Monday, July 31, 2006


My Granddaddy, Davis Colbert Head, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday morning. He was 81 years old.

We buried him today. The ceremony was simple, just a few words and a couple of songs at the graveside. It was his wish that I assist my father in the service, so I shared the Scripture that I was asked to share (Rev. 14:13), prayed, and then shared some more Scripture, Ephesians 2:1-9. I told reminded the people that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and that all of us will end up in a casket too, one day.

That was this afternoon, and now, we are in Montgomery, the capital of Alabama. The wake-up call will ring at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow, so we can be ready to hop our commuter fight to Atlanta, from where we'll hop a flight back to Phoenix. It's been a long and trying week and a half in 'Bama, but I can see God's goodness in every step. And now, the time has come to take him up on that verse that says "He gives sleep to those He loves." Nite nite.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Living Death

As I rode to Bangkok International Airport on July 18 (Thai time), my supervisor had me call home to let my parents know that I was on my way. My parents were not there, however, but my brother Michael was. I learned from him that the family was flying to Alabama on Thursday, so that we sons could see our Granddaddy before his passing from metasticized colon cancer. After an extremely long day thanks to a normal flight and an abnormally long flight delay (4 hours) upon returning stateside, I got back to Arizona at 4:00 a.m., on Wednesday, July 19, after having been awake since 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon (by Mountain Time).

On Thursday, we flew to Alabama, fully aware of the possibility that Granddaddy may have already died. As we hurried to the hospice center, I prayed, not for the chance to see him again, but that God might help me to deal with what I was about to see, to not love Granddaddy's life in the face of death. When we got there, he was still alive, but he was a shell of the man I had known growing up. His eyes and cheeks were sunken into his head, and his skin hung loosely from his bones, whose outline I could see. He looked as if he could be already dead, already a cadaveour in the casket. Praise God, however, for he was coherent and we got to speak with him, to hug him, to kiss him. That was late Thursday night, July 20.

Since then, his decline has continued, with the exception of one or two days. But really, it's all a delay of the inevitable. He has metestatic cancer, he is elderly, and he is a human. That's three ways of saying, "He's going to die," at least one day. When I saw him today, he was the same as yesterday; that being totally motionless, totally speechless. His mouth hangs agape, but he is unable to swallow. His body is failing, yet he clings to what remains of his life. We were set to fly back to Arizona yesterday, but we coughed up the big bucks it takes to change our tickets, and our new flight leaves Tuesday. We chose Tuesday because it seemed certain that he would have passed before the weekend, but now it looks like he'll pass when we're not hear.

Till the minute when Granddaddy does breath his last, we face the reality of living death, the reality of mortality.

Even so, death too will die.

Monday, July 17, 2006

489: The Last Chapter

Once again, I find myself in Bangkok, Thailand; though come to think of it, the last time I was here, I did not have time to blog. My flight to Hong Kong departs tomorrow morning and the hours are ticking away. In the story that is 489, this is the last chapter, though I hope to follow it with a few epilogues while and maybe a sequel. (I'm toying with the name "489: Redux." Whatever it ends up named, the premise is that I take some time to muse over the summer's events.)

I did the tourist thing this morning and visited the Grand Palace. It's a pretty nifty set up, as the palace itself is mesh between European and Thai architecture, and the various temples on the grounds (including Temple of the Emerald Buddha) demonstrate Thai, Indian, and Cambodian architecture. It's really hard to describe it, so I guess everyone will just have to wait for the pictures to get up on Facebook (and probably here), but suffice to say that I got to see the throne hall where the kings have been crowned, British style guards, a scale model of Cambodia's famed Ankor Wat (built in remembrance of the days that Thailand ruled there), and more.

The story thus far has been many things and through it all God has spoken to me, and shown me just a bit more of what He wants from me. I posted earlier that His actions have been earth-shattering and ordinary at the same time, something that seems fitting of the God who rules over all things, great and small alike. God willing, I'll be back in Arizona by the technical end of 18 July 2006, but whatever he has planned is fine by me.

He's the One Who writes the story.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

489: Selah

One of the possible meanings of the Hebrew word selah is "pause," and these past few days at this conference have been a bit of a selah for me and for this blog. Because of very real security reasons, I dont' want to mention where we're at, and I certainly won't mention the names of folks I've met. In future days, when time and distance has seperated some of the other attendees from danger to themselves and to their ministries, I hope to write about my time here in a roundabout way. That said, feel free to use this break in the action to read some old entries written during this, (the 489), and join me in pausing and reflecting about what God has done.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

489: New Friends and Old Traditions

One of the things I love most about being here at this conference is the chance to meet new people. My roommate is a summer volunteer from Oklahoma Baptist University, and he and his friends are pretty cool. They've also been doing the "work in Thailand all summer" thing and the "getting to know them" process has been quite enjoyable. We went to a Mexican restaurant tonight, and although my policy is still "it's not real Mexican unless it's made by real Mexicans," it was pretty scrumptious.

We hopped a song taow to head back to the hotel. (Thail culture lesson: A song taow literally means, "two benches." The two benches are mounted along the bed of a standard pick-up truck and a canopy/shell is placed over the top. They are used for public transportation at a nominal price.) After a bit, though, we hit a pretty nasty traffic snarl, and we decided to pay the man and walk the rest of the way. The traffic jam was caused by a parade, a parade in honor of Buddhist Lent, which apparantly starts tomorrow. Floats featured scenes from Buddhist mythology, large saffron-orange candles, and other religious and cultural elements. The Buddha taught that in the months of the rice harvest, monks are not to go out into the villages/towns to beg for food. Instead, they are to stay in the temple and meditate, etcetera. They don't have to fast completely, though, as people still tam boon and bring offerings of food and personal items to them.

