Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reaping Joyful Shouting

I'm sorry it's been soooo long since I have posted, but I have been very busy!!  So much has happened since Easter I don't even know where to begin.  I will try to remember all of the important things!! 

First of all...I went home for almost 2 weeks to surprise my sister ( and everyone else ) for her 30th birthday, THANKS TO MY BROTHER IN LAW, BRAD!!  Got to spend some quality time with family and friends!  And raised more prayer and financial support while there.  Praise the Lord!!  I could not be here without the support of friends and family. 

I will start with the bad first.
Here is another heartbreaking story about Nam.  I was actually facebook messaging with Maegan after it happened and I am too lazy to type it all out so I copy and pasted here.  Minus Maegan's comments.

so i witnessed a some men cheer for a guy as he walked out of having a short time with Nam today.
like high fives and celebration like he accomplished something
it made me sick and i just broke down right there in front of p'fon
i had to get control of myself before i left bc we were leaving for outreach. everyone else had left and i went to the bathroom and when i came down i was about to walk out of the front door and saw it
he stood there with his buddies and was showing his muscles and his stomach for some reason
like trying to show off or something
NOTHING to be proud of by the way.
i walked out to leave and she saw me so i motioned for her to come see me
i just gave her a big hug and said god loves you so much
i told her like 3 times and said you know that right
she said yes
then she looked at my face and asked what was wrong
she knew i was upset
she said what happeded to you
i said i was fine and she said no monica tell me what happened
i hugged her again and whispered in her ear that i am so sorry that she has to do what she does, that i hate how these men look at her, and i love her so much.
she told me to try not to think about it. i looked a her and she was crying too.
she said i only have 10 days left of this. its almost over.
tears were just streaming down her face
it absolutely broke my heart
being close to these girls and caring so much for them is sooooo hard.

This is Nam

Here is a song that I have heard probably a hundred times over the last 3 years that spoke to me about a month ago. It's called Those Who Dream by Kristene Mueller.

Those Who Dream Lyrics
When the Lord brought back the captive ones of zion
We were like those who dream
And the mouths were filled with laughter
And the tongues with joy of shouting

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of zion
We were like those who dream
And the mouths were filled with laughter
And the tongues with joyful shouting

We will say among the nations
The Lord has done great things
We will say among the nations
The Lord has done great things

More than the watchmen wait for the morning
Our souls wait
Our souls wait upon the Lord
For with Him, His love and kindess
And abundant redemption

We will say among the nations
The Lord has done great things
We will say among the nations
The Lord has done great things

Those who sow in tears
Are reaping joyful shouting
Those who sow in tears
Are reaping joyful shouting
So we will say among the nationsThe Lord has done great thingsSo we will say among the nationsThe Lord has done great things

The dinners are going wonderfully and growing!  Maegan and I are loving our time with the girls outside of the bars!  And I believe the girls are loving it too!  We have 5 new girls coming tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Apple!!!

This picture was taken after the original post was added.  The 5 new girls are in this picture!

