Saturday, June 25, 2011

No One Beats God

Well, never in our wildest dreams would we have thought we’d ever set foot at the Rome Coliseum. It is amazing and fascinating! After I graduated from university, I went on a Europe trip and managed to travel to the front of the Coliseum but it’s the first time for me to be inside it. It’s the first time for all of us! What an interesting place! Its mind boggling that it’s even still standing up after all those centuries past. We even saw it on the plane as it is quite imposing in size! What surprised me even more was that I started to cry when I remembered what it stood for. I cried for those who lost their lives for what they believed in. I asked for forgiveness and that healing will come upon the land. As we toured the
site, it became clear that they were uncertain that believers were in fact killed on the site. Still, the idea that men killed one another for sport or that to provide entertainment men fought animals to defend themselves or be killed and eaten just didn’t strike me as something the Lord was pleased with. I knew that what happened in that arena greatly grieved Him. May it never ever happen again.

From there, we walked around ruins and arches and soon the boys were doing antics and all kinds of poses. It was fun to fool around and just enjoy the sights. It’s been awhile since we’ve been out as a family and just enjoying ourselves. Since its Father’s Day, it was a wonderful gift for Eng that we could be together and having fun. At different times, Eng was stressed free and it was good for him to just relax. Thank you, Lord! Happy Father’s Day to you, too, Papa! =)

The trip’s highlights were seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica and his work on the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. We also went to see the Trevi Fountain, had fun by the Eiffel Tower, went on an hour’s cruise at the Seine River, and saw Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Venus of Milo (or Aphrodite), The Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Psyche and Cupid by Canova at the Louvre. We walked in and outside of Notre Dame Cathedral, and went around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. BUT, having seen all those famous sites and literally looking at thousands of art pieces at the Vatican Museum and the Louvre, I truly marveled and enjoyed the gorgeous blue sky with clouds, in between the Arc de Triomphe. As I posted on Facebook, nothing beats God’s creative handiwork. He’s still the best.

By the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Love Again

Love like you have never loved before.
Kathi Pelton

Later this afternoon, we will leave for a family vacation in Europe. Since finding out that flying via Europe on our way home to Toronto allows us to have a stopover in London at no extra costs for us, we’ve initially toyed with the idea of traveling there. The idea turned into a viable option and soon, we were having yard sales to save up some spending money. Yes, it doesn’t cost us extra to get there but we do have to eat and live somewhere! All those materialized (friends to visit and stay with, and places to live in) and so we are embarking on a never before done family adventure for two weeks. Later today, we'll leave for London and then travel to different places in Europe before we continue our journey to Toronto on the 3rd of July. It is unfortunate that Evan is not able to join us but when he studied in London, he traveled to Europe as well so at least he’s been to where we’re going (except Holland). He is now in Toronto looking for a summer job.

So, yes, it’s sad to leave Chiang Mai and with somewhat heavy hearts we leave it but the Lord has a LOT in store for us, not just on our trip to Europe, but in our year’s stay in Toronto. We are blessed to be able to visit with family and to also share at different churches in Canada the work that is happening on this side of the world. We are also grateful for the full lives we lived here the past seven years. There might be an assumption out there that it’s hard to serve the Lord overseas. I would do it all over again for half of what I gained in coming here. It’s been a tremendous blessing and I wouldn’t change a thing (Eric’s having had cancer included)!

Yesterday, our sons shared their last supper with their friends. I should say remaining friends as a lot of them (especially Eric’s), had already left to go home to their respective home countries. It was good to be gathered together and to share that sweet time with them. The Lord has been so good in providing them with precious friends.

Finally, as we prepare to leave, I choose to live and do the statement above in my new community in Markham, just outside of Toronto. Loving hurts at times like this especially because some of my friends won’t be returning to Chiang Mai. Still, regardless of the pain, IT IS BETTER to have loved and lost. =) Thank you, God, for the technology that allows easier ways for us to communicate in the future. Most of all, there is heaven for all of us, our final destination for those who believe in Jesus as Lord. No more painful moves. =) Praise God.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A New Thing!

