A letter from Esther Wakeman in Thailand
Sitting at the “counseling” table to talk with parents and students hoping to be waived out of our requirement for first-year students to live in the dorms, a mom and her son walked up. The young man was quite short and had a limp. His mom said they didn’t think he should live in the dorm. “What are your concerns?” I asked. “He’s disabled,” replied mom. “What are his issues?” “He has a prosthetic leg, which he has to take off to bathe and the communal bathrooms might be too far away for him to hop to.” “Not a problem—we’ll assign him to a room right across from the bathroom.” And then I looked at this beautiful young man and said: “We need you in the dorm. We need you as a part of our community to show the other students that you are just another student.” His eyes lit up. “Besides you’ll have a much easier time making friends and getting to know other students if you live in the dorm!” He was smiling now. “Oh, what’s your name?” I asked. “Samart,” he replied. Samart means "able"! His mom added that his nickname in English is “CAN!”
Please pray for Samart and the other 1,000 or so first-year students who have joined us in this new adventure of residential life. Pray for Tony, Mew, and Prapai, our dorm managers, and the rest of our residential life staff—chaplains Lum and Jiw, 10 hall directors, and about 30 student assistants. Pray for our outreach partners running music, English, and worship dance clubs, and especially keep in your prayers our international Christian volunteers who tutor English. Pray that our students will lose their fear of learning English and develop some English understanding and skill AND experience the love of Jesus through relationships. Pray for great joy and genuine love in reaching out to these hungry hearts.
A highlight of my recent retreat with our international volunteers on a houseboat at a local dam was using the lectio divina process I was given by one of our hosts during the Christian Communications Institute (CCI)’s recent tour to the United States. Carol Licht grew up as a missionary kid in Chiang Mai and now lives in Yakima, Washington. For several years she and a group of friends have used this process of hearing and responding to God’s Word together and have watched God lead them to wonderful healing and intimacy with Him. During our retreat I was deeply encouraged that in the struggles and difficulties we’ll surely encounter in the coming months in this new adventure of dorm life, God will be fighting our battles and be victorious. I don’t have to worry or stress out.
CCI’s tour on the West Coast was especially fun this year. Thanks to all who hosted and supported us. We met lots of old friends and fans and plenty of new ones. A highlight was when some of us saw snow for the first time. Ever try to imagine what it would be like to try to imagine what snow is actually like just from seeing it in pictures?
When we got back from the tour, my secretary informed me that she had told the TV show, “I Love Thailand” all about Rob and me and our children and how much we love Thailand and how good we would be for the program. Our office manager said the show is one she respects a lot; they find foreigners who speak Thai well and who love things Thai and highlight them on the show. Our involvement with CCI and traditional Thai drama—likay—was the door in. I got to say that the Christian faith isn’t a foreigner’s religion and that it is all about relationship—God’s love for us! Our son Paul’s tour business using the classic three-wheeled motorcycle taxi or tuk-tuk was the clincher. We were filmed one weekend and featured on national TV the next. It was good fun, and Rob’s prayer for Thailand ended the show meaningfully.
Rob and I will be at the New Wilmington Mission Conference this summer (July 23–29) and are looking forward to sharing the joys and challenges of mission in Thailand with folks there. We’re also eager to see our newest grandson, Christian, who will already have turned 1!
Thank you for your interest, prayers, and support.