I wasn’t expecting to visit Asia (or any destination really) so soon after my previous trip, but here I am, trying to make everything fit into my backpack again.
The same young travelor, curious and expectant for another collection of photos and memories, but with a transformed heart that wants to develop a greater love for the nations and share stories, cups of coffee and plates of traditional food with His children.
The new adventure remained unknown, filled with expectations and desires, perhaps a little fear with every butterfly feeling that passed. But we willingly packed our bags, prepped as best we could and held onto the promises God had spoken over the group and over each of our hearts.
Meet the team. From left to right Melissa(USA), Henni (Germany), Sarah (Netherlands), Becky (USA), Anika(Germany), Mayana (USA) and Anne(Netherlands)
We headed off to Thailand and spent a few days in Bangkok, got some cultural orientation and went on a prayer walk in and around some of the iconic and most visited temples.
They found some crutchy snacks
Next stop was a little town called Fang, in the North of Thailand, fairly close to the Myanmar border. Here we joined a local ministry and church started by our friend Alu, his wife Gigi and their team.
Our team and the Fang ministry team. A rainbow of nations in one picture.
Most of the people living in Fang are refugees from Myanmar. Alu and Gigi realised that the biggest percentage of people living in Fang are illiterate, have very little skills and are unreached by the gospel. This also means most of them can only work as workers on the surrounding farms as they have no legal documentation or work permits and their children can not attend school either. Thus, they felt the call on their heart to reach both the parents and their children of the Shan tribe. They started a Day care centre for these children as well as a small primary school fully supported and run by the Church.
Our days consisted of mornings at the day care centre where we shared stories and lessons from the Bible with the kids, prayed with them and helped the team with their English and basic literacy lessons. In the evenings we joined the team where they visit the parents of the children who are attending the day care for weekly bible study.
We then traveled to Chiang Mai for a few days, and served at a local church. After a few days in the big city we headed to a rural farming villiage in Chiang Rai where we spent Christmas with the Karen people(a hill tribe).
The Karen people are known to be the most reached people among all the tribes in Thailand and this was clearly seen as this whole villiage was celebrating the birth of Jesus, singing carrols every night till 2 a.m. in the morning and having countless Christmas parties at the Church.
The last few days of 2019 we spent refueling our very exhausted bodies, processing all that has happened in the last few months of DTS and simply enjoying the fellowship with new friends.
My biggest Highlight:
During one of our biblestudy evenings we met a lady whom I would like to tell you about. She is a mother of 2 and a worker on an orange farm. She lives in a 2 room house, one being the “sleeping place” for 4 people and the other being the kitchen and living room. Her kitchen utensils consist of a rice maker, 3 cups, a few plates and spoons, a sharp knife, 2 pots, a gas stove thingy and 1 plastic drying rack.
She came to know Christ 3 years ago through Alu and Gigi who told her of the good news during biblestudy nights and she is the only one in her family who is a Christ follower. She cannot read so the only time she hears the word of God is twice a week, at Church on Sundays and during bible study. She has very few friends that are believers but she shares what she has learnt with them.
She earns a shockingly small salary that needs to supports the whole family and her biggest prayer this year, was to be able to save some money. God was faithful! When the orange crops were few and struggling, she spoke up and prayed with her worker friends. And God was faithful! She has had pain in her left leg for a few months, and she started praying. And God was faithful! This lady, her her story and Gods faithfulness has been so encouraging. Its also a testiment of the fact that our God has NO limit to how He works and He wants to reach everyone. She cannot read His word, yet He speaks to her and teaches her. And the little truth she has heard has braught her great, life altering, joy.
We are and have entered into a lifestyle of learning and we are all growing in our faith. A lifestyle, meaning we will always be learning. As soon as I accepted that, my heart was more willing to learn, to listen and to love well, even if I might have been hurt or disagree. We are in the business of loving people well, but we are all still learning how to do this. We will stumble, make mistakes, say the wrong thing, be treated the wrong way but just as God has compassion and grace for me, I should pray for more compassion and grace for those around me.
How to feast and fellowship like Jesus did. We ate, we prayed, we chatted, we ate some more, shared some stories and ate again. Serving and ministering has looked very different to my expected “perfectly and effeciently planned” picture and has challeneged my view of relationship. It is so good for my “norm” to be questioned and to re-evaluate how and why I do things in a particular way.
Does it mean my way is correct? No. Does it mean my way is wrong? No. But perhaps I can re-adjust my way and let Jesus give me some tips. I love to hear stories of how Jesus spent time with all kinds of people: sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, drunks ect. Eating their food (that was probably baught with stolen money), hanging in places that was not deemed as “holy” and He didnt preach. He just chilled with them, He spent time with them, He visited them and made them realise they are worthy, seen and important.
I have by no means got this thing of fellowship and relationship down, but God has been challenging my view and with that also braught me peace to enjoy my bowl of rice and letting the conversation/the company be the focus and not the “thing we need to get done during our visit”.
Learning what it looks like to be lead by God. Its been a journey of worth, of surrendering my own will/ opinion but also my constant belief that I am only worthy if “I do things” God asked me to give my heavy backpack of expectations to Him so He can carry my load and give me the joy I am worthy of. He has come to give me LIFE in abundance.
I have been reading a book called “everybody always” by Bob Goff. And it is basically a call to the body of Christ to love Everybody Always. One truth remains… We can do none of this without Jesus. Loving people well requires constant prayer and allowing God to teach us how to love.
We have arrived safely in the Philippines today for our second destination. We will be based in Cebu, and partnering with YWAM Cebu. Please continue to pray for me as we are daily walking onto the battle field and need Gods covering and continious grace.
With this I would like to wish you all a very happy and blessed 2020! And would also like to thank you all for supporting me both in prayer and financially. Its gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. May you experience Gods mercy, peace and favour as you have remaind obedient to Him and have served me in the process. I love you all deeply.