We are approaching our 5 year anniversary of living in Thailand. This has caused me to be little more reflective, thinking specifically about the struggles we had. When we made the decision to move to Thailand we knew it would be hard at times. However, we had no way of knowing what kind of challenges we would face. How can you know what things you will struggle with beforehand? You can only prepare for so much and then you just have to learn as you go and adapt.
It’s through our hardships and struggles that we learn perseverance.
We have had lots of joyfull times but also lots of hard ones. We all know that a pearl is made by sand irratating an oyster and gold is refined by fire. It’s through our hardships that we learn perseverance and hopefully, dependence on God’s strength and not our own.
One time that I can look back on now and appreciate, is when we moved into our old wooden Thai house. We knew it was going to be different and take some getting used to, but we were up for the challenge!
As we excitedly unpacked our things and prepared the wooden house for our foster son, we had no idea the difficulties we would undergo while living there the following year.
A few months prior, we had told the owner that we wanted to rent from her because it seemed like it was a good deal. In a village as small as ours, there isn’t very much selection of available houses to rent. I was a little nervous about the many gapping holes and screen-less windows. However, I figured if Thai people can handle living in homes like this, surely I can! Well, I was wrong.
It was one of the hardest years of my life! And not just because of the creatures! Although, they definitely contributed! We struggled with missing our own creature comforts and our friends.
Growth comes through sacrifice.
While we had been so excited to move and start this new chapter of our lives as foster parents, we left a very special community of believers who taught at a great Christian school outside of Bangkok. We loved our 1 ½ years of living there and teaching English, but we felt God was leading us elsewhere. We knew it would be difficult at times but we needed to sacrifice our comfort and leave.
In that first year our house flooded 3 times do to poor drainage. Thankfully, all of those times it wasn’t the whole house! At one point we had to have the kids help bail water out of our kitchen and dump it down the toilet! We also watched our new cat die a violent death from some kind of poisoning.
God watches over us.
I didn’t sleep well most nights because I was worried about snakes or giant centipedes coming in our house and stinging the kids—we had two centipedes come in but they were downstairs. And we killed too many giant spiders to count! But, I didn’t need to worry. God was watching over us!
What also added to our chaotic year was being first time parents to 3 foster children. As well as figuring out how to live in a village where almost no one speaks English but is always watching us!
For most of the year we had to take cold showers and cooked on a 2 burner gas stove in a kitchen that was filled with mosquitos at night. Our house was very hot during the day because we didn’t have any air conditioning.
One time we bought the wrong kind of fish food for the little guppy pond and our neighbor heard about it from the convenience store and told us that we were buying the wrong kind! Living in a fish bowl is not easy!
Prayer makes all the difference!
How we got through it all was through prayer. Praying by ourselves and other people praying for us. Also, we were blessed to have a handful of friends and my sister visit us. It was so encouraging and helpful to have them! Some only stayed for a few days but it made life not seem so hard. We learned how much of a difference it makes to have friends and family help you through your struggles!
Our struggles can be used as a tool for refinement.
Now, we can look back and laugh at many of those difficult times. We also look back and are able to see how God used those times of struggling to refine us. You realize pretty quickly how entitled and used to comfort you are when it’s taken away.
While I’m not eager to go back into a situation like that, I hope that throughout our lives we will put ourselves into hard and uncomfortable situations so that we can continue to grow. It’s also good to remember how many people around the world live with so much less!
What about you?
What struggles have you faced that now you can look back on and see that they shaped who you are today? Is there something God is calling you to give up that you know will be a struggle?
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