A Thankful Heart in Chiang Rai

9:01 p.m., Night Bazaar, Chiang Rai

It’s my last night in Thailand, and I’m here at the local night bazaar, finally sitting down for a late dinner. Chicken soup and 7-Up are on the menu today. I’m afraid it’s all that’s sounded good. I almost made it through my whole trip without incident until I got sick yesterday. =( Let’s just say that last night was not fun. =( x2 A combination of getting too much sun (not advisable when on the anti-malaria meds I’m taking) and eating something that sat out a bit did me in.

But praise God even in the midst of feeling completely miserable. Why? Well, I was planning to leave Chiang Mai for Chiang Rai Monday morning instead of today, but felt the slightest hesitation. Even as I was trying to book a room for the 2 nights I had planned to be in Chiang Rai, I kept hitting a brick wall in my search. Hours later, I decided to give up and resume on Monday morning.

Well, after sleeping in on Monday and still feeling hesitant about leaving that day, I decided to scrap my plans and stay in Chiang Mai one more day. “Sawadeeka. I’d like to book one more night, please,” went the conversation once more with the guesthouse owner downstairs. She smiled and nodded, thankful for the continued business from this customer of 4 days.

Anyhow, it was a good thing I stayed because that evening, I got terribly nauseous, hot, and sick. Praise God I was in a more comfortable place that I was at least familiar with. And praise God again because I wasn’t on a bus up the winding mountain road to Chiang Rai. Ugh. Can you imagine?

Now I can’t tell you why the Lord didn’t steer me more clearly away from the circumstances that led to being sick. Who knows? Maybe He did and I just didn’t heed. But I do know that He is good and doesn’t allow anything in our lives that He won’t walk us through. If anything, I can say I know what it means to be far from home and alone while feeling absolute misery in my body, and what it is to lean completely on the Lord Jesus to see me through. And He did. So faithful is He!

I did eventually make it to Chiang Rai. After much sleep last night, much water, some Gatorade (God bless you, 7-11), and my stomach rejecting whatever was the cause of my feeling ill (not sure how to be more delicate than that), I was spent, but was able to make the 9:30 a.m. bus I bought a ticket for the day prior.

I must praise the Lord even more because He helped me so much. The guesthouse owner arranged for a tuk tuk for me, and he was kind enough to take my pack to his vehicle. Included in my fare, he also made a stop at 7-11 for me so I could get more Gatorade, and when we reached the Arcade Bus Station, he helped me put on my pack. I found a seat (not easy at a busy station!) to rest on while waiting for my bus. And thank the Lord for the water and snack they give you on the bus! I pretty much dozed the whole way up, but in the moments between sleep and wake caught some glimpses of the beautiful scene through my window, reminiscent of my favorite southern California mountains.

Then, it was wonderful to discover how close the place I ended up booking for tonight is to the bus station! It was a short walk, maybe 1/4 mile from the station. Thank You, Jesus! Checking in early was not a problem, and my room, with it’s King bed and spotless surroundings, is like the Ritz in comparison to some of the more basic accommodations I’ve experienced during my time in Asia. (Though it should be since I decided to treat myself and pay 3x what I paid at my previous place…I figured I could use the treat. πŸ˜‰ ) And getting to the airport is as easy as a shuttle picking me up at my door for 200 baht. Telling you, that’s $6-ish well spent!

I pretty much slept a lot of the afternoon, still pretty wiped from the day before. I did get to Skype with my sister as she was randomly up super early in the a.m. due to not feeling well herself. What a welcome sight her IM was! We got to talk, and I shared about what all God has been doing during my trip. Seriously, the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever! I cannot tell you how much comfort it brought to talk with her and pray together.

So now, I’m at my table for one after doing some sound shopping at the night bazaar. But I do not feel alone. I know my Savior is here watching over me, protecting me, leading me. He’s comforted my heart so much — whether in sickness or distress, He is there. The Lord is near. As my other sister reminded me later tonight, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Ps. 34:19

I honestly had big plans for Chiang Rai that were definitely disappointed. No Golden Triangle for me. =( No White Temple either. It has been hard to let go of what seems the most basic of expectations, but I must trust the Author of my days, knowing that He is good and He has the best plans for me. Perhaps this situation is just to be another Ebenezer stone of sorts to remind me that the Lord is near. He will provide. He will answer me when I cry. He will come to my rescue every time. As I sit under this tree at my wooden table sipping this lovely chicken broth, flanked on every side by people talking and eating and enjoying the cool night air and entertainment on stage, I know He is taking good care of me.

A good friend asked me if after all I’d experienced whether or not I was ready to leave Thailand yet. I confessed that though I’m enjoying my time, I was excited to come home and see what is next in what God has for me. He’s been speaking a lot during my time here, confirming desires and stirring new hopes, and I’m eager to see what will come upon my return home. I definitely believe I will find myself back in Thailand at some point. I guess it’s just a matter of when. =)

There is such need out here, friends. People everywhere need Jesus, yes, but to see this specific country, this specific people and how far from Jesus so many are… Christanity is definitely in the minority and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to realize how many don’t know our Savior.

As I was reminded by the missionary friends I made the other day, Thailand needs your prayers. God is definitely at work even now, but we need to join Him in His heart for this people (as well as all people) to know Him and experience His love, freedom, and grace. If anything, I can say my eyes have been opened to the deep, deep need that exists here.

Oh I wish you could be here — the acoustic duo on stage just started singing Sting’s (or is The Police more accurate?) “I’ll Be Watching You”… Classic. πŸ˜‰

That little tangent aside, I’ll be wrapping up here shortly to pick up a few more little things and then back to my room to sleep. I have a long 48-ish hours of travel ahead of me starting at 7 a.m. Please pray for me as there are plenty of gaps between my three flights, and I will need patience, rest, endurance, and joy.

At present, I’m not looking forward to 7-8 hours in Bangkok followed by 13 hours in the wee hours of the morning in Beijing, but God knows what I need. Maybe these are opportunities to rest between flights knowing that I’d be spent. Maybe He means to teach me patience as one person mentioned. Or maybe still there are people I need to meet, to talk to, to share Christ with. The Lord is good an faithful. He will show me.

Anyway, friends, I bid you good night from Chiang Rai. Thanks for listening. =)

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