Ok I can't wait any longer.......I have GREAT NEWS!!!!!  4 out of the 8 original girls that have been coming to the dinners are either out of the bars or coming out next month!!!  Honey left the bar while I was home in April, lived and worked for Tamar for about 3 weeks, then decided to move back home to Bangkok with her family.  Toon quit her bar and moved back home to work in a massage shop on May 8th, Nam quit her bar about 3 weeks ago and will move to Bangkok next month to work in a hair salon (She will only be making about $300 a month, but she has a "boyfriend" in Belgium that will help her out a little), and Niki just told me tonight that she will work one more month then start Tamar training in July!!!  I could not be happier right now!!  2 nights before Toon moved home I shared the gospel with her and Pu translated.  The seed has been planted and now we just wait for it to be harvested.  Nam and I were talking about my church, Water's Edge, one night about a month ago and she told me that she has been a christian for 10 years.  Both of her parents died when she was young so she lived with her aunt for a little while.  Her aunt was a christian and Nam saw something different in her and wanted what she had.  Then she moved in with her much older brother who is buddhist.  She accepted Christ when she was 12 years old, but had nobody to disciple her.  We drove past her bar one night and she told me that she prayed to God many times while sitting and working in that bar.  She is now reading her bible every day and I see her growing closer to God.  And now for Niki...she is sooooo close to accepting Christ I can almost hear her saying it already.  LOL!!  Pu, Maegan, and I have had many great conversations with her.  She is becoming more and more open every time, but there is still this little place in her heart for buddha.  I believe the place is getting smaller and smaller each time we share with her and spend time with her.  She told me weeks ago that she is working in the bar so that she can pay for a new house for her mom.  (Her dad died in December)  She came to work in Pattaya in January and said she only wanted to work one year.  I was asking her many questions yesterday...I asked if her mom had a savings for the house.  I just assumed this whole time that her mom would be saving some of the money that she sends home every month.  Niki sadly said no.  I said but I don't understand.  What is she doing with the money you send her every month.  Again very sadly she said that her mom has a drinking problem and is spending the money on wiskey instead of saving it.  She then went on to say that she (Niki) has many problems in her life.  I told her that no problem is too big for God and that God is bigger than any problem she could ever have.  I prayed with her for her mom and for her to have a way out of the bar. 
Today I went to go pay her and Raya's bar fine for dinner tomorrow night.  They both started a new bar tonight and did not want to tell their bar that I was bar fining them for a party with friends so we had to scheme a little.  A friend of Niki and a friend of Nam came to give the bar the money for me.  After a 10 minute conversation with Niki and her friend about why she is still working in the bar if Tamar Center has free job training and living, I went to play pool with Raya.  I went to the bathroom and Niki was in there.  I told her that we talk to her often about leaving the bar because we care about her so much.  She then told me that she will work one more month in the bar and do computer training with Tamar!!  I screamed with excitement and hugged her so tight!!  Thank you thank you thank you JESUS!!!!! 

So that's why I could not wait any longer to make this post!!  God is working in many ways here in Pattaya!!  Please continue to pray for the girls and the  dinner party ministry ( KWAM RAK MAI ) we have here.  Look it up on facebook, google, and to read more about it. 

There has been many tears shed here in Pattaya, but like the song says, Those who sow in tears are reaping joyful shouting!!  I have definitely done some joyful shouting in the last 3 weeks!!  Feel free to shout with me....PRAISE THE LORD, HALLELUIAH, THANK YOU JESUS!!!Love, Monica PS. I typed most of this post in green because green makes me happy....and I'm very happy!!! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter - Kwam Rak Mai Style

Easter Sunday was wonderful.  As much as I love Water's Edge and would have loved to be at our Easter service, I would not have traded my day for anything.  It started off by me picking up Honey for church.  Her first experience with a Christian church.  She was very excited!!  About 15 minutes into worship, Honey's roommate, Oon walked in.  This was a complete surprise to me.  I had invited her to come the night before, but she didn't act interested.  Oon stayed with me all day.  I picked up Nam at her bar at 2:30 then we all went to the market.  When we got back to my room from the market Niky, Toon, and Raya were waiting for us.  We all got busy cooking!  Our Easter dinner went great!  We had 7 bar girls come to dinner.  2 of the girls I expected to come went out of town last minute, but they should be able to come next time.  We ate dinner, played a few games of cards then took a little break to share the meaning of Easter with the girls.  Courtney, Maegan, and I picked out a special card and wrote a message about God's Love and our love for them to each girl.  We also gave each girl a rose.  The girls loved this.  After all that we played more cards and laughed a lot!!  I think they all left that night feeling very special! 

Pewah (15) and Nam (21) - Soi 6 girls

As the weeks go by and I spend more and more time with these girls I can feel the walls being torn down.  The girls are sharing more and more with me and trusting me more.  I feel like God is preparing their hearts and minds to receive his love.  Please continue to pray for the girls, my ministry here, and for me. 

Thank you and God bless,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

So much to say!

Where do I even begin?  God has opened so many more doors in the last 3 weeks!  I think the best news is that my friend, Honey, accepted Christ as her savior 2 weeks ago!!  I paid her bar fine on a Thursday night for her to join me at a concert Bethel Church was putting on at a bar.  I told her that some of the songs would be about God.  After that concert we went to the normal Thursday night worship I attend at Pattaya House of Prayer.  She asked me at one point what the song meant so I explained to her that we were singing about God's love raining down on us.  Her English is really good so she was able to listen closely and understand.  She was given a rock with the word cherished on it.  We explained to her that she is cherished by God.  That she is his daughter and he loves her and cherishes her with all of his heart.  She began asking questions and 2 Thai ladies were able to answer her questions and share the gospel with her.  She told them and me that she wanted to know our God.  It was a very emotional, but beautiful time.  Praise God for a new sister in Christ!!  Unfortunately she is still working in the bar for the next 3 months, but will join the Tamar Discipleship Training in July and will live and work with them.

