in thailand 2006

in thailand1
At Bangkok train station i’m approached by someone i take for a “tout”, so i brush him off.  I apologize after he shows me his badge, that he is a volunteer for the tourist information center.  Unfortunately, the information center has no maps, but point out to me about where on the map the Bangkok Chinese SDA Church should be.  I walk in the hot sun pulling my suitcase to a large Chinese Church, but it isn’t SDA.  I ask a young man walking by, and he says it’s across the road behind the Shell station, and sure enough, the familiar Chinese characters for “Sabbath day” and “Advent” appear, and i walk thru the gates.  A Filipino man is sitting inside, waiting for English students.  He used to be a successfull literature evangelist here in Bangkok, but for some reason the school sponsor made him quit that to devote full time to the school, even tho there are only around 25 students.  It’s sad to see someone with plenty of time, talent, and experience to sell truth-filled literature not be given freedom to do that.

In the classroom at nite i teach English in front of a whiteboard for the first time since leaving Japan.  The teacher is not experienced, and doesn’t really enjoy teaching, and frankly, needs more English training himself (which he admits).  My faster style takes the students a bit by surprise it seems, and they struggle a bit to keep up – good!  No going to sleep in this class 🙂  I hear later that they really like my class, even tho it was a bit too fast for them – haha.

I go to a little open-restaurant on a back street, and eat some rice and vegetables for 30baht (75cents usd).  It makes one lose their appetite tho when cockroaches run up the leg when eating, and i do mean “es”, as two of them did it – yucko!

The pastor is super kind, inviting me to sleep in his own home if i wish.  I tell him i saw a sofa in one of the kids’ sabbath school classrooms, so that’s where i’d rather be.  He kindly gives a sleeping bag as a covering, and i try to make up for lost sleep on the train, slowly steaming under my sleeping bag, occasionally scratching body parts that get exposed to the mosquitos.

But i don’t sleep for long, as what can only be described as a miracle, God has appointed it so that i arrive in Bangkok just the same day the Triennial Session of the Thai SDA Mission has started.  Leaders of the work have come from all over the country, so i’m able to meet them, and search for translators, without having to run all over the place.  Especially i was thinking i would go up to Chaing Mai, because that is where Adventist Frontier Missions is based, but their leaders are down here too, so can save that trip 🙂

After a buffet-style breakfast under the awnings, i walk over to the church where the meetings will take place.  The lady i talked to on the phone last nite about translating the GC book is there selling portions of the current 1911 GC that she has just completed.  She is printing up portions as she goes, and they look quite nice.  A group of people is gathered around the trunk of her car, and i pull out a couple of the GCs i have to show the people too.  A couple of the white people there are interested, and ask to buy them.  Actually, i didn’t bring them to sell, just to show and hopefully get someone interested in translating or distributing after being printed, but how can i turn down someone who is interested in getting a book?  Especially the man who is in charge of Chaing Mai Academy, i don’t see how he will help with the translation, but sell him a book anyway.  The next day he encourages me very much by saying that he read the first part of the book and it was so alive, so exciting!

I talk to the lady after everyone has gone inside, and show her the book.  She knows it is a good book, and seems genuinely interested, but already has decided to work on finishing the current Great Controversy, and after that, do Steps to Christ.  She informs me that she cannot get to this original Great Controversy book for at least one year.

Seems the current Spirit of Prophecy books translated into Thai are quite poor translations done many years ago, and just need to be totally redone.  A AFM leader tells me later that one place where it says something like: “be filled up with Christ”, is translated like: “filling up Christ” – ouch.  No wonder there are only around 9,000 SDA Thais – they can’t figure out what in the world the prophet has written! 

A Filipino pastor finds me and spends quite a bit of time talking with me about various things, especially about a small mission school he has started just on the border inside Cambodia.

I talk to the Thai SDA Publishing House person in charge of quoting prices, and he gives me a price of 23baht each if i print 5,000 Thai GCs with 280pages.  The English one is 231 pages, so i don’t know if we can get it translated in 280 pages, but this is not a bad price.  They get an outside firm to do the perfect (glue) binding.  At least we have a SDA publisher in this country, but we should be printing lots more SOP books!

Having to change all the img src references back to the real file name convinced me not to make the mistake twice of updating my home page by doing a “save file” off of Internet Explorer.  For some reason FileZilla on my USB drive isn’t connecting to my FTP server, so i guess i’ll have to do it all thru cpanel.

Finally on the 12th i get caught up with my sleep, having been deprived for 5 days running.  I seem to need more sleep than most people, being a bit groggy if under 7:30, woozy if under 6:30, and downright sick if under 6 hours.  My sleepy pattern is usually to go to bed around 11, wake up at 2 for a few minutes, wake up at 5 for around 30-60 minutes, then get up around 8.  It is very difficult for me to take a nap in the daytime, and almost impossible to do more than nod on any kind of moving vehicle.  In Japan i used to look with envy (and humor) at people with their heads lolled back, mouths open, sleeping deeply on the train (@-@).

