Tomorrow we are going to Chiang-Mai. I should be excited to reconnect with my old friends and breathe in the fresh cool air, but right now I am sitting on my couch, nose sniffing and eyes puffy from crying. I have been in Nonthaburi for almost a month and just begun to feel TRULY at home – to be able to handle the humidity and the heat without losing my temper or cross the busy road full of cars without panicking; to walk down the footpath and enjoy watching street vendors searing, grilling, and frying their food with smokes billowing over their heads; to be suddenly satisfied when I sip iced “Cha Yen” or milk tea from a tall cup in the middle of the day; and to have real conversations with my family members about what’s been going on in their lives. I just started to feel like I belong…
Despite saying this, Chiang-Mai has always been my home away from home. It is one of the reasons we have to go there – to revisit people and places as well as to look for an opportunity to maybe take root while our time in Thailand lasts. I am looking forward to introducing Joel to the people I call friends and to different ethnic groups I have come to love and respect. I am excited to show him different aspects of Thai culture and way of life. There are old rituals that I want my husband to be a part of, like strolling along the Ping river at night, shopping at Rimping supermarket, going out for coffee on Sunday afternoon and riding scooters around the old town.
It is a cliche to say, but it’s still the truth – we always leave a piece of our hearts wherever we go. Whether it is Nonthaburi, Chiang-Mai or New Zealand, it is impossible to not shed tears because these are the places that we make fond memories with different people and communities. It is funny how I never feel fully satisfied. Just this afternoon, I was homesick for Tauranga where I spent my last two years studying. And I bet this will always take place – the longing for some place else.
Though I desire to take roots and to establish a home, it seems that God has something else in mind. We will probably be on the road and have to pack more times than we want for a little longer. Though I long to settle in a place and build a nest where Joel and I can start our little family together, we have submitted our lives to being nomads for the time being because we believe that God is sending us to different places for his purpose. This constant relocation will mean that we may not have regular income, work benefits or government support, but we are comforted by the fact that God is on our side.
We will go wherever He goes; and stay where He stays. Like the Israelites following the pillars of cloud by day and fire by night, we are following His footprints on the desert sand. Like Paul, we want to penetrate into cities and villages the way he reached the Athenians with his awareness of the local religions, the Philippian jailer with humbleness and understanding, and the prisoners on the ship to Rome with boldness and no shame. Being followers of God does not mean comfortable living. It is to follow him with obedience. And in spite of hardship, we are comforted because God is our peace.