Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things are not going well...

Well, we need to up the prayers... Things are nor going well, at least as far as the visa is concerned. I got to the Thai Embassy first thing, was the first person in line, and the lady asked me for my documents. I gave her everything I had, but she just kept asking for my documents. When I asked her what I still needed she said I needed the registration for the foundation in Thailand (which is not listed ANYWHERE on the website or any of the other MILLION websites I checked as a requirement for the Thai visa, nor has Mark ever had anyne need this when they were applying for the same visa as me). She said if I couldn't get them that all she could give me was a tourist visa. Time then was almost 10:00am and the visa window for applying for a visa was only open until 11:30. I raced accross the street to a hotel, asked if I could receive a fax there, called SHE from some calling center at that hotel (because my Thai number doesn't work here, not to mention I can't charge my phone and it's dead because the plugs here are different and I don't have a Malaysian adaptor), told them what I needed. SHE doesn't have a fax machine, so Mark had to go off site to fax it. Told me it could take a while. I realized I had very little cash left, and all these extra things (faxes, phone calls, etc.) were gonna cost money, so I raced to the nearest ATM, which wouldn't allow me to take out money (darn Regions, I think they only have me registered for being in India and Thailand, not Malaysia). So then I had to find a currency exchange. Found one, but no one was there. Found the worker, got some cash changed. Raced back - still no fax. Called Mark back - they couldn't get that fax number to work. Verified the fax number with the hotel. It's correct. Called Mark back (every one of these calls costing money). Can you please try again. He said he would. It's now 11:05. By 11:20, still no fax, so I just had to go back to the embassy. I hoped and prayed I would get someone else who would just approve me for the visa. Nope. Same girl. Same answer. So I'm getting a 60 day tourist visa. That's all she will give me. She said it can be renewed once for another 30 days. Not very helpful. That puts me to the end of Sept. So if nothing changes, I will not be able to stay until November. I'm so frustrated. I'm still praying for a miracle that when I go to pick up my passport they will have given me the ED visa. I know it's a longshot (especially since I didn't pay for an ED visa), but I am still believing for it! Otherwise I will believe for favor that they will extend it for longer after the 60 days are up. The only bright side of this is that the 60 day tourist visa doesn't cost anything, compared to the 550 RM's (about 150USD) that the one year visa would have cost me. Of course I've had to purchase a flight, two nights in a hotel, several trips in taxis, food, etc.... :(

So frustrated.

Monday, June 29, 2009

K.L. Survival

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

Be flexible, cause the plans will change

I have an unexpected trip that has come up in the next few days. As some of you know, I want to stay longer than I initially thought, and my time allowed in country as a tourist is almost up - my first 30 days here is up on July 4th (hard to believe). So I thought I was just gonna do a quick visa run so I could have another 30 days to figure out the visa process, but was advised to not blow the $50 or so dollars on a visa run only to still have my longer term visa to sort out (which costs a lot more, and I don't have $50 to waste).

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

The danger of "comfort"

So I've decided that Thailand is a very interesting place to do a missions trip, especially when you are doing it in Phuket, a world-famous tourist destination. At times I feel like I am here on "holiday" and other times I feel like I am walking around in the pit of hell. If India was like being in the church in the book of Acts, I think that being here is sometimes like being in Sodom and Gomorah. And the modern amenities and tourist attractions make it that much more subtle in it's deception.

I googled Phuket, and more specifically Patong, the area in Phuket known for it's red light district (and where we've been ministering), and it was interesting to see what came up. Nestled in talks of the beaches and nightclubs on wikipedia is the sentence, "Prostitution is culturally acceptable, especially on Bangla road where you will find many older Western men drinking and flirting with much younger Thai women and transvestites." As if this is just normal, acceptable behavior.

