Tonight, we leave for Phuket International Airport at 9 p.m. for our 2 a.m. flight tomorrow morning. 14 more hours in our neighborhood. We’ve been here nine years, one month, and nine days. This is “home.” The stuff we’re leaving behind is selling quickly, the sofa gets picked up 4 hours before we leave – so a couple of lawn chairs for us to finish out our time here.
Yesterday was difficult. It was our last church service with our beloved church family here. Pastor Levi and his team are perfect for the church here. We feel so blessed to have them come. There are three cell groups nearby that will be joining in. It will be good!
The most difficult part was saying good-bye to the children. Those of you who know us well know that we were missionaries in Riverside, California with Child Evangelism Fellowship© for 11 years. You know we also served as volunteers with AWANA Clubs in two churches in the Greater Riverside Area. Children are near and dear to our hearts. Every week, two of the children pray at church before they collect the offering. These kids want to serve! So, we let them! The church has been a shining example of 1 Timothy 4:12 – “1Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” When the adults started drifting away from the Wednesday evening meal/prayer/Bible study meeting, the children continued to come, learning the Scriptures and growing in their faith. They continued to share, every single one of them, something they were thankful to God for, every single week. Two of the older girls – seventh and eighth graders – helped with translation from time to time. It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown!
Dana “just happened” to be preaching from 1 Timothy 4 yesterday morning. If you know how Calvary Chapel teaching usually works, the pastor teaches through a book of the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Sometimes a chapter is broken into two or three parts, sometimes two chapters, or more, can be combined. And yesterday it worked out to 1 Timothy 4. The church, including many of the new members, were charged to continue a focus on the children. There are not many “second generation” Christians in Thailand. These children are the first in their families to come to faith. They are the foundation of continued growth here in Tha Chat Chai. Pray for them.
The picture I chose to use for this blog was taken at the most difficult part of our day yesterday. Pastor Levi and most of the adults had gathered around us and prayed for us. Then the kids. The hugs. The tears.
Even if we never make it back to visit Tha Chat Chai, we KNOW we will see our beloved Thai family again. What a comfort as we end one chapter in our lives and begin the next.