“I’m writing a skit about Queen Esther-will you be a Jewish woman in the crowd?” Robin asked.
“Sure”, I agreed.
“I thought the bible story we talked about last week with the kids at our church would be a great one to share with the kids in the Pattaya Slums. It’s the story of Elijah and the raven. It’s all about how God provides. Even when we don’t know where our next meal is coming from, God always provides, doesn’t He?”
It was settled. Our team had a vision.
We busily went about collecting costumes, faux mustaches, feathers and googly eyes. Robin cut 100 birds out of construction paper when she wasn’t babysitting her grandson and Tammy collected Beannie Babies and candy. Matt learned songs. I was promoted to Haman in the skit, so I practiced my “mean face.” Judy planned the lesson and her hubby kindly gathered sticks for the raven lesson (See 1 Kings 17:6).
Our first day with the organization started off with assembling packages of rice, fish sauce, cooking oil, etc. for the families. (To all those who donated to our trip- your money went to help buy this food for these families!)
We walked to the slums from their office, dodging traffic and casting smiles upon foreign faces.
Oh how joy filled the air as we helped the staff with set-up! The kids and families began to show up, and soon Thearith appeared with his truckload of friends. An unending stream of people emerged from beneath his camper shell, much like a clown car! The girls set up a table for the drawing, and after a while, names were drawn. Somebody won a new bath towel! Another child received a pillow. Another-new dinner plates. And the grand prize-a fan! That drawing may have been for those families, but it was also for me. I thought about the 2 pillows that sat on my bed at home, and I was reminded to continue my life in gratitude.
Judy involved the kids in her skit-I’m pretty certain they liked it 🙂 As for the craft…well, we planned for 100 kids (50 each time), but we had so many families show up that we ended up using them ALL on this first slum visit!
Everyone was fed dinner, given care packages and toys. Our new friends came hungry, but we all left fed.
We had the opportunity to work with this organization several more times, and each time was special. Pattaya Slum Ministries is a ministry under Project L.I.F.E. Foundation, a registered Thai foundation that is also associated with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) Thailand. The project started in 2004 after seeing the great need to reach out to vulnerable children in Pattaya slums. Many adults in the slums work collecting recyclable garbage or work in bars, leaving children often neglected and unloved. These are some of the ways this organization is reaching out:
After school kids’ clubs in multiple slum locations
Visiting the sick and basic health care help
Summertime kids’ camps & special outings
Medicine and baby formula distribution
Weekly food distribution to children
Community development projects
Saturday afternoon teen program
The second day we were taken to a new slum location. We rode there “Thai style” (in the back of a pick up).
The slum outreach location was a mostly gravel parking lot with bits of greenery along the outer edges. Again, the canvas tarps were laid out while stray dogs were “shoo’d” up the road. We were encouraged to “go find the children.” As we wandered the narrow traffic byways weaving between make-shift shanties, we stumbled through a world of bizarre pets and Buddhist “spirit houses.”
We found many children who agreed to come spend time with us…
The song we taught the kids that day was called “A Little Bit of Courage.” I felt like the song was as much for our team as it was for the children.
Our last day with this ministry was spent with their teens. The day was full of surprises. Our team went into the day knowing we’d be giving out toiletry bags and sharing stories from our youth. Upon arrival, we were surprised with a traditional Thai dance performance by the girls who had been practicing for weeks. They were so excited to share a bit of their culture with us. We were dazzled to say the least!
We danced and twirled and laughed and cried. Matt and I gave away photographs of our pets. Two of the girls loved Frankie, Sprockett and Pepper so much that they asked to keep the photos. They eagerly wrote the names of each pet in English and Thai on the back and thanked us for the gifts. Once again, we were touched by the generosity and sincerity of the Thai people.
No matter where we live, we know that our future is in the hands of our children. I love that Pattaya Slum Ministries is nurturing and supporting that future.
If you’d like to help this organization, please visit their website here: www.ywamthai.org/pattayaslum
Did you know that a donation of only $12.00 US will help 80 slum children to enjoy a good meal once a week? What if just once a month we skipped or re-negotiated a luxury? Perhaps we forgo a manicure, or choose a 5$ bottle of wine instead of the 18$ bottle, or rent a movie rather than go to the theater? What if we instead donated it here? Just a thought…
*Thanks to my friend Christine who shared some of her photos with me so I could share them with you*