5am Wake Up Call

A couple weeks ago Abby, Juliette and I returned from a 2 day visa run to Laos. The good side of Laos included Laos t-shirts, new passport stamps and Thai visas…the bad side included a 12 hour roller coaster van ride, expensive not so good food, and no seven elevens on that side of the border. Oh and when we got back at 5 am Wednesday morning we were locked out of Zion for about 4 hours until they opened up the café.  I won’t lie-coming home to be locked out of our comfy beds was rough…I was not a happy camper. But I am beyond thankful it happened. Because we  were up before the sun, and on the street, so what better thing to do than go prayer walk into the red light district?

 So that we did.

Let me tell you- walking the red light district of Chiang Mai at 5 am is different. I don’t even know how to explain what I felt. Walking down the street at first felt normal, only the streets were emptier as bars were cleared out and trash was being picked up. As we were walking I spotted this little Thai women sweeping up the cigarettes, beer cans, and other rubbish from the street into a dust pan. That was when it hit me-these people, these girls, these men…it’s all about sweeping things under the rug. In Thailand they have this thing called “saving face,” which means that you don’t show negative emotion towards anyone nor do you bring it out in anyone else. When we talk to the girls in the bars, so many times they say they are fine and they say they like their job and have a “good boyfriend from Italy,” but when you ask them more, you find out their “boyfriend” comes once every few months, and really they hate every second of working in the bars, and wish they could find a job that didn’t involve selling their bodies. In Thai culture, it’s not good to show that one is angry, sad, or conflicted in public. This past week at the village I saw a son make his mother stop crying the night her husband passed away because “farangs” (foreigners) were present. This whole cultural “saving face” thing breaks my heart. And while walking the bar streets at 5 am, it hit me…big time. I couldn’t think clearly as we kept walking that morning, watching the trash be removed, the bars close down, and life in Chiang Mai begin again, as if nothing happened that night. As if women and ladyboys are not being purchased for sex, as if tourists and business men were there for only a beer, as if karaoke bars were really for karaoke.

Why does it get swept away as if it were nothing?

As I say over and over again here in Thailand, I don’t understand. I don’t understand “saving face,” I don’t understand why these girls need to sell their bodies, I don’t understand their pain, I don’t understand why men need sex so badly, I don’t understand why the sex industry is so big, I just don’t get it. There is so much in this country, in this life, I just don’t understand. I don’t even think I completely understand the fullness of Christ’s love for these women, the men, or even my sinful self. A love so deep, so unconditional-its not something I can grasp. All I know is that HE LOVES-whether or not I understand it-HE LOVES these people, He loves me, He loves you. Unconditionally and wholeheartedly. And I trust that truth. I trust that I’m here because I know that truth-and whether or not I understand the redlight district, Thai culture, my team, or even myself, I’m just here to trust His love, and that’s what I’ll do. 


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