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Foreign Boyfriends

As you approach Bangla Road, you are bombarded with not only swarms of people from every ethnicity, but also club music in every direction so loud that you cannot hear yourself think, flyers being thrown at you advertising "Ping Pong" shows, and woman dressed in barely anything in front of bars or on the corners alone batting their eyelashes and crossing their fingers to find the man of their dreams. And we have not even started walking down the street yet.

As you begin walking down, lights are flashing and people are either brushing by you in a hurry or are stopping in your path and staring at amazement of the sights around them, and you begin to notice a few more details. One being the women selling themselves look as young as fourteen. The next being the group of lady boys that have lined themselves up and are avoiding eye contact with us, as we are females and unlikely business. Then you look down a side street where you see behaviors going on that should never be seen by anyone, let alone families that are pushing strollers. As you wonder to yourself why on earth anyone would come here with a significant other let alone a family with CHILDREN, we approach our street and it becomes time to block out the things around us and do the work we were called to do : Love these people. ALL OF THEM.

But one story stands out to me the most and it occurred during my group's first night doing ministry. As we sat down at Beer Bar and got a friendly game of Jackpot going, we began a conversation with a woman named Zoe from Bangkok. She told us she has only been working the bars for a month and that right now, she doesn't mind it. When she asked us where we were from we told her America and her entire face lit up. She said she had a boyfriend in America and went to reach into her billfold and as we waited expectantly for a picture, she instead pulled out a business card of a man from California. It was then that it hit the three of us that these girls truly believe that the men that "buy" them for however long care about them and they have hope that some day they will get to have a "real" relationship with them and maybe even be desired by them for marriage. It is heartbreaking because this woman was convinced that the man from California was her boyfriend. And she kept his card as a memory. It is beyond me. I wanted to take the card, call the man, speak to his family and tell him what a disgusting pig they knew. But, instead, I am called to love him. A challenge I will fight probably the next five weeks I am here.

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