A Letter from Thailand from Jason Bender

Hello Friends,
Greetings from the other side of our beautiful Earth. My hope is that this message finds you happy and well. Now that September is past, I gather that church activities are running full speed, and I suspect these are exciting times at USG. 
Life has been very busy for me, adjusting to a new country, new culture and new job. The dust has finally begun to settle a bit, and I am beginning to feel a little less foreign to my own life. I suspect that once Lindsay and I have a firm grasp on the Thai lifestyle, it will be time to pack-up and transition to a different culture. Presently, the thought of another major transition is daunting… 
So far, life in Bangkok is a mixed bag. One the one hand, the people are super friendly and the culture is by-and-large, very warm. The cost of living is affordable and the lifestyle is very simple. I’ve found that the simplicity of living with few things is the biggest difference when compared to living in the U.S. It is quite amazing how little one needs to live a good life. Also, Lindsay and I are working at a holistic school. Honestly, it’s like working at a meditation retreat center, and the children, like all children, consistently bring joy to my heart.
On the other hand, Bangkok is a megalopolis. As a result, it has all the issues that result from such a place. The air quality and pollution, at times, can be suffocating. In most places, Bangkok is this kind-of depressing globalized scenario where you have opulence and poverty right next to each other – skyscrapers and shanties, gated communities and slums, sitting shoulder to shoulder. The countryside, however, is like going back in time – terraced rice fields, elephants grazing in the groves like cattle in a field and greenery as far as the eye can see. The beaches are like something from a dream – the colors so divine it’s as if you’re looking straight into the face of God. Some might even say that is exactly what it is….
Overall, life in Thailand has thus far been a growing experience. Lindsay and I are learning much about the Thai culture and even more about ourselves. My new life motto is “where-ever you go, there you are.” Journeying to the exotic and foreign is all well and good. However, I’ve found that both our happiness and problems will, and do, follow – even to the farthest stretches of the earth. For me, this journey is not about escape, novelty or amassing a collection of memories. It is about finding, and staying with, the heart of the present moment. It is about knowing the heart of the present moment as home, because where-ever you go, there you are.
I told many of you that Lindsay and I would start a blog, and that I would send along the information. The blog never got off the ground. But…..I’ve opened an instagram account. I will be posting pictures regularly. So, if anyone is interested in our adventures, you can follow along on instagram. My screen name is jay.ben.der
I am also available via FaceTime or iMessage at newworldserver@gmail.com or if you download the LINE app, you can message or call internationally for free. My LINE ID is jbender0352 and my phone number associated with that account is +66 083-802-3419.
Wishing you wellness and peace – and by all means, come visit.
P.S. here are two pre-Instagram photos, one of me on a field trip to “Gardens by the Bay” in Singapore with my students, and the other of the school where I work at (Roong Aroon). The lake is at the center of the school, and the building is the library.