Friday, 19 April 2013

Valium, Songkran and a freedom tale

Option One  for the win @ my favourite street side food shack.

So it's about time I did a little pensive look back don't you think? 
Like an old man remembering the “lunch for 20cents” days.

This time last year, Melbourne morning were getting cold- I'd be driving over the Westgate freeway at about 6.30am, sipping from my KeepCup with Earl Grey tea and soy milk & honey- probably listening to Red Symons, but switching to Triple J every now & then to remind myself how young and cool I was.
 Off to work at an organics store, planning youth activities or social outings in my head, thinking of my future, God's will etc, etc.. 
 Northern Thailand was not on my to-do list.

I am now the manager of a restaurant/cafe in Chiang Rai; I train beautiful young women and help enable them to have greater job opportunities than their previous bleak options.
 I am starting a dance program to use as therapy, skill development and a fundraising medium for Destiny Rescue.
I own a scooter, fake ray-bans and have not made money for about 9 months. I live with 2 excellent Americans and many geckos.
Life has changed a tad. 
I speak English less well than I used to and I speak Thai more well than I did.
Just to highlight some of my Thai verbal skills, I promise that I can easily tell you to put mint & blueberries atop the crème brulee and that now, you need to stop talking, turn left and start kneading the bread dough, and no you cannot have a holiday this Saturday. I can also say you are a fat child and your eyes look the same as stars.

I have spent the last 9-10 weeks unwell. I have been bedridden, fatigued, and enlarged spleen-ed.. 
I have also been hospitalised twice, most recently with a virus that turned ugly; causing me to stress the old nervous system out- vomiting so violently that I become paralysed, had slurred speech and require valium to knock me out. 2 nights in hospital and way too many needles to care about.
 My glandular fever of the previous 2 months obviously robbed me of a decent immune system so what should have been an average bug, became a massive humbling experience. Thai Hospital. Thai Hospital food. No energy to even pull up my pants. Awesome.

But chin up! I have spent the 2 weeks feeling well, ... WELL! Praise the good Lord above. After 5 days of recovering from this virus, I have honestly been on the rise. It's exciting! I have started exercising, dreaming big things and managed to THOROUGHLY enjoy my beautiful little Stacey Steane visiting me here.
 Proud “youth-leader-slashie-sort-of-big-sister” moments as she gave her testimony to about 60 young Thai women and taught another few the tricks of the Macaron-making trade. Joyful times.
I am being wise about building my health- even my little ADHD mind says GO CRAZY AND DO A MILLION THINGS RIGHT NOW. I shall not.
 I am learning my lessons properly this time.
"I'm a hipster photographer" oh Gorgeous Frangipani 

I have been involved in my first Songkran. Please put Songkran on your bucket list. A nationwide water festival is essential to experience.
Don't focus on the beer-infused humans, unhygienic water, deaths and drownings, broken bones (Shout out to my housemate Tina “Whistle” Cairo who broke her collarbone). Focus on the laughter, smiles, foam parties, photo-bombing, dancing and motorbike rides down streets with literally 1000s of people splashing about instead. A 5-day new years party with no rules. Yay!

I went down to Chiang Mai with some friends whilst we shut cafe for a few days and had a wonderful adventure over this holiday. Songkran participation in fullswing but also many pleasant massages, chats, night spots, swims and FOOD to bring me into a happy state. Seriously- I have spent the last few months being quite down, annoyed, frustrated, angry and tired of all the sickness I've experienced. It was such a blessing to be joyful and energised.

I have been emotionally rocked over the past few months, but I have a specific story I want to share. One that broke my “tough” little heart once more. It may be just another story to you , but to me- it is about a young cafe girl under my charge whom I love dearly and desire hope to be hers. (Please note- it''s a happy ending, so worry not) 
She comes to my office with her bags and tells me she is leaving. Leaving Destiny Rescue. Leaving the cafe and friends. Leaving her lovely Christian boyfriend. Through rough communication I ask the problem, she skirts around the issue. She looks fearful, sad and not straight into my eyes.
She soon realises that I am not allowing her to go without truth.
She is going back to her village to marry a 60yr old Japanese man to clear her parents debt and the hate/shame that her grandmother has towards her despised and poor family. She is 17. She will marry so her parents live comfortably and if she says no her younger sister will be the next in line to be the young prize of an old man. This girl is already a rescued girl from sexual slavery. She speaks no Japanese and there is no honour in the mans intentions.
 I am broken. She is too. So heartbroken. But somehow willing to do this for family honour.
 I love my parents & family so much. But I cannot understand this family loyalty, after so much betrayal already.
 She loves God and asks why this is happening. We (another worker and I) tell her that this is not His plan for her life. I tell her I will do everything in my power to get her out of this situation. She doesn't believe it. We pray.

Continuing in short, others get involved. Our country manager is notified and members of our rescue team hightail up to her village to speak with parents and offer aid with the large debt. They accept. The Japanese man identity is able to be tracked. Immigration is involved now and we want him out of Thailand.
My girl is safe. She is so joyful and you can see the light in her eyes again. She comes beaming into the cafe the following day and hugs me. She's just a kid. 
I don't know where you stand with God, but you need to know this: God saved that little girl from a fate that many face. A life that would have taken her light and joy. I believe that the prayers and her cries to Him were answered. He is victorious.

He hates this stuff. All this evil stuff that goes on in this world. You ask why does it happen then? 
Well, humanity chose flesh and self over God.
 But He wants us back and He pursues His children. 
We can never know all the why's, but we can know the truths and we can know peace. 
I never knew why my parents discipline, withheld things I wanted, made certain decisions for my young life, but I now know it was for my best. For good. 
 God is for the good of those that love Him. That doesn't always mean shiny sparkly unicorns, skipping merrily to a boy band song (actually that sounds pretty terrible), but it does mean for the good of His kingdom. For weak to be made strong. For the broken to be made whole. For the lost to be found. Simple.

I know that you can do all things'; no purpose of yours can thwarted” Job 42:2

Oh gosh, I have so much more to share, my future plans, my going home plans, my probably coming back here plans....the fun times, the cafe stuff, rescue stuff, more visitors, but for now I will just say this to you, my friend: I hope you are not in the same place this time next year as you are now. Of course I do not mean your physical location necessarily, but I hope you are furthered and know joy.

Much love. B
Fun with my little friend Fai