At the start of the year, who would’ve imagined that God’s plans for our family included a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand? What an unexpected blessing it was to be there over the past two weeks! It was a generous gift by The Antioch Partners (TAP) to invite us to join with other missionaries from around the world for their first-ever TAP Retreat.
The trip’s first leg, of course, was air travel. After flying to Houston, we had a 15 hour flight to Beijing, China, followed by 13½ hour wait at the Beijing airport. To make the most of the long layover, we took a side trip to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. Then it was off to Chiang Mai.
The retreat site was Horizon Village, a botanic resort on the outskirts of the city. We began and ended each day with worship, and then an address on the theme of “nurturing resilience.” Through the week, speakers touched on topics like “raising third culture kids,” children’s education, mission insurance and finances, and communications technology. There was considerable time for small group prayer and discussions. Matthew, Manny and Stefi had a great time with other missionary kids from places like Japan, Uganda, and Madagascar. There was plenty of time for resting, networking, and even an outing to an elephant park.
Afterwards, we stayed some extra time to enjoy more of northern Thailand. For 3 days we went north to trek among hill tribe villages, hiking through mountains, riding and bathing elephants, and rafting down the Mae Tang River. Our last days we worshipped at an international church in Chiang Mai, visited the zoo, shopped, and cycled through the city. Finally, we packed our bags and headed home to Guatemala.
What was our takeaway from this journey? We took away unforgettable learning experiences as a family. Insights into ways that God enables us to thrive in all circumstances. A wider circle of missionary colleagues, and stronger ties to TAP. And, naturally, we picked up some souvenirs. We’re so grateful to God and to TAP for this opportunity to explore another fascinating area of God’s creation and to come away with a stronger passion to serve.