Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Christmas Like No Other

One thing before I start- I’m currently sitting outside on the top floor of a 3 story Starbucks in the center of Chiang Mai city plaza. I am one happy girl.

As I mentioned in my last blog post I had the opportunity to spend the weekend, and Christmas, in a village. This village is completely Buddhist and my team and I had the privilege of presenting the story of Jesus’ birth to them for the first time- it was such an honor.

Friday morning we all packed up and set out to the village. But first I was able to Skype with my family. It was hard knowing that I wouldn’t be there to spend Christmas with them- they all looked so cute and it made me miss them a lot. But I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just one Christmas. After a 3 hour car ride we made it to the village. We met our host mom and settled in. I slept next to BMK and I must say that girl is crazy (in the best way possible). I love her to death; we had so much fun together the whole weekend.

Friday night we had worship as a team and I got really frustrated with myself and with God. I asked Him to give me a revelation of His love; I really wanted to know that He loved me. And then I got so mad that He wasn’t telling me His plan for my life. I am such a planner and I want to know what my future holds so I continually worry about it. Awhile after I told that to God, JM walked over to me and started giving me a hug and it sounded like she was laughing. I asked her why she was laughing and she said that she was crying. And she proceeded to say over and over “He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.” And of course, I started crying; a lot. She then said, “He has such a beautiful plan for you. Stop worrying. He has a plan.” God is so amazing. All the time.

On Saturday morning we were able to work in the rice fields. We didn’t realize until we got there that women don’t work so most of the girls sat in hut and prayed over the village. But not me :) Our job was to repair the walkways in between each field. Needless to say it was a very muddy job. I loved it! I had so much fun playing in the mud and spending time with my friends... And I only fell twice!

That afternoon BMK and I took a nap and when I woke up I felt sick. While the rest of the team practiced our Christmas program I continued to take a nap. I felt a little better and had dinner with the team. That night I realized that it was Christmas Eve and as some of you know, I’m ALWAYS sick on Christmas Eve, in some form.

And then Christmas! Oh man, it did not feel like Christmas. But we did have a Christmas miracle. The house I stayed at had 12 little piglets in the morning! We were so excited for our mom; they were adorable! After hanging out with the piglets, we cleaned up one of the houses in the village and spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the kids.

Those kids, man, they stole my heart. There is one little girl there, Praywah, who is beautiful. She seriously made my heart so happy every time she hugged me. I pray for her all the time, that she have an opportunity for education and a good life, that’s all I want for her. The boys were precious too. I brought coloring books with me from the States and at first they didn’t want to color but by the end of the afternoon they were all coloring.

We practiced again that afternoon, had dinner, and then had a Christmas celebration as a team. That afternoon some of us went to the 7/11 in town and got some treats to share. I was so happy to be together as a family with Christmas music, enjoying the day. It was a great way to end the night.

Monday we again went to the fields, this time one closer to our home. And once again, we didn’t do much. I spent some time praying for the fields and the village. It was a nice morning. We had our final practice for that night after lunch. It brought me back to practicing for Church Christmas programs. :) TB and I hung out after practice and had a good talk on the basketball court. I am so glad that she is our team leader- she is so wonderful!

After dinner we all gathered on the basketball court, ready to present our final product. It was kind of an awkward situation because there had been a death in the village that day so we couldn’t be too loud while playing with the kids and such. We played duck duck goose with the kids and it was hilarious! They were getting so sassy with each other and us; it was adorable. Our presentation of the Christmas story went really well! It was so exciting to be a part of; this was the first time these people had heard of this story!

It was hard saying goodbye to the kids that night; I don’t think they realized that we were leaving. I started crying when thinking of leaving Praywah. But I just kept praying that God protect her and her family; and all the kids for that fact. God has such beautiful plans for each one of them; I’m so excited to see where He takes them all.

So Monday we spent the day packing and saying our goodbyes. I was sad to leave but I knew that it was time to get into ministry in the city. I’m excited to start working with the orphanage.

And here is where I leave you, excited to spend the next few hours with a book and sunshine.
I love you all, happy holidays from Thailand!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bus Rides.

I decided that the easiest thing to do is to write out day by day what I’m doing and then post it on Sunday. Sound good? Good.

Monday we had another day of flood relief. I was really excited again because I love practically helping people (I think I said in my last post too). We split into teams again and were on our way. My team and I went to an elderly man’s house in Bangkok. The water line in his house was as tall as me. The water had been there for 45 days and just left last week Tuesday. It still blows my mind that there was that much water all around the city for that long. All of this man’s possessions were ruined on the first floor. It was a mess (I will post picture soon). BH and I worked in the backyard cleaning up trash. It was really hard at one point when we found a little boy’s shoes. It was heartbreaking to think of little children being so affected by this flood.

