I’m sure you have been wondering why there has been complete silence here even though I was on an adventure to Thailand for three weeks. Was there nothing to tell? Quite the contrary! Something quite wonderful happened. But this thing could not even be hinted at until I was sure it was what I was going to do.
Now, I suppose you’re scratching your head and asking why I couldn’t have at least written around it. I tried. But writing about that journey without writing about this great event took the heart and soul right out of my trip. I had no desire to write about anything else you see! I was full to bursting with the news!
But now, as I stare at yet another flight itinerary, I think I’m ready to share it all. So sit back. This story goes back to February of 2016.
It was my first big adventure. I had taken a month from work and I was going to Thailand for the very first time. That first trip was so memorable. The bustling city of Bangkok, with vendors hawking savory meats and sweet fruit. The rural town of Mae Sai with its rice paddies and simple farmers.
The sweeping mountains with temples that glistened like jewels above the haze of the trees. The monks gathering offerings and bestowing their blessings. The shock of bouncing in the back of a truck while motorcycles and trucks swerved and darted around other cars like life was not a precious gift.
I loved every minute. The flower festival in Chiangmai, the hidden alleys behind the market fronts, the hole-in-the-wall coffee shops with their rich and dark brew, the spicy food with its unique flavor, but more than anything, I loved the people I met.
I met Masae with his tiny village church and his big heart, plying us with bananas he’d grown himself. James with his mother-in-law serving us delicious and authentic Chinese meals after the Bible studies. Alice and her daughter Sarah, speaking broken English to Anne but communicating through more than words the movings of her heart.
The girls that I met with Anne during their English/Bible studies. Laughing over Thai celebrity cats and showing them the dreaded jade bangle which a shop lady had forced over my wrist and which was too small to remove. Fang Fang and Jet Ai teaching us to make their spicy dip and eating it with green Mangos. (My lips pucker at the very thought)
It was easy for me to fall in love with Thailand. And when you see the desperate needs of the people around you, physical and spiritual, it’s easy to feel a burden. Over the weeks I was there a thought reoccurred to me over and again. To come and help somehow. One night, we biked up to a night market on the street. There we met a older couple and their daughter. The couple had retired and were volunteering in Thailand and soon, Cambodia.
The lady and I seemed to hit it off immediately and she shared how they were serving in orphanages. I felt a tug at my heart when I heard her stories but I knew that this was natural. How can you hear about orphaned or abandoned children and not want to help? We prayed in the middle of the market, our arms around each other and I remember feeling very strange. A kinship and a purpose surrounded them. They were not ashamed of their faith. And whether or not they were spot on with their doctrine came second to the thought at that moment that they were bold and brave and I was not.
That night, I could not sleep. I opened my Bible and started reading in Ecclesiastes. My fan oscillated back towards my bed and bookmarks went flying and pages turned. When I came back from retrieving my papers, I saw that it had turned to Job. My eyes fell on the words.
“Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him… I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.”
I was stricken by the words and they reoccurred to me over the next year. The cause which I knew not I searched out…
Through the rest of that trip I spoke to Anne, almost jokingly, about coming back and searching for orphanages in need. But when I returned to the States, the thought came less and less. I talked to my parents about it a few times, when the topic came up, but by the next year, I had switched jobs and was looking forward to other trips. Israel, Mongolia, every trip seemed to have my name on it. I prayed and prayed and felt the biggest pull towards Israel. In the back of my mind was this nagging lack of direction. Like God wasn’t saying no, he was just saying, “Wait. Wait for it.”
I feel like I’ve waited all my life. If I told you how many directions I had shot off in, only to feel God put an end to it, you would be here a long time. My frustration with this was tempered by the fact that I knew if God wasn’t in it, I would never be satisfied.
Then Mrs. Ossman came to me and asked if I’d go with her to Thailand. I told her no. She counter-offered with paying half of my fare. I prayed for a week and felt that same confidence I had the first time. Go. God will only let me go to Thailand. Sigh.
The moment I looked out over the river at the Golden Triangle, I remembered. It settled in my heart like it belonged. Behind me I heard Anne say to Donna, “I’m convinced this girl belongs in Thailand.” (Yes, I know she’s biased)
I turned and asked her, “Do you remember how I wanted to come back and visit orphanages?”
I left it at that. But I remember thinking, God, you knew I would never have come back here if not for Donna’s offer. At the time this meant nothing. But the next day, it meant a lot more.