10/29/18 – Land Swimming Noodles & Ice Cream
A memorable part was our local pastor reaching in the mud next to the homes in the land where there were crabs! She fearlessly reaches deep in the mud which was a bit scary for us – but “She does not hesitate to reach in dark places.”
After school the kids rushed back home as it is Swim Day! This is such a blessing for us as the kids get to swim - the only time they get to swim is when the team visits. The kids and safe house residents and Hillside team played and just had a joyful time together. After swimming was dinner at the Noodle place then ICE CREAM! Finishing up the day we headed back to the safe house where we played and sang. Played games together and just enjoyed each other. This was our last night with some of the small children & boys. Always hard to say goodbye to the kids who aren’t coming with us to Thailand.
10/30 - Resort, Pool Time
Crossing the border lifted everyone’s spirits. There’s a certain lightness that came upon many of us as we re-entered Thailand. On the way to the resort, we stopped by a scenic national park where we walked for a bit and checked out the cave where the Thai boys had been trapped earlier this year.
When we reached the resort and checked in, the first order of business was heading to the pool before it got too dark. The water is a perfect refreshing temperature and being cool instead of feeling hot and sweaty is a sweet relief
10/31/18 & 11/1/18 - Double Decker, Park Zip Lining, Food Court, Movie
Day six was a respite in many ways. It began with a cool breeze blowing away the oppressive humidity and heat. A cloud cover blocked the intense sun and we all took a deep breath.
Usually we begin the morning with a time of sharing, but because the Safe House leaders have been feeling especially worn down and overwhelmed since the addition of several new children into the home, we instead spent some time gathering around them to give them support and encouragement. We all prayed for them and then sang praise songs for them rather than them singing for us, which is usually the case.
We then set out for a park that has a zip line to give the girls an adventure, but little did we know there was something that would prove even more exciting that was to come first: a double decker bus! Yep, we were unable to arrange tuk tuks as we would usually use, so our leders got a bus for us all to ride together and it was an unexpected hit! They were so excited. The wanted their pictures taken in front of the bus and joyfully dashed to the upper level for the trip.
We explored the park and then ended at the zip line, which began at a building that was four stories tall, zipped across a beautiful lawn area, and then ended further along the meadow. This was my first time to Zip Line and my son's fiancée Nathali and I jumped off the platform together - that will always be a great memory.
We ended the day at the movies, which is a serious highlight of the trip for the girls. It’s the one movie a year they get to see, and we do it up with popcorn and soda. As we exited the theater, we heard one of the girls say, “See you next year!”
11/2/18 - Tearful Goodbye for now
One of the things that has been most striking during this trip is the strength of the Lord manifested through these young women and girls. As they gave their testimonies over the last two days, we have listened to the horrors that have been endured by each and every one of them. Some have been prostituted, others have been poor and hungry beyond what we can imagine. One jumped out of a second floor window because she was being beaten so badly she preferred possible death by hitting the ground than death by fist. She was pregnant at the time. Several have had people try to kill them; one fled to the jungle to escape her murderous father and remained there for four days alone and frightened. She was eleven at the time.
And yet, they not only endure but are joyous. Truly filled with joy. And it begs the question: How can that be? Over and over we heard the same answer to the question. It’s the strength of Jesus. It’s faith, it’s hope. They feel secure living at the Safe House where they receive not only actual food, but spiritual nourishment. They are crowded in together, desperately in need of more space, but they are loved. They are cared for. They are provided for. They are grateful beyond expression.
One of the young women, who is now seventeen, learned about the Safe House and began going to church there even though she was Buddhist at the time, because she could get some food. She not only became a Christian, she brought in her sister who did as well. This would have never happened if it wasn’t for this ministry. We are incredibly blessed to partner with the leaders at the Safe House as they rescue children and young women in singles, doubles and sibling groups. They go into brothels, they hear about children and bring them in before they are sold to brothels, they bring in children who have no hope, they bring in children who are starving. They love them. They care for them. They nurture them. We are blessed by them as we bless them with our support.
We trust in the Lord to fulfill this promise and have faith that he will. We are all one family. They are ours and we are theirs.
It was a difficult goodbye, but we all know that we will see them again.