The rest of the day the whole team worked on the inside of the house, cleaning everything out and then scrubbing the walls and floors. When we left, the house looked amazing! I will get before and after pictures so y’all can see the transformation. And this was just one day of work. It’s amazing what you can do with 10 people and some hard work!

Tuesday was kind of a chill day again. We spent the morning packing up and cleaning our rooms. After lunch we started to plan our Christmas program that we’re going to put on. I kept thinking back to Church Christmas programs and how much I disliked being in them. This year will be different though, I’m really excited. We closed our time in Bangkok with prayer and worship. We were so blessed to have a week in that city. I pray that God reaches more and more people through the people we worked with.

Then Tuesday night we left Bangkok to go north. The ride was 12 hours long on a bus and I can honestly say I would LOVE to take that bus again. This was no ordinary bus my friends. We had reclining seats, foot rests, chicken for dinner, coke, MASSAGES IN THE SEATS, pillows, blankets, and so much more. And all for the low, low price of 15 euro a person. I am so excited to go back to Bangkok :)

The only downside to that is that we got to Chang Mai in the morning. Luckily we had until 12 to sleep. We then had lunch and orientation at a University CafĂ© that we’re going to work with. I am really excited to see what God is going to do through these people.

Ok, so I know that I said I would write everyday and then post my blog on Sunday but this week will be an exception. We’re going to stay in a village until Tuesday next week so I won’t have my computer to write while I’m there but I’m taking my journal. I will make a special blog post for that and leave this one here.

I miss you all so much. It’s hard being away during Christmas time but I need to keep reminding myself that this is such a beautiful way to spend my Christmas, glorifying God with my YWAM family.

I love you all,


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome to Thailand.

After over 24 hours of traveling, I am finally in Thailand. It’s crazy to me that I’m actually here. It doesn’t feel like it at all!

So we left Monday morning. (I had to say goodbye to EB and CK and I’m so proud of myself that I didn’t cry!) We then took a train to Munich where we departed for Dubai! You should all go Google picture of Dubai- it’s insane! Sadly we didn’t have a chance to go explore outside of the airport but I was content to stay and rest.

TANGENT: I decided I have a love/hate relationship with flying. There are times (mostly when I fly during the day) that I LOVE flying; and I know that I love it because of the movies I get to watch. I watched Crazy, Stupid, Love (part of it at least), The Help, and The Glee movie. And then there are times where I HATE flying. And those times are when I fly at night. I hate having to sit between people that you don’t know too well and trying to sleep, it’s the worst. The first flight to Dubai was during the night and the flight to Bangkok was during the day. Needless to say, I loved the flight to Bangkok. And another wonderful thing about flying is the games you get to play. I flew with 6 other people on Emirates airline. Everyone should go Google Emirates airline to see how legit they are.

Back to Tuesday night: Thankfully everyone got through security and got their luggage. We then drove 30 minutes to where we would be staying for the next week; we literally road in the back of pickups- on the highway. It was so fun. We were all freaking out and so excited, it was the perfect way to travel through Bangkok.

After a wonderful night’s sleep, we started out our Wednesday morning with orientation. It’s so interesting to discover another culture besides your own. Asian culture is so different that western culture but it’s so beautiful at the same time.

For lunch we had our first Thai meal. PR- here is where you start reading about all the food I have eaten :) And don’t worry, I’m trying everything. I had cashew chicken and red curry chicken. And I actually enjoyed it. (for those of you who don’t know, I do not enjoy Asian Cuisine) I am promising you all now that I will try what is in front of me.

After lunch our team went on a scavenger hunt around the area. One of the things we needed to find was fruit and desserts that we had never had before. My team and I got Mangos, Dragon Fruit, and this brightly colored dessert. And for the record, we didn’t know the mango was a mango; it was green so we thought we had never had it before but then we were told it was just unripe! The Dragon Fruit was good, a little tasteless but still good! The brightly colored dessert honestly tasted like I was eating strips of flower petals dipped in sugar. BMK loved it; me, not so much. Another team brought back a bag full of fried crickets. It was hilarious watching everyone eat them. (no, I did not eat one) I have a feeling that I will be trying a lot of new things on this trip. And not just new things, gross things.

Thursday was a beautiful day. My team and I went on a prayer walk through Bangkok. We had certain landmarks that we went to see and pray for (picture coming soon, promise). I feel like after Thursday I have now taken all forms of travel in Thailand. We took a bus another place in Bangkok, I honestly have no idea where, and then took a train to a boat tour. It was a lot of fun being able to ride down a river that runs through the city. There were temples all around, it was breath taking.

