“He left me alone”

Monday night
"Why did he have to leave? Now he left me alone" Haan said with tears welling up in her eyes. She proceeded to talk to me about her British husband who passed away last July. It sort of took me by surprise that she would open up to me so soon since this was the first time that I had met her at Rooster bar.

The night started off by meeting up by the Starbucks as usual and praying with our group of four. All of us had a feeling of discouragement, tiredness and complacency that we hadn't understood. As we sat, talked and prayed for encouragement,

Bangla road in the day time

energy and discernment about the night for about thirty minutes, we decided that we would walk down Bagla road praying and interceding for the two other groups who were at the bars and everyone else who was there that night. Bangla road is full of loud music, bright lights, men and women coming up to anyone walking down the street holding a laminated sign with a pornographic picture on it saying: "ping pong show?" People are selling cigarettes, bracelets, older adults and young children selling flower necklaces. I have seen lady boys (boys who were raised as girls to go into bars and work), drag queens,families with children in strollers and men with their teenage sons. The bars are one next to another about 10-15ft wide each.  There are people dancing on poles, small lights flung in the air, women grabbing at men. The air has a stench of an overflowed toilet at certain points on the road. Crowds of people walk down the main street of Bangla road. In the side streets, even more bars are lined together on both sides – each side street has a name (Soi Easy, Soi Sea Dragon, Soi Tiger, Soi Eric, etc – all full of bars).

As we finished walking the main road, we decided to go down Soi Sea Dragon and stop by Rooster bar – this was our first bar on our first night out last week. The girls remembered us and were more than happy to see us. They invited us in after first giving all of us hugs. The small bar has two round high tables with high chairs covered in a rainbow mantle just outside the bar. The long room is colored with red and yellow lighting. Facing the bar to the front right is a pole and to the front left is a plastic outdoor table and chairs where the shorter side of the bar counter starts. Above the bar counter is a spirit house. The room has some decorations, but what was interesting to me was the picture of a white man on the shorter side of the bar counter. I didn't think that by the end of the night I would hear the story behind this picture.

We started off by playing a hammer game where we had to hammer down a nail on a cut tree stump. The two girls working are older aging around early 30's to later 30's. The bar mom Maria (who takes care of the girls), has taken a liking to me. She is a shorter woman with a kind, motherly face aging around 50 years old. After we had finished playing the hammergame, I sat at the shorter table next to the bar and she sat next to the pole.

Rooster bar in the day time
Rooster bar in the day time

I turned myself around smiled and asked her if she lived here in the bar (one of the girls does, so I thought she might). In broken English she told me she lived a couple of minutes away. This was her night job. In the morning she works as a cleaning lady, washing and ironing clothes for customers. She has three daughters ages 19 – 30 living in Bangkok. She has not seen them in about 3 years. She has lived in Phuket for 16 years and has been living here because of work. Maria then asked me about my family and why I looked different from the other girls. I tried telling her that my parents are from Central America, but I'm not quite sure she was able to understand. She said something about being Spanish – that was close enough for me.

All the while we continued talking, the bar owner, Haan was looking at us having a conversation. I couldn't see her because my back was facing her. Maria brought her into the conversation by saying that Haan also has a daughter. Haan's eyes lit up and this is where she began telling me about the white man in the picture. It was her husband. They had been married for 10 years and had a daughter named Joanna who is now 18 and living in England studying. Her husband, from what I could understand, had been sick and rushed to the hospital where he had passed away. She went on to tell me about the funeral held in England. I was struck by the hurt in her eyes as she told me about him. It was as though she had been waiting for someone to be interested enough to hear her story and feel her pain. Her husband's anniversary is coming soon and she is planning to make a shrine for him and ask buddah for luck. She said: "Why did he have to leave? Now he left me alone". I said that it was good that she had people around her at this time to support her. She misunderstood me and thought I said that there are plenty of men around who might be able to support her. I knew she misunderstood because she said maybe she will get lucky and find someone like her late husband. By the time she had finished her story, it was time for us to go.

I was excited for the fact that these woman were able to open up to me so quickly, but saddened at the fact that they had so much hurt inside – especially for Haan the bar owner. My other team members said that she had seen one of the girls with scars on her wrist. Another team member asked the other girl why she stayed at the bars. She said that she is hoping to find a husband.

There is pain. There is longing for love. There is a need for acceptance. A sense of value. A sense of worth. A desperation for hope. God wants them. He wants them to be filled with good things.

Pray for opportunities for us to tell them about Jesus. We have established a relationship with them and have shown them love, but we want them to at least know the name of Jesus; that they will long and want to know more about this God-man who fulfills their every need and satisfies every desire.

There's more to come soon.

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