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It’s been an incredibly rough start for 2020. The fires in Australia, tension between Iran and the USA, a volcanic eruption in the Philippines, earthquakes, plagues of locusts, the death of a basketball superstar and his daughter, a mass shooting here in Thailand and recently the coronavirus. So many lives have been lost and many hearts have been broken within such a short period of time. We are heartbroken for everyone that has been greatly impacted by these calamities. We pray for strength and comfort for all. And with all these tragedies, we begin to ask why. But as difficult as things may be, we continue to move forward. We continue to pray and believe that God has not turned His eyes away from those who have been devastated. We continue to declare that God is faithful. We continue to grow.

Even though our family is geographically far from being affected by these calamities, we have been going through some challenges of our own. Our difficulties does not entail physical death or illness but rather a significant spiritual impact. 

We would like to encourage everyone at this point to carefully consider praying for us, the church here in Bangkok and the people we may mention. 


Court Culture

As we write this, we have been living in Bangkok, Thailand for 135 days. As we continue to immerse with our Thai brothers and sisters, we are beginning to fully grasp what principalities we are up against here in our place of ministry.

"And, darling, I will be loving you 'til we're 70." P’Jet, a member of the badminton court we reach, openly invited Terence to visit a night club in the red light district (a place to pick up prostitutes) ...in front of his wife Pa Ning. And it didn’t stop there, the husband continued to talk about this lady he met in that place which he described as “beautiful” and “cheap.” Terence declined the invitation, but we found it disturbing. What disturbed us most was that his wife was not phased at all. She just kind of waved him off as if she is saying, "He can do whatever he wants." We have been deeply concerned with this couple. We would not have figured out that they were married if it wasn’t for their son telling us. 

P'Jet also constantly tries to egg on the other men to make sexual jokes with him. When he got to Terence, Terence simply smiled and said, "Y'know, we are all adults. We know that sex is good. Sex is good because sex is sacred." And the other members immediately agreed. Now whenever P'Jet tries to make green jokes or invite the men to the red light district, the members just wave him off.
 
"Please do not do that, we can’t get it." We found another nearby badminton court, so we decided to try it out. This group was at a higher level than Eksiam. The members were mostly young professionals rather than Eksiam's middle-aged players. Terence was so excited to "go all out." 

While playing, the young people stopped the game and asked Terence to "stop playing like a professional."

Huh?

Sometimes a request like that comes with an intent to flatter or joke, but this time, it was said with the intent to make Terence look cocky. Terence, having been a former professional player and a coach, found this comment very discouraging. Athletes are always encouraged to "set the bar higher." Not only for athletes but as Christians, we should always desire to grow and surround ourselves with people who will challenge us to become better. 

We didn't find this attitude on the court. Other players on the court started requesting Terence to lower the bar. We found out that the reason these kids played was to win--not to grow. Terence later asked a young Thai person whom we trust about this experience. Was this Thai culture or something else? Even after a deep conversation, the answer is still unclear. Thai people are very proud of their culture. If it's not the Thai way, it's the highway. If the desire to grow and learn is not encouraged in Thai culture, the ministry will be even more difficult.

We are aware that the third month is commonly the time that culture shocks hit missionaries the hardest. So we are trying to be understanding, patient and prayerful. These encounters may not be as serious as we thought they may be so please don’t hesitate to throw an insight or encouragement to us. We must remember that these frustrations we have with what we experienced in Thai culture do not disqualify them from the love of God. We are not here to change a culture. We are here to share the transforming power and love of Christ.

We know that these experiences are drawing us closer to the Lord and are expanding our worldviews. Through these experiences, we are learning to become better servants of our Lord. Through Thai culture, we continue to grow.
Ekisiam Badminton Club
We are getting closer and closer to our new friends in Eksiam badminton court. When we first started going to this club, Terence asked about how to participate in tournaments. The team was surprised because tournaments are a bit out of their comfort zone. However, now Terence has been asked by multiple members to partner for tournaments around Bangkok. Terence was able to carry an elderly woman up to the knock-out rounds of a huge tournament. We were able to pray with her before the matches. We are excited for the opportunities to come. Another tournament will happen at the end of this month. 

Reilee has become the entire team's neice and granddaughter. The team has showered us with gifts and fruit to welcome her to the team. The women have become very protective of her and are always willing to help Ingrid when they visit the court.

We also invited our men of peace (P'Ning and P'Ei) into our home to meet our baby girl. They also introduced us to their daughter. We are so thankful for the relationship we've made with them.
Reilee chilling with us at the CIC office at 10:30pm as we try to prepare for the meetings.

Sleepless. Priceless.
Jubilee Rei "Reilee" is now eight weeks old! She loves sleeping and her favorite color to stare at is yellow. She enjoys bath time, being carried around on a baby carrier, and music. Her favorite song is "Waymaker" by Leeland (which speaks so much about how God gave her to us). We have been loving getting to know her these past (almost) two months. 

As we write this, she is going through was the doctors have called a “wonder week” or "growth spurt" where she has been feeding every two or three hours for a few days--the same days we have been preparing for a very important meeting for Chapman International College (CIC). We will admit that these past few days have been some of the most exhausting days we've had. But cuddling her as she cries, giving her what she needs, and telling her that it’s going to be alright are totally worth it. These past few weeks have made us reflect on the Father's love for His children. What a privilege to learn and experience more of God’s love through our little girl.

Prayer Requests

Grandparents Visiting!: Next week, Terence's father will be coming to meet his first grandchild! Lolo Rolly will be visiting us for a week getting to know Baby Reilee, our ministry here, and the beautiful country of Thailand. Please pray for a safe and smooth journey as this will be his first time leaving the Philippines.

Leadership Changes: Last year, our region announced our current Field Strategy Coordinator's (FSC) retirement. Rev. David and Naomi Philipps have done incredible work as FSC for Southeast Asia, and we are all deeply saddened by their retirement. But the beauty of the church is that when one is called away another is called to continue the work of the Lord. Just a few days ago, our region announced Dr. Bill Kwon as our new FSC. He is a man after God’s own heart and we are excited for the leadership that he is going to bring to the SEA field. Pray for the Philipps as they transition back to the United States and for Dr. Bill Kwon as he steps into the very big shoes Rev. David has left behind.

Insurance: We have finally been reimbursed for our medical expenses!! We are so thankful! Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We have also been able to get Ingrid new glasses which she has deperately needed for the past two years.

Language Study: We need serious prayer on this! It's been hard sticking to a routine on language study with a newborn. Our language study has been very flexible, and we are thankful for our unofficial tutors on the badminton court for teaching us multiple times a week.

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. 

Passports/Visas: Ingrid was able to get her new passport, and we were able to get a work visa again for another three months. We were also able to apply for Reilee's Birth Certificate and passport for the US and Philippine Embassies. Our little girl is officially a dual citizen! We will all apply for a renewal of our Thai visas at the end of March. Please keep us in prayer and we hope that this time, we can get a one year visa.

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209/23 Seri Thai 81/2
Khan Na Yao District
Bangkok, 10230
Thailand






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