I feel like I'm stuck in a Food Inc. moment. Have you seen that film? Horribly disturbing. It ruined one of my favorite past times -- eating! I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted in any quantity or quality I wanted and not think twice about it. I know, gross. But ever since I saw that darn documentary, I think really hard about every single thing I put into my mouth. Eating has become a belabored, grueling, thought-provoking process. Who knew a Hostess Cupcake could ever cause such turmoil?
I feel like that about our trip to Thailand. I can't stop thinking. I can't stop processing. Every circumstance I encounter here causes me to pause, ponder, pray. I'll let you in on some of my obsessing...
- I hated our hotel room our first night in Bangkok. It wasn't nice. It made me want to go home. I even cried about it. What does that say about me? The very people we are coming here to reach out to would have killed for a room like ours. Then here I am acting like a baby. Oh, our carpet is stained. The shower curtain isn't clean. There's no window. Boohoo. I'm in frickin' Thailand for gosh sakes. Seriously, get over it. Ugh. I don't want to be this way. Why is comfort and let's be honest, luxury, so important to me? So much so that it can totally impact my outlook on the day. Our friend Jenny is here with us. She and her family moved to China more than a year ago with a missions organization and it's been a huge sacrifice for them. When she tells me about her life there, I actually pray and beg God to never make me do that. But I see SO much joy in her. Maybe what I think what will make me comfortable and happy and full actually doesn't. So, I'm processing this one. I'm a luxury junky. I love fancy things. But God doesn't seem to really care for fancy or for comfort, which leads me to my next obsession.
- How much fancy is OK? We arrived in Pattaya this afternoon to one of the most beautiful hotels I've stayed in. The hotel strip here is like South Beach on steroids. Our room has a large balcony overlooking the beach and the city. We immediately felt guilty. Aren't we supposed to be suffering for Jesus? That same question crossed my mind when I put on my bathing suit and sat on the beach for a few hours. God, is this valuable to you? Am I selfish? What is right? How much is OK? Does God want me to have fun? Does He want me to sit on the beach or spend all my time evangelizing on the street? Ugh. See. I'm a mess. I never would have thought sitting on the beach could be such a stinkin' deal!
- If that's not enough, then I go here in my mind -- how can anyone vacation in Thailand? How can anyone fly here to lay on the beach, stay in the hotels, eat in the restaurants when all around them is incredible brokenness and evil? But it's not just Thailand. It's everywhere. There are horrible things happening to men, women and children all over the world - from Chicago to New Orleans to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Beijing to Kabul to Munich to London to New York. How do I go anywhere and enjoy myself when "anywhere" is evil? I can't vacation. I need to do something to stop it, not indulge in it.
(Disclaimer: I'm in a dark processing place right now! I admit it. I know I sound crazy. I'm aware of it. Don't worry.)
- Loving people. Bleh. When we first arrived to Bangkok and I saw the old men with the young girls, I loathed them. I wanted to harm them. I couldn't shake it. Susan told me I had to work on my facial expression when the couples walked by -- I'm not good at hiding my gut-wrenching disgust! Shocking, I know! But I had this realization that my judgement isn't helping the situation. It's really just hurting me. I had to come to terms with the fact that God loves the victims and the perpetrators. He wants to have a relationship with everyone and that apart from him, we are all a big hot mess. So what does that look like? How do you love people like these men? I don't know. I'm still hating. But I don't want to stay there. Room to grow.
I'm overwhelmed, raw, unresolved. I feel close to God one moment and so distant the next. It's a battle here. But I'm still so glad we came. I'm not sure what He's up to with us, but I am trusting that it's great. Someone told us before we left that this trip would be like following the yellow brick road. We won't know where it's leading, but we just need to stay on it and keep trekking along. So, here we go...
- We met with a woman from Night Light. It was amazing. I will post some of the info she shared with us tomorrow. Susan took really good notes and I don't have them in front of me.
- We took a two-hour taxi to Pattaya, a beach town known for sex tourism.
- We sat on the beach, ate dinner and toured the red-light district. Today is a national Buddhist holiday, so all the go-go bars were closed. It was nice. There are SO many. I think it might have been too much. But tomorrow, after celebrating Buddha today, they'll be back at it. I'm not sure what to think of that!
- Tomorrow we meet with the Tamar Center, where Marcia is volunteering for the week, and we drive to Rayong.
- That I didn't just contract Malaria by sitting outside writing this blog. There are so many mosquitoes. Whoops :).
- Health and safety.
- Continued direction/purpose for our trip.
- Opportunities to pray/talk with people here.
- Healing for Jenny's back.
- That God would bring hope, freedom and light to the Thai people.