Our first stop was Wat Po and The Reclining Buddha. Wat Po is a beautiful compound that has multiple towers, chapels, and The Reclining Buddha which is its shining glory. This Buddha is 46 meters long. It is HUGE. It’s crazy to me that someone (more like a lot of people) would make something like this. And I know they believe that their god is the true god but it still blows my mind that someone would dedicate themselves to all of the intricacy involved in this compound.

Our second stop (after lunch!) was Wat Saket and the Temple of the Golden Mount. After climbing 318 steps to the top we walked around and were able to take in the city of Bangkok. It was amazing to stand on top of that hill and see all that God has made. Sadly this was our last stop due to transportation problems. But all in all, it was a beautiful day to see all that God has planned for this city. God loves this city so much; all He wants is to have them love Him back. I know that He will win their hearts; it’s all a matter of His time.

Thursday night I stayed up late talking with BMK and AB. I love being around people with whom I can have meaningful conversations with all the time. I have been blessed with such an amazing team!

Friday we had the opportunity to spend the day doing some practical work by helping out with flood relief. I was really excited about this because I love psychically helping those in need that can’t afford to do it themselves. We have so much to offer; if we just step back out of ourselves to sacrifice a part of our day, our worlds will start to change. We split up into two teams and my team went to help an elderly couple that couldn’t afford the money to clean up after the flood.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there. I have helped with Katrina relief in grade 10 but that was awhile after Katrina hit. It was such an honor to be able to help contribute to the cause so early after it happened. We worked on cleaning out their porch area first. There are pallets, furniture, and random things all over the place. Not to mention the inch or so of standing water mixed with mud. The morning before lunch was spent taking out all the mud and cleaning the floor and the walls. It was so exciting to see how different and clean it was.

We had lunch prepared for us which was such a blessing. The woman we were helping prepared chicken with rice and sea food. And yeah, I ate the chicken and rice :) I’m just not a fan of the sea food. But it was a wonderful meal none the less.

The afternoon was spent scrubbing the walls inside and all around cleaning up their house. The top half of the wall was white and the bottom half was stained brown from the flood waters. It was crazy to be able to see that line- that is how high the waters were. I couldn’t imagine waking up to half my house filled with water. The flood destroyed everything for some people; I couldn’t begin to imagine that. All of it really makes me thankful for the home that I have back in the mitten.

At the end of the day we had the opportunity to pray for the couple that we helped. Their pastor was there to help us as well. They were so happy and thankful for the work that we did. And it literally only took us a day. Imagine if groups from all over came and helped clean one house, one day. There would be so many grateful people in Bangkok.

Today (Saturday) we had the opportunity to go do ministry on the streets. A group of us decided to go to a gas station because someone got a vision of one. We took the bus and went to a gas station and played music for a while and then we noticed a group of young guys playing guitar so we went over and played with them. They didn’t speak any English so we just sat with them and played music. We’re pretty sure they were just laughing at us the whole time but we still had fun :)

After that we took another bus to a mall and played music outside for awhile. We didn’t have anybody come up and talk to us but it was nice to just play music. I prayed for people as they walked by and such but nothing big happened.

BMK, BMH, AB, and our translator Pang went into the mall to shop for awhile after that. Yes, we shopped. And it was GREAT. They have a movie theater at the mall (this mall is 5 stories tall) so we decided to go back tomorrow on our day off and see the new Twilight movie. I cannot wait! We decided to make it out Christmas present to ourselves :)

So Monday we will do more flood relief and then we will travel north. I cannot wait to play with a child, that’s all I have wanted since I got here!

Prayer requests: Our team is still in need of money. If anyone feels led to donate let me know!

I love you all!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's official.

It's the worst when you have to pack up the room you've been living in for the past 3 months. And what's worse is leaving the people you love with all your heart.

This is what I've been going through the past week. Outreach is here. Finally! This week has been full of preparations for our trips. We have packed up our rooms, finished our art tracks, and started to say our goodbyes. My team spent 24 hours in pray in preparation for our trip as well. It was a great way for us to join together and seek after God's heart for Cambodia, Thailand, and Bangladesh.

So, the final part in what was keeping me from leaving for Thailand was my visa. And praise God I finally got it yesterday! So I officially leave Monday for Thailand! I don't know how much internet access I will have while we are there but I am going to try to update as much as I can.

Prayers and encouragement is very much appreciated!

I love you all, see you in 4 months!!