Beauty for Ashes

So much has happened since I last wrote a few days ago. So much in our hearts and minds. I was talking with a few girls here, about the challenges and experiences we have had in the past four weeks. It surreal how fast this has gone by, and even more so, the things which we have seen.

Early Friday morning, our team headed to a youth center to meet up with Phuket Christian Center’s youth pastors.  There we began with a devotion and a time to study scriptures. Then we went right into working to bless their Ministry called Pais. It is a year long internship here in Thailand, for students to come and learn about ministry, leadership, scripture studies, relationships…etc.

The youth pastors wanted us to paint, clean, and help them ready the intern house for the incoming students. So our students went to work, and the leaders met together to figure out some future scheduled things. In the afternoon we split the team into three groups. Two groups did sports with youth and one group went to an AIDS home, called Life Home Project.

Ted and I felt we should go to the Life Home Project house, so we left in the afternoon. Stopping along the at a monkey park, where monkeys were everywhere! It was kind of frightening because Sarah, the youth leader told us that we could be attacked by them…she had been before. I was like, oh wow!

When we first arrived at the home for Children living with AIDS. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Our team of 6 waited for the children to come in, and when they did they were so very thrilled to see us! Most of the children would walk right up to you and hug you with much excitement and joy!

Life Home Project was a facility envisioned and designed by a Latino man. He had a heart to do something for the children with AIDS. He was also against Christianity, very much so. So for the longest time the youth center was not allowed into the AIDS home. But now they offer to teach the children music and not to teach a Christian teaching ,but just ethics and morals. So God opened that door! The only thing is we could only spend ONE hour with them!

As the children came in, we began with music teaching, and then children’s games. We taught them “Duck, duck, goose” But called it “horse, horse, pig” or in Thai, “Mah, mah, moo”. It was a blast! They loved it and we loved playing with them. We also played a few Thai games and then began balloon animals and children’s crafts.

Some of the children, you could see very clearly, they were sick. And some you could see, we very weak. One little girl that really took my heart the moment I saw her. Her name is Fern, and she looks to be about 5 or 6, I later found out that she was 11 years old. And for some reason the AIDS really stunted her growth. Many of the children had the same problem with growth.

One little boy in particular, named Aaron. He looked to be about 2 years old, and he looked like he had a mental disability. I later asked Sarah to share with me the stories of the children, though I knew it would not be an easy thing to hear. She told me that all of the children we saw except for one, were born with HIV. She shared how Aaron when born he got ill with Mindinjitus which caused a downward spiral. He looks to be two years old in body and mind, yet he is 5 years old.

Another beautiful girl had such an awful story. Her name was ironically Joy. Her mother was in prostitution where she contracted HIV which turned into full blown AIDS. Her mother gave birth to her and then passed away, leaving Joy HIV positive and orphaned. She was then found out and sent to this Life Home Project. She too looks to be about 5 or maybe six and she is actually 10. Her eyes were completely bloodshot, and she had sores all over her arms and her legs. Sarah told us that they have been working with this place for 9 months now, and Joy each time is worse and worse.

She also told me that Children in Thailand born with HIV, 65% of the children die before they reach the young age of 12. I was shocked to think about this. That means most of the children in the room with us, would most likely die before their 12 birthday.

As I think about all of these things. And how overwhelming they are. I can’t help but ask God what He thinks of these things. Young children who did nothing to deserve what was given to them, and will most likely die with the disease. They already have gone through more than any of us probably have in our 20 years or 50 years. It’s unbelievable, and so very sad to think about.

Ted and I really want to bring another team here, and specifically back into the bars and into the AIDS home. WE MUST COME BACK!

The moments when we walk upon the streets of the Red light district, my heart aches inside as I think of the hardship these women endure. These women, most of them, have not a choice!! The moments when I watch a man walk away with a women, knowing how much he must ache inside, to live the life he lives each day. The moments when we sit, holding a child, who you know will most likely die before the age of 12, my heart aches to think of the physical pain these innocent children will go through.

Nothing could have prepared us for the things which we are seeing here. I can read, and even do an intense study on these very things, but to experience them firsthand is like nothing I personally have ever felt before. A ache inside, a longing to see freedom breathed throughout this beautiful country.

One night, our team sat on the beach worshipping and praying for Thailand, and I sat stunned, overwhelmed by the numbers and statistics of AIDS and prostitution in Thailand alone. Immediately God reminded me of His glory. He reminded me that in each of use living our lives for Him, here in Thailand, we are spreading His glory. Throughout the streets of the Red Light District, throughout the homes of the children living with AIDS, throuughout the home of abused and used children, throughout ALL of Thailand .

I was reminded of God’s authority, and the authority we have in Christ. God is more powerful than that of Buddhism, than prostitution, and AIDS!

Okay, I could keep writing, but I would probably bore you! Thank you for your encouragement to Ted and I in this trip!

Jami and Ted

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, the joy for mourning, the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, the He may be glorified. ” Isaiah 61:3

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