Thursday, February 19, 2009
Thailand Mission Trip
This post is long overdue. I wanted to blog about it before Uni started, but i couldn't find a right time and the right frame of mind to write. After a hectic first week of Uni, I'm convinced that if I don't blog about my amazing trip to Thailand tonight, I'll probably not do it at all. Hence, I've put all my books aside tonight to reflect on my life-changing trip to Thailand.
Qynn lead a group of us - Gab, Grace, Andrew, Haney, Brian and myself - on a 12 day mission trip to the North-eastern part of Bangkok, Thailand. I don't intend to invent the cure to insomnia, so I'll just blog about the breathtaking significant highlights of my trip.
We had done 2 months of fund raising and preparation for worship, skits, teaching, games, etc. We were set to leave for Thailand on the Tues 13th of Jan, only to be notified at the airport that it was impossible for Grace to fly with us on that day! All international flights require a minimum validity period of 6 months, but her Malaysian passport only had 3 months!
Our cheerful and expectant moods were absolutely CRUSHED. Our enthusiasm was replaced with uncertainty and panic in just an instant. It's amazing how quickly the tides can change. Grace was a VITAL of our team - she had done heaps of preparation for the skits, the games, and the worship sessions. We would have struggled greatly without her. Qynn spoke to the manager, made several phone calls to the embassy, etc. He was desperately trying all he could to get Grace on that flight - but God had other plans for her.
Reluctantly, we got on the plane to Thailand without Grace. The 7 hour flight was torturious for Qynn because he couldn't do anything except to pray and to trust God - we were all forced to have faith in God and to trust in his sovereignty. I learnt a lesson too: many times we SAY that we trust God, but immediately after saying so we strategise and act to solve the problem ourselves. I've got to learnt to REALLY place the situation in its ENTIRETY in God's hands; and just sit and wait on the Lord in silence.
"And God was faithful..." He allowed Grace to join us 3 days later on the Thursday; just in time for all the real action! It was great having her around, I personally got to know her a lot more. I find her to have an extremely helpful spirit, and a teachable heart. I couldn't imagine the trip without her.
The absolute highlight of my trip would definitely be getting to meet my sponsor kid, Nat. Gab, Grace, Haney, and myself donate $44/month to Compassion to provide for her education and some food. However, we didn't know her personally, and it felt like we were just donating to a generic charity.
Meeting Nat transformed my sympathetic "donation" of $11/month into a life-long commitment of true and genuine love. I still remember meeting Nat for the first time at project TH-422. That adorable 6 year old girl with light brown silky hair, eyes of perfect innocence, and a sweet smile that makes krispy kreme doughnuts taste bland.
Despite the language barrier, we had a lot of fun with Nat. We would communicate with her mainly through hand signs and facial expressions. She LOVED our cameras. She loved taking photos with us. She loved taking photos of herself too! That was really cute!
We visited her family at their home one evening. Her mum sells food by the road and her dad is a janitor at the local school. They're too poor to afford a house, so they currently live in a small room in her grandmum's house; and sometimes they stay in a provisional house provided by the school for her dad when he works late shifts. We feel compassionate and somber as we toured around her house. Her mum showed us 6 concrete pillars already erected in their backyard which were the foundations of their future house. They're currently trying to save up enough money to finance the materials and the construction. I was distressed when she told us that she had to take up a 3000 baht (~$150 AUD) loan to buy a rice cooker and food for the family. So the four of us (Gab, Grace, Haney, myself) decided to pay the debt off for them - just to relief them of the interest burden.
I remember taking her out to dinner twice. She'd always order the Thai fried rice - I think that's her favourite. She'd always get her food before me, and I would tease her by acting like I was hungry to see if she would offer me her food. haha! She just stare at me with innocence topped with a hint of cute annoyance. I remember feeding her with the "aeroplane routine". She absolutely loved that! I even got her to feed Gab with the "aeroplane". haha!
Nat's fortunate to have 4 sponsor parents because that meant that she was to receive presents from each of us! Gab bought her a special towel from Disneyland that expands when you soak it in water from the size no bigger than two 50 cent coins to a full-sized face towel. Nat was VERY excited about that! haha! It was probably her first time witnessing "magic". I remember her picking it up from the jug of water and walking off briskly without saying a word. We all looked to each other in shock at her poor mannerisms, only to realise that she was drying the towel in the sun! haha! I love that girl. She's got this shy attitude about her that really intrigues me. She's really shy initially and that makes it hard to win her trust. But she's just so adorable once she opens up to you.
Grace got her a recorder and Haney got her a barbie doll. I got her some crayons, coloured pencils, markers, and a drawing book - everything she needed to wield her creative prowess. Our hearts melted when she opened the drawing book immediately and started drawing a picture of us (she only drew Grace, really). She drew her red dress and the buttons on it without even taking a 2nd look at Grace!!! That's amazing! I couldn't have done that! haha! And she topped it off by writing: "Nat loves her (sponsor) dads and mums" in Thai. She stole my heart then, and it's been with her ever since. I love her. I think about her everyday. I pray for her everyday.
Andrew's Amazing Adjustment
Andrew's complete transformation is the most radical one I've witnessed. Prior to the trip, many would have labelled him as "anti-social" or "disinterested in socialising". I personally tried to chat to him in Fungus, but I found myself confronting a brick wall of single-word answers. Even during the bonding sessions prior to the trip, there was some obvious tension between Haney's enthusiastic fervour and Andrew's indignant attitude. I remember this convo:
Haney: So Andrew, have you got any prayer requests?
Andrew: No, my life is perfect.
Through the trip, Andrew started to open up. He really is funny and talkative by nature, but several things have supressed that through all these years confining him to a hermit shell of alienation: Alienation to reprise the Fear of Rejection. There were many glimpses of his amazing hilarity (I LOVE his jokes!! And the way he gets on Haney's nerves all the time!!) and he started to open up to us in devotions. There was a point when he even agreed to do a mock-up serenade to Haney! He sang "Fall For You" by Secondhand Serenade for her with the most hilarious gestures! Unforrunately, the video's too huge to upload, but i'll see what I can do! :P
It was really encouraging to see him get involved in our activities with the kids, and to hear him pray with such sincerity. Nevertheless, he would always revert to his alienative self once in a while.
It was not until the 2nd last day when we were all having a real conversation that the real change happened. Andrew told us the reasons why he had been so "anti-social" in the past, and how he didn't see the value in developing our friendship when he's going to be in Adelaide for the next 5 years or so. I know it sounds pretty gay, but I told him that we weren't being friends just because we had to on this mission trip. We were friends that prayed for each other because we genuinely loved and cared for him. I don't think he believed me right away that night.. but I'm sure it simmered in because he was just a completely new person the next day! haha!
Qynn, Gab and I bought him a makeover at a high-class hair salon. Hence, his new hardcore hairstyle. That cost us 1300 baht! The most hilarious thing was when he wore the Mr. Jihad T-shirt that I bought him through the customs and onto the plane back to Australia!!! LOL!!!!!!! That was classic! He even wore it through the Aussie customs!
Andrew, you're a legend. Don't ever forget that, bro! :)
TO BE CONTINUED...
Kids at TH-422
Compassion plants one project in each poor region,I'll never forget the innocent faces of the kids at the project. They were so excited to see us when he got there.
Hilarity TV in the Van
Prayer: Adjustment of Faith