Is it the size of the city? Number of people? Noise level and traffic?
-No, No, and Nope. All are a lot different than what we are (were) used to, and they have each been overwhelming at times, but not the biggest difference. Even the smell does not seem so awful anymore.
Must be the food, right?
-Huge difference, but not the biggest. The truth is, Bangkok is FULL of all kinds of delicious, unique, strange, and fun food. I can get just about anything I want to eat at a restaurant or store. I might have to pay a lot for it, but I can get it. There is even an amazing steak house here. Truly, this city has an abundance of food!
Then it must be the living conditions?
-Not here in Bangkok. Ask me again when we move to the Issan area. We live in a fantastic condo that is bigger than our house in Louisiana. We have air conditioners in every room (even though they are mainly used at night), guards, a pool, and hot water for our showers. The only thing I found difficult to adjust to is that there is no hot water at my kitchen sink.
What about the lack of “things”? You know, clothes, shoes, decorations, books, etc
-Okay, this one has been a little harder, but not because of lack. This city is full of things; you cannot walk one block with out passing some sort of mall, or store. Bangkok is drowning in abundance. But, much of it is only for the rich (I’m not a Gucci girl) and finding our sizes in shoes and clothes can be difficult. But, again, no. This is not the biggest difference.
The biggest difference?
-The lack of Christian anything. It is like a black hole came and sucked up anything Christian, so we are starting over by passing letters around from church to church. Maybe it is not quite that bad, but it is pretty close.
One time at the market, I heard a Christian song playing. I was so excited that I said to the seller, “I’m a Christian. Are you one, too?” Nope! When the next song was a rock song, I realized he had no clue what kind of music he was playing.
I miss being able to buy shirts with Bible verses on them, or running into Walmart to grab a Bible for the new bus kid. I would love to shop while Christian music is playing in the back ground. (Speaking of which, if I hear “All I want for Christmas is youuuuu, baby,” one more time, I might sit in the middle of the store and cry.) We agreed the girls could put up a Christmas tree, so off I went to find a tree and buy some ornaments. It did not occur to me they would have nothing about Christ on any of the decorations. Five market stalls later, I finally quit looking because I was getting depressed.
I cannot count the number of taxi drivers that have no idea who Jesus is, or where a church might be in Bangkok. Can you imagine? Even the lost in America can tell you where a church is in their city. They could probably list three!
Their are idols and spirit houses everywhere. Monks are walking (or being given a ride) down the streets in the morning, collecting their food. One day, I walked past a lady kneeling in the middle of the sidewalk giving a monk his offering. Seeing that was like being punched in the gut with a reminder of why we are here.
I am surrounded by so much idolatry, and worship of spirits, that it makes me feel dirty. Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you did the jail ministry one time, or handed out tracks at an outdoor music festival, and when you came home, you felt less than pure. Well, take that feeling, and let it sit on you like a wet blanket, day in and day out. It gets heavy. If it feels heavy for me as a Christian, can you imagine how it must feel for the lost here?
But that is why God called us here, and I am blessed to be used of Him to bring His Light into this dark place. Praise the Lord, our pastor and his sweet wife, taught us how to grow in our relationship with Christ by using our Bibles and prayer time. With technology, I can hear sermons anytime I want. My home can be a haven and sanctuary filled with His Word. We have edifying Christian music playing almost all day long…or Adventures in Odyssey. We pass out tracts all the time, and quite often, we see them immediately being read.
Without a doubt, no longer being surrounded by Christianity has been the biggest difference. Thankfully, though, my God does not change, and His Spirit is always with me.
John 12:46 “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
Hi! My name is Rachael and I am a child of God. I was saved from sin and all its bondage at the age of 21. I am married to an incredible man. He constantly challenges me to grow closer to my Saviour. We have three beautiful children that love the Lord. Currently, our family is preparing to go to Thailand as missionaries.