(The following are excerpts from a recent letter from our missionary to Thailand We know you will find it interesting As you read you will also find many things for which you will want to pray.)
June 10 1995
Dear Fellow Believers:
How I praise God that I can write to you from Asia, the most spiritually needy continent in the world! It is both a privilege and a challenge to be here. Since this life is so short, and we have so little time to serve our Savior and proclaim the Gospel, I am thankful to the Lord that He has granted me the opportunity to bring the Gospel to a part of the world where so many have not heard. What a joy to prepare for this task! We miss our families in the United States very very much. We also miss all of you. In spite of this present loneliness we look forward to the Resurrection when we will all be together forever, and so the Lord comforts us with this certain hope. Now it is day when we can work. According to Gods grace and strength we intend to do just that until the Lord grants us rest.
Last January, I came to Thailand to prepare the way for my family’s trip here. Prior to January, I waited in the United States for communications from a friend in Thailand who volunteered to help us get visas to stay in Thailand. He was also to meet us when we arrived. Since I didn’t hear from him and I couldn’t contact him, the Mission Board permitted me to come to Thailand myself in January to attempt to get everything done, including getting a recommendation letter for a visa, finding a home, and enrolling in language training.
(Pastor Bohde then tells how the Lord marvellously arranged all these things).
. . . After arriving in Thailand on February 5 we allowed ourselves a couple of weeks to buy the things we needed to get going, and familiarize ourselves with the city, and where such things as hospitals, doctors, and clinics were, etc. We also spent a couple of days getting over jet lag. We began our language study at the end of February. Our language teacher comes to our home five days a week for two hours a day. We began by learning the 44 consonants, 45 vowels, and combinations, and five tones. We are studying through the basic Thai language books that children get in school. Since I will need to read and write as well as speak Thai, we have chosen a more traditional approach to learning the language. Our Thai teacher agrees. Thai children go through one book in about six months. We have been studying for about 3 months and are preparing to begin our third book. We have also begun basic communications. We speak Thai for example when we go to market or talk briefly on the street, to take a taxi, etc. Our vocabulary is growing. We are now beginning to emphasize vocabulary and speaking. We are able to read quite easily now. We don’t know much of what we are reading yet but we are progressing. We have been told by several people that we are moving very quickly. We praise God for that Shelly is doing extremely well in speaking, because of her ability to hear and reproduce the tones. I am excelling in reading. Please pray for me in the area of speaking. While I am progressing well, it is more difficult for me to hear and reproduce the tones consistently. Each word has its own tone; this is what makes asian languages sound sing-songy. Unless the tone is spoken accurately, a Thai speaker can’t understand what you are saying, if you pronounce the letters and the word correctly. Please pray for my speaking ability. This ability is critical to both preaching and witnessing.
. . . We live in a neighborhood that is all Thai. We are the only Farang (foreigners) in the area. While most foreigners tend to live close to others from their own country, we wanted to avoid that so that we would have more intereaction with the Thai culture. It is more demanding this way because we don’t have the comfort of the familiar that we would have if we spent alot of time with fellow Americans. While it is more demanding in the short term, I believe our living siituation will be a real blessing in the long term. The people in the neighborhood have been very friendly to us. We thank the Lord for His great kindness to us.
. . . While Thailand, like any tropical country, has alot of reptiles and insects, we aren’t bothered too much where we live. Since we live in the city, we don’t have too many to deal with. Of course, we have snakes in the yard. We are infested with ants (everyone is) including fire ants as the children have found out. Both have been bitten by fire ants and are much more cautious now. We have large roaches which die hard. We have lizards in the house which are good because they eat insects. We have several varieties of lizard outside, one of which is poisonous. The children avoid that one when they see it. The other day I found a spider on the road down the street from our house that was the size of a tarantula! While I have seen them in houses before we don’t have any in our house. The mosquitoes aren’t too numerous now, since we are just entering the rainy season. . .
. . . The Lord has richly blessed us with all that is necessary. How we praise God for your prayer and financial support of this new mission. Please continue to pray for us. The Lord has answered prayers abundantly. Please pray especially for the following: 1) Rapid progress in Thai language study; 2) Our physical and spiritual protection; 3) An appropriate vehicle; after our formal language study is completed, I will need to be much more mobile; 4) The Lord would give me wisdom and guide me to know where He wants us to begin our work after language study.
. . . Many of you have requested a list of what we need. We will be sending that along shortly. May the Lord richly bless all of you. How we praise God for the privilege of carrying the Gospel to Asia! The Lord will continue to sustain us and guide us through your prayers, support and love. Please continue to pray.
Your Fellow Servant,
— Mark Bohde