God continues to amaze me in that His ways are always good, and I can’t help but see His goodness in everything I do & see and everyone I encounter with.
As I eluded to in my last post, since coming back, I want to be intentional with my time & the relationships I have with the people. Regardless that I am here a short amount of time, I can still make a change and they can impact my life greatly.
About a week & a half ago, on October 6, I had a very memorable day. I remember thinking to myself that morning, “today is a good day to have a good day.” A simple statement changed the trajectory of that day.. Almost on a daily basis, there are two Thai women who work in the new women’s center Outpour will be launching soon, and they make some of the products they will be selling (laptop bags, pencil bags, duffel bags). As I was working on projects at Outpour, and found myself in between something to do, I asked Paw Wah, one of the two women I mentioned, what she was working on, and she invited me over to her sewing machine where we then worked together for a couple hours and she showed me how to make a laptop bag. We talked about little things & laughed together. Later on I joined her and a couple others of the Outpour staff for lunch. That was such a special time for me.
That day was a reminder of what God can do with a simple “yes” in my spirit. I made a conscious and intentional effort to try to connect with people here, and I already started to see the fruit of that.
That’s just one short story of my experiences here.
Beyond that, we have continued making trips to the Thai/Burmese border. One of our visits, on October 8, consisted of coloring & playing frisbee with kids in the same village we had previously went to, and visiting & speaking with a monks in their home. Ministry always looks different, but it’s often times so simple and that’s what I appreciate about it.
The next time we went to the border, on October 10, part of our team made the bike ride to the border and rather than venturing off to the village, we stayed along the path that spans No Man’s Land, and had a time of prayer. We prayed over No Man’s Land, Burma, Thailand, its government, and the hearts of its people. We know that our words have the power of life & death in them and we wanted to take an opportunity together to declare God’s promises over these nations and their people.
On Sunday, October 9, after attending church at the Refuge Home, we made a stop at a Buddhist Temple on the way back to the team house. Our intention was to walk around & pray for the temple and the people who visit it, while also observing the temple itself. With the information that we were told on what it means to be Buddhist, the religion itself essentially operates with no sense of eternal hope. They worship idols that eventually crumble. Nevertheless, it gave me appreciation, perspective, and understanding of my faith.
A couple times a week, a couple of my teammates and I ride out to the Refuge Home to teach English for a couple hours. This has been a huge highlight for me during our time here, so i’ll be writing all about it in its own post.
With Outpour specifically, it has been incredible for our team to have a part in their new project launching soon. Unfortunately, I can’t say much information about it because it hasn’t officially launched yet. But just know, starting next month, something special is starting here with the potential and likelihood to change the atmosphere of this community.
These are just a few highlights and short stories of my time here. Some moments, like teaching at the Refuge Home, going all the way into Myanmar (Burma) just yesterday, and witnessing one of my teammates get baptized today, i’ll be sharing all about soon.
We’ll be in Mae Sot for another ten or so days. I know I say it somewhat often, but I can’t wait to see and be a part of what the Lord will do here!
It’s October, and i’ve been away from home for over a month now. For most of our team it feels as though we have been here much longer than we have, and other times we feel as though it couldn’t have possibly been a month already.
It’s a little bittersweet to be missing the entire fall season back in the states. But on the bright side our leader is Canadian, so we get two Thanksgivings.
Coming back to Mae Sot last week was hard for me, because I didn’t appreciate the reason we had to come back, but I have seen the goodness of God & His provision play out in front of my very eyes in the last week or so.
We came back to the same house we were initially at, partnered back up with Outpour Movement, and started on new & old projects. Since coming back wasn’t necessarily planned, there was a World Race team that came while we were away. I will say it’s been interesting to have around twenty people in the same house with three restrooms, four bedrooms, and one wifi router.
We’ve also gone back to restaurants & coffee shops that we frequented and have found some new ones.
Part of being back means we get to pour into and be filled up by the people we interact with and invest more time with them, than if we would have stayed in Mae La Noi. That doesn’t only include the American staff & volunteers who have devoted their time here, but also the Thai & Burmese men and women who work and serve alongside Outpour. It has been fun just to get to know them in a small way and get to know their culture during the time that we are here.
