The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of packing, that seemed to go on forever. Anyone who has ever moved knows how stressful it can be. We were surrounded by a sea of boxes and suitcases and living out of them was not much fun either. Fortunately, we were relatively organised, even if it did look chaotic. It was a very strong reminder of when we moved to Thailand almost 7 years ago.
In the process of moving, we did not get much done on business planning. Working from home was not possible, due to the array of packing boxes building up in our apartment and working in coffee shops became quite a pinch on our pockets.
Our Bangkok Visitor
We also in the last few weeks before leaving Bangkok, had an unexpected visitor in the form of a RAT!… A problem that we had never experienced in almost 7 years of living in the same apartment. The landlord started some building work and it must have disturbed the rat to enter our apartment on the 3rd floor! We spent the last 2-3 weeks doing everything in our power to get rid of it (giving it rat poison that it seemed to eat like sweeties and come back for more) and also ensuring that it didn’t get into any of the boxes we had packed. So we held it hostage in our bedroom, by keeping the door closed as much as possible and putting up with the racket it made in the early hours of each morning. It did work since thankfully we saw no rat (dead or alive) upon unpacking the boxes in our new home.
Friends & Goodbyes
One of the hardest things we had to do was saying goodbye to friends (Thai & expat). Although we are still in Thailand, the distance from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is 9 – 12 hours by road and flight only about 70 minutes but more expensive. Therefore, we will not get to see them as often. We hope they will come to visit us or any time we are in Bangkok, we will make time to see them. Our friends have poured into us and us into them, we have grown together, encouraged each other, laughed, cried and prayed together. We thank God for those friendships. Our prayers and hopes are that we will be able to build strong friendships and be part of a Christ centred community in Chiang Mai.
A few days before leaving Bangkok, we had an encouraging conversation with Pee a Thai taxi driver that we have got to know over the years. We noticed that he had an ‘Amazing Love Festival’ key ring dangling from his keys. We asked if he attended, to which he proudly and happily replied that he attended over the 2 days. He said that he was very moved by the worship and message. It is encouraging to see the impact that the ‘Amazing Love Festival’ has left on the people of Bangkok. We hope and pray that the seed that has been planted in Pee will grow.
Our move to Chiang Mai went relatively smoothly with no major problems. Our belongings were driven up on 27th February by a removal company, and we flew up on the 28th February. We arrived at our new home about 5-10 minutes before the removal van turned up. It was amazing timing considering the driving distance! We thank God that it went well.
We have begun seeking out a Church and have been attending Safari Church, it is only a 10 -15-minute drive from our home. The Church is set in a safari/zoo! The services are held in a conference room which is part of Chiang Mai Night Safari. It is a very unique place to have Church, walking from the car park you can see the giraffes eating their breakfast, free-roaming deer and an array of colourful birds. Attending the Church gives you free access to wander around the rest of the safari after service. We have been warmly welcomed and everyone is very friendly. So far, we have attended the International Service and Thai Service at Safari Church. Over the coming weeks, we will have the opportunity to visit other Churches. We are praying about which Church God wants us to attend.
Some information about Chiang Mai: – Chiang Mai is ranked in the top 10 (about no. 4-7) of the largest (populated) cities in Thailand. It is a mix of rural misty mountains meets urban – a juxtapose of two contrasting environments and ecosystems. Chiang Main is based in the northern hemisphere of Thailand and it hosts 6 indigenous Hill Tribes called the – Karen, Hmong, Akha, Lisu, Lahu & Yao, all tribes have their own distinct languages, culture, traditions and colourful costumes. Chiang Mai is known as the ‘Rose of the North’.
Our New Home & Surroundings
We do love our new home. It is much quieter than Bangkok. Living behind a University in Bangkok, on many occasions for 1-2 solid weeks (throughout the year), the students would be practising very loudly for events until 12am – 1am in the morning. So one of the first things we noticed in our new home was the sound level… it is so quiet and serene, we can hear the birds chirping and wildlife chatting away more clearly. We are not far from a flight path to Chiang Mai airport, but the noise level and frequency from that is still no match to the noise levels we had become accustomed to in Bangkok.
Speaking of wildlife… We thought we had said a fond farewell to the rat in Bangkok, only to be greeted by frogs that happily hang out in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom. The species are Asian Painted Frogs, they are less scary than the rat as long as they are not jumping! Paul has become a dab hand at catching them and setting them free back into the wild.
We have a mix of Thai and foreign neighbours. Our neighbour on our right-hand side is Thai. Upon meeting him for the first time, we tried to have conversations with him, unfortunately, we thought he did not understand us but was still very friendly. We began to wonder if our Thai was really bad or if he spoke a northern dialect we didn’t understand. We have just recently discovered that he does speak central Thai, but he has hearing problems. We pray that we can find creative ways of how we can communicate and get to know him.
