Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
I'm in Kuala Lumpur now. Got up at 5 am to catch my taxi to the airport (grrr...I don't like the day before 7 am), and had a smoothly successful flight, after a much needed cup of coffee. I had the nicest taxi driver from the airport, which was great since it took almost an HOUR to get from the airport to the city (apparently they thought the middle of nowhere would be a good place for the international airport, go figure...). I got to my hotel early, they let me check-in and upgraded me to a nicer room! How thoughtful. :)
I walked down the street to some type of restuarant (still not really sure) where I was met at the door by a woman who handed me a huge plate of rice and told me to scoop what I wanted onto my plate (not the everyday restaurant greeting, but it worked). There were several different buffet style dishes (not sure what any of them were), so I "eenie-meanie-miney-moe"d my way through it and ate a pleasant collection of unidentified things, paid my 5 Ringgets? (ringlets? something like that...they keep saying it, but have accents, so I'm not entirely sure what the money is called...but it was about a buck fifty USD) and went back to the hotel to nap, where some Indian sounding child kept thinking my room was his room and he would repeatedly try to open my door. Oh well, the nap was a good idea at least... :)
That brings me to now, when I plan to find the Thai Embassy (at least on a map) maybe explore until it gets dark and get ready for visa fun in the am. Keep up the prayers - they are working thus far! (as if they wouldn't ;)....)
Friday, June 26, 2009
So Monday I am flying to Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia to apply for a visa. I booked the airfare and hotel today, cause unfortunately the trip isn't as simple as jumping the border, getting a stamp and heading back. The Embassy part takes 2 days, and with flight times you can't get an early enough flight to get you to the Embassy at 9 am the first day, so it turns into a 3 day journey. Which means I'll be staying 2 nights in a hotel there, and will have some down time to check out the sights while I wait. To say I'm just a little nervous would be an understatement. For some reason, traveling to India and Thailand by myself was not as scary as this, maybe since I knew I'd have people waiting for me on the other side that could help me if any issues came up. Maybe because I knew it was for a mission, so I just bit the bullet and did it for the greater cause.
Not for this though. I have to navigate a new country and city on my own as well as hoping I have all the visa stuff correct that I need (there are some conflicting reports on the web). And entertain myself those 3 days. ( I know what you are thinking: "You're an only child - you should be great at entertaining yourself..." and I am, but I've done my time alone, and now want to be with people! :) )
I am a big girl, so I will go and do it, but I would appreciate your prayers for my safety and for favor in both managing to get around and get what I need in country and with the visa. Also, combining flights, 2 nights of hotel stay, transportation and food while away, and the $150 visa makes this a rather expensive process (about $500 USD), but worth it when I think of all that will be gained by being able to stay in Thailand longer.
If you would be interested in supporting me financially while I am away, you can give securely online at www.globalinfusion.org (just specify my name when you give), or by mailing a check to Global Infusion, 4422 Timberlake Dr., Louisville, TN 37777 (put my name in the memo section of the check), and they will be sure the money gets to me. The costs of being here, especially for a longer time period are adding up, so any gift would help! I know that I am called to be here, though, and the Lord will make a way for it to happen! The harvest truly is plentiful here, and I want to be one of the workers in this vineyard.
