Sorry to mess up the order, but I’d like to go back to Sunday and share my experience on the streets of Pattaya. Cindy is so on top of things, keeping you all updated on the happenings of each day. Meanwhile, I’ve flopped into bed each night as soon as we’ve gotten back, exhausted. Our days have been full. Full of people, food, experiences, and Holy Spirit encounters. A lot to process and reflect on. But today I’m awake early and feeling energized to write!
On Sunday evening, as Cindy mentioned, we drove to Pattaya. No one knew exactly what to expect. Since the format of the evening was similar to that of Saturday night, John asked some of us to join him outside. He partnered us up, prayed over us, and released us to the streets telling us to walk prayerfully and see who we could connect with.
Ashley and I set out together. I think we were both thinking, why us? What exactly does this look like? How do we know who speaks English? Do we only approach people who we think might speak English? Do we both need to sense the Holy Spirit drawing us to a certain person? We tried to be very observant as we walked. We looked for opportunities, but it was easy to make excuses for not approaching people. I was feeling the desire to speak with street vendors, but worried if they would know English or if I would be inconveniencing them but trying to start a conversation, as many of them on the beach were packing up for the day. Finally we told ourselves, we’ve got to start somewhere. I saw a young couple down on the beach taking photos and figured, there’s an easy in, we’ll offer to take their picture! They allowed us to take their picture, and that allowed us to begin connecting with them. They also offered to take our picture. They were Chinese, visiting some of Thailand’s beautiful beaches. They were pleasant, but seemed to want to go on their way. Before we parted ways, we asked if we could pray a blessing over their relationship. The girl, who did most of the talking, had an interesting response. She seemed very shocked by the question, hesitant, and then said ok. Almost as if she was thinking, what have we got to lose? Afterwards they thanked us and were on their way.
While this connection didn’t seem so significant, we pray a seed was planted. And now I had the confidence to seek out another opportunity. As we walked along the beach, a vendor caught my eye and motioned us to come. She wanted to rent us a beach chair, but I noticed she was also selling cokes. So we bought some cokes for ourselves, and one for another lady sitting there, and had a seat. We found out the other woman made a living by doing massages on the beach. We began asking both women questions about their business, and about Pattaya, and then about their families. They answered in broken English, occasionally advertising different services, like jet skis and boat rides. The one lady asked if I’d like a massage. When I asked how much, she said whatever you want to give, so I can eat. Finally, I gave in. I know, what a sacrifice! Actually, it kept the woman close so we could keep talking. Meanwhile, Ashley was able to talk with the other woman. We found out their names translated to Moon and Star. The women seemed to be good friends. We got to meet Moon’s daughter and grandson. They said they were strong Buddhists. We didn’t really tell too much about ourselves, just tried to get to know them. Finally, it was time to meet up with the group. We asked if we could pray a blessing over their businesses and families and both women agreed. I prayed for Moon and Ashley prayed for Star. The women seemed touched by the gesture and the time we spent with them. As we were leaving, I thought I heard Star telling Moon that we were praying to Jesus Christ. This was such a beautiful experience. It was quite natural and enjoyable, and only slightly uncomfortable because of the language barrier. Moon also commented on our smiles and how happy we were. Again, praying a seed was planted here.
As we made our way back to meet the group, my eye caught a women selling fruit. I had noticed her, and her radiant smile, several times as we were walking. As we waited for the others, I sensed God telling me to go back to her. So I did. She did not speak any English, but I tried to use gestures to express that I was touched by her beautiful smile. She started pointing, I believe thinking that I was asking for directions. Finally someone who came to buy fruit was able to translate. I asked her if I could pray a prayer of blessing over her, which I don’t think translated correctly, but I went ahead and she allowed me. It was definitely an awkward, confusing situation and I’m not sure what she understood, but I pray the Lord touched her in a special way.
Finally we met up with Sean and Ian. Since it was beginning to get dark, we split into guy-girl groups. We decided to look for someplace to sit and have a drink and try to connect with people. We found a bar that was rather empty, except for a man at the bar and a group sitting at a table. We decided to sit at the bar hoping to connect with the bar owner or the man sitting there. However, the man had his back to us and was on a iPad making music selections. Finally he turned and Sean was able to make a connection through his interest in soccer. We learned his name was Michel and he was from Belgium. He works in real estate and enjoys traveling. He said he just has to make it home for Christmas so he doesn’t disappoint his mother! He was very open and our conversation covered a wide variety of topics. This was not his first trip to Pattaya and he alluded to the fact that he was there for the top tourist attraction, the women. We learned that he grew up Catholic but was turned off by the corruption and hypocrisy in the church. He seemed very bothered by all the sin in the world, but very hopeless. He now calls himself an atheist. He was intrigued that young people like us where on a church trip to Thailand. He had complete respect for us, but said Christianity was not for him. When we asked if we could pray for him he said no, but allowed us to pray for his niece and nephew as he desired to see them live a good life and respect authority. He thanked us for talking with him and for praying. He seemed encouraged and a little less hopeless. On our walk back to meet the group, we prayed for our new friend. We prayed for breakthrough and for an encounter with Jesus.
This was definitely a step in my journey toward boldness. It’s so interesting hearing people’s stories and seeing the voids that can only be filled by Jesus. It was surprising how open people were to prayer. It’s hard not knowing the impact we’ve had, but we expect great things from the Lord!