see any need for following another religion.

Two Stories

As part of being here in Thailand, I have both a Thai Visa and a Thai Work Permit (provided by Payap). This Work Permit must be renewed each year with the Thai government. This involves some paper work and a blood test to look for syphilis and a well-known communicable disease. A couple of years ago I went to this hospital that I used twice before. So I walked in and said “I needed to have a blood test for my Work Permit”. I was directed to a counter further ahead, and again I asked for a blood test, and I was sent to another counter. There they took my blood pressure and measured my height. Having already dealt with a few nurses at this point and sensing that they did not understand what I was saying, I walked over to what looked like a head nurse and said “I wanted to get a test for syphilis”. Well that quickly developed into 2 head nurses and several younger nurses have a very heated discussion. In other words “pandemonium”. As I walked towards the group to listen to them, I realized that they had concluded that I actually had syphilis, and that the current problem was, they did not know what treatment to give me. So at that point, I just turned around and walked out of the hospital. On the following day I went to another hospital I’ve used before. It took 10 minutes to have the blood drawn and the form signed. I returned the next day for the test results. I then took all of the paperwork to Payap for them to process. All in all – just a day’s work, being in another country.

Last month, as I tried to make a call with my with my cell phone, I got a lady speaking perfect English saying that the Picture in my Passport was incorrect. I’m thinking WHAT? The U.S. government put that picture in my passport, how on earth can it be the wrong picture??. So I waited for a day, and every time I wanted to make a call, then I got the very nice lady saying her message. The background to this is that a few years ago, the Thai government required all foreigners to go the

AIS telecommunication office with passport in hand and register the SIM card in their cell phone (which I of course did). So anyway, I finally had a few extra minutes the next day, so I drove 15 minutes to the AIS office and explained the problem. I took with me, 4 different Passport photos (different sizes and different color backgrounds since the rules constantly change here), and of course I had my Passport. I eventually was able to talk with a guy who refused to use one of my little Passport pictures and refused looking at the Passport (saying it was not good enough) and instead used his cell phone to take a picture of me. He then said it’s OK, you’re now registered and he cleared the phone message. But the next day, the nice lady with message was back. So a day later I went back to AIS and this time a girl immediately helped me and just cleared the phone message, which is what I did not want. I wanted to be registered. So she got me to a guy who spoke English, and using my passport, 15 minutes later he said it’s done. However 2 days later, the message was back. So another trip to AIS. This time a new guy used my Passport and after 45 minutes of him typing on the computer, he said ok, you’re now registered. But 2 days later the message came back. Currently I’m expecting 2 armed military officers to show up and take me to jail for not registering my phone. Oh well – just more fun in another country.

 

Other News

The JNR (Japanese National Railroad) is planning to build a high-speed bullet train line that will run from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

During December here, it rained lightly off and on for 2 days. In all of the years I’ve been here it’s never rained during our dry season of November thru February. Even now our humidity levels have been 60 to 80 percent each day, when they are normally 20 to 30 percent.

Kachin evening meal