by Jenna, Children at Risk DTS student
After such a meaningful first meeting with Pan, I couldn't wait to meet her again for lunch. I was excited to see her outside of her work environment, but I wasn't sure how this lunch time would go–or if she would even show up.
Two of my other friends and I jumped on a bus to Patong, where we hoped to meet up with Pan. The bus ride seemed to take forever. But we finally arrived and saw that Pan was there and that she had brought a friend.
We all walked to the beach and ate lunch. We talked a lot–as five girls having lunch on the beach usually do!
“I feel so embarrassed without my make-up on,” Pan said at one point. “I look terrible today.”
“Oh Pan,” I said. “You look beautiful! Even without your makeup and being all dressed up for work, you are so pretty.”
She smiled shyly. “It means so much when you say that,” she said. “Usually only men tell me I'm beautiful. And they only tell me that because they want something from me.”
My heart broke to hear her say this, and I was determined that in the short time we had left, she would know that she is valuable.
After lunch and playing at the beach, we went to Starbucks. We talked about her job, America, and all sorts of random things that you always find yourself talking about at coffee shops with your friends.
“Everytime you all came to our bar,” Pan said, “I could tell you were different. You looked at me differently.”
As Pan said this, I knew in my heart that we were starting to show her that she is more than just what her body can offer or how good she can look for that night. That she really is an important person.
Pan and her friend wanted to hang out one last time before we left for Malaysia. The next day, we returned to the beach. They brought two more of the girls they worked with at the bar. While we walked to the beach, we stopped at different shops and fruit stands. We shared food, took pictures with each other, and played volleyball in the ocean. I knew we had begun real friendships with these girls.
Before we had to say goodbye, we told the girls about the English classes and hotel classes they could take so they could find other employment and leave the bars. They were so excited and interested to hear about other jobs available to them. We left on a happy note, full of trust in God that he would protect them, would make a way for them to be free, and would teach them himself how he had created them in his image, with unshakeable value and beautiful plans for their lives.