Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Buddha's Got Back

Dear Diary,

These are some things I saw today: a few elephants, a 45-meter tall sitting Buddha, fireworks, and a big cockroach on the bathroom wall that I washed down the drain with a bidet sprayer. Basically it's been the best day of my life.

In other news, 45-meter tall sitting Buddhas are quite a sight. We drove up a mountain to see it, although you can easily see it from the city streets below. Mark took us up there to pray, because he believes it is a spiritual stronghold over Phuket. One way to put it would be that it's like Big Buddha is the Mothership for all those other little Buddha shrines that fill the streets of Thailand. Except Big Buddha doesn't receive as many offerings of red Fantas as the rest.

Before I continue, let me just say that this trip has really challenged my beliefs on a lot of things. Some of my beliefs have been expanded as a result, others have become more solidified, and others have created more questions. Kind of been a spiritual rollercoaster. But it's okay - it's good to be challenged every now and then.

Okay, so going on:

Thinking about the "spiritual" world can get kind of messy for me sometimes. Some people have fears of objects being haunted or controlled by spiritual forces. I've always been of the opinion that as much as people may think such things, their thoughts or words toward an object have no effect of the properties of said object. That being said, I realized today that Big Buddha has a spiritual grip on Phuket not because it's a big piece of stone that spirits have hijacked, or because it represents something more sinister, or anything like that, but simply because people choose to give it such authority. People put their trust in this thing, as if what it represents can actually give them what they long for deep within their spirits. They are searching for enlightenment, for a way out of the cycle of the suffered life, and hoping that what this stone statue stands for will provide. In short: The people of Phuket are not being oppressed by a gigantic Buddha. They're oppressing themselves. And in more than spiritual ways, too - where does all the money for the construction of Big Buddha (not to mention Slightly-Less-Big-Golden Buddha and all his concrete cronies) come from? From the generous donations of the Thai population. The same Thai population that builds grandiose temples across the street from the tin roof and cinder block houses. People worship this object and many others like it not just when they visit it to perform rituals and light incense, but also when they pour their hard-earned money into it with that hope that it will bring them good returns in the next life. That is to say, their next go-around on Earth as somebody or something else. It's just depressing. Also depressing was the number of red lights in bars/restaurants/hotels/massage parlors that I saw on our drive from the beach last night. As was the sight of a less-than-5-year-old white girl being placed up by the dancing pole at the bar while her family encouraged her to keep dancing for their cameras.

(Do I sound like I miss home at all?)

If there's one thing I've learned from this trip about being a good husband/father, it's that you don't take your family on vacation to Patong Beach. And you shouldn't take your wife, unless it's for a mission trip. And you shouldn't go alone unless it's for the same reason. Pretty much that's the only reason I can think of that anyone should ever go to Patong. Besides, the other beaches in Phuket are much better.

Anyway, the rest of today was pretty good. We had a BBQ tonight with the girls from SHE, and we planned a bunch of after-dinner entertainment that never happened because they left before we had a chance to get started. Hey, it's their loss that they didn't get to see Ben and me perform our recently conceived "Igor & Igor" sketch. Was gonna be a hit. But I got to hang out with Mark & Sharon's adorable children, and that may have been just what I needed. Sophie told me I'm the funniest guy on the whole team! Smart kid. And later on Ben and some other people tricked me into eating a dessert they made out to be disgusting, but was just filled with marshmallow cream and chocolate. Not the best re-telling of that story, but it'll have to do for now because I'm exhausted. But what else is new?

So, um, prayer requests...for the people of Thailand to know God's prevailing truth and cast aside their idols, for our team's last night of bar ministry tomorrow night, and particularly for the men of this team (and even more particularly, the two newlywed husbands). We've all been through a lot. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: something about this mission trip is completely backwards.

...And yet...

...God's doing great things.

I forgot my razor at home, so I haven't shaved on this trip, and I have more hair on my face than ever before. I look like a preteen werewolf.

This is Nate.


  1. IF this posting made me cry, and it did, just think of our loving heavenly Father, the creator and lover of us all and how it hurts His heart at not just WHAT you have SEEN, but WHAT these "Souls" do with their lives and that of their families!!! Sooooo glad HE has not given up and soooo glad you have not given up!! <><

  2. PS, I read your PS first and sure was hoping this post was not from one of the girls! HAHA

  3. Hey team! I just wanted to let you all know that I'm keeping up with you guys and keeping you in my prayers. You all are some of my favorite people and it sounds like an incredible trip. Enjoy and make the most of your last few days. Can't wait to see you soon...

  4. At first i was mad that the poster didn't reveal his name, but it didn't take long, or much detective work to figure it out.

    You guys are still in my prayers. I can't wait to see you guys and hear stories first hand.

    Love you guys
    Seth Swi

  5. It's Jesse and Kelsey,
    We just ate Multi-grain Cheerios,
    We're jacked up on Wilco,
    And we're comin' atcha!

    First, Igor & Igor... stole from Klaus and Kraut??? You've changed. Kidding.

    We would like a video of the "Igors skit" as soon as possible. We will begin mass production of DVDs and sell millions of copies, giving the Thai people more money to buy red Fanta, and hopefully drink it this time, because we've heard people sweat a lot in Thailand.

    Our new favorite phrase: "bidet sprayer"
    Cabin theme??? Think of the possibilities!

    But seriously, we love you. We can't say it enough, we really do. We pray for you and the people you are coming into contact with often. It is apparent that God is working through your team. God is great!

    Misses. Kisses.
    Jesse and Kelsey
    Cabin Hutch: Spraying Love and Spraying Bidets

  6. YEA!!!!! a picture!!!!!!! any more???!!!!

  7. For the record, Igor & Igor are two large, hairy men in Stalinist Russia, 1944. It takes place in a sauna. "BRRRREATHE, Comrade!" Nothing like Klaus & Kraut.

    Misses, kisses & blisses,
    Nate & Leah & Sam & Ben

  8. Without a shave you and Ben must really fit the parts for the production of Igor and Igor! Can't wait to see your talents in action.

    Our prayers are for the Lord to let you all see with the eyes of Jesus and reach out in His love for these young people to know the Truth.

    John 14:6 (New International Version)
    "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

    Love, Pappa and Momma Swi

  9. Nate, I love the image of you as a werewolf. Bring it back to Kansas!

    I am constantly thinking of you guys and praying for your health and safety. I greatly cherish this blog for giving me peace of mind that no one has been eaten alive by anything.

    Sam, I do hope you're feeling better.

    I miss and love you all, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of you. Your courage, devotion and spiritual strength through this is so inspiring. Keep doing good work. And please keep writing.

    God's bringing my blessings across the Pacific right now.

    Love, Whitney

  10. I want to seek the skit! Do you think you can reinact it when everyone gets back to sterling? Wow Nate, your post really made me think! I felt like i was reading my pastor's blog because he challenges me and makes me think as well! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Also, i would appreciate if you would post a picture of this so called werewolf that you like! Thanks for the updates! Its greatly appreciated! I love you guys and I am praying for yall!

  11. Oh snap, I love reading this blog. I am hungry for dirt-n-worms.
    All my love, hugs, kisses, prayers, and bad touches,