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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Closing a Chapter

     First let me bring all of you up to speed; my team and I have sought the Lord and we have decided to leave Phuket and go to Chiang Mai. There are many reasons why we made this decision but ultimately it's about hearing and obeying God's voice. So we will fly out of Phuket this Sunday night. We're all very excited and ready to go and experience something new especially since the ministry options here in Phuket have been so few. We'll be doing the same type of ministry as we've been doing here; as the Thai's say, "Same, same; but different." We'll be working with a YWAM ministry called Lighthouse.
  
Pi Add with one of the little girls she cares for.
    We said goodbye to Pi Add today. We went by and took her a pineapple and we just talked and fellowshipped. She wouldn't let us finish the work that we came to finish but just wanted us to sit with her and talk. One of the team members asked if she had a Bible and she came and pulled out this leather bound Bible that you knew was her prize possession. She explained how every morning she comes and sits outside and reads it. She told us where she was reading and was asking us what we were reading. I told her, "Pi Add, I want to be like you. You love God, you serve those in need; you're an amazing woman of God." She smiled and beamed with thanks and it was in her eyes that I saw this was the first time someone had ever said that to her. She's been following the Lord since she was six years old, been through hell and back, lives in some of the worst conditions, her very life is constantly hanging in the balance, and yet she still loves God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength; who wouldn't want to be like that?! I told her how much of Jesus I see in her and that she's doing exactly what Jesus would do. She's such an amazing testament to the fact that doing what's right isn't doing what's easy. She suffers and struggles for doing what's right and that's probably why so many of us shy away from doing the right thing because of testimonies like these but great will be her reward in heaven. Oh I can't wait for the day when I see her in heaven and I get to behold the rich and vast treasures that she had waiting for her in her Father's house.
and older picture of Pi Add
    When we left she wept; ripped my heart out and I was so ready to just say, "Forget it, we'll stay!" But she thanked us for all that we had done for her and blessed us, hugged us and told us she loves us. She said, "You ever come back to Thailand, you come see me!" It was an easy promise to make.
~
     Tonight some of our team baked cookies with some of the older Thai girls that we've befriended in the community. While they did that, the rest of us stayed out back to play and distract the rest of the kids. Well while we were out there one of the older ladies in the community who takes care of several of the girls and kids we've befriended came up and had me sit down next to her. She had a little girl named Bon sit on my lap and said, "You take her." "Excuse me?!" She said, "You like her? You take her. She no have mama, no papa. You take her." I felt as though my very breath was being taken away from me and all I could get out was a dumbfounded, "I cannot." She said, "You no like her?" Still in disbelief, "No I love her, I love Bon but I cannot take. I'm just a dekdek (Thai word for "child"). I cannot." And before I threw up on her, I left and went up stairs so I could breathe. On the off chance that she misunderstood and thought I was a part of the Asia Center Foundation, which is a YWAM ministry just a couple doors down from us that does take in children, I went back down and tried to sort it out with her. I went to her house and I sat down with her and asked if she thought I was from Asia Center Foundation but she had never heard of it. So I asked her if she want me to be Bon's new mama and she said, "Yes you take Bon. I give you." 
This is Bon. 
I asked her where her mom is and the story I got from her is that her parents got divorced and the mom left Bon, as a baby, with her and they've never seen or heard from her since and these two old women have been caring for her. The whole time I'm wrestling with my calling and thinking, "I could do it, I could take her. I don't know how and I don't know what kind of life I could give her but it's got to be better than this." I'm going back and forth, back and forth; struggling with everything I know to be good and everything that I admire and count as right and worthy. "What would Jesus do? What's the right thing to do? How can this woman be offering me, a stranger, this child as if she were a second hand jacket or a plate of food?" Then to heighten the temptation to seize her offer, she pointed to some severe wounds on her legs. I had noticed the wounds a couple of weeks ago and I asked about them to her and several other of her friends and they said that she fell during exercise. I knew that was a lie and everything inside me, my counseling training, and this girl's behavior points to abuse. So I asked the woman if she fell- "No." I asked her if it was fire- "No." And then I asked her, "Man do this (pointing to her leg)?" and she said, "Yes." I told her that I'd go and talk to some people and that I'd come back and we'd discuss it tomorrow night. When I got up to leave she forcefully took my hand, placed it on Bon's head and began to say loudly, "You Bon's mama! You Bon's mama!" I left, again feeling like I was going to throw up and just cried. I came back down and Bon was waiting for me. She sat in my lap and wrapped my arms around her and said, "I no have mama, I no have papa." She kissed me on the cheek repeatedly and refused to leave my side. I honestly felt like one of the men in the bars in Patong who have all these girls all over them so desperate for love and commitment and they have no intention of giving them what they seek.
     I have contacted Asia Center Foundation and made them aware of what's happened and what's going on. My biggest concern right now, apart from the abuse, is that the woman who cares for her would give her away to anyone. If I would have said yes, I'd have a child with me right now! What happens if the wrong person comes along and takes her to do only God knows what to her?! And if Asia Center Foundation won't take her then the Lord and I are going to have a big chat because something has to be done. I don't believe, right now,  I'm the one to take her but I sure as heck would be committed to finding her an amazing home!

