It is with great joy that I write to you today, having just returned from my visit to Thailand. The trip was truly a blessing, filled with new experiences, lessons learned, and cherished memories. As I reflect on my time there, I am reminded of the words of the psalmist, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)

Thailand, often referred to as the “Land of Smiles”, casts a spellbinding charm on all who visit. My time there was an absolute whirlwind of colours, flavours, and adventure with our journey taking us through bustling cities, serene temples, and breathtaking natural landscapes where time seemed to stand still. From the crazy hectic streets of Bangkok to the exquisite beaches of Koh Toa and then travelling north to the mountains, I was constantly reminded of the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.

 The sights were breathtaking, the food tantalizing, and the experiences utterly unforgettable. We wandered through ancient temples adorned with intricate designs, sampled the most incredible array of Thai cuisine, swam in the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand, indulged in traditional Thai massages and navigated the many night and street markets.

 There’s an undeniable excitement in immersing oneself in a culture so different from one’s own – trying new foods, learning basic phrases in a foreign language, and witnessing local customs and traditions first hand.

Yet, amidst the whirlwind of excitement, there’s a subtle longing for the familiar – the comfort of familiar routines, the warmth of familiar faces, and the simple pleasure of one’s own bed!. Home isn’t just a physical space – it’s the embodiment of familiarity, security and a sense of belonging. Home is where we are surrounded by love, supported by our community and most importantly, where we feel the presence of God.

 Returning home felt like a warm hug after a great adventure – there’s something so reassuring about the simple pleasures of everyday life, and I look forward to sharing my travel stories with you.

 Coming home is a universal experience. Whether it is returning from a holiday, returning to our childhood hometown or a place where we feel loved and accepted, coming home holds a special place in our hearts. Home is a place where we feel loved, accepted and secure. It is a place of belonging and rest.

 In the Bible, God is portrayed as a loving Father who welcomes us into His family and offers us a place to call home – our ultimate home is in His presence.

 We are all Children of God – and our identity is not based on our lineage or any earthy status, but on our spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ. We are all equal in the eyes of God and He loves us with an unfailing and everlasting love.

 Coming home to our wonderful family here at St Johns has been especially special – the warmth of your welcome home hugs and phone calls, the familiar sounds, smells and peace reaffirmed to me what an integral part of my life you all are. The sense of belonging to such a caring and loving community is truly a gift from God. And my prayer is that in 2024 we continue to meet regularly and share the love of Jesus with each other and to those who don’t know Him, so they too can experience the joy of coming home.

 While Thailand offered me a feast for the senses and countless moments of awe, there’s a depth of comfort and support that our church family provides, unlike any other. It’s a community where we are all accepted, supported and loved.

 Reflecting on my journey, I’ve come to realise that the joy of travel lies not just in discovering new places and experiences but also in the appreciation of the familiar – the joy of coming home to my family and friends and all of you at St Johns.

 May 2024 be a year that is God filled and Spirit led for each one of us as we seek to deepen our relationship with our Heavenly Father – and

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13

Much love, Michelle