Sunday, February 21, 2010
I started a series on where I have travelled a long time ago. I did ONE post :) It was about when I went to Japan. My second big trip was when I was sixteen. My youth group travelled to Thailand and Cambodia. I can't remember exactly how long we were gone, but I think we spent two weeks in Thailand and a week in Cambodia, although that seems a bit long for a missions trip for high school aged kids, so maybe it was shorter. My mom came as a chaperone, so she will probably be able to sort that one out for me. There was a big group of about twenty of us, from all over Canada, and four or five from the U.S. We did some relief work, cleaning a hospital in Cambodia, outreach with public health nurses in Thailand, and building projects. We also did some evangelical work in remote parts of Northern Thailand. We went with an organization based out of Calgary called Samaritan's Purse Youth, whose main objective with youth missions trips is to open the eyes of N. American youth to the existence of poverty and the state that many people in the world live in. We gave a bit, as far as time and manpower and energy, but we gained a ton, in memories and in life lessons. It was weeks' worth of revelations and epiphanies, but a few of the most notable moments were;
-The realization that my mom was serious about not sharing her bottled water with me. So serious, in fact, that we had an actual fist fight over the water. She won. So much for motherly love and sacrifice!
-Experiencing a style of missions work which resonated with me. I've never really been comfortable with evangelism, and while we did do some of that during this trip, mostly we were exposed to relief work that was ongoing, whereby nurses, doctors, educators, construction workers, etc, work in areas of need or poverty. If you help a person's physical well being, you tend to his or her soul. If you try and tend to souls without regard to physical need, I've always felt this was disrespectful and backwards. I decided I wanted to become a nurse and return to Thailand to work in the slums.
-Confronting my own limitations, particularly in regards to poverty. There is so much need in the world, and I am just one girl. I remember standing in second story building looking out over miles and miles of impoverished homes and realizing that I could not, if I worked day and night for the rest of my life, meet this need. This was a valuable lesson in humility and my place in the world, and in accepting that God moves, and we either move with him or without him, without affecting how powerfully he moves through history. He is not indifferent to us, but he does not need us to fulfill his plans.
-The kids. There were so many kids running around the streets, playing or begging or selling items, and they were all so cute and wild and full of energy. It bothered me that so many children lived in orphanages or had few opportunities for education or access to health care. I saw children paralyzed by polio. I saw kids with ringworms in their heads. I saw malnourished toddlers. I also saw games and screeching laughter and play. It was cool to see the vast potential and carefree play, and heartbreaking to see preventable disease or lack of opportunity. Those kids crawled into my heart and opened up a space that would later be filled with Matthew.
-Visiting Northern Thailand, and seeing the gorgeous landscape of rural Southeast Asia. It was an amazing adventure. On our way North, we spent a night in a city called Chaing Mai, where Matthew lived for the first 15 months of his life.
-Riding the night train in Thailand. That was another amazing adventure. It struck me as very practical to be able to take a train from departure point to destination point, especially overnight. I wish we had that kind of thing in this part of the world.
-Seeing fireflies over the rice patties at dusk in Northern Thailand. So gorgeous.
I have some cool pictures of this trip, and my mom's album is fantastic. She took pictures of women breastfeeding, of course, and of people and food in the open air markets, and boats, and rivers, and motorcycles with entire families on board, including infants on the handlebars, and a great number of amazing things. So cool.
This trip really shaped me at a very formative time in my life. It was cool. Granted, I'm not a nurse in the slums of Thailand, but some other really cool things have grown out of that trip!