The Land of Smiles! This statement could not be more accurate. Everyone we have seen in Thailand has had a huge smile on their face.
Our time in Thailand has been beautiful, heart-breaking, and comforting all at the same time. Oh! Did I mention the food? It is phenomenal!! However, it is spicier than my wimpy tongue and mouth can handle. Several meals I found myself sweating and tearing up, but I kept eating because it tasted so good. Shout out to Keith Cullum, whom I thought about every time I ate something spicy! HaHa! I did, however try everything, including, bugs and cooked blood. Not so surprising, the fruit has by far been my favorite food here! We had pineapple about everyday along with new fruits which include leechy (not sure if I spelled it correctly). I loved being able to try new foods each and every day.
More importantly, God is moving tremendously here in Thailand. The people here have huge hearts for the Lord and they don’t hide it, which is amazing! One man we worked with in particular, named Pi Go, is extremely invested in the community around him including the village where he is from. He has formed relationship with various people whom he shares God’s truth with. Not only that, but he also brings food and drink to those in need. It’s refreshing and convicting to see him sharing the gospel so fervently. His passion and kindness was infectious and encouraging. Pi Go was also always offering us more pineapple to eat!!
The organization we worked with is also extremely generous with their giving and hospitality. One day that really hit home with me, was when we visited families infected with HIV. We had the great privilege to pray with them and sing worship songs with them, even though they were not all believers. While we were singing a song with a family, I was overcome with great joy and awe. How amazing is it that me, just one young person, is able to pray for others and share God’s love and truth. I am so undeserving of God’s love and grace, yet he calls us to do his work. I instantly thought of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. God is capable of using anyone in any way. When we were visiting the families, there was a specific man that we saw, who impacted our team quite a bit. The moment I saw his small and frail body on the dirt floor, I immediately teared up. I have never seen anyone in that type of helpless and decaying condition. When I learned he wasn’t a believer, my heart just broke for him. God loves him just as much as me and God is pursuing just as much. As we all prayed for him, I prayed desperately that he would accept Jesus in his heart. God has much better plans for him, and it made me sad knowing that he might not get to experience God’s perfect love and plan for his life. At the same time, I could feel God’s presence in his home and knew that God was with him.
The last thing I would like to talk about, are the students that are living here with the missionaries that we worked with. I will truly miss these kids, even though some were older than me. They were extremely positive and caring. They continually served our team in such a self-less way. Not only that, but most came from poor villages with broken and dispersed families, yet they are so full of joy and love for the Lord. One student, named Santi, amazed me one day. He told me he reads the bible every day and prays for his non-believing family every day as well. He also shared that his father has never really been in his life, yet he bought some shirts for him because he doesn’t have any. Santi is able to show love to this man who is not showing the fatherly love Santi needs. It never ceases to amaze me how people who have far less than me are way more joyful and content with their life. It convicts me every time! In the same way, I am humbled and I become extremely thankful for my family and the life I do have in America.
I will definitely miss the food, the people, and the voice of laughter from the students when I try and speak Thai. I hope to come back one day and serve along-side these people. Thailand, The Land of Smiles, has been such a blessing and has definitely made me smile.