After a short yet wonderful time back home in California, I find myself journeying back to Thailand. In many ways I feel like I’m going home. This feeling of familiarity by no means made it any easier to say goodbye to family and friends this week but my perceptions have shifted. I know I don’t leave my loved ones behind unaccompanied and alone for the greatest Companion, Counselor, and Friend stays with them even more in my absence then in my presence. And just as I am without a doubt confident in this fact, I am even more certain that He is coming alongside me as I leave once again for a place far away from home.
It is undeniable that I would not have arrived at this moment without the prayers and support of so many. As I review the names of the many individuals who make up my support team my eyes fall on a name that all at once brings a sharp twinge of pain blended with a sweet whisper of praise. Rowena Brown. “Brownie” as we lovingly called her was a strong and independent woman of God who I know, for a fact, was a pivotal player in shaping the spiritual atmosphere of our home. She was like a grandma to my siblings and I and encouraged us in all of our life goals, particularly the spiritual ones. Brownie was selfless; she gave of her means without question. She was one of my most committed financial supporters and I was constantly blown away by her generosity. She passed away on October 4 at the age of 92 yet just this week, a final payment went through for another donation that she had made to my fundraising. As her earthly life was drawing towards its end, my family and I visited her in the hospital. She was weak and much more frail than I had ever seen her, barely having the energy to open her eyes and mustering only a few sentences. However, as we sang old hymns to her she began to occasionally join in on a chorus or two, interject a praise to the Lord, or affirm a song lyric that she had found true in her life.
I am struck by this image in my head. A worn soldier of the cross with a song on her lips, laying down her burdens for the last time while, till the very end, still giving of her worldly goods to further the spread of God’s love. What faith, devotion, and love. If anything propels me forward in my work among the Thai, it is the display of selflessness, joy, and yearning for the work to move forward that Brownie has shown me in her lifetime. Her legacy lives on in each person I build a relationship with here and in each new stride made in our project. I know her prayers bore me up on eagles wings many a time when I was discouraged and gave me new ideas to try or a new approach to explore. She was all this and so much more!
This is the impact of not just one life, but many. From the depths of my heart, I want to thank each one of you who have continued to support me with your prayers and gifts. It might sound cliché, but you have no idea the far reaching impact you are having! I experience it every day, I bask in its warmth and am blessed beyond measure. As I move forward with the work here, know that it is “our” work (which includes each and every one of you on my support team), not “my” work. I love you all and am excited to jump back into “our” work right here in Khon Kaen, Thailand! May the Lord continue to pour out His blessings without measure on your lives…