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 smaller 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!
It is currently about midnight, our wake up call is a short four and a half hours from now at 4:30am. After our concluding session tonight, our team cleaned up part of the campus since we're the first team leaving in the morning & half of us have been packing and repacking for a while now, or else i'd probably already be asleep.
Yesterday, when my mom asked me how i'm feeling about leaving so soon, I told her i'm really excited, and I can't believe it's finally here! For the last 10 months - which has seemed like a very long time - I have been anticipating this trip. I felt like I kept telling people when I was going, where I was going, what i'll be doing, and it felt as though I was just going to keep saying it, rather than actually going. But the day is finally here, and I don't think it'll actually "hit" me until i'm there...
The duration of this trip is September 1 thru December 1. The first part is in Georgia where i'll be meeting up with everyone on the team i'm on. We meet up at the Adventures in Missions (AIM) headquarters for Training Camp for a couple days. I don't necessarily know what to expect at Training Camp, but i've heard it's basically a means of getting us equipped for what living is going to look like the next couple months & preparing our hearts and minds.
On Sept. 5 we leave for Thailand. With a lot of travel time and the time difference, we get to Mae Sot, Thailand on Sept. 6. We'll be in Thailand for a little less than two months, then in Cambodia until coming home at the end of November. We'll all travel back to Georgia together for a debrief with AIM, then arriving home on Dec. 1.
I am ready & expectant for what the Lord has for me and our team in this next season. I am believing for new memories to be made with new friends, while also having encounters with other people to share the goodness of God. I am excited for the people I will meet and the connections along the way. I am looking forward to living in a completely new way, and to live day to day not necessarily knowing what is going to happen next. The previous sentence is weird for me to say, because I am a huge planner. But I am praying for a new sense of spontaneity and flexibility. I pray to be willing to try new things and rid myself of any fear.
I am living the life that I admired other people for living, and it is a dream come true.
THANK YOU for the prayerful, financial, & moral support over the past many months from friends & family!
If you'd like to see what our team will be doing, i'll be sharing on the blog, Facebook, & Instagram as often as I can.
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