Four weeks ago, my family and I arrived in Thailand. A vacation, you ask? No, this is a permanent move. We sold and gave away most of our belongings, sold our cars, and put our house on the market. (Anyone looking to move to central PA?) We are here doing missions work, focusing on anti-human trafficking. However, before we can jump into the thick of ministering ½ way around the world, we have to adjust to a new home and a new culture.
So, this is just a bit of a window into my day and what God had to say about it all. Those of you from non-western cultures, your mileage may vary, but for those of you from America you may find this especially unique.
My day started out with a meeting, but en route I stopped by a public restroom. Standing in the men’s room is a woman in her early to mid 30s. She’s just leaning up against a wall, waiting patiently. Why you might ask – we’ll she’s waiting to clean the stall that a guy is using. In the past I might have balked uncomfortably and left the restroom. Now I just give her a polite nod and smile and go about… well, what I went there to do in the first place.
After my meeting, I realize I’m not going to make it home in time for lunch so I decide to get food from KFC. My family tried this once before, the 2nd night we were in our new home. My oldest son declared everything was too spicy to eat and left most of his plate of food untouched. My younger son was hardly phased except for drinking two glasses of water. And my wife… well she wasn’t accustomed to the fried food, spice, or unique flavors in what she expected to be a simple Twister ™ – and left her dinner only half eaten. (Here they mix fish sauce and mayo together on sandwiches, apparently.) So after waiting in line 15-20 minutes (again a different definition of fast food), I’m surprised to eat a meal that is almost identical to what I’d expect half way around the world in the U.S. Of course, I realize that short of eating at a McDonald’s, it is as much American cuisine as I’m expecting to eat in the next year plus.
My next stop is the airport. After picking up some newly arrived missionaries and helping them get settled in I go home to help put my sons to bed for the night.
After the lights are out, my 4 year old comes out and says, “Daddy, there is a lizard in my room.”
“Ok,” I tell him. “Head back to bed and I’ll be by to check it out.”
Sure enough – a 6” lizard has taken up residence on his wall beside his door. I explain to him that this is (apparently) his new pet and he’s very blessed to have a friend to eat the bugs that try to come into his room.
So, here I sit, running all of these things and many more through my American programmed filter of what is “normal”, and consider what I have already experienced. And then God speaks ever so softly to my heart. “No matter what the changes or the differences are, I am always the same, always with you, wherever you are.” And it’s on that foundation I can rest, knowing that whatever changes around me, God is always the same. This assurance gives one hope in any situation and peace in any journey.