     Heavy, heavy, heavy stuff. That's all I can say......Lord, O Lord does justice have a face! I'm afraid of this being something that I could potentially regret for the rest of my life. But I know that I just have to keep seeking God, doing what I can, and He'll show me what to do and give me strength to do it. I know that His peace walks hand in hand with His will...I'm counting on it.
     That's been the biggest thing I've learned here in Phuket and it's that justice has a face. Statistics are becoming stories and facts are becoming faces. There's no turning back now....not ever. I'm a wicked person if I abandon all that I've been shown; if I allow myself to forget.
     I think back to that night that God convicted me about injustice; how I had heard about modern-day slavery and sex slavery for so long and had done nothing; when He showed me the faces of all the women my apathy had raped. I think back to that very moment when the weight of conviction, profound sorrow and fear was crashing down on me like the weight of a waterfall pouring down on me. In that moment I had one brief second of hesitation where I said to God, "God, this isn't my mission field." And I'll never forget the fear of God that came upon me when He said, "It is now." Those words become more true everyday because "it is now." 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Want To Make Something Clear

     There's something that's been on my heart and on my mind this past week, especially with my recent announcement that I have decided to pursue a career in YWAM, and it is this: that there is no such thing as a "higher calling." My being called to the "mission field" is no higher a calling than someone called to be a teacher, a manager of a company, a barista in a coffee shop, musician, etc. I actually tried, just now, to look up what the definition of "mission field" is and praise God dictionary.com has no results! I love that because your mission field is what you and the Lord define it to be; there's no set standard or definition. Your mission field is wherever God has placed you and there's not enough room on the world wide web to hold all those possible definitions. I've been made to be a missionary; how does that make me any better than my sister who's made to be a chef? It doesn't! And something that has really stuck with me is something that my small group leader during DTS said and that was, "Cooks cook, bakers bake, fishermen fish, etc but missionaries don't 'mish'." And I love what my pastor, Pastor Mike Patz, said once, "You're either a missionary or a mission field." So guess what that means; it means that we're all missionaries and we've all been called to an equally high calling; unless of course you are not fulfilling the calling to which you have been called. In my opinion, and I think that God would agree with this, there's no higher calling than fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. And you know what not everyone is created to live the same life. I look at my sister Melissa who's pursuing a culinary career; talk about a high calling! Who on earth is not blessed and ministered to by a good meal? I look at the world and I see so many people who would cry and be so incredibly blessed to have some of the food that my sister makes. I look at my mom who is so incredibly gifted in so many areas and how she continually uses all these different gifts to bless people- that's a woman fulfilling her purpose! I look at my dad who has faithfully stuck with the same company for over 20 years and how respected he is. I watch how people look to him as a man they can trust and go to with their problems. He's such a man of integrity and he oversees the building of companies that give people jobs and enhance the economy; that's a man enhancing the earth and serving the Kingdom. Don't you dare tell me that any one of them have any less of a calling or any less of a life than I. I don't even know what I'm doing half the time; I'm just following along and going where I'm told. I'm not sure how to define my "mish" yet. I have a dream and I have goals but so far all I'm doing is just serving the people that God puts in my way which is exactly what we all are doing. So where the heck do we get this idea of a "higher calling"?
     Please don't put people that go on missions trips or people who are called to be a "missionary" on a pedestal; we can't help what we're called to do, we're just blessed to be who God made us to be and to do what God made us to do.  And so are you! Here's the highest calling: being who God made you to be and doing what He made you to do. So go and do. Go and be!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Aid for Add