Pantip is THE computer shopping center in Bangkok.  Unlike Osaka with DenDen Town, and Tokyo with probably the world’s largest – Akihabara – areas with many computer stores in separate buildings, Pantip is one big 5 story building with lots of computer shops in stores and mostly booth-type spaces.  Just about everything you could want is here, but the variety is not as good, and the quality not quite as high as in Japan, and the prices are basically the same.  There is maybe a bit more Chinese cheap stuff here than in Japan tho.  I’m looking for a better speaker for the Toshiba CX/3214CMSW (what an ugly name!) notebook i have, and find one with a subwoofer for 1,500thb (28usd).  With this i’ll be able to broadcast the GC animation out to quite a large audience. 

I come back to Pantip the next day with the battery on my old notebook bot from a homeless man 6 years ago, and they exchange it out for 2,400thb.  This is around 2,000yen less than it would have cost in Japan, and i’m happy to have something i’ve planned for, imagined how and where to do etc. for over 6 months has now become reality – pretty strange feeling – one of accomplishment, and also a letdown that all is over.

I also have an urge to go to Mission Hospital.  The new college in the countryside is called Mission College, and i wish the name “Seventh-day Adventist” would be displayed more, so it would be on more people’s lips and minds, but this is the way things are.  I ask for the chaplain’s office, and am led to the church and left stranded.  Guess my “chaplain” sounded like “chapel” to them… A different person gets me hooked up, and i meet a young man who guides me to his office on the 5th floor.  He has been a chaplain at Ekkamai International School (biggest SDA Academy/complex in Thailand) for 5 years, and just started here last month.  He has never translated professionally before and is unsure whether he can do this job justice or not.  Perfect.  The best translator is someone who is humble, willing to be led of God, not trusting to self.  The worst experience i’ve had in all of these GC translations so far was with the most experienced man, a man who has translated over 30 Ellen White books in the Korean language.  It was very difficult to get him to listen to my advice, and he was quite headstrong.  I hope just hope that translation is faithful to the original.

The hospital store has plums, olive oil, bread, peanut butter, seaweed, pretz, and other yummy stuff, so i stock up.  I’m given the talk-time at vespers, and around 15 people show up.  The 3 SDA boys in front keep talking, and are a distraction to the non-SDAs in the 2nd row who seem interested in listening.  Everyone seems interested in the GC anime, and the new speaker works beautifully 🙂 

We eat a big meal (leftovers from the hospital cafeteria?), and the man who sponsors the English school here, and translated my talk, voices his doubts about Ellen White.  He asks me to read Rev. 21:22 where it says John saw no temple.  He takes offense to my quote tonite of Ellen White’s testimony where she saw a temple in heaven.  A little deeper reading would clear that up, just as the man in Malaysia who showed his doubts by saying that Ellen White said there was no cure for strychnine poisoning.  A little deeper reading in the Holy Spirit’s leading would effortlessly clear that up too.  Why do we wish to doubt God’s prophet??? Even tho last week when asked, i told him that this original Great Controversy is not in the Thai language, he insisted then, and insists again tonite, that it HAS been translated.  I smile and keep my mouth shut.

For church on Sabbath i go to Ramkhamhaeng Adventist International.  It is over an hour bus ride, and the air-con along with the cold water makes me sick in a hurry, so that my nose is running by the time i get to church.  I partake of the Lord’s Supper and Footwashing for the first time in ages.  The ad-hocness of the ceremony takes away quite a bit, but still i’m blessed by recalling the Lord’s suffering for me.

I give a 30 minute talk in the afternoon to the AdventistYouth group of about 30.  They are almost all Filipino.  I have freedom in speaking, and cover the hilites in the GC book, then show the anime which interests them greatly.  The ask about how to obtain the book, and nearly all raise their hands when i ask for a show of interest in purchasing the book.  Hmmm… Maybe i can get someone to send them some English Great Controversy books from either Malaysia or the Philippines.  I didn’t know there would be that much interest among English speakers here.

We go to the lake for afternoon singing, and i give another talk, this time on the first vision of Ellen White, relating her experiences in heaven, and the glories of the place.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get busy giving the 3 Angels’ Messages so Jesus will come back and we can leave this dark place 🙂

I go to the pastor’s home in the evening, and am offered a bed that looks nice, but is very hard.  With my runny nose and the snoring of the boys sleeping on mattresses on the floor, i wake up early and can’t get back to sleep.  Sure wish i had some of that cough syrup now that my brother gave me for just such times, but the bottle was just too, too big to bring along.  I feel like death warmed over in the morning, and listening to a 30-something Filipino man blame all of the Philippines’ troubles on America doesn’t help either.  Yep, the country is going to hell in a handbasket, but Filipinos (excluding government officials) aren’t to blame at all  —  get real.

That man, the Filipino pastor, the 16 and 17y.o. Cambodian boys and i go out to the lake and i teach the boys the history of Ellen White, including some math, and then a bit of English.  It is surprising to me to hear that these boys have been studying around 4 years, and yet see that they have no concept of how to study, as they don’t take notes or anything, just seem to be kind of listening.  I make them get out paper and pen, and they write stuff down.  Calculating ages and years is close to impossible for them.  If the year Ellen had her first vision was 1844, and she was born in 1827, how old was she when she had her first vision.  They both give up after around 1 minute of blindly calculating.  How are these young men going to be future leaders of the flock in Cambodia if they cannot handle numbers and the entailing money details etc.?  Their English is better than i thot tho, and just hope they can grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man to be strong leaders of his church some day.

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