A letter from Esther Wakeman in Thailand
July 17, 2010
Life has some special seasons, and we’re in the middle of one. Rob and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage in October. We took an early anniversary road trip (California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota and Ohio) and visited all our children, siblings and my parents in the States for a month in May and June. We read good books, had great talks and gathered stories and pictures for the celebration next month of Rob’s 50 years of ministry in Thailand as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionary. We’re planning a fun worship and ice cream social in August to fete this faithful and loving husband, father, teacher, translator and pastor. If you’ve known and appreciated Rob and would like to write a word of commendation, send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll share it with Rob.
We’re also preparing daughter Anna’s wedding here in Chiang Mai in August, doing long-needed freshening up of our home and delighting as longtime beau, Dominik Baer, is fully involved in preparations with daily phone calls and emails from their future home in Heidelberg, Germany. In Thailand the personal and professional are not separate, so my staff are fantastic help especially with all kinds of Thai “street food” for the reception. Son Paul will provide some tour-guiding adventures for lots of guests from Germany and the United States. We’re planning a weeklong party!
We’re also celebrating the birth of our sixth grandchild, Christian Spencer, born to John and Sue Collins. The young fellow is quite handsome and has a healthy appetite, in the fine Collins’ tradition. His dad is the same age that Rob was when Anna was born, and he will probably spend as much time raising him as Rob did Anna — which bodes well for both of them.
This is also a deeply satisfying season of work. The Christian Communications Institute team just returned from Singapore for the Global Consultation on Music and Missions. CCI’s founders, Allan and Joan Eubank, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for their incredibly fruitful ministry through CCI. The drama team received a standing ovation at the opening worship, and when they stayed an extra night in Singapore and performed at a Thai church, 30 people came forward to begin or renew their relationship with Jesus. The hassles, misunderstandings and frustrations involved in organizing the trip were huge, and we felt the enemy of our souls at work fiercely. So we were not surprised by the ultimate fruit and grateful for grace to persist. The team is in the middle of 18 Spiritual Renewal Week programs in schools all over the country. And we just got a new secretary who is extremely computer-competent and a huge help after three secretary-less years.
For years I have ached watching our first-year students, fresh out of high school and the watchful eyes of their parents, come to study with us and move into the private dorms just outside the university, with no support there and no residential life program, but with bars and dance clubs and all sorts of temptation surrounding them. Payap just completed construction of new dorms with the potential to serve 1,700 students. My office has been given responsibility for our new residential life program. What a fantastic opportunity we have. Our dream is to create “a home at school” full of love, joy, friendship, academic encouragement, and personal growth into maturity. The process of trying to put it together has been incredibly difficult, and I believe that is because the potential for fruit in God’s kingdom is so amazing, the enemy has been working overtime to mess things up. In June about 200 men moved into a well-staffed dorm, but 500 women moved into a woefully understaffed dorm—and that led to two of the few staff resigning! Pray for five women who love God and love students to come and work with us ASAP.
Consider coming to Thailand on the Thai Mission Tour 2011 (end of January–early February). For the past 10 years Allan and Joan Eubank have led groups of CCI friends and supporters on a deeply personal and moving tour of Thailand, highlighting their mission work. The tour starts in Bangkok and makes its way up to Chiang Mai and even further north. You will experience the gracious hospitality and beauty of the Thai people and their fascinating country. Thailand is a safe place to travel now, and we anticipate it will be so at tour time as well.
Or consider inviting CCI to visit your church with our Thai dance and drama team. We are planning a West Coast trip (and to Texas) from mid-March to mid-April next year. We would love to visit and give your church a chance to get excited about mission and to learn more about how to pray for Thailand and her precious people.
We are grateful for this season of celebrations, new beginnings, and opportunities to make and deepen relationships. Whatever sort of season you are in, our prayer is that you are drawing closer to God and growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We hope to hear from you or to see you in the coming year.
Esther (for Rob, too)
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 126