A little disclaimer on this blog. This blog is a little raw and is as honest and transparent as I can be. Up until we got to Chiang Mai, our visit to Bangkok and Phuket was just that, a visit. Because we would not be living in those cities we weren't really engaged to the point we wanted to be when we got to Chiang Mai (our future home). This blog is full of our raw feelings and emotions of Chiang Mai as we are experiencing them. Enjoy!!
We flew into the city on Tuesday and as we saw an aerial view, we could already tell the difference between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Chiang Mai is slower paced and is nestled in the valley of beautiful mountain ranges. Being that this would be our future home, we both had prayed that God would do something pivotal in our hearts as we visited Chiang Mai to once again confirm that this is where He wants us.
We got into our hotel and started to explore. We took public transportation everywhere, checked out the markets, ate the food, and took it all in. All of a sudden, unexpected feelings started to settle in. We were done, overwhelmed, ready to go back home. We missed our kids, we missed the comfort of home, and physically, emotionally, and mentally we were exhausted. We were all battling with physical sickness, our minds were on overdrive taking in all the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences, and our emotions were out of control. This was the farthest thing from a confirmation from God that Chiang Mai is where we wanted to be. We felt like children again rather than independent adults, and we were having a hard time processing what we were feeling. These feelings can't be right, they are not right. What is going on?!?! We stood in the middle of the city and didn't know what else to do and the only thing that sounded good, was going back to the hotel and just staying there. We were done with being lost, being overwhelmed, and felt very attacked. Whether it was the enemy trying to derail us or change our mind about being her, we didn't know, but all we knew was that it was very hard to process and communicate. After a time, not being able to talk to people, know where to go, or experience anything close to home, it starts to wear on you. You see, if this was a vacation and we knew that we were going to live back in America, this would not be an issue but since we know that this visit was to engage a place where we will eventually live, well, this was more than just a holiday. We wanted 100 percent confirmation from God. We wanted a big sign, a pivotal moment where we could look back and say, yes, yes, yes!! We weren't getting that, rather, it was all very confusing.
I want to break in here and tell you about what we did in Chiang Mai and then bring some conclusions and closure to our time here. We had a lot of opportunities to sit down and chat with other missionaries, attend meetings, and talk with people who are doing what we want to do. We went to IJM (International Justice Mission). They have a team of Thai tribal staff, administrators, and lawyers that fight for tribal Thai people to get citizenship so they are not vulnerable to get picked off for forced labor, trafficking, or sex enslavement. That was an awesome meeting. We learned all about the organization and then had a chance to pray with all of them including the Thai staff. We also met with a lady at New Life Center. This center runs a home that rescues tribal girls who have been or are at high risk for trafficking. They bring them to this safe place and give them education, vocational skills, life skills and teach them about Jesus. They had 74 girls and it was so awesome to see these young ladies being healed, restored, and sent back out into society knowing Jesus. We also had a chance to sit in a class for compassion training and shared a few meals with Thai, Lao, and other missionaries.
After all these meetings, classes, and chats with other missionaries and new friends, we started to feel relieved. Relieved in a sense, that we are not alone. Being able to speak english and understand other people was so much needed. Sitting around a table of other English people and having similar experiences, feelings, and hearts was so encouraging. God knew that we needed that. We could sense that our hearts were turning to Chiang Mai and now that we are starting our last day in this city, here are some of our conlusions. Some of these we already knew in our head, but now God has cemented them in our heart.
1. Don't always trust feelings. They change daily and sometime hourly. Know that God has called you, where he has called you and let that be your reference point rather than a feeling or emotion.
2. Don't be a lone ranger. Yes, you want to throw yourself into the culture and community of the city you are called too, but engage with others who you can talk to honestly, have fun with, and relax around.
3. Don't fight being humbled. It is in humility that total dependence on God comes. God has to break you before he can use you.
4. Being uprooted and torn from family and your home is a sacrifice and there will be times of doubt, feelings of giving up, and confusion or frustration. Build a strong relationship with God and others.
Well, there you have it. We have decided that we are not married to what we are feeling right now until we go home and have time to debrief, reflect and pray on it all. We have recommitted ourselves to our calling and what God has told us even when we feel it and when we don't. We don't go on feelings but on what God has said.
In closing, we did take a day to ride an elephant (one of the most scary experiences of my life) hike/trek through a jungle and up a mountain to a water fall. We also did some white water rafting and rode a bamboo raft. There are a few pics below and more pics are on facebook.
Our last stop is Chiang Rai for two days and then home. Atleast one and maybe two more blogs to come:)