Last week my Mongolian best friend (my Mongolian brother) came to stay with us. It has been awesome for all of us to see him & spend time with him again. Many things have changed in Mongolia & this year will be difficult for many with many of the mines having closed due to the government. I was happy to hear that my Mongolian mum is still getting closer to becoming a Christian. I still pray for her many times a week.
Bold brought us gifts (customary for Mongolians to do) for us from himself & our other Mongolian friends. He laughed so hard when we all opened some of our gifts which were clothes & Teresa said, "guys smell your T-shirts" & we all took turns smelling the Mongolian smells (mutton, coal, etc...) on the new shirts many times. We all took long, deep sniffs & the more of Mongolia we could smell the bigger our smiles got & the more memories came flooding back to our minds. Life in Mongolia was so difficult, but the blessings & good memories far exceed the difficulties. The other awesome gifts that he brought was Mongolian & Russian chocolate. Oh, Russian chocolate, it is so good.
Speaking Mongolian again to a Mongolian also has been such a gift for me.
My Mongolian brother will be leaving on Tuesday which will give us a week to rest & our good missionary friends (2 families) will come from Mongolia as well to stay with us (all 9 of them) for Christmas. We are really excited to have them coming & to celebrate Christmas with our close friends.
My Thai language lessons are going well. I love to see the looks on almost all of the Thai peoples faces (at church, the shops, stores, stands, on the streets & in the outdoor markets) when I start talking to them in my broken, many times grammatically backwards Thai. Their smiles are so big & they are so excited when I speak to them. Although, they usually laugh & kindly help me to correct my grammar, but everyone usually encourages me to please continue studying Thai & that my Thai is really good considering I have only been studying for a few months.
3 weeks ago Chiang Mai had their yearly lantern festival. For 4 days there were fireworks, firecrackers seemingly going off nonstop from 6am until 3am each day. In the evenings & all throughout the night you would see in all directions thousands upon thousands of lanterns rising into the sky. Many of you are imaging how amazing or beautiful it would have looked & it was beautiful to see. But, all of us felt a degree of sadness when we saw the lanterns raising in the sky & prayed for the people who released them into the sky. You see Thai's told us that they would try to buy & release as many lanterns as they could to try & earn as much merit for themselves or a loved one who already died. They also told us that releasing the lanterns would take their sins away, but they also would hope that a falling lantern would not land close to them or their property because they would take on the sin that was carried on that lantern, the sins of another person.
Such a stressful life, hopeless life, "never knowing" & "always performing" as much as you can in hope for peace in their present life & rest in their afterlife.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover
your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay
anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company
with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
2 weeks ago Franklin Graham came to Chiang Mai for 3 days to preach true forgiveness of sins in Jesus. The Billy Graham Association only hoped for a total of 30,000 people to come over the 3 days & only 100's to receive Jesus. Well it was absolutely amazing. After the 3 days were finished the numbers came in that 70,000 people came & that over 3,500 Thai's asked for forgiveness & receive Jesus as their Lord. More than 3/4 of the new +3,500 Christians were in the age range of 18-25 years. This is amazing because they are young Thai's & considering that the city has a population of +200,000 depending on the statistics you see. Before the conference all the Thai pastors in the city & surrounding networked committing to receive & care for all the new Christians as part of following up with them. This was so fitting considering the lantern festival was the previous weekend.
It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to
work and set things right for us. This is the core of
our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God
—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul,
God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising
Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing”
anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting
him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your
whole being you embrace God setting things right,
and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set
everything right between him and me!”
Romans 10:8-10 The Message
This is encouraging, but in the most Christian part of Thailand, Thai Christians are only 0.2% (what most have shared with me.)