                                                  These 2 pictures were taken that night.

On to the next thing!  My dinners!!  Pu and I came up with the name KWAM RAK MAI.  It means NEW LOVE.  We are showing these girls a new kind of love every week.  Two other American missionaries serving here are helping with the dinners also.  We are showing them God's love with no strings attached.  We are loving them and expecting nothing in return.  It is wonderful!  I think I have had 2 dinners at my room since the last update.  I had 4 friends from the bars come to the 3rd dinner I had.  The girls actually made all the food.  All I did was buy it and cut a couple pieces of garlic.  They are awesome!!  The 4th dinner I had, which was last Sunday, was for 6 girls from the bars.  One of the new girls  is Nam.  She works at Spider Girl Bar, which is right next door to where I work every day.  I have been praying for her and trying to get to know her for about 5 weeks now.  I have walked over to play pool with her a few times and I ask her a little more about herself every time.  I invited her to the 3rd dinner, but I don't think she was comfortable enough with me yet.  I was so excited when she said she wanted to come to the 4th dinner!!  She asked about what time she could go back to her bar and I said whenever she was ready I would bring her back.  I asked her at 9:00 and she said she was not ready to go back and she would let me know if she wanted to go back.  I ended up bringing her back at 12:30 after everyone else left too.  The other new girl was On.  She is a friend of Honey and works at her bar.  She is hilarious!!  We played cards and laughed for hours.  They all had a blast!! Pewah is coming tomorrow! She is the 15 year old that works across from me.  Two more girls from outreach and English are coming too.  Their names are Champoo and Apple.  I will have 8 girls for sure, but possibly 11 for Easter Sunday.  We are making it special for them.  I will tell all about it next time!!
P.S. Last Sunday during the day I took 5 of the girls for a day trip to an island about 30 minutes away from Pattaya.  We had a full day together!!!

Dinner #3

Toon, Niky, Raya, and Honey

Dinner #4

Maegan, Courtney, Honey, On, Niky, Toon, Raya, and Nam

This past Wednesday 3 friends came with me and 2 others came to meet us at a Christian concert at a huge ladyboy show place.  Basically it's a big fancy music venue with a huge stage where they have ladyboy/dragqueen shows every night.  But...Wednesday we were worshipping Jesus and they were talking about God's love to many many lost people who needed to hear about His love for them.  The girls that came were Honey, On, Nam, Apple, and Champoo.  They really enjoyed it. 

Pu, Nam, Apple, and Champoo

Nam and On

Ok so even with so much greatness lately, the last 3 days have been very hard on me.  God is either wanting to completely break my heart for these girls or toughen me up to make me stronger.  Either way...I don't like it.  Thursday after English class, Niky stayed for a while and we had a good visit by ourselves.  During this visit I told her that it makes me sad that she works in a bar and has to go with men.  She told me that it makes her sad too and that she hates it.  Through this conversation, Niky shared with me some very personal information.  3 months ago she was a 26 year old virgin working at a store similar to Walmart.  She has to provide for her mother and that job was just not providing enough.  So now she is a 26 year old bar girl who is sacrificing herself by sleeping with different men every day to take care of her family.  When I heard what she said I felt like my heart literally broke.  I was speechless.  All I could do was hold her arm and put my head on her shoulder.  It took all I had to hold back the tears.  She then said ok no more serious talk.  She had to leave anyway, but I hugged her and told her that I pray for her protection every day.
Friday was tough too.  Just put it this way.  It is getting very difficult to see my friends get looked at and bought every day sometimes 3 or 4 times a day like they are a product on a shelf.   The closer I get to the girls working next to me, the harder it is for me to see.  I couldn't fight the tears yesterday. 
This afternoon I was planning on meeting Niky at her bar (Raya and Toon also work at this bar) because she is going home to Isaan for 3 days and I had a bracelet to give her before she left.  I got to her bar and was told she was with a customer.  My heart dropped.  At that point I wasn't sure if she left with a man or if she was upstairs with him.  I really did not want to see her come downstairs with a customer.  Before I could ask any questions my phone rang.  It was Niky's number, but a man was on the phone.  I hear...hello Monica this is ____ from Denmark.  Niky is with me.  We are sitting at the beach.  Do you need us to come back to the bar?  Once again I was speechless, but I quickly said no you don't have to.  I asked if she would be coming back to the bar or if she was staying the night with him.  He said she was staying with him.  So I ended up meeting them on the side of the rode and giving her the bracelet.  It was very awkward, but he was friendly.  I left with a very heavy heart. 

