Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Needing Direction

17 days's really flying by.

My last post was talking about how I don't know what the next step is when I got back, and now another short-term opportunity has come up. Please pray with me as I decide about going on another short-term trip to a different Asian country the end of January. It's a new country that we will be traveling to with GI and is just a 1o day trip. I want to go if that is where God wants me, but I want to be sure. I know missions is always in the will of God, but I obviously can't go on every trip. It would be just under $2000 and I would definitely need the money to come in to purchase the plane ticket. I really need direction about this, and need to make a decision quick as they are planning to purchase airfare in the next few days. Please pray with me about this, and share any words the Lord gives you for me about this decision. Thanks! :)

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is whats up...

28 days. 28 days and I will be back on American soil. Home. Or is it? I struggle more and more with that word. I think I follow more to the "home is where your heart is" mantra, although at the moment I feel like my heart is in at least 3 different places if that's the case. There is my "home" of Phuket, and more specifically SHE, where I have lived and loved for the last 5 months more deeply and purposefully than I have any place ever before, then there is Tampa, where I still consider to be "home" with all my beloved family and friends, Tennesse - both Cleveland and Knoxville could in some regards fit the bill for "home", and now there is this fabulous man running around with my heart in New York, so even though I've only been there once, my heart is already at "home" there now, too...
So what will all this mean? I see the 28 days drawing closer and closer and I have about 6 weeks planned out from there. Now, after living this "missions" lifestyle, advanced planning for 6 weeks out seems like a pretty long time in my mind, but I know it's gonna go like a snap of the finger. And then what? Well, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea. The options are limitless at this point. I could continue with Global Infusion, I could move to one of the various "homes" listed above doing any number of jobs that I could look for, or it might include someplace new - like the new home where my heart is waiting in NY ;), or even some place completely new. Have I mentioned that I have no idea? Cause I don't. But I'm not worried. God will not cease taking care of me as I search out the answer, and I honestly believe He's gonna speak and make himself clear in those 6 weeks. You can believe with me for this, and for the resources to sustain me as I figure it out. God is so good.
A quick testimony: I was extremely low on funds and in need of an airline ticket home and the money for expenses while I finish here, and I bought my airline ticket by faith. Within the next 24 hours after I bought it, over half the money was coming in through various supporters who contacted me. Now, just a couple weeks later, all the money is in! Praise God! (And a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who gave to help get me home!) He is so faithful, so I know He'll take care of me as He reveals the next step. He always has. He always will. I love that He's the "yesterday, today and forever" kind of God. The One you can ALWAYS rely and put your hope in. "Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is unfailing love..." Ps 130:7. Wow. What a good God. So that's whats up. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just at the right moment

So I've been struggling with my "ministry" here at the moment, wondering how much of a difference it really makes that I sit and talk to girls while they are drinking and don't really know the language I speak and just feeling generally frustrated at this current place I'm in, and then I read this is the book "The Wounded Healer" and it really touched me, so I'm gonna pass it along. Hope this is for someone.

One day a young fugitive, trying to hide himself from the enemy, entered a small village. The people were kins to him and offered him a place to stay. But when the soldiers who sought the fugitive asked where he was hiding, everyone became fearful. The soldiers threatened to burn the village and kill every man in it unless the young man were handed over to them before dawn. The people went to the minister and asked him what to do. The minister, torn between handing over the boy to the enemy or having his people killed, withdrew to his room and read his Bible, hoping to find an answer before dawn. After many hours, in the early morning his eyes fell on these words: "It is better that one man dies than that the whole people be lost."
Then the minister closed the Bible, called the soldiers and told them where the boy was hidden. And after the soldiers led the fugitive away to be killed, there was a feast in the vollage because the minister had saved the lives of the people. But the minister did not celebrate. Overcome with a deep sadnes, he remained in his room. That night an angel came to him, and asked, "What have you done?" He said, "I handed over the fugitive to the enemy." Then the angel said, "But don't you know that you have handed over the Messiah?" "How could I know?" the minister replied anxiously. Then the angel said, "If, instead of reading your Bible, you had visited this young man just once and looked into his eyes, you would have known."
While versions of this tale are very old, it seems the most modern of tales. Like that minister, who might have recognized the Messiah if he had raised his eyes from his Bible to look in the youth's eyes, we are challenged to look into the eyes of the young men and women of today, who are running away from out cruel ways. Perhaps that will be enough to prevent us from handing them over to the enemy and enable us to lead them out of their hidden places into the middle of their people where they can redeem us from our fears.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The ups and downs...

