Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Wanla Nit, Wanla Noi - "A Little Bit Each Day"


May and A-Tom - Grade 6 Graduation

The slow and steady things of life have been impressed upon me of late.  The bigness of the little bits all collected; the successes of a long faithfulness; the measurements of what happens when you just tenaciously stay at it over the long haul.

If we're honest, I think we might all admit to feeling the temptation to want the 'big win'.  When things are important enough, we can get impatient to see the results of our efforts in obvious, immediate metrics.  Pounds off on the scale.  Big chunks off the debt.  Huge strides in improvements or developments of any sort.  Flowers shooting up into blooms all at once.

Earliest spring shoots.

But in most of life, accomplishment comes in increments, almost impossible to see happening before your eyes unless you take a longer look at what's going on.  Like children eager to line themselves up against the wall to see how tall they are now.  It's only by measuring against where you were months or even years ago that you can see where you've come.

May and Atom both graduated grade 6 this school year.  They are tall and blossoming young ladies now.  Here's May when she arrived at Hot Springs, age six, and so very, very small.  What you can't tell from the pictures is how much she has grown in confidence as well.  Her voice!  Such a timid, held back whisper, now developed into a well-spoken, articulate expression of strength.  All around the world, it's so important that we help little girls find their voice.

Similarly for A-Tom.  The coming into her own, the building of skills, the finding her own space in the world...it doesn't happen over night.

The Thai phrase for this is a colloquial blending of the word for 'day' (wan) and the phrase for 'little bit' (nit noi), becoming a lyrical wanla nit, wanla noi.  Just a little bit each day.

I am glad for these reminders.  As    the pandemic months turn to years and I am not there with them, it can feel a bit like time is frozen and nothing is happening.  

That is, if I make this only about what I can perceive.

It brings to mind a rather intriguing "quotation" from Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:9.

"'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived' -- the things God has prepared for those who love him -- these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit."

There's good depth in exploring this text (and the Isaiah 64, 65 connection it evokes)  that I won't go into here.  But the underlying thought is that there's always a lot more going on than meets the eye...and God's got it well in hand.

This brings me again and again to places of deep gratitude for all you who take these patient steps a little bit at a time with us.  The long faithfulness of your support makes these gradual life transformations possible.  Thank you for your tenacious vision to stay at it with us.  They are growing, these precious ones.  Just a little bit every day for big, big outcomes that would not be possible otherwise.

Soon I will be making some important decisions about a time to return.  There's a lot to consider, especially now with war and air-space factoring into flight paths and transfers.  And then there's this little 'sixth wave' making its way around the world, and the growing realization that waiting until COVID has run its course isn't likely going to be a proactive strategy.

So, as always, we appreciate your prayers.  Much wisdom is needed for this, and for any and all future plans for property and financial development, and the nurturing of all our partner relationships that make any of it possible.

Blessings and strength for your own "little bit each day" endeavours!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Little Beauties of the Bigger Thing

One of the last outings I went on during my January 2020 trip, was to the Chiang Mai Flower Festival.  A magnificent event showcasing the incredible talent and attention to detail of horticultural artisans skilled in traditional forms.

From the huge floats to the tiniest of details, the vibrancy of colour and the sheer number of blooms required is truly breathtaking.

Who does this?  Who pays such attention to each individual petal and blossom in the most basic configuration, all the while keeping the big picture in mind?  The time taken and the precision and the patience all speaks to both the extraordinary artistry AND the unhurried, meditative nature of the Thai culture.  

These memories (and photos) serve me well in these days of waiting. 

I wonder if the artists get eye strain, or neck strain, or lose sight of the final project while they are hunkering down into the miniscule work of it?  Probably.  Tedium will do that to you.  When something takes a long, long time, when you're in the middle of it, it feels like nothing's happening.

It's time to be thinking about booking my next flight.  At least I think it is.  Then a war breaks out and new risk factors have to be taken into consideration.  But at least my own stamina and well being is on the upswing, enough that I can once again imagine myself on the plane for that long.  But when, exactly?  I don't know.

 When I was at the Flower Festival I couldn't help notice the juxtaposition of the old city walls against the colour-splash of fresh flowers.  While the festival itself is only 45 years old, these bricks have overseen more than 700 years of life and living and festivals on the city streets.  That's old.  That's a long legacy.

I am so grateful for all that I keep learning from my Thai beloveds, from their culture, from their collective-psyche, from their love.  And it's all worth it, I know this.  Every teeny detail done in preparation for the big splash of things, it's all part of the longer story.

Right now in Thailand the Flower Festival is past.  Our children are finishing up another COVID- interrupted school year, and making plans to head up to the mountains to visit living family members.  One of our teenagers has graduated high school and is applying for university.  She wants to be a kindergarten teacher.  We are hoping to arrange much needed holidays (didn't happen last year) for Suradet andYupa.  It's getting hotter, especially by 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  And I wish I was there.

We have much to do together, even from this distance.
Rice and water and other bare necessities have experienced the inflated prices felt all around the world as we contend with the fallout from not just the pandemic, but now the war as well.  My main job right now, the teeny flowers for the bigger picture, is to send out appeals and discern best practices for closing the gap in our 2022 budget.  [As always, if you are not yet a supporter of New Family Foundation I am always happen to chat.  Contact me at rabreithaupt@hcckw.ca.]

And always....our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for all those who faithfully watch over us by their support.  And to God and His incredible care for our children as seen in the trouble He went to, to arrange for all of you to partner with us!

