Months and months were spent fundraising and planning for this trip. Three weeks ago we finally made it to Thailand. This is our story.
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As we settled into our second of three flights, a friendly (but rather loud) Swedish man invited everyone on the plane to try his refreshing xylitol gum. He laughed and talked casually with other travelers. Several from my group took him up on the offer, and in exchange, my friend Judy offered a small cowboy-boot-shaped lapel pin that read “Amarillo.” He was delighted for the swap. A passenger in front of the Swede responded with, “And I invite you to sit down and shut up.” Stunned, the tall blonde sat down and we all shut up.
After twenty-plus hours wedged between strangers in what is essentially an airborne Greyhound bus, we finally hit solid ground in Bangkok. We left the states bleary-eyed on a Friday morning and arrived in Thailand on the cusp of Sunday morning. With a line of luggage that would send a bell-hop running, we met up with our translator and 2 taxi vans that would deliver us to our hotel.
Can one be exhausted from sleeping on an airplane? The answer is yes, yes you can. By the time we checked in and got ourselves to bed, it was nearly 2 AM. And then of course many of us couldn’t sleep (time difference and all).
However, the sun rose and washed the sky and kissed the water pink. It made the maddening blow of sleep-deprivation a bit softer.
The agenda for the day was to speak and play music at a local church, then visit the homes of church members and neighboring families. Packed in a passenger van, the driver zigged and zagged us through the narrow streets, performing U-turns with reckless abandon.
There is something different about church in Thailand. Maybe it’s the open-air buildings or the spicy lunch they serve everyone after the service. Maybe it’s because nobody is anxious to leave. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s different.
We hung out for quite some time, visiting and sharing our lives and hearts over bowls of rice. One man shared about the flood 2 years prior. He had paddled a boat through the very patio that hosted our lunch gathering.
In the heat of the afternoon, we headed out with the pastor’s family and several members of the congregation to visit, pray and deliver food and clothing to various people in need. We traipsed through Banana crops, slums, neighborhoods and farms.
We ended the evening with food at the pastor’s house. He and his wife shared their story. So many stories did we hear on this trip! Each one with a pivotal apex of turning to God and finding glory in helping others. Their family pampered us with home-cooked Thai delicacies; mangoes with sticky rice and sweet coconut milk was definitely a favorite!
I’d be lying if I said we weren’t tired by the end of that first day. But physical exhaustion was tremendously outweighed by a lifted spirit.