Now for some more good info!!  The 2 other American missionaries and I have started a fundraiser for our dinner nights.  We are crocheting bracelets and painting a bar name on the button.  The bars we have used so far are either on Soi 6, which is the street I work on or it is a bar that a personal friend works at.  The bracelets are called Kwam Rak Mai Prayer Bracelets.  We have sold 5 so far to a California mission team that was here last week.  That $50 paid for 4 of the girls to leave the bars last Sunday night and come enjoy a night with us.  Courtney has made a website and a blog for the bracelets.  I will share more info on them next time.  These bracelets are meant to remind you to pray for a specific bar.  There are 5 different prayer points we are focusing on.  If you are interested in buying a bracelet or just making a donation toward our dinners to help pay for food and bar fines, let me know!!  Here is a picture of Niky wearing her new bracelet.  She asked me about them when a lady was buying one from us last week so we made her one that says Rau hearts kun (We love you). 

Sorry this post is so long, but I had a lot to say!  I hope you enjoyed it.  Please pray for my friends!! I love them dearly and I want them to be open to God  and for him to change their lives so badly.  Thank you!

Love, Monica

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Update and Prayer Requests

Well I have now been in Pattaya for about 6 weeks and I am absolutely loving it!!!  I have met so many new friends and have gotten to connect with old friends also.  Just a little info about my job here...I teach English 2 times a day 3 days a week.  On the days I don't teach, we have meetings and go prayer walking around the beach and popular bar areas...which is pretty much everywhere.  We go on bar outreach in teams 3 nights a week also.  Pu and I visit girls that I meet through outreach and English class a couple nights a week too.  Pu lives with me now and is my ministry sidekick!!  I don't know what I would do without her! 
I have held 2 dinner nights at my room so far.  They were great!! I am going to try to do this at least once a week.  I am trying for every Sunday.  This has been the highlight of my last 2 weeks.  I have brought food and dessert to Yam's bar several times now and I have a good relationship with many of the girls there.  I love walking up and seeing them all smile when they see me.  It puts a smile on my face!! for the really important stuff.  I have prayer requests and specific girls to be praying for. 
Wow where do I even begin?  Well I will just list them and tell you specific requests then be more general.

Yam (23) - Ahhh I love this girl so much and everything in me wants to see her come to the Lord.  She has such a kind heart and a fun spirit.  Everyone likes being around her.  I invited her to a day on an island with some of the Tamar staff and volunteers just a couple weeks after I got here.  I honestly didn't think she would come...but she surprised me and said she wanted to come.  She is normally out until 5am and sleeps till 4 or 5 in the afternoon sometimes even 6.  I was supposed to pick her up at 9am.  I honestly thought that when I called her that morning she was going to not answer or tell me she couldn't come.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised again.  I called her at 8:45 and told her I was on my way. She said ok.  When I picked her up I told her that I was scared she was gonna change her mind.  She said no Mo, if I tell you I will go then I will go.  She went to sleep at 5am and woke up to come hang out with me and a bunch of Christians at 8:45.  I think that is God at work right there!!  So I was majorly thanking him for that!  Throughout the day we talked a little about Water's Edge and how much I love my church.  I bragged about the band and let her listen to some songs that I recorded during church.  She liked it.  Pu told me later that she made several comments throughout the day about us being so happy all the time.  Everyone was smiling all day and was so nice to each other.  She sees a difference in us.  She also shared with me that she doesn't believe in love.  So my prayer is that God will continue to open Yam's eyes to the joy and peace there is in Jesus.  That God will soften and prepare her heart to be open to know and receive his love.  Also, that her dad will start working more and provide for himself so that Yam can say goodbye to the life of destruction. 

