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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in Thailand & The Beginning of our Break

     Christmas Eve was possibly my favorite Christmas Eve ever. We went around the neighborhoods in back of us and we just loved on the kids...actually I think we were the ones that got loved on most. We started out the night by going around passing out cookies and when we came back there was this massive pile of children just playing and so we joined in. We played with those kids for about 3 hours. We'd pick them up, spin them, hug them, give them kisses, tickle them, and let them take pictures with our cameras. We'd say, "jub jub" which means "kisses" in Thai and they'd kiss us on the cheek. We'd kiss them on the cheek and they'd kiss us back. We were pouring with sweat because we're carrying kids, maybe 2 or 3 at a time in my case, and it was so freaking hot out there. At one point one of the little girls took her skirt and wiped my forehead. What love!!! Then one of the girls gave us a henna tattoo for free and she wrote my name in English on my forearm and spelt it "STETPH" haha so for two weeks I'll be branded with this incorrect spelling of my name but I love it. Those kids filled up our love tanks and made us feel loved on Christmas Eve. We plan on continuing to play and love on those kids and hope to pioneer something that future teams can join in when they come to visit SHE.
     Christmas Day didn't feel like Christmas at all especially when I woke up to find that the internet was not working but the Christmas spirit kicked in to gear when about an hour before we were supposed to leave for the BBQ it came on and I was able to watch my family open the presents I had sent them. Such a blessing and it was nothing short of a miracle that it worked. After that we went to BangWad Dam and had our Christmas BBQ which was fully equipped with worship, a message, and games. And to top the night off we went out shopping and I nearly made out with a moped lol (meaning I almost got hit). Weirdest Christmas ever! When I got back I was able to skype with my family on their Christmas morning and watch them taunt me with bacon baskets and cinnamon rolls.
Me on Christmas Day at Bang Wad

    December 26 began our break, since our team never got one (straight after DTS we came here) and we went to the beach. But since we really don't know our way around we settled for going to a beach that was further down from Patong Beach....that was a mistake. Usually when I go to the beach I feel refreshed and energized but the fact that I had to walk down Bangla Rd to get to the beach and then when I get to the beach I'm confronted with topless women and big men in tiny speedos.....yeah wasn't my favorite beach day. But the water was amazing and I got to finally sample some of the amazing street vendors I've been hearing so much about. I first got a delicious banana smoothie which cooled me right off, then for lunch I got a slab of chicken hot off the spit with some sticky rice for about $2. Plus I got a bit burned which I know will turn into a tan so great day at the beach!

