Noise

I have yet to find a church to settle into, and on Sunday I visited yet another. During worship there were flags and dancing. They had a saxophone and a trumpet- which were cool. The songs were all upbeat and loud, at least, it seemed loud to me. Most of the songs were about God’s blessings and favor and for some reason it bothered me. Maybe because it seemed superficial or that we are after God only for what He can do for us or give us. I couldn’t connect with God. Maybe it was just me. Maybe I am in a season where I need to connect with God in the quiet, not in the shouting or dancing, but in the stillness allowing His Spirit to whisper to me.

Come reveal Yourself in the silence.  Come wash over me in the stillness. 

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Hello 2014

This will be a year of growth, not void of struggle.

A year of learning more of who I am and how to be loved.

A year of letting my walls down and breaking the masks of perfection that I hide behind.

A year of learning that failure and weakness is normal and ok, even desired because that’s when Christ’s strength is made perfect.

This is going to be a year of gaining confidence and walking boldly. 

This will be a year of learning and newness.

A year of dreams developing and even some fulfilled. 

A year of love and a year of learning to live in grace.

A year full of the Father’s love being realized more.

A year of freedom and seeing the veil lifted for many to know Jesus. 

A year of forgetting self and learning to be a servant. 

A year of being motivated by love and compassion, not by “ought” or “should”.

A year of process and remembering that we’re all in one. 

A year of abiding and dependence on Jesus, the Author and perfector of my faith. 

Learning to Dream

In 2 weeks, I will be back in Thailand. I am in a place of hope, of confident expectation, as I think about this next season. A hope of desires fulfilled and a hope of seeing God move. A hope of becoming more like Jesus, and of knowing Him in a deeper way. With that hope, I began thinking about my desires and dreams. A friend of mine challenged me last year to start a list. So I did, and today I revisited that list and it got me excited. I wanted to share it so that I have it in a place to remind myself of these things, but also to inspire others to dream.

  1. Have 4 kids
  2. Adopt
  3. Visit Ireland
  4. Meet my best friend and get married
  5. Go to a country on every continent: Asia (Dec 2010 first trip), Africa (2008, 2010), Europe (2005, 2010), North America, South America, Oceania
  6. Take Alaskan cruise with my family
  7. 50 states by 50 (kansas  nebraska  iowa  oklahoma texas  south dakota  missouri  illinois  georgia  alabama  colorado  wyoming)
  8. Visit Sicily team in the next 3 years
  9. Go to Scotland
  10. Take an international vacation with friends
  11. Go on a several day road trip with Kendall
  12. Go to Amsterdam
  13. Go to New Zealand
  14. Take hot air balloon ride
  15. Swim with manatees
  16. One season, go to all of the Nebraska games
  17. Go to a Nebraska bowl game with Casey
  18. Learn to ski
  19. Ride an elephant in Thailand (2013)
  20. See the northern lights
  21. Finish a read the Bible in a year plan
  22. Learn to speak, read, and write Thai
  23. Learn to play the piano
  24. Renovate an old house
  25. Visit Ecuador where Jim Elliot was
  26. Spend time with Jim Yost in Indonesia
  27. Learn to ride a motorbike  (2013)
  28. Take missions trip to South Africa (2008)
  29. Go to Maine with Kendra, Hannah, and Leah
  30. Start/Run a Restoration home for women coming out of sex trafficking
  31. Baptize 1,000 people in my lifetime
  32. Sew a quilt
  33. Ride a snow mobile
  34. In one year, take one picture a day
  35. Go to Vermont in the fall
  36. Have a garden
  37. Memorize Psalm 16

What are some of your dreams?

