The Final Days in Thailand

And so my Thailand adventure is coming to an end, I am about halfway through my long journey home, flying over Pacific Ocean on the 3rd of four flights to get me back to Cincinnati.Our final week mostly centered around the Valentine’s Day outreach in the red light district of Phuket.

Each Sunday during my trip, I have been blessed to fellowship with very diverse expressions of the body of Christ (Lisu tribe church, international church meeting in a movie theatre, Thai deaf church, local Thai church in Phang Nga, and international house church in Phuket). The beauty of the body of Christ is always something that impresses me, but even more beautiful is when different parts of the body of Christ join together in unity for a specific purpose. To know that it must bring such joy to Jesus’ heart that what He prayed in John 17 before He went to the cross, that the believers would be one like Him and the Father are one, is actually coming true. This amazing unification happened in executing the Valentine’s Day outreach. This is the fourth year the outreach has happened, and it has grown significantly each year. Last year they gave gifts and flowers to 300 women, this year to 1000. Multiple churches from Phuket and the surrounding area came together as well as short term teams like my own, and others from YWAM and the World Race. 

On Sunday night, it began with a multi-church worship and prayer gathering. On Monday, we converged upon a hotel to pack 1000 gift bags and receive training on how to share the gospel with those we met. At seven that evening, 24 hours of prayer began leading up to the event with different people from the teams and churches taking hourly shifts. It was such a sweet time to ask for the Lord for His heart as we partnered with Him in sharing His love. And at seven o’clock the following evening, we gathered on Patong Beach for a time of prayer and worship before going out. Many of the surrounding tourists were drawn by the music, which opened up the opportunity for prayer and sharing for the observers. Many groups were sent to Bangla street the main strip of the red light district, but my group of four people (all introverts!) were sent to Soi Kep Sam, where many of the massage parlors which provide additional services are located. Because this street is away from much of the business, it’s quieter and we had time to connect with each group of women we approached. Wiyida, the Thai translator for my group, boldly shared the gospel with each group and each were open to receiving prayers of blessing. The outreach also provided an opportunity for getting information out about some of the efforts For Freedom (the new group initiating various efforts for prevention and restoration for those who are part of the sex industry in Phuket) to build deeper relationships with the women. One of the opportunities being free English class and the other being a weekly hair and nails outreach, in which the women can come and get their hair and nails done for free. It is For Freedom’s hope is that through these relationship building tools that the women will be to hear about the love of Jesus, experience His love and hear about the vocational training programs that will provide opportunities to change their stories. 

The response from the women were extremely positive: many expressing interest in the English class and hair outreach, some wanting to know more about Jesus, a number being open to prayer, one woman who is a Christian and new to Phuket had been praying for the Lord to send her Christian friends and is being taken to church this Sunday! 1000 women received a tangible expression of God’s love and were seen as treasures because they as called Beloved and Beautiful by their Creator not because of the “service” they provided! It was so powerful!


One of the side streets off Bangla was recently renamed Soi Freedom, praying that this will be true for many here!

I’ve attached a link to some pictures from the event because I didn’t take many. 

http://us5.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2ebd8c75a4f5e1a4f0c1d393b&id=8d59d6b3c5


Organizing the bags for th outreach 

View from Phuket island

After five weeks of being in Thailand to find words to summarize all I’ve seen and learned feels impossible. One of the missionaries asked me the day before I left what God has been teaching me during the trip, and one primary thing did rise to the surface. In every place I’ve been Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Phang Nga I’ve been reminded of how relational Jesus is and how much He wants to use relationships to share the gospel. Many times I have underestimated the power of showing up in the same place consistently, just with a heart to love and serve. But I’ve seen the breathtaking beauty in how teaching children English, caring with homeless neighbors medical needs, having a conversation with women at a bar, and sometimes just sharing a meal with someone expresses the love of Jesus. It’s incredibly simple but yet immensely powerful when it’s done with intention to share God’s heart and creates so many open doors for deeper truths to be shared. I am praying that the Lord renews this intention and expectancy in me as go back into my normal routine.

