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Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'll Trade Pilgrims for Pine Trees

Though there was no Macy's parade, no pilgrim salt and pepper shakers in little black hats on the table, and everyone still went about their normal business of going to work and school, nevertheless, the holiday spirit was in the air.  Who would have thought that my first Thanksgiving in this tropical country would include pine trees and goosebumps?  

Today I visited Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, or in what I think is a funnier direct translation of the Thai in the sign, the "tallest realm in Siam". Height: 2565.3341 meters, or around 8416.4505 feet above sea level.  I guess if you built up a few clumps of gravel at the top they'd have to change decimals to accurately reflect the new height.

More than this prominent claim to fame, Doi Inthanon (pronounced Doy IN-ta-noan) boasts two even more interesting features.  First, it is the only home in the world for the Green Tailed Sunbird.  We saw one of these fiery little males flitting about at the summit this morning in the chilly air (Temp: 6 C, or 42 F), but too elusive for my photographic skills so you'll have to do with this image I took from Google.  They are even more brilliant in real life.

Second, Doi Inthanon also happens to share membership with only 0.3% of the world's other land surfaces that are known as cloud forests.  The frequent, heavy clouds that roll onto the mountain cover everything in mist, and subsequently cover everything in moss, including the ancient trees with even a few pine trees mixed in for a good wintry feel.  You can read more about cloud forests here.  

This year I'm quite thankful for the opportunity to be in Thailand, and for the unique and exquisitely-crafted place God has created here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Joy

No one had more of a reason to give up than missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd (1718-1747). In the 29 short years of his life, he suffered from constant physical illness and crippling pain from tuberculosis, was dogged by severe depression, and faced extreme trials and hardships in the wilderness. And yet his life and testimony have been inspiration to hundreds of Christians daring to be obedient to God's calling.  He touched the lives of Jonathan Edwards, Jim Elliot, William Carey, Robert Morrison, David Livingston, Gideon Hawley, Andrew Murray and so many others.  Why?

He had found his source of joy.

"Such fatigues and hardships as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter.  Formerly, when I was thus exposed to cold, rain, etc., I was ready to please myself with the thoughts of enjoying a comfortable house, a warm fire, and other outward comforts; but now these have less place in my heart (through the grace of God) and my eye is more to God for comfort.  In this world I expect tribulation; and it does not now, as formerly, appear strange to me; I don't in such seasons of difficulty flatter myself that it will be better hereafter; but rather think how much worse it might be; how much greater trials others of God's children have endured; and how much greater are yet perhaps reserved for me.  Blessed be God that he makes (=is) the comfort to me, under my sharpest trials; and scarce ever lets these thoughts be attended with terror or melancholy; but they are attended frequently with great joy (p. 274)"  [Quoted from]