Today’s project is to get the four nicer rubber wood bookshelves emptied, saying good-by to paper books, some hard cover, but mostly paperback. Here it’s difficult to get paper books in English, and these have been acquired piece-meal over the past decade, often a few brought back as we’ve gone overseas. I can’t take them all to the States with me in March; most have to go. But, there’s no one who can read them here in my neighborhood, and there is no Salvation Army thrift store to donate to here. Where do I put them? Surely not the trash! But that may be exactly what I have to do. Then someone will come and take them for their paper recycle value. This is the difficult thing for me this day, this weekend. There are only a handful of novels, “Airplane Books” as I call them. Most are books about ministry or biographies and the such. Reference books are headed back to the States, from whence they came. But the rest . . .
Every day it’s a couple of hours or more of asking myself if I should toss, sell (Does it have any value to someone here?), or take? Then, if the answer is “take,” I still need to ask myself why? Is it simply because I’m emotionally attached to the item, or because it’s truly useful? If it’s not useful, it gets tossed, given away or sold. So, these are difficult days.
Someone wrote about us a couple of years or so ago. They said we don’t have a nice car (however, at that time we had just taken possession of the best vehicle we’ve ever had here in Thailand), not a nice house, no nice things, etc. But, look at our neighbors! We have air conditioners to survive the afternoon heat; they do not. We have satellite TV so we can relax watching a favorite program before bed and access international news – in English! We have laptops, printer/scanners, iPads, smart phones, fans, a bedframe for our mattress – and some of our neighbors don’t even have mattresses – desks, a kitchen table (many of our neighbors just eat on the floor), a stove and a range hood, the ability to buy gas for the vehicle and stove without having to take out a loan from the local loan shark that charges 10-12% interest MONTHLY. We have more than enough clothing, we have tools to fix stuff with, we are rarely concerned about the electric bill. Yes, the standard is far lower than we lived in the States, but it’s far above where the neighbors are. Now that 12 years have passed since the Boxing Day Tsunami, most of our neighbors are catching up with us. But is that supposed to be our focus? Stuff? Luxury? I know this will be a struggle when we land at LAX in March.
We’re 60 now. Well, I’m 59½! Starting over again in our native culture, but our PERSONAL culture has changed. We’re not fully American in our mindset, yet we are not fully Thai either. Somewhere in between. It frustrates me to see that rent in the States will be 10-15 times what we pay here. And the cost of basic furnishings is off-putting. Bed, sofa, kitchen table, a couple of desks, a dresser, a few kitchen appliances and dishes and glasses. But, God will provide these things in the States just as He’s provided them here in Thailand. My mind tends towards the logistics end of things, and it’s sometimes hard for me to “get it.” But, I’ve seen God come through time and time again when it’s all been beyond my ability, and so I choose to walk in faith. Hebrews 11:1 comes to mind often – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God knows what we need, and as long as He is #1 in our lives, all of our NEEDS will be provided (Matthew 6:33). To consider what NEEDS are as opposed to WANTS and DESIRES is a whole other topic . . . In Southern California, it means food, clothing (and far less than many of us thing), shelter (not necessarily luxurious), and transportation. That’s it.
In a way, it’s great that we’re going down to virtually nothing again. I think it will be about 3-4 cubic meters of belongings on a sea crate in addition to the luggage allowance on the flight. A fresh start with little. The opportunity to start out and not go crazy aggregating lots of STUFF (aka, junk). But it’s difficult. Very difficult at times.
So, pray for us, especially me, as I go through this emotional turmoil. Materialism runs deep in my human nature. I don’t know if others struggle as deeply with this as I do. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.
Pray for me, that I don’t begin to remove myself from my community before we actually, physically leave. We’ve been here 9 years. We’ve watched children grow up, get married, and have babies of their own. We’ve watched the elderly pass from this life, sometimes younger people too. We love the food here. Thai restaurants in Southern California just don’t cook things the same way they do here in Tha Chat Chai. They alter their recipes for the western palate. I don’t like it that way. So, I find myself wanting to remove myself a bit more each day, so my heart won’t totally break when we say good-bye at the Phuket International Airport International Terminal. But that’s not what God desires. We have the example of Jesus, who spent the night before His crucifixion in deep relationship with His disciples. We must invest ourselves fully until we leave. But the heartache will be deep. We are looking forward and longing for the time when we can spend so much more time with our families, especially our grandchildren, but that doesn’t totally mitigate the pain of leaving our dear, dear friends here in Tha Chat Chai.
This has been long and rambling. Sorry about that! Maybe I’m just procrastinating getting to work on the sorting! Maybe I need to think these things through and give it a voice in hopes of working through it all just a bit more. Thank you for “listening” if you got this far!