On this day: An Easter blog

On this day two millenniums ago, two women came around the corner of the grave of a man they had known and loved. Surprised, they found the stone rolled back. Their friend was not in the heavily-guarded grave; but rather appeared to them and others testifying to the fact that He had risen to heaven. Many died for what they had seen and experienced through the life of this one man. History was never the same.

But the story doesn’t stop there.

When I was in college, I was invited to go to church and one morning, I relented. During worship, I experienced a love I had never felt before. I went on a personal quest to discover what was true in the world. After exploring historical evidence, hearing testimonies, and experiencing a personal relationship with God, I discovered the incredible freedom in living a life for Christ.

On this day three years ago, I rose up out of the Charles River, baptized into a new life in Christ and declaring to the world what Jesus had done in my life:

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And on this day, the 31st of May 2013, I stand on the rooftop of a building in Panang, Malaysia with friends who have become family through these last nine months. I raise my hands in declaration of the life we have in Him. It is because of Jesus that I live, I move, and I have my being. He is the life in me and the light I declare to the world.

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“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

-Jesus (John 11:25)

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Here’s a video that Adam made from our worship service on Sunday evening on the rooftop of our hotel in Panang, Malaysia:

Behind the Noise from Adam Smith on Vimeo.

March Newsletter: Thailand

Newsletter 4/02/13
Highlights from this month:
This month: Love Acts ministry in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Next Month: Homeless Ministry in Panang, Malaysia
24-hour Prayer and Thai Paper Lanterns
Sawadee-Ka! (That’s Thai for “Hello!”)We just had an amazing month in Thailand, working with Lighthouse in Action. My team was mainly doing bar ministry, building relationships with the girls who work there. I connected with an amazing young woman named Blue. She was the same age as me – 27 – but as we sat down to dinner together, I discovered that the 27 years of her life were so different than my own. You can read her story here. Blue no longer wants to work in the bars as a prostitute, so she and her friend opened a restaurant! They serve delicious food, and I included her recipe for Thai Noodle Salad on my blog here. It’s amazing for me to see how God has already worked in her life – I’m really going to miss her!

In addition to bar ministry, our team helped to relocate a coffeeshop that our our host Emmi owns. Emmi had been looking for a new building closer to the red light district to be more accessible to the bar workers. Halfway through the month, a man offered her a space only three blocks from the bars. And get this – he gave it to her for free! So for the next two weeks, we cleaned and spiffed up the new building, and then moved the entire contents of the old coffeeshop to its new location. She named it Zion, which is significant because in the bible Zion is a territory of the enemy which is redeemed for the Lord. I really appreciated doing something tangible in our ministry this month – it was amazing to see the progress that was made in just two weeks!
Here’s Carmen’s highlight video that she put together from our month in Thailand:

And here is a video that the YWAM Kansas City team put together – they tell the story well:

“A Light to the Lost” YWAM KC Thailand Outreach Part 1 from YWAM KansasCity on Vimeo.

Next Month: Homeless Ministry in Panang, Malaysia
In April, we’ll be working at a drop-in center for the homeless in Panang, Malaysia. It is open three days a week and provides meals, clothes, showers, and connections to social services. I’m really looking forward to loving the people here whom society has largely rejected.  You can click on the image below to watch a video about YWAM Penang…

24-Hour Prayer and Thai Lanterns
At the end of last month, all the girls did a 24-hour prayer and worship burn,  where there was worship music and intercession happening in the new coffeeshop for 24 straight hours. We wanted to lay down the foundation of the presence of God in the the new coffeeshop building. To culminate this time, we wrote down our prayers on Thai paper lanterns, then sent them off the roof of the building, lighting the sky above the city. It was a glorious tangible representation of the prayers that we had prayed throughout our time of worship.

New Team, Yet Again!
We just have been assigned new teams for the last two months of the World Race. I’m on a team of four girls and two guys – We named ourselves “Team Breaking Bread.” Breaking bread is something that the first Christians did together as a symbol of the bond they shared in Christ. I haven’t been on a team with any of them before, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know each person and to see what God has in store for us!

