He eagerly patted the empty space beside him and motioned for me and David to come join him. We were standing on the sidelines, watching an energetic game of sepak takraw, when the invitation was extended. Climbing the bleachers, we joined the group of friendly onlookers who were curious to know who we were and what had brought us there.
This is sepak takraw, also known as "kick volleyball". Imagine volleyball meets hacky sack! :)
Far removed from any tourist destination in Thailand, our pale skin and David's six-foot stance were an unusual sight in the small city of That Phanom. For the first time, our presence in Thailand was met with inquisitive stares and questons from anyone who could remember the English they had been taught in school.
"Why are you here in That Phanom?"
Oceans away from all that we had ever known, their questions stirred our hearts to recollect- to revisit the pillar of stones that we have raised in our hearts as a memorial to what God has done. What had brought us to this moment, this place, these people?
It all began one Sunday morning last March. We had heard about the need... 22 million people in Isaan with little to no chance of ever hearing that their creator God has already earned their merit on their behalf. God stirred David first, and it came as a command: "You must go." David knew he had to obey the Lord and began to anticipate my response to this challenging call. But about one hour later, while driving home from church, the words unexpectedly came from my own mouth: "We're going to Thailand." So removed from anything that we had anticipated for our family, this last year has been a whirlwind as we have navigated this completely unexpected change of plans. Well, unexpected to us... but we trust in the fully-known and intimately crafted plan of our God and rest in the truth that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6)
We may not have anticipated sitting beside Som in That Phanom this past December and watching a game of sepak takraw, but we know that this story has already been written by our faithful Father. As we started to head back to our hotel that evening, Som asked us to meet him there again the next day, but we told him we were heading back to America. He responded, "Ok, then I will see you next year!" Lord, please, let it be so!
Please pray with us for hearts of people like Som who are waiting to hear about the faithful God who is weaving our stories together for our good and for His glory!