Prayer & Praise
Thank God for our smooth move to Chiang Mai.
Thank God that we are settling in well and getting to know our neighbours.
Pray for creative ways of how we can get to know our new Thai neighbour who has hearing problems.
Pray we will build good relationships and friendships.
Pray that we find the Church God wants us to attend.
Pray as we work through the next stages of business planning and finances.
This definitely feels like a new season for us, with lots of new beginnings. We continue to thank you all for your continued support and prayers.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”. – Isaiah 18-19
Yours in Christ Paul & Sarah
It has been a long time since we wrote an entry to our blog. We do have good reasons and we will be sharing them with you over the coming months. Since there has been a time lapse, we feel we need to go back before coming forward.
“And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20: 37 – 38
When God says it time to move… You’ve got to move! We shared with the churches we visited during our Home Assignment in the UK between June – July, that we have now left NightLight. It was a decision that was very hard for us to make, we prayed, we shared with our Life Group (Small Group), we listened for God and His perfect timing. When God’s clear answer came, it was a bitter pill for us to swallow…
The ladies at NightLight have become our family, and God was telling us it was time to leave them. Over the 5-6 years we were there, we witnessed God’s transformation in many of the women lives, seeing them step into freedom, accepting Jesus, getting baptised, moving forward with confidence, self worth and stepping into leadership roles.
Just like a family we had many joyous occasions, where we would laugh together to the point of happy tears, barely able to catch our breath. When the times of sorrow came, we cried together baring each others pain.
Whilst we were there, God taught us so much about ourselves. We had the great honour of pouring into the women, however without realising it, many of the ladies also poured into us. God has an amazing way of surrounding you with people, when you need it most. We counselled and prayed for each other, sharing deep and personal areas of our lives that could only be shared when an amazing family bond had been formed.
A few days before our last day at NightLight, they prepared a leaving gathering for us. It was the day we had been dreading, the day when the reality that we were actually leaving kicked in. Nothing could have prepared us for wave of emotions that we felt. Many of the ladies shared how we had impacted their lives, what we meant to them and how much they were going to miss us.
There was not a dry eye to be seen; another but final moment when we would all weep together. I (Sarah) was a blubbering mess with tears and snot everywhere (sorry, it was not a pretty sight!). I don’t think I have ever cried so much when leaving a place of work…even Paul shed a tear! The women have left a huge stamp on our hearts, which we will never forget. We will miss them dearly.
Since leaving we have been able to keep in contact with some of the ladies and those we know really well, have invited us to their homes.
So, God says it time for us to move on… So in obedience to Him, move on we will do. We do not know all the plans for our next stage, but God is revealing the puzzle to us a little at a time. We sense that God is calling us to start up a Business as Mission company, of which we are completely looking to God for guidance. We will still be with BMS, and they are supporting us through this next stage. We are not sure if we will remain in Bangkok or if it will be another location in Thailand. As we step into this unknown and a new journey, we do know that it is all in God’s hands and by His grace, he will reveal all to us in His perfect timing.
We will be sharing with you how God’s plans have been unfolding over the coming weeks and months.
In the meantime can you please pray for us, as we seek His will with all the preparation, business planning, the location in Thailand, finances, our visas, our Thai business partner and finding a retail space.
Thank you for all of the cards and emails we receive from so many of you. They always arrive, when we need a boost of encouragement.
Here is an account from the Founder & CEO of NightLight – Annie Dieselberg
“Recently, my laptop was stolen at the airport.
I had left it accidentally at the security gate, and someone decided to help themselves to it. Thankfully, airport security personnel immediately checked the cameras and were able to locate the man who stole it. Within a half hour—and with only two minutes to spare—I got my laptop back and caught my plane.
I recently shared this story on Facebook and was struck by how many people “liked” the post. I realized that the fear of having something stolen or lost is a feeling most people can easily relate to. Hearing that my laptop was returned so efficiently gave people just a little bit of hope.
Maybe that’s why Jesus told the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. The theme of losing something valuable and searching to find it resonates with people around the world, in every era. When what was lost is not just a coin but something of our very own, the intensity and emotional connection with this experience grows. It’s a fear every parent understands.
It’s not as easy to relate to victims of human trafficking and exploitation. Yet every night in Bangkok (and around the world), lost daughters walk the streets in hopes of being found. Their parents do not know where they are and sometimes have not yet even realized that they are lost. These daughters cannot find their way home from this foreign land. They stumble around in the dark; their vulnerability being exploited night after night. The immediate terror and panic of being truly lost eventually gets pushed down beneath layers of coping strategies, but it doesn’t take much to trigger the fear, the trauma, and the alienation. Their dignity, their freedom, their lives have been stolen from them.
