I dare you to come back from a missions trip and have a conversation with someone that doesn’t start with, “So, how was your trip?! Tell me everything!” Chances are, you won’t be able to. Not for at least a week or two. Everyone wants you to sum up your 12 day adventure into a 12 minute story. They want you to include the best of the best moments and describe it in a way that makes them feel like they’re right there with you. Sounds great, right?
Wrong. While I understand people doing this, hey, I do it to, for the person that has to come up with this life changing story that will blow you away, its a huge burden. And here is why: we don’t even understand exactly what the trip meant for ourselves. How are we supposed to also create this trip that you can vicariously live through also?
When someone asks me what I learned from this trip, or what the best part of it for me was I typically end up picking some cool moment that I remember and use that. It’s different every time someone new asks me. It’s not like I don’t care enough to pick out a favorite moment, but the truth is, even I can’t figure it out. You see, missions trip are tricky. Especially trips that are so deep and powerful and that change your life. For me, that was Thailand.
It changed me in a way that I never could’ve imagined. I went in not knowing what to expect. I mean, this was Asia. The only things I really knew about it were the people ate with chopsticks, and it was crowded. Other than that, I was embarking on a completely new place. A completely new culture. A completely new world. And it ended up being unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Let me just talk about the people of Thailand for one quick second. I have never, in all my life, met a group of people more considerate, genuinely nice, or willing to help even a total stranger than the people of this sweet, sweet country. It’s rare to catch anyone without a smile on their face, and it’s even more rare to see someone not willing to go out of their way to help you with whatever problem or need you may have. In conclusion, the people are awesome, and I am in love with them.
While I was there, I had the chance to work with an organization that helps kids who are about to be sold into the sex trade. These kids are incredible. They are smart, beautiful, and have a love and respect for Jesus that you usually do not see in children. I envy their hearts and kind spirits. They show you a love that is unlike any other…even if you can’t speak a word to each other. Obviously, they must be pretty special people if you can spend a week together without even speaking the same language.
Breathtaking. That is the only word that I feel adequately describes the mountains, cities, and landscape of Thailand. Every new thing we experienced was even prettier than the last. I never imagined this place would be nearly as beautiful as it was, but wow was I wrong. I could’ve taken 1,000 pictures(which I’m almost positive I basically did), and still not capture all it’s beauty.
There was so much good that I saw on this trip. So much joy, kindness, and light. But, there was also, an equal amount of darkness to go along with all of that, and when you saw it, it was the heaviest thing I’ve ever had the misfortune of feeling. While Thailand is so so wonderful, it is also one of the biggest countries in the world for sex trafficking. Can you imagine walking down the street, any normal street, and seeing girls just waiting to be picked up by any guy that will give them money? Because, I know I couldn’t imagine it, at least not until I actually witnessed it. Words can’t describe how heart breaking it is to see a young girl trying to convince a guy to buy her for the night. Nothing could’ve prepared me for that.You can feel the spiritual warfare going on in the streets as you pass these girls, or walk by the many temples that are on every street corner. While it was difficult to see and be a part of it, I’m thankful that I was given an opportunity to witness that and see that part of the world that we don’t get to experience in America as much.
Thailand for me was in two words: life changing. Not only did I fall in love with the country enough to be able to move there tomorrow, but I saw a side of evil in the world that I will never be able to forget. It’s easy to ignore the not so pretty sides of this world when we aren’t ever forced to really look at it, but when we finally do have to stare it right in the face, we can never forget what it looks like. The pain, loneliness, desperation, hurt, shame, and longing it creates in these people’s faces will forever be seared into your mind.
This is why, for me, it’s so hard to just quickly sum up what this trip meant for me, because honestly, almost two weeks after coming back, I still don’t know. I know it meant I now have a new perspective on life and the world. I know it meant that God has placed a special connection and love for Thailand in my heart. I know it meant that I will do everything I can to go back one day soon. But after that, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I love talking about my trip with people who are willing to sort through the messy feelings of it with me, but it’s definitely not an experience I can put into a nice, neat little package of information that can be delivered with a few pictures and sweet captions.
And to me, that’s what makes this trip so special.