What living in Thailand for 2 months was really like…

God calls us to go. To go into all the nations (Matthew 28). And this summer God called me to Thailand for 2 months. The time in Thailand was a part of the the last phase of the DTS called outreach.

So what did I do in Thailand you might wonder?

First we stayed in Bangkok for a couple days for orientation where we learned a lot about the culture and belief of this country known as “the land of smiles”. A country that is also known for the line “to be Thai is to be buddhist”. To get to know this country we went to downtown Bangkok and visited temple after temple. Not that we had to search to find them, they were everywhere.

Next we travelled to the urban mecca that is Chiang Mai, one of the biggest cities in Thailand. There we worked in the red light district, worked in the slum, went to monk chats at the local temple (which is meant for the monks to practice their English and for tourists to have their curiousity about Buddhism satisfied) and had shifts at Zion Café-a coffeeshop where former bargirls are offered work.
Chiang Mai was intense to say the least. We worked from early morning to late night almost every single day. Day after day we kept coming to the same ministries even though we rarely saw the results we hoped for and prayed for happening. So many days it seemed meaningless. Building relationships was hard. One day we would be welcomed with open arms by the people working at a bar and the next time we would be ignored by the exact same people. But despite our feelings and disappointment we kept coming back. Why? Because when we go it is not about us or what we feel. It is because of what God has called us to do. And He called us to be in those ministries in Chiang Mai. Who are we to not go into the bars and show God’s love and share the truth of the Gospel just because we don’t feel like it, when there are so many people there who desperately need it? Obedience has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God and what He has called us to do.

 

After our time in Chiang Mai we went up north to a small village called Mae la Noi located in the Mae Hong Son district. There we stayed with a local Christian family who were a part of the Karen hilltribe. Together with our Thai dad who worked as our translator we went into school after school sharing the Gospel, testimonies, playing games, singing songs and prayed. And almost all the schools we went to were Buddhist. Talk about a God that works behind the scenes-Buddhist school directors inviting us into their schools to talk about Christ! We went to 10 different schools and got to meet more than 1000 kids. What an honor!

I wish I had crazy stories to tell you about the people we encountered becoming Christians, getting baptized, set free or healed, but truth is that was not not the case. Nor was it the reason for or goal of this trip. Of course it is amazing when it happens and I highly believe in all of the above! But what we were called to do was to share the Gospel. We went because God said go-because He has called us to go to the people who don’t yet know Him-to the fatherless. When go and are obedient and the rest is up to God! We can go, but God is the one who gives the results.

So what now?

So much happened in the 2,5 months we stayed in Thailand. I saw things I will never forget. I heard things that still keeps my mind spinning. I met people whose stories have to be shared, who so desperately needs someone to be their voice in a season where they don’t have any. I don’t want this trip to just be another trip or experience I will forgot as soon as the tan is gone. I want this to last.

I will make sure not to forget them, the people, the laughter, the geneority, the massiveness of worship filling up the smallest of rooms, the mango and sticky rice and too much milo and Thai tea. The adventure, the humid evenings and quiet mornings, the way the Thai people welcomed us with open arms and always had space for us in their houses and at their dinner tables and not to forget-in their hearts. The lessons I learned.

When thinking back of my time in Thailand one thing that keeps coming to my mind are the lyrics from “Isaiah 6 by Lindy Conant (a song that was constantly on repeat doing the whole DTS).

There are roads that are still untouched
That have yet to receive Your love

And all creation is crying out
For the cross

There are hearts that have yet to see
The power of Christ that has set them free
For such a love you have sent Your Son
To save what’s lost

So who will go?

Now your eyes run to and fro
To find the ones who will rise and go
To any distance far or wide
To take your heart

With burning hearts we will take this task
And give our lives for what you asked
The calls gone out and we must respond
To Your voice

Oh God, here am I, send me
Use me for Your glory
Oh God, Here am I, send me
Pick me up and write your story

Another song that describes what this outreach was like is the song “Open Space” by Housefires.

My heart is an open space
For You to come and have Your way
I’m open, I’m o…o-o-o-open
My heart is an open space
For You to come and have Your way
I’m o…o-o-open, I’m o…o-o-o-open

Do whatever You wanna do
And say whatever You wanna say
And move however You wanna move
And change whatever You wanna change
Do whatever You wanna do
And say whatever You wanna say
And move however You wanna move, God
And change whatever You wanna change

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” – Romans 10:14-15

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8 thoughts on “What living in Thailand for 2 months was really like…

  1. Great post Ida! It’s so true that we aren’t the ones providing the results, God is. Loved this honest insight into the reality of missions trips. Your writing just gets better and better too! 🙂

  2. Loved this post so much!! Some of my dearest friends are missionaries in Chaing Rai and we cannot wait to go see them!! Your pictures were fantastic and I loved your point about how obedience really has nothing to do with us – very convicting!

  3. My daughter went on a mission trip to Thailand and found it very challenging. She grieved so much over the things she saw. Bless you and your perseverance. God is faithful and will bless your faithfulness in the difficult work.

  4. Your trip and experiences look amazing. I’m sure it was a time in your life that you will remember forever. Sharing the gospel not only fulfills our calling and hopefully leads people to Christ but it also alters you in ways you can never imagine. Thank you for showing us a piece of Thailand! God Bless!

  5. Thanks for being real and honest here and sharing your heart.

    Thailand has been described by many as a very hard-hearted land. There are tons of short term trips taken here, as I myself went on a trip here when I was pregnant with my daughter. I went with two schools that go every year. Now that I’m living abroad long term, I often ponder if these short term trips might not be better spent supporting the long term service people who are already stationed in that area. For example, if short term trips were used for youth summer camps, where we went as volunteers to help provide the manpower needed for such an operation. Or if we went to long term orphanages and helped reconstruct the housing that is almost always dilapidated.

    I personally really wrestle with this aspect of outreach, as my husband and I are also planning a short term trip for India this winter (we’ll be visiting long term friends), and our children will soon be of the age when they will want to take short term trips themselves.

    1. So interesting to hear your point! I agree. Sometimes short term mission trips tend to become missionary tourism where you go just to get a glimpse and then you return to the comfortable again. That is why I am happy I got to stay in Thailand for almost 2,5 months and got to work with locals and already existing ministries in Thailand.
      But I think that the important thing is our willingness to go and have our hearts at the right place then the time of our trip will be inferior and short term missions can turn into long term missions. Truly God can use it all for His glory!

  6. What an amazing trip! It sounds like you planted a lot of seeds while there. May God bless those seeds and help them to grow.

    I completely agree with what you said…we do and love even when we don’t feel like it.

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