As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to find a church here in Thailand. This is important for a number of reasons: 1. I do practice my Christian Faith and I don’t want to stop being reminded and guided in that direction. 2. This is normal for me (church family), and I desperately need some normal in my life 3. If I found a church, I’d probably find some native English-speakers, and I could use that, too. 4. I need friends. I really do.
I’d emailed a few friends before heading over here about finding a church. Shots in the dark in this department are annoying and bothersome and I’d just as soon not bother. Graciously, through a network of friends, I was given two short lists of local, Christian, English-speaking churches. Last Saturday, I spent approximately 2 hours locking up my computer trying to find the exact locations, reviewing the websites, double-checking transportation options and finally realizing I only had one option – the other wasn’t meeting until 2 pm.
That’s settled. Newsong Bangkok was only one 30 minute bus-ride, 8 minute walk, 10 minute Skytrain ride and 5 minute walk away. Word. I could do that in my SLEEP! Aside from it being on the side of town I’ve never been near, and still not speaking the language and markets going crazy Sunday mornings.
Off I set at 9:45 for my 10:30 am service. I’m never on time at home, so why change that now? Mod Dang had drawn me a clear map, I’d checked the website directions 3 times, carried the map image on my kindle and had written down directions. So many possible mistakes already averted.
I got on the the bus, waded through Bangkok Sunday morning foodstands and fruit markets, got on the Skytrain, and off at the right station. Ok! It’s 10:35. Of course it is. Down to street level. And then I realize, I have a map but the map has no North Arrow and there are no left or right directions. I HAVE to find Soi 39, off of Sukhimvit, and then I’ll know where I’m going. Exactly.
Am I on Sukhimvit? I don’t even know. To understand my confusion, please see below:
As I was alone, and late, I just walked a block…found a friendly-looking crossing guard and asked him if that road we were on was Sukhumvit. However, I don’t know the phrase, “Is this [INSERT]?]
I only know, “Sukhumvit???? Sukhumvit? Yes??”
He looked at me, and i repeated it, until he finally nodded slowly….”Chai, Sukhumveet.” Yes. And I really need some work on my pronunciation.
Awesome…Another block and I asked another security guard if I was going in the right direction for Soi 37, bc that was before Soi 39 and I’d forgotten the word for “9” anyway. He said yes. I’m so good. So confident. I know where I’m going!!
Eight minutes later, I asked directions again. This man knew English and sent me across the street, and back the way I’d come. Someone lied. Possibly me, in my presentation of my sense of direction.
Have I mentioned that it’s approximately 94% humidity in Thailand, I had been walking for 15 minutes, rushing, and had spent the last 24 hours looking forward to church…also wondering, “If I can’t find it, and have to go home…my poor hosts are going to worry even more! I have to find it! I have to!”
I found it. Sweaty and 30 minutes late, I found the church advertised as, ‘Third Culture Community of Misfits’.
I walked upstairs, through the coffee shop, to the stairs leading to the sanctuary and found a spot on the stairs…trying not to cry in relief, or breath in my stench too much. I was a wreck.
Sitting down, bumping the person in front of me and nearly tumbling at least once….i looked below to the room filled with 50ish internationals and Thais, all singing English worship songs familiar to me. Then I saw her: Nicole Ford-Carroll, my friend.
We went to YWAM together back in 2007, in England. We were friends, as my class of 25 was rather a tight group – but we’ve not kept in touch aside from occasional facebook snippets. I knew she was married, and seemed to travel a fair bit. That’s it.
She’s been in Thailand for the past month (same as me), and her husband was interning at the church I’d finally stumbled into. [INSERT – check out their story, it’s worth knowing] I knew she was around, but had spaced on contacting her. Then, there she was – one of the friendliest faces on earth, sitting in a room of strangers singing in MY language, finally.
If any of you know me under stress, you won’t be surprised to know – I cried. Finally. I didn’t have to keep a brave face, or act like this transition wasn’t crazy-confusing at times. Something that made sense, and beautiful, friendly, hugging familiarity. In a room filled with people with the same heart as me. This girl is the type of person, who when I apologized for interrupting her prayer and worship time responded, “No. This [speaking with you] is just as much worship as singing.” While we weren’t especially close, being in YWAM together, Nicole had the pleasure of seeing me at my worst. And not judging, waiting until things improved and seeing some of the best moments, too.
Nikki left to return to Vancouver last night. We had a chance to catch up (I may or may not have monopolized her time, and also most of Thursday when I had a chance to visit the community again), and my roommate’s words ring true from Sunday evening: You’re not sad to say good-bye to your boss [from Indiana], because today you are so happy to meet your friend.
It’s true. And finding her at that church, for now, was the sign I needed that God does have a home for me here in Bangkok. Even when I’m worn out, stretched and ready to turn back to Indiana – everytime there’s been some kind of unexpected comfort or surprise to remind me that I’m in the right place.