Posts Tagged ‘ Kids ’

Approaching 6 Months

Finding it hard to believe the six-month mark is approaching.

Lots of highs and lows over the last few weeks since I returned from Christmas in the States.  I know that’s fairly typical of life overseas, but the extremes lately have been, well, extreme.  Chalk it up to having a different perspective on things now that I’m here on a one-way ticket, the initial glamourous luster of missions having somewhat faded, and my Thai language progressing to the point that I can no longer feign ignorance as to what’s going on around me.

But there are plenty of positive extremes to celebrate.

We kicked off a “version 2.0” education and job training program for women at The Well mid-January and, in less than a month, have seen some amazing things happen. The women learning metal-smithing technique from Chelsey are creating absolutely phenomenal jewelry pieces and are having lots of fun doing it. The student leaders now running the jewelry floor with minimal supervision are taking the business to a new level. The sewing team is mixing up their product lines with new stuff like laptop sleeves (putting Etsy vendors to shame…)  Students interested in music are accelerating after their guitar or keyboard lessons sometimes faster than the teachers can teach. Women are excitedly checking in with Skye, our resident nurse teaching health class, when they carry around a water bottle instead of their usual red sugar-water.

There’s nothing like fresh starts to infuse some excitement and new energy into life and ministry here.

I spend my time changing hats between teacher (media/communications class), auntie (working in The Well’s children’s center), friend (bar outreach), photographer (for the jewelry business and awareness raising/communications functions), house mom (running the volunteer house), student (plugging away at Thai language and working on my thesis), and trying to squeeze in some street basketball or soccer with neighborhood kids if we can handle the heat and polluted air.

On the other hand, the reality of living far from home in a culture I often find hard to understand (and sometimes hard to appreciate) is starting to wear on me. That coupled with facing some extremely difficult, complex ministry situations has left me at or near the end of my rope on more than one occasion.

But amidst the struggles and chaos, I also get to sit back and let the little life-giving and joy-bringing things soak in.

Such as… the football-team worth of little tacklers running, jumping, clinging to me and nuzzling their snotty noses into my shoulder upon arrival to the children’s center… a scene set to “repeat” for about four hours twice a week.

Such as….  when I pitched the idea of my media/communications class publishing a monthly newsletter, I had one of my students step boldly into the position of Editor-in-Chief, citing maybe she could be a real editor someday.

Such as… cooking Thai meals with Jup and realizing we can have serious conversations in Thai. Though our conversations are rarely serious and generally involve more laughter than decipherable words.

Such as… sitting down with visiting pastors, authors and missionaries and discussing new and innovative ways to challenge cultural paradigms, create healthy community, train up disciples and, well, just try to live like Jesus.

And so the list continues.  I might be missing out on a lot at home, but I can’t imagine missing out on THIS.


A Boy Named Solomon

I met a precious family on a concrete overpass over one of Bangkok’s busiest thoroughfares the other night.

A 32-year-old mother with two little girls – ages 4 and nearly 1. Her son joined us a little while later.  When we asked how old he was, he asked his mom whether he should tell his real age or the age he uses when he’s asking for food or money. She told him he could tell us the truth. 11. But he gets more money and food if he tells people he is only 6, and he could certainly pass for that age based on his small size.

But what he lacks in size he makes up for in personality and wit.  As much as I fell in love with the mom and her sweet daughters, I was fascinated by the little boy.

I call him Solomon.

They’ve been in Thailand for some time, having migrated across the border from Cambodia after her husband left her for another woman and sold their house, leaving her with nothing except her sweet children. Cambodia had nothing for them – not even food. They’re able to at least find food in Thailand, though that doesn’t mean it’s easy. One of the many dangers, she’s left to fend off a Japanese man who approaches her on a daily basis offering her 100,000 baht (~3,300 USD) to buy her beautiful little 1-year-old daughter.

Jup and I had a blast playing with the kids, singing Thai kid songs with them and listening to Mom sing an old Christian hymn in her native tongue, all the while getting weird looks from passers by, both foreign and Thai.  Some looked on with pity.  Others looked somewhere between perplexed and disgusted as we sat on the dirty ground sharing food and laughs in the “home” of this homeless family.

At lot about this particular night left me unsettled.  The thought of people lurking waiting to purchase and traffic homeless kids. Juxtaposing the kindness of the poor street vendors that had purchased a mat for this family so they didn’t have to sleep on the ground with the ambivalent wealthy folks passing by in their rush to the next entertainment stop. The list goes on.

But I was distracted from the injustices of the situation by the sheer potential I saw in little Solomon.

When we asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said he wanted to be a soldier because “I want to protect Thailand. I love Thailand. Thai people have good hearts.” Hungry for knowledge, he wants to be able to speak good Thai and English…and he threw in Chinese for good measure too.

We took him and his sister to the 7-Eleven nearby to buy some milk and food and a couple simple art supplies. Solomon’s sister wanted an expensive art set, but he quickly told her that he found one that was just as good but much less expensive.

We then went to the milk aisle and asked Solomon which kind he likes to drink.  Of the two options, he pointed to the first one and matter-of-factly stated that, though this one would make him healthy, the second one would make him clever.

He chose clever.

Precious.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the end of the story. We’re exploring ways to help this family, but the list of complications is long.

What will it take to give clever little Solomon some hope for his future?

I can’t help but think that if Solomon and his family are given some hope for their future, it might help give Thailand and Cambodia some hope for theirs.

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29