The Christmas that almost was
Posted by danneker on January 3rd, 2021 | 4 comments
The Mahapawn Baan Paeo Church had been perking away since our ten-week lockdown ended at the beginning of June. In-person services cautiously started again, and we had great attendance, even guests. As schools opened in July, the children started to return to church too. We ended our on-line service by the end of July because everyone was back, albeit with masks, hand gel and social distancing.
As the weeks and months passed, restrictions were eased, people got more relaxed. Any small outbreak of infection was quickly traced and contained. Samut Sakhon Province, where we live to the west of Bangkok, had gone 250 days with no local infections. Though countries bordering Thailand and many countries in the world were suffering greatly with COVID, life for us in Thailand went back to almost normal. With a population of 69 million, Thailand had less than 4,000 infections and only 60 deaths from the virus.
We excitedly made our Christmas plans. We got permission to do outreaches in two schools and to pass out gifts to the children at the local hospital on Christmas day. We packed close to 200 gift bags for the school children with school supplies, literature about Jesus and Christmas, as well as treats. Our church outreach would be Sunday, December 20. Anticipating many guests, the church prepared 60 small gifts with outreach literature and lots of special food for lunch. On Saturday, December 19, many of us were at the church all day doing the last-minute set-up. Everything was ready.
Two days earlier, we heard the news that one vendor at the Central Shrimp Market of Mahachai about 25 kilometers from where we live in Baan Paeo, had tested positive for COVID. The government immediately began contact tracing and testing. By Saturday, December 19, over 500 had tested positive in our province. At about 9:30 that evening we heard the disappointing news from the provincial governor that our province was being shutdown to slow the spread of the virus. Schools, malls, non-essential stores and all group religious activities were suddenly closed. We had to cancel all the church’s Christmas outreaches.
Our mother church pastor graciously did an on-line service live for us for Sunday morning December 20, linking into the Mahapawn Baan Paeo Facebook page. His church regularly meets Sunday afternoon, so there was no time conflict. His church has continued its on-line service option, so was still all set up to do so.
Sunday afternoon Ed and I decided to give out all the cookies I had made for the church outreach to our neighbors. We chatted with quite a few families and commiserated about the necessary lockdown. We shared a little about Christmas too.
Please pray as we now go back to online services, contacting our church members via phone calls or social media and meeting individuals at a safe distance while always wearing a mask. Please pray that we will still be able to effectively minister to our church members and reach out to others who do not yet know that Jesus was born as the Savior of the world.
As we look forward to the new year, it is natural to reflect on the past year. As we do so, we are so blessed by you, our prayer partners, who have so faithfully prayed for us, not only for the past year but for many years. Thank you very, very much. We know the Lord hears and answers. We are also very grateful for your financial gifts for our ministry here in Thailand through your gifts to the Great Commission Fund of the C&MA in general or directly to our support at https://www.cmalliance.org/give We know you give sacrificially and we are humbled by your generosity.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Love in Christ,
Ed and Sue Danneker