A Just Walk (run, hike, etc…)

"…to the Rock that is higher…"


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Catching up on 2012

I hope that this finds your new year a happy one so far! Although I want to jump ahead and start discussing this year, I still have some unfinished business to write about 2012.

RELENTLESS After returning from the States in November, I dove into deep water preparing a series of workshops on child abuse and neglect for residents at Chiang Mai University School of Medicine. Please see this post on the Relentless weblog for more about that. Another few days in Bangkok in December saw some partnerships down there solidly come together.

The heavy cotton skirt got pretty hot, and I had constant wardrobe malfunctions, but it was a lot of fun. All the smiles were worth it!

The heavy cotton skirt got pretty hot, and I had constant wardrobe malfunctions, but it was a lot of fun. All the smiles were worth it!

RUNNING The Chiang Mai Marathon was held on 23 December. Due to some injuries and health issues, my training had not been what I had hoped it would be so I thought of a way to take the pressure off myself and not take myself too seriously: run in costume! A friend of mine had the perfect idea to run as a Thai school girl! I called a colleague who works in a children’s home and asked if I could borrow one of the girl’s uniforms. Perfect! It was immediately culturally recognizable, and very perplexing (and funny!) that a farang woman would be running in such an outfit! I still did OK – good enough for 3rd place in my age group which gave me an extra $100 towards my vacation fund.

URBANA The workshop series took me right up to 24 December and on Christmas evening I boarded a plane to speak at Urbana. The conference, for the first time, had an emphasis on health care ministries and I was honored to be invited to speak on human trafficking, orphans and vulnerable children, as well as sit on a panel of cross-cultural health care workers. The talks went well and I was talking with students for an hour after each session! Otherwise, I stayed pretty busy with my own work, networking, and meetings – Urbana is a great place for that!

HOLIDAY After Urbana, I made an 8-day lay-over in LA where I stayed with friends in Santa Monica, CA. It was my first true holiday since attending Breathe in 2010! I ran on the beach and in the mountains every day (a total of 101 miles)! I saw movies, went to art galleries, and basically didn’t use my brain for the entire break!

BOOKS I can’t let 2012 go without mentioning some of the best books I read last year and making these recommendations to you!

  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a most excellent book! In fact, I was preparing an entire blog post to discussing this, but I got really busy so I dropped it. Perhaps if I have time to write in the future…
  • Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden is another gripping true story of the only person born in a North Korean labor camp known to have successfully escaped.
  • The novel of the year for me (perhaps the only novel I read) was Byzantium by Steven Lawhead. Not a new book, but if you haven’t read it you are missing out.
  • Other notables include The Other Side of Normal by Jordan Smoller (psychology) and Waterlogged by Timothy Noakes, MD (endurance hydration).

There is, of course, much more to say and reflect upon between these sterile lines of text. There is more I’d like to share with you. Unfortunately, by the end of the year my margin got totally eaten away by a number of things outside my control (and a few things within it). Now I’m trying to re-establish a better rhythm of life for this year. However, just catching up from a week of vacation can be enough to cause burn out! I’ll not let this happen.

Do take care, and please send me a note…


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Sawadii, kak dela, ni shuo shen me?

One of the best blessings about moving back to Thailand is that I can move right on into life and work with few language difficulties. The Thai is coming back like I haven’t been gone for six years. …mostly. Sometimes I’m moving right along in a conversation and bits of Chinese inserts itself into my sentences. I know what I’m saying inside my head, but what comes out is sometimes a confusing mix, depending on which word in Thai or Mandarin is most convenient to my brain. Sometimes I catch myself, other times… depends on the puzzling looks I get.

It was just a week or so after my arrival in Thailand that I got involved in a small group Bible study among Thai doctors and nurses; professors, residents, and students. How refreshing! I’ve also been attending a Thai church that is warm and welcoming. To be honest, I never expected to want to go to a local church. I reserve my Sundays as a pure Sabbath (perhaps more on this in a future post) and anything feeling like work (including operating in a foreign language) I easily eschew. Lately, however, I’ve been desiring this fellowship. Even though I’m a new outsider, I am very welcome there. The first time I attended a senior lady said that she and her group have been praying for me – that they pray for all the cross-cultural partners there. And this was before I even met them! I was so touched! This is the Body at work!

Since I don’t have to learn a new language for this international move, I decided to start learning Russian. Da! Just so happens that the Canadian from whom I bought my motorbike is married to a Kazakh who is willing to tutor me! So I hired her for about 4 hours a week.  I want to be prepared to speak with people trafficked to/from Russian-speaking countries – unfortunately more and more of them are showing up in Asia. Russian may also come in handy next time I’m running in Moldova.

I came to Thailand with an idea of how it was supposed to go (work, visa, friends, etc) and as usual, in some respects it is quite better than I thought and in others, slower. Notice that I didn’t say worse than I expected. For me, slow is usually tantamount to being worse, even though objectively – and this is what I try to tell myself – it really isn’t worse. All timing is in God’s hands and as I press and lean into him, I can rest in his timing, laying my anxiety down. What do I know anyway? I know the Father. That is all that counts.

Even as I started composing this post over the past week, I have had several key meetings and I’m meeting new people (in unplanned meetings) every day that are interested in partnering with me. The best news: I will travel to Cambodia on the 21st with a letter of invitation from a foundation here that will enable to me apply for a different kind of visa to start the process of living and working here on a long-term basis. I may even be able to launch Relentless as an official project here! Nothing is sure until I have the papers in hand so do continue to lift up this process to the Father that I may have favor with those that grant visas and all will go smoothly. Thank you!

The people in Cambodia, I think, are secretly happy that I have had to do back there so often. I do enjoy the work there and am learning a lot as well. However, I am looking forward to developing, solidifying, and integrating relationships in this country.