Stepping out of the airport in Chiang Mai, my senses immediately verified that we were, in fact, home. The humidity, heat, and the distinct aroma of Thailand temporarily woke me from my jet lagged gaze as reality set in. This is home. Well..not right now, but it will be. It will feel that way, eventually. This is where we will raise our family. This is where we will “settle down” if there’s any such thing for missionaries. This is the place we will grow to love and that our children will be most familiar with. This is where we will watch God work in unique ways and where we will get to witness answered prayer. All these thoughts crossed my mind in a period of thirty seconds before I continued to push the double stroller out the airport door and tried not to lose track of all the bags and luggage pieces that followed.
What a whirlwind the first few weeks were. Help was abundant. I actually can’t even imagine trying to do what we did with no helpers. I chuckled along the journey as I watched people count our three toddlers then stare at my large belly containing baby #4. Yes, everyone. I think we are crazy, too. Haha! But my main thought along the whole way was, “I can’t believe we are finally going!” After two years of preparation, which I realize is relatively short, it was just hard to wrap my brain around the fact that we were actually moving to the other side of the world. What a privilege! What an honor to be used of God in this way.
So many have asked me what normal life looks like for a mom in Thailand. And while I can’t tell you that my life is ever “normal” (come on…I’ve got 3 kids age 4 and under…nothing normal here. haha!), I can share with you some things that you might not know about keeping a home here in Thailand. Because that’s my main job! Keeping the home. That, and trying to raise these cute kiddos to love and serve God. 🙂
One of the things that took some adjusting for me is the cooking here. I will say from the start, we have it way better than most missionary wives! There is an abundance of beautiful, fresh produce. And if you choose to eat what is grown and eaten locally, food is quite cheap. The big adjustment for me was not being able to “menu plan” very far in advance, because you never know what the store may or may not have! I do shop at a grocery store that somewhat resembles grocery stores in the US. Cooking just requires a lot of flexibility and creativity…some things I’m still learning. 🙂 It’s very difficult to find an actual oven, and if you do they are terribly inefficient. I have a large toaster oven and I have learned that you can make pretty much anything in a toaster oven! As for Western ingredients, the cities carry much more than our town of Mae Sai. So trips to the city often include perusing the international aisle of their grocery store for the rare jar of salsa or favorite hot sauce. You never know what treasures you might find!
Laundry is also unique in that we scrub everything by hand…just kidding. I’m so glad we don’t have to do that! We do have a washing machine on our back porch and we hang dry everything. Dryers are kind of the same story as the ovens…you can find them but they are very expensive, very inefficient, and break often. So…we just hang everything. I’m thankful for a large living room where we can hang our laundry on racks during this very wet rainy season. So far I’ve been able to avoid the panic when the torrential downpour comes and you remember you have laundry outside. 😉
Today I begin (resume?) my language studies. It’s a blessing to be able to study with the same teacher I studied with two years ago. Hopefully she isn’t too shocked by how much I’ve forgotten since we left! “Use it or lose it” is no lie. I’m highly motivated to be able to communicate with the people that we meet here. There is a certain feeling of helplessness when you want to build a relationship with someone but cannot communicate even on a basic level! This is perhaps the biggest hurdle we face as we begin ministry here.
I truly appreciate the ladies that take time to pray for me and for my family. The adjustments will continue well into the future and I know that there are hurdles ahead that I can’t even imagine at this time. But I do know one thing. Psalm 18:30-31 says, “As for God, his way is perfect: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? Or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” I’m so thankful for the source of strength that we have in the Lord, no matter what obstacles may come. As soon as I try to gird myself with strength, my way will be less than perfect. Destruction, dissatisfaction, and discouragement will be the song of my days. But what a joy it is to serve One who wants to be our Rock! And it’s through Him and His perfect way that true joy can be my song.
Serving the Lord in the country of Thailand, Alyssa is the wife of missionary Benjamin Hall and mom to five young kids. Each day seems to bring new adventures as she studies the Thai language, homeschools, and ministers to the many little hands that reach for hers. Of course, music is almost always part of the day, whether by listening, singing, or playing and it now echoes through the voices of little ones. Read Alyssa’s salvation testimony here.