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Isaiah 43: 18-19a

The verses above serve as the theme in the conference that my family and I are in until Sunday this week. I cannot help but marvel at how appropriate it is in our situation. Most assuredly, we are about to embark on a journey we’ve not taken before. Not only is Eric, our second son about to leave us as he goes to university in the fall but we are also going to live in Canada for a year having lived in Thailand for the last seven. The last time we were living in Canada, Evan (our oldest) was the only teen at fourteen and Eric and Eli were still boys. Ethan wasn’t even born yet! As we live there again, Ethan is the only boy and the rest have all grown. Times have surely changed!

As I ponder what our lives will be like, I realize that the Lord has done a new thing already. For starters, we’ve learned what it’s like to wait until the 11th hour. Since February, we’d advertised our house to be rented out but it wasn’t until last Sunday (the 6th) when we finally got all three sets of renters confirmed and committed to stay at our home. Since our departure date is June 16th, that left us with just 10 days to act with certainty with regard to what to do with the house (do we pack to store or pack to give up the house?). Whew! I should point out that the landlord waived off 9,000 Baht from the rent as the person wanting to rent for the month of August couldn’t pay the whole amount. In exchange, we’ll live in the house an extra year when we come back. God is good to help us sort this out, a new thing indeed!

Since the beginning of the year, Eng started to look for a Thai person to hire as new staff for his office but it wasn’t until Friday when he finally hired one. Praise God for His provision. It took awhile for the perfect person but she's finally found!

We’ve been praying for a replacement for Eng since last year but there still isn’t one. At the moment, three different people at the office will be doing his job while he’s away. It isn’t the most ideal set up but with God doing a new thing (11th hour answers), perhaps the Lord will provide just a little bit later.

With just 8 days left before we leave, we’ve been to the airport 3 times already to see friends off. They won’t be coming back. SIGH. In the next few days, we’ll see three more friends off. It’s been hard but again, the Lord’s so gracious to help us realize how blessed we are to have had those relationships. The new thing is that our hearts are helped to be more grateful than sad or upset about the losses. It is heart warming.

As we face our last week finishing off the conference, then packing and continuing to say “goodbye”, we’re preparing our hearts for even more new things that the Lord will do. I prayed with an old friend today and she commented that it wasn’t an accident that we’re leaving on our seventh year. She prayed that we’ll have a restful year, just like a Sabbath. Maybe it’s the new thing, maybe not, we await it eagerly anyway. The Lord is good and always up to something good. We can trust Him to lead and guide us. Please help us to forget the former things. We await your new things, Papa God. =) Let it come.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127: 4-5a
Eli, Evan, and Eric, with Ethan in front, just before Evan boarded his plane to go back to Toronto.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eric’s Graduation and Life Beyond

In a beautiful ceremony held at Empress Hotel, Eric’s high school years ended. Considering that we had to deal with him receiving chemotherapy and radiation after he was diagnosed with cancer on his lymph nodes in March last year, we prayed real hard that he would finish and make it through his last two years. What a relief that indeed, he did! Judging from the applause he received during the graduation, we are grateful for those who prayed and are just as thankful and relieved as we are that he made it. =)

The Lord had and has been so faithful. Eric will start his tertiary education at a university in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He will pursue a degree in Computer Engineering and has received a scholarship that will enable him to study without needing to go into debt.

We thank the Lord for His goodness. As Eric starts his university studies, Evan will soon end his as he goes back for his final year in the fall. Evan maintained the required Grade Point Average to keep receiving his scholarship. Yay! Meanwhile, Eli is hoping to start 10th Grade at a local public school in Ontario. Ethan will start Grade 5 at a still undetermined public school close to our soon to be home. We will begin to live in that Markham neighborhood in August.

Eric at 5'7" with his TALL friends.
We have two weeks left before we close off a chapter of our lives here in Chiang Mai. There is a tendency to be swept away by a speeding train that would have us working round the clock so that everything is done. We still haven’t found all the people we need to live in our house while we’re away for the year. Today, our cocker spaniel of six years was diagnosed with a blood parasite. The vet patiently explained that if she doesn’t undergo the series of treatments that she needs, she will die. Life has enough concerns to keep us not just busy but awake and petrified at night. During the graduation ceremony, the encouragement was to shine and to look to the light. The light, meaning God, will not just show us the way, but will direct and lead and guide us. It will do us well to keep looking to God. His light will not just help us navigate our way but will allow us to understand where we’re headed. Thank you, Lord, for helping us shine, for being our light and for who you are (our comfort and shield) and what you do. We love you!