Thursday, April 29, 2010


When I think about my problems I think "Oh great. I'm almost out of money". Or "Shoot, I'm almost out of gas. Now I have to go out of my way to get to the gas station." Sometimes I think "Man... what am I going to do next year? There's so many options. Dang. I'll have to decide about that sometime." But when it comes down to it, these things aren't really problems. I can easily withdraw money from the ATM (even though they charge 150 bot fee beside the point though). I have a motorbike to put gas in. I don't have to pedal a bike around town in hundred degree weather. As for next year, I have choices. I have endless choices.

I met a girl today who has problems. Real problems.

She lives in a garbage dump. She shares a bamboo platform 8 feet long and 5 feet wide with her three sisters and grandmother. A ripped tarp covers the top. It sits on piles of garbage in a city of garbage.

She is 16 years old.

Both of her parents died when she was young. She's been raising her two sisters and taking care of her grandmother since then.

Her head is shaved, probably to make it easier to get rid of lice that stick to her hair as she digs through the garbage desperate to find anything valuable to bring home.

My friend Sia and I sat with her and we talked. I listened. We laughed together. Sia turned to me with tears in her eyes "I want to do something for these girls. I want to just be able to come and sit. To talk with them about life." I silently agreed.

My problems suddenly seemed so small compared to this brave girl's life. She must be on constant guard. She lives in a dangerous place. She is young and beautiful- a target for sex traffickers. She's Burmese- automatically considered of less worth. She digs through the garbage for a living- worth even less.

Yet, as I watched her talk to her grandmother and change out of her filthy pants and into a skirt, I saw hope. She handed 20 bot to her sister. Probably what she earned that day, less than 1 American dollar. She had done her job. They would make it one more day.

The fact that this is happening is, I believe, a problem.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vietnam in a Coconut shell

I hate to think that something I’ve done is a waste. If things were my way, I would always learn something from the experiences I’ve had. I think that more than any other feeling or experience, I was determined to have something good come from my trip to Vietnam. It was on a quite street in Nha Trang that I forced myself stop and figure out why I had been feeling so down, so unlike myself. I had a revelation that night, and here’s what it was.

I realized that I had been so depressed about my situation because I was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable with the language, uncomfortable being away from the familiar surroundings of Mae Sot, uncomfortable because I had no companionship, and uncomfortable because I was the only white person. As I sat there, it dawned on me that as a follower of Christ, I’m not really called to a life of comfort. I’ve been called to follow Jesus. As I reflected on this thought, I realized that Jesus didn’t live much of a comfortable life. During his ministry, he didn’t even have a place to call home. He didn’t have an apartment he could go home to at the end of the day. I doubt he even had a suitcase to carry his toothbrush in. It seems like if I have been called to be like Jesus, then I should be willing to live this kind of lifestyle. It was then that the blinders were taken off my eyes and I saw how selfish I had been. Instead of seeing what I could be doing to be a blessing to the people around me, I was self absorbed in my own pity party. From that point on, I saw things differently and I appreciated the country that Vietnam is. I also appreciated Thailand and what I have here.

To come back to Thailand was like taking a breath of fresh air. I felt so renewed, so refreshed for what is being done here. I also felt, without a doubt, that this is where God wants me to be right now. I think that has to be one of the best feelings in the world, to know that you are where God wants you to be. I’m thankful for the learning experience I had in Vietnam. I’m thankful that I got to spend time with my grandfather, who is such a cool guy by the way. But… I am so relieved to be back home. Here’s to the next nine months! Use me where you want me God. I am all yours.

Now… about that trip to the motherland.

Random happenings and observations: a compilation

  • Guaranteed, everyone will have a tooth pick in their mouths after every meal. Guaranteed.
  • There is the constant sound of honking and to step onto the street is to risk your life.
  • The iced coffee is 1/5 coffee, 2/5 sweetened condensed milk, and 2/5 ice. Delicious.
  • The food is out of this world spectacular.
  • Double dipping is not an issue. Everyone has a bowl of rice and chopsticks and shares the food in the middle.
  • You’re chased down the street by people trying to sell postcards, gum, and lottery tickets.
  • The hotel reception keeps your passport (is this normal?) and you see them entering the information onto a public computer.
  • It is completely normal to see a guy on a motorbike with a 35 lb. fish strapped to the back.
  • Anyone can be a donglionaire. 19,000 dong= 1 USD
  • If you listen carefully, you might pick up on your tour guide discussing different tasty meats including beef, pork, and dog
  • At a rest stop, my uncle bought ice cream and French bread and made me an ice cream sandwich
  • You’re caught off guard when you spot someone taller than 5’5. They literally tower over everyone else
  • No shirt, no shoes, no pants, no problem. Walking around in boxers is completely normal.
  • I walked into my aunt’s house and she immediately handed me a whole, chilled coconut with a straw sticking out the top. That’s hospitality.
  • They NEVER make it till your order it.
  • I think we drove past a Nazi graveyard at one point. Each tombstone had a swastika on it.
  • I saw a kid get hit by a motorbike when playing in the ocean. Yeah. Never seen anything like that before. Don’t worry. He’s okay.
  • Red lights are taken to mean yield signs here apparently.
  • What? You have to pee? Oh no problem, just pullover to the side of the road. Everyone does it.
  • Our bus had a microphone, so the tour guide had a little girl sit in front singing Vietnamese children’s songs while 14 adults clapped along, applauded enthusiastically, and shouted out requests.

My little nephew

Never felt closer to God then when I'm basking in his creation

Love the fruit in Vietnam :)

My grandfather and I caught in a slightly awkward photo moment

three cousins: Ngoan, Ly, and Trang

I accidentally got lice in Vietnam :/

I hope this doesn't count as ancestor worship

thanks for reading!