My favorite day by far since being back this last week was visiting the Thai/Burmese border. Mae Sot is a border town which is why we have been able to interact and meet both Thai and Burmese people. We have now had two opportunities to visit separate parts of the border…
Our first visit was the day before we left Mae Sot the first time on Tuesday, September 20. We loaded up in a couple trucks and took a short drive toward the border. Once we pulled off a main road into a parking area, we walked across the street, and in an obscured view I could see a gap of land and a river in between - the border of Thailand and Burma. Once we went down a steep flight of stairs, we boarded a thin, slightly unstable, and wobbly boat. We boarded slowly and evenly sitting across from one another making sure that the boat didn’t tip over. We rode across this river with a distance of about fifty-sixty feet. After we unloaded the boat, we walked up a steep flight of stairs, and sat on the ground where we prayed over this nation and were led in some worship songs by Ray, the founder of Outpour. We sat there for about an hour & a half taking in our surroundings, praying, & worshipping over this nation. It was definitely a very special time, but, most of us left with an overwhelming heaviness in our hearts. for what this country has endured.
“Your will be done in Burma as it is in Heaven.”
Our intention of going there was to pray over the country of Burma (now known as Myanmar). There has been a lot of oppression & civil tension in Burma over the past many decades, and there has only recently (in the last three years or so) been a cease-fire that has mostly been respected. Partly due to the cease-fire and partly because of the government, the country itself had been previoulsy closed to all foreigners. Burma has been a country that people have fled from, and some of the people who still live there don’t live in the most ideal conditions. Please pray circles around this country, its people, & their government officials. The staff at Outpour have huge hearts to see restoration here, and it has been amazing to have a small part in it.
Our second visit to the border was a few days ago on Friday, September 30. This time we rode our bikes through Mae Sot & along the main highway to a different part of the border. At this part of the border, there is a piece of land known as “No Man’s Land” which hasn’t been claimed by either Burma or Thailand. Around three-hundred people of all ages live in this stretch of land that is covered in trash & would be considered inhospitable living conditions by many. Since there isn’t necessarily rules or laws here, people go here to escape the law, and there is a continuing problem of drugs and trafficking here.
We walked along the outside of No Man’s Land on a paved sidewalk to have a glimpse of what it looks like. After a few minutes, we encountered a Burmese woman who was holding her young son. Our leaders got to talking with her & hearing a bit of her story. She soon invited all thirteen of us to her home - which i’ll mention a little later.
From there we went off the sidewalk onto a roughly defined path through, at times, thick brush. The woman we met welcomed us into the village she lives in, and that our leaders had not previously known of. We were brought into the Village Temple where we talked with the leader of the village for a short while. It was very endearing to be welcomed in the way that we were. From there we were led by two men of the Thai military around the outskirts of this village. At times I felt as though I was walking through a dense forest. We would walk out of thick brush with mud on our feet but with smiles on our faces. We saw & witnessed the means in which people live, and I was reminded of how I felt while visiting Haiti for the first time. All the people we encountered were so kind and welcoming.
When we made our way back to the start of our walk, we saw the same woman again & we went to her home. Her home had a mud ground surrounded by walls made of wood, but they had everything they needed. We heard more about her family, and how her husband had previously been shot in the leg and is recovering with reoccurring pain from that injury, she has slightly impaired vision, and their son is very young, so we prayed for them. Afterwards, we were given a Thai vegetable (that we’re still not quite sure what it is) as a parting gift.
I found that time so special, and I really appreciated how that woman was willing to seek out connection with us - which eventually led to us meeting her family, being welcomed into their home, and praying for them.
My heart was so happy that day.
It was another reminder of why we were brought back to Mae Sot.
I feel as though I am living the life that I have only ever dreamt of.
from our first visit to the border
The pictures we were able to take in the village were limited, and since we were told we would be coming back to the same area at a later time, I decided to only take the group pictures at the beginning of the day, and our Burmese friend, John, took the other pictures.
Our time in Mae La Noi was put to an abrupt halt, but those five & a half days or so were so special & memorable, and i’m so thankful for it.
