Thursday saw the conclusion of the Asia Covenant Consultation and began with a worship time lead by the delegation from Japan. The crowd sang together and the Pastor Ino shared from the Gospel accounts of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I was up front translating for much of that time so there no photos to share.
Next up was a presentation from the India group highlighting the incredible challenges they face. Persecution of Christians is harsh in many areas and subsequently believers face tremendous hardships. The opposition comes from the government, from society at large and from within local families. Nevertheless the mission of the Church goes on and God’s kingdom continues to be built.
The concluding piece for this year’s consultation was a very lively discussion focused on what it means to be a Christian and plant churches in a specific culture. The wide variety of contexts and experiences made for a very thought provoking and informative exchange. Until that point most of the Q&A sessions had not been very productive. But perhaps the participants realized this was their last chance, because all of a sudden everyone wanted to share their thoughts! It could have gone on much longer but was brought to a close for lunch.
The afternoon plans were changed and it was decided that everyone would get on a bus and head back to Khon Kaen so that we could enjoy some tourist style night shopping on our last evening in Thailand. It’s a two hour drive and we didn’t actually arrive at our destination until about 6PM. After a quick check-in we headed back out to a wonderful night market for shopping and great food. I was finally able to take some photos!
The shops at the night market sold all kinds of things so everyone had fun picking out gifts for their friends and family and then haggling over the price with the merchants. But stall that caught my attention was the one selling fried bugs! Seriously… big, juicy, fried bugs that people buy by the bag-full. Most foods don’t bother me too much but this stuff got me seriously close to the gag-reflex.
Needless to say, I was happy just to take photos of this stuff. After a couple hours at the night market we all got into a bus and headed back to the hotel. Along the way the driver took us for a scenic loop around a lake at the south end of town. Seeing it from the bus window wasn’t very exciting but it gave me the inspiration to venture out a bit so after we got back to the hotel I got a map of the city and made sure I knew where our hotel was. Then I flagged another tuk-tuk and pointed to the lake. It only took about five minutes and cost about $2. There was a carnival of sorts along the lake and wooded park that runs along the shoreline. It feels amazingly safe here so I just enjoyed a leisurely stroll, soaking in all the unfamiliar sites, sounds and smells. The views across the water were nice so I snapped a few photos, and eventually settled in at an open-air restaurant that had live music.
When I was ready to head home I walked for a bit until I found a tuk-tuk and hopped in for the quick ride home. It was an unabashedly tourist-like evening but loads of fun too! Today we will fly back to Bangkok, have a long layover and then take the dreaded red-eye flight back to Tokyo. Arrival is something like 6AM on Saturday.
Thanks for reading these posts. The next Asia Covenant Consultation will be held in 2014. The location has yet to be decided but I definitely hope I’ll be able to participate in that one as well.