     Today we went on a tour of Phuket that cost us about $20 and if you were in any other place, a tour of this caliber would have been in the hundreds at least. We went all over the island!!! First stop was a pineapple/ rubber tree farm. Then we went to a viewpoint near the southern tip of Phuket, Karon. Absolutely stunning view. Then after that we went to the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket. I've never heard the commandments "You shall have no other gods before Me" and "You shall not make for yourself a carved image" so loudly before in all my life. The only way I know to describe the contrast is like hearing a song on the radio and then hearing that same song live in concert.
You can know all there is to know about idol worship; you know it's there; you know it happens, but then you see it in person and you're blasted by its reality. The contrast between knowing in my head that people worship idols and seeing someone bow down before one is strikingly different. I found myself singing the chorus, "Glorify, glorify. Let Your Name be lifted up and glorified. Let the earth tremble at Your Name. Let Your Name be lifted up and glorified." as I walked around the temple courtyard. I also found myself saying, "Lord I'm so, so sorry." over and over again; not because of anything I had done but because of what man had done; they'd taken their God-given talents and given them to a false god. It's like when you're friend's relative dies and you apologize; you had nothing to do with it and you may not even know the person but you're sorry because you know it hurts your friend; that's the way I felt today. And although, yes these idols are lifeless, that was in no way a spiritually dead place- there was a definite presence of the enemy in that place.
     After the temple we went to some random hotel where we were treated to free coffee. I'm sure the place assumed we would help ourselves to a glass, maybe two...I had 5 glasses of iced coffee and 2 glasses of iced tea. After we flooded our bodies with coffee and Thai tea we went to a cashew factory and I now know why cashews are so expensive: because for every one cashew fruit there is one cashew nut. Then we went KAYAKING!It was so picturesque of what I imagine Thailand to be like. So I sat in the front of the kayak and a nice Thai man named Lao took me all through the mangroves, sang in Thai while he paddled and asked me all kinds a questions about where I'm from, family and how I like Thailand. He was totally on my good side till we came up to a bamboo walkway in the mangroves and I asked him what that was for; he said it was for anacondas. I asked if you could walk on it and his reply was, "No not you, you too big; you make it go BOOM!" and then he proceeded to laugh and giggle like a little school boy.
video
We had so much fun! But when we went to go get in our car our tour guide points out monkeys; we have yet to encounter monkeys in Thailand yet so we all hurried over and found two cute monkeys in the mangroves...they did not stay there. Those monkeys came out and started charging us and we flew into panic mode! All we've heard are the horror stories that monkeys bite and steal things and aren't cute so we fled with the image in our mind that those things were gonna jump on us and eat our brains. Next thing we know the monkey army comes out of the mangroves and surrounds us. You'd have your eye on two in front of you and then they'd flank around you and come up behind you for the kill. We were screaming and laughing, feeding them our newly purchased cashews and trying to not get rabies. We howled with laughter!
     After our monkey escapade we went to a waterfall. We had a beautiful trek through the jungle and when we got there I saw some Thai boys climbing up beside the waterfall and jumping into the pool below.....how could I resist? I didn't even try I made sure everyone got their cameras out, climbed up there with the boys and jumped in! I knew that if I passed it up I would regret it and I'm so glad that I seized that chance because it made my trip. I ended up jumping in 3xs just overflowing with adrenaline and joy! I kept thinking about all the times my dad told me stories of times where he did similar things and how dumb he was; the only part was I couldn't remember whether the intended moral of the story was insinuated or stated haha. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIKtUJI5jV4 Here's the video of me jumping in

     And that was our day trip! We got back to find the other half of the room vacant because the world race team left today and tomorrow there's talk of us going to the beach. Friday we start ministry again; at first it was hard to switch from ministry to vacation but today was really good for us all to just laugh, have fun, goof off and just enjoy the day. So I hope we can really suck all the possible joy out of these next two days and just bathe in it because New Years Eve in the bars is going to be a toughy.

Here are the links to view the rest of the photos from Thailand; there are two albums:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=577005&id=891755183&l=ff653a59fe
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=583786&id=891755183&l=d320a1ca5b

Friday, December 24, 2010

กดที่ = Pressing On

I've been getting more and more used to being here in Thailand and more and more comfortable with the work that we're doing. It's really hard to know what to write honestly.
     Something cool that happened was I met a girl who used to work for sex but now she's a cashier and she really opened up to me and told me what it was like; gave me a real insider's perspective and a better idea of how they see things. Through her testimony I realized that she battled with the same insecurities that any other girl has battled with in dating. She asked the same questions I've known many other girls to ask. For example; she said that when she would be having sex with a guy she would wonder how many other girls he's slept with and if they were better than her. And I really came to the understanding that for these girls, prostitution is just dating on steroids. She talked about how sad it made her to see the other girls there looking for love but that they won't find it on these streets; but they're caught up in the lie. After she told me her story; how dirty that work is and how "never again"; I got an awesome chance to pray for her right there and when I was finished praying for her she brought over another girl and had me pray for her as well. What really amazed me about this woman was that no Christian nor missionary helped get her out of this; she just decided she had enough. It really encouraged me that even though we won't get to every girl that it doesn't mean there isn't hope for them; we aren't the source of their hope- God is and He's working on Bangla Rd.
     One thing I just cannot wrap my brain around is when I see families on Bangla Rd. I kid ya'll not, people bring there whole families with them onto this road. There are women dancing on poles, grabbing men, men grabbing them; sex and drunkenness is all around and parents bring their kids with them onto this street! It's child abuse; exposing your kids to stuff like that when they're so impressionable! We were all trying to figure it out and thought, "Did they just not know what Patong was when they came here or are they just that sick?" And I said, "Well if my family, for whatever reason, made the mistake in coming here without knowing what it was; my daddy would have gone to the store bought some board games and said, 'Well sorry but we're spending our vacation in the hotel. Hope you have fun and enjoy the pool.'" Am I right Daddy?
      I know a lot of fathers come to Patong and I've seen a lot of them accompanied by their teenage sons; it's their "passage to manhood". And I know that if my dad were here he'd be heart broken at the sight of so many daughters on the poles and in the bars; he wouldn't see prostitutes, he'd see someone's daughters. It's not because my dad is the sensitive type but because he's a father. What's wrong with these dads out here? Why don't they see what my dad would see? It makes me think of Jon Foreman's song, "Somebody's Baby." In it he sings, "She's somebody's baby, somebody's baby girl. And she's somebody's baby still."
    