     There's a Thai lady that Mark and Sharon know very well and whom they have been helping for many years. She's a 70 year old widow who looks after many of the children in her community; sometimes without ever being paid. Some parents have just dropped their kids off with her, never to return. Some leave them with her for weeks and some actually pay her for her service. But regardless she keeps looking after the children taking on a 24/7 job because it needs to be done and she loves the children. When Mark and Sharon first met her she was living and taking care of these kids in a tin shack that provided minimal shelter for them. They rounded up some support and gave her a new home. (Click on the link to watch a video showing the making of Add's new home in 2007 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2wW8ZZJNAM&feature=player_embedded) That was almost three years ago. She's still looking after the children, still getting ripped off, and still loving Jesus; only now she's got some health problems that make it hard for her to keep up. She just got out of the hospital because she's got some heart trouble from all the stress and anxiety she has. That's where we came in today. We got the pure pleasure of clearing her pathways, getting all the weeds and grass out of there, doing her dishes, cleaning up, getting her some drinking water, and just being there to talk and to listen.
     At one point while I was hoeing I look up and she's crying with Lauren; I went over and she began to say how it makes her so sad because she sees us come and we have such good heart and she hates not having any food or drink to give us, she hates not being able to pay us or do the work herself. She told us how she used to be such a hard worker and such a strong woman but how she cannot anymore. She voiced how it makes so sad to not have money for food or water, to be constantly ripped off by parents but she can't say no because the babies she watches see her as their mom and not their actual birth mom. It broke my heart seeing this woman so helpless and so beaten down by poverty and circumstances that are out of her control. I just hugged her and told her that she's a good woman and she has a good heart. I told her how she's a daughter of God and we are daughters of God so that makes us family and this is what families do, they look out for each other and they help each other. We encouraged her to just rest and not worry that we were happy to come and continue to help as long as we are there.

Talk about eye-opener. This woman lives in real deal poverty; poverty you nor I can imagine. Seeing it and how she lives opened my Western eyes a lot but I'll never understand what it's like to have that be all you know and probably all you'll ever know. She loves the Lord and it's not right that she be abandoned by her family like this to fend for herself and it's not right for her "God family", as she called us, to abandon her now. I saw my own Abuelita in her and it made me love her all the more. So Abuelita I made sure to give her a big Stephanie hug in your honor.

Please say a prayer for Add that she would be healed and that the Lord would provide for her every need.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bye Bye Bangla, Hello Chalong

