Yanhee Adventist Church. This is a very friendly, English-speaking, Filipino, congregation located on the outskirts of Bangkok.
The pastor is Karlo Diel. He's the one wearing the white tie.
These two young women connected with me in Manila and we traveled to Bangkok together. They are also members of the Yanhee church and were also at PYC. They are both nurses from Mindanao in the Philippines. The pastor picked us up at the airport and fed me my first Thai meal. Pad Thai and fried rice. It was soooo good.
Dragon fruit. It's pretty good. It tastes like a cross between an apple and a kiwi.
River taxi. It's just like a subway, except on the river. We took it to go downtown. They are very good at docking and undocking quickly. It's fun to watch and fun to ride.
An open-air vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok where we ate lunch.
Optional diary entries:
Monday, June 5
The flight to Manila was way too short. I needed more than one hour of sleep, but before I knew it we were landing. I parted ways with my good friends from Iloilo in the airport and connected with my good friends from Bangkok. Our flight to Thailand departed at 6 a.m. so we had some time to talk, read, check in, and I even posted a vlog and a blog. You have to love airport downtime.
We were met in Bangkok by pastor Karlo Diel. He promptly drove us to a restaurant near his home and fed us fried rice and pad thai. It was so good. Then we went to the mall were they helped me buy a new sim card for my phone and an internet plan. I have unlimited internet on my phone plus 50 bhat worth of texting, phone, etc, all for about $7.50 for the month. It’s a great deal!
Next on the agenda was a nap. Since our flight from Iloilo to Manila started at 12:20 a.m. and our flight from Manila to Bangkok took off at 6 a.m., landing at 8:30, we were pretty wiped after lunch. The nap felt so good I struggled mightily to wake up.
For supper I tried Durian for the first time. They say that Durian tastes like heaven and smells like hell. I didn’t think the smell was that bad. The taste was very interesting. It was very creamy and rich and…impossible to really describe. I liked it okay. I’m sure I’ll like it more after I get used to it, and get past the smell better. We also had dragon fruit, which reminds me of Kiwi in some ways. It is a much more gentle fruit than Durian. I liked it.
After supper we hurried to the church for the evening meetings. The meeting was live streamed because some people find it much easier to watch the event long distance than to try to travel to the church, find parking, etc. But we also had a good group of very friendly and engaged church members attending last night. I spoke on How to Die and Do it Right—seven things that we can do to collaborate with God in the process of becoming wholly surrendered to Him.
Tuesday, June 6
Today we went on an expedition into the concrete and humanity jungles of Bangkok to find hearing aid batteries. I had brought a good supply but many of them evidently came from an expired batch and most failed. It turns out to be very difficult to find hearing aid batteries in either the Philippines or Thailand. But we succeeded after trying several pharmacies. The successful pharmacy was reached by bus, river taxi, and walking through an open-air market. The experience was fun even if the goal was mundane. The entire trip took about 2 and a half hours. It was a major expedition but it was worth it.
Returning to the house we took off again, immediately to do some shopping for supper. On the way to the mall we stopped and enjoyed lunch at an Indian restaurant. I had spaghetti. Yeah, I know, spaghetti at an Indian restaurant? But it was very good…and vegetarian. We also had a great house specialty salad.
When we got back from the mall, pastor Diel invited me to try a Thai massage. I have never had a massage before, so this was quite the experience. It was a full-body massage including toes, feet, ankles, legs, back, neck, hands, fingers, arms, and shoulder. What a workout! It was quite painful at times. The whole thing cost 190 baht including tip. That works out to be about $5.60. It was certainly an interesting experience. I was amazed at how expertly the masseuse could leverage any given muscle or muscle group to apply pressure with maximum effect. They certainly know their job, and they have hands and fingers of iron. They also used their elbows, legs, and knees to good effect as needed.