I believe in miracles…

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So, I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I will probably never be a “regular” blogger. Only when big things happen do I think about blogging, and today something big happened. Actually, it happened sometime last week. We had gone to visit Jub’s (my Thai teammate) uncle who decided to quit drinking. Earlier in the day we saw that he was starting to have withdrawal symptoms; getting weak, turning yellow, dizzy, headache, so we decided we needed to go over and pray for him. We did that just that. After we prayed I asked him how he felt and he said he felt free and his heart was warm (with love)! I believed just by his words that God had set him free in that instant. The next day we saw him out on his new land, where he is building a house, tilling away weeds and brush with full strength!

Today, we went back to visit this uncle and I got the full story this time. He had decided to stop drinking because last week he went to the doctor and found out that he had some kind of cancer (probably liver) , so the doctors advised him to stop. That was when we went to pray for him. A few days after that, he went back to the doctor and they took an x-ray but this time they found NOTHING! There is no more cancer in his body! God healed him of cancer and set him free from alcohol addiction. Seeing God do major miracles like this makes me believe that God wants to do more and has more in store for this village. Join us in praying for more miracles and more people to experience Jesus’ love for them.

A Sobering Reminder

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As we go about life here in the village it can be really easy to get caught up in that daily rhythm and not see past the “normalcy” of life. Recently though, I had a few encounters that reminded me why we are here and gave me a new perspective. 

There is an 11 year old girl in our village that is basically an orphan. Her mom abandoned her when she was just a baby to go work in the bars in Phuket. The girl lives with her Grandma, but she has to work longs days so she isn’t able to be there to really take care of the girl. My teammates noticed what was going on and got in touch with the Grandma to see if we could have the girl over to our house after school and for dinner just so there is someone looking after her. She was very open and jumped at the opportunity. Eventually we hope to have the girl living with us permanently.

That same night, we were having our family prayer time and as we were taking prayer requests one of our girls told us that one of her friends from her home village (only 15 years old) has dropped out of school and is now working in one of the bars in Bangkok.

Hearing these stories made the reality of the brokenness in these villages and in this country sink in, but it also allowed me to see our girls in a new way. It caused me to look at them and think, “Where would they be if they weren’t here with us?” 

A lot of the time I find myself questioning why God brought me to this village when my heart is for women in the sex industry, and He reminded me through these encounters. These are the girls that are at risk and in need of a safe loving place, so they don’t end up in the bars or raped by family members or prostituted out of their home by their mother. All of this happens in this small community. Sex trafficking begins at home. Brokenness in the family is the root of the issue. This is why we are here. 

Thursday Night

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I met my friend Sophia on the corner of Soi 44 to take the songtaow to the skytrain together. We got to the skytrain station and while Sophia was purchasing her ticket an old white man with a young asia woman on his arm approached the kiosk next to her. I noticed that the woman quickly let go of the man’s hand, you could see she did not want to be with him. Sophia and I just exchanged knowing glances, no words necessary.

We took the skytrain to the normal meeting place to meet up with our friend Jade and grab a quick bite to eat. Then, we hit the street. We hadn’t even walked a block when Sophia recognized a woman sitting on some stairs outside a building. We went over to say “hi” to her. We sat and chatted with her for a few minutes, prayed for her and for the rest of our night, then took to the streets again. I asked Sophia if she was waiting for someone. She was waiting for men, for customers. That street would be full of women waiting for the same thing as the night went on. The funny thing is though, looking at her I didn’t know she was a prostitute. She was wearing a normal dress that went to her knees and down to her elbows, her make up was modest, and her heels weren’t that high. That’s how most of the street walkers are dressed though. The untrained eye would have no idea.

Just a few blocks down the road, Sophia stopped us again to show us a partially hidden stairway. She informed us that it led to a government protected brothel that is known for having underage girls. We continued walking along the sidewalks now lined with street vendors selling the normal purses, watches, and the like- with some porn and other paraphernalia thrown into the mix.

My first time out with Sophia she told me the key to outreach was having a song in your heart. As we walked down those sidewalks that night the song in my heart was, “Come and let Your presence fill our praise, fill our praise, Come and let Your presence fill this place.” I’m learning that worship is a strong weapon against the enemy. This was also our prayer for that night, that as we make a presence in those places that God’s presence would come. We stopped to see another bar notorious for having underage girls as well. From the outside it looks like a normal bar. We stopped there to pray over that place.