The parade was so beautiful yet so tragic. It was beautiful in its expressions of culture, as people wore native dress, danced native dances, and played native drum music. The tragedy... Well, I think that that speaks for itself. I got some good pictures and will post them online when I can, but I always feel the way reporters must feel when they snap snots of dead bodies after a battle.

489: Did You Ever Know That I'm Your Hero?

We had two breakout sessions this afternoon. For the first session, I learned about living in community; in the second session, however, I learned the basics of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, best known as CPR. So, if anyone nearbye ever keels over dead, I might just be able to bring 'em back to this side of the Styx. Unfortunately, only 25-30% of people who receive CPR actually do recsuscitate, so, it'd probably be best if no one keels over dead. But if they should, I'll be there to role the dice in the crap shoot of medicine.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

489: Faithful (An Unwasted Life)

We're checked into the hotel and the conference begins tomorrow. It looks like it's going to be amazing.

I was wandering the halls a few minutes ago when I spied a woman who looked familiar. Sure enough, I had seen a picture of her and her husband yesterday. It hangs in the guesthouse that bears their name. For those of you unfamiliar with how things are done in the Christian world, things are named after people who have money, specifically those who have given money to the place that bears their name. Every now and then, however, the bright idea dawns on someone to name something after someone who has accomplished more than just a paycheck. This couple has accomplished amazing things for God, having served their lives as missionaries, and, after reaching the age of retirement, they returned to the field at their own expense, with the determination to live and die among the people here.

I had the opportunity to talk with them for just a few minutes, and I had to fight hard to hold back a flood of tears. Two nights ago, I watched a DVD of John Piper's sermon "Don't Waste Your Life," and it was awesinpiring to meet a couple who has done just that. It's not that it takes a life in the mission field to count as a life well spent; what it is is the attitude and essence behind it, the ethos, the spirit. Maybe it hit me so hard because my Granddaddy is on his death bed in Alabama, and although he belongs to Christ, it seems that he's wasted his last years on this earth, having struggled greatly in the wake of Grannie's death well over a decade ago. Maybe it's because I've been thinking alot lately about what my future needs to be, or should be, or what I want it to be. Ultimately, I'm absolutely terrified of the prospect of wasting my life.

My hope and prayer is that I might be submitted to God's will, as these two have been. Come what may, if I stick to God's plan, then my life won't be wasted, no matter where it takes me, or with whom I travel. May we all have grace to have unwasted lives.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

489: Fantastic Fourth

Independence Day draws to a close in Thailand. It has been pretty busy here, as we did ESL at two schools today, teaching hundreds of children, but more importantly, sharing testimonies, telling the story of Creation, and giving out evangelistic materials. We did a bit of culture exchange too, as we sang our national anthem for them, and they sang their national anthem for us.

We celebrated the holiday this evening at the house of an IMB family that lives here in Nakhon Sawan. Their kids had made some star-spangled decorations and just enjoyed the chance to sit a rest a bit. (Grape soda really made it seem like home.)

Upon returning to the hotel, we made "fireworks" by dropping Mentos into Diet Coke 20 oz. bottles that had a hole bored in their lid. The Mentos were tied to a string and the string went through the hole. When the strings were released, the marriage of Mento and Coke produced a baby of abundant fizz, which propelled up through the hole in the lid in a fountain spurt. "Thunder over Louisville" it wasn't, but fun it was.

Tomorrow morning we get to get up a bit earlier than usual, which was still early, as we are going to meet an important government official and the Virginians are going to present him with the key to their city. So, I get to bust out with a tie for the first and hopefully last time tomorrow. It's not that I don't like ties, it's just stickier than maple syrup here, and hotter than a waffle iron.

Monday, July 03, 2006

489: Graciousness and Pablo the Defender

There's something about being on mission trips that remind you that God has dealt graciously with you, and that you should deal graciously with others.

It can be very easy to forget the second part.

We did our first day of E.S.L. teaching today. The afternoon session was pretty brute, as Josh Pigg might say. For a variety of combined reasons, "edumacating" them was tougher than is typical, and consequently, I am worn out and very happy that I will get to eat some KFC tonight.

On a totally unrelated note, I pulled a beautiful prank last night, involving the salvage of a fish head from the restaurant table and the subsequent placement of said fish head on a platter with crackers and then the platter on the pillow of a team member who has pulled several pranks. Hooray for Pablo, defender of prank victims.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

489: D.L.

It's 11 in the morning on Saturday, July 1 by Thai time, so, happy Canada Day to all. The Virginia team arrived safely at the airport. I was sporting a Boyce shirt when we met them at the airport, which solicited a comment from the team's youth pastor, who knows Chris Maschke, and a Sunday school teacher at the church, who knows Aaron Coffey. They seem like solid people, but I've barely gotten to know them as my conviction that I can read warning signs at a sixth grade level was confirmed yesterday. I am sick, with a cold or something in that ballpark, running slight fever, slight achyness, etc. Thus I am confined here, at the N.S.C. Sport Hotel in Nakhon Sawan for a day on the Disabled List, hoping to be reactivated tomorrow.