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We wrapped up our final lesson for the girls on Sunday, April 7th with a message from Glen an emotional crowning ceremony. "Wounded Healer" was the focus; Regina had her identity solidified as a princess and now went on to help rescue other children from the Goblins. We exuded the fact that the girls are princesses and precious daughters of God. I know that I speak for not only myself but also the team when I say that our time in Thailand was truly life changing. I don't want to give blanket statements about how wonderful and how beautiful it all was, and paint an overly sunny picture of a very beautiful, exotic, and sunny place. What I can say for sure is that blog posts and pictures will never quite convey what is like to be 7,000+ miles from our Pittsburgh PA.
Here is something from Saturday as we came back from our time on the house boat:
"This is my first and my last time here," Poe said to me. At this, I started to tear up. I tuned into the hum of the engine as we cruised briskly across the open water of the Bhu Mi Bohl Reservoir. We visited Ko Valentine island in a house boat, explored the island overlooks to see out into the beautiful landscape, stayed the night on Friday, and now were coming back to shore at two in the afternoon Saturday. Poe, 16, became a fast friend of mine; she happily taught me how to use chopsticks and how to say a few phrases in Thai. A girl full of smiles, grins, and games, it was hard to hear of her mothers lengthy journey on foot to Bangkok for work (A 249 mile hike over mountains that we had flown days earlier), how she won't hear from her mother for months, and worries mom will get arrested for the illegal journey. She wants to finish school to help her aging mom not have to make that journey. She would live on less than a dollar a day for food. Sitting with my feet dangling over the water, the wind blowing in my face, and puffy white clouds in a delicate blue sky, tears slowly rolled down my cheeks. I love these girls. We traveled the world to find that people are the same everywhere. I simply started my life in a country where I had more opportunities given to me. As I began to cry, she turned and said, "Alex, don't cry! It is bad to cry alone." She tilted her head with a curious look in her eye. "You should just smile. If you are ever wondering if you are handsome, just smile." She smiled at me again, with the same joyful smile that I saw on all of the girls.
I have a smile on my face writing this and thinking about that memory. My heart feels like I have a knife in it and I miss Thailand so much. I hope that I can go back to my sisters. I hope that we generate awareness about faith house. I pray that they can go to college and be able to travel and touch snow and see the world. I pray that they have opportunities to follow their dreams and their goals. Our church can give them that. Our church is giving them that. Our church shared the gospel directly to these kids this past week.
Thank you to everyone who supported our trip. The Lord changed lives and I can attest that the Lord changed mine.