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Thailand is not what we would call a "Creative Access Area," an area that limits or is hostile to the Word of God. Just because Thailand is not on the list of CAAs, does not mean that Thai Christians are exempt from persecution. Persecution here may not look like executions, prison time, or exile, but our brothers and sisters still face hostility due to their faith.

So what do we do during these trials?

A New Friend

Almost four years ago, Terence injured his right shoulder during a badminton match which has prevented him from "going all out" since. Over the past few years, we have tried different ointments, physical therapy, and medication. An X-ray showed nothing, and an MRI was too expensive. 

Moving to Thailand, Terence was excited and nervous about the badminton here. Thailand is in the Top 10 globally when it comes to this sport, so we expected a physical challenge--especially with Terence's shoulder. What we didn't expect was a mental challenge on the court.

We have made many new friends in Eksiam. We are still trying to remember all of their names, but they have really taken us under their wings. However, there has been one member who has not taken a liking to us. For the sake of this story, let's call him Friend. 

Friend is a long time member of Eksiam. He loves to mock Terence on the court, make sarcastic remarks, teasingly mimic his movements, but worst of all, he wouldn’t acknowledge our marriage. He would only refer to us as “girlfriend and boyfriend” despite our many gentle corrections. This has been most troubling for us because of his influence on the team and the fact that Ingrid is obviously pregnant. How could we be a Christlike example when someone was deliberately sabotaging our reputation and witness? Every time Terence would lose a match against Friend, Friend would take advantage to gain more influence on the team. 

One night, Terence was so angry with Friend after another match of mockery. “I’ll teach him a lesson!" Terence grumbled, "I will put a shuttlecock straight in his face so I can finally silence him.” 

But Ingrid reminded him of Christ's words in Matthew 5:33 (But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you). We knew that this matter needed to be fought with prayer.

"Next time he tries to make fun of you, just smile." Ingrid suggested. "Remember, the respect you gain on the court will reflect respect off the court as well.”

So, whenever Friend began bullying, Terence started smiling as a simple response. Just as Christ instructed, we began to pray for Friend. After a few weeks, something happened; Terence's shoulder pain began to fade.

“It's probably just temporarily gone," Terence thought, "It will come back if I push myself to my limits.”

Bam! Smash! Smash! Bam!

No pain. 

“Let me go all out again in the next match.”

Smash! Smash! Bam!

“Maybe it's just a good day. Next week, it'll be back." 

But it didn't come back. Terence has been able to regain his strength and dominance in the court again. He began to have evenings that had no losses and everyone in the Eksiam Badminton group started to notice. Members began asking Terence for advice to improve their game, and other members have reached out to Terence to teach them on off-days. 

We noticed that the team members were no longer laughing at Friend's mockery and teasing towards Terence. Night after night, smile after smile, Friend became more silent and his teasing lessened.  

We don't know how long Terence will remain pain free, but we are praising God. We do know that God is allowing Terence to show dominance on the court so that His dominance can be revealed to the team.

Right now, Friend has toned down, but our journey doesn’t end here with him. We want to love Friend and love him truly. Most of all, we want Christ’s love to embrace him completely.  

She Said "Yes!"

Our good friends, Ivan and Joan, came to visit and spend time with us. But the highlight of this visit was Ivan’s wedding proposal to Joan. After months of prayer and planning the time finally came and Joan said YES! We are very thankful for this couple’s lives. What an opportunity to be a part of this special moment!

A lot more crazy things happened during their stay. If you want to read more about the adventures we had, click on Ivan and Joan's photo or click here!

One More Month...

Baby Lustaña is almost here! Perhaps by the next newsletter, she would have arrived! 

Our doctor has not found any problem and she said that our little girl is according to schedule and position. A natural birth is possible, so we praise the Lord!

We would like to take this time to say thank you to all of you who have organized baby showers, sent gifts, and written letters. Your love for our little one greatly warms our hearts. We thank the Lord for all your lives!

Prayer Requests

Visa: Our one year visa here in Thailand was approved last week, December 2nd, but we won’t get our stamp until December 27. A lot of things can still happen so please pray that there will be no complications in getting our visa stamp.

Ingrid's Passport: The Immigration office wouldn't accept Ingrid's passport because it did not have enough empty pages. We are now in the process of renewing it. Please pray that Ingrid’s passport will come before Baby Lustaña is born and before we get our Visa Stamp. We are scheduled for an appointment at the US Embassy this Monday.

Language Study: We need serious prayer on this! With baby coming almost any day now, some meetings, and the holidays, it feels that learning the language is the last priority in our brains. We are still learning, of course, but not as intense and passionately as before. Pray that we stay motivated despite the changes coming in these next few weeks. 

New Team Member: Baby girl now weighs more than either of us weighed when we were born! Thank you, Lord! We ask that you continue to pray for a natural birth for the simple reason that we cannot afford a C-section. We also would like to request a prayer for Baby Girl's birth certificate, passports, and visa process. It's a long tedious process, but we pray that it goes smoothly!

Insurance: The way insurance works for us is that we pay, and the insurance company reimburses us. Because of a whole number of reasons, we have yet to be reimbursed for even one doctor's appointment. With baby coming any day, we are getting anxious of how we are paying for not only the birth but for all the previous appointments as well. We are working with our team in Kansas City, but with the holiday vacations and breaks, there are more and more delays. 

P'Ning and P'Ei: We now meet P'Ning and P'Ei once a week for private badminton sessions. The Lord has been answering our prayers! Our relationship with the couple has significantly gone deeper, with more conversation opportunities every time we see them. P’Ning has been passionately investing on Ingrid and our little baby by bringing various kinds of fruits and fruit drinks that will make Ingrid and baby healthy. We have also began to confidently talk about how Pra-Jao (God) has worked miracles in our lives to them. We are looking forward to where and how the Holy Spirit will further lead us deeper into this couples lives! 

Cultural Adjustments: Moving to a new place is scary and difficult. Moving to a new country is even scarier and more difficult! There's not only a foreign language but new customs, opposite driving, foods that upset the tummy, and lots and lots of mistakes! Pray for us as we adjust to living in Thailand and working with a very diverse team. 

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The Lustañas · 10931 NW 16th Ct · Pembroke Pines, FL 33026-2713 · USA

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