Final looks at Phang Nga


I even got a private beach my last morning there, quite the farewell gift!

Finally, I would love to ask for you to join me in praying for a few needs from the missionaries I have encountered in Phuket and Phang Nga.

-For the YWAM Phang Nga base, many of their staff are gone currently for language school, furlough etc, so they are operating with significantly reduced number (3/10 regular staff members, I think). Please pray that the Lord will give them wisdom as they make decisions on how to invest their time in the community and will create time for miraculous Sabbath for ones currently there

-I believe I mentioned this before, but because of the English classes taught by YWAM in the community schools, an opportunity has become available to do a seminar in May on safe touch, sex education for these children at one of the schools, many of whom are victims of sexual abuse. The YWAM teams requests wisdom as they prepare for this and that opportunities to teach about identity and value from God’s perspective will occur

-For For Freedom International, they are in exciting days as many things seem to be happening simultaneously. They will hopefully have all their foundation paperwork in place within a few weeks. In addition to their weekly bar outreaches, they are launching the hair and nails outreach and hope to have a vocational training program in place by the end of the year. Also, the Thai police have approached them about being a founding partner in a child advocacy center in Phuket to address justice and coordination for children who are victims of sex trafficking, which they are hoping to open by May.

-Please for all those who were touched by the Valentine’s Day, that the seeds that were planted will start to grow and bring hope. Pray also for the relationships that will continue to bring life and light into dark places.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share this adventure with you, for all of your prayers and encouragement, and for joining me in sharing the Lord’s heart for executing justice to the oppressed. His Kingdom is breaking in on earth as it is in heaven!

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The Many Faces of Fighting for Justice 

This week has been filled with lots of different things, and I feel like my mind is continually being expanded to understand the limitless ways of how to engage in fighting for justice.

A week ago Saturday, we flew down to the Phuket/Phang Nga area where we will spend the remainder of our trip. On Sunday, we went to a Thai church where I meant many amazing Thai women, some of whom spoke English, which allowed me to connect with them. And I asked them how they met Jesus and got to hear beautiful stories about initially hearing about Jesus at 5 years old but the seed being harvested more than 10 years later, another unknowingly ended up in a Christian dorm in university and watched her dormmates live out their love for Jesus over the course of a couple years. Even though I’ve known this, it has impressed me how relational Jesus is and how faithful He is to pursue us, and we are like Him when we do the same with those in our life.

During the week, we have taught English in one of the schools in Phang Nga. The YWAM team in Phang Nga has been seeking to serve and bless the community during the two years they have been there, and often use their short term teams to teach in the schools, which has created relationships and trust with the teachers opened up other opportunities for the long term missionaries to do additional training on safe touch and other preventative education because many of these children experience all kinds of abuse at home and are at high risk for being trafficked. 

One of our English classes

On Wednesday, I went with Erin, a YWAM missionary and daughter of Joe and Lou Ann, and some other missionaries to have lunch with some of the bar girls on Bangla street (the red light district in Phuket). In a world where it seems circumstances are slow to change, one of the women they connected with was finishing her last day working in the bars and another one is making plans to start university soon. Praise the Lord! We are praying for this story of exodus will be the testimony of many more to come! In the evening, I went with Erin to a gathering of believers in Phuket who are pioneering anti-trafficking efforts for the area through community development/prevention and a vocational training and safe houses similar to what is in place with Tamar Center in Pattaya. Their group is called For Freedom International, and I know they would welcome your prayers for the Spirit’s guidance and for raising up more Thai leadership to help implement the programs. 

This mischievous trash can diving monkeys of Phuket 


Thursday was our off day and I will let the pictures of the beautiful islands of Phang Nga speak for themselves.