The Pier
     Last night was our first official night out on Chalong, the new area for bar ministry that we are pioneering. After having some stick-shift complications we finally got there, all of us alive and in tact. Since it's so far away we can't really afford to go there earlier in the day and prayer walk so to make up for it we just tried to go about an hour and a half earlier. So we walked up and down Chalong Pier Road and interceded for the place and our night then retreated to the pier where we had some worship and then we were off.
     Now because Chalong is so much smaller, quieter and emptier compared to Bangla Road, we had to be very strategic and smart about how we went about it. So some things have to change; instead of being upfront about who and what we are we're going to have to be very cunning and ease into it; we're going to have to really invest in relationships and out of a good relationship with the girls, bring them out. And because we'll probably get known very quickly there we have to make sure we're careful about where we go and how often. We don't want to get known too quickly because that can seriously hinder our ability to get girls out of there and our safety. Our awareness of our surroundings and our conscientiousness of safety has also had to be heightened; there's a very eerie feel about that place and so much more goes on behind closed doors that we have to constantly be on our guard. Needless to say, Chalong is an entirely different ball-game, but it's right up our alley. For the first time since we've been working in the bars we felt like we were meant to be there and like we had a place and a purpose and we actually felt more comfortable in Chalong than in Patong.
This was the bar we were at last night.
I found this picture online
     We were able to just go in and instead of barhopping and having to be careful not to stay too long, we were able to just chill and get to know the girls; not having to push SHE was great. So we ordered two cokes, talked, played two rounds of pool and just hung out. We weren't forced to buy up drinks or leave, we could just be and really build the relationship. Now there's an up and down side to everything that we're doing here; and in this case, the longer we stayed the closer we got to the girls- yes but the longer we stayed the more we saw. 
     Chalong is for locals and they are in no way ashamed of what they're doing or of what's going on. Every bar is attached to a set of rooms and during the time we were there I saw Thai girls being taken into the back by the men (Those rooms are not only where they take their customers but where they themselves live). And a big difference here is that the bar owners are more like the girl's pimps than anything; making their freewill questionable. Men were getting hand-jobs at the bar and the girls were being violated and felt up constantly. I had to listen to this 70 year old man discuss prices and the size of his penis with a girl no more than 22 years old. (Now I know this is vulgar but this is what goes on all over the world and this is what's happening here. If we keep running away from stuff like this then it will never stop. This is reality.) The intensity of sex tourism in that place was overwhelming, to say the least. However, we endured and we weren't wavered by any of it. God's grace and favor was so evident last night and He really protected us and strengthened us to be in that environment. We felt like we were on the offense and not on the defense...finally.
     The other half of our team had a really good night too; people were buying them cokes and offering them meals, talking to them and opening up. And as a sign of the favor of God that was upon them, they were adorned with leis (a flowery necklace). And to top the night off, as we were walking away a girl started shouting at me, "Hey friend come!" I turn around and Amy recognized her and they both ran to meet each other; it was a girl that she and Robert had gotten really close to in Patong but hadn't seen for a while. She said she recognized my noodle hair and kept saying to us, "Oh I so excited to see you, so happy to find you." Robert came up and she screamed his name and just hugged him. We all were just so taken back and just so in awe of God's favor and Him showing us that we really are meant to be here.
     So despite the graphic dreams that I had last night, depicting all the horrors we saw and heard, I'm ready to go back out. This is where God has us to be and I'm ready to do it.
  
Please be praying for God's continual favor and protection both while we're out there and when we come back. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Call to my Supporters

gotta keep walking
     I have been praying since before I left for New Zealand about possibly staffing; well I've finally felt the peace of the Lord and I've told Josie (school leader) that I want to staff. I've fallen totally in love with YWAM and especially with this Justice DTS. God's been asking me what I want to do and my response has been that I want to staff but I've been waiting until I felt sure that it was what He wanted too before I made any step in that direction. And finally that peace that follows me with every major decision, has come. Josie and I have talked and there's a whole application process and I'll have to go through staff training and all that but I'm so excited and I'm so at peace about staffing with YWAM Auckland Central!
     So here's my call to you all: please pray about becoming a full-time supporter. If you can only give a little bit here or there or maybe just even a one time gift- it's all welcomed and deeply appreciated. God will provide.

Thanks for getting me here guys and I look forward to the partnerships of the Kingdom that await and for what God has in store for both you and I.

Blessings!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Outreach has begun!