Before leaving for the seven-hour drive through the mountains and countryside of Thailand last Wednesday, we were all told varying things about our hosts, the town, ministry, and what living was going to look like. So we left with little expectations, but excitement in our hearts for what’s to come.
The drive itself was beautiful to say the least. Many times we were all taken aback by the scenery & thankful for this life we are living.
I often found myself singing these lyrics as I held on to the back of the Songtheaw
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King
While it was a beautiful drive, it was also pretty bumpy, so a couple of us had motion-sickness. Needless to say, it was good to finally get there. In Mae La Noi, we were greeted by our host family helping us unload all our packs from the top and inside of the car.
The house was two stories where the living room areas, bathroom, and kitchen were on the bottom, and the bedrooms were on the top. We made our way upstairs to the bedrooms where mosquito nets were set up across the rooms for us. The family was immediately so welcoming and we were all excited to be there.
Most of our meals, with the exception of lunch a couple of the days, were at the house prepared by Mae (the mom of our host family). There was little to no furniture downstairs, so meals were, what some called, “family style.” There was a large mat on the ground, we all sat around it, and ate together. It was basically like eating at a table with your family without the table & it was more fun.
Since we weren’t there very long, we didn’t necessarily fully delve into ministry in the way some of us were expecting to. But what we did do was so fun and so worth it. Pa, the dad of our host family, was such a nice man with such a huge heart for the Lord and his community. He had previously lived in Chiang Mai, and after moving to Mae La Noi (a much smaller and starkly different community from what he was used to), he decided to be very intentional. So he made connections with directors of schools and officials in the Thai government.
In those five & a half days we visited two schools that have been operated by Buddhist traditions. But because of the connections and relationships that Pa had developed, Christians are able to come in. Our team spent time with around 150 kids and shared testimonies that kids could relate to, acted out skits based on Bible stories, played some songs, and played games to have some fun. I definitely enjoyed that time and seeing how the kids were so receptive to it.
Pa & Mae also wanted us to have fun while there. So Pa took us to a lake close to the house where some of us went swimming. Pa is also involved in soccer with many people in the community, so we went to watch him play & some of us played soccer ourselves and basketball with some local youth.
On Sunday, for church, we went to Pa’s sister’s home. Rappi opens up her home to eight young girls from surrounding villages who may have needed a better home or whose parents couldn't necessarily care for them. Rappi is such a special woman whose heart and passion for God is shown so well not only on the inside but outside as well. Rappi’s family, Pa & Mae’s family, and our team sat all together in their living room for church. It was something that I have envisioned church in the states to feel like - comfortable, simple, intimate, and like home.
With our meals, living arrangements, & activities, we were so well taken care of for those few days.
On Monday afternoon we were told that one of the men that Pa had connected with, who is an immigration official, was questioning what we were doing & why we were there. So, without expelling all the details, we were told that we would be leaving the next morning to head back to Mae Sot.
I was not expecting this, I was definitely shocked. We were so sad, and it was sad to see the family so upset about the situation. We’re not quite sure what our next step is since it was not planned for us to be back in Mae Sot. But it is what it is, & i'm going to make the most out of this. Personally, I was & am very sad to have left Mae La Noi. The family were such incredible people & I loved their hearts, and, under the circumstances, it was not easy to leave.
Please be praying for this team & I as we unexpectedly transition back.
I see the goodness of God through it all, and I trust that His ways are better & greater than anything we could have "planned."
This week was a whirlwind of emotions for me. I found myself with so much joy in my heart & other times an emotional mess.
When I got sick for a few days earlier in the week I started to miss the comfort of home for the first time on this trip. It was an emotional feeling that I wasn’t expecting so soon. I also had to remind myself that those are normal feelings. I am not abnormal to want what I’m used to, but being sick really brought the feelings to the surface this week.
In the midst of that, I’m reminding myself that there is so much more to be joyful about.
We have come alongside an incredible organization to work & assist with some of the seemingly small things so the staff is able to focus on the big picture. This week, we had time where we continued working on the property of Outpour on projects from the week before & also starting new ones.
