It occurred to me the other day how blessed I am to come in to a new country and already have a family here. Sure, it takes time to build connections and closeness, but we already have the same father and the same purpose, and there is an intense power and support in that.
On Tuesday I was sitting in the prayer room along side all those that are on staff here at nightlight. We were talking about what to pray for before leaving for the bar outreach. Gods calming peace permeated the room as I silently I looked at each of their faces and noted how incredible each of them was.
First there was “E”. She is our resident Brit, needless to say, I just love to listen to her talk. But other than the really cool accent, she has this incredible caring undertone to her voice. In every conversation I have had with her I have felt like her number one concern was making sure I felt welcome and comfortable without ever actually saying that. But there is a fierceness to her as well. She is fearless in the bars and is incredible at making connections with the girls. Her passion is evident and contagious and even though she is my age and I have only known her a short while, I look up to her already. Although one of her main jobs in the office have been processing the jewelry orders, she is passing that role on to someone else so she can focus more solely on helping the rescued trafficked girls get back home. The trafficking cases are grueling, draining, stressful, and dangerous to be so intertwined with, but this is her passion, and I have no doubt God will equip her to do it.
Next I look at “B”. She is a Thai staff but knows really good English. Although probably in her thirties, she has a whimsical childlike spirit to her. Her slogan is something like “Hang out with “B” and you will have a fun time” and boy is that true. She helped to start Nightlight. Annie asked her literally right before Beng was about to get a plane to move to Singapore if she wanted to stay and help start Nightlight, and she took the call. She wears her heart on her sleve and is always ready with an encouraging word or welcoming smile. She is a “helper” in the true sense of the word and I love that I know that I can go to her with most random questions about living in Bangkok. She has the desk right next to me and explained to me right away how she ahs the habit of talking to herself and to her computer and not to mind it. I don’t mind at all.
To my right was “N”. I love her story. It is one of incredible patience. She has been volunteering with Nightlight for quite some time off and on. She had gotten her call into missions very early and was privileged to find and marry someone with the same calling. His calling, however, was as a teacher in Korea, and hers, she felt more and more, was to Thailand and specifically, Nightlight. But for years she remained faithfully with her husband in Korea supporting him and his ministry until God readied his heart and calling to Thailand as well. They decided to move before he even had another teaching job lined up and God faithfully provided a teaching job for him and a Christian international school, which is exactly his calling, and now “N” gets to live out her calling as well at Nightlight. She is now our resident go to gal for techy stuff as well as the one who will be taking over the order processing for Emily. Her story is an incredible reminder to me of how faithful and good God is.
To her right was “S”. “S” arrived a week after me and will be leaving a week from now. Her stay has been short but I cannot believe how much God has been doing though her since she has been here. Her heart is so big, one of the biggest I have seen. God gave her favor with the girls right away, this unexplainable connection. Her warm heart drew them in, of course, but I later found out what drove that extra warm heart. She too, worked the “call girl” life before God redeemed her so she knew all too well the struggle and the deliverance. God has and is continuing to do amazing things with her. We share a room right now due to an AC malfunction in my room which I once thought was an attack from the enemy but now I believe was a divine intervention form God. Thanks God.We have been able to connect very quickly as we adjusted to Bangkok and Nightlight together and her ability to connect to the Nighlight girls so quickly opened the door for me to make quicker connections with the girls as well and I am truly grateful for that.
Then I thought of the ones who were not there that night. One was “K”. She is the jewelry designer at Nightlight, but she does so much more than design Jewelry here. She is also my age and full of passion. I love that. And she has a humor about her that reminds me of home and the people I shared an office with at New Song, which is comforting. I love listening to her tell stores about her life and her family because they are full of all sorts of fun things. She is ridiculously talented and just a privilege to be around. Her life experiences continually astound me. I am incredibly excited about getting to know her more over this next year.
“R” has stunning eyes and a stunning heart, somewhat of a mom figure to many of the girls here. I love watching her interact with them because there is so much genuine love spilling from her. She tells me reassuringly, “If I can learn Thai, you can learn Thai!” She runs the jewelry store here in Bangkok, but as with everyone here, her role bleeds into many more areas as well.
“S” is a beautiful piece of pure joy. She fits the role of volunteer caretaker quite well. She also bakes things for us quite often which is quite refreshing in the land of scarce ovens. Her call into missions is an incredible one as she and her husband had a flourishing ministry back in the states. There are plenty of people to do ministry back home,” she said something like, ” More people should go where the workers of fewer.” I like that.
And lastly, I looked straight ahead of me and there was Annie, the founder and leader of Nightlight. I remember when I first met her I felt my face light up. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. This whole thing started with just her… answering a call. She is remarkable, a mixture of incredible strength and a gentle, joyful spirit. Hand tailored by God to do this work. A picture of the Gospel in action.
And then there are the Nightlight girls, the beautifully redeemed nightlight girls who love to laugh and be silly and share whatever English they know in an attempt to welcome you and love you. We went to a concert last night a local church. By the end of the night we were all up front dancing and worshiping God together. As we were heading home after the concert I was overwhelmed with joy.
And walking, hand in hand with one of the girls singing a worship song together, her in Thai me in English… I knew I was a little closer to heaven.
This is my new family…