A letter from Carol and Leith Fujii in Thailand
April 13, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
We live in exciting times. How quickly news is outdated! Last Friday, April 10, members of the UDD (United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship), also known as the “red shirts,” poured into the hotel after breaking the glass doors at the entrances and the cancellation of the 14th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit 2009 in Pattaya. The UDD is protesting against the present government and the “undemocratic” appointment of Prime Minister Ahbisit Vejjajiva. They are demanding his resignation and calling for new elections. The UDD demonstrators are loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. He fled Bangkok last year while facing trial on corruption charges and says he will return if needed, to lead this revolution. The CNN Web site has updated information.
It was only four months ago, that the PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy), also known as the “yellow shirts,” closed Bangkok’s International Airport for a week, demanding Prime Minister Somchai’s resignation. (Somchai was loyal to the ousted Thanksin Shinawatra.) This hurt Thailand’s reputation, tourism and economy. The new wave of protests will only further hurt the unity and peace in this country, so please uphold in prayer the Thai leadership and Thai citizens during this time of instability. Please pray for a peaceful resolution. At this time, Prime Minister Ahbisit has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas in order to restore order.
On the subject of political upheaval, Karin writes, “As I arrived in Philadelphia on March 10, 2009, for staging prior to departure for Madagascar, I met the other 32 volunteers in my class. Prior to leaving Chicago, I did not feel 100 percent certain that I would be going to Madagascar, as the Malagasy army had launched a mutiny on March 8. The Peace Corps decided not to send our group without minimal security measures in place. This was basically a game-time decision after being in close discussion with the country director in Madagascar. I believe the Peace Corps did the right thing. Apparently, this is the first time in Peace Corps history that a program was cancelled the day before sending volunteers. The circumstances are unfortunate and very disappointing for all of us. Since then, I have been reassigned and invited to serve in Cameroon beginning June 2009. However, that’s something I will consider carefully before accepting or declining. Since the Peace Corps’ mission is to serve in poor countries, it also means that these countries are all potentially very unstable and thus this is the risk volunteers are subject to.”
Meanwhile Karin will also participate in a final interview for a job with the Federal Reserve on April 30. She is still hopeful that she will be able to serve in Cameroon this June. We are grateful for dear family friends from CCP, who have invited Karin to live with them until her future becomes clearer. Please pray for both the future of the Malagasy people and clear direction for Karin.
On a brighter note, when Joy brought her friend to meet us in February, we knew that Joy had a special young man in her life. Edward Holcomb, known as EJ, is no longer just a friend but her fiancé and our future son-in-law. We look forward to welcoming EJ into our family. Joy and EJ met while they were both stationed in South Korea with the U.S. Army.
Some other wonderful developments have also taken place. The Well-Good News, a growing fellowship of believers, became an official church on March 29 under the seventh district of the Church of Christ in Thailand, PC(USA)’s partner church. A brother-sister team, two of our graduates from the Bangkok Institute of Theology, Suraphan and Supharang, have helped pioneer this work under the leadership of Jim and Judy Larson of Servantworks. The Well ministry focuses on ministering to bar women and women and families at risk. On Tuesdays, I continue to teach English to the girls and spend the afternoons praying with them and counseling them.
This Holy Week was moving for many of the Well women who participated in a Maundy Thursday Communion service and a foot-washing ceremony. On Good Friday the girls watched the “The Passion of Christ,” and this Easter Sunday they celebrated our Lord’s resurrection. For a number of them, this was the first time. Next month, new believers will be baptized in the waters of the Bay of Thailand during a retreat for the Well. Please praise God for these new believers and pray that they would understand that He lives in them. Jesus has conquered death and sin and offers us new life in Him. Whether it be for broken people or for a divided country, Christ is our hope. This is truly good news!
We thank you for your continuing love, support and prayers. A blessed Easter to you!
Carol and Leith Fujii
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 110