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And so it begins…

It’s been all but a little over a day that we’ve spent in Phuket, but I can honestly say that I am already liking it here. The SHE house has been great so far, and from the vibes I’ve been getting from the two other teams that are here, I know I’m in for one heck of a summer. We start ministry on Monday, and though I have a lot of fears, I’m ready to jump in and see all that God has for me.

So far we’ve spent today by going down to the little vendor right up our street who sells some AMAZING iced coffees, smoothies, and teas, and going to the mall where we exchanged our US dollars for baht and did a little window shopping. The girls and I had fun, we even went to a cupcake shop called “Joop Joop” (kiss kiss in English) that had just opened yesterday, and get this: the guy who had opened it was the executive chef for Obama’s inauguration dinner. So believe me when I tell you that these cupcakes were PHENOMANEL.

While there though, I got my first taste of ministry and the injustice that resides here. During our traveling time, I read the book “The Johns” by Victor Malarek. It’s a heavy read, really dark and not anything you’d like to read before you head off to bed, but it paints a picture of the men who drive sex trade through Malarek’s interviews and research. It absolutely made my blood boil at points, but conveyed the reality of the root of the problem: there is a huge demand for prostitution, and prostitution will always exist if men’s hearts are not changed. There is one chapter of his book where he explains a phenomenon that has developed in Thailand, The Girlfriend Experience, or GFE. Malarek writes, “While these men pay for sex, what they’re really shopping for is a make-believe girlfriend, and there are plenty to be found. Women who play their roles well can make these men believe the fantasy that the intimacy is real and the liaison is more than just sex.” A man may pay for this girl to be his “girlfriend” for a day, a week, or a month. Today at the mall, I saw just this, these men out on dates with their Thai girlfriend of the moment. The most obvious ones to detect were the older men, some with white hair walking hand in hand with a young Thai girl. But I also saw a younger man in his 20’s walking with a girl, and I tried to remain hopeful that maybe I was seeing a real relationship, but the look on her face told me otherwise. The loneliness and lack of value these girls must be feeling is unimaginable to me. I hope that over these next two months I’ll be able to convey to them the great value and love they have in Christ’s eyes- even if it’s only just a glimpse.

Be praying for us as we start ministry this week. The things we are going to be coming in contact with are very dark and heavy, and I pray that God will continue to give us strength as we enter Bangla Road.

-Emily

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