There was so much to reflect on for our first Thanksgiving in Thailand. We have a lot to be grateful for and Thanksgiving gave us good reason to pause and look back on just how much life has changed over the past few months.
To celebrate, we crammed a bunch of random Canadians in the living room of an apartment in Bang Na District and everyone contributed towards what turned into an impressive holiday spread. It was a room full of unknown for us and sadly, no one had been able to procure turkey!
Our families were the new additions, but we were not treated like outsiders. Instead we were greeted with excitement, anecdotes, tales of a time in Thailand we’ll never know, suggestions, insights gleaned from experience, and a willingness to welcome us in. All of it filled that room with a sense of richness, history, purpose, and an undeserved feeling of belonging (we were welcomed but had not done anything to earn that welcome). We’re not sure of the collective years of experience and service represented in that room, but seeing as the most veteran of us was celebrating 50 years in Thailand, we can say it was a lot!
Janice Hamman, the 50 year front-runner, was an absolute treat! We could have listened to her for days, though in the end it was a school night for all of us and bedtimes began calling to our children. Her stories reminded us that ours is a successive faith. We are where we are today because someone has gone ahead of us. We will reach further only because of the work of others. It was an honour to hear directly from a kind soul who didn’t boast or brag, but shared genuinely from a depth of knowledge that only a lifetime well-spent can provide.
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants” Isaac Newton
Recalling a simple conversation she had one day, Janice shared about a time when two students approached her on the street and asked, “where do you live?”. She replied with her address and the students, having exhausted their command of English, said goodbye and walked away. You could see that this grieved Janice even though this minor event took place decades ago. She paused, and told us how Jesus had been asked a very similar question, but his answer differed greatly from hers. When asked where he lived, Jesus replied, “come and see”. He was invitational rather than informational. She didn’t say it in so many words, but we left with the impression that this thought changed how she lives her life. Perhaps it should change ours too.