I will tell you up front: no pictures yet. I have a quick log-in to share that our group arrived safely in Bangkok last night.
From Brazil, Abilene, Austin, and Dallas, the Come before Winter team is here safe and sound. Today, we travel to our renewal site in Chiang Rai (about 1.5 hours via plane). The participants will arrive Monday, so we have a day to finish preparations and meet up with one more team member (who is in Northern Thailand visiting her daughter for a few days before the trip).
I am already crying at how amazing the trip has been...and it's not from back pain induced by a total of 19 hours on a plane! I am savoring every bite of amazing food (Michael will vouch for my love for all Asian food), soaking up all the new cultural nuances, and enjoying the conversations with the team. These women are AWESOME servants in the kingdom with a wealth of experiences, both in international travel and in their respective ministries. The stories, the stories! I'll save some for later, but I'll tell you one that happened to my roomie this morning.
Cara and her husband Chris are former missionaries to Thailand (8 years ago). He is a Fuller grad (like Michael) ,and she is a therapist on a college campus (also like Michael). It's a generous gift that we are matched to room together this whole trip, for we have a lot in common.
Cara answers the phone this morning, thinking that it's one of our teammates. She quickly switches to Thai, and now I'm wondering, "Who is calling her that she is speaking Thai...and why is she so giddy?" She says that a former church member from Chiang Mai is downstairs in the lobby, and she wants to meet with Cara. "How'd she know we were here?" is my question.
This woman, in the 8 years since Cara moved back to the states, has married an American, who works for Coca-Cola in Papau New Guinea (a renewal site last year, btw). They were returning to PNG from Australia with an overnight in Bangkok. Guess which hotel they stayed in? Yep, ours.
So, while we were checking in late last night, this woman caught a glimpse of Cara in the lobby, and thought, "Could it be her?" She called a friend in Chiang Mai to double check Cara's last name, verified it with the hotel, and called us up this morning!
Cara was able to catch up with this woman, meet her son, and be immediately immersed back into a sweet, sweet time in her life. She said, "God knows me so well. He knows if I had time to plan a meeting like this, I would get so nervous and freeze. But instead, he surprises me, and to my amazement, my Thai came right back to me and we were able to share a special time together."
And this is day one people!
So, keep praying on us and loving us from afar. I am off to try NOT to take a nap (we are exactly 12 hours opposite the clocks at home), but after all the Pad Kraw I just ate, that might be a problem.