by Paul, outreach team leader
We celebrated New Year 39,000 feet above India before finally landing in Bangkok at 6AM, January 1. We spent our first few days learning all about Thai culture.
YWAM Thailand taught us about the Thai Kingdom. We learned that the king is highly revered by all the people and that Buddhism is more than just a religion – it’s a way of life. We learned that feet are dirty and the head is sacred. We must never point our feet at anyone, nor show our soles. And we should never touch someone’s head. We also experienced the great warmth and kindness of the Thai people. They possess a unique ability to make every person feel special. And we felt like we were the most honored guests.
Our second afternoon, we traveled by bus, train and riverboat all over Bangkok exploring the city and praying over significant sites. We pushed through Wat Po where a massive 150 foot Buddha reclines across the temple. The idol depicts the Buddha passing into nirvana. Thousands of Thai circled the Buddha along with us as they dedicated their new year through prayer, the banging of gongs and the giving of alms.
The air felt thick and heavy, and as I watched the Thais drop their coins one after another into a long row of pots, my heart broke for them. They hoped that these rituals would earn them favor… that they might somehow escape suffering and enter a nirvana where they ceased to exist. It was a day of contrasts for me as I thought of the differences between ritual and relationship… ceasing to exist for eternity and experiencing the fullness of life. I longed for the Thai people to know true meaning and friendship which only come from God.
From Jan. 4-18, we will work with a lady from Myanmar who has taken in nearly two hundred Burmese children from the mountain tribes. She houses them in several children’s homes in a couple different cities in Myanmar.
Here’s what we’ve done with her so far!
Jan. 4: Taught at a nursery school for children of migrant Burmese workers. The children were a bit shy at first, but once they warmed up to us, they swarmed us for hours.
Jan. 5: Split into teams and taught in Grades 1-5 at a school for Burmese children. We taught them English, numbers, colors, songs and more. We also held an assembly at the end of the morning where we performed skits, songs and dances for them. The kids absolutely loved our dance to “One Way, Jesus”. Whenever the chorus came, they all shouted it out at the top of their lungs and joined in on the dancing. We even performed it a second time because it was such a big hit!
We spent the afternoon at the first of three children’s homes run by our Burmese contact, called In His Father’s Arms. This home has 10 Burmese orphans who come from a mountain tribe infamous for head-hunting. Their people strongly believe in the spiritual realm and even practice witchcraft. Some of the stories these orphans shared about how they lost their parents were startling. One boy said that ghosts had pushed his dad into the river and drowned him. Others had lost their parents to AIDS or motorcycle accidents or drugs.
These ten orphans stole our hearts. We are excited to return to them over the next few days!