Tuesday, March 5, 2013


We have had many a unique experience on this trip. Some scary, some breathtaking, others heartbreaking. With all of them, we have tried our best to learn something, no matter how hard. 

On Dec 26, 2004, there was a large underwater earthquake off the west coast of Indonesia. The result was the setting off of a large tsunami. Over 220,000 people lost their lives. 

I remember hearing about this when it happened. 
I was horrified as the death toll rose, heartbroken for all those effected. I said some prayers, sent some money and that was it. A pretty normal response, I would say. 
But you see, now we are living here. We are literally 2 kms from the beach, where many people lost their lives. 
We went north to Khao Lak a few weeks ago. 
This area is a well know tourist destination and, during the tsunami, this was the area that was hit the hardest in Thailand. 

Thousands lost their lives that day, (The death toll is between 4,000-10,000. They will never know for sure as so many were swept out to sea) many of whom were tourists. As we walked on the beach, grabbed a pineapple smoothie and enjoyed the beautiful weather, my mind kept creeping back to that day, 8 years ago. 

I just couldn't stop thinking "They never saw it coming. Noone saw it coming!" 
Thousands of people
 at work
 on vacation
 just living life, enjoying paradise. 

Their world was shattered. 
You cannot walk down the street here without meeting someone who lost a family member or friend in the tsunami. 
The stories are heartbreaking.
My friend and her family were living in Phang Nga town when the tsunami hit. They were in church that morning, out of harms way. She has described what it was like, the hospitals, the death, the heartbreak. She speaks of the families she met and helped, always with tears. 
The 9 month old who was swept from her fathers arms. 
The agony of searching for their child. 
She was there. 
And then she wasnt. 
 How the family searched for a year before finally finding their little girls body.
 The 2 couples that she was able to reunite while in hospital. 
The many that she couldn't find.
The thousands of bodies in the morgue, the crying and chaos everywhere. 
Everybody was looking for someone. 
A spouse
 a child
 a friend
a family member.

I thank God that she was willing to help. To step through the door of the hospital and then, morgue, must have been so difficult. 
The movie, "The Impossible", was an amazing, well-done movie. I think it did an incredible job of portraying the terror that people faced, the chaos in the hospitals, the death and disease that was everywhere. 
It made this disaster very real to me. 
As I drove to pick the kids up from school, I pictured the water pouring down the street, destroying everything in its path. As we were in worship meeting, I calculated how high the water would have risen and where I would have put the children, to keep them safe. For a few days, most of my thoughts were consumed with this. 
I have to clarify, I am not fearful of a tsunami happening. 
I am not living in fear, rather, I am trying to understand, to grasp what this would have been like for people. 

Why though? Why think about it? It happened, it was horrendous, but why dwell on it?
Well, there are a few reasons that I can think of:
  1. Many, many lives were lost. I don't know the condition of these peoples souls, if they had found salvation or where they were at. This deeply saddens me. 
  2. Sometimes we overlook things because they are too hard. "It makes me cry, so Ill look away. Theres nothing I can do about it anyway. so why bother knowing. Its too painful, I don't want to know. I didn't know anyone directly, so it doesn't affect me." Im ashamed to say that  I have used ALL of these excuses over the years. Its just another way that I build up the "kingdom of me", my selfish world, the opposite of what God calls us to do.  We are called to love each other, to care for each other, to support each other and carry burdens for others. Im not one who seeks out pain just for the heck of it (quite the opposite actually!), but this is a burden. Im determined to carry my part. 
  3. The fact that so many lives were over in an instant, spurs me to be more intentional. There are so many times in life when we have a chance to do good. To love, instead of react in anger, to extend forgiveness instead of hate. Many times, I fail. By Gods grace, He gives me another chance. I want to be intentional with my life. I want to seek to love, forgive and extend kindness.  My life may be over tomorrow, I have no guarantee. I intend to live it fully until the good Lord calls me home! 

Whatever the reason, the grief here is still tangible and real. 
While watching "The Impossible", I had to rub my eyes to believe what I was seeing. In one scene, where the mom and son are just coming out of the devastated area, there is a group of locals helping them. One of the old ladies, hair stark white, face tanned and deeply lined with wrinkles, in my girls grandma. 
M, my little one, who is now living in this orphanage. Her grandma, who raised her and comes to visit, who holds my face in her hand, thanking me for loving her granddaughter, who brings me tea. 
Small world? Yes, I would say so. 
All to real and maybe a touch too close to home? Absolutely. 

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to know this area of the world. 
There is beauty here, along with sorrow. 
Its amazing to see the people here though, smiling, happy, determined not to give up. 
Im grateful that we have had the chance to live here, to just be. We have learned from this place, from the past and present. We are privileged to be here to serve, and yet we find, we are blessed beyond any blessing that we give. 

We came to serve and make a difference, but we find that the biggest difference is in our hearts, in our compassion for others. We feel as if our heart has been broken, ripped wide open. 
And thats how it heals, thats how it should be. 
Open to pain, to sorrow and also to joy. 
Seeing the world, eyes wide open, not looking away from the tough stuff.

My friend (and favourite blogger) wrote this post about healing with our hearts wide open. It really resonates with me and I thought I would use part of a poem she shares. 

"Your sovereign decree stands clear
and we do not doubt.
We wait for you to dissolve in tender tears.

Your impervious rule takes no prisoners,

we wait for you to ache and hurt and care over us

and with us
and beyond us.

Cry with us the brutality

grieve with us the misery

tremble with us the poverty and hurt."
- Walter Bruegemmann


  1. Wonderful, thoughtful post. As I was planning on going to Japan when the Tohoku tsunami hit, I watched countless youtube videos trying to comprehend what exactly had happened, and ended up watching videos from Thailand too. The scariest part was a lot of people DID see it coming... but they didn't understand why the water was flowing out to sea and followed it out of curiousity. The videos of that are the most frustrating. And it's scary to let your thoughts consume you about it, but also good if you are thinking ahead and can be prepared in any way to look after your kids!

  2. I recently watched The Impossible. I never realized how bad it was. i just didn't. now I know, and am so heartbroken. I can't imagine what it was like to actually live through it. Eyes wide open.

  3. :( thanks for sharing this. i saw the screening of the impossible and it was so sad. such a good movie and so well made.