Return Trip To Thailand
The big moment had arrived. Early in November, I boarded a plane for my short-term return trip to Thailand. It was exciting. My mind buzzed with questions and anticipation. What would it be like to see my friends and teammates again? How would my Thai language be after all these months? Would I have sufficient energy to function again in this environment with its different pastoral and cultural challenges?
After arriving and settling in, I was surprised how natural and familiar the country felt to me. I got back into the rhythm of sharing daily life with my host family. I found I could still communicate, and it was so easy to take care of practical matters that it almost felt as though I had never left. At the same time, something was fundamentally different. I had returned for a specific assignment with a clear timeframe and end date. I had six weeks to finish my work in the field.
In addition to saying goodbye to my friends in Thailand, the goal of this return trip was to gather data for the development of a Bible-study curriculum for Thai Buddhists. From my local contacts I selected a diverse group of people, including the old and the young, people with university degrees and people with only a few years of elementary education, Buddhists and Christians, men and women. I had a list of topics, Bible stories and theological concepts that I set out to explore with these people in interviews and informal conversations. The six weeks were intense, filled with hours and hours of talking and processing these subjects with this group of friends and acquaintances. I learned many new things, and I also was able to validate a lot of my prior knowledge and understanding. I ended the six-week stay with a real sense of satisfaction, feeling that I had a solid grasp of the various dynamics and was ready to embark on the writing process.
That’s what I am doing now, back in the Netherlands. I’m sitting at my computer, translating all these conversations, opinions and ideas into a clear text that will constitute a of Bible education guide specifically for Thai Buddhists. In the coming months I will focus on this writing assignment, and at the same time I will begin to explore what my next steps may be in terms of future employment.
In the meantime I am staying in touch with my close friends from Khon Kaen, like Nok, Nguang and Tui. It is easy to stay connected via Facebook and Skype. In my current contract with AFM, there is the possibility to go back to Thailand one more time to present the written product and to reconnect with church members and pastoral contacts in Khon Kaen. I will thus maintain my connection to this city, this project and the people I love.
Thankfully, my health has improved. I am still in the process of recovery, but I am heading in the right direction.
When the writing process is near completion, I will write my final update. May God richly bless you!