We have been home now for four days and while the fog of jetlag remains, so do the memories of our amazing, unexpected, and surprising time in Bangkok. Nothing could have prepared us for the escalation of the political unrest there. But more importantly nothing could have prepared us for the depth of personal growth, understanding of Thai culture and circumstances that drew us into alignment with the plight of Thai women and women from around the world.
It is amazing to me that God can draw together six women, call them to a foreign city halfway around the world and draw them into the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the world. On the surface, this could have been a trip like any other trip to Bangkok and thus could also have been a disappointment when many of the things we had planned to do were impossible this time. But it was clear that God had something much more for us, if we were willing to dig deep for it. If we believed in the call, in the assignment, then we had to be willing to dig deeper this time.
There were many friends that we were able to connect with, new and old... Wan, Kwan, Som, our dear friend Sai, Jit, Nim, Pun, Jem, Mama Kaek, Fon, Riem, Nun, Nam, Meaw, Porn, and so many more. They are some of the most endearing, lovable young women and their faces and stories have been forever embedded into our hearts.
During our time in Bangkok we learned so much about the Thai culture, particularly through the experience of the civil unrest. As tensions settled and we began inviting people to share their thoughts and feelings with us, we heard time and time again a great sense of shame and sadness for what had happened there. Thais perpetrating violence against other Thais is unheard of. They are a very tolerant people, and one of the core values of the culture is to save face. The violence and conflict has brought with it a deep sense of betrayal of the very fundamentals of the culture. Having a deeper understanding of this also gave us deeper insight into the challenges of addressing the sexual exploitation that plagues this country. A spirit of tolerance, a resistance to bringing about shame to anyone else or to yourself, and saving face to others and to the world will present unique barriers to bringing about justice and freedom there.
We have also come away with a (mercifully) small insight into the reality for women all over the world who live in an environment of constant conflict, unrest and even war. Imagine this........having your very basic freedoms restricted, such that someone else dictates where you can go, and when; being isolated from your friends, your family and having no way to contact them or determine if they are alright; having part of your community taken away from you abruptly, suddenly with no assurance that she would be OK; having plans for celebrations and gatherings regularly canceled, having limited ability to celebrate any of the positive things of life, family, community; feelings of isolation, hopelessness, despair, depression, fear; living with the uncertainty of each day and what it will bring. God put us each in touch with these feelings during our time in Bangkok, and they were difficult feelings to sit with. And yet we were compelled to do so, not retreat to the safe and familiar refuge of our own countries, homes, families. As we sat with those feelings, He stretched wide our minds and hearts and suddenly the women and children of every nation began to fall in... Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the DRC, Rwanda. Women all over the world who live with civil unrest as part of the life experience, their world view. It broke our hearts, brought us to our knees, and birthed and strengthened our resolve to work for justice and freedom for women however and wherever we could.
Our time in Bangkok was nothing like we had expected, and more than we could have imagined. We look ahead with anticipation at how God will grow all that was birthed in each one of us, things seen and unseen, and how it will change us, our families and our communities.
We cannot thank you enough for your trust in us and God in times of your own fear, and your unwavering love, prayer and support. It truly takes a village and we knew how blessed we were to be surrounded by one of the best. We are very, very grateful.
We want to leave you with words that guided, encouraged, challenged, inspired, and sometimes just plain held us up from day to day, from our new friends at World Pulse.
Let us be a loudspeaker
for women of the world.
Let us call forth voice
where before there was silence.
Let us stand back while they speak up,
for their words are so beautiful they
need no adornment.
Let us be their platform, their forum,
their safe haven, their sanctuary,
an amplifier no one can ignore.
Let us create a world where women are
not only free, but empowered so greatly
as to be unstoppable.
A world where women can
transform her life as well as the lives of those
around her by simply raising her voice.
One voice at a time, millions of voices strong.
Until the sound is so deafening, the whole
world will hear their music.
It’s not just a dream—it’s a revolution
that has already begun.
This is the pulse that transforms the world.
Let us, each one of us, indeed.
Peace, and much love,
Sue, Jen, Jacynta, Emma, Skye & Leith