This past week I nervously and excitedly began my internship at The Well. So much of it was different than I expected, but all of it felt exactly right. For our first week we spent the majority of the time getting to know the staff members, the women, the children, and the ministry. I get to intern with a spunky New Zealand native who has spent her past 15 years living in London and working as a nurse. She’s a fabulous person to spend my days with and has a great sense of humor-plus everything she says is 10x funnier because of her cute accent. It was such a fun week. Here are my highlights from each day:
Monday: In the morning we spent time with different staff members getting to know their hearts and their positions in the ministry. Then in the afternoon we got to spend time in the children’s center! We taught the kids “head, shoulders, knees and toes.” They loved it. Some of the older kids showed me later on in the week and had obviously been practicing! So sweet.
Tuesday: In the afternoon we got to sit in on a relatively high-level English class. The women were HILARIOUS and so eager to learn. Plus they taught us a bit of Thai while we were there! Spending time getting to know the women is so fun. So far they’ve been hilarious. Tuesday night we went on our first outreach to one of the Red Light Districts. We went early so when we got there a lot of the girls were still in their street clothes eating dinner. It was a rainy night so (at least while we were there) things were pretty tame. Judy (co-founder of The Well) was there to translate for us. A lot of the women we talked to had only been there a couple weeks because flooding up north in the rice patties means little to no profit for farmers. So they came to Bangkok to work- and unfortunately all things sexual sell in this city.
Wednesday: Wednesday afternoon we had the opportunity to do a unique outreach during the day. Our translators and fellow outreachers were two Thai women who both used to work in the bars- and if they didn’t tell us their stories, I never would have guessed that about them. They’re incredible, and Jesus beautifully beams through them. We went to China Town- the part of the city initially settled in by the Chinese (hence the name). This part of the city is not safe to be in starting at about 5 PM because it wrecked with alcohol, drugs, and violent gangs. Amidst all of this, young girls and women stand on the streets outside of hotels where they take clients. They are there to service Thai men (20% of Thailand’s prostitution takes place with foreign men visiting Thailand which means the remaining 80% is Thai men. This amounts to at least 450,000 Thai men visiting prostitutes every day). We met two sixteen year old girls, and my heart was broken. I had to hold back tears as our translator explained to us that the girls were cousins and that one of their moms had brought them there to work. One of the girls has a twin sister who was also supposed to be there with them-but she had disappeared five days earlier. They looked so scared and vulnerable. I couldn’t help but think about my baby sister, who is just a year younger than them. I couldn’t handle it. We prayed for them, and as we did a sixty-some year old Thai man stuck his head into our small gathering. I found out afterwards that he was asking “how much for the foreign girls?” Lucky for him I didn’t understand him, or he may have caught my fist in his face (flesh reaction). When we walked away I turned around and saw him leading one of the girls we had just been with into the hotel. One of the Thai women put both arms around me and turned me in the opposite direction. Her words were consoling and reassuring to my obviously emotional state. She said when she first started coming on outreach she wanted to physically fight the men for taking advantage of the women (ditto), but God opened her eyes to see that He loves the whole world and that these men are just as broken and lost as the women (true). We learned a lot about this in a class in our last week of ISM. I’m hoping to post about that later on. God is opening my eyes to a lot of things, and there are just too many to put into one blog post.
Thursday: Well, I spent my morning throwing up and sleeping. After I woke up I was fine though. I spent the evening at the McIntosh’s home for Canadian Thanksgiving. I was so thankful for a home cooked meal, delicious desserts, and fun company.
Friday: In the morning I got to spend time with the kids again, but I also had a chance to join some of the women in a game time! We played Bingo and I got to practice my Thai numbers- a much needed lesson for me! Then in the afternoon we did fun things like go to the coffee shop with Judy and Becky (another volunteer), and move/reorganize Judy’s office! For dinner we headed to a mall food court where we got to spend a couple hours eating and chatting with the staff members and their children. It was the perfect ending to the week.
Week 2 starts tomorrow, and it looks like I’m going to be with the kids a lot and I may even get to teach some dance classes…we’ll see! Stay tuned. -E