The Muslim fishing village of Panyi

On Friday, we joined Jonathan and Callie, YWAM missionaries from Malaysia, in visiting the sea gyspy community with whom they are building relationships. This gypsy community of 3000 people is right next to a tourist market but is hidden to the outside world, and they are experiencing great amounts of injustice. Their land which they have inhabited for 100s of years is being sold off, and even though they can prove their presence with DNA tests of bones buried there, little headway is being made. The native pastor’s family of the church in the community is instrumental with the legal battle unfolding. Their attempts at peaceful protests have been met with very violent attacks (i.e. thugs being sent and boulders being unloaded on people, resulting in concussions and other injuries). The community largely has animistic beliefs but is really open to Jesus because of an Australian missionary came to them 50 years ago and spent 30 years showing them what the love of God looked like. He is now referred to as “Grandpa Jesus.” One of the men named Adan that we spent time with suffered the bends/air embolism in his spinal cord more than 20 years ago when he was diving for fish, causing total body paralysis and leaving him without function in his shack and resulted in great depression. After 10 years he began to have some recovery in his arms and legs, but it is not complete. He battled with immense addiction for 20 years, and during that time Grandpa Jesus would come and spend time with him. 

Adan had an amazing testimony from the tsunami in 2004. He was sitting on the beach and saw the biggest wave he had ever seen and watched his friends run, and the wave came and swept him away, carrying him through the village and he feared that he would be pierced by the sharp edges of the shacks or impaled on one of the numerous poles that jut out. Miraculously, he was swept through the village safely and ended up in the woods. Within the last 10 years, Adan has accepted to Jesus but is still waiting for full healing and suffers from loneliness as his outings are limited due to his mobility and impaired bladder function from the spinal cord injury. He is able to find a little work in fixing fans but often is dependent on other people in the impoverished community being able to share food with him. He often does not eat for days at a time. 

As I listened to his story, he reminded me of the patients I have cared for over the years with spinal cord injuries and how unusual it is to regain function after 10 years post-injury. Years ago, the Lord gave me the verse from Isaiah 43 about doing a new things and creating rivers in the desert to pray for my patients. If you look at the blood vessel and nerve pathways in the brain and the nervous system looks very much like rivers and tributaries supplying life to the rest of the body. I felt very strongly that the hand of God is on Adan because there are many times when he should have died but he didn’t and the Lord has been restoring his function in a very atypical way. It was such a blessing to be able to share these things with him and pray over him.

I found it interesting that it seemed that many in that small community of 3000 have been impacted by neurological damage (the bends, strokes, cerebral palsy, concussion) but do not have access to rehabilitation services. I will carry these people in my heart in a very special way as I leave this place.

A Phang Nga sunset

Rubber trees and palm oil are the primary crops of this area, behold a rubber tree plantation!
So I’m a bit behind on my updates so I will leave the stories of the Valentine’s Day outreach for my next one. Thanks again for letting me share the adventure with you!

A Window into Restoration 

Happy Monday friends! I am really excited to share about some of the amazing people and ministries I have encountered over the past week. I’ve been reminded many times of the great love of our Heavenly Father and His power to restore.I can honestly say that I encountered the most tangible joy I’ve seen in my three weeks in Thailand at the Thai deaf church we attended last Sunday. From the time I’ve been a young child, I remember being drawn to those who sign. In their very exuberant and joyful worship, the Lord reminded me as He often has in my years as a speech pathologist, how powerful communication is, whether spoken or unspoken. I felt very strongly as I was in worship that God has given these believers a special authority in their ability to bless and pray for others. This church has experienced a great deal of growth recently, 19 new believers were planning to get baptized the following Sunday (about half the number of the people there)! There is such joy in their fellowship and learning the word of God, largely due to the fact that many of them had lived in considerable isolation before becoming connected with the church and very few of them can read Thai so their “hearing” of the word is limited to the signed “reading” and teaching of the Bible on Sundays (a visual translation in Thai sign language is years from completion). What a beautiful reminder from beautiful people of what a treasure the word of God, community and communication is!

