Is This the Year?
As I look back on past newsletters, the last time we were in Thailand was November 2019 for the dedication of the new multi-purpose building. We had plans in 2020 to return and had to cancel trips three different times that year. As 2021 approached, we thought we might be able to return that year, but COVID cases in Thailand were beginning to rise and peaked in August. Is 2022 going to be the year? We’re not sure yet, but praying God makes it possible for us to return. We’re waiting for the time to be right.
Steve and I have been totally vaccinated, including a booster, which makes travel to Thailand a little easier. Thailand has recently tightened restrictions again with the introduction of the Omnicron variant in the country. We would still need to purchase medical insurance in Thailand. Also a 7 to 10 day quarantine has recently been reinstated. There are so many hoops to jump through that we don’t believe it is feasible for the ministry for us to return the beginning of 2022.
We miss our family in Thailand but know now is not the right time to return. There are so many things we would want to do while there that would not be possible if restrictions continue. We would want to hold a Bible seminar, travel to the villages where there are ministries we support, and even purchase product to bring back to sell for our Educational Fund. We will wait on God’s timing, not ours, and hope and pray 2022 is our year.
Celebrations at Gethsemane
One of our favorite drinks in Thailand is 3-in-1 coffee. These are packets that contain enough coffee, sugar, and creamer for one cup. Titus used the 3-in-1 example to describe the recent Antioch church’s celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. They were all held on the same day. With concerns over the government’s policies on COVID, they decided to hold the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations at Gethsemane home thinking it would attract less attention.
There were several preparations that took place before the big day came. Moses, Yuri, and Newa went to the city to buy gifts, food, and snacks for the festivities. Moses also purchased a pig for the meat they needed. December 31st began by preparing food for the Thanksgiving lunch.
Following lunch there was a time of worship, and then they began preparing for Christmas. About 50 people from Antioch church were treated to a moo kata dinner followed by the giving of gifts. Numbers were placed on the Christmas tree, and a number was also assigned to each gift that was purchased. The gifts ranged from dish soap to pillows. Someone even won a small electric grill.
The New Years celebration began at midnight with a worship service. After some sleep, they gathered at the church later that morning for a ceremony honoring older members and teachers by pouring water on their hands. Those people in turn offer a blessing to the younger ones. Before the 3-in-1 celebration came to a close, games were played where prizes were given.
They know how to celebrate!
Na Khrai Update
Many of you may remember that during the latter part of 2020, God laid it on our hearts to start raising funds to build a new church in the village of Na Khrai. The existing church had been in poor condition for several years, and we thought it was time to replace it for Simeon and the congregation there. On December 1, 2020, Giving Tuesday, an appeal was sent out to several churches and individuals as a kickoff for raising $10,000 for this project. That project raised $6,500. Just recently the remaining $3,500 was donated by one of our supporting churches.
Simeon shared that to begin construction there would be the need of cutting wood in the jungle for rafters, bringing sand from the river for making cement, and making a larger level area for the new church building. The dirt work has been completed, and they are waiting to bring the wood for the building out of the jungle. The church should be completed some time later this year.
Thanksgiving Celebrations During COVID
As the fears of the COVID virus continue to play a part in the way things are done in Thailand, it isn’t surprising the effect it has had on holding celebrations in the villages. The decisions on what can and cannot be done are in the hands of government officials and the headsmen of each village. These decisions are also influenced by how much the virus is spreading at the time.
In years past, the staff of Under the Son Ministries has participated in many Thanksgiving celebrations, making special efforts in the villages of Huai Pong and Patang Muser. One thing they like to do is invite Christians from other villages to these Thanksgiving celebrations. When the headsmen in Huai Pong and Patang Muser were approached, they received a similar response from each one. They were told they could hold a small harvest celebration at the church, but bringing people in from other villages was not allowed. This did not discourage these two villages from taking time to celebrate God’s goodness and all the blessings they have received.
Christmas Homes Tour 2021
Our 5th Annual Christmas Homes Tour took place on Sunday, December 5th, in Maryville. God gave us a beautiful day with temperatures in the 50s. Almost 200 people toured four homes that day! A special thank you to Aaron and Jill Auten, Brian and Rachel Golightly, Karl and Linda Ritterbusch, and Mark and Carol Watkins for opening up their homes.
This fundraiser has been a great addition to our Under the Son Ministries Educational Fund. With five of our children in university at this time and possibly seven in university next year, these fundraisers are truly a blessing. We are grateful for your support! Mark December 4, 2022, on your calendar for the 6th Annual Christmas Homes Tour. We are already lining up homes you won’t want to miss!