Prayer Requests & Praises!

  • Praise! Thanks for your prayers – I’ve had time to rest this past month, which has been great. I also learned a lot about leadership from my time last month as a team leader – your prayers in this really made a difference!
  • Pray for clarity. It’s been hard to process everything that has happened these past nine months; my head feels really jumbled and I don’t even know where to begin. Pray that I would find time to process through all of the experiences  and everything that God has been teaching me.
  • Pray for our new team – that we would dive in together and that God would give us hearts to love and embrace the Malay people

Happy Easter!
I hope everyone had an amazing Easter!  I spent the day worshipping with our squad on the rooftop overlooking Penang and reflecting on other Easters I have had. Read my blog about it here.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3)

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Kelly

Advice for Future World Racers: Emmi’s Words of Wisdom

When you go on the World Race, it is such an honor to come alongside incredible men and women of God in each country. It’s month nine and we’re in Thailand this month – I’d like to pass on a few words of wisdom our host Emmi had for us which I think will be helpful for current and future World Racers:

1. Pray that God would give you all of your heart back for each country.

Traveling from country to country is amazing – getting to see new places and meeting incredible people – but what no one tells you is in turn how many goodbyes you will have. It can be painful to separate from people you’ve come to know and love throughout the month, and without realizing it, you may begin to guard your heart to protect yourself from the pain.

At the beginning of the month, Emmi told us to ask God to give all of our heart back for Thailand so that we can give 100% to this ministry. We did, and it was amazing to see our love for Thailand and the Thai people grow by just coming to God with this simple prayer.

2. Ask for God to show you the one person he wants you to cultivate a friendship with each month

When you enter a new country, it can be overwhelming. You arrive to a new language, new culture, and new friendships. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the need that you see around you, so much so that you become “stuck.”

Emmi challenged us to ask God to show us the one person He wanted us to meet this month – the one person you can connect with, love on, and pray for.  And when God points this person out to you, it makes ministry manageable. You can’t solve the country’s injustices in one month. But you may be able to make a difference in one person’s life. And by doing that, you will change the world.

God answered this prayer for me by cultivating a friendship with a woman named Blue (read her story here). The beauty of these friendships with your “one person” is that with today’s technology you can keep in contact far beyond when you leave. I plan to keep calling Blue and checking on what is happening with her and her daughters, well…forever!

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3. When you leave the country, ask God to provide someone to continue the work He has started through you

Short-term mission trips are great learning experiences, but I’m even more convinced as to the necessity of long-term staff to provide continuity to the work that God has started in each place. Despite this, when you are on the World Race, we have to trust that the work that we have started and the seeds we have planted will continue to be watered after we leave.

At the end of our month together, Emmi said: “You are a tiny puzzle piece in the midst of God’s great image for this place. When you leave, pray that God would connect someone else to your puzzle piece to continue the work He is doing here.” I’d also suggest that whenever possible, try to introduce your new friends to people within the local church or ministry to provide stability and continuity to the seeds that you have planted.

During last week in Thailand, we had the pleasure of overlapping with a YWAM team from Kansas City which will be here for the next three months. To conclude our 24-hour prayer burn, we washed their feet as a symbol of empowering them to continue the work that God had started through us:P1050203

4. Vision without Action is a dead dream

Emmi said this all the time – she is honestly the epitomy of this statement. Emmi runs a ministry in Chiang Mai, Thailand called Lighthouse in Action, which works to combat the injustices related to the sex industry. Not only is she working to fight the sex industry on the frontlines by ministering in the bars, she is also combating it at the root by working to change the mindset that causes people to sell their children in the villages and slums. I really appreciate the holistic approach of her ministry.

Emmi says “Vision without action is a dead dream” because asking God to guide you when you are standing still is like trying to guide a bicycle that isn’t moving. It’s a whole lot easier for God to guide a vision that is in action. And we have seen that – Emmi is a woman of vision but also action.

