Tag Archives: celebration

On turning 30

I remember the night before I turned 10.

I was in my bed, on my back, staring at the ceiling. I went to bed early back in the day (still do, these days), and was not tired at all. Birthdays, at that young age, are magical. The expectation of no chores, what gifts I might receive, what the next day might hold.

Because I went to bed early, the room was still a little bit light. Or maybe it was my imagination; I don’t know  (I was a strange child). From my bed, I could see the outline of a giant 9 on my wall. The trashcan in my room, combined with a picture frame on the wall made a giant shape of a 9 on the wall.

I stared at that 9 for a long time that night.

What would ten be like? What would my teen years be like? What would happen; what life changes would be going on? What would that decade hold for me?

So many questions ran through my young mind, and I thought until late, late in the night when I finally fell asleep.

Tomorrow I turn 30.

That’s right.

Thirty. It’s the age that brings with it an existential crisis; the fear that life is slowly (or quickly) passing one by. The year that leaves a decade behind. It’s the end of an era. A lot of those same questions that plagued 9 year old me still run through the mind of 29 year old me.

What will my 30s be like? What will happen? What life changes do I face? Will this be the decade where I marry; when I have kids? Questions I never thought I’d wonder run through my head: what country will I even live in?

I come down to the same thing that I found comfort in when I was 9. I’ll not have answers to any of these questions until, 10 years from now, I take time to reflect on the ways that my life has changed in the past 10 years.

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Happy New Year

Songkran is the celebration of the Buddhist new year. Originally, my friends tell me that it started as a time when people were blessed by monks. The monks would splash a little water on each person to signify that the year ahead would be blessed.

Eventually, the celebration morphed into a city-wide water fight. Many cities in Thailand essentially shut down from April 13-15, as the Thai people celebrate the new year. These celebrations – or city-wide water fights –  attract tourists from all over the world to join in the festivities. It’s a time of fun. Celebration. The old year is gone, the new has arrived, and should be welcomed.

Bangkok actually held the world’s largest water pistol fight this year – I feel like that could have been epic fun.

But my city was wonderful. Friends and I tie-dyed t-shirts and went out around where most people play in the water. We had a grand time with our water buckets and squirt guns.

We got to an area where local businesses had set up booths, with DJs, dancing, and major water squirt-age. We could barely make it through the crowd, as locals and foreigners alike guzzled beer, sloshed water all over friends and strangers and listened to blaring techno beats.

It was so much fun – me and my friends started a flash mob. The drunken crowd watched as we all danced together, and actually started dancing with us. Definitely was a surprise for us, cause we never expected to be trend-setters. I mean, we’re a bunch of missionaries hanging out with our Thai friends. The best part though is that we’ll remember how much fun we had, when many of the other partiers will be nursing hangovers.

I found it frustrating to be a foreigner though, during this time. Drunkenness brings out a whole new low in the way that some foreigners act.

A few of us went to find a bathroom and separated from the group. We were cornered by a very drunken foreigner yelling – the whole time spraying water into our eyes – “You messed with the wrong ^%%$*#^$!&%&*^@&#%@(&%$(@%!” She continued to do that to every person who passed her, screaming obscenities at them.

That kind of thing is frustrating to encounter, but is thankfully not so prevalent.

Ultimately, Songkran was great this year. Totally loved it. I actually ended up on Thai TV, dancing in the crowd with a few of my good buddies. It was really the kind of clip that is just embarrassing, but still….

I WAS ON TV.

It was just great to hang out with friends and enjoy a little down time.

…and now, back to the daily grind.

Surrounded

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This past week, we had meetings for people who work in Thailand, ministering all over the country. We had folks from Bangkok, who work with the student centers there; folks from Isaan; folks from Hilltribe areas. We had folks coming to have a time of refreshment from others who are faithfully working to share the gospel with the Thai people.
One particular thing that happens at meetings like this is recognition of those who have achieved longevity. Just like in the corporate world, time achievements are recognized, we like to highlight them too.
We call out those who have achieved 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and even 25 years. Claps resounded through the meeting room as these folks were called to the front to receive a pin. Folks cheered loudly – longevity is HARD out here. It’s a big deal to make it for so long.
Just when it seemed that the cheering couldn’t get any louder, or last any longer, they called 30 years.
Yes, we had one couple who had lasted out on the field for 30 years. Let’s call them C&N. Folks bolted from their seats to line the aisles, and formed a tunnel for C&N to run through. We cheered loudly, thumped them on the backs, high-fived them. Cheering didn’t die down quickly, either. 30 years of service means that you know everybody, and everybody knows you.
As they ran down the aisle, it seemed that each clap represented a tear. A discouraged moment. A time when the missionary had to lean on God just a little bit more, cause everyone else had failed. Each clap stood for a joyful moment. A triumph. A failure. A time when they couldn’t be home with their families. A time of sickness.
A life devoted to God – that’s what it was.
The clapping was like praise rising to heaven, lives lifted up as a sacrifice of praise.
It was moving. But it made me think of Hebrews, quoted earlier. We’re surrounded by so many others who are running the good race. We’re looking at Jesus, and no one else. It was a moving and deeply inspiring moment. It challenged me to remain faithful. To seek God first. To put his call before any of my life’s paltry desires. And the best part is that God doesn’t make folks like me run the race alone. I can’t even imagine running it by myself.
I’m surrounded.