     Well it's Christmas tomorrow in Thailand and we're having a bbq; although it feels nothing like Christmas especially with the added effect of sweat dripping down my back. The nice thing though is that we get the whole week off next week because we didn't get a Christmas break like the other teams so that begins tomorrow!!! WOOHOO. I'm really excited about having a break to just relax. We haven't really stopped going since DTS ended and we've just been going and going like the energizer bunny since then. So we're all pretty excited about having some R&R.

     Thank you all so much for the prayers. They're having a huge impact. I look back on conversations we've had and places we've been, how much grace and favor was there waiting for us, and the only way I can explain it is the prayers that have been being sent out. So thank you guys so much. If I wrote about every cool thing that happened then this blog would be as long an encyclopedia. You may think it already is but...I do show quite a bit of restraint while writing. To demonstrate just how I do it I'm going to.....


Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Spoon-full of Hope

     We went out to the bars tonight and even though it's late and I'm tired I really wanted to blog while this was still fresh on my mind because it's so good what God has done for us tonight.
     I was really struggling and was not sure how I was going to be in this scene for 3 months; the feelings were just so overwhelming but intercession made all the difference. Those of us whose hearts have really been grieving while on the streets went out this afternoon and covered the streets in prayer. We walked up and down and just interceeded for Bangalore Rd  (the street where we do our ministry) and for the work that our team would be doing that night and it made all the difference. It felt like stretching before a game and we all felt so much more confident and equipped to go out there.
    I visited a lady I met the first night and I got to meet her younger sister who also works there with her. I showed her a picture of my little sister and used that to kinda build a connection with them. They both don't like working there but the younger sister, who spoke better English, was telling me that she's not sure she's ready to take the step to leave because she's working to support her kids and she doesn't want to leave her sister. It's hard, I just wanted to hug her and say, "You can do this! You're strong enough! You can get out of this!" So I'm really going to keep going back to her and just build a relationship with her. She knows about SHE now and so I look forward to continuing to build the connection there.
     After other team members visited other girls they had met on the first night, we were walking and just seeing where we wanted to go next and as we were walking past Soi Sea Dragon (All the streets off of Bangalore Rd have names and down those streets are dozens of different bars. "Soi" just means street. If you click on the "Bangalore Rd" link you can see the list of all the side streets that we do ministry on.) and I really felt that we should go back there and I heard the phrase "blue shirt". I dismissed the whole blue shirt thing, more like kept it to myself, but told the team I felt we should go back. I was hesitant to because that was one of the streets we walked down on Saturday night and the demonic presence was so thick there. But we went down anyway and I saw a lady working with a blue shirt/dress and I felt "yep that's the one." So we sat down and it was mostly guys in the bar and the lady in the blue shirt refused to stay with us but there was obviously a purpose for it because there was another lady, a real character, who had an amazing conversation with Rachel, one of the girls on my team. Rachel told her about SHE and got her number...it was just great and it gave me, Rachel and Josie so much hope for that street. That there's no street  that is without hope; even the place that we thought was just the absolute pits, God really encouraged us so much on that street and even used that lady to bring us so much joy. That lady was so funny and she had us all in stitches. Rachel really felt like that was all for her.
     So seeds were sown, flyers passed out, prayers answered, hope given, spirits lifted...I'd say it was a great night! We know now that intercession is so key and that obedience in the little things is vital to us making an impact. A spoon-full of hope helps the darkness go down.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sawadeekha Thailand

