Christmas Greeting 2018

A Letter from Esther Wakeman, serving in Thailand

Christmas 2018

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Recently, I spent a night in the hospital, but not for me.

My husband, Rob Collins, had a little adventure when his bicycle tangled slightly with a motorbike on a ride out to the home of his friend, Bill Yoder (a retired PC(USA) mission co-worker). Three or four times a week, Rob rides 10 miles there, has breakfast, and then rides home. I’m glad to report that Rob’s son, Andy, was with him and helped him off the pavement. A policeman nearby called an ambulance, and they rode in it to Bill’s house so they could still enjoy a hearty breakfast! Then Bill brought Rob into town, and I took him to the hospital. By now he was feeling some pain, and x-rays revealed three cracked ribs. The doctor admitted him for observation, just to make sure nothing serious developed from the bump on his head or with his lungs.

When we got to his hospital room, I read the instructions for patients. Patients are to have a family member stay with them at all times. It’s hospital policy! And I don’t think it is because the hospital wants to reduce staff numbers. I think it is because in Thailand, people recognize that suffering humans should not stay alone. The reality in Thailand is that folks don’t do much of anything alone. You always want to be part of a group — or at least have one friend with you. Students won’t even use the restroom alone — usually they will go with a friend. As an American, schooled in independence and individualism, this has always surprised me. As a Christian, Thailand has taught me much about what it means to be the body of Christ. We truly are part of one another, and we need one another.

That day in the hospital, on the eve of Advent, I thought of Christmas — the incarnation, God becoming human, coming to live among us because God does not want suffering humans to stay alone. God is with us, and God is one with us, and he invites us to enter into his life, death, and resurrection that we may have new life in him and join in his mission, bringing his rule and reign into reality on earth. I’m so grateful for your prayers and support for my work in Thailand that give me the opportunity to share the good news that we are not just a human community on our own, but that the God who made us to rule and reign with him lives in us, among us, and with us, empowering us to live life in the way God always intended. (I’m also glad to report that Rob is recovering at home, and we would appreciate your prayers.)

Participating in the life of Payap University, where we get to celebrate Christmas every year with our mostly Buddhist students and staff, is a great joy. Preparations are underway for caroling all over campus, worship featuring the Christian Communications Institute’s (CCI) traditional Thai drama and a free feast for all. Joy to the World and Peace on Earth for Immanuel is here.

Joy and Peace to you this Christmas and throughout the new year.

Esther Wakeman

Chiang Mai, Thailand


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