Friday, March 19, 2010
Enjoying the pizza in the room
uh oh! Sanyaa's Mouth stuffed with m & m's
I do not want my picture taken!
Having fun swimming
All of acting silly
Anna and me
How many times are you going to take my pic?
Miss Jane and Sanyaa
Already to go swimming
We slept in a little and Jason and Sarah came to pick us up for lunch to meet with Nella, the founder of Tamar Center.
We met at the Mall and ate at KFC. It was a little different from ours back home but still very good. What a lunch. Mikki interviewed her asking great great questions about the center and where it started and how and what her visions were. Nella is a Dutch woman and has an incredible ministry. We had church in KFC as we prayed over Nella and then she prayed in return over Mikki. God gave me some words of encouragement for Nella that she accepted readily. Mikki and Sarah felt led to give her seed money for the house they want to buy for the girls and Nella about started to cry because she and her staff had started praying and fasting for the finances of this house. And so this was like God was saying yes, I am going to do this. After listening to Nella, I can only explain my self as feeling as if I was going to burst with joy over and for her. I am so excited about her ministry. I felt that God wants me to fundraise for her so she can do the work and stay on the field which is what she loves to do. So you all will be hearing more about this ministry and how she is helping to redeem a nation. You can also count on me to be bringing teams back here to help. After lunch we did a little shopping at the mall. Each of us taking a girl and heading in a different direction. Sarah and Anna took me to the grocery so I could stock up on authentic Thai spices and noodles and I got lots of goodies to bring home.
We also decided to keep the kids for Jason and Sarah to have a date that night. We felt that since we were here in part to encourage them, that a good date would be appropriate. We took the girls down to the pool at our hotel and they had a blast. Sanyaa ( their 2 year old) took up real well with me and loved the pool. Lillie and Jane had a great time and I got to spend some more time with Anna. After a while of swimming, they started to get hungry so I ran up to the room and got some American cheese, trail mix, and a couple of other stuff and they really enjoyed that. Sanyaa discovered the M&M's and before we knew it, had stuffed her little cheeks so full, she looked like a chipmunk. We had to finally hid them! We then went up tp the room and ordered Pizza. That was interesting. I tried to order in English and they couldn't understand my accent so finally I was like , Here Anna, you talk to them. Which she did and we got Pizza that was pretty good. If I had kept going, there is no telling what we would have ended up with. Afterwards the younger girls enjoyed a bubble bath and the older girls a good hot shower as their hot water had gone out the last few days. I think Jason and Sarah had a good time for a few hours and we definitely enjoyed the girls. Later we found out that Sanyaa did not sleep hardly at all but was pretty wired. Oops! I hope it wasn't the M& M's! :) We had planned on doing some street ministry that night but jet lag was catching up to us and so we decided to stay in and go to sleep.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We are ending another busy day in Pattaya. Mikki, Sarah, and I had a great day ministering today. We began the day by visiting in two prisons, passing out food, water, and fruit, handing it through the bars to the inmates. Usually all the cells are full and there are lots of children in them but today there were only half full and we found no children. I for one was happy that no children were sitting in cells, so we can thank God that that was the case on this particular day.
One of the ladies from the Tamar Center has been ministering in these prisons three times a week for quite some time. We were able to pray for a couple of the women and pass out tracks to those who wanted them. We learned to say "Swadeeka" in Thai which means, hello and prayed for them as each one took the food from us. It was so sad to see these men and women, I could feel nothing but love and compassion for them. I felt no fear, only love. This is totally amazing to me as all of this is totally out of my comfort zone, but it is a testimony to myself that God is doing a work in my life and teaching me how to walk in Jesus' shoes. This is what I have been praying for in my own life for sometime. Please continue to pray for me that I will keep my eyes on Jesus so I can walk in the power of His might daily. It is such an awesome thing to walk in.
It is not unusual for the girls to be arrested for prostitution if the bar owners haven't paid their bribes to officials. The owners don't get arrested but the girls do. Prostitution is illegal here but there are literally thousands of prostitutes on the streets here and bars are an endless sight so bribes are a part of life. The way it works is that the bars only sell drinks. If you buy a drink, the girls must entertain you and talk to you. If you choose to take a girl out of the bar, you have to pay a bar fee, then the girl is yours for however long. If you take her to a hotel, you pay a service hotel fee to the hotel for your extra guest and then you pay the girl for her services.
