Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Red Light District

Have I told you yet that Kalzone and I work on the red light district?
Right in the middle of it.
Every night girls line the streets by the dozens. They stand outside "karaoke bars", "massage parlors", "cafes" or places labeled things that leave no mystery as to what their selling...
The girls are usually sitting in a chair, being looked over by a man of all nationalities, staring down at their laps or having their faces and hair checked over by (what I can only assume is) their pimp.

Most nights I want to pull over and ask them questions, why they're here, who they are, whats happen to them...
Maybe it's a blessing that language separates our lives. I'm sure the answers to these questions would cause more harm then good. 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do ALL things through Christ..." Phil 4
I can feel my mind spreading thin with all the dreams of things I want to accomplish with I'm here...or in life.
The distraction of myself is still the greatest battle, trying to focus my mind to finish the goal that I started and not be swept away with the emotions that over power my passion at times. 

Thailand is full of so much life. So many good things. The wonderful aroma of food sizzling in the markets, tuk-tuk cabs rushing by, music from musicians hoping to make a few baht. Its all yours, how much can you take in?

But the underline deep that I feel in America at times. Is also very present. Lurking in the faces of the girls "selling flowers" on the streets. Lingering outside the bars that line the streets...following the men that walk in and out of them.

What must it feel like to loose your soul. To use money to buy a human. 

I heard
a story the other day of missionaries who had come to teach english to some hill tribe children in the mountains... Sounded similar to the work Kal and I are doing so my ears perked up!
To the twisting of my stomach the story unfolded into a horror tale of a man who had actually raised support to come to Chiang Mai to molest and rape children who spoke neither thai nor english...a sick, perfect plan. The Hill tribe people are not actual citizens of Thailand and therefore nothing can be done to the perpetrator or for the victims...

Or the story of the famous "trafficking ring" just north of here, where all the boarders meet. A woman sold her 2 day old baby to foreigner men trafficking children...the baby was sold for 5,000 baht....(roughly $150 dollars).

I wish we weren't so desensitized. I wish we could picture, in such a raw way what all of this actually means.

I'm encouraged by all the great work I do see happening here, and that God is raising up people all over to pursue their passions, whatever they may look like.
But this heart is heavy. My mind is tangled. And my arms feel weak... It's one of those days where you feel like, nothing could ever be enough.
That is why I am thankful that not only are mercy's new every morning, but also that, it is through the weak man the Lord finds His strength in us...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sawat dee Ka (Honored to be in your presence)

In love with this place already.

Thailand, which is appropriately nicknamed "Land of Smiles", somehow finds a way to capture people in both its cultural beauty and physical enticement.

Most of the missionaries have lived here 5 plus years.

"I just can't seem to leave...when people ask me where home is, I instinctively reply- Chiang Mai."
--Heather (one of the Volunteers at Garden of Hope) 

                                                          Kalzone and I teach English 4 days a

week and volunteer for a missionary family once a week.
So far the greatest challenge has been my own limitations. The children are eager and willing to learn. Like little sponges, they sit quietly in those moments of silence when I am praying through the next step to teach in class.

Kal is with the elementary children and I have the honor of teaching kids that look 5 years older then me, though I am told they are high school age.

We're taking Thai classes twice a week to help us be more effective here, this has been a huge blessing as our tutor has offered to teach us for free in exchange for English lessons at the end of ours. Unfortunately, where we teach in the Hill tribes, the kids speak neither English nor Thai....I can't begin to tell you faces I've had to make and ridiculous gestures I've had give to get my point across and teach a simple word.
Sometimes I'm feeling very unequipped and bored with my own material, wondering how the kids will ever be enthusiastic about the subject if I am not. But God continues to be both faithful and gracious with me. I feel like I am already learning so much about myself and more of my purpose for God's work through these faces. Even in the heat of the 100+ degrees, I'm feeling very much at home during our time in the mountains, it is, still, my happy place and where I feel most alive. 

We are missing 30 of our kids in this picture....

Despite crazy traffic, many warnings and statistics like, "Thailand being the second place in the world for more tourists to die from motorbike collisions.", one of my favorite things to do here is drive around Chiang Mai. Kalzone is extraordinary with directions and makes me feel like a local with how well we are able to get around. Between my fearless driving and her amazing sense of direction...we make a pretty great team.
God has been very merciful and we have only been honked at once!

Prayer request:

Our biggest need right now is SLEEP! Poor Kal and I have not slept through the night once since we've been here, our backs and necks have been achy every morning. Please pray for peaceful, restful sleep.

Our visa run trip!
Laos is just around the corner, 2 weeks! And with it is coming many hidden fees....Kal and I need about $150 more dollars to cover the trip and prayer that everything goes smoothly at the immigration office and the trip itself.

The Hill tribe children. We were a little shocked by how little the school was getting on without. The kids in my class share 1 pencil for ever 4 students, paper is often something ripped off a poster, not to mention other basic needs like flash cards, crayons, notebooks, books, etc.
Along with school needs the children also have a few health issues, many of them are orphaned and the ones who are not are here away from their families because their original tribes are to poor to feed them or school them. This being said, many of the kids come from all over and share everything they have...including lice and worms. We were able to go buy basic school supplies and good shampoo, but obviously all that is temporary. Please pray for a more permeant solution and wisdom for Kal and I as we treat some of the health needs and teach them English and the love of God.

Protection for both of us. Against sickness, lice and spiritual battles.

Thank you so much for all your support in every way!
We are so overwhelmed by the community that has come along side us in this trip.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We made it! Thailand Day 1!

Thai food= My taste buds have never been this excited about foreign food.

The market place is magic. So many colors and wonderful food.

Kalzone and I are jet-lagged, but happy to be safe and sound in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Bring it on...