Two years ago this week, I left the good old US of A for Thailand. It was something that completely fell into my lap. I have always, always wanted to go to Thailand–since I was in fifth grade. That year, as part of GAs (Girls in Action … kids’ mission-education group they have in SBC churches) I wrote to missionaries who lived in Bangkok. I just picked them out of the Foreign Mission Board directory and wrote. Unlike most of the missionaries my fellow GAs wrote, mine wrote me back!
We ended up writing back and forth for many years. When they went on furlough, my family and theirs actually met at the Missionary Training Center in Richmond. I still have a scrapbook of all of their letters. It was a huge influence on my life, really. I still have a pretty big drive to do foreign missions.
So, back to this trip. I think they ran in the bulletin at church for one week that this trip was going to happen, and the cost was unbelievably low. It was supposed to be in November 2005. I asked about it, I applied, and although the November trip was full, I was added to a trip the next March, 2006.
The purpose of the trip was tsunami relief. I’m sure you remember the devestating tsunami in December 2004. When I applied for this trip, it was April or so after that, soon after relief starting pouring into Southeast Asia. By the time I got there in March 2006, relief had seriously trickled off. We Westerners do have rather short memories for bad things and the emotions you undergo right after they happen. The Thai people we worked with could not believe Christians were still willing to come to help them.
My team was so awesome; I got to be very good friends with two ladies, Marian and Deb, who are sisters, and a man named David. We trekked down to the market together, ate squid, played games, and worked our tails off in 100+ degree weather every day. I have never been anywhere else so sufficatingly hot. Being that close to the equator is just insane. Being out in the sun for 15 minutes is enough to make you pass out.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to go on this trip and to get to meet the people I met, both the Thai people and the Americans I went with and the missionaries that lived in Khao Lak.
It almost seems like a dream now, as I find most of my travels do. When I am living my everyday life, nauseated, tired, watching March Madness, it is hard to believe I am the same person who took classes in Chinese, rode an elephant in Thailand, and had lunch with a sheik in Brazil. Most days I honestly can’t believe I’ve had such amazing opportunities when I am such a boring person!I long for that post-trip feeling, though, of appreciation for my “normal” life. Most days I find myself so wrapped up in housekeeping, making dinners, watching TV shows, and so on. Things that have no importance whatsoever. What matters is relationships, whenever and wherever they are formed, and how these relationships tie into Jesus.