Our next stop was the Nana Entertainment Plaza, a literal 3 floor sex mall. On the second floor, we entered a bar to visit a girl that Sophia has been building a relationship with. She introduced us, talked for a little bit, we all hugged, and then left. Sophia’s strategy is to keep going to visit each girl just to let them know there are people there for them and that care about them.

We left Nana to go to the Grace Hotel. This hotel is government protected and run by the Pakistani mafia. It is where most of the trafficked European and Middle Eastern women are held and prostituted. We went in to the restaurant just to be a presence and have a drink. There weren’t many people around at that time, but it was still early. Sophia told us her story of helping a girl escape from that very hotel a few years ago. You can watch a documentary about the Grace Hotel here:

On our way out we made a pit stop in the bathroom. There were already 5 women in there getting ready for the night making sure their clothes and makeup were the way they wanted. Sophia, Jade, and I all exchanged knowing glances and nothing was said about it after we left that bathroom.

No words were necessary or in my case, there were just no words.

A Small Look at my Life in Bangkok

My life has drastically changed in the last couple of months since I’ve moved to Thailand. I started out in a small village in rural Thailand where the vibrant green rice fields were in walking distance and the view out of my front door was of the tree packed hills. Now, I am back in the concrete jungle of Bangkok for a few months to study Thai. It was really an adjustment at first learning all of the different public transportation routes and where places were located. I think I now have a pretty good handle on getting around the city, but living here definitely confirms I am not a city girl at heart!

I want to give you a glimpse of my journey each morning to language class… (sorry the pictures aren’t the best quality, they were taken with my phone).

I walk down the main road for a few blocks, then hop on a songtaw..

…this is a songtaw- one form of public transportation. It’s super cheap (less than 10 cents) and really an effective way to get around. I take this until the end of the route.

One of the spirit houses I pass everyday. These all seem normal now that I don’t even notice it.

 

The shortcut road to the BTS (skytrain) station.

The BTS station.

Waiting for the train.

Times Square building, where my Thai language class is at.

My classroom 🙂

This is just a small glimpse into my life here in the city, but something that I do everyday consistently. So, I hope this gives you a better idea of what my life looks like in this season of language learning.

People, Conversations, and More Questions than Answers

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I have had several conversations over the course of this first month, but only a few really stick out in my mind. I’ve met several people over the course of this first month, but only a few have really captured and broke my heart.

One of those earmarking conversations happened with Jub while gathering manure for the garden. We had passed a woman on her bike and Jub explained to me who she was and that she was thinking about going to Pattaya to “work”. There is pretty much only one kind of “work” for an uneducated woman to do in Pattaya. My heart broke in that instant and a kind of hopelessness set in. Jub explained that the woman’s hope was to find a foreigner husband. I’m finding out that this is the dream for most Thai women. Although I have not yet personally talked to this women, she is one of those that has captured my heart.

Another one of those people I met just a few days ago in the neighboring village. We met because Jub needed to bring a gift of money to a family who just had a family member die. As we walked up, the area began to look somewhat like a party scene. There was a large pile of empty alcohol bottles and many people gathered together. Jub said when someone dies, it’s like a party. When we got to the large group of people; some were preparing food, others just chatting, and others were gambling. The first person to greet me was a young woman who spoke English. She was very friendly and a little overly touchy (not in an inappropriate way though). We chatted for a bit and learned that she is just one year older than me, 25. Jub came back over to where we were and the woman told her that she just got a nose job. Jub whispered to me, “She wants to work in Pattaya too. It’s very interesting, you should hang out with her.” To be honest, the thought of hanging out with her intimidated me for a moment. I had no idea what to say to her and how to respond if she began telling me stories of working in the bars and her dreams of finding a foreigner husband. But I wanted to talk with her, to become her friend, to tell her how valuable she is, and of Jesus’ love for her. I wanted to say something that would change her mind about going to work in the bars. But we weren’t planning to stay long, just long enough to drop off the money, and go back home. From the fact that she knew English and had a nose job we gathered that she has already been working in the bars somewhere.