Lighthouse in Action is only three years old, but it already encompasses a five-story coffee shop which hosts English classes, open mic nights, and employs women who have come out of the sex industry. Lighthouse in Action also runs a discipleship training program to teach women biblical principles and give them job training to prepare them for life outside the bars. Currently, Emmi is building a training center for this program away from the distractions of the city as a refuge for women.

God has continually opened doors for Emmi, and we saw this happen firsthand when two weeks ago, a man offered to give Emmi a new coffeehouse building perfectly located just a few blocks from the women we minister to – for free. She lives by faith, and somehow at the end of the month just the right amount of money seems to come in. We’ve spent the past two weeks cleaning, preparing, and moving her old coffeehouse near the university campus to its new buliding downtown. Check out how loaded this pick-up truck is:

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If you believe in the work that God is doing here, you can take part through prayer and finances. Emmi is currently doing a campaign to obtain monthly supporters to get this new coffeehouse up and running. If 60 people gave only $50/month for the next year, this would be cover the costs of rent, the utility bill, and the operating costs (read her blog about this campaign here).

Future World Racers: You’re truly entering a journey of a lifetime. May God lead you deeper in His love every day of your Race!

We had to buy her

It’s easy to see the women and men that we meet in the bars and automatically judge them, jumping to conclusions about the lifestyle they are living or the choices they are making. But what I’m learning is that behind every painted face is a story. A story full of joys and struggles, laughter and tears and everything in between.

I had the honor of getting to know one of these painted faces this month. Her name was Blue. We connected with Blue a few times at the bars, and one night, we invited to take Blue out to dinner. We had to buy her for the evening – 400 baht (approximately $13 USD).

She was the same age as me – 27. But as we sat down to dinner together, I discovered that the 27 years of her life were so starkly different than my own.

Blue grew up in a small village far from Chiang Mai. For reasons unknown to her, her parents treated her poorly throughout her childhood, whereas her sister was loved and cared for. Her mother sold her when she was eight, to a man whose home was in Bangkok, where she spent seven years cooking and cleaning and molested by the man she worked for. She was not happy, so she broke something in order to get sent home. When she returned home, her mom blamed her from not making enough money and sold her again as a cleaning girl in a new city. When she was fifteen, she returned back to her home village, upon which her mother calls her stupid and told her she had to get married to a young man in the village.

Blue and her new husband then moved to Chiang Mai and started a clothes washing business. Not long after they arrived in this city, she got pregnant and had a daughter named Honey. Soonafter, Blue’s husband suddenly died in an accident, leaving her to raise Honey alone. The laundry business was not doing well, so she worked in a restaurant in a hotel to make money for her family. She was still struggling to make ends meet, and a friend told her that she could make a lot of money working in the bars.

Feeling like she had no other options, Blue decided to try this out. On only her second night of work, she met a man from England and they ended up falling in love. They lived together and conceived her second child. Six months later, she returned home from work one evening to a completely empty apartment. He had left her, without an explanation. This hurt her so bad that she said she cried every day for a year.

Despite the number of people in her life that had hurt her, Blue was so willing to talk to us about the tough things. Yet, I did notice that her view of the world was definitely skewed because of these experiences that she had gone through. She asked us “Do you think men are good?” After we answered, she said she did not, and that her definition of a good man was one who will sit and talk to her a few nights before sleeping with her. She said that she didn’t believe in love, because love has always failed her.

Blue has expressed how much she detests working in the bars; so she and her friend started a restaurant. They borrowed money from the bank and remodeled an old garage to form the kitchen and dining area. She is hoping that as the restaurant takes off, she will be able to quit her job at the bars. “I don’t like wearing tight clothes like they make me wear, and the heels hurt my feet,” she admitted. I think all of us women can relate to that! She explained, “I want to live a quiet life now. It doesn’t matter how you look. All that matters is that you have a beautiful heart.”

Here is Blue standing in front of her new restaurant. How proud she is!

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Blue and her friend have a lot of fun cooking together!

