To my dearest dears and fellow journeyers,
Hello! I pray that you are all doing well in your homes or on your adventures—wherever and everywhere you are! Praying that you are seeing and hearing God tell you how much He LOVES you! Thank you for your continued prayers, support, and encouragement! I know your prayers have given myself and my team divine appointments, opportunities, protected us, and allowed us to touch other people’s lives with God’s love. Thank you!
There are so many incredible ministries here in Pattaya and God is really stretching my heart and showing me how multi-faceted prostitution is here and all over the world. I’m seeing more and more the width and depth of the problem—the women, the children, the men, and the city. There is not just one face to this problem. The fruit of the sin manifests here in Pattaya, but it begins all over the world in people’s homes, in people’s hearts. We are all victims of sin, all of us are broken, and all of us know hurt. The ministries here in Pattaya answering in response to the tourism and prostitution have cultivated so much hope in my heart!
God is very much at work here! The Tamar Center offers hope, healing, and new life to prostitutes. Pattaya Slum Ministries is committed to reaching the poor with the love of Jesus (to see more information about Tamar or Slum Ministries check out www.projlife.com), and Global Childrens Awareness is a couple that has just rented and is in the process of renovating a building in the middle of a part of town known for child trafficking, abuse, and sweat shops. Jason and Sarah Ann are from Alabama and have been in Thailand for about 5 years. Their vision is to create a safe haven, a place of refuge that children who’s mom is working in the bar can come and be fed, be loved, and cared for (Their website is www.gcawareness.com).
Divine Appointments On Sunday we were worshipping on the beach, and two men walked up to our group. One man asked if we were Christians? He said He spoke in tongues, that he used to be a Christian. He looked us each in the eye, and he began to tell us about coming to Thailand almost 3 years ago and how the drugs, alcohol, and sex had made him lose his mind. While fighting his front teeth had been knocked out. He asked for help. Noelle asked if we could pray for him? So we all prayed for David. We called out his identity as we prayed: brother, son of God. I think about what God did to bring all of us to this particular place on the beach in Pattaya Thailand. There are seven of us, all from America—different parts, who were first brought together in New Zealand. David was from Scotland, and his friend—Tony, was from somewhere else. Nine people God brought together to pray and be prayed for. God is an extravagant God who NEVER STOPS PURSUING HIS CHILDREN.
Saturday Kid’s Club with the Pattaya Slum Ministry: We began with worship—this is always a really great way to start. Our team has two very talented musicians. Nelson and Rachel, and we are so blessed by this. Imagine packed into a small classroom approximately 25 of us worshipping together—all but 7 worshiping in Thai. Hearing different languages makes the song more beautiful to me. The rest of the morning was an impromptu collection of games—I was SO praising God in my head for the time I spent as a camp counselor in New Jersey and the mission journey to Haiti last summer, and Clay Lady Camp experiences to draw upon for ideas! Then there was a hearty game of “Simon Says”, but they have changed the name of the game to “Moses Says” Isn’t that awesome?! Really enjoyed that spin! Musical chairs, and limbo. Limbo was a new game of all of them and they really enjoyed this one. After a lunch made by a woman from Taiwan it was time for teaching.
During the team meeting the day before I was pretty sure that it was going to be my turn to teach. I even get a little nervous just typing this to you, recounting the tale! We had decided we were going to teach about hearing God’s voice. There was a familiar stirring in my heart, and I knew that it would be my turn to step up. This is often how God prompts me—it is a feeling in my heart.The thing that I am learning about God is He doesn’t make you do things. Someone else would have taught if I hadn’t, but there is so much blessing in obedience. The time was now to share with others the things God had shared with me. I prayed while I was planning the outline. I asked God, “What do you want me to say to these children?”
God told me to tell them that He LOVES them, that He hears everything they pray and speak, and God wants them to learn how to hear Him because He is always talking. Once God shared this with me, it was a lot easier to begin putting the teaching together. Isn’t God amazing? I worked to simplify the teaching for children to easily grasp and for better translation from English to Thai. After the lesson we prayed and asked God to give us words and pictures for Pattaya Slum Ministry: there was the “army” army off God, a tree with broad branches that children came to for shelter and love, reflections of God. Having the privilege to hear what God was speaking into their lives was something that I treasured.
After the teaching we offered drawing classes, Uno game, and guitar lessons for the children. Noelle and I lead the drawing class. I showed them how to draw a smiley face sun, and a cartoon bunny. They proceeded to draw forests of trees, carrot fields, rainbows, clouds—these children were so creative! Before we finished up I asked them to tell me stories about their bunnies.
My time here has been so full of memories and experiences and so rich in love. I feel like we have been here for years and not very long simultaneously. Tomorrow, Tuesday is our last day of ministry here and on Wednesday we leave for Cambodia. None of us our counting down the days and I consider our ability to remain present a huge blessing.
Final thoughts on…
“swaps”. This is a word we coined for the sweaty mid-day naps we take, time permitting. Not exactly refreshing but when you are tired these work. Sweaty Naps.
At the market I practice the few Thai words and phrases I know. If we were here longer I would LOVE to take language classes. I get better and better at saying “hello! How are you?”! Thai is a tonal language so depending on where you place rising tone in a word it changes the meaning. For example—the word is the same for street, beautiful, and unlucky BUT where you place the rising/falling TONE is different. There has been so much grace at my erroneous attempts at speaking Thai!