WORLD RACE: 3/30/11
MY COMPLETE JOY IN THAILAND
So, I failed BLOGGING 101 class! I can only apologize and move on! So last month we were in Phuket, Thailand. It looked much different from our month in Cambodia. We lived at the SHE Ministries center with another AIM team. When we first arrived there were 2 other teams (another World Race team and a YWAM team), but both teams left about a week or so into our stay there. We were so blessed this past month to have communal living complete with bunk beds and 12 girls sharing a bathroom! It actually worked out great! One of my favorite moments of each day was taking a cold shower after such a hot day while looking out the large window that overlooked the green lush mountains of Thailand. Don’t worry mom, nobody could see in…that I know of! (If I can’t see you, you can’t see me, right?)
We spent every day working hard on the land we were clearing for SHE to build some new housing OR praying and preparing for our time on Bangla Road. We loved the days when we worked the land because it was easy to see your impact! There was physical evidence for our labor and that was good for the energy of the soul! We also loved the days we went to Bangla Road. On these days we would prepare for our time there hanging out with the girls in the bars. At night we would all pile in a truck and head up the mountain to Bangla Road. It was a place like I’ve never seen before.
I want you to meet my friend JOY. Her name is not really Joy, of course, but that’s what she was to me, and I pray that I was to her as well. I met her on the second night on Bangla Road. She works in a bar there and has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen! She is about a third of my size (as most Thai people are) but has the spirit of a giant! She is a mother, a good friend to the other girls she works with, a leader, and a beautiful women!
When I first met her she taught me how to play a game you see a lot on Bangla where you have to literally hit a nail in a humongous tree trunk. I know, I know, but it was that or another game of connect four! I couldn’t help but go back almost every time I was on Bangla to see Joy. Sometimes she was there and ran up to me as though I was her best friend. Sometimes she commented on waiting days to see me. And other nights she was already off with someone else she had met that night and I was lucky to get a wave in so as not to keep her from her friend for the night. These nights were different for me than the days spent working the land. These nights I had to remind myself of what it looks like to cultivate something rare and precious. It takes time, patience, and a commitment to the painful process. It meant facing rejection and still maintaining hope.
There is a flower in Thailand called the Parrot Flower. It is so rare that some don’t even believe it really exists. I wish I had known about this sooner so I could have found one for myself, but alas I will simply choose to believe it is real. It is said to grow on an ugly bush only in the extreme tropic areas of northern Thailand, Burma, and India. It only blooms for about 1-2 weeks each year, but it is beautiful! Scientists don’t know the actual pollinator of this flower, which is why it has not grown anywhere else (minus once in the UK). They say it must be something extremely small and with an unusually long tongue to get the seeds out to use for pollination. All these things (and surely more than my 30 minutes worth of research gave me) lead to this flower seeming as only a dream, a figment of the imagination. I imagine that’s what some might think about Joy and her life. It would be easy for me and even her to think that nobody could reach her, that nobody could save her, that the ugly bush she grows on in a bar on Bangla Road can’t possibly produce something as stunning as her. It could very easily be that nobody believes that she exists because they have not seen her, especially amidst the thousands of other girls on Bangla Road. But she is real. She is rare in her beauty. She is seen, heard, and completely known by her Maker. There is hope for her. There is restoration available to her.
It was difficult to say goodbye to Joy. I wondered if I would ever see her again. We exchanged email addresses. She kept asking me when I was coming back to see her…I choked back tears as I said, “I don’t think I’m coming back.” UGH! How terrible! How can I not go back? All I could hope for at that moment was that there would come a day when we would stand together in heaven praising and worshiping the same God that she doesn’t yet know. I am putting ALL my hopes for her and ALL my faith in the fact that God will honor my prayers for her and that our friendship is only beginning.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my JOY complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” PHILIPPIANS 2:1-2