The remainder of the week has been spent learning from different ministries that seek to provide exit and restoration for the many women who are involved in sex industry in Thailand. Early on in my trip, one of the missionaries helped me to understand the huge industry of prostitution in Thailand with the analogy of a funnel. In the grand scheme of things the more publicized young girls who have been forced into brothels are in the minority, and exceptionally hard to get to because law enforcement is corrupt and willing take bribes to keep these girls hidden and the brothel owners protected. They are at the bottom of the funnel. As you move up the funnel, maybe you find women that are just a little bit older or have been urged by their family to go to Bangkok or Pattaya to find work in a bar, as other daughters in the village have done and have sent considerable amounts of money back home to their parents. Maybe the pressure comes because of a family’s debt. Perhaps the parents know the full extent of what a bar life looks like but maybe not, but often the money and standing of community becomes the greatest priority once it the money has started to come in and preventing shame from coming from the family is a great motivation for the girl. Maybe a woman is 60 years old and has grandchildren to support, and she would make 250 baht (approx $8) for a 12 hour shift in a minimum wage job but could make more than that with freelance street prostitution in a neighborhood in Bangkok. Not to mention the fact that many of these people from rural or impoverished backgrounds do not have identification and limited education, which creates further barriers for employment. For these reasons and more and the presence of continuous demand from Thai nationals and foreigners, many people continue to enter into sex industry. 

Enter in these ministries of Night Light in Bangkok and Tamar Center in Pattaya. Both of them have various kinds of outreach/connections into the sex industry (i.e. Bar outreach, beauty shops, free English classes, health clinics,etc) and as relationships and trust are built, the women have the opportunity to join one of their vocational training programs (bakery, hair dresser, jewelry making, sewing, and others) in conjunction with other holistic services with the vision of them being equipped to make enough money to support themselves and hopefully send back money to their family once provided with job skills. But the reality is the money that they can make in the bars is still significantly more than what they can make with a trade (up to $2700 with tips on a particularly busy month) even though it comes at a very high cost. 

It’s a beautiful thing when those who have been in the bars have experienced such a deep encounter with Jesus and healing that they are able to lead others into new life. I met a few really remarkable people who are doing just this, namely Pi Meouw, who worked in Pattaya for over 20 years before going to Tamar Center and is now studying for a Masters in Counseling, and Pi Soi, who was only in the bars for a week before she heard about Tamar and now is planning to go back to her home province and church plant. I was incredibly honored to go on bar outreach with these resilient people. And in hearing their stories, my faith was lifted for the women we encountered. One specific woman I ask you to pray for is named Om and had only been in Pattaya for a few days and based on the way she was dressed (which was quite different from the other women in these bars), she has likely not been made to take customers yet. What an amazing story it would be if she would consider going to Tamar instead of pursuing a life in the Pattaya bars!

Over the last week, my heart and understanding has grown although I know I still have much to learn! My heart breaks for the women who are trafficked in the more traditional lock and key sense. The ministries and organizations are more limited in what they can do for them because of the police corruption and bribery and the involvement of the Thai and Russian mafia. Please pray that the Lord will create a growing integrity in law enforcement in Thailand and that unimaginable miracles will reveal the Lord as the one who sets the prisoners free!

Thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you and for praying for more and more restoration in the lives of these dear people in Thailand! 

Pi Soi and Ashley, another Tamar staff member

The missionary kids and  I did some more listening to Gods voice and painting for neighbors before I left Bangkok 

Worship at the Thai deaf church, I don’t know if the sound works, look at the link to my instagram 😊

Growing in Rak Teh (authentic love)

 I hope the new year is treating you all well! I have a feeling the weather many of you are experiencing is slightly different than the tropical 90 degree days in Bangkok.  Warning: long update ahead!!


My favorite part of Bangkok by far is the ferry boat, particularly at sunset!

