Home means so many different things
Recently the word ‘home’ has been used a lot, in so many different ways.
We got news that some of the children would be moving to different orphanages for their new ‘homes’ in the coming month, so the word has been used in discussions between staff and the children have overheard. Two of the girls from the ward were on that list to be moved to the older girls’ home next door. One of the girl’s breathing and eating became difficult and she passed away and then the second girl (who had family) passed away just a week after enjoying the Cinderella trip. Both girls were real sweethearts. I guess that subconsciously the news was too much for them and they could not comprehend leaving this home.
As a Christian, I believe that these children can have a connection with God that’s far more simple than we who complicate things and that they are now no longer in the discomfort and sadness of institutional life with cerebral palsy and now have new bodies and sprits that are free. In my belief they have gone to the greatest of homes… the eternal home of heaven to be with Jesus. The difficulty is for those who stay living an earthly life and miss the person, like the second child’s family. I went to both funerals and prayed.
Two of my boys are on the list to move in September: Mr B, who is 15 years old, and Mr C, who is 14 years old. Both will go to the boys’ home. I’m unsure which room Mr B will live in, but Mr C will no doubt be in the sick ward with his buddy, Mr S, who went there about nine months ago. Since hearing the news, Mr C has been spending rather a lot of time in sick ward as his home. Staff say that over the weekends his secretions have been increasing and his need for suctioning that out to aid his breathing has grown. So his home has been on sick ward mainly. This added a new dynamic where I’d visit him there and do care stuff and then in recent weeks bring him to the ward in the day and send him back at night. Back when Mr S was at Bann Feung Fah and needed suctioning, I was trained in how to do it and now it’s no problem to do at all. It’s clear they prefer to communicate their need for it to me to sort out. He was still allowed to go on the beach trip and we had a swimming session which was wonderful that he was permitted to do. He just seems to be staying in the sick ward as his home presently.
Then there is me.
For me ‘home’ is mainly based in Pakkred, Thailand, where I live in a small town house near to the orphanages’ street. Issues for this home need resolving and my international church here in Thailand kindly gave me some funds to do some fixing (mainly to make the backyard kitchen closed off to the elements). This was a sweet blessing and kindness. Alas, the pace of life has stalled this fix and we still await the builders’ time to do it.
My Church here is in an expat community which feels like it has a revolving door with new people arriving and people leaving after about three or four years. This is something you get used to, but it makes for a challenging dynamic. The church has been struggling in recent months with drifts and struggles to manage unity in a place where attachments are broken and support networks shift so often. This has caused some friendships to struggle and the church numbers to reduce. This is the season when people leave for their home countries and are packing up their lives, but also we have seen that the new pastor who had arrived and the present pastor feel called to leave and head back to their home countries. This is hard and when we have no elders either, it feels uncertain to some. This feels like God is at work to bring about new beginnings and lay some new foundations to strengthen the church. Prayers for this work would be appreciated. As a long-termer in the church it’s hard, but knowing God is trustworthy means being willing to do his will and trust he has an almighty plan.
I had planned my annual leave this year to be June 5th to August 5th. This year I felt strongly directed by God to take a year of sabbatical from any extra projects, like shipping containers, study tours to the UK and kids’ group holidays to the beach. This has been a relief on a basic level as there were so many other unexpected things, like beach trips for the day with the girls’ home, Bann Feung Fah big group day, volunteers and donations of items and funds that would have been added pressures if I had already been up to the max with the bigger projects. We have also had hospital stays for hip treatments too, which was draining to support in itself. The sabbatical to reduce extra projects was a great idea from God and, in hindsight, even more required than we knew.
News from ‘home’ (I’m talking of the UK now) comes in regarding 1Step2Step as well as personal news of people’s lives over there too. In recent weeks, news of an illness for my Mum (the former chair person for 1Step2Step) took a turn for the worse. From being reasonably healthy and after just a few weeks of being a bit unwell, symptoms appeared out of the blue. After countless tests and a 15-day hospital stay, news came back that Mum has pancreatic cancer. Treatment options are being considered and symptoms worked on to get improvement. However, this adds a new element to the question of when being at ‘home’ with the children of 1Step2Step in Thailand is right, and when being at ‘home’ in the UK is right to support family. The news only came in less than a week ago, but hopefully, I believe we have a plan for where I should be and when. I expect to be travelling to the UK earlier than planned on Tuesday the 14th May until an unknown time.
This will mean that I have time before leaving to discuss Miss A’s hip case with her doctor before I depart and to formulate new plans for her. Thankfully, her hips are not as severely affected as Miss K’s were, and she seems to have very limited discomfort from hers. We will get to it when the timing God prescribes is right.
The biggest challenge with all this medical difficulty is not knowing what is best to do. The planning is like walking on shifting soft sand that does not hold when you put your foot down. I’m grateful for the doctors working so hard for Mum’s case and pursuing each next action, but it’s hard to book and confirm stuff. This is a culture that likes you to say and know what you think, but we are following our gut feelings and giving it to God.
The amount of support from both homes and friendships, both recent and from years gone by, has been wonderful. Knowing that support from friends and family at this time lifts us up and gives a sense that all is manageable with the God to whom many are interceding on our behalf. Mum’s spirits are high with the unconditional love she is receiving in kindness, messages and practical ways, and her deep faith in our Father’s total love and care for her. Please keep Mum in your prayers. She fundamentally wants to put her situation into God’s hands and into his care, giving God the glory and giving thanks for friends.
With 1Step2Step only having me in Thailand at the orphanage, during the usual two months annual leave the children just have ward time and then after that we start up again. Normally it’s exactly two months, but this time will be that bit longer if I still return on the 5th August flight. If things with Mum are not settled to an ok place, the plans will need to be addressed again, but God is really asking for everything to be placed in his hands, and that involves Mum’s wellbeing and health, as well as the children’s.
I ask your prayers for the children, but particularly Miss K, that she would be in her brace more often than not so the progress she has made since the surgery she had in September is not undone, and that Mr C will manage with his chest condition even though he is getting to move so much less than usual. Please pray too for Mr B’s emotional wellbeing also and Miss N’s muscles and joints to stay as loose as they have in recent months. Pray also for Mr S in the boys’ home, as he is so thin, and that he would rally till I can return. Please pray that I would have peace of heart leaving them longer than ever before.
I’m thankful for the family of God and all the 1Step2Step supporters. Until I can write again on the website with 1Step2Step news, God bless you all.
P.S. Two changes of home for lovely ladies…
Mum has moved from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary to Royal Blackburn Hospital by ambulance. I understand it was an uncomfortable journey for which much sleep was required afterwards to recover. So for now this is Sally’s new home for treatment to be planned and implemented.
The second person is Miss A, who I believed would just be going to a follow-up appointment, where the doctor would agree to postpone the hip surgery until my return from the UK, because I would not be around to provide post-surgery care. Alas this was not so. We arrived, checked her weight (10.5 kg), had an x-ray of the hips and then waited for the doctor. We took it in turns to wait and go to get food and while I was eating, the doctor made his own judgement. Even though she was still so small (after 6 months she has only gained 0.7 kg while trying to focus on feeding her up), she went up to the orthopedic ward to be admitted. Blood samples were taken and it has been decided that she will have surgery on Monday 13th May 2019.