And I find that this is the overall atmosphere of Phuket. Perversion and sexual misbehavior is slipped almost discretely in with the beauty and relaxation of this island community. One must keep their guard up at all times here, and especially while in Patong, where it is so easy to get distracted by the 3 STARBUCKS, large shopping centers, and even the Cabaret shows of the "lady-boys" (transvestites). And then you walk past a sign like this:

as if a woman is a fair prize to be won, like a goldfish or a stuffed animal; or you get offered a pornographic flyer inviting you to a "ping-pong" show, and you are forcefully snapped back into reality. I was waiting on our team (that just left) one night to use the restroom in the mall across from Patong and saw this T-shirt displayed:

It seems as if the community is starting to realize that it is more than just coincidence to have so much devastation happening in one place. I think the Lord is trying to send Patong a message. Do you know that when the tsunami hit in 2004, Patong was one of the hardest hit areas? All the bars were destroyed. But they built it all back up again, and almost immediately. How many times will it take before they get the message to wake up and repent?

So here I am left to drink my Starbucks and go to the beach on my days off, but to also spend hours awake interceding in the night for all the horrors I have witnessed, and even worse, the ones I haven't but still know are occuring. I sit back at my, though modest, safe and happy "home" at SHE after leaving Patong, knowing the girls I just saw and shared a soda and conversation with may be living out their own personal hell on earth. They don't have the luxury to just go home to a peaceful place feeling whole and well-loved.

And that is the reason that I am here. Not that I am anything special, but I can't just sit by and have the knowledge that this is happening, and know the only One who can really fix it, without doing something about it. I know it often feels just like "chipping away at the darkness," but it has to mean the world to the ones who hear the message and make a choice to get out as a result. It's easy for me to be discouraged when there are well over 1,000 girls just working in that one strip of bars on Bangla Road soley as hostesses. But it is so worth it when I talk to someone with a team and the very same week she leaves that life and comes into SHE, and her entire countenance and world changes. Not to mention all the other girls who never end up at SHE, but after having a conversation with one of us realize they have a choice, and they leave the bars and go back home to start businesses or work at hotels or factories, or anything else, just to not be in that environment anymore.

Yes, the darkness is dark, but we are the light of the world; and even our one seemingly small light drives out darkness wherever we go, because darkness can not exist where there is light. And so I choose to shine my light in the darkness of Patong, because (as Jonathan always quotes),

"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."
— C.T. Studd

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Unbelievable God Story

Ok, so I have chill bumps right now.

Last week, there was a new girl that came into SHE. She said that someone had talked to her at one of the bars about getting out and coming to SHE, but none of us recognized her, so we just figured it was one of the teams before us. We'll call her Soy. Soy has been super sweet and has connected well with the girls at SHE and our team.

Fast forward to today.

We are hanging out with the girls at SHE, and Marilyn and I were here last November, so she pulled up the pictures from our November trip on her laptop to show a few of the girls here. I was upstairs, but they started hollering my name to come downstairs because I needed to see something. Some of you will recognize this picture as it was taken the same night as the pic on my prayer card. Same group of girls - this shot just shows a few more of the ladies we had been talking to that night.

To refresh you on that story, we had been walking around the streets and got into a conversation with these ladies. The power of God was really strong and we got to talk to them and even pray with them. While we were praying one of the ladies (the one on the far left) started to cry and we could tell the presence of God was really moving on her.

Marilyn had this picture up on her computer when I came downstairs, and her and Soy were looking at it. As soon as I saw it, what they had already noticed hit me. The lady on the far left of the picture was Soy!!! We had sowed the seed into her life 6 months ago, and had been praying for her ever since, and now here she was sitting at SHE after just having left the bars last week! It is no coincidence that she came the same week we were here! She was crying as she looked at that picture and heard us say that we have been praying for her since November. What an amazing opportunity for us to see the harvest come from the very seed we had sowed 6 months back. Praise the Lord! How amazing!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Reaping the harvest

Today was a really good day. On Wed, we met some girls when we were ministering in one of the bars and the Lord really opened some good doors with them to share about SHE and the work they are doing there. More and more the women we talk to are so quick to share how unhappy they are doing what they are doing. So these 3 particular girls at one bar were really interested in leaving their current work and coming to SHE so we gave them contact info and invited them to call and come have lunch with us. No calls on Thursday. :(

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 Thai Pics

Here are some pics so far from Thailand:

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

The beach at Patong - part of what pulls in all the foreigners...
Prayer walking the streets during the day when the bars were closed.

The ladies at SHE making jewelry.

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.