These conversations and these women have me thinking and praying a lot. I have more questions than answers, but I know that this is where my heart is. There are so many problems that need addressing in this village: kids not going to school, teens dropping out of school, teens gambling, smoking, drinking, and having sex. The team I have joined here is working to break this cycle because that is where this problem starts. But I can’t help but think of the women here on the verge of leaving. How do we convince them to stay? How do we possibly start to change the shift in thinking that the ultimate goal is not to find a foreigner husband?

The only answer I know is Jesus.

Aside

It’s been awhile…

So, it’s pretty easy to see that I have neglected this blog for a long time now. It’s time to resurrect it again because I move to Thailand in a little over a WEEK! I have so many emotions, but mostly excitement. This has been a year plus process, so I am more than ready to get the ball rolling!

Our church (my sending org) is apart of a larger network of churches based out of Waco, TX, Antioch Community Church. This last week we attended a conference in Winter Park, CO with all of the church planters from this movement. It was a wonderful week of worship, teachings, testimonies, time with our Waypoint teams, and meeting lots and lots of people. I had known about this church even before becoming apart of our church, Waypoint, because I had been to their missions conference, World Mandate, several times.  So, now actually being apart of this movement and family was surreal to me. It caused to me to reflect on this whole process that God has me in. He had a plan when He had me go to those conferences each year and was intentional that He grabbed my heart for missions at that conference.

We are the newbies to the movement, but were welcomed warmly and with excitement. It definitely felt like family and I’m so thankful to be apart of it. This conference came at the perfect time before leaving. I feel refreshed and filled and ready to go!

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     Sunset on the way down the mountain in Winter Park, CO

Until next time… in Thailand! (So weird to say that)

Let me know what you would like to see/hear from me on this blog… I hope to keep this a little more detailed and intimate than facebook or newsletters.

Seasons

Usually around this time of the year I would be settling into my dorm room, gearing up for another year of college. Instead, I am packing up my first apartment to move in with a couple from my church. Boy, am I glad my college years are over! They were great, don’t get me wrong, but there definitely is season for everything and  this is just the beginning of a new season for me.

Along with my college years, another season is coming to a close. This is more of one of those heart seasons that the Lord brings you through. For me, this past year and a half has been a season of death, of remaining underground in the darkness, and sowing many seeds. It was in October 2009 that God gave me this passage,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

At that time I had just given an awareness speech on the issue of human trafficking which was preceded by months of emotionally weighty research and planning. After we gave the talk and it was all over, I was drained and very emotional. I think it was a combination of all of the effort and emotion that we had put into this talk, but also not knowing what was next and if I was to have any part in combating human trafficking. My heart had become so burdened for the women and children involved and for countries I had never been too and I carried a deep sadness and passion. Maybe this was it and God would give me a new desire in the future. All I knew was that this was my grain of wheat that had to be buried under ground for the time being and allowed to let die and trust  the Lord with it.

Over the course of this year I buried many other seeds of hurt, past wounds, and selfishness. The Lord has been doing a deep work on my heart to deal with all of my junk, so that I am able to walk in freedom. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it has been so good and so necessary. I have learned more about who God is and about how He sees me and it was all in preparation for this next season and preparing me to go.

I am now entering into a season where I believe God is going to grow and multiply all of those seeds that have been sown. In just a few weeks I will be starting Church Planting Training school through my  church, Waypoint. Then, I will be sent to Thailand next summer with a team. We don’t have all of the details yet, but we know that we are going and we’re excited for all that God has in store  for us for His Kingdom. I am looking forward to growth and fruitfulness, it’s going to be beautiful.