The evening meeting went very well. I rode to the church this evening on the back of a motorcycle. This is a faith-based activity when driving in Bangkok. By God’s grace we made it safely. And, by God’s grace the rain held back until after the meeting, and by His grace the people came back. I shared #5 “Drowning in the Will of the Almighty” about the nature of surrender, that, just like drowning, it is all-or-nothing. Either we drown or we don’t, there is no almost.
Speaking of drowning. It poured down raining on our way home from the meeting. We took refuge in the nearby hospital and until things calmed down.
Wednesday, June 7
This morning at around 7 a.m. I recorded a vlog from the pier of a restaurant called Sheep Village. It was mostly deserted, but it had a great view of the river and the city behind. The vlog was about how we can become surrendered.
Later in the morning we visited the Mahibol university and shared with a small group of Christians who get together and study. I shared the “How can I enjoy God?” presentation. The presentation was translated into Thai and it was quite challenging. A lot of the problem was due to the slides that had a lot of text on them, it was very difficult to translate them on the fly. I am praying that it will be easier next week in Chiang Mai because the slides are already translated.
In the evening I took a nice long walk around the neighborhood. As I walked I contemplated the topic of “free will” and “power of choice.” It’s a fascinating topic. What, exactly, does it mean to have a free will? Because I have the power of choice, does that mean I always get what I choose? Obviously not. Because of my free will does that ever mean that God never imposes His will on me? No. Throughout history God has been imposing His will on mankind. It was not the Egyptian’s will to lose their firstborn. When the king of Aram surrounded Dothan in order to capture Elisha, was it his will to have his soldiers blinded? No. God is our creator. We are His creatures. He can do with us as He pleases. In the lake of fire, He will impose His (merciful) will on all the wicked by destroying them in the lake of fire.
So what does it mean to have a free will and power of choice? It means that God will never force me to will or to do His will. In other words, although God can cause me to lose all my money, He will not force me to willingly or unwillingly give it all away to missions. God will work in me both to will and to do His good pleasure, but He will never force me to will and to do His good pleasure.
The evening meeting was a little scary. It poured down rain before and during the meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. but by 7:20 there was nobody there. By the time I got up to speak, however, the room was just as full as normal. I was amazed, considering how difficult it is to travel in Bangkok, especially in the rain, people came out anyway. One nurse who had told me that she had to work and could not make it to the meeting, showed up anyway. I asked her what had happened and she told me that the hospital had let her sneak away for the meeting because they were not busy at that time. She was on call, as it were. But she stayed for the whole meeting and participated in the prayer groups afterwards.
There was also a Muslim woman at the meeting last night. She thanked me profusely for the message and told me that it was a great reminder. I was very surprised when I found out that she was Muslim because my messages are about surrender to Jesus. But I gather that she has attended Christian schools and is open to the gospel. I am so privileged to work with God for the blessing of others!
Thursday, June 8
Today we visited one of pastor Diel’s bible study students. His name is Joel. He is from India and started out Sikh but converted to Christianity in the United States. He is Baptist but believes the Seventh-day Adventist doctrines and attends every Sabbath. We had a very good discussion about many things from relationships to giving God our best choices. While there, he fed us a very tasty vegetarian meal that was only mildly spicy. There was cauliflower and roti and rice and lentils. We encouraged him to come to the nightly revival meetings and he did come last night. He was surprised that a computer science teacher would be doing meetings like this, but he really likes the way that a computer science person expresses these concepts. He is planning to come on Friday and Sabbath as well.
The evening meeting was entitled “The Greatest Unused Power” and talks about how we can receive the Holy Spirit. The problem is self, the solution is the Holy Spirit, the key is surrender. Afterward I had a special prayer of consecration and then we broke up into groups of two and prayed for ourselves and for each other that God will help us surrender and re-surrender ourselves wholly to Him. God really blessed. There were more than the usual number of people there and the rain held off until after the meeting.
Friday, June 9
One thing I like about Thailand is that the cats and dogs are well fed and cared for. In the Philippines they were scrawny and beat up. Thailand is better for cats and dogs because of the people’s belief in reincarnation. Although they are confused about what happens when we die, at least they take good care of God’s creatures.
