What happens to the kids who have neglectful parents? What about the latch-keys that live in a known pedophile neighborhood? Parents are trying to make ends meet, working to put food on their tables and kids are left to wander the streets. According to my friend, young boys are a target for the men working in massage parlors. It’s not fun to think about, but it doesn’t go away or become less real if we ignore it.
While in Pattaya, Thailand we met SO MANY organizations and individuals making a difference in their communities. Our team had the opportunity to give THRIVE RESCUE HOME a hand by getting their kids out of the home and playing with them. I know this sounds simple, and it is. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
When we arranged to help this organization on a day during our trip, they suggested we take the kids to the water park. “Really?” I thought. I am absolutely willing to admit that this was not something I was really looking forward to on our itinerary. I couldn’t figure out WHY this was going to be important. When the day arrived, we drove across town through city streets, winding country roads and beachside neighborhoods.
We ended up here:
This rescue home is designed to be the base of restoration and holistic care for every child entering its doors. THRIVE believes a family style home is the best model for their kids. Everything in the home has a purpose to promote peace, freedom, dignity, self-esteem, a sense of belonging and an atmosphere that allows kids to be kids.
I wish I could have taken photos of these kids, because they wrecked me. I wanted to capture the faces that I spent the day with. But because of the dangerous circumstances they were removed from, Thrive asked we respect their rules and not photograph any children there. Understandable when they are working so hard to protect them!
There were only a handful of kids, plus a housemom and another missionary helper that went with us. There was a brother and sister that lived there, who apparently were there last year as well. My fellow teammates who met them last year were recognized by the kids when they walked in the door! The kids had been completely transformed according to my friends. Apparently the brother and sister were in a very devastating place and were simply “learning how to play” like other normal kids, previously. This year, however, they were all laughs and jokes and smiles. I fell in love. They were so very sweet, and when I heard their story I could only thank God that they had been saved from a situation I wouldn’t wish on the devil himself.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to get a break from the heat at the water park. We swam and played games and had lunch with the kids. Of course the time came and went too quickly and we were all so sad to have to say goodbye. The little boy found a best friend in my husband, riding on Matt’s back as they scampered up the ramp for yet another quick trip down the slides. This was the saddest day of the trip for Matt and I. Leaving those kids tore our hearts wide open. We literally wanted to take them home with us. If it had been an option, we would have. Right then and there. And for all of those who know me well, you know I don’t say that lightly.
The team of people running THRIVE is extraordinary! The home we visited was extremely clean and well-kept. The staff was eager to explain all of the different ways they help their community. One thing I liked about THRIVE is that they keep in contact with these kids for 3 years after they leave their rescue home. It’s not just an “Ok, glad we helped. Now you’re on your own,” with a goodbye handshake. They REALLY CARE about these kids and absolutely want the best for them.
I mentioned The Bridge Children’s Center in a previous post about the Tamar Center. Bridges to the Nations has their hands in a little bit of everything all over the world. And how crazy is this-the founders are from Amarillo! So of course we were willing to go see what they were up to!
The organization’s latest project is the after-school program for kids living in an at-risk neighborhood (yeah-the pedophile one I mentioned earlier). It is a safe place for them to play and learn after school until their parents can pick them up. I grabbed this photo from their website of their kiddos:
Judy and Joy (with the help of Liam!) taught English to the after-school kids:
Some of our group went to the bars to talk with the girls while Thip cooked us dinner (that green stuff was AMAZING!)
A few of us stayed behind and carted music gear up 3 flights of stairs to the rooftop.
It was a special night, once again. Hearing testimonies; playing, teaching and loving on kids; proclaiming love from a rooftop (I spied people looking around, not knowing where it was coming from-so cool!); eating a home-cooked Thai meal and making new friends… This day ended on a high note, to say the least.
Our last day with Bridges to the Nations came in the form of church. A very informal and warm church service at True Friend Fellowship. Eddie and Randy were away that Sunday (no doubt prepping for the English School where we taught a few days later), so Bill spoke and his wife Joanna interpreted. Can I just say these two are an awesome team? I was completely inspired by their testimony and obvious love for one another. I can’t say that I’ve met very many couples where I’ve said to myself , “I wanna’ be like them when I grow up,” but I did say it after I met these two! I can’t remember the exact context, but I believe he was talking about just going and doing what God has called you to do. Maybe that means helping someone else get to their destination. He said to help your friends’ boat across, and before you knew it, your own boat would be across too. I really liked that.
I will probably be posting about this trip for months more. There was so much to see and do and numerous inspiring people. I hope y’all can just gnaw on the small pieces I’m giving you. Until the next post, my friends!