     After a wonderful 12 hour plane ride filled with movies, a Thai woman vomiting, and an hour and a half of sleep we arrived in Bangkok. We stepped out of the airport and WHAM, Hello humidity! We get in the back of a truck and drive to the YWAM Thailand base where we stayed the night. All I have to say about that is "Thank God for fans!" We had our orientation and then that night we were off, again, for our 12 hour bus ride down to Phuket. We arrived in Phuket about 7 AM and our SHE contacts picked us up and took us to the ministry base in Katu, which is a little town inside Phuket.
     We are currently sharing the space here at SHE with 36 World Racers..........................they leave on the 29th. When we arrived we were able to shower and rest then we had lunch and then we had our first half of orientation part of which included us being driven over to Patong (where we do our ministry work) to see what the bar scene looks like in the day time.
     Patong in the day time looks like a ghost town. The hardest thing was seeing these old western men walking hand in hand with these young beautiful Thai girls. But the scene would only be intensified with the setting of the sun (wow that was retardedly poetic). But it did. We arrive and the crowds were so thick and the bar streets were flooded with women prostituting themselves and scattered all around were men eager to buy them. I wanted to bawl my eyes out and just weep. My heart was so incredibly broken for what was going on here. However the middle of Patong is not the best place to weep for a broken city so we continued on and we ended up going into 3 bars and talking to the girls. We would order a soda and ask to play a game. The girls are very eager, surprisingly, to play a game with you and are very easy to talk to (providing they can speak enough English). They play games like connect four, jinga, and other kinds. So we would just play games and while we played games we would talk to them and thus beginning a relationship with them. Some of the questions that we'd ask them were; "Where are you from?" (most girls are from the NE part of Thailand which is the poorest part. So most of them have come seeking a Westerner to sweep them off their feet or seeking a living to make ends meet.) "How old are you?" "How long have you been in Patong?" "Do you like your job?" The first woman I talked to said that she didn't like her job. And we're told that most women don't enjoy what they do but that they just put on a face and cope. Some girls we talked to were young! One girl was 17!!! This should not be happening. Oh I just wanted to weep. But I'm glad to feel the Father's heart for this place. I'm glad that I'm not immune or callused to the things that break His heart. But it is hard to feel that and I know that it won't be this hard forever; not that the feelings will go away but that the feelings won't dominate or overwhelm.
     Last night they had a special event where the world race team played worship in one of the bars for several hours. It was really cool that they had that opportunity and the opportunity is still there for us if we want to do it after they leave. We didn't hang around to worship, we went around and talked to some girls and we walked around and prayed. The first night we were taken out on some of the more "spiritually easy" streets, where the spiritual climate isn't quite so hot. Well last night we weren't on those streets, we were in some very dark places and the demonic presence there was very evident. My team and I had to call it a night early, it was just too much to handle; we were tired, still feeling overwhelmed, it was only our second night, and being on the more intense streets just made it all a little bit too much for one night. I kept thinking last night, "I don't know how we're supposed to do this for 3 months." But right now there are just a lot of feelings and as Josie was telling us last night, we're going to need to learn to push through the feelings to do what needs to be done. So that's what I'm going to be working on. One thing that was different last night was I really began to see how incredibly lonely these men must be and I really had compassion on them. So that was an improvement.
    
     On a much lighter note; yesterday we went and ate at this place called "The Blue Hut" which is neither blue and it's not really a hut.....but it was delicious cheap food. I got a whole plate of crispy pork, white rice and some kind of veggie for 40 baht which equals out to a little over a dollar......AMAZING!!!!!! Things are really cheap here and it's a welcomed comfort. I actually bought a couple pairs of shorts that I thought would be cooler in this climate but now I look like Aladdin. I just want to sing, "Prince Ali fabulous he, Ali Ababua....." every time I put them on lol.
     Another note; if you ever come to Thailand and they offer you to come to a "ping pong show", they are not talking about the paddle sport.....................yeah.
     You all may be wondering what the weather is like; it's off an on from being cool to "Oh my God!" throughout the day. And the scenery, where we are, is beautiful! There's a lake nearby and we're surrounded by mountains. In the morning you can see the clouds grazing over the summits; it's so beautiful. It's all very green and very tropical. I'll post some pictures soon.