On Saturday & Sunday we got to spend time with some of the children at the Children’s Home again. Saturday was games at the soccer fields, and Sunday was church. Similar feelings at church from the week prior (see previous post), but this time was just a little different.
The first service we went to was at the Children’s Home, & there was actually a visitor from Singapore that we got to hear from. Some of my teammates shared testimonies with the children. We had lunch again with the kids, where we sat in scattered areas of the floor with kids rotating from different laps, & created some memories with precious children who spoke little to no English. As we were leaving, the sun was beaming & we were sweating so much, but I turned around to see fifteen or so little children I’ve only spent a few hours with waving at all of us as we rode our bikes away from the their home. I may never see them again on this side of heaven, but Lord-willing I’ll never forget them & how they touched my heart.
Wednesday morning we leave for our eight-hour drive up north to our next ministry location in Mae La Noi, where we'll be for about five weeks. Would you please be in prayer for our team? We’re not quite sure what to expect, but we do know that ministry & living arrangements are going to look a lot different. We are very excited & expectant for what is in store though.
Thank you for the continued support & prayers!
We arrived in Mae Sot, Thailand after 2.5ish days of travel. 16 hours from Atlanta, Georgia to Seoul, Korea. 5.5 hours from Seoul to Bangkok, Thailand. Overnight at a hostel in the city. Then a 10 hour bus ride to Mae Sot. Let's just say we were all relieved to finally get here.
We arrived in Mae Sot in the afternoon last Wednesday, and our team coordinator picked us all us from the bus station. We packed 11 huge packs and daypacks and all of us into one truck. It took us all a couple days to fully recover from the jet-lag and adjust to the time difference, and we then settled into what will be our living quarters for the next couple weeks.
Our first week was somewhat challenging, but very rewarding. Our team has been serving with Outpour Movement. Outpour consists of an incredible staff with big hearts for this community and a vision to see the people know & love Jesus. Outpour operates & serves the community in many different ways, and we have had just a small part in coming along side of them for a short time and helping how we can. Our first couple days of ministry helped on the grounds of Outpour’s property. They have a restaurant called Famous Ray’s, that many locals go to & that we have been frequenting during meal times, which faces the main road, and, behind the restaurant, Outpour is in the process of building a youth/community center, bike shop, recording studio, & women’s center. So we have been leveling ground, sanding walls, building bunk beds, weeding, breaking a part pieces of bike chains that will eventually be used for jewelry to be sold, & painting.
Since biking is a primary means of transportation here, part of what Outpour does as well is providing and repairing bikes for the community. We have also been conforming to that trend by using some of the bikes that Outpour already has and that has been our means of getting just about everywhere. Let me just say, that if I wasn’t in shape before coming here, I will (hopefully) be by the time I get home… All joking aside, biking around has been a really fun way to get to know Mae Sot, rather than being driven places.
On Saturday, we rode our bikes to soccer fields that children from a Children’s Home that Outpour is connected to, play at on Saturday mornings. That was definitely a fun time to not be “working”, and have some fun.
Our first Sunday in Thailand was really great. We went to two places for church. The first was the Children’s Home of the children we had played with the day before. We had lunch with them afterwards, and all sat on the floor eating curry together. The second place was a refuge home in which some refugees from Myanmar (Burma) come after arriving in Thailand. From my experience in Haiti & now in Thailand, being in a church in a third-world country is a very special experience. Seeing people have less material things and live seemingly very different lives, but still be rejoicing for what they do have, and the lives they do live, is a powerful thing. On top of just being there, I had the opportunity to share a short testimony, along with a few of my teammates, at both services we went to.
As a team, we have gotten to know the culture a bit by exploring during our free time. We went to Thai and Burmese markets, (tried) to converse with locals, & rode our bikes through the streets in pouring rain.
On a side note, the food has been pretty amazing.
I have thoroughly been enjoying my time here so far, and can’t wait to continue seeing what our team will experience & how God will be moving in and through us during our time here!
This is a blog about many things... the ups & downs of early adulthood, God's goodness & faithfulness, life in other countries, and how the Lord is working in & through ordinary me.
“Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."
Habakkuk 1:5 NIV