I think I'm seeing the differece between short-term missions trips and longer-term ones. I'm having a lot of trouble finding words right now. Things have changed here. Unfortunately, the financial situation here at SHE has not been great lately. I'm sure the state of the world's economy has taken an effect as jewelry sales were down, donations were down, etc. It got to a point that Sharon and Mark had to do something about it. Something drastic. There was a downsize. More than half of the girls working here had to be let go. I found out on a Monday, Sept 28th that Wed Sept 30 would be the last day for most of the girls. More than half of my Thai family was leaving. I understood and I know that they only came to this decision after no others remained. But that didn't change the pain it caused, for all sides involved. The girls responded well to the news though, immediately jumping in with suggestions of places to go for work, etc. The day came and went, seamlessly, except for some tearful goodbyes at the day's close.
And then the next day it was back to work with the 5 that remained. Five. It feels so quiet, so empty. And yet it's peaceful. The leadership feels confident this was the right choice. And other choices are being made, changes keep happening.
Unfortunately, not all the girls who left are responding so well. See, I've crossed over some type of line in the last few weeks where I went from being around the Thai women, to being among them. I don't know how else to explain it. They really are my sisters, as much as I am one of theirs. The shift of having all other foreigners gone might have precipitated that. I'm not totally sure. But I'm grateful for it... In some ways, that is. I now know the real people. I know what they really do in their free time. I see them after work, in their down times, and I love that I really know them, yet at the same time, it's breaking my heart. Because I see all the choices, good and bad.
Remember the story of Hosea in the Bible? God asked him to do the unthinkable and marry a prostitute, portraying faithfulness and love to her as a picture of God' faithfulness to an adulterous Israel that played the harlot against their God. And if you've read Redeeming Love, you were no doubt affected by the expanded example of how this would probably flesh out. It's not always pretty. I feel like I'm living in that now. I was with many of my Thai sisters the other night, eating dinner, just being together. I asked about one of the women who wasn't there, and we decided to call her and see how she is. She answered and told me quite honestly that she couldn't find work, and so is back working at the bars where she was before SHE. I had no words. A thousand thoughts flew through my mind in only a fraction of a second - I have to get her out of there, how could she do that? were there really no other options?, among many others - but she must have noticed a pause and she went on, "I know, Eliz. I know!" And she does know. She knows exactly what she has walked right into. This is what she knows. When the pressure came on, this was where she knew she could go, one of the only skills she feels she has to offer. And a piece of the blinders fell off for me. A bit of my naivety was crumbled. I wanted to cry, to scream, to get on the floor like an angry 4 year old and throw a tantrum, I wanted to do something, to not just sit there feeling like the whole last 4 months I've been here have been for nothing. But that was exactly what I felt. Defeated. Betrayed. Broken-hearted. How must the Father's heart be breaking every day with this pain... Here I am bearing one tiny little fraction of it and ready to throw in the towel, to put up my white flag of suurender, close off my heart and go home. I did go home shortly after - to my SHE home, that is, and I had a package waiting for me from Dan. :) There was dark chocolate in it so I quickly broke that open while I examined the other parts. Among the treats was ann encouraging card. He said in the card that he had prayed for God to give him a word for me and this was what he got: "I am always faithful to you, remain faithful to me. Keep asking, keep seeking, and I will answer!" I talked to Dan later, and he was slightly exasperated, "it FINALLY got to you - that package should have been there a long time ago!", but then I shared with him what happened and we knew that package got to me at exactly the right day. I'm learning alot about the faithfulness of God. Him being faithful does not mean that He faithfully works everything out, because there's this whole "free will" thing going on, but He is faithfully there. And His Word is faithful, and it never returns void. I know that there were deposits of Truth, the Truth of God's Word deposited into her heart. Now it is God's turn to call her home. I trust that His Word will not return void, even though right now my eyes aren't seeing that reality. And it's harder to see this setting then what I would see as a two-week, enthusiastic missionary would, but this is the reality right now. And so now I pray and I fight in the spiritual, leaving the rest up to God. I remain faithful, cause He is still faithful. Always faithful. Never changing. This is our God.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

So there's this guy...

I realize that I have been inept. I have had an incredible story develop for me over the past few months, and I have yet to share it. Now, I will cut myself some slack as it was developing during the same time of the car accident and my head wound...but there's no time like the present.

So here I am in Thailand minding my own business, happy and content, knowing that I'm doing what God wants, and doing it contendedly single, and then something happens...

This is Dan.
Dan is from New York. He came out to Thailand after completing his YWAM DTS in Montana. He spent a month in India before arriving in Thailand in July (just a mere 3 days or so after I would have left had I kept my original plan and left in July).

Dan is a worshipper/worship leader.

See Dan worship. Worship, Dan, worship! (haha I couldn't resist - this was sounding like one of those Dick and Jane books...)

Before Dan came to Thailand, the Lord prepared his heart that He might ask Dan to stay longer after his team left. He did. He stayed for an extra month.
Dan and I hit it off immediately. We found ourselves talking for hours every time we ended up around each other. I was intrigued by this man, as we found we had more and more things in common. I wasn't sure how he felt until he shared that he felt "compelled to get to know me more." I was equally compelled.
We participated in ministry together, worshipped together, ate Thai food together, laughed together, cried together, sat on the roof talking for hours together, and kept desiring to spend more and more time together. I saw him in so many situations throughout our two months here. I know 2 months doesn't seem like that long, but it's amazing how long it really is when you are on the missions field. And what's that they say about when you know, you know? Cause I know. And it's a very good thing.

Here I'm gonna steal Dan's words. When I came here, I expected to fall in love WITH Thailand. I never expected to fall in love IN Thailand. But I got both. What a tremendous blessing! There are so many more parts of the story unwritten here, and many more still to be written in our lives, but this is quite the beginning. And I know it is just that - only the beginning of a Divine romancenot yet fully written. I'm all in, though. :)