Blessings and joy and quiet peace to you all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

"Gola" Part 3 - Of Mothers and Fathers

"Gola" Part 3 - Of Mothers and Fathers 

This is the last of the three part re-post from my mountain village visit in the fall of 2015.

Some adventures are worth re-living.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Gola Part 2 - Being There

Gola Part 2 - Being There 

Six years ago I had the enormous privilege of spending three consecutive months in Thailand, shadowing Pastor Suradet as part of my MDiv requirements for a pastoral internship.

One of the most stretching parts of that time was a three day journey up into the mountains to visit Suradet's family in his home village.

In reflecting now on both the end run of my academics, AND on how much I'm aching to be in Thailand, memories of this particular trip seemed worth re-sharing.

It comes in three parts.  This is the second installment.  "Gola" Part 2 - Being There.  

Click on the link above.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

"Gola" Part 1 - Getting There

"Gola" Part 1 

Six years ago I had the enormous privilege of spending three consecutive months in Thailand, shadowing Pastor Suradet as part of my MDiv requirements for a pastoral internship.

One of the most stretching parts of that time was a three day journey up into the mountains to visit Suradet's family in his home village.

In my reflections of late, both on nearing the end of my academics, AND on how much I'm missing being in Thailand right now, memories of this particular time, and this particular trip seemed worth re-sharing.

It comes in three parts.  Here's the first installment:  "Gola" Part 1 - Getting There.  

Click the link above.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Mountain Carols


It happened again on Sunday.  This time it was the second line of  the first verse of the traditional French Carol we know in English as "Angels We Have Heart On High" (1862, unknown composer).

"And the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strain."

I have a different relationship with mountains, now that I've spent time in Thailand.  More respect.  More affection.  Like for folks who grow up by the sea, or on the prairies, or in any distinctive geological place, the terrain and ruggedness and unique and often misty beauty of the rising hilltops holds its own sense of wonder and security for me.  Even though I did not grow up there, my heart has found another home.

If you get the chance, like I have, to visit a mountain village, the vistas become fascinating, contrasted with the layers and shadows and depths of it all receding into the, unbelievable, far-as-the-eye-can-see distance.  

Closer to the city, if you stand in the middle of the property that houses our family at Hot Springs, you'll still see sheer hills all around.  We're nestled in.  Surrounded.

It's an image of the protection and presence of God the psalmist uses in Psalm 125:1.

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forever more."

I needed that on Sunday.  Even more today.  Another COVID Christmas doesn't register well at all, and as I write, dire predictions are again the steady diet of our newscasts.  

The mountains, however, echo back joy at the angels' announcement.  Peace on earth!  Yes, this pandemic-ravaged earth!  Because this crazy, insidious disease is exactly why He had to come.  Because sickness and dying and death and fear and confusion and despair and separation and disorientation and everything dark had to be dealt with.  So He did.  In the most astonishing of ways.

He came.

The LORD of the mountains came.  And that's why they were singing with the angels, echoing that joy.

This is why we do what we do with our beautiful, precious mountain kids.  This is their home.  This is their hope.  I miss their voices singing, so much.  

Can almost hear them echoing with the angels and the mountains.  

Friday, November 26, 2021

Where You Stay, I'll Stay

 "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia." (emphasis added)  Acts 16:6

I'll get back to this.

The little white salt shaker on my mantle is lonely for it's little red partner, the one that fits so well that, when you bring them together, they hug.  White for Canadian snow; red for Thai earth.  

I bought the first pair at a market in Chiang Mai, back in the day when language was still choppy and matters of the heart near impossible to articulate.  The idea was and is that the white one comes home with me and the red one stays with them.  And when we are together, they come together in this symbol of something just not being 'complete' when we're not.

We can speak each other's tongue easier now.  But this still says more than any words, Thai or English, could possibly describe.

It's already been almost two years since I was there.  And any thoughts of making the trip this January have been squashed by new news of even more deadly variants, and the absence of connecting flights between here and there until at least April 2022.

I'll be raw here and just say this hurts like hell.  And not to offend, but if hell represents everything that God isn't, that good isn't, that the way it should be isn't, then it's the right word.

It's an odd place to be when you're wired for 'go'.  To 'stay' instead - by what I truly believe is my best understanding of the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit right now - is not sitting well.  To have the 'right thing' feel so 'wrong'...it has a degree of what I'm okay to call suffering.  

Surrender and surrender and palms turned upward to help my heart make it so.  As the song says, "Where You go, I'll go.  Where You stay, I'll stay." **

And this wonderful humility to realize that God is at work in all the weird and wild ways of it either way.  When I go, when I stay, He's just always 'there'.

Miki helps remind me.  She's one of our graduates who is now involved in an innovating, gentle and respectful mission in Bangkok where a church community has been intentionally built around a coffee shop

35 Church Home Cafe is worth a curious look.  I love this concept.  I love that she's serving like this.  I love that she's surrounded by such an intelligent, faith-oriented community.  Ironically, Miki had to 'go' all the way down to Bangkok, a move that took her away from much that is familiar in the north where, to be honest, a lot of Thais are flocking to, to be away from some of the unrest and unpleasantness in the south.  

Paul couldn't always go or be where he wanted to go or be either.  And not to make a lot of it, but it's of particular interest to me that at least on one occasion, it was to Asia that he was blocked from going.  He writes so much in his letters of the anguish of not being with people he loves.  

Yup, Paul, I get that now.

** I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin