June 22, 2010
Bangkok, it’s nice to meet you.
I like you, Bangkok. You don’t hold back. You drape heat over me every time I walk outside. You don’t care if I sweat through my clothes, this is who you are.
I love the way you mechanize in the daytime. The sun touches your avenues and your nuts and bolts begin to click and churn, whirring you to life. The exhaust of busy buses and the high pitched buzz of motorcycles play off each other to create the rhythm that we step to when our feet meet the concrete.
When the sun goes down, you slow, but don’t stop. All the energy created carries you past sunset and dusk into night, humming. You’re still working. Still beating to the sounds of mopeds and the loose sidewalk tiles see-sawed by your people.
Your air is rich. Your street vendors so plentiful and delicious, I almost eat while I’m merely breathing. Your sewer stench tries to climb into my nostrils to remind me you stink sometimes too; but mostly, Bangkok, you smell glorious.
It’s the end of our orientation week and we are tired but filled and ready. Wisdom has been imparted by those who have gone before us, challenging us to live simply: doing laundry by hand (which really isn’t as bad as we thought), taking one or two outfits at most and spending our baht (Thai currency) wisely.
Thai people are very friendly. Almost every time we flash a smile to someone on the streets, it is returned with shining eyes, intrigued by our foreign look. The food is incredible. Street vendors seem sketchy in the States, but we have found their dishes to be the tastiest we’ve had. Most of us haven’t gone a day without some cha yen (iced tea with unreasonable amounts of condensed milk) or gafe yen (iced coffee also with lots of condensed milk), perfect for any sweet tooth looking to wake up and stay cool.
Our team has meshed very well. We know each other well enough to be able to be vulnerable with and to poke fun at each other. We played basketball last night in pouring rain, with ground water so thick, the balls couldn’t bounce. We were dripping wet, but loving life (don’t worry parents, no one got sick!).
Two nights ago, we were taken into red light districts led by people ministering there. It opened our eyes to the reality of the darkness that traps people in their desires and despair. As present as we felt that darkness to be, we are not discouraged. We are empowered, knowing that Jesus has claimed the victory for us and we have his Spirit and power over the things of the enemy.
We are ready and eager to go into our communities, to get to know the people we will stay with. Studies of Luke 9, Isaiah 58 and 1 Samuel are rooted firmly in our hearts as we remember that Jesus is with us, has gone before us, and is behind us, keeping us safe.
June 26, 2010
We are: Hot.
No, not physically delicious. Dripping. Wet. Hot. 'Not sleeping through the night' hot. 'Beg the sun to hide behind the clouds' hot. 'Air conditioning is a gift to mankind' hot. Hot.
It's not that we've never experienced heat like this before. It's the fact that we aren't able to escape it at the end of the day. We also realize, though, that this is what these people have grown up in and live in every day. We are spoiled merely because of the American climate we have lived in, and because we’ve always had ways of cooling off readily available to us. We complain to each other, but know that it's only because we haven't had to put up with it since the day of our birth.
We are: Tired.
Mentally. Spiritually. Physically. Tired. Lack of sleep due to the heat contributes to the rest of our overall well being, or lack thereof.
We wonder when we'll be able to rest our minds soundly or when we'll sleep through a whole night again. But again, we know that this is passing. The Lord's ability to sustain is ever before us in his word and in the things he speaks to us throughout our day – especially in the moments when we are completely spent and even consider going home.
We are: In the center of God's will for us.
Through the fatigue and through the frustration, we know we ultimately want to be right in the middle of the heat and the weariness because we know that in our weakness, our God is strongest. We come together to worship and pray for each other. In doing so, Jesus reminds us that he is with us and that He's been here before. He knows exactly how to walk through it.
Jesus is alive in the slum of Klong Toey. The more we see Him move, the less our troubles have a hold on us. As our schedules come into full effect this next week, we are expectant for more of Jesus' heart to be shown to us.
July 8, 2010
I saw a motorcycle taxi driver slap a woman so hard in the back of the head that she fell down.
I was in the car being driven home. The woman walked down the street crying, trying to keep her eyes up as if her dignity would disappear if she lost sight of it.
I thought about getting out and asking her if she was okay. I wouldn't be able to understand her answer, but at least she'd know someone cared about what happened to her. The scene played out in my mind over and over again, but my pride weighed down my thoughts in the back of my mind like a dead weight. It pulled each thought – of recklessly getting out of the car and loving her – back to, "You'd look weird. What would these women driving you home think? Your friends would just think you're trying too hard and you're doing too much."
My pride remained intact.
But a woman went home broken.
Will we keep succumbing to what is comfortable or will we take awkward steps, charading our way through communication in spite of ourselves?
What if we consciously chose the one choice that goes against everything that we're feeling, even if we didn't hear God speaking in a clear voice? What if God is in the hesitation.
July 12, 2010
"Woah, we're half way there. Woah-oh, livin' on a prayer!"
Sing it with me!
We got two weeks left to give love all around,
So we gonna raise our voices, we'll be makin' a sound
That shakes off the aches and the breaks of our hearts,
Burdens have been lifted cuz we've given every part
To Jesus who frees us and still makes a way
For us to pour out everything everyday
Hands held high, eyes to skies
A New Kingdom is comin' so please don't be surprised
If our feet make beats your ears ain't never heard
Our movements speakin' volumes without sayin' a word
Hearts pumping with purpose, the surface don't make us nervous
Cuz when it comes to deeper things, we got the assurance
Our existence is more than just flesh and skin
And in the end, we win, we win
My attempt at a rap/flow. Hope you enjoy !
Our mid-project retreat was refreshing. Beach time and processing time were definitely needed and enjoyed. We're back, looking at our last two weeks with readiness and a desire to go as deep as possible before we leave. Pray that we finish well, whatever that may mean for each of our walks here.
July 19, 2010
It's our last week here in the slum and at our sites. We're not thinking too much about leaving yet. Instead, we’re seeing how much deeper we can go before we leave.
We've grown accustomed to our homes (especially since it's gotten cooler, can I get an AMEN?). Sleeping through the night is definitely a great thing.
Through the ups and downs, we ultimately know that it's going to be hard to say goodbye. Nevertheless, we are ready to not distance ourselves pending the sorrowful goodbyes. Rather, we keep relishing in the presence of the amazing people God has placed around us.
Sorry so short, but know we're doing really well. Keep praying, warriors.