The last week and a half since our outreach started has been good but nothing like what I expected, as these things and life in general often seem to go. A week ago Saturday we began our time at Rak Teh (the YWAM ministry with which we are serving) with prayer and worship and that evening there was an outreach with a Bangkok church to provide food to homeless neighbors, which was my first introduction to how completely reliant I would be on the missionaries who speak Thai (my 10 phrases can only get me so far) and already have relationships with people in the community. Sunday we attended church with one of the missionary couples and Monday morning we again had some time of prayer and worship, some outreach in the community during the day and church at Rak Teh in the evening. It started to become apparent that my time in Bangkok was going to be significantly less structured than I had anticipated and the missionaries often were busy with their ongoing commitments or caring for their families, but encouraged us to ask them if we had things that we felt led to do. And so I had all this space and free time, and I was uncomfortable. While feeling at somewhat of a loss of what to do, a phrase from the Bible study of Nehemiah that I am currently doing came to mind and seemed to be an invitation. “We will accomplish little of eternal significance apart from prayer.” And so I started asking the Lord to show me what my schedule should look like, and He started speaking. 

Getting to know the community and those in it and learning about their challenges were paramount. The part of Bangkok that Rak Teh is located in is right next to the Grand Palace, and in many ways it is the center of the country (governmental and otherwise) but is filled with women working the streets and homeless neighbors with significant addictions. If a woman is sitting around in this neighborhood, regardless of her age, you can almost certainly assume she is waiting for a customer. Rak Teh’s call is to love their neighbors with the heart of Jesus. Sometimes it means taking neighbors to the hospital and advocating for them there, sometimes it means administering medication to a neighbor who doesn’t have the ability to do it for himself and a variety of other little ways of demonstrating love. A few afternoons during this week, I walked the streets with Lilian, one of the missionaries, and engaged with the neighbors there. One woman I met is named Peng, and over the last few years and months she has had a deteriorating loss of different functions: first her eyesight, then her speech and now function in her legs. Lilian has been taking her to doctors appointments, and she is likely to be diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia in the near future, which will mean further loss of function. My heart broke for this woman who shared many symptoms and difficulties with my patients at home except she rents a room in a glorified shack and has to sell herself to pay her rent. I pray that the Lord will provide restoration and a way for her dignity to be restored despite this terribly tragic situation. Many other neighbors’ faces I will also carry with me as I move on from this neighborhood.

Early on in my trip, God highlighted Psalm 146, which focuses on the justice and compassion of the Lord and His authority, as a theme passage for this trip and as I asked the Lord how to spend the days in Bangkok, He revealed that prayer walking in a sort of Jericho march around the perimeter of the neighborhood for 7 days, praying and proclaiming this passage was a worthwhile investment of time.

As I continued to ask the Lord for His guidance on how to spend my time, He reminded me that I had brought art supplies to do some prayer-guided painting with the missionaries and the prayer prompts/questions we use at the prayer and communion night at my church. In addition, Iven, one of the other missionaries had mentioned that some of his older children (he has 5 children six years and younger!) may like to be a part of some type of practical way of loving on the neighbors. He and his wife Kashmira had told me to let them know if I had any ideas, and initially I had nothing but one morning this idea started percolating of using some of prayer questions to help guide them in painting pictures for the neighbors. Within a few hours, Kashmira came downstairs and presented exact same idea! I was so encouraged by this confirmation from God. And so with these questions, 

God, what is the expression on your face when you think of this neighbor? 

God, what gift do you want to give to this neighbor?

God, what picture would encourage/bless this neighbor?

Izayla (their oldest) and I started to listen to God’s voice, ask for a picture of a specific neighbor, and paint what we saw. Elian (their second oldest) joined us for giving out the pictures and praying that giving something thoughtful and beautiful may speak and encourage and touch their hearts in a way words may not.

