Thailand, A Country Full Of Surprises

When I was asked to put the Thailand mission trip into words, the first impulse was “absolutely!” Then reality set in.

We went into our preparations for the trip with eyes wide open. Having been on a handful of mission trips to Haiti as our gauge, we really did not know what to expect in Thailand.

Several months ago, when Mike first invited us to go, my knee jerk reaction was “there is no way I can take off two weeks from work.” God had bigger plans as my employer changed our vacation policy which gave me four weeks of vacation versus the normal two.

This change opened the door for me to say “yes”, for which I will forever be grateful.

Rice farm in Thailand

After a long journey and numerous flights, we arrived at our destination in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A bit jet lagged but ready to get our two-week adventure started. I mean who would have thought a year ago that we would be on the other side of the world. Much less that we would have the opportunity to meet and commune with some of the most incredible people that awaited our arrival.

Having the chance to serve side by side the older boys at the Lighthouse as we tore down an old ant-infested bamboo Lighhouse Fence Project in Thailandfence was inspiring. The hard work and attention to detail these boys possessed was a sight to be seen.

Getting to know Terra and the rest of the kids at the Lighthouse over lunch was similar to sitting amongst little disciples. They all worshipped and served us with humble hearts. It was evident that Terra was raising a new generation of believers.

Having the chance to go bowling with the kids was just as rewarding. They were just as competitive and good sports as any of us could have imagined.

We also were able to attend church with the kids on Sunday. No matter your background, age, religion, or country, there is nothing more unifying than worshipping and breaking bread together.

We then traveled to Nong Tao to spend a couple of days with the kids in the village.

Seeing their faces when they came home from school to find their newly installed bunk beds was priceless.

Bunk bed project in ThailandWe played soccer, hopscotch and flew paper airplanes. Most of all we spent time with the kids letting them know they were loved.

The ladies had the chance to teach the kids while the men gave the school cafeteria some new paint.

Both the Lighthouse and Nong Tao provide a safe place for the children to learn and grow. Places where Christ is at the forefront and the kids reflect their teachings. From the way they treat one another, to the way they manage their chores and take care of the homes.

The trip itself was a mixture of service, fellowship, and culture. In order to successfully serve others, one must be aware of the culture of the place they serve. Thailand has some of the friendliest of people, who although may live a bit simpler than we might be accustomed, they love a lot bigger than we deserved.

Even from the hotel, we stayed at, the restaurants we ate at, and the sites and experiences we were able to take in. All of these had the essence of pure hearts, simple service and making us all want to return.

Personally, I was a bit skeptical and prepared for the trip to be a nice experience but perhaps not life altering. I did not expect to see Christ everywhere I turned. From the faces of the kids to those that took care of them day in and day out. I cannot speak for others but I cannot wait to return.

Charles Johnston

Digital Ninja

Charles is president and Charles Johnston, writer, blogger, digital ninjasenior “Digital Ninja” at HeartWired Technical Solutions. Charles had a BA degree in IT Management and a nerdy wit to match.

After having his heart broken on a mission trip to Haiti. Charles has compassion for those less privileged in the world. It is from these broken pieces that Charles built his web design agency.

As a blogger and freelance writer, he knows the content his clients need. Mix in years of technical experience, and WordPress savvy, his company now builds websites for nonprofits, entrepreneurs and small businesses around the country. He provides technology and web services with heart.

Time Well Spent

On Saturday Hope was blessed with the chance to take 29 kids to the Chiang Mai Zoo.  When the kids first arrived they lined up and were rather quiet and shy around us.  We decided to show them several attractions such as the Snow Dome, Pandas, Aquarium, and Animal Show.  In the Snow Dome, which maintained a constant temperature of 15/20 degrees, they were able to jump on inner tubes and slide down a man made icy hill.  The giggles we heard were fantastic.

At the Zoo

The aquarium, Pandas, and Animal Show were all very entertaining for them and to hear their laughter was wonderful.  As the day progresses, the kids became a bit more comfortable with us.  We shared a nice lunch and were able to spend a fair amount of time with them.  At the end of the day, as we said our good-byes, we received several hugs before they loaded up their vehicles for the trip back to Chiang Dao.  All in all it seemed a wonderful day was had by all.

