"This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs,
members of the same body, and partakers of the promise
in Christ Jesus through the gospel."
Ephesians 3:6 ESV
Dear family, long-term supporters and friends,
Rao khit toong koon jang looie! (We miss you dearly!) We are so blessed to be writing to you again. Wow what a month this has been so far. It has been filled with days of excitement at what the Lord is doing in this place, days of not feeling well, days where our minds feel like mush and can’t take anymore information and days where we feel the rewards from language study as we develop in relationships with our friends here. We have had days where we miss our family so much, but in the midst of those times a mighty encouragement always granted to us by our caring Father in such a tender way.
This past month has been the busiest of our time here so far!! We've continued in language learning, developing our vocabulary, starting to learn the Thai script, and practicing what we're learning in the classroom with our Thai friends!
Phuuak rao riian paa-saa-Thai maak praa-waa rao yaak phuut paa-saa-Thai dai!!
We study the Thai language a lot because we want to be able to speak Thai!!
We are now three weeks into our frontier missions training with one more week to go before we finish up. We have gone over a lot of topics, questions and strategies that we will encounter in cross-cultural ministry. We've studied the unique particulars of the Thai culture, discussed what it looks like for Thai believers to follow Jesus, the obstacles they face and how we can do our best to communicate in an understandable way despite our cultural differences. We have wrestled with these questions and brought them to God for clarity. It has truly been a time of coming together as a team to seek God's wisdom and learn from others who have come before us in our pursuit of partnering with what God is doing in this nation.
Also, we bought a car!! That's very exciting news :D Hopefully Ethan can teach me how to drive this month as I still haven't worked up the courage to get behind the wheel just yet!
In the coming month we are also excited to dive deeper into language study and further develop relationships among the community. The communications team here will be developing the website, translating our mission and values, and seeking God's guidance for our social media platforms as we will use these avenues for our Savior's glory.
Ethan's Basketball Team & Growing Relationships <3
One of the most exciting things from this month is God bringing growing relationships through a basketball team so I felt led to give Him glory in sharing this story...
About a month and a half ago after visiting the basketball courts a few times, I became friends with a guy named Team. He speaks English pretty well and was willing to suffer me attempting to speak Thai with him. He ended up asking if I wanted to play on his basketball team in a yearly tournament the city hosts. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I told him that I would like to join. That ended up in me realizing that the “saa-naam-gee la” (stadium) had an indoor basketball gymnasium. As I felt the Lord blessing spending my free time hanging out there and playing, this led to the building of more friendships, which truly are now brothers that I would call dear friends of mine.
At first it was quite funny to me, how God was using basketball, repurposing it for His glory. I used to be so deeply in love with basketball and it was an idol when I was still lost in the world but now I am seeing Him use it in a really exciting way. Playing has opened the door to some of the deepest relationships I have made here so far and it is a way for these friends to trust me, God giving me favor in the “inner circle” and being accepted by this community of Thai basketball players.
By the end of the tournament it was such a blessing to feel our bond grow tighter together with the members of the team as we battled our way during each game. We came up short of the championship, but I feel we won in what mattered much more: growing together as friends and strengthening our relationship on and off the basketball court. I pray that God would use these friendships as an open door for the gospel in the time to come.
The night following our last game Marie, Connor and I went out for an authentic Thai dinner to a restaurant that sponsored us in the tournament. It was a night full of laughter, delicious food, and the growing of our relationships even more. That night one of the team members, G'Golf (that's how he spells it haha) and I made plans to go to a local coffee spot and hang out, building friendship with him, each of us practicing our language skills together! A few other friends came along too. It’s amazing because we went to a spot that I probably could have never gone to or found without the invite of a Thai. While at the coffee shop I made another friend who then invited me to his wedding, which Marie and I had the priviledge of attending this past Saturday. It was a beautiful experience being able witness another part of Thai Culture. We were there for quite a long time just talking and we even were called upon to sing a karaoke song in front of 100 guests!! It's beautiful to see how God opens doors through our "yes" - a simple yes to an acquaintance's invitation has opened the door for a deeper investment in one another's lives and has even connected us with a greater community here. I pray we all can discern the Spirit's leading, guiding us to invest in the lives of those who have not yet met Christ in our community.
Another group of relationships has been developing outside of the basketball team. The guys on our ministry team here have begun a casual time of meeting together with some of the new Thai believers we have come to know. Through these times and the time at the wedding with my basketball team, I've seen things we've learned about in our class played out in real life.