That's all for now. You guys can definitely be praying for me and my team in how we approach the bar scene and that God would really speak to us about where He wants us to go at nights, also that we would begin to walk in His strength and victory, knowing that the battle for Patong has already been won. Thank you so much for your prayers up to this point!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tomorrow it's Thailand

     Today is my last full day in Auckland! It's so weird to think that tomorrow I'll be on my way to Thailand. AAAHH! Anyway last night we had our Love Feast and it was so much fun. But before we could feast we had to clean. Me and two other girls were assigned to clean the office and the dreaded stairwell. The last time that stairwell was cleaned was from last year's team and there was dust and beer, from the club above, caked on so thick. But we cleaned it and I tell you what; the Queen of England would be privileged to walk through that place now. lol
     At the Love Feast we had a delicious spread of food; chicken, lamb, sweet potato somethin', roasted potatoes, salad, and for dessert we had an apple pie kinda thing and pavlova. It was so wonderful. We watched a slideshow and a video of these past three months, exchanged secret santa gifts, and had a dance party. It was a great night and it was really surreal to think that we're halfway done.
     I'm so thankful for this part of the journey and I know the next one will be where the change really occurs.

So this is where I'll be flying into tomorrow:
This is Bangkok. I'll be here for a night and then we take a bus down to Phuket. I'll try and blog when we arrive in Phuket but I don't know what the situation will be like there. Please pray for safe travel and for a covering of protection. Apparently it's not a rare thing for people to try and stuff drugs into your bag for you to unknowingly smuggle drugs into other countries and then you do time in a foreign prison......so please pray that our bags would be protected lol. (Sorry Momma I know...not what you wanted to hear.) ;-) No worries though! I'll just throw on my southern accent and say, "Thank you, thank you so much."

Love you guys and I'll talk to ya'll in Thailand!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Poem for New Zealand

I've been working on this poem off and on, adding here and there, since I've been here.

New Zealand is a place where the trees grow taller than buildings;
where the hills are freckled with sheep.
Never have I seen such natural beauty,
so many untampered landscapes.
Green cascading over the land
Where God is the Supreme Architect.
The mountains and landscapes are His arrows for us,
pointing our eyes and hearts to look above.
Surely people came to know color in this place;
where brightness triumphs over the gray.
Before New Zealand, perception was colored by pastels
but exposure has heightened the color's scales.
The scopes of the sea take my breath away,
with water so blue none can imitate.
How is one expected to leave this place 
where the rocks collide with the waves?
Constantly bathing the cliffs with the sea's spray,
singing the hymn of Eden's days.
The wind informs me of the power of this place; 
How it's beauty grips your heart and compels you to stay.
Privileged are you who call this place home 
and privileged am I to this place have been shown.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lecture Phase is Over

     I still can't believe that it's actually over; 12 weeks- DONE! Last night some of us were talking about our overall experience, the good and the bad, and we were recalling memories from when we first got here; how long ago that seems now. It's very hard to describe my feelings or the thoughts going through my mind right now because I still don't feel like I've hit the ground on this one.
     Well one thing I can tell you is what I feel like I'm taking away from this experience. There was a lot of emphasis on the Father heart of God, part of that being how He desires to co-create with us. Hearing that God wants to co-create with me was an entirely new concept to me and I really repelled it at first; "Why would God want to create something with me; He's the perfect one, He knows best." But God has made me a specific and unique way; giving me passions, gifts, talents and dreams that no one else has in the exact same way as me and He wants to do something beautiful with those things. And that just exemplifies His Fatherly character; He doesn't look at us like soldiers, commanding us where to go and what to do; He looks at us like sons and daughters. I look at my earthly dad and how he never forced me to be anything he just constantly encouraged me in whatever I said I wanted to do and not that I always did what I wanted to do; there were times he would step in and, in his wisdom, help me to see how that wasn't the best thing for me. But if I wanted to play softball my dad would help me in playing softball. If I wanted to draw he would encourage me and provide money for supplies to do so. Now this doesn't change God's Sovereignty but rather that in His Sovereignty He has chosen from the beginning of creation to make us co-creators and left the job of continuing creation in our hands (Gen 1:28). I feel that God has given me free reign to dream and to create something beautiful with all the things He's given me and I want to do that with Him, side by side and hand in hand. I used to have a real hard time accepting God's individual love for me. I knew in my head that God loved me but I never felt good enough, I always wanted to be better for Him. But I have the heart-felt knowledge now that He loves me just as I am and that He really likes me. Oh this is just such a good feeling to be liked by the Lord. I know that God finds me funny, He gets my jokes when no one else does lol. God finds my voice, my art, my music beautiful. He brags about me. It's a good feeling! I'm so thankful for this lesson.
     It is because of all this that I feel such a deep sense of fulfillment and establishment. That I truly am becoming who God made me to be. God gave me a picture that I want to share with you all that really describes what He's done in me here. Think about an onion or a potato, how it must grow underground and you don't really know how it's doing or coming along until you uproot it. But if you pull it up too soon then you just have a tiny vegetable that isn't ready and if you let it stay too long it will rot. The farmer has to know just the right time of when to pull the vegetables out but it's hard to know it's progress since all development was done underground. Thank God that He is such a good Farmer and nothing is hidden or unknown to Him; He knows just the right time to pull us out. The picture was this; that I was in the ground and God reached down, grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the ground and as I came up I was wearing a purple shirt (purple being the color of royalty). He pulled me out at just the right time and He's saying that I'm ready to do what He made me to do but as His daughter.
     Does this mean I'm walking with this aura of power with my chest puffed up; HECK NO! I'm unsure about a lot of things and I don't walk in this ridiculous confidence in myself and in who I am. But of this I am confident; that everything I am is who God made me to be and everything I'm not is where He will be. God's got my back and better yet, He's got my hand, my heart, my life. It's all good :-)