     Last night was CRAZY! 
   Last night Amy, Rachel, and I took the new World Race team out to Bangla Road to introduce them to bar ministry and just show them the ropes. But before I tell you what happened last night I need to rewind a bit. 
     Since the worship night that we lead on Bangla Road and we saw God move and turn the power off a whole half of Soi Sea Dragon, we have been praying big prayers of faith. We've been asking God to turn the power off on whole streets and asking Him to make the foundations of these streets crack, for the bars to crumble and the walls to crack and for the different streets to be destroyed and in ruin. We've been praying for rain and bad weather to drive out customers. We've been praying for bankruptcy and financial ruin on the bars. We've been praying for less and less tourists to come. We've been praying for favor upon the teams that go there and for us to be in the right place at the right time. And we've been praying for signs and wonders to happen to sober people up and turn their eyes to God. Well God answered!
     One of our last nights on Bangla Road we saw the power go out on Soi Sea Dragon and Soi Eric. The bar owners have been telling us how business is going down and going down quick. Despite the fact that this is the peak of the tourist season, Bangla Road has been fairly empty. It's been raining on Bangla Road, forcing people to leave early. All of these prayers are being answered, but we did not expect the answer that we got last night. 
What Soi Lion looked like before
     As I was taking the team up and down Bangla Road I pointed out Soi Tiger and Soi Lion, telling them that those are two of the more spiritually intense streets and to probably wait a while before going on those. I pointed them out but didn't notice Soi Lion so I figured maybe I just forgot where it was, that I mixed up where it usually is. Not like it can move or anything. So when we came back down Bangla Road I was telling them something about Soi Lion and I had to do a double take.......Where's Soi Lion?! I told the girls to hold on I had to go check something. So I walk to where Soi Lion normally would be and I don't see it! I'm thinking, "Did God just up a whole soi and no one is noticing but me right now?" But then I saw it; Soi Lion the most popular and wicked street, the street that no team has ever seen a girl come out of was CLOSED!!!!! Not just closed off, it was in shambles! It looked like a hurricane had gone through that street and had left it a ghost town. The roof was caving in, there were cracks in the walls, there was trash everywhere, water damage, things were falling off and barely hanging onto the walls. The poles where girls once danced, gone. The bar counters where there stood on, destroyed. It wasn't a demolition by man but by God! There's no reason for such a popular street to be closed and put out of business, especially not the WHOLE STREET!!!! Not when bar owners are loosing money and not during the peak of the tourist season. God answered our prayers. I was so excited and was trying to explain to the girls what a miracle this was, how we had been praying for this, etc. So I found Rachel and I took her back to show her the street and she couldn't believe it either. I've yet to be so happy on Bangla Road but the biggest miracle was waiting for us when we got back. 
     We get back and Amy's team is all red and glossy-eyed from crying and they're jumping up and down with excitement. They had finished for the night and were calling it a night when they felt God was telling them to walk around and pray. So they did and they came up and found a girl crying hysterically and just collapsed into her friend's arms. They all kind of stopped and were watching, trying to figure out what was going on. And then all of the sudden the girl begins to convulse and shake, falling to the ground; one of the World Race girls was there to catch her head. They said her eyes were rolled into the back of her head and her body was just in panic mode. Her friend was shaking and slapping her when the girl stopped and went limp. For about 30 seconds to a minute the girl was dead; she died right there in front of them and in their arms; eyes still open. They were praying the whole time, without realizing that they were; claiming healing in the Name of Jesus. Two of the World Race girls had their hands on her; one holding her leg and the other still holding her head. And then the girl gasps for air and sits up. They all weren't sure what they saw at that moment but they did in fact see a girl raised from the dead! Take that Bangla Road!!!!
     The World Race team had such an anointing on them and it was only their first night out. There were girls getting invited up to the bar girls rooms and people opening up like crazy to them. The favor of God was so heavily upon them and is still. 
   
     Now you might think that seeing all that God was doing through the World Race team would make us jealous but it didn't in the least. For one thing we know what we've been praying for and we don't care who sees the answer because it's all for Him anyways. And the fact of the matter is that He did answer! It was so encouraging for us to see the favor of God on them because it encouraged us that we're not meant to be on Bangla Road; God has not given us the anointing to be there. It has made us all so excited to pioneer this new area and to work in the Burmese refugee camp because we now know what the favor and anointing of God looks like when it's upon a team in a dark place. We were so encouraged to know that Bangla Road wasn't just ridiculously hard because we weren't cut out for it or that doors were just closed, people were just cold, or that it's just too hard but because we're not supposed to be there; that God has other plans for us. It put an amazing kick in the butt to our unbelief and we spent the night worshiping and praising God together.

     God's got AMAZING things in store! All the little details of confirmation and words spoken over people coming true, are just incredible. I feel like outreach has begun!
     

Friday, January 14, 2011

wait...WHAT?!

