Tuesday began our time with Silk, a woman from Bangkok sent from our team’s church to be a missionary in the Issan region of Thailand. We had the opportunity to hear an update about her family, the tension she is experiencing as a Christian in her family, the doubts that the fellow believers in her family are beginning to have about God, and the ways her family has come under spiritual attack during the months and even days leading up to our trip to Silk’s home to spend time with her Mama and Papa. It was helpful to hear this from Silk and know what type of spiritual environment we would enter when we visited her home. We joined with Silk in prayer and worship, blessing her with prayers for wisdom and breakthrough in her family.
We took the subway to Silk’s house and were greeted at the door by her Mama, Papa, and brother. Within the front room of the house was the office for her brother’s business and a sitting area where we enjoyed fellowship with Silk and her family. Her father supplied some Chinese herbal remedies for Sophie’s cough (8 pills at a time every four hours…) and told us about the other businesses he has started. Silk’s mother gave an update about her health, telling us about the medicine she has to take because of her kidney transplant. We ended our time in the house with worship and prayer. As with each house we visit, we asked to sing a song for the host. For Silk’s parents, we invited the Holy Spirit into the house to displace the darkness of false gods and the spiritual oppression felt by the believers in the home. As we sang the words, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here,” I watched Mama close her eyes and hold back tears. Mama lives with such heaviness as a Christian in that home. We also prayed for her specifically and for her health. She began to feel lighter in spirit, and a smile came upon her face. It was wonderful to be able to encourage her in this way.
Silk’s family joined our team for a real Chinese meal (they are Chinese Thai) just a short walk from their home. There were multiple courses, and the manager was being so generous by bringing out food we had not ordered just so we could try them. Fried dishes, steamed dumplings and buns, corn crab soup, fried rice, soft shell crab, vegetables, fish… It kept coming! Most of the team even tried chicken feet! It was a great meal with plenty of opportunities to continue making connections with Silk and her family.
After lunch, we checked out of the guest house and transferred to a new hotel. We managed to fit Silk, Kathy, and everyone’s luggage into one taxi. They said it couldn’t be done, but we did it! We took the sky train or BTS to our new hotel, transferring to a different line than the one we had been using to get around the city. We got off at Nana station, headed for exit #3, and walked to the next corner. “Without looking,” John said, “can you tell me what street we just turned into?” Instinctively we all looked. Soi 11. Nana to exit 3 to 11. John and Kathy were giving us more freedom in the city, so they wanted to make sure we knew exactly where we were going. That night, we went to Paragon, formerly the largest mall in Thailand, to have dinner on our own before heading back whenever we wanted. I was put in charge of leading a group home in case they couldn’t remember how to get back.
Sophie and I went to a Japanese ramen restaurant and sat down next to a Thai couple. They left after a few minutes, so we eagerly awaited to see who would be seated next to us. They were two Asian men not speaking English. I kept my ears open just in case. When I heard the one guy mention “crispy pata,” I realized they were speaking Tagalog and asked if they were Filipino. We got to talk for a little bit, though it was hard to understand why they were in Thailand. They spoke very vaguely about being in the city for a conference, something about cars, technical issues, and Southeast Asia. Every other topic was clearly understood, so it was a little suspicious that they wouldn’t elaborate on why they had come to Bangkok.
I was part of the first group to go back to the hotel. Sophie, Mitch, Lindsey, and I successfully navigated the new route, though we quickly learned that we should have stayed on the left hand side of Soi 11. As we walked down the right hand side, we passed girl after girl (and some “ladyboys” as they are called here) waving laminated menus of services they offer. Most were about my age; some were probably even younger. Mitch was fortunate to have Lindsey with him, because the girls did not approach or solicit him. On the elevator ride up, we discussed why businesses are okay with having the prostitutes outside, and we realized that the business owners don’t have any issue if they also own the girls or are among their clientele.
I’m finding myself being suspicious of any white male I see in Bangkok, but especially on the street by our hotel. I’m still trying to process this. Clearly I’m traveling with white males who have the opposite intention, but my gut reaction as I travel throughout the city is not giving these men the benefit of the doubt. I know we are supposed to be traveling in groups for our safety, but I find myself hanging back, separating myself from everyone else so when people pass by the men in our group, they don’t view them with the same suspicion. It’s not so much about people thinking I am a prostitute but more so not wanting strangers questioning the character of whichever guy happens to be walking next to me.