The Webb’s Christmas Letter 2014
2014 has been a momentous year for the Webb family. We have spent half of it in Surrey and half of it in Chiang Mai. I have been a speaker at two weddings and had to turn down another, I had four jobs and attended four job interviews. It has been another year where God has proven his faithfulness and overflowing grace to us. It began with many tears, fears and uncertainties. Returning to teaching after fourteen years in Christian ministry was hard to say the least. My heart was not in it and I (Chris) knew that we would move from Surrey in due course but had no idea how I would provide for the family and where we were meant to be. The children were happy in their schools, and nursery, in Send, but for me, even entering the village was traumatic. We had recently moved house. We had changed churches a couple of times and felt unsettled in every way.
By Easter, things were no clearer. I had resigned my teaching job and some kind builder friends agreed to employ me as a manual labourer. We had joined a church on our doorstep: New Life Baptist Church, where the Pastor and his wife supported us greatly and continue to do so.
As a step of faith we raised some money so that I could be supported to work, half time, with my good friends George Osbourne and Erik Jespersen at the Lighthouse in Woking. I also volunteered to work at New Life, meeting up with various men as a form of mutual encouragement. My weeks consisted of laboring on Mondays and Tuesdays, meeting with drug addicts to study the bible on Wednesdays and Thursdays and often preaching on Sundays.
In 2014, I had job interviews in Southampton, Cambridge and Oxford: But the match up of our gifts and experience and the opportunities was not appropriate at that time. In May, I had an interview over Skpye with a panel from Grace International School Chiang Mai. I have often had dreams (literally) of working in an International school and though Ann was fairly skeptical at the outset, I felt in my heart that this was the place God was preparing for us for the foreseeable future. Nobody recruited us. Ann found the school on the internet, noticed a vacancy for a bible teacher and a spiritual life director. I applied for both, got appointed for the former and God has provided the means. (teachers are unpaid). Ann spent the summer frantically preparing for our departure. She did a super- human job in this respect. She flew alone with four children. I had needed to depart early to attend staff orientation and furnish our house ready for their arrival.
Our time in Thailand has been tumultuous but generally very positive. Grace International School exists in order to enable missionaries to stay on the field, confident that their children are receiving a good all round education within the Christian worldview.
Sam has flourished in this environment, enjoying a freedom that he did not know in the UK. He has adapted to a different educational model with some advantages and disadvantages over the National curriculum. He has excelled in soccer and advanced in his ability to think critically.
Lois has excelled in all sports, earning a gold medal in a swim meet. She has adapted very well to her new environment and our house is often filled with little girls who come to hang out and watch movies.
Joe has grown in his understanding of the gospel this last semester, recently making a personal commitment to follow Christ. He still struggles with food phobias and is more highly strung than the two older children.
It is fair to say that Isaac has settled less well. He does not yet attend school and the culture shock of attending a Korean run nursery has affected him. Ann and I often struggle with his poor behavior and choices. We think he will be much happier when he attends school at Grace.
Ann has spent the semester obtaining appliances, making the house hospitable, looking after Isaac, generally adapting to life in Asia while doing some private piano tuition, helping with recess and occasionally hosting and playing piano in our house church. Simple tasks like shopping take much longer here. The heat and the humidity is sapping. Friends have been a fantastic help.
Looking forward, we are committed to serving at least another year here. I anticipate that at some point we will return to church based ministry in the UK. But for now we are experiencing a period in our discipleship where we are learning more about cross cultural mission and raising our own third culture kids as well as discipling others. I love the challenge of teaching bible study methods and theology to high school students.
This Christmas we will visit the beach in Hua Hin before welcoming family. We are hoping to return to the UK during the summer break in order to visit family and friends. We trust God to supply the as yet un-raised funds for this. Thank you so much for your friendship, love and support. We love to hear your news too. Please send us yours by email.
Love from The Webbs.