Apparently, They Have Basketball In Thailand

Everyone, I have a crazy story for you. (It’s really long so you can skip to the last paragraph if you only have a minute.)

Once upon a time, (around October of last year), a very dear friend of mine from Romania were having a conversation and she mentioned how she wanted to go to Thailand someday. Up until this point, I knew almost nil about Thailand beyond the fact that I enjoy Thai food and that it is located in Asia somewhere. We joked that we should make an adventure out of it and that she should let me know when she ended up going so that I could come with her. We ended the conversation with a prayer that God would someday make this pipe dream come true. After that conversation, we would mention it every now and again but it wasn’t at the forefront of either of our minds. However, it remained a seedling idea and every so often, I would think of Thailand and pray about the country and that, if it was His will, that God would someday open a door for us to go.

Around perhaps January of this year, I was, as ever it seems, engaged in chronic job searching and one night, I remembered Thailand and on a whim looked up what kind of basketball exists there. They do in fact have a national basketball administration and a few age levels of both men’s and women’s national teams. I happened to come across an email address for one of the administrators and wrote what I’m sure would be a funny email to go back and read. As so much of my correspondence with people often begins, it probably said something laughably out of the blue to the effect of, “Hi. I’m a random white assistant basketball coach in the States. Do you happen to need any help coaching your national teams?” I sent it off and never expected to hear anything.

Maybe two weeks later, I received an email back from him saying that it was funny I had written, because they were currently in the process of looking for a coach. However, though we corresponded via email several more times over a few weeks, the conversation halted because they weren’t able to secure funding for a new coach. He told me that they would continue their search hopefully around the beginning of 2017 and that he would keep in touch.

Life continued. I was blessed to act as an assistant coach at Trinity International University, live close to my family, and contribute to a small marketing firm as a project manager (itself an experience that garnered many great stories). The opportunity to coach at Moody floated onto the radar and though I didn’t even consider applying for the opening at first assuming that I had too little experience to be taken seriously, I eventually applied and God ended up opening that door. As of a couple weeks ago, I was now contracted to be the head women’s coach at Moody starting this fall.

However, I wasn’t sure what I should do with my summer. I had stepped out of my marketing position because it wasn’t the right fit for me — my CEO needed someone there that would be able to commit to long-term involvement. Opportunities had cropped up here and there, but they didn’t feel right. Though I had a couple pending projects and responsibilities that would take me through the end of May, I asked God what He had in mind for me to do starting June 1st. Keep in mind that ever since February, I had still been praying about Thailand and asking God that, if and when He felt like opening that door, He would make it happen. These prayers were spurred on by a couple dreams over that multi-month span of being in Thailand and a (apparently divinely-inspired) quiet persistence of thought regarding the team and my contact there. I had even been praying that, though I had no money and it would be much more practical to simply get a full-time job for the summer, God would somehow allow me to scrape together enough money and perhaps go over for a week or two to help with their workouts or practices just to make the connection and offer what assistance I could. I wrote an email to that effect to the administrator at some point perhaps a month ago but hadn’t yet heard back and I felt like time was getting short.

Early last week, I received an email that said essentially this: “Hi Lauren. We have been granted funding for a coach for June through the end of September. We are looking for someone to come. Would you like to do it? The job would start June 1st.” I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.

Of course, my initial euphoric shock was rudely halted by my first realistic thought. I had already signed a contract with Moody and my responsibilities there were supposed to begin in the middle of August. I had meetings to run, tryouts to facilitate, girls to meet and persuade (I mean invite) to play with us, and administrative tasks to complete. The only way I would be able to agree to this crazy unthinkable adventure was with Moody’s blessing and, being a brand new hire (not to mention brand new head coach), I didn’t think they’d ever agree.

I arranged a meeting with my athletic director for the next day. I was so frazzled that I didn’t even mention in the email what I need to speak to him about, which he kindly requested later that I not do again (he thought I was coming down to back out of the job or tell him that something drastic had changed). I sat in his office and told him the entire ludicrous story. We prayed together and then he said to me, “Yep — you should go.”

I was doubly blown away. I couldn’t believe it. God had flung open one door and then the next. Over the course of the next few days, the third door was blown open. Like I mentioned, I still didn’t have any money to make this work. However, the administrator explained in subsequent communication that they would not only pay me a salary but pay for my lodging and my plane ticket.

So long story short, God has literally handed me a head coaching job in Thailand, a plane ticket to get there, and a salary to sustain me. He has so outdone Himself this time that I can hardly still believe it myself.

The reason I wanted to let you all know is trifold. First, God lavishes the most incredible blessings when you ask Him to match your desires with His desires for your life. I would encourage you to start praying that every day. He planted a seed through my friend eight months ago and it has bloomed into the most outlandish adventure I have experienced yet. Second, I will be available via internet but won’t be in the country and probably won’t have cell service from June through September so if you text me and I don’t respond, it’s not because I don’t love you. Just shoot me an email instead.

Third, I would like to ask for your prayers if you think of it. This has come up so suddenly that I have very little time to prepare other than to throw some basketball shoes in a suitcase, try to arrange as much as I can for next season, and get on a plane. That means that a lot of the administrative things I need to arrange for my season next year and relationship things that I would have preferred to do with my Moody players for next season will have to be long-distance or truncated. We need players; I need to find an assistant coach and a manager; there are scrimmages we still need to find and schedule; and I also need to nail down another position to add to coaching (it is not a full-time post) as well as a place to live when I get back. I know that God has all those things in the works and that since He is leading me through this door, He’ll provide the rest. But your prayers would be appreciated. In addition, I am flying into this pretty blind. I’ll be head coaching the women’s national team, and we have several multi-national tournaments and events in Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia during my time there. I don’t know anything about their program beyond what I’ve seen in some film I found from last year on Youtube. I don’t know the ages of the women I’ll be coaching, what our facilities will be like, whether they speak English, and what my responsibilities will include. I don’t know what I’ll need for food, how I’ll get around, or whether I’ll have good access to wifi. I have been able to Skype with the administrator several times to make arrangements, but I still hardly know anything and feel like I could be woefully inadequate for whatever I’m supposed to accomplish. Pray for wisdom and that God would be faithful in equipping me with the skills, words, and wisdom to do what it is He’s sending me there to do. Most of all, I would love to be an effective witness for Christ while there so pray that God will be preparing the hearts of whoever I will be working alongside — the players, our opponents, other Thai coaches, administrators, bus drivers, managers, secretaries? Who knows — to hear about Him. Pray for opportunities for me to minister. I would love to get to connect with a church body while I’m there, so for the logistics of making that possible I would also ask for your prayers.

Holy cow, much prayer request-ing. That’s all for now — I need to get back to trying to arrange everything I can before I leave. I love you all, and can’t wait to share pictures and all the cool things God does. See you in October!


One thought on “Apparently, They Have Basketball In Thailand”

  1. Lorna Soderberg

    LAuren – you are such an example to me of letting God lead!! That is such an easy thing to say but a hard thing to do!! I am so very proud of you and your spirit of openness to God’s leading!!! You blow me away. I love you so much and will definitely be praying for you during this trip. Aunt Lorna


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