We have arrived in Bangkok! We are in a hotel under strict quarantine for a week. (This was just recently reduced, for those who are vaccinated, from two weeks, so we are very grateful for that). Many thanks to those who prayed for safe travels. I (Lisa) actually enjoyed the flights for the most part. In particular, I sensed God encouraging me through the stories of two women who trusted God in amazing ways in their missional journeys in Asia. The first was Jackie Pullinger (above, left). I listened to Nicky and Pippa Gumbel's conversation with her on the flight. You may have heard of her courageous work with persons addicted to drugs in what was for many years a very dangerous part of Hong Kong, the Walled City. What I had never heard was how she discerned her calling. She knew God was calling her to Asia but God had not given her more specifics than that. So, she waited in England to hear more, getting turned down with various mission agencies. A vicar had this odd suggestion: just get on a boat headed for Asia, one which stops at many ports. Be prayerful throughout the voyage, and get out when God tells you to. She did, and at the second-to-last stop heard a very clear call to Hong Kong. I loved this story because it puts our past year, and our somewhat odd decision to come to Thailand, in perspective. It can feel like a speculative venture since we simply do not know when borders to Malaysia will open up, but Jackie's pastor sensed she would hear God better by leaving home and getting closer to her perceived calling, and we hope and trust that the same will be true for us. The podcast is here: https://www.alpha.org/blog/leadership-conversations-with-nicky-gumbel-podcast-jackie-pullinger
The second woman whose story is inspiring me these days is Gladys Aylward. I read much of her gripping autobiography on the flights. She felt called to China, but was rejected by missions agencies and lacked money for a ship passage there, in the 1930s. Determined to get there, she took a train across Europe and Russia, suffering cold, hunger, train tracks blocked by warring soldiers, etc. But God did so much good through her life and witness when she got there, saving the lives of many orphans and converting many people. It puts our minor setbacks of the past year in perspective to read of all that she endured, and again, challenges me to have greater faith for what might be ahead. I highly recommend this short book: https://www.amazon.com/Gladys-Aylward-Little-Woman/dp/0802429866
These women are fueling faith within me and reminding me to be patient with the minor inconveniences of our quarantine. We chose one of the cheaper quarantine packages; thus our hotel is a somewhat older building, and the food is fairly simple. But, we have a long balcony and a living room as well as our bedroom, which will help this week as we each teach sessions.Rich will continue to teach in India, China, and Moldova, and I will be doing asynchronous teaching for St Paul's Theological College in Malaysia, and for Fuller. We both hope as well to make progress on writing projects. Beyond that, I am attempting to learn some Thai letters (there are 76...) and phrases. We are cycling through our four games, and so far continue to enjoy each other's company. In the coming weeks, please pray for health, the ability to connect with folks doing good work here, and, of course, for the borders of Malaysia to open up to us in God's timing.
With love, hope, and gratitude, Rich and Lisa
Rich and Lisa Lamb