On Friday, we had a 24 hour prayer/worship with the missionaries at Rak Teh and many beautiful words and pictures were given and spoken in that time, but the imagery of living water and trees planted by living water (Psalm 1, Ezekiel 47, Revelation 22) was given over and over again through a picture the Lord had given me in a prayer walk earlier in the week, songs/scriptures during the prayer time and even a painting that Kashmira did during part of the prayer time. When I told Kashmira I was noticing a theme, she said that 75% of the teams who have come to visit them over the last two years since they have been in their new building have given them words about rivers of living water in their community, which is seemingly an antithesis if you look at the stagnant canals and the overall despondency. Yet another great encouragement of the Lord confirming things with great consistency.


The canal I was walking over when I heard the promise of rivers of living water in the community

So yes, this week has absolutely not been what I expected on the outset of this trip, but I find it interesting that the Lord had spoken through more than one person before my departure that He was encouraging me to rest in Him, which seemed extremely counterintuitive for going on a mission trip. And in this place of having lots of time to talk with God and ask Him what is my day supposed to look like, each assignment He gave me was to use a gift/resource that He had already been growing me in (prayer, painting, etc.) rather than asking me to do something that was completely outside of my experience. It’s been really beautiful to grow in partnering with Him in this way, and I look forward to see how this will be expressed in other parts of our trip where there will be more structured/scheduled days. I am so grateful for all your prayers, please keep them coming!

Thailand: T-plus 10 days

I wrote this two days ago but was delayed in getting it posted…

So I have officially been in Thailand for 10 days! Even though the mission trip outreach officially started yesterday, I am grateful for many things from the first portion of my trip including virtually no jet lag despite the 12 hour time difference, time with Dallas friends, getting to connect with speech pathologists in Thailand, having a couple days to explore Bangkok and the incredible love and hospitality for the missionaries we are partnering with here in Bangkok. My 24+ hour journey from my doorstep in Cincinnati to my doorstep in Bangkok was relatively uneventful and I stayed less than 10 hours at Rak Teh (the YWAM base we are staying at) before hopping back in a cab to the airport to fly to Chiang Mai. 

My time in the hills of the Chiang Mai province was wonderful on many counts. Being reunited with my Dallas church friends Charity and Sam was especially sweet, particularly given that I hadn’t seen Charity since I moved to England two and a half years ago. Charity and Sam teach English at a hostel run by a Thai Christian couple for children from the Lisu tribe who can’t access school from their even smaller mountain villages. Ahtapa and his wife Leah have had a relationship with Lake Highlands church (my church in Dallas) for nearly 30 years now, and it was a blessing to finally and meet these dear people who I had heard about for so many years at Lake Highlands. The hospitality I experienced there was undoing (a pig slaughtered just before my arrival, taken to ride elephants and to a Lisu pre-wedding feast, to name a few) and challenged me, as often cross cultural hospitality does, to grow in generosity. It also helped me understand the bigger picture of how many of girls/women end up in a trafficked/semi-trafficked situation. Often these girls from the hill tribes do not have the proper documentation to show their legal Thai citizenship as well as a lack of education and skills, and their parents send them to the city for work but they are only able to find “opportunities” in the sex industry and many are waiting to take advantage of their vulnerability. Charity shared with me that the mother of one of the girls planned to send her to city for this purpose, but her father intervened and sent her to Ahtapa’s hostel instead where she is learning English and hopefully will obtain appropriate documentation. From early on in my trip, the Lord began to remind me of how much He loves to rescue and change people’s stories.

My 4 am continuous alarm clock


Sunset in Chiang Mai 

Sam and Charity, but first an awkward picture prior to determining the appropriate picture pose 


Other Chiang Mai friend

I returned to Bangkok from Chiang Mai on Tuesday and on Wednesday, I visited the graduate program for speech pathology at Mahidol University, again receiving such warm hospitality from the staff and the students there. The professor who gave me the tour and incidentally is a Christian was really lovely and patiently answered my many, many questions about the field/growing profession in Thailand (until the early 2000’s there were only 50 speech pathologists in the entire country, now there are 300). 