This morning I took a long walk to the power plant and back. There is a large grassy field in the power plant grounds that I walked around. This walk gave me most of my 8000 step goal for the day.
At 10:30 we went to the tourist mall to find some souvenirs for my family. Besides pastor Diel, a friend of the pastor’s named Rain came with us. I had met her before because she is coming to the evening revival meetings even though she is a Muslim. In talking with her I found that she really believes the Adventist message and is ready and willing to be baptized, but her family is strongly opposed. She is afraid that they will try to arrange a marriage for her with a Muslim. She is in a very difficult position. Pray for her.
Near the mall we found some street vendors that sold vegetarian food. It was very good, consisting of fried rice, noodles, and tofu soup. Three of us ate very well on 150 baht ($4.50) worth of food.
After the shopping we went across the street to a very nicely-done park and walked for a while, sat and talked for a while, and walked some more. In the end I got almost 15,000 steps for the day.
I took a small nap in the afternoon and edited my Bangkok vlog. That makes four major destinations so far this summer and four vlogs done. So far so good!
The evening meeting went very well. I shared about how we can love and enjoy God. There were more people there because it was Friday evening. The Lord let it rain hard just before the meeting, but gave people plenty of time after the rain to still make it on time. God is good!
I found out after the meeting tonight that the Facebook posts of the series has been going up. It started out the first night at around 1,000, and then went up to 2,000 the second night and 3,000 the third night. We are reaching people all over the world by the live stream. Tonight we had comments from places like Australia, Macau, the United States, and the Philippines. It is amazing how effective social media can be in sharing the gospel!
After I got home and into bed I got a call from Maricelle and her housemates at Adventist University of the Philippines. They were calling PYC speakers and thanking them and praying for them. We had a nice chat. It is really great that we can communicate more freely through the Internet.
Sabbath, June 10
Today is my last full day in Bangkok. Where has the time gone?
I spoke today for the church service and for the AY program. The church was a little overcrowded because we had people from 6 other local churches, but the fellowship was warm and the Lord blessed our time together.
After the afternoon service, the muslim woman asked to speak with me. She wanted to know how she would know when it was the right time to surrender her life to the Lord and what she should do about her family. She does not think her family will take it well. Wow, what a question. I need to keep praying for her.
Another woman told me about how she had converted to Christianity and told her mom on the phone. She had no idea how her mother would react, so she tensed up and waited during the long silence. Then her mother said, “Well, your old enough now to make your own decisions.” What a relief!
We had a very good question and answer time after the AY presentation. There were quite a number of excellent questions ranging from giving up basketball to what version of the Bible we should use to how can we enjoy prayer when often end up saying the same things a lot. Very practical questions.
Before we closed the AY program, pastor Diel presented me with a gift from the church. It was an authentic Thai shirt. I tried it on later that night and it fit great! Now I can wear it when I share with the students at Shiang Mai.
After the AY program a number of the youth went to pastor Diel’s house and fellowshipped until sundown. I talked with a lady who was Buddhist but had just last week removed all the idols from her house. She believes in Christianity to a certain extent, but asked me how she could tell her family and her friends why she had changed religions. What a challenging question. She also asked me several questions like, “what happens when we die?” and “Is there anything after death?” I answered her from the Bible and then she asked me how I could prove it? She said that when a Buddhist dies correctly, they can prove that they were reincarnated to a better life if their skin remained “fresh”. But how could I prove the sleep of death and the truth of heaven? I told her about the amazing prophecies of scripture and how we can gain confidence in the Bible through personal experience. Then, when we are confident in God’s Word, we can have confidence in the truths such as death and resurrection which are not tangibly provable.
God is working miraculously in many lives in Bangkok. There are many very challenging barriers to becoming a Christian, but God works powerfully to give victory!
After sundown we all went to the Thai version of Sizzlers for a great vegetarian salad bar. The food was good, the fellowship was great! I have been very blessed by my experience in Bangkok. May the Lord continue to richly bless the ministry of the Yanhee church!