Len bat mai?
Ahhh, the words I love the hear. Words that suggest strapping on my runners, grabbing my racket, and hurrying to the Army Camp. Words suggesting there is an intense game about to take place, and I am definitely going to be a part of it… Len bat mai? Are you ready to play some badminton?
Yes I am.
Here in our city of Lopburi, Thailand, there are multiple Army camp sports facilities open to the public, as well as a government-run Sports Complex, and several parks with basic exercise equipment outdoors. In one of Lopburi’s major circles (what you could equate with a town square), there is even an outdoor stage and platform area devoted to community aerobics every day at 5:00 pm. Fitness is important in Thai society, and it is often seen as something to engage in with friends. All people, all ages, all nationalities are welcome. Exercise here is social, not just something you do for yourself.
So, in order to fall in with the rest of our community, I decided to take up playing badminton with one of my language teachers, as well as the school’s head linguist. Upon hearing from another student that I enjoyed playing badminton in high school, I was invited to join these two ladies at the Army Camp courts a few weeks ago. A little unsure of what I was getting myself into, I decided I would go for it. We arrived at a large building housing five regulation courts in a row, all filled with people playing the sport. How exciting! We played for over one and a half hours, perhaps 6 or 7 games, and it was a load of fun. Good exercise, too. I had such a great time, the next day I went and bought my very own badminton racket, a tube of shuttlecocks (which are made from real feathers, so you know I’m a serious player), and did my best to convince Brook how badly he needed to join me the next time… and he did. For the last 2 weeks, Brook has indeed come along and added to the intensity of the game. Today, we even went and got him his own racket so we can continue this new activity. I must say I’m pretty excited about it. Oh, and I must add that those ladies sure can play! We only managed to fit 3 games into our usual time slot today because we were just playing that hard.
All in all, this is the kind of thing I’m here for. This is why I’m in Lopburi, why I’m in Thailand. To play badminton? Well, yes… and no. I’m here to spend time getting to know Thai people, getting to know Thai culture, becoming a part of the Thai community, and what better way to meet those goals than to do things together? I have so enjoyed getting to know one of my teachers even better on the badminton court. I have had a tremendous amount of fun laughing and playing with her outside of class. I won’t take for granted the time I have to be her friend, to show just a little bit more of Christ to her as we spend time together on and off the court. Pray for my teacher. Pray that she will have joy daily. Pray that we would form a good relationship that will last more than just this year in Lopburi. And above all else, pray that she would come to know the grace and love of Jesus Christ in her life.