Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Today’s scripture is one that is relevant every day of this journey. Jeff and I have clung to each other and relied on each during the entire process of planning and now during this time of service. I have commented before how much we have leaned on one another during the planning process, but I also see it happening now that we are in the midst of the journey. During the planning process (which was almost 2 years ago), there were times when I was strong and Jeff needed to rely on my strength and then there were times that the tables turned and I needed that support. What was most amazing about these times is that these shifts were almost palatable, both of us could just feel a shift in confidence, faith, trust, anxiety, fear, etc. When one was strong the other relied on that strength. This carried us through the process, but now, here we are, living this journey out every day and experiencing the same things. I am so grateful for his patience and strength, but most importantly, I am thankful for the wonderful communication and understanding we have with each other. He can see when I am struggling, whether with aspects of the trip or with our own children (it is more often this!), and will gently put his hand on my shoulder and tell me to take a break. He is able to sense my frustration, anger, fear, etc. and supports me through it and I do my best to do the same for him. This is not an easy tasks, but we have both committed ourselves to God and to each other, and I believe that because we put God first, we are able to better understand what the other needs; we are not just looking at what we need. We have been able to balance each other and I truly believe that this is what makes our marriage so strong. We think of the other before ourselves and we rely on the other to help when we need it and provide the support and encouragement when needed.
Today was the Loy Krathong Festival, a celebration of the water spirits and a time to let go of the sins, mistakes, and regrets of the past to prepare and make room for the blessings of the new year. After making the Krathong floats, we all headed to the river to release them and make a wish for the future. Shortly after arriving at the preschool we found the kids to be dressed in beautiful traditional Thai dress, all holding their Krathongs they made yesterday. We all walked down to the river together, which took about 10 minutes and then set the Krathongs downstream after making our wishes. Rinya was kind enough to make one for each of our kids and one for Jeff and I to set off together. We had made ones that were still at home for tonight’s festival and she wanted us to be able to participate with the kids! It was so thoughtful and sweet (and very beautiful!). We came back to the school in time to teach the last two classes (Jonas and Emma taught one of them) and then lunch and off to the primary school.
Our kids did their schooling during classes and they did quite well. We seem to have made some progress with getting them to do their work a little more expeditiously, though today they had a much lighter load because we knew that they wouldn’t get as much done with the festivals and celebrations. Once we got home, we added some final touches on our Krathongs and a quick dinner. We knew were going to the festival here in Wiang Sa, but we didn’t know that Wat had arranged for the girls to ride on the parade float! Anjali was not interested in this, but this was right up Lucia’s alley. We ended up having to rush out of the house to get to the parade in time for Lucia to ride on the top of the parade float with 5 other girls. We got to the parade to wait for the rest of the floats and then proceeded to walk slowly in front of the float through the main street of Wiang Sa down to the Nan River. As we were walking down the streets of Wiang Sa I couldn’t help but smile and softly chuckle to myself. Never in a million years would I ever have imagined walking in parade celebrating Loy Krathong in northern Thailand with my family. I have never been so far from my extended family and yet I felt at home with the people of this community (as I did in Germany). These wonderful people have taken us in as part of their family. When we got to the Nan River, there was music playing, food vendors, and lots of people with Krathongs and lanterns walking down to the river to set off their floats.
So we joined the crowds of people down by the banks of the river to send our Krathongs off with a small piece of ourselves (a finger nail clipping) and a wish for the future. This was such a meaningful experience and nothing like I have ever seen in the states. I am forever grateful to these wonderful people who guided us through this process and allowed us to participate in their culture so willingly. Here are some pictures of this amazing experience.