Yesterday was Loi Krathong in Thailand.
"Loi" means "to float". "Krathong" is a raft about a handspan in diameter traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense sticks etc. During the night of the full moon in the 12th month of the Thai calender, normally in November, many people will release a small raft like this on a river. In addition, fireworks and beauty contests take place during the festival. It was a ceremony to honor the original Buddha, Siddhartha Guatama. Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one's grudges, anger and defilements, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot. Many Thai believe that floating a krathong will create good luck, and they do it to honor and thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha.
The pictures are examples of "Krathongs" made by our kids in class. You may also have seen some of these in Matt's Facebook album--you can view it even if you're not on Facebook, which you SHOULD be!. (These specific ones were made by some American kids at the international school.)
Tomorrow is a day that the country will be grieving the death of the King's sister, who died last November.
These occasions have prompted good discussions in my class and around the school. I have also learned that the Royal Family is VERY precious to Thai people. When one of my students asked me if the Princess was in Heaven and I asked them what the Bible said about it, I got 'reprimanded' for speaking anything negative about the Royal Family. Lesson learned (by me, and prayerfully, by my kids also).
I know there are many people who believe that Buddhism is one more way to have a relationship with God--and that I'm pretty arrogant to say otherwise. Thankfully, Jesus being the only way to have a relationship with God is not my idea. It was God's. But I don't speak this truth in order to cast judgment. I speak it in order to share about God's love. It's God Himself who says that He sent His Son not to condemn the world, but to save the world through Jesus. (John 3:17).
As Kristen put it, "there is a God of water, but He's also the God of everything else. He made the water and the heavens and the earth, and only He can command the winds and the waves --and they obey Him."
Please pray with us, especially this week, for the Thai people. Pray for our students, and for the truth of the Gospel that goes forth here at our school and at many Thai churches.