Later we went to a mission and helped with a party for children of the area. They frosted heart shaped cookies and decorated them, the first time they had ever had an opportunity to do that. They did a great job and seemed to enjoy it greatly. The mission is run by an Australian teacher here. We got to lay hands on the kids and pray for them. They were so thankful for the prayers and hungry for love. We passed out candy and the paper heart cards our kids at Grace House had made for them. It was interesting at how from two parts of the world God threw a theme party! Hearts from AL to pass out and heart cookies to decorate and hugs to be given out! Isn't it just like God to choose LOVE for his theme?????? Oh, He is such a great creative God!!!!!!! I knew He LOVED parties!. We are going to pass out the rest of the cookies on the streets. What was interesting was that before we left and our church family prayed over us, that Mikki was given the word "cookie". That God was going to do something powerful that involved cookies. We had no idea! Mikki came looking for God and when they told us that we were going to help with cookies. We got excited! Sometimes we may not see all that God does behind the scenes but we can trust Him that he HAS done something to add to his kingdom.
There was an adjoining youth mission called the Crossing where youth hang out and skateboard, play pool, etc.
We had some interesting Thai food today, too. Jason and Sarah Ricketts, our missionary friends, have an amazing work laid out before them here and are doing a fantastic job. i'll tell you more about the work God has laid on their hearts later.
Day 1 March 5,
We had a busy day in Pattaya today. It is such a contradiction. Modern highways, a beautiful new mall, Starbucks, and streets with one bar after another after another after another. Hundreds and hundreds of young girls, women, and ladyboys sitting on the streets and beaches waiting for a taker.
We spent time at the Tamar Center. They have a building right in the middle of the bars, offer free English classes, job training skills, and much more. Most of the girls speak limited English but only have a grade school education so the center offers to teach them a skill so they can have an opportunity for another way of life. It seems most of them are from a region about 9 hours away. For many, it is a way to survive and help support their family which is of great cultural importance here. Some are slaves and work in closed bars. We went into the bars this afternoon. I sat and drank a Orange drink with 3 young Thai girls, some who already had children. We played Connect Four. As long as you are paying for something, they will talk to you. I can't tell you how sad it was to see them. They didn't seem "evil" at all. Just lost and lonely. Although it is certainly a dark place, I didn't feel the darkness, only love and compassion. They are caught up in this vicious cycle. As we learn more of the Thai thinking it only proves that the enemy has totally distorted their culture. Unlike China, girls are valued here because they can bring in money to the family through prostitution. Boys are a lot of times groomed to become ladyboys so they too can bring in money.
Later, we had a worship service led by a 30 year old woman who is devoting her life to this ministry. We sang and prayed over the city. More than once today, tears have filled my eyes. I have tried to see what Jesus would see and ask him what he would do.
We walked the beach tonight and looked for opportunities, open hearts, and prayed with one young woman and prayed for many as they walked by. As I walked I prayed over each girl I passed. Sarah knew we were looking for treasure and finally we found her. God said, "She's the one." We stopped and talked to her and prayed for her. She accepted it readily. "God , we ask that that seed be watered and that your love explode into her heart!"
Tomorrow morning we will visit in the prisons. Many children are there because their mothers are incarcerated.
Blessings and Love Melissa
Friday, March 5, 2010
I forgot my camera cord so can't upload pictures until I get back.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Can I ever go anywhere without adventure? Of course not. So here we go.
Today we started out on our trip to Thailand. It turned out to be an interesting day. It did not go exactly as planned but in the end it all turned out ok.
My plan was to not let Isaiah take a nap yesterday so that he would be dead sleepy by 8pm and then I could be in bed by 8:30pm as soon as the other little kids were put to bed. That plan went beautifully, all except the part of of me going to bed at 8:30pm. After tying up loose ends that kept popping into my head, I finally made it to bed around 10:30 pm. I was exhausted. I had hoped I would sleep but my mind would not shut off and my feet and legs would not stop hurting. After 2 nights already of barely any sleep because of leg and foot pain, I was ready to sleep. Sleep evaded me. By midnight I was exasperated, my toe was pounding from an infection. I got up and put some medicine on it, took some tums and returned to bed praying for sleep. I think close to an hour later I drifted off to sleep after prayer for sleep. Around 1:30 I awoke to the light touch of Isaiah standing by my bed. He crawled in bed with me and decided it was time to talk. I coaxed him back to sleep and then a little later put him back in his bed.
From then on out I never totally went back to sleep as the Rita Springer song, “Oh, how he loves me” kept playing through my head. I must have drifted off again as the alarm announcing it was 3am scared me awake. I forced myself out of bed, groaning. I quietly got my clothes I had set out days before and headed to the shower. That woke me up a little and before I knew it 3:45 had rolled around and Eddie, my pastor was there to pick me up.