The rest of my time in Bangkok leading up to the official start of the mission trip has been spent getting to know the Rak Teh missionaries and their families and exploring Bangkok by foot, bus, taxi and boat (sky train and tuktuk still to come!). As you might know, that the king of Bangkok who was on the throne for 70 years, just passed away in October and the country is currently in a year of mourning of the death of their beloved king. His picture, various portraits, and shrines are literally everywhere(on the street, on building, in coffee shops, etc, etc) and the vast majority of Thais and many expats are wearing black and white on a daily basis. It’s obviously a stark contrast to the American political arena, and it has made me reflect on how much they honor their king and how much I want that level of honor, even more so, to be true of my honor for my good King. To long for His presence, to take every opportunity to revere Him and speak of His goodness and kindness. 

And a few final words about how you can be praying for me and my team: the community that Rak Teh is in is known for immense amounts of homelessness, addiction, prostitution and all sorts of other brokenness. The missionaries of Rak Teh have been called here over the last 9 years to love their neighbors and the expressions of love look quite varied: taking the neighbors to the hospital, advocating for them when they are unable to do so for themselves, ensuring the neighbors take their medication reliably, listening to their stories, being with them in the end of life, etc etc. Some of the work we are doing with Rak Teh is formal but much of it will be less structured, so I ask for your prayers that we will sense how the Lord is ordering each day and that He will give us His eyes and His heart for our neighbors that we might listen well and love well and that their hearts will be awakened to One who loves them perfectly, delights in them and loves changing people’s stories. Love to you all!

Bangkok temple


Bangkok

T-minus 10 to Thailand

Hello dear friends!

I hope each of you enjoyed a lovely Christmas season. Many of you already know about my upcoming trip to Thailand, but I wanted to fill the rest of you in!
I leave for Thailand on January 11 for a mission trip focused on serving with ministries that seek to rescue people from sex trafficking, I have just entered the 10 day countdown!
The Lord was kind to give me a slow period of work in November and even though it stressed me out initially, the extra time has allowed me time to prepare for Thailand in a way I would not have been able to otherwise. I made an effortful attempt at learning a bit of Thai to help me connect with the people, did some reading to help me understand the culture and prayed about what the Lord wants to do through our team as well as praying for the ministries we will partner with while we are there.
I wanted to share some more specifics about the trip and welcome any prayers on our behalf.
Our team is small, Joe and Lou Ann Luken are leading the trip and left for Thailand the week before Christmas. I leave on January 11 and will spend a couple days in Chiang Mai with some friends from Dallas who work at an orphanage before returning to Bangkok. I am really excited that I have the opportunity to visit the graduate program of speech pathology in Bangkok as well as meeting with some of the department faculty and students to share some of my cross-cultural clinical experience. My impression is that the field of speech pathology is fairly new in Thailand, and I look forward to seeing what the field is like in another country that is in the process of developing the profession.

The outreach officially starts on January 21 in Bangkok, where we will spend a week and a half with a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) ministry called Rak Teh, meaning authentic love, which is located in a neighborhood in old Bangkok that is filled with broken and hurting people who have lost so much and have been robbed of their dignity. Many of these people are engaged in the sex industry in one way or another, and Rak Teh seeks to serve and love them in the way of Jesus. http://www.ywamthai.org/rakteh
From there, we will go to Pattaya for a few days where we will spend our time serving at Tamar Center which offers restoration, healing, and education for the women are leaving the sex industry. http://www.ywamthai.org/tamar/
The final two weeks of our trip with be spent in Phuket and nearby Phang Nga, where the Luken’s daughter Erin lives and works. Our other team member Allie will join us for this portion of the trip. We will be partnering with the ministry that Erin works with Phang Nga Andaman, particularly serving with them in community outreach to children and in the red light district. http://www.ywamthai.org/phangngaandaman
Over the past few months, the Lord has had me meditating on his names, and when you pray for us in the weeks to come, I would love you to proclaim these names over us, the communities we will be serving and the people we will be encountering who so desperately need to know the love of the Father and the hope found in Jesus.
Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Will Provide (Genesis 22:13-14)
Jehovah-Rophe: The Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26)
Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord my Banner (Exodus 17:15-16)
Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:12-24)
Jehovah-Rohe: The Lord your Shepherd (Psalm 23:1-6)
Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35)
To name a few!!!
If you would like to receive the email updates for my trip (which will be very similar to the blog posts), please email me at restorewhatsbeenlost@gmail.com.
Blessings to you in 2017, praying that it will be filled with joy, hope and purpose!!