**Anna was hired to work as a maid for a family in the Middle East. Once there, however, she was enslaved and forced to work for no pay under a cruel boss. Her employer brought her to Bangkok, where she was beaten and thrown out on the streets with no documents and no means of taking care of herself. Suddenly on the streets, alone in a foreign land, Anna realized she was hungry, desperate, and very lost. Anna had to turn to prostitution for survival. Soon after, she was picked up by the police and thrown in the immigration detention center, where she stayed for 4 months and had no way to access help or family. She did not know if she would ever find her way home.
One day, however, our help line number was given to Anna. Calling us from the pay phone inside the detention center, she begged us for help. Recently, Anna was finally delivered from the jail with a ticket to go home. The immigration truck brought her to the airport the night of her departure, and we were waiting there to celebrate with her. Anna could not stop thanking us, though she said she had no words to adequately express what she was feeling. She had been lost and was found. She was now on her way home.
“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way,” wrote St. Francis of Assisi. When a child, mother, sister, or daughter is found and returned, even the angels celebrate. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. We celebrate this love which compels us to join in the search, to set the captives free, and to help those who have lost their way to find their way back home. For these women, this is a demonstration of love they will never forget”.
**Anna’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
Praise God for:
The number of women that NightLight has assisted and repatriated back to their home countries, through the anti-trafficking programme.
The amazing restoration, transformation, confidence building and counselling, to help women walk in freedom, that come into the NightLight International Programme Centre.
The many women that are still lost hoping to be found. Pray that NightLight’s help line number makes it’s way safely to the women who need us to help them.
Pray for NightLight to be in the right places at the right time, to reach out and help those that have been trafficked.
We are looking forward to seeing many of you, when we are in the UK during May – July 2018.
We really regard Thailand as home now. Our love for the Thai people and the country runs very deep.
So on the evening of 13th October 2016 as we prepared to leave to go to our Thursday Life Group. The news at 7pm came with the announcement that every Thai had feared; King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Rama IX of the Chakri dynasty, had passed away at the age of 88, in the 70th year of his reign. He was the world’s longest serving monarch.
The news hit our ears and we both looked at each other in disbelief. We knew this news would hit Thailand hard; even in that moment in our apartment the stillness from outside was evidence. As we entered onto the streets of Bangkok, the silence, shock, grief, sobbing was written on every face.
We have 2 Thais in our Life Group and the sense of loss for them was painful. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was highly revered, he was the King of Thailand but was also the Father of Thailand who has done many great things for the country. The next day as we comforted, listened and spoke with many of the Thai women at NightLight, the personal loss of losing a Father cut deep. We are standing with, supporting and mourning with our Thai friends and family and feel their sorrow through this difficult time.
On Friday 14th October, Thailand a country often associated with bright colours, saw Thais, expats and tourists predominantly dressed in black, white and somber tones as the official national mourning period began. The initial mourning period will last for 30 days, but the funeral rites will last for one year. This will then be followed by the royal cremation.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, took his role with great seriousness, travelling through many parts of Thailand to
improve the quality of life for the people of Thailand. During his 7o year reign he set up many Royal Projects and installed infrastructures to enable Thailand and the people of Thailand – some of these include improving agriculture, farming and the general landscape of Thailand. He has left a great legacy.
Over 500,000 (according to Thai Public Health Ministry) people lined the route to see the King take his final journey from Siriraj Hospital (where he passed away) to the Grand Palace. The location surrounding the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang Park has seen huge crowds daily paying their respects to the King and signing the condolence books.
On Saturday 22nd October a massive crowd of an estimated 170,000+ mourners from all over the country flooded to Sanam Luang Park and nearby side streets as far as the eye could see to sing the royal anthem in a historic assembly in memory of the beloved King. With an accompaniment of a 200-piece orchestra and a 150-strong choir under the baton of renowned music director Somtow Sucharitkul A momentous occasion that was also filmed by 1,300-strong production crew, 50 cameras, including two drones and cameras positioned on two cranes, as well as 25 microphones set up in six locations to capture the event. The film will include added footage of the Kings royal activities, will be shown on TV and cinemas across the country.
As the Thais gather together, they are beginning to look ahead to a hopeful future, following in the footsteps left by – A Great Royal Legacy – King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This is more than just the unity of Thais loyal to the late, revered King, but a demonstration that the King left an example to follow; they are strong together – serving with love, kindness, friendship and willingness to help each other.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Please pray for Thailand, the people of Thailand that they will be comforted by the Lord. Pray also as they step into this new period of transition.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International