|The beautiful natural surroundings of Kanchanaburi |
were a welcome change after Pattaya.
After my last post, I returned to Thailand for 6 wonderful months and served in the unforgettably zealous Kanchanaburi group with my dear friend Amy. I had some of the best times of my life in that little group. They became my family.
The field missionaries and special pioneers taught me a new kind of work ethic. My amazing neighbor Minna with her insatiable enthusiasm for life showed me everything else. I had wonderful Bible students, ate some of the best food of my life and at one point, was even part owner of a canoe. On Sundays I would paddle out into the river and practice the ukulele. Of course, I struggled there too. Particularly when it came to dealing with loneliness and exhaustion. But in the end, everything I went through there taught me who I wanted to be.
Thailand became the permanent shape of my heart.
At one pioneer meeting, an elder immortalized us in caricature. And like always, there was eating, singing, and sharing the stories of how we came from all over the world and ended up here.
We worked hard, we played hard. You like caves and waterfalls? You like preaching in as many languages as you can stand? Join this group. You might end up having the time of your life.
I know real life involved a lot more sweat and frustration than this picture implies.
But I like remembering it this way.
These moments were real too. They accented the deep respect I felt every day for those around me who put copious amounts of love and effort into sharing the good news.
Plus, this picture documents the existence of my scooter accident scar! Pretty much nothing left of it now.
Preaching in Thailand the second time involved a great deal of video showing. It's amazing how quickly that became a way of life. My first year, I used mainly the old style tracts. When I came back, it was with new tracts and videos! They took the ministry to a whole new level, multiplying my limited Thai by leaps and bounds. What a gift from Jehovah.
We were working on sign language too! Minna and I helped one of our elders occasionally with his deaf student. Our group may have had only 16 publishers, but they knew how to pack out a hall for Sunday meeting.
It almost seems cruel to reduce the people who meant so much to me during that time to a paragraph and a few photos. It does not do any of them justice, for they are all larger than life and refuse to fit on this page. If you want, you can visit and meet them for yourself, which I highly recommend.
But my six months came to an end. I went home for a visit and something else happened to my heart.
Christopher Clayton Ross Dowding, to be exact.
In almost less time than it takes to write it, we fell in love. The serious kind. He was at Warwick and I was in Washington, so it took a little maneuvering to make it work. But we had the determination. He was everything I did and did not expect. And yet a very sure voice inside of me calmly said yes, so that was that.
We got married.
He was there long term and I was only there temporarily but I am so thankful we had the privilege of working together on World Headquarters! My dad and I went out together for painting. The three of us dated quite well together. And as you can see, we remained highly visible at all times.
We had a lovely little wedding on Whidbey Island, Washington.
We now live and pioneer in Mason, Michigan. What's Mason like, you ask? Well, Mason is the kind of place where not only does everyone know your name, but they know your mother's and your grandmother's name too. Chris grew up near there and knows just about everyone. I'm trying to keep up.
In Mason, the wheat and corn fields stretch for miles and there are barns a-plenty. Some of them are even adorned with wild cats. One has a real stuffed polar bear inside. Or so i've heard.
We buy our eggs and honey off the side of the road. A sister is always baking something and bringing it to the hall. One of Chris' Bible students even has a small farm and gives us milk straight from the cow. I make ice cream with it.
However, the seasons are a bit drastic and i'm learning about snow. Sometimes the hard way. But one thing's for sure. In Mason, the leaves look better dead than alive. Come to Mason in Fall. You'll see.
We own and operate a small painting business to support ourselves. We work together and I like it that way. Chris gets the high stuff. He's got longer arms than me.
But I didn't crack open this dusty old blog just to tell you all that.
As pleasant as it's been to reminisce about the past three years, I've got something more exciting to share with you. So let's just leave the past in the past.
It's time to go back to the future.