     Now let's talk about Thailand since ya know I leave on Wednesday!!!! Here's the schedule for the next couple of days:
Saturday and Sunday- nothing planned yet probably just hang out and get my stuff sorted
Monday- cleaning the church and then that night we're having a Love Feast= party, food, gifts, nostalgia
Tuesday- Thailand team has the day off to pack and rest
Wednesday- Check out from the hostel @10am, from there we're going to Josie's place for brunch, from there we're going by the church to say goodbye to everyone else and we'll leave there about 12:30 and we'll get to the airport around 1 and we leave at 3:30pm.
     I honestly don't think all this will hit me until we arrive in Bangkok. I just cannot fathom being in a place like Thailand; it's almost too much to try and think about. People keep asking, "So you ready for Thailand?" And I'm like, "WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?" Am I mentally ready? Well since I can't even comprehend being there...no. Am I physically ready? Probably not but hopefully I'll be rested enough by Wednesday. Am I spiritually ready? As ready as I can be. Am I emotionally ready? How can you possibly be emotionally ready for such despair?! No I'm probably not. But regardless of whether I'm ready or not, I'm going. And regardless of whether I feel like serving I'm gonna die to self and serve. Whether it's hot, dangerous or just plain miserable; I'm gonna serve those girls.
     A hymn I try to live by is

          It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide; It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide; But this one thing I know—if it be dark or fair, If Jesus is with me, I’ll go anywhere!
          It may be I must carry the blessèd Word of life Across the burning deserts to those in sinful strife; And though it be my lot to bear my colors there, If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
          But if it be my portion to bear my cross at home, While others bear their burdens beyond the billow’s foam, I’ll prove my faith in Him—confess His judgments fair, If He stays with me, I’ll stay anywhere!
          It is not mine to question the judgment of my Lord, It is but mine to follow the leadings of His Word; But if to go or stay, or whether here or there, I’ll be, with my Savior, content anywhere!
            Refrain If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere! ’Tis heaven to me, where’er I may be, if He is there! I count it a privilege here, His cross to bear, If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
So that's what I'm gonna do; ready or not. 


     I'm really looking forward to getting an outward perspective on Auckland from Thailand. To see if I'll miss it or if I'll be just as excited and feel as much at home in Thailand as I do here now. So we'll see about that. 
     
     I'm half way done with this adventure and I can't wait to see all that God has for me in the next three months. I know it's going to be good and I know it's going to be rough but I'm excited. Please keep my team and I in your prayers! Much love