As we left the neighborhood, Eddie made us do passport checks. Mikki couldn’t find her bag that hers was in so we pulled into Fred’s to get her bag out of the back. She found her little passport purse and we headed on our way. I had almost asked everyone to physically show their passport but I didn’t.
We arrived at the airport in good time, chit chatting on the way. It had started to rain and snow as the temperature had dropped. Huntsville was calling for 1-3 inches. Eddie unloaded us and we went in to the check in kiosk.
A few of our bags were overweight so we had to switch some things around. The agent was real patient with us and with that completed we headed up to security. Sarah told Mikki that she would need her passport at this point so Mikki went to retrieve it. It was no where to be found. We stepped aside and looked in everything. It was not there. We prayed for God to supernaturally place it in her purse and he chose not to. Mikki finally got hold of Eddie and the boys and they found it in her copier! He had made copies and had left it there by mistake. She urged us to go on so we would not miss our plane. We waited as long as we could and went ahead and boarded. There were only about 10 people on the plane and the stewardess moved us to the back of the plane for weight distribution. By this time it was snowing pretty good and snow was starting to stick to the plane. We sat at the gate for some time and then pulled out and sat some more waiting for the de icer people to come. I watched out the window as the de icer men covered our plane first in pink goo and then green goo. I smiled as I thought Graham would love this. Mom’s plane got slimed! I made a mental note to tell him about it later.
After hearing from Mikki on my cell, she first thought she was on a flight to Frankfurt then Bangkok and would meet us there. She called back and said it didn’t work and she was headed home and would fly out on the same flight and get there a day late. We were all disappointed. Sarah and I wondered if we should have stayed. We decided that when we got into Chicago that we would see if we could change our flight to the next day as well so Mikki would not have to fly that 20 hour flight all by herself. We ended up leaving Huntsville quite delayed and arrived in Chicago an hour late.
After we left snowy Huntsville, we climbed above the clouds and it was the most beautiful sight. The clouds were all flat and it looked like fresh fallen snow. The sun was shining brilliantly and the sky was the prettiest blue. As we neared Chicago, we started our descent and it was pretty neat to watch as if we were going to land on the clouds. As the fluffy, white blanket engulfed our plane, I was intrigued by the wings of the plane cutting right through the layers of moisture. I asked myself questions, such as “I wonder if this sorta freaks the pilot out when he can’t see in the clouds, is it like driving blind? “ “ I wonder if the plane wings actually cut the clouds and reshape it?”
Sometimes questions such as these randomly just pop into my head. I wonder if anyone else does that?
As we descended, the clouds turned a little bit grayer and soon the snow covered landscape of Chicago could be seen below. Incredible neighborhoods with large houses were everywhere. An interesting large rock crater filled with a frozen lake lined the back of one neighborhood. A train yard with dozens of train cars linked together spanned a large area. I thought of how all the cars in the parking lots looked like matchbox cars all lined up in neat little rows.
It was right about then, that I saw it and I smiled. There below was a Butterfinger factory. Those my dear friends are my favorite candy bar.
A few minutes later we landed, only to wait a little longer because another plane was at our gate.
When we entered the gate, we headed for a United Counter. The lady there was very nice but wasn’t sure we could change our tickets. She told us where to find a service counter but told us that a human wouldn’t be there to man it until 10am but we could use the phone to speak to a representative. We found it and were told there was some availability on the plane but we would need to either call our travel agent or speak to a person later at the counter to get it changed. We tried to call our agency but they were on pacific time so we had to wait. Finally, 10 am rolled around and after being on hold for a while I got hold of an agent with the travel agency we booked our flights through. I got this really nice guy who was from Eastern Europe and who really wanted to help me but couldn’t so he continued to inform me in ways I might could get it changed all the while reading his entire flight scheduling manuel to me or so it seemed. It all boiled down to that I needed to talk to a United Agent. Sarah and I had already started walking towards a kiosk and finally I had to firmly interrupt the poor guy and thank him for his help and tell him that I was with a United Agent and we could get help now. I hung up with the guy wishing me well and he hoped that United could get me on the flight with my friend.
In the end, we ended up getting the ticket changed with the lady helping us herself and we were told she couldn’t do it but we had to call the international number. She charged us only one ticket fee and gave us a voucher for 50% off of a hotel. She rerouted our baggage so we did not have to retrieve our bags. I gave her one of my art thank you cards and she really liked it.
Happy that we were going to see Mikki in the morning, we headed to our hotel and took a nap, got soup and salad downstairs for dinner and watched a movie before heading off to bed.The next morning, We went to pick up Mikki at her gate but got lost. We finally found her. We went back to the room and ate breakfast that I had ordered. We chilled out until it was time to head back to our gate. We are off to Thailand!