A letter from Esther Wakeman in Thailand
September 11, 2013
A full and fruitful day in the life of Esther Wakeman
5 a.m. enjoyed my morning coffee and prayers—the highlight and anchor of each day.
7 a.m. took Esther King, the daughter of an old friend (in Afghanistan with me as a child), and her friend Carissa, who’d been touring Thailand, to the bus station to catch their bus for Laos. We had a short but sweet chat. I shared my story of God’s healing my heart and what I’ve been learning about that process. Carissa was energetically taking notes into her smart phone. I think she’s going to pursue Immanuel prayer. Precious young women!
8 a.m. morning worship on Matthew 7:12—the golden rule: so simple but so challenging to actually do! But as our Father loves, values, and cares for us, we can do the same for others. Loving relationship is the heart of the Law and the Prophets.
8:45 a.m. meeting with student ministry staff to clarify how we’ll follow up with the 130 students who expressed an interest in learning more about Jesus during Spiritual Renewal Week a week ago. 80 of the students are in our nursing faculty—they are very hungry spiritually. Rev. Teerapong of the Payap Church (which came into being after a similar mini revival almost 20 years ago) agreed to provide a small team to do some basic teaching for this group. Please pray that they will be rooted deeply in God’s grace and love and grow in real relationship with the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Pray that we will also find more mentors to connect more closely and deeply with the new believers.
10 a.m. meeting with staff responsible for the Khun Tan Mission Cabins to resolve some administrative issues. Payap owns eight cabins in the middle of a national park that we use for student retreats and rent to the public as well. We got our issues ironed out and are resolved to appoint an admin committee, raise funds for some much needed renovation, and start advertising in earnest. We also need to hire two more staff—a real challenge given the nature of the work. Pray that God’s purposes for this camp to become a place for refreshment and healing will be realized much more fully in the years ahead.
Noon – a good lunch of noodles and crunchy pork soup with a few staff at Payap’s canteen; so much good food for so little cash; and the conversation was fun, too.
1:30 p.m. Community Dogs Committee meeting to resolve some issues about our campus dogs. Stray dogs are a huge problem in Thailand. After an ugly incident with our campus dogs several years ago we established this group to take a census of the dogs on campus, get them vaccinated, sterilized, and make sure they are fed daily. The goal is to ultimately reduce the number of dogs and to treat them as the friends of humans they are by giving them basic care. When I was in the U.S. another administrator took steps to reduce the number of dogs around the dorms by requiring they be adopted and removed. When I got back I met with our community dogs team to assess the current situation and report to Payap’s top Administrative Committee. I was delighted with our committee’s report that our project is working: the number of dogs has stabilized, and all the dogs are vaccinated and sterilized. I’m amazed at the faithfulness of these dog lovers and their care for God’s creatures. Payap University is a great example for the wider community, except we can’t advertise this fact or we’d be inundated with dogs.
3 p.m. chatted with a staff member whose son has been discouraged about school lately. I was grateful for the chance to share my concern for her and glad to hear that her son is doing much better after some good listening and encouragement from his mom.
4 p.m. worked on some photos of the chapel and helped prepare a funding proposal for help with its renovation. It is 30 years old and leaks in the rain (of which we have plenty). The Luce Foundation funded its building, and we need help with expensive repairs to the roof (extremely high “steeple”) and new wooden floors. We’d also like to put in stained glass windows, enhance the sound system, and install LCD projectors and screens. Payap will celebrate our 40th anniversary in February 2014, so it’s a good time to spruce the chapel up. The board chair, the president, and three or four others were helping with great energy on behalf of this project. I’ve been hoping for help for years, and I think the kairos moment may be here. Pray with me that we will get the funding.
5:00 p.m. had to miss my beloved CrossFit workout to work on the chapel request—worth it this time, but I love CrossFit and it is a real loss when I can’t go. My goal is to get there at least three times a week. Great training—hard work and excellent community spirit!
6:30 p.m. home for a dinner of sticky rice, roasted chicken, and spicy green papaya salad with Rob and the three young people who live with us: Ozzie Crocco (teaches and does student development work in our International College—came first to Payap as a Christian Volunteer), Myra LalDin (alum of our International Business Management degree program at International College, now teaching English at the Prince Royal’s College—where I taught when I first came to Thailand 34 years ago), and Mikayla Redding (recent college grad in Chiang Mai for a couple months to volunteer at a refugee assistance organization called Partners). We all shared news of our day (Ozzie came bounding in full of joy after Ultimate Frisbee—the love of his life!).
8:00 p.m. Rob, Ozzie, Myra, and I discussed Chapter 2 in James Bryan Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful Community. It’s the last in a series (we’ve gone through The Good and Beautiful God and The Good and Beautiful Life). Smith calls himself the Forrest Gump of Christianity: he was mentored by people like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. These books are based on the three things needed for growth as disciples of Jesus: replacing our negative narratives with the narrative of Jesus, practicing the spiritual disciplines, and being part of a small authentic community committed to following Jesus together. Our time together is definitely a highlight of our week—laughter and tears flow fairly regularly.
10 p.m. gratitude for a day of fruitful meetings and then to bed.
I wouldn’t call it a typical day—not really sure what that would be, anyway, but it was a great day. God is at work in a variety of ways and through many people. Thank you for your part in this ministry—through your prayers, friendship, and for many of you, financial gifts.
I’d like to reshare the partnership opportunities I included in my August letter:
Partner with Payap through prayer and recruiting!
- We still need a president as we face considerable challenges; we need to be able to discern God’s vision for us, and pursue it together. Please pray for the incoming board to find the right leader.
- Please pray for and help us recruit lecturers for our International College (teaching in English). We need people with doctorates in Business Administration and in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and people with master's degrees in Hotel and Tourism Management. Our salaries are Thai scale, so we are looking for retired teachers (who have pensions to combine with what we offer) or newly minted degree holders who may find it difficult to get a teaching job but would be willing to come and gain experience with us at minimal remuneration. If you think of anyone, please invite him or her to consider coming to Chiang Mai for a wonderful adventure. Have them contact me.
CCI Dance and Drama Team planning a U.S.A. tour for March and April 2014
My husband, Rob Collins, is working in earnest on our CCI U.S.A. tour in churches next March and April (2014). We'll begin in California, arriving at the end of February. We will go on to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, returning to Thailand mid-April. Please contact Rob (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your church would like to invite us to come or if you would like more information.
I am grateful for your interest, and I hope that you will continue to support me through your commitment to prayer, partnering through recruiting, and financial gifts, so that together we can share the good news of God’s love through Christ in Thailand.
Hope you are enjoying some full and fruitful days in the adventure of following Jesus.
For more information and to make donations, please use this link:
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 195
Individuals: Give online to E200327 for Esther Wakeman's sending and support
Congregations: Give to D500900 for Esther Wakeman's sending and support