Birthday reflection

Today I turn 30. The last ten years are absolutely not what I thought they would be both in unspeakably wonderful and heart wrenching ways. When I reflect over the last decade, my heart is so full of gratitude because of the people who have I been marked by. If I were to write down individuals, who knows how many hundreds of names would be on the list. 30 groups of people came to mind, and even now, I realized I’ve missed some. Many of you in Facebook land are in these groups. Thank you for your presence and mark on me and for teaching me how to behold beauty and celebrate life. 
I love you and I miss you! Here’s to the next 10 years!
Groups of people from the last ten years of my life I am so very thankful for
1. My friends and students from my summer in Japan in 2006

2. My Oxford group back at ACU my senior year

3. Seekers of the Word, my drama ministry and community in college

4. The people who welcomed me to Dallas in the summer of 2007

5. My amazing colleagues in Dr. Tobey’s lab in grad school

6. The incredible church family at Lake Highlands Church

7. The beautiful people in my first small group at LHC who so faithfully spoke truth and identity into me and ushered in freedom and emotional and spiritual breakthrough I would have never imagined possible

8.The various people who encouraged and awakens parts of my heart to dream and take risks 

9. My Dallas swing dance family

10. My very first professional colleagues at Global Rehab

11. The people in Dallas in addition to my church family who stirred in me a hunger to hear the voice of God and equipped me to listen

12. The growing number of dance friends I gained across the country as I began to travel

13. The lovely young adult life group at LHC who were instrumental in setting me free of the peer insecurities that had paralyzed me for so long

14. The community at the Upper Room in Dallas who taught me how to sit in the presence of God and be expectant for God to speak and move in powerful ways 

15. My remarkable colleagues at Baylor Institute for Rehab who displayed such excellence and compassion in the restoration of abilities in our patients 

16. Those who encouraged me to take hold of the opportunity when my dream of living and working in England became a reality 

17. Those who have reminded me many times over that I am whole and complete and my life is purpose-filled even if I am not in a relationship

18. The speech and language colleagues in East Sussex who were so whole hearted in welcoming me to my new job in the UK and gracious in my adjustment period

19. The dear European swing dance community, especially those in Brighton, who always made me feel at home and I could “speak the same language” with, at least on the dance floor

20. The many expats and ex-expats in the UK whose kindness was invaluable in helping acclimate to my new rhythm and surroundings

21. The sweet body of Christ in England who reminded of the beautiful diversity in expressions of worship, service and devotion to which God had awakened in me during my first UK experience

22. All the sweet English mums and grandmums who cared for me by taking me out for tea and cake, having me over for Sunday roast, listening to all my moanings and speaking such grace and encouragement 

23. The dear guests at the Winter Night Shelter who shared their stories and wanted to know mine

24. The church community at Northstar in Cincinnati who has reawakened my passions for social justice and listening to the voice of God and has given me places to walk them out

25. My phone distant support system who have allowed me to process through all the transitions and emotional tumult of the last year

26. The Cincinnati and Midwest dance community which has inspired motivation and growth in my dancing which had been lacking for so long 

27. Those providential people in Cincinnati who came into my life at exactly the right moment and have become my closest friends in my new season

28. The numerous superb colleagues who have so generously shared their skills and expertise through all my PRN work and inspire me to continue to strive for increasing excellence in caring for patients

29. My family who have shown incredible strength and love through a season of intense pain and brokenness 

30. The friends who I knew 10 years ago who I still keep in touch with now