Back at home we are used to giving gifts just on special occasions like Birthdays and Christmas. Anything other than that seems unnecessary. Giving gifts is a huge part of the Thai culture. It’s a way for them to say, “let’s be friends”.
One part of our ministry is going to the slums and playing with the kids there. The language barrier has definitely been noticed during this time because they know very little English or none at all. The interacting doesn’t stop there though. Whether it’s playing soccer, jumping rope or dancing the smiles never end. During one time we were there, we were playing with a little girl about six or seven years old. She kept noticing that one of the girls on our team was chewing gum. After awhile of paying close attention to this, she began to fish around in her pocket for a small coin. Motioning us to follow her she ran quickly ahead of us down a dusty road lined with small shacks they used for homes and little food stands with assorted things to eat. Eventually she ran back to us as we were trying to catch up to her. In her hand was a little pack of gum. Very carefully she opened it and gave all three of us a piece. This act of giving meant so much. Knowing that she didn’t have much to begin with, she chose to give three pieces of her gum to us. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to blow bubbles with the thoughtful gift given to us by this precious girl.
In the afternoons we have been prayer walking and engaging in bar ministry. The afternoon is when the girls begin to set up the bars for the night, so it gives us an opportunity to say hello and start to build relationships with them. There is one girl that our team meets with quite regularly. At the end of one of our hang out times she said she was going to get something to drink. We followed her to a stand and as we were saying our goodbyes she bought all four of us a special Thai drink called Taro Milk Tea. This gesture meant so much because it was her way of saying we were friends now.
A huge part of our ministry is building relationships with the people we meet, so when gifts are given to us we know just how special the act really is. It wasn’t just a piece of gum or a cold drink. It’s the beginning of us being able to show God’s amazing love to them.
Please pray that God will continue to help us build these relationships and they will see His love through us.