     I can't believe we've been in Thailand for a month already! In so many ways I feel like I've just got off the bus and yet I'm beginning to feel present in this place. It's hard to blog and to know what to write because these past two weeks have been so incredibly jam packed.
    Last week was our first week of full on ministry and we finally got into a routine. We went out to the bars 4xs and out into the neighborhoods to do kids ministry a couple of times. We've gotten to know the girls here at SHE better and they us; we've gotten to know Mark and Sharon a bit more as well; hearing their heart and vision is stirring us all up. 
Friendship Beach
    We had a beautiful weekend last week; we went to Kata beach and the glory of God's creation soothed whatever aches we felt from being in the bars. The next day we went to church with Mark and Sharon and afterwards they took us to this resort and the resort was open to the most beautiful beach called, "Friendship Beach"...it's a view that you could just stare at for hours and never tire of it. We had a delicious lunch there at the resort, swam in the pool (which was still within looking distance of the beach)....it was just incredible. At one point we looked around and we said, "What kind of outreach are we on?! This is paradise!" But it's so essential for you to get out and see beautiful places when you're doing work amidst such darkness; it's so good to see the beauty of God reflected in creation when all you see sometimes is evil and filth. It was also really good for us to see that Thailand isn't all bars and prostitution, that there actually is a lot of beauty here in this country. 
     Tuesday of this week we kind of closed our time in Patong on Bangla Road. Mark and Sharon really want to utilize us since we're here for so long and help them expand their territory. So we probably won't be out on Bangla Road too much more, just to show the new teams around and whatnot but will be spending our ministry time on new bar strips; preparing the way for future teams. But what I thought would be an easy and welcome release from Bangla Road turned out to be so much harder than I anticipated. 
     There's a girl in one of the bars, who will remain nameless, who was introduced to us by the previous World Race team; they introduced us to her and told us that she was going to be moving into SHE in January. About a week ago she comes over to me while I'm on Soi Ganzo and she remembered me so we talked and just caught up and I asked her when she was coming to SHE and the story has slowly unfolded over time. At first she would say, "Soon." but after we kept asking her why not now, she told us the rest of the story. She told her boss she was quitting and her boss has since been withholding her paycheck from her. Well since the her pay day has been drawing closer, he's now added that she must find someone to take her place before she can leave- this was the news that shook me up on Tuesday. I want this girl out so bad, I have a relationship with this girl; but in order for her to come out someone else has to come in?! It's a fact I was well aware of, that for every girl that leaves someone just rises up to take her place, except it's not just a fact anymore...it's a face...it's a story...it's a life. I was so overwhelmed and held back the tears for as long as I could until I couldn't anymore. But on a good note: we spoke to Mark about her boss and action is going to be taken if she does not get paid on Friday. Pray she get's paid and leaves immediately! Another thing that was hanging on my heart that night was when a 17 year old girl who's working as a prostitute hugged me, tightly, as if she was begging me to not leave her....17 years old.....that's younger than my sister. Yeah that messed me up a bit. But God really spoke to me in that moment that He was there with her before I got there and He's there with her still. 
     Wednesday we went out to map out the new bar strips and it was so different from Patong; it was quiet and hardly anyone was there. Well, there were hardly any people out but there was definitely stuff going on there. The feeling of that place was just the feeling of desperation and the darkness was like reaching out after you. There's so much going on behind the scenes there and it was just very sketchy and scary. 
     
     We may not be directly working with human trafficking in ways that you might expect but it's definitely all around us; within walking distance actually. There's a bar at the end of our road that is suspected to be a brothel in the back that holds girls who are trafficked. Plus the amount of Russians here is insane! Nothing against Russians just that they are a major target for trafficking as well as being traffickers themselves; so their thick presence here is very suspicious. Mark and Sharon are working on being involved in the prevention process alongside the restoration side of their ministry. So their work with that will hopefully give them authority to put a damper on trafficking as they have with prostitution.

Prayer Requests:
1) Pray that this girl will get paid and leave the bar tomorrow!
2) Pray for SHE as it's making plans for expansion this year
3) Pray for confirmation (just some various things within the team and school that need confirming)
4) Pray for health for our team 
5) Pray for safe travel for Josie

Thank ya much! Blessings!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Poem for Thailand

Sawadeekha Thailand
O Land of Smiles 
Where the rain is plentiful and the dogs are wild.
I'm lulled to sleep by a symphony of sounds 
And walk by day in their chorus.
Snare drum of mopeds in marching band style; 
Crickets and frogs join in.
The phone lines out number the strings on a harp 
And they strum by the hand of the wind.
The thunders roar and boom o'er the mountains
Awaking the night's turn to dream.
Rain drops befalling on the palms of the trees and
They shake and clatter like the tambourine.
Echoes of Thai tone sweeping up and down 
Are more skilled than any scale played.
Fans, in my room, breathing cool air
Lay a deep drum-roll that commands me sleep.
So I wai to the day and decide 
That to the night I'll give in 
And say, "Sawadeekha Thailand, see you again."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lighting Up the Darkness