We came together this past Wednesday, hanging out and letting the Spirit lead us in a time of reflection and the conversation turned towards romantic relationships. Erik asked them "Would you rather have one hundred different relationships or one deep meaningful relationship?" During the conversation a young guy by the name of Tian seemed to be drawn to certain things being said. I was shocked to hear his response after everyone had answered: "I don't need anyone, I am fine to be alone." Instantly I knew he had gone through something in life, I did not know what it was but I could tell he had been deeply impacted in a negative way by something I did not know. Tian is a Buddhist joining in these times, but we can see God's Spirit working on his heart.
In that moment I recognized the reality of all of mankind's need for love and thus many seeking for this need to be satisfied in another person. Yet, this only leaves brokenness as they have not heard the message of the gospel which gives the very source of all true love.
Statistically over half of Thai married couples admit to cheating - that is only people who are willing to divulge such information! It is often understood that faithfulness isn’t an expectation. With this understanding and then sitting with Tian and others, it is very apparent the deep pain in the lives of my friends here. The vast majority do not even know how to talk about such things that pertain to this, as often vulnerability and emotion aren't seen in a positive light from a Buddhist worldview.
With such a deep heart issue, God has been opening our minds with ways of sharing with them the hope of restored relationships ultimately through a restored relationship with the Father. We sit here excited by the opportunity to truly love these people in a way they have never known before. Many of them have never been in friendship with a follower of Jesus and someone that truly cares for their life in the eyes of Jesus. We yearn to point our friends to the One who heals, transforms and brings the dead things to life!!
Praying for Thai Buddhists
One of the highlights of our SOFM was being able to purchase many prayer guides for Thai Buddhists. This booklet provides such great insight into the spiritual realities facing this unreached nation. It gave us words to things we see and experience but haven't fully comprehended and we truly believe its a great way to further understand and have empathy for these beloved people. God is indeed working in the lives of this people and it's our earnest desire that we could come alongside Him by mobilizing prayer, and in this way lay a foundation for a lasting, indigenous, and multiplying movement towards Christ in this nation. With that, we want to send these guides to as many of you who may be interested so email either of us if so. If you are a long-term financial partner, here's a sneak peak at your Christmas gift from us! <3
Connecting and Feedback
Next week our schedules will slow a bit and we are hoping to be able to connect with you all via voice call or facetime - we'll be reaching out as much as we can but please don't hesitate to reach out to us as well as our time is limited and we may not be able to reach out to everyone. With that, we'd love to hear and always invite any recommendations for these newsletters - what are those things you'd like to see/hear more about? Ultimately we want to use these newsletters to share our hearts and lives with you across the miles, but would love to hear any recommendations on how to improve on that goal. Thank you for reading this far - you all mean the world to us!
Praise and Petitions
As mentioned before, we bought a car! We are so thankful to God for our friends Toxin and Kwan for their help spending multiple days with us going to the dealership and sorting through everything together. We're also grateful to have made friends with the manager and her incredible help to us through the whole process! As well, we are so thankful to you all who gave to our Go Fund Me as we were able to use this for buying the car.
We continue to thank the Father for His utmost provision and for so many of you who are so faithfully a part of our long-term support team.
Please pray for our Thai friends: G'Golf, Tian, Boom, Team, P'Goi, P'Mook
“Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ,..."Colossians 4:2-3
As the communications team moves forward, Ethan has been desiring and praying about purchasing a camera to be able to take usable photos and videos that can help us better portray what we see throughout our days here. We wanted to write here and ask if any of you have a camera you feel led to donate that perhaps you don't use anymore! If so that would be a great blessing as Ethan seeks to develop in this skill and use it in ministry.
We are praying for our team members whose support has dropped in the last month. Connor and Nicole (Marie's brother-in-law and sister) are praying for and currently reaching out to their support networks at home as they seek for long-term partners to commit to $200 more per month. They are also seeking donations towards a car here as well. If you feel led to connect with them, their email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to reiterate our love and appreciation to each one of you. More and more we are experiencing what it means to be united in the body of Jesus as we partner with you and the local body here. Though we cannot meet face to face, we're united in the grace we have received and our desire to share that grace with all people. It is truly a mystery that God is working to extend this grace to the nations through the many functions of His body. Thank you so much for supporting us, encouraging us, and praying for our team and those we are ministering to in Thailand. <3
All our love,
The Parks Family
"Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us - to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20