Sunday was a trip to Chiang Dao to visit the kids at their home.  As we arrived we were greeted by them waving and jumping up and down.  They led us into their worship area and where they, the children, led the worship service with songs and prayers.  How inspirational that even with the language barrier we were able to have a great service!!  After service we played several games with the children and enjoyed their company for a few hours.  We bought a lunch of chicken and rice which we all shared. Before we left we got a tour of the home.

I think the relationships we started this weekend were meaningful and what Christ calls us to be! When we are in relationships with others, especially a different culture and 12,000 miles away, it makes it even more special.

How are you in relationship with others around you and far from you?

Not For Sale Day 2 Highlights

Day two of the forum was different than the first. Today we learned about Social Enterprise. This means creating business to help support our ministries and creates real jobs for those that have been trafficked. We also learned more about telling our stories. How do you tell your story?

I have asked Tara and Sharon to write a small bit on their take-away for the forum. Here are their replies.

Tara
For the second day of the forum on Human Trafficking/Exploitation I think, on a personal note, that it put everything together for me.  Over the course of 3-4 years I have been interested in human trafficking, but have not known where to start.  The subject is overwhelming.  After reading numerous books and scouring the various sites on the internet, I was even more overwhelmed.  Since attending the forum and talking with folks on the front lines of this movement, I have now narrowed down my interests and been able to develop an idea of where I would like to move forward too.  In a nutshell, one must pick an area and concentrate on it such as prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, etc., etc.  I feel that the forum gave me more purpose.

Sharon
I came away from the forum realizing that there has to be forethought and study to be successful.  There also needs to be collaboration between organizations.  When we work together, the problem does not seem as overwhelming.

Mike
I think the idea of creating a social enterprise is very intriguing! I like the idea of having a business that supports HOB’s work. At the same time, helping those being trafficked with a real job that teaches them life skills, good work habits, ethics, and how to thrive in the work world. The questions that quickly come to mind are…

  1. What would that social enterprise look like?
  2. How would the Social Enterprise be funded?
  3. How would it be managed?
  4. Who would manage it?
  5. And on and on…

For me the forum was excellent and gave me a lot to process about how HOB fits into the trafficking mess. One thing for sure is that we are certainly working to prevent trafficking.

What will you do to prevent, intervene or care for trafficked people once they are free?

 

Not For Sale Day 1 Highlights

The first day of the Not For Sale Asian Pacific Forum on Human Trafficking brought out many new statistics and information on human trafficking for me and I’m guessing for others as well. What follows are some of those statistics and information.

Some of the most common forms of human trafficking.

  1. Sexual exploitation of girls ages 14 to 18
  2. Begging – young children boys and girls forced to beg
  3. Domestic help
  4. Boys forced labor on fishing boats
15 years ago the first law in Thailand was passed outlawing slavery.
Bishop Desmond Tutu’s video — HOPE, those that fight and speak out against human trafficking in all its ugly forms are the hope for the victims.

 

1 million women from South Korea are forced into sexual slavery; 1 million!

 

When people hear statistics for the second time they become numb to these statistics unless there are given practical steps to combat trafficking included.

 

The most important practical step that each individual can take.
PRAY
  1. Perpetrators of trafficking – Pray against a spirit of greed.
  2. Customers of victims – Pray against a spirit of lust.
  3. Victims of trafficking – Pray against a spirit of bitterness and anger.
Don’t buy products that are manufactured on the backs of slaves!
Check out this short video…

Download the free app for iPhone.

Download the free app for Android.

Not For Sale

Today we attended a conference, “Not For Sale,” An Asian Pacific Forum on Human Trafficking. Not For Sale is non-profit organization working to end modern day slavery and exploitation. The forum consisted of four sessions geared toward a specific topic in the area of human trafficking.
The first session entailed “Trafficking and the Challenge of Stateless Children, Migrant Laborers, and Public Justice Systems in Southeast Asia.”

The second session covered, “Implications of Trafficking and Slavery Upon Society and Faith Communities,” with an introductory video from Bishop Desmond Tutu on the importance of supporting the work of Not For Sale because of the importance of their mission.

The third session consisted of “Best Practices for Law Enforcement in Asia.” The final session we attended covered “Where does Global Responsibility End for Supply Chains?” The overall message of the day was that in order to eradicate slavery and exploitation, organizations must partner with one another and work together to achieve change. This is not a political or denominational problem, but one that requires all involved to come together as one.

What do you think the implications of trafficking are in the US and globally?