It all looks different

Posted on May 20, 2011 by VMMissions Staff

Learning to drive in Thailand is a metaphor for our first year here. Driving on the left side of the road makes for a whole new view of the journey. Shifting gears and looking in the mirrors are all reversed. Passing and turning are challenges requiring careful thought. Which way do you instinctively look first at an intersection? Who has the right of way? Is it the one who arrived first, or the one who is more bold and courageous? In the same way, life in Southeast Asia is so different from what we were used to. Things that seem backward are the right way of doing things, and in many cases, are becoming normal to us. Other things are much more difficult to learn.

As we look in the rear view mirror, we can see that we have come a long way on the road of language and culture learning, the main focus of our first years in Thailand. One of our purposes in coming here is to work on Bible teaching with the Life Enrichment Church (LEC). It feels like such a “destination” is many kilometers ahead.

We are quickly realizing the mountains ahead that we will need to climb together with the LEC. How can they stay connected with their young people who for one reason or another end up worlds away in Bangkok? How can the church continue to express its faith and worship in a style that is true to their Isaan culture, yet connects with the Asian version of post-modernism that its youth are growing up in? Meanwhile, we are amazed by the energy of this church as they excel in relational sharing of the Gospel with their neighbors, friends, and anyone who shows interest.

The road ahead is certain to have its ups and downs, but God’s Spirit is the power that moves the church and Christ is the head, and finish line for which we all strive toward.

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Sarah, Heidi and Mark Schoenhals enjoy an outdoor setting while visiting teammates in a neighboring country.

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Heidi Schoenhals with her friend Nam Fon, the youngest of the seven baptized in February.
Photos courtesy of Mark Schoenhals

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