Thailand, part 3

The girls playing outside the main home

With Nhu (left) and Lida, who became so dear to us

The girls showing us a dance they had made up

Some of the girls out back washing their laundry at the main home

A rice field, newly planted

One of the girls walking from the smaller house to the big house

Two sisters in their tribal dresses ready for worship

A few of the girls showing their tribal clothes for worship

Everyone's getting settled for the service

Leading worship with two wonderful young women, them in Thai, me in English

Two of the girls sharing a dance during service

Mho gah tuk!!


It was hard to believe as the days went by that we were actually getting close to the end of our trip. We were gone two weeks, but when you spend two days on either end just traveling, the time goes so fast!

On Saturday, we split up. Nathan and the other men took the boys on a special outing involving lunch, video games, and “The Green Lantern” in Thai. I stayed at the main girls’ home on Saturday and took advantage of the time to teach some more music to several of the girls. We also played more Uno, ninja, badminton, and jump rope. It was amazing to watch how the home ran like clockwork. All the girls had chores and they all just went and did whatever their job was without complaining, and everyone working together made the house run. It’s no small thing to feed three meals a day to 50 or 60 people and to keep the house clean and organized.

I was also impressed by how the girls cared for each other. There are house parents at all the homes and they were very loving and excellent at their jobs, but it is not really possible to give individual attention all the time with that many children. The girls watched out for each other and the older girls cared for the younger ones. They weren’t assigned smaller children, it just happened. Culturally, they all considered themselves sisters. I was struck several times by how this kind of home really wouldn’t work in the States, but here, with their culture, it worked really well. There was one particular girl who had some learning problems and issues, and when we would play games, she could never keep the rules straight, but all the other girls were just patient with her and helped her until her turn was finished. Disagreements were very uncommon. I asked what kind of punishment was used if someone needed correction and the answer was, “Dishes. We obviously have tons of dishes and they really dislike that job, so the worst punishment we can give is dish duty.”

The next day we had worship at the main house. That was just a precious, precious day to me. Every week all the houses gather at the main house because they have the biggest space. There are also a few people from the community who come because Christian churches are rare. One of the permanent missionaries here spent four years learning the language which is very complicated so that he could preach and translate. It’s also complicated by the fact that many of the girls and boys here have tribal backgrounds and their own languages, and there were other internationals there as well.

When we arrived, many of the children were wearing their tribal dress, and we were told it was because it was a special occasion – they did it in honor of us and our last day with them, and also because it was the pastor’s birthday. They looked so beautiful, and we could tell which tribe they represented and were able to start picking out biological brothers and sisters a bit too.

The service began with a team of girls from the main house who led worship. We knew several of the songs and sang along in English. Then they asked me to come and lead some worship which I did with two of the girls I had worked with the day before. Then there was a time of open sharing, and all three houses as well as other groups of children came forward one by one and presented special things they had prepared. There were a few choral pieces, a couple of dances, and several songs. Finally, we heard a testimony from someone who had become our dear friend of how God had first spoken to her heart and was working to help her save her daughter. The pastor translated, and it was just beautiful.

After the service we had an amazing afternoon celebration. The houses had all made us special cards and pictures, and they had prepared several songs for us as well. Then we had a huge feast of Mookata (mho gah tuk), or Thai barbeque. They set out pots all over the yard with wood charcoal in them and with a pan over the top. Around the edge of the pan was chicken stock and they cooked vegetables and rice noodles in that, and in the raised center there was a piece of fat to grease the pan and all around that they cooked pork and chicken and fish cake. Apparently the goal is to eat everything. And to feed your guests until they explode. The girls we were with thought it was hilarious to keep sneaking food into our bowls after we’d said we were full, and in the end, we ate for two hours with them.

We played all afternoon with the girls, and then it was time to say goodbye. That was so hard. For every member of the team I think there were a few children who had really touched their hearts, and for me, there were two in particular to whom I had a very hard time saying goodbye. They were both my older daughter’s age, and were so sweet. They stood together holding hands as we were loading the van, and then one ran to the van and came in for one last hug even though we had been hugging for half an hour already. They both still have surviving parents, so neither is adoptable, but it broke my heart to drive away. I hope I can visit them again.

That night we all had dinner together and then we got ready to leave in the morning. Nathan and I were headed back to Bangkok for a day before going home, and the other couples were staying another week in a different location. It was hard to say goodbye to the rest of the team as well – that is an amazing bonding experience! But it’s different since I know I will see them again.

We left early the next morning, and spent the afternoon at the hotel. That night we went to dinner at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel which is the tallest building in Thailand. We went to the top and took in the view.

The next morning we were on our way by 3:45am. Six and a half hours back to Narita, layover, and then the long flight back to Washington D.C. When we finally got back to our house in Columbus on Tuesday night, it felt like forever. It was so good to see our kids! And after what we’d learned, we held them closer even than we might have. Now we are praying through how God will use this trip, and how He would like to use us to help.

Want to see lots more pictures? Check out the full album here!

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