Niky (26)- I met Niky in English class.  She is so sweet and soft spoken.  I visited her at her bar last Thursday night because she had a customer for 2 weeks and I hadn't seen her.  Pu and I walked up and she was sitting by herself looking kind of sad.  I asked her how she was doing and she said she was sick and not feeling well.  I asked her why she was at work if she was sick and she said because she missed work last night and didn't want to pay her bar fine again.  (A bar fine is what a customer pays to the bar if they want to take the girl out of the bar.  If they miss work, they have to pay it themselves.)  I offered to pay her bar fine and invited her to come hang out with me and Pu in our room.  She accepted the invitation.  We were able to have some good conversation.  I learned that she absolutely hates what she is doing and is only doing it because her family needs money.  She worked at a grocery store before she moved to Pattaya to be a bar girl.  During this visit in my room, she told Pu that she would be learning English somewhere else though.  Pu had already told me that she felt like Niky had some fear about God and Buddah.  Pu thinks she found a new place to learn English because at Tamar Center we talk about God after every class.  But I have a good relationship with her, so I am not going to let that discourage me.  I think God is working in her life and she is scared, so she is running.  I know God is in control and will continue to work in her life.  She literally lives right around the corner from me so I will continue to invite her over.  So, pray for the seeds that have been planted to grow.  Pray that the truth that she has heard over the last several weeks will overcome all fear that she has.  Pray that she will know that my door is always open and that she will see God's light and love in me.  And that her heart will be softened and prepared to receive Christ as her savior so that she can be rescued out of a life of destruction.

Pewah (15)- I have seen this child go from an innocent little girl sitting with her legs and arms crossed in front of the bar to now standing up, dancing around a little, and smoking.  Her aunt brought her her to work in a bar for her family.  She told one of the Tamar ladies in the hair salon that she did not want to go with the men, but her aunt made her.  It breaks my heart to see her sit out there everyday and see men approach her.  Then I get sick to my stomach when I see her actually walk away with one or walk to the alley to go to the room upstairs with a man that could be her grandpa.  My fear is that she is is getting numb to it though.  She has come to accept this life and has no hope.  She is in the salon often and I get to talk to her.  She knows very little English so it makes it very difficult to communicate.  But I know God will speak through me when the time is right.  Please pray for Paewah.  Pray that while she is in the salon the ladies will speak truth into her life and that everything that she hears will sink in.  Pray for a way out of this horrible hopeless life style.

Now I will just list names and ages if I know them.
Boon (34)
Toon (28)
Honey (21)
Moon (24)
Los (26)
Nam (21)
Na (27)
 There are so many more, but I can't remember their names right now.  So please just pray for this girls and all the girls we come in contact with.  Pray for them to have receptive hearts and minds and that any fear will be cast out by God's truth.  Pray that when we plant the seeds of truth they will fall on the fertile soil and not the hard rocky soil.  Pray for protection from harm and diseases.  Pray for hope and a future for these girls. 

Pray also for me.  That I will be a light it this dark dark place.  That I will be led by the Holy Spirit and not by my own plans.  Pray that my eyes will be opened to what God wants me to see.  Pray that I will not make myself too busy to spend time with God.  How will I know where he wants me to go and what he wants me to do if I don't ask him and wait for and answer?? 

That's All Folks!!

Thanks for the prayers.
Love y'all!!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And the adventure finally begins!!

Well I feel like I should start with a warning...I am NOT a writer, nor do I enjoy writing.  So I will do the best that I can at sharing what is going on in my life as well as the lives of those that I work with. 

I am sitting in the airport in Dubai and decided this would be a good time to start writing on my blog.  I thought I was going to get out of it because when I signed on everything was in another language.  But I quickly discovered how to change it to English so here I am writing my first post.

Well I planned to study my Thai flashcards that I made this summer, but since I slept for 9 hours on the flight, that didn't happen.  The only thing I really remember is hello, thank you, and you're welcome.  I have A LOT to learn, but look forward to taking classes with my teacher and friend Nidnoy. 

I'm so excited to see what God has done in Pattaya since November and what he is going to do while I'm there!!!  I hope you all enjoy this blog and are patient with me about updating it.  I think I will mainly use it to share exciting things that happen in the lives of people I meet and for prayer requests.  But who knows, maybe I will surprise myself and write more often than I think!!! 

Love ya'll,