More to come! If you like this, send me a comment!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Battle for Thailand

Well, we just got back from another night of ministry down in Patong, the Red Light District area of Phuket, Thailand. Our time here has been intense and different than expected. This was our 3rd full day at the ministry site in Phuket. Let me explain a bit of what we are doing here.
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. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

First night on the street

Just got back from Bangkok where we had our first night ministering on the streets to the Thai girls. We met these young girls and were able to share the love of Christ with them as we treated them to a meal. Got about an hour of time with them talking and sharing. Such bondage and perversion in that area. It is hard to describe all that we saw in just a few minutes...

This was when we first saw them, just working the streets. I just so happened to take this photo not knowing we were gonna have a convo with them.

These girls said they were 18 but looked much younger. The one furthest from me has a one year old baby boy. Please pray for them. My heart breaks when I see all this happening everywhere. There is so much more for them...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome to the Land of Smiles!

Well I arrived in Thailand after a very long day yesterday. We were doing things in the hospital for Sarah's SCH kids until time to get my stuff and head to the airport, for my flight at 8:45 at night (was what I thinking when I booked that one?). Connected in Mumbai at 1:00 am and landed at 7ish am Thai time. I was up for over 24hours before getting to the YWAM base, where I got just a 2.5 hour nap before lunch and running some errands with the translator. Boy am I gonna sleep well tonight. All in all though, life is just so much smoother and calmer in Thailand (at least so far). It doesn't have the same kind of business that comes with over a billion people roaming around all the time. And I forgot how clean it is here. Plus that motto "The Land of Smiles" - makes me smile when I read it...the mental image I get is quite humorous. So now I am trying to catch up on a few GI things (see Jonathan?) before Marilyn's team gets in around midnight (we'll have another late night - there's no rest for the weary...). I am so excited to see her! Forgot also about the mosquitos here too, but got to the store and picked up more of my baby bug stuff (lol) - I love that stuff. Haha. Well there's the latest. Maybe you'll get something more intelligent out of me when I've had more than 2.5 hours of sleep. :) Maybe...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'll keep posting about the village services, but what's happening in "real-time" is that I travelled to Hyderabad on Sunday (about an 8 hour ride on bumpy roads) and am here until Thurs when I fly out for Thailand. I am helping Sarah with more stuff for her SCH kids and getting them surgeries. Her kids are also up here as well as her mother-in-law, Diamond, so some of the time I am spending with them as well. So far so good. We've had two days of some hospital stuff. 2 of the kids that were up here last time came for some post-op stuff, which seems to have gone well and they are done here now and heading back down tonight. A whole new load (I think 7 more kids) are on their way up here tonight, so it will be a busy time here! 2 more says in India and that's all! Can't believe it.... It's so bittersweet. I'm trying to transition my mind to Thailand now, but am struggling to do so. Please pray for me to get some refreshment and renewed vision for Thailand as I am heading out for round 2 (I think my body thinks it's done and heading back to the states - it's in for a shock). Also pray that the Lord gives me wisdom and direction about how I need to stay connected with India in the future. I'm not sure that my work here is done.

Village Outreach #3 - The night I wore pants

So it may not seem like that big of a deal that I wore pants to a church service, but in India it is. Sarah took me shopping though for some Indian shirts and assured me it would be fine to wear them with pants even to a church service, as I am a foreigner and no matter what I do, they will look at me funny. Haha. She also says they need to be broken out of some of these things. So I happily listened to her and was so comfortable! :) This service was on outdoor one under a tent - a three night mini-crusade of which this was the second night. I spoke on prayer and the way the Bible tells us we can use it - for forgiveness, provision, faith and revival. The Holy Sirit was there in a tangible way. A couple women got saved, several (probably over 100) prayed for, and one woman got released from some demonic strongholds. The pastor's family fed me, as usual, along with the team and were so greatful for the service. They kept saying why can't "the woman of God" be here every night of our crusade? This made me so happy but was so humbling as well. Who am I for them to call me "the woman of God?" I don't feel like anything special, especially as I am surrounded by these pastors that are tending these flocks on the front lines of battles every day. God is so unbelievable to use me and have it make such an impact on them. Maybe it was the pants... ;)