And time just keeps a’cruisin’ on by. I cannot believe it, but I’m already thirteen weeks in on this crazy Thailand adventure and exactly one month from today, I am scheduled to board a plane that will take me back to Chicagoland.
For this particular installment of the story, I’ll highlight a weeklong visit from my very own dear mother. Mom flew halfway around the world to spend a week in Bangkok with me and to experience my life here. Mom, I’m so honored that you came all the way over here to spend time with me. What a privilege! It was an awesome joy to share my Bangkok community and vocation with someone from back home. Here’s a brief rundown of only some of the excitement we packed into eight days:
Enjoyed an elephant ride in Ayuthaya.
Shopped at the Chatuchak evening market with my friend Caleb.
Visited the Dusit Zoo.
Attended the Thailand equivalent of the NBA final basketball game for the pro Thailand Basketball League.
Enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening complete with sightseeing, boat rides, and dinner with some great friends.
Climbed around temple ruins.
Rode a Tuk Tuk all over downtown Bangkok with my friend Alex, a fellow foreign coach working here in Thailand.
… And there was so much more. Water taxis, palaces, floating river markets, discovering just how sensitive Mom is to spicy food, meeting my players and coaches and friends at church and elsewhere, plenty of walking and hailing cabs and watching soccer games and visiting the office, experiencing Bangkok floods, seafood and street vender food and homemade food, and even more. You may see more pictures on Facebook at some point. Or you can just ask one of us to recount more next time you see us.
But all too soon, the week had flashed by and Mom returned to the States and it was back to business as (normal?).
As for what’s happening now: My team is actually a group that will be divided into two parts to travel to two separate competitions since they overlap in time (both will take place during the last week of September). The younger players will be traveling to a 5 on 5 tournament in Malaysia and will leave September 18th. One of my assistant coaches, four more seasoned players, and I will travel to the second of the two events, a 3 on 3 tournament held in Vietnam that will be one event in a larger competition called the Asian Beach Games. Thailand’s national basketball association cares very much about the outcome of this competition, so the pressure is on to prepare my four players as completely as possible for this event. Up until yesterday, we were practicing all players together. We had two and a half weeks of practice in this format. Now we will transition to splitting the teams and focusing on preparing for our separate events. I will still see the rest of the girls and will work in conjunction with the other coach the association has chosen to travel to Malaysia with the younger group to facilitate joint practices, but this will wane as we get closer to our event dates.
I’m entering the home stretch. In the beginning of my adventure, I felt the growing pains of trying to get the hang of something new and figure out the norms, expectations, and best practices necessary to function well. Now that I’m nearing the end, I feel more acutely the fatigue of difficulties undergone and not always resolved and the struggles that accompany a more intimate familiarity with the persons, processes, and past failings here. I would love your prayers for these things:
- I desperately need God to give me an opportunity to share His truth by way of telling my story to my players. This is a huge burden on my heart and something I’ve been asking God to make a way to do since before I knew I was coming to Thailand. I’m asking Him to open a door when I have all of them present (which really hasn’t happened yet because of scheduling difficulties) and when their hearts are ready to listen. Please pray with me for this to occur in His timing and for me to not miss it when He opens the door.
- I am struggling with how to effectively coach and support this team in the midst of changing roles and ( sometimes belligerent) coaching staff. My ultimate goal (besides being able to share my testimony with them before I leave) is for my players to get better at basketball and to help provide a foundation on which they can build in the future. But I find myself being frustrated at arrangements, communication difficulties, and personnel. These things help me realize that I am completely out of control, and they force me to lean on God even more than normal which is good, but please pray that God will give me wisdom in every interaction and that I won’t lose sight of His priorities and desires for my being here.
- Details for when I return are still murky. Though things are falling into place and communication with my players and my athletic director at Moody have been encouraging and steady, I don’t yet know about housing and job for when I return. God is good and will provide, but I need His help to guide my communications, interactions, and search as I begin to focus on spending any spare time preparing for October and my role at MBI this year.
I’ve got to run to the office and then to practice, so that will have to do for now. Love you all, and thank you for your prayers. Thinking of and praying for you too.