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Practice Run for Thailand

Last night we had a practice run to help prepare us for the kind of atmosphere we'll be in in Thailand. We went into a couple bars/clubs and talked to people; got used to starting up conversations and being in that scene. I really do not enjoy the whole party scene and found it quite uncomfortable to be in if I wasn't talking to people. But the whole night really brought out some things that I can be in prayer for about myself and that you too can be in prayer for with me. Because as dark and sad as the scenes were last night, in Thailand it's going to be so much worse; old nasty men with young beautiful girls- it's going to be really hard and I have a better understanding of how I'm going to be feeling in those situations.
     When we were in the bars, and I wasn't talking to people, it was a tug of war in my mind to stay focused on why I was there. I would have these thoughts back and forth that would heighten insecurities and make you want to join in and be seductive; all things I did not expect to be thinking or feeling. But then it'd come back to denying those thoughts and being like, "Steph what the heck are you thinking? You don't care about that stuff! That's not why you're here! This isn't true life; they're so deceived." I don't know if it was the spiritual atmosphere that brought on those thoughts but it was definitely an unforeseen battle that I was facing in the clubs. So you can be in prayer for that with me.
     Another thing was my reaction to the men that were buyers of sex or going into strip clubs. I wanted to confront them, castrate them, yell at them, anything to stop them. I know that God has as much compassion on them as He does for the sex slave and the prostitute but it was really hard to share that compassion. I've been saying for a long time that we need to have compassion on these guys because the Lord has compassion on them and they're just as much enslaved, and it's true, but I found all those feelings slipping through my fingers when I saw them going in or going up to prostitutes. So please pray that the Lord would give me His eyes and His heart for the men as well as for the girls.
     The highlight of the night was when I got to talk to and pray with a woman who is a prostitute. The Lord totally opened a door for me to talk with her and get to know a little bit of her story. And the most amazing thing happened when I was praying for her, she cried out to God and said, "God get me outta here!" My heart broke! This woman started working as a prostitute when she was 13 years old; her dad dropped her off on the streets to make money to support his drug addiction. She knows no other life and has known no other work. She also has 2 kids to support now and is afraid that she won't be able to support them in the same capacity with a 9-5 job. She feels stuck and she wants out. Broke my heart! I gave her some contacts and told her to go to this church and that they'll help her find a good job if she wants out. So you guys can continue to pray for her.

All in all a pretty successful night I'd say. We might go out again one more time before we go.

This last week of lectures is about spiritual warfare so I'm looking forward to it. I still can't believe it's the last week of lectures. AHHH!

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Week Left

     There is only one week left of lectures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe I just wrote that! I can't even begin to imagine Thailand. It still seems so foreign to me; it's hard to imagine that I'll be spending 3 months there too! I think it'll be really good to get some outward perspective of Auckland to better know if this is really where I want to be or if I'm being called some where else. So I look forward to seeing if I fall as in love with Phuket as I have for Auckland and if it will feel as much like home as this does now.
     It is sad to leave though. I was talking to my friend Marco, who I pass everyday and who looks for me so that we can have our morning talk, I told him how I was leaving and he said, "I will miss you when you gone." Broke my heart cause I'll miss him too. I just look at how close we're just starting to get, 3 months into it, and the potential of what could develop there. He's starting to see me as a niece or a granddaughter I think. He was asking me the other day if I was married, I said, "no I'm single." He got protective, "Good good stay single! You no marry soon, you got long time, no go make babies. No! You enjoy life, travel, have fun. Stay single." Oh mercy he was cracking me up! But it really showed how we've begun to care for each other and how much more beautiful and precious that relationship could be if it had more time to develop. 3 months isn't long enough, 6 months isn't, and neither is a year. I don't know why we treat people we meet on "missions trips" so differently than our friends back home; what do we expect some relationship annointing? For God to just POOF...you're friends? No good things take time and commitment and I really want good things for these people that I've met here in Auckland; so maybe that requires a bit of commitment...we'll see.
     I saw Diana today, which was really good because I hadn't seen her for about 3 weeks I think and I was beginning to worry about her. When I saw her she was drunk but she remembered me and she hugged me several times. It breaks my heart because I could just feel how the Father was hugging her through me and how He longed to just hold her in His arms. Who do we think we are to refuse love to these people?! Why because they smell and they're gross looking and dirty?! What do you think our sin is to God? It's disgusting but He longs to hold us so close to Him. That's the kind of God we serve and that's the kind of person I want to be. I want to hug the broken and maybe through a hug they'll feel the love of the Father. Oh ya'll the Lord is really breaking my heart for these people and I long for you all to feel it too. Why are we so separate? Why are we so afraid to get close with people? I sometimes want to just go pitch a tent with them or sleep on a bench with them and let them know that I'm not afraid of their garbage. That there's nothing that can separate them from the love of God.

Well that's all for now I think. Next week is our last week of lectures and then we're off to Thailand! Craziness.
Bless ya'll