A letter from Carol and Leith Fujii in Thailand
December 18, 2010
Dear Friends and Family,
Although we are already immersed in life and ministry here, we wanted to greet you and thank you all for your prayers and support during the past three months of interpretation assignment back in the United States. They were wonderful months, but sometimes exhausting, especially during the time we participated in PC(USA)’s World Mission Challenge 2009. We enjoyed being with many of you, including a number of new friends and partners in Christ’s ministry and mission. We regret that we weren’t also able to be with many of our longtime supporters; we plan to make it a priority to visit you during our next interpretation assignment, which will be in 2011.
For Carol, spending extended time with her parents was a real gift. Being separated from and missing family back home is probably every missionary’s challenge. We thank God that Mom Hamada, who turns 89 in January, and Dad, 84, are still in good health and able to live independently. Spending time together and making meals for them was a small way that Carol was able to give some “TLC” during her time back in United States.
We return to Thailand as “empty nesters” for the first time! The house has felt so quiet and empty without our youngest, Lani, who is adjusting well to her first semester in university in northern California. During her international student orientation, she met students from a number of countries, and these have become her core group of friends. It’s been a plus for her to live near our family friends and Leith‘s sister, Sheila. We look forward to Lani and Mark’s visit this Christmas.
Since we’ve returned, our schedule has been quite full as ministry activities at the Bangkok Institute of Theology and the Well have occupied both our days and evenings. The Well and BIT students have become our “children” here; they fill our lives and hearts even though we miss seeing our adult children who now all live overseas.
Laughter and smiles filled our home the other evening as three BIT students, Pong, Noot and Wi, were busy in the kitchen trying their hand at baking for the first time. All decked out in aprons, they measured, poured, spilled and stirred! They were all quite delighted by the results of their labors, pumpkin bread, tasty and moist! That night, as we sent them back to school, we shared some of these loaves with our friends and neighbors for Christmas.
December is a celebratory month in Thailand. For the Thai, the celebration of the King’s birthday on December 5, a national holiday, is a special day of importance and honor. It is also Father’s Day in honor of King Bumiphol, who is affectionately called “Khun Po” or Father! He is the heart of the Thai people. On His Majesty’s birthday, millions throughout Thailand and Thais living abroad honored the King by wearing pink shirts, lighting candles and making merry. Last night, our neighbors Chin and his family walked with us to King’s Park near our home to join in the celebration. Suddenly, the electricity was cut, candles were lit, and then we broke into chorus, singing the King’s anthem, followed by a spectacular display of fireworks! Every time I hear this tune, tears well up in my eyes as I think how wonderful a king the Thai have. There’s a video on YouTube that I think can give you a better understanding of the loyalty and love the Thai people have for their King. King Bumiphol is currently the longest-reigning monarch in the world. Long live the King!
For the Thai church, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the King of Kings, is another highlight in this month. It is an opportune season to invite their non-Christian friends to the church. Many will have parties to celebrate Jesus’ birth. This year, one of the emphases is “We still have hope, Thailand,” which is an effort to reach those outside the church. On December 19 we will join our next door neighbor in opening our home to our unchurched neighbors for a Christmas party, singing carols and introducing them to King Jesus in an atmosphere which is more familiar and comfortable to them than a church building. We also expect to welcome carolers singing greetings of cheer throughout the nights before Christmas. But instead of figgy pudding, we will probably offer them mangoes and sweet sticky rice. Whoever started this all-night marathon caroling tradition in the Thai church, I’ll never know!
We would like to wish you a blessed season of Christmas this year and would ask you to pray with us:
- Evangelism efforts of the season, as in home parties through “My Hope Thailand” on December 19 for our neighborhood friends to come to know Jesus.
- For the King’s health (He has been hospitalized since September.) and for the unity of the Thai nation, which is still politically polarized.
- Giving thanks for Joy’s marriage to E.J. Holcomb on August 1, 2009. And please pray for her deployment with the U.S. Army scheduled for spring 2010.
May the joy of Jesus be with you this Christmas season!
Carol and Leith Fujii
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 110