Christmas in Thailand 2006

There's a classic song that says "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" but almost nothing here in Thailand signals the coming of Christmas. A few stores have tinsel and santa hats but there is no snow, no commercial push for gift buying, no Christmas carols playing at the mall, no Christmas vacation for school kids, and no day off on December 25th. Any why should it look like Christmas is coming in a nation where over ninety percent of the population is Buddhist?

With this said, there is a significant amount of curiousity about Christmas since it is, popularly, a Western cultural holiday that shows up in a lot of movies and English language learning materials that make into Thailand. Of course, movies mostly show the side of Christmas that has to do with Santa, Christmas trees, and gifts but here in Thailand, many Thai churches and missionaries seize upon people's curiousity about Christmas to share about the true meaning of Christmas. Schools and colleges are open to having Christians come and do Christmas activies (in Thai and English) as part of the school's English curriculum. Many churches (which there aren't too many of, to begin with) do special Christmas outreaches and evangelist meetings to present the true meaning of Christmas to those people brought to church by their friends.

A Small Country Church

The past two Sunday, we have visited a small country church in the next province over from where we are living and going to langauge school. We drove with Ulrich, a fellow OMF missionary, and his family we found ourselves bumping and jostling over severe potholes as we made our way further away from the city and into the countryside. Brillant green rice paddies lined either side of the road way and small wooden houses on stilts and little mom and pop shops were visible every so often. We pulled the truck into the dirt yard in front of a concrete store-front type building where two side of the building opened up completely like garage doors. A handful of blue plastic chairs were lined up in about four or five short rows and we were greeted by a few of the believers who had already gathered.

Like many churches in Thailand, both urban and rural, the church was very small, with only about ten people or so in attendance, not counting Ulrich, his family, and the three of us. All of these dear saints are fairly recent believers, the one who has been the Christian the longest has only been a Christian for maybe five years or so. Some of the other have only believed a few months. Interestingly enough though, the youngest adult member of the congregation is about forty! In God's providence, He has chosen to call to himself a handful of elderly women who make up about half of this congregation of ten or so. The miracle of salvation is so obvious in the lives of these women since there is very little human reason why someone who has been a Buddhist for over sixty years would decide to make such a drastic break with a society at large which equates national and ethnic identity with Buddhist. The Thai say, "To be Thai is to be Buddhist."

Lopburi Sunflower Fields

Last weekend we had a chance to go see the sunflowers fields in a nearby town that are quite well known in this region and extremely popular for photo taking. Joshua was a bit fussy but we had a good time taking photos and spending time together.

A Moron in a Hardware Store

Today I (Karl) walked into a hardware store to buy a splitter for the hose to our washing machine so that we could run a hose for a sink/baby bath as well. I wasn’t sure of the word for “hose splitter” or exactly how to describe it in Thai but fortunately I happened to see a box containing a bunch of what looked like hose splitters. I picked one up and asked the store employee who was helping me if this was for use with a hose. He said “Yes” and pointed to the hoses so I figured I would pick his brain to get the exact Thai word for “hose splitter”. Holding up the splitter in front of me, I asked in Thai, “What is this called?” Looking at me as if I was some kind of moron, he said very slowly, “Pla-st-ic”. Ah yes, it is made of plastic. I knew that. Obviously the intent of my question was not abundantly clear. I tried rephrasing my question and eventually got the Thai word that I had wanted. I bought a hammer too and that went a little more successfully.


After being away from Thailand for a number of years, my general conversational ability is decent but I lack some of the specific vocab for places like the pharmacy or the hardware store. Some of it I knew but forgot and some of it I never knew. Much more to learn. Tomorrow is a another day to risk looking like a moron but it is also an opportunity to learn something new.

Safe Arrival in Thailand

We arrived in Thailand this past Monday night and were picked up at the airport by the Language and Orienation Director to be taken to our new home in Lopburi, an hour or two north of Bangkok.  We live in a small two floor condo-type apartment in a row of attached homes on a narrow street.  Motorbikes zip up and down the small lane day and night as a shortcut between two major roads.  We have been have orientation sessions at the OMF mission home in Lopburi, the Lopburi Learning Center (LLC) where new missionaries study language, and around town and we get a feel for what is located where.  We opened a bank account, Sun bought a bicycle, and we met with the language advisors at the LLC to chart a course for language study.  There is so much more to tell and hopefully we'll get some pictures of our new surrounding up on this blog in the following weeks.  However, the priority at the moment is getting our new house set up, starting language study, and becoming familiar with our new surroundings.  We feel blessed in that, unlike most new missionaries, we both have some language ability and are not limited to pointing, smiling, and playing charades.  However, my Thai is a bit rusty and Sun doesn't technically speak Thai, but the related language of Laotian.  So, sometimes she can understand and make herself understood and sometimes not.  I'll write more about our settling in and adjustment later.   For those who are praying for us, thank you.

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