COVID-19 Relief

We’ve found pure gold! Yes, we know that this COVID-19 year has been rough. With increasing job loss, political uncertainty, health concerns, economic recession, and ongoing natural disasters we sometimes feel like we are just fighting to keep our heads up.
But with all this going on, we also feel like we have been finding unspeakable joy and we can’t help but want to share that with you today. On our weekly home visits and COVID-19 relief trips, we see poverty, pain, and loss, but we also see hope, sacrificial love, and deep compassion. When our team began delivering relief packages in April, we did not know that we would have the opportunity to reach so many people that were already our neighbors. Through the generosity of strangers (donors who have never met our neighbors), our team has been able to become better neighbors to those around us.
Here are three things we are learning during these unique times.

1. We see glimpses of heaven

The pandemic has given us the opportunity to share God’s love more widely with the people around us – that may seem to be the obvious glimpse of heaven that we have seen. But we have also had a front row seat to a kind of restoration and inner transformation in our staff that is another glimpse of heaven.
Our local team of managers and staff have not grown up as people with many material means. In the past they often have expressed seeing themselves as lower or “lesser” than typical members of Thai society, whether due to ethnic discrimination or lack of education, finances, or assets such as homes and cars. We believe that everyone is created in the image of God, so this is a mindset that we strongly reject and work to fight against, but which is deeply ingrained in the hearts and minds of those who have grown up with the world calling them “poor.”
As COVID-19 has economically ravaged the normalcy of Thailand, everyone has been impacted. Thankfully, Thai Village has been able to continue providing salaries, work, training, and relief through the ongoing purchases, support and gifts of our network. As gifts have been given to Thai Village to respond to physical needs, our local team have found themselves on the front lines, reaching out to those who are feeling desperate and hopeless.
Slowly we’ve noticed a shift in mindset for our staff as they begin to see themselves as those who have something to give to those in need. By being the conduit of the gift, God is transcending the power of systemic brokenness in this society. Those seen as “poor” are the ones joyfully giving to others. In addition to relief packets, our staff are sharing hope. They are witnessing the image of God in their neighbors, showing our staff that they have just as much worth and value as those “without” – and therefore, as those “with”.
This season is showing us how deeply Thai Village managers and Promise Lutheran Church leaders care for their extended communities, and we feel continually grateful that God has allowed this team to steward donations from compassionate people from around the world.

2. Community matters

We are a team. A team that is made up of people from so many different backgrounds. We face the challenges of this world together: the good, the bad, the ugly. Through this pandemic, we have seen how working together as a team is so important.
Our managers are filling the role of living in the communities we serve, seeing the people on the ground, asking who needs help, and reporting those needs back to us. We have our expat teams out buying relief supplies, filling their trucks, and bringing the items to Thai Village. Then our combined Thai Village and church staff work together in putting together the relief packets, and mixed teams go out: sharing relief packets, further listening to the needs on the ground, praying with the recipients, asking for God’s wisdom, and then doing it again the next week.
And those of you reading this on the other side of the world are part of our team too! You provide prayers, funding, purchases, and support which allows us to continue in this work. We need each other and are made for community. We are blessed to be a part of a unique team, no matter how far away we are from each other!

Creative solutions to the top shelf when buying dried food

TVI managers walking through a community to deliver food

Couple in the mountains receiving a COVID-19 relief packet

3. We are not in control

We are all in need. During these months we have become more aware of our own humanity and the fact that, as much as we try, we cannot always control the outcome. So far this year, like many of you perhaps, we haven’t been sure what’s happening in this world. We’ve had difficulty planning. We’ve had to re-do schedules and it feels like we are dizzy from constantly pivoting. We have been frustrated and, at times, we are not sure if we’ll make it into the next year. Will we get enough funding to survive another year? Will immigration extend my visa? Will Thailand ever open its borders again?

But we know one thing for sure… SOMETHING is happening. God is at work and has not abandoned his purposes. In fact, it’s a good thing that we are not in control!
While the purposes of the world may definitely have been thwarted through a pandemic,
the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
   the purposes of his heart through all generations. Therefore, we wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33:11, 20-21