Also please pray as I've been in a bit of a funk here the last couple of days. The emotional toll of all this travel and what I'm experiencing has been catching up with me, and I am missing friends and family from back home a lot right now. There are great people here, but they aren't familiar people. So just pray for renewal and for the Lord to meet my emotional needs, because I know He can and He will. Any type of encouragment you can post is also appreciated! :)
Friday, June 19, 2009
— C.T. Studd
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
So today, I just felt like we should call one of the girls - I'll call her Penny. We called, and she answered and agreed to meet us for coffee that afternoon. Coffee ended up becoming lunch with her out at a restaurant, but she was so interested in getting out and coming to work with SHE that we brought her back to the center with us, and she was offered a job on the spot working mainly in the office with SHE (a real blessing for them as well, as this has been a great need for them too). This girl is sharp - degree in business and bery professional, plus a great sweet spirit. She only recently started working in the bar (for about a month only) as the economy has been bad and she has to take care of her elderly mother and desperately needed the money. When she found out she got the job she was grinning from ear to ear, and looked so thrilled, as she had shared how horrible she found the work in the bar and wanted to get out of it so bad. She is moving in to the center or Sunday and starts work on Monday! Praise the Lord that this girl got out before she got more heavily engrained in it all. This was such a fast process of planting a seed, watching it grow right before our eyes, and reaping a harvest, all in just a 3 day period. Also, she was supposed to be working in the bar tonight, but we were out ministering, went by to see her and they said she didn't come in (another huge answer to our prayers!), so we were thrilled that she really is done with that life! Let's pray it's this easy with more of the girls we minister to!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Some of the Thai girls and I took a walk from SHE to this nearby dam - very pretty. I need a tan. haha
Helping the ladies at she bake cookies (their newest business addition is baking)
Leading morning Bible studies with the women at SHE
Praying over the bars when they are closed
Playing Jenga at one of the bars with our new friend. She's 20 years old, and she works at 2 bars. She told us that her mother works down there in the bars as well. She has a 9 year old sister, and I feel so burdened to pray that her sister does not follow in their footsteps as well. We will continue to go back and visit her during our stay in Thailand.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
This area of Thailand is well-known for its beaches and sex-tourism. There is a ministry here started by a British missionary family that reaches out to the girls working in prostitution in the bars that gives them an alternative to what they are doing. The ministry is called SHE (self-help and empowerment) and offers them training in making jewelry, chocolates, and baked goods, while also offering them a place to live and Biblical teaching.
Right now there are about 18 girls working for SHE, about 7 of which live at the site, and the others travel here each day to work. While the team is here, we have been getting up in the am to lead their morning devotions at the start of their work day. Then we help them do their work - making the jewelry or baking the cookies (yum! my favorite job...), etc. While we are doing this we have the opportunity to have conversations with them. Many of the girls who work here are not yet Christians. The only condition for them coming to work for SHE is that they aren't working in the bars. So there is quite a mix of spiritual conditions here. Some of the girls have become Christians and have been baptised, some have gone through YWAM Discipleship Training Schools, others have just left the bars a few nights or weeks ago (we got a brand new lady who moved in today!).
Then some afternoons we go to Patong (the red light area) and prayer walk through out the areas.
In the evenings we have more chances to talk with and disciple the ladies who live at SHE. Many of the later nights (9-12 or so) are spent out at those same bars, engaging in conversations with the girls.
The bars have "bar-girls" that are employed by the bars and they are basically hostesses. There job is to get people into the bars and to spend money. Most of these bars do not pay the girls a salary, but they are provided free housing that indebts them to work as hostesses. They rely on other things to make any money. They get comission off of certain drinks they sell, or get to keep their tips, or they can arrange to go with the men that want to purchase them. The sad thing is though, that without doing those things, they aren't making any type of a salary, so the girls often seem to feel really trapped. Most of them have children that are living with the girls parents, and Thai culture says that these girls need to financially take care of their parents. Add that in with taking care of their children and themselves, and these girls feel a lot of pressure to do whatever it takes to make money.
So we go into these open-air bars (nothing behind closed doors - many awful things happen in those places and this ministry doesn't feel released to go there yet) and sit down for a soda with one of these girls. Their job is to talk to people, so it's easy to have conversations with them. They have lots of games they play, like Jenga, Connect 4, etc to help break the ice too. So it is easy to converse, and you just look for openings to talk more meaningfully to them. One easy thing is just asking them if they like their job or are happy doing what they do. 9 times out of 10 they say no and start going into reasons. We can then tell them about SHE, invite them to come for lunch here, etc. Whatever the Spirit leads.
We've seen some amazing things come out of those conversations. But we see a whole lot of really hard stuff down there as well. The atmosphere is just so dark and perverse. So many strongholds and demonic activity. And as we are combatting all of that in the Spirit, it means a lot of personal spiritual attack. I feel it a lot more than I did in India (not that it wasn't there in India too, but for some reason it is felt more here). I know we are doing so much good for the Gospel, but it just looks really different than many other traditional types of ministry. And the things we are exposed to open us up to a lot of attack. So please pray hard. I will talk more about the spiritual warfare soon in another post, as this one is getting really long. :)