First stop was to get a SIM card, second was to hire my first Grab (Asian company that bought out Uber). It was fine except for the language barrier. I wasn't prepared for him to ask if I wanted to take the interstate. I'd read that there are fees, but I didn't really understand the options; so I said it didn't matter. Well, I'm not sure how long the Interstate would've taken, but it took an hour and a half to get to the guest house where I'm staying.
Though it is my very first time to this bustling city of Bangkok, I felt so comfortable and almost as though I were coming back to a place I'd been to before. All I can think of is that Phnom Penh was such a different world for me that this seemed more normal. The fact that the roads are paved and the vehicles stayed in their lanes--excluding the mopeds 😉-seemed so civilized and structured!
|One Street Away From Where I Stayed|
My SAMS director had recommended that I contact the bishop who is serving here at an Anglican Church for 6 months, so I had been in contact with him over the past couple of months. He had invited me to a noon-time service followed by a lunch and ESL class for refugees. As the clock got hit 11:30, and I still hadn't arrived at the guest house, I wondered if I could make it. Finally, we made it!
After a quick check in, I went up to my room just to set my things inside and immediately headed out about 11:45 or 11:50, relying on some vague directions from the front desk along with my map app. I think it was noon on the dot when I made it through the side door of the church, just in time for the opening prayer.
|As a guest and out of respect for the situation, I didn't take pictures, but this is the building and |
website of Christ Church Bangkok.
I'm so thankful for this invitation and time with the refugees from Africa, Pakistan, and India; and yet, it's so humbling and has left my soul troubled. They live very hard lives and shared openly some of the difficulties. For example, when people meet them, they ask "Where are you from?" followed by "Do you work?" The unspoken or even spoken question is "How do you eat and live?" The hardest for them is that even Christians can be unloving or judgmental.
Linda is from the Congo. I didn't reveal that I spoke French until it was getting difficult for her to share deeper things in a second language; so I offered that "Je parle francais." Her eyes lit up, and she hugged me as she continued in French.
A Pakistani man was imprisoned and is now separated from his wife and daughter who are held in a detention center. He, like many, shared how they are not allowed to work because they are not allowed to get a Visa. But they cannot return to their home country because of the hostility toward Christians. He asked for me and my friends to pray for him and his family. They have been on the news and are hoping to get asylum in the UK, but they are still waiting after four years.
And the same for the Pakistani woman who asked me to walk to the bus stop with her. They are hoping to go to Canada, but it's been four years for her family as well.
My experience gave me a tiny taste of how I can only imagine that Jesus must've felt during his 3 years of ministry. I'm not sure if it's because I'm from the West or a missionary or both, but I felt such a strong sense of expectation for me to be able to help them; and this left me feeling like a bit of a failure and once more with questions whirling around in my head.
As I prayed this morning, I found some comfort and help by Jesus' example in John 4 with the woman at the well. She had a lot of stigma and rejection as well as emotional and physical needs. Jesus wasn't intimidated by her needs or her reputation, but He loved her as she was and helped her realize that her deepest needs were beyond her present circumstances. I think it helps that He willingly chose a life of little--without wealth and things that would put Him in a higher category than the poor and needy. Rather than offering people things they thought would help them like money, material things, or status; He gave them Himself who was free of such needs.
I have a long way to go so that my heart and life match those of my Master, but I'm thankful that His love is able to change us and grow us so that we're more like Him.