It was just a little over a month ago that we had the money in our account to purchase a car, and decided we should begin moving forward to find one. It seemed overwhelming then–in a way that seems quite ridiculous now, but then it felt just very, very overwhelming.
We didn’t know what we were doing, but knew we had to purchase it in a larger city such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai. But each visit to these cities requires a bus ride, finding transportation around town, and finding friends or paying for accommodations. We could look over the car, but how would we really know with a used car? If we found a car in Chiang Mai, there was a mechanic we knew of there, but it would cost $100 for an inspection. How many cars do you have inspected? If you make the trip up there and rule it out yourself, you’ve spent some money. If you get up there and get an inspection and rule it out, you’ve spent even more money. But how many of these would we have to do?
Then you have the financial complications. The money was sitting in our community fund in a US bank. We typically withdraw our money from a local ATM, and then we are charged a fee that is reimbursed by our bank. However, this is limited to a certain amount, which such a large sum for a car would exceed. This would cause ATM fees to add up pretty significantly, so we started looking at our other options for wireless transfers and Western Union and what-not. Stephen discovered the cheapest way for us to do this was to open a bank account with a Thai bank that also has a branch in the US, so we started the paperwork and mess for that, knowing it would take some time.
Just a few days into doing our research and uncovering all the messes ahead of us, a friend saw an ad for a car that looked right for us. She mentioned it and we sent off an email to express our interest.
Stephen and I sat there talking about it, discussing that it seemed perfect for us, but was so fast–do we go to Chiang Mai now? Do we schedule an inspection? We don’t have our account created yet and we don’t have the money transferred, so really we don’t have the ability to actually purchase it. But we didn’t want to see a great opportunity go by us…
I remember at the end of the conversation we came to a few conclusions. First, we had to be willing to spend some money in exploring–that was part of living where we live. We’d incur expenses traveling and having cars inspected and such: that’s part of living in another country, in a weird little border town, with few contacts and limited communication! Second, some of the options probably wouldn’t work. We just had to be ready for things to go wrong, because they probably would.
I realize now how pessimistic this sounds, and I want to shout that we we’re just being realistic; but I know that’s what all pessimists say! But also I know that things can go how you least expect it when you’re in another country, so perhaps it isn’t that they go wrong–just unexpectedly.
Either way, I remember saying at the end of that, “But, it is for the community. And while it seems that things have gone so wrong for us recently, everything related to the community just keeps working. God is clearly in it that, blessing it and protecting it.” I sarcastically threw in at the end, “Just watch our first attempt go perfectly and everything fall into place!” I’m sure I threw a loud “HA!” at the end of it, too.
But it did–everything fell into place! And that’s precisely why it’s worth noting.
God sorted out the details for the first car we looked at; the inspection happened within days and was oh-so-helpful, allowing us to confidently negotiate the price down $1,300! We were able to get the money to Thailand with minimal fees. We were able to sort out paperwork on our second trip to Chiang Mai, have a few small repairs made, and then drive it back to Mae Sot. We even had a place to stay in Chiang Mai with friends and a free car to borrow while we purchased ours.
It was relatively painless amidst a season of some painful events.
I keep coming back to this since we purchased the car. God has truly been good to us in our relationships with our neighbors. I cannot explain it all, but we can hope He is working and that He is receiving the glory. And we can be so thankful for it. We are so thankful for those friendships; we are so thankful for what it is teaching us. We are so thankful for the ways He has provided and the ways He has challenged us. We are so thankful for the ways we have continually been shown God’s goodness, His sovereignty; His grace for us.
So that in the midst of so many funny stories, in the place where our normal is most certainly over, and even in my pessimism|realism: we can’t wait to see what God has ahead, because if He is in it, of course it will work.