A letter from Esther Wakeman in Thailand
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thank you for your prayers and support for my work at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I sat down in the front row to watch our dorm students present their first Christmas pageant. “Carolyn,” mother of a performer, leaned over and thanked me profusely for giving her son the opportunity to act and sing for the production. She also expressed an interest in volunteering at Payap. I’m not sure what she believes about the Christmas story, but a bridge has been built to a Payap family, and one of our goals for residential life of working with our parents is coming about. CCI (Christian Communications Institute) staff helped with sound and lights, creating the backing track for the music, and directing. The students had a great time and are already talking about doing it again next year. They’ll also be performing in a couple churches this month. Most of them are not followers of Jesus, but we hope they’ve learned more about him and sensed his love through this excellent effort together. Payap University is seeking young people with a strong Christian commitment to volunteer as English teachers/residential life staff. Please direct possible candidates to Payap's International College website at “job opportunities.”
Thailand has been called the land of smiles, but this year’s massive flooding (after several months water is still just beginning to recede in some parts of Bangkok) has placed great stress on the Thai people. They find things to laugh about in the midst of it all, and I marvel at their creativity and resilience.
Presbyterian Disaster Service was on hand to provide assistance to flood victims, and the Church of Christ in Thailand, our partner church, and the Payap University community have helped many.
Tor and her adorable daughter, Mina, came to Payap’s Christmas festivities. I hadn’t had time to say “Hi!” to them since returning from the States, where I had been with my mother during her last week of life. (That trip and experience was profoundly healing, and hard, and joyful.) Tor and her husband, Hod, finished M.Div. degrees several years ago, and she is now a secretary in the McGilvary College of Divinity, enjoying meeting students from neighboring countries; Hod is pastor for missions at Chiang Mai First Church. They sense a calling to be missionaries to people in our region. They hope to help the Church of Christ in Thailand, the seminaries, and local churches work together with a passion for mission. This is a time of waiting on the Lord to prepare them and fellow believers further. Waiting is hard, and God is working deeply in both their hearts. As I hugged Tor, tears welled up in her eyes; she told me later my simple hang-in-there hug was deep encouragement to trust some more that God will provide whatever is needed and to wait on his timing. We hope to find a church or two in the United States where Tor, Hod, and Mina could live and minister for a while to prepare for possible further training in the U.S. If your church might be interested, please let me know.
Please continue to pray for the Thai people and Payap University. Pray for wise leadership, for joyful ways to share Jesus’ love, and for sensitive mentoring of young Thai leaders. God is at work and it is a great privilege to play my role at Payap University. Please also consider joining me in this ministry through prayer and financial support.
I’m grateful that we will be in the U.S. over the holidays for the first Wakeman family reunion at Christmas in about 15 years. We’ll be celebrating my mother’s life and enjoying lots of good memories. We’re looking forward to having Nathan, Anna and her husband, Dominik, with us, and visiting John and his family in Canton and Kris and her family in the Portland area on our way back to Thailand.
May God bless you wonderfully throughout the Christmas season and the coming year.
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 183