     Last night I had the privilege of a lifetime; I got to play and sing to the Lord in one of the bars on Bangla Road. Mark, the head of SHE, has a good relationship with the bar owner of a bar on Soi Sea Dragon called the Coyote Bar. So me, Robert, and Carl (a guy from YWAM Denver) played worship music in the midst of prostitution and indulgence; we glorified God in a place where the body and all its pleasures are worshiped. We honored the Lord of Heaven and Earth in the very place that the enemy believes he has conquered. It was powerful and weird. It was so weird to be singing "How He Loves" and you look to your right and there are girls prostituting themselves. To be singing, "You're all I want, You're all I need, You're everything..." amongst people that are there to satisfy their wants and their "needs"; people who have no idea what it means for God to be everything...that is why people travel to Patong- to fill that void. People would peek their heads in and wonder what was going on. People at the bars next to Coyote bar had their chairs angled so that they could see and listen to what was going on. There was such a calm in that bar and it was such a wonderful presence of God that I don't think you would ever feel in a church. It was pure light amongst pure darkness....it was beautiful.
     One of the coolest things that happened was during our worship the whole strip of bars opposite us had their power go out! What's cooler is that it was an exact answer to prayer. All the people in those bars where forced to leave.
     I'll be playing and singing in the bars much more while we're here so I'm sure there will be many more stories to come. It's such an incredible opportunity to be able to worship God in this place and it's unreal how much favor God has given us to do it.


     On other notes; Josie is back! She arrived today at about 11:30 and the other team that was here left this afternoon; so we're here all by ourselves till Saturday when about 50 people come......well we're trying to just enjoy each day we have lol.
     Wednesday has become our official day that we go out into the neighborhoods to play with the kids and bless the community. We may add another day but we actually haven't been into the bars all that much since we've been here so we're still allowing ourselves room to get adjusted and see how much time we want to be out there.

Some Prayer Requests:
1) Team Finances (Some people are still needing some support to come in)
2) I've been battling some kind of virus since Friday and don't know what it's from but my stomach feels like I've been punched. It's not so bad that it keeps me from going out but it just hurts and I don't feel too keen to eat which has its repercussions in this heat.
3) Favor, Peace, Boldness and Persistence for us as we minister
4) Our team leader Josie is doing some serious travel time; pray she recovers quickly.

Thanks so much guys. Much Love

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Observations

1. Road rules are optional. Have you ever been in a situation where someone in front of you is driving significantly slower than the speed limit yet you are unable to pass them? And you're so tempted to just pull over into the emergency lane and quickly get on with your life? Well come to Thailand because that must be what they teach in driver's ed......scratch that I don't think they have drivers ed here. I see children driving on the road in mainstream traffic with about 3 of their friends on the moped with them.

2. There's no weight limit for 20 baht bus. They will pack those buses until you have strangers sitting on stranger's laps. The only problem is that to get almost anywhere you have to climb over a mountain and the bus is so over capacity that it is chugging up the mountain. Those bus rides into Patong have become a major intercession time for me because every time we start struggling up that hill I think I'm going to die.

3. The fancier the tuk tuk the more they want to charge. The way we avoid it is we look for the crappy tuk tuks.

4. Children are appreciated but not protected. Poverty drives people to do things that I think no parent would ever do to their child in a normal situation. Every where I go I see children staying up late while their parents work. You'll see kids running around in the markets while their parents work; you'll see them asleep in their parent's arms while their parents cook and bargain; or you'll see the children forced to work and right along side their parents. In touristy areas you'll see children being exploited; their parents using them to sell trinkets to appeal to the "soft-hearted" Westerners.

The problems that affect Thailand are so much more vast and in the open in comparison to Auckland. In Auckland you really did feel like you could make big changes on an individual level, but here it seems that the problems are so overwhelming that it would need to be addressed on a larger scale first and work towards individual changes.

5. Smells that come up from the street are never good. The steam that comes up from under the street smells like boiled sewage........that's all I have to say about that.

6. Thai people have an affinity for squid. It comes in all forms here: flattened and dried, grilled on a stick, fried, made into potato chips, and many other ways that I've yet to see. I wonder what they'd think if they saw how we use squid as bait in the states........

well that's all for now. I'll keep adding on