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I am slightly biased, but I have to say that their food is some of the best Thai food I have tasted.

Here is a recipe for Gui Tiew Hang – Thai noodle salad. This recipe will serve 2-3. It’s sweet & spicy and absolutely delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound flat rice noodles (cooked)
  • 2 T oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 T crushed peanuts
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound beef or chicken, seasoned and cooked
  • 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1/2 lime squeezed
  1. Cook garlic in oil until slightly browned
  2. Mix garlic oil with noodles
  3. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, sugar, and crushed red peppers
  4. Layer the salad as follows: lettuce (bottom layer), noodles, meat, soy sauce mixture, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, with a lime squeezed on top.
  5. Toss and eat. Mmm!

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So what’s next? I can see God’s law written all over her heart in the way she lives and the dreams she has for her life. The great thing is that a YWAM team just arrived for a 3-month outreach here during their Discipleship Training School; I took three of the YWAM girls to meet Blue yesterday so they will be able to continue showing God’s unconditional love to her. It’s amazing for me to see how God has already worked in her life and I know that this is only the beginning! (Did I mention that Blue’s oldest daughter Honey is going to a Christian school and has decided to be a follower of Jesus?)

In our conversations, everything in me wanted to tell her about Jesus’ love for her, a love that never fails, but the Holy Spirit told me to just listen and be an example of God’s love. What she needs most right now is not a lecture but a friend, and by being there for her I’m incarnationally living the love of Christ in a way that words cannot describe.

As we said goodbye and parted ways, she said three precious words, “I love you,” which I know mean so much more because of the life she has lived.

When you make this salad, please pray for Blue and her two daughters –Pray for provision and that God would continue to bring people in her life to love her.

Jubilee!

We’re here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I’ve fallen in love yet again with Thai food, culture, and people. It’s the 20th of the month and I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged yet! I think I’m still trying to process everything that’s happened these past nine months – but today I’ll tell you a little bit about the three types of ministry we are doing here with LightHouse In Action:

1. Bar Ministry

You might be thinking “bar” and “ministry” – aren’t these oxymorons? How do these two seemingly different concepts fit together? On the surface, the bars here look similar to the bars in America – bright lights, crowded rooms, and lots of drinks. But when you really start to watch, you’ll start to notice that most of the men come in with a mission. They flirt with a woman for awhile, money is exchanged, and then they walk off together to one of the brothels nearby. It breaks my heart… in Thailand, prostitution is legal.

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Many people are ok with prostitution because they believe that the women have chosen this lifestyle. But when you really sit down and talk to the women, you understand that this is far from the truth. “Choice” is a strong word; “coerced” might be more accurate of many of the stories I have heard. Most of the girls are from villages far away and are approached with promises of money and a glamorous life.

After arriving, reality begins to set in and most will admit that they aren’t happy here, but they stay in the bars to make money for their families. What has been striking for me is how selfless these women are – rather than trying to make money so they can buy more things or live extravagently, most are sacrificing their time, energy, and even their bodies for the good of another. One woman I met does it for her two daughters. She knows that by working in the bars she can be home more with her children because she makes more money faster. Some men undergo a large number of surgeries to become ladyboys and work to earn money for their families. Here I am with Som Pa, a ladyboy that I’ve been getting to know these past few weeks.P1050167

Our role is to go into this area and speak life into that place. We build relationships with the women, men, and ladyboys who work there. Our hope is that they will see Jesus in us, and we can offer them an alternative to the life they are now living.

Here’s a video about the Love Acts ministry:

Love Acts | Thailand Outreach Ministry from Susanna April on Vimeo.

Here’s some video footage from a prayer walk in the Red Light District in Phuket, Thailand that Adam put together:

A night on Bangla road from Adam Smith on Vimeo.

And here’s Meghan’s video:

Bangla Road from Meghan Tschanz on Vimeo.

*Be advised – some of the images on these two videos can be quite graphic*

2. Ministry in the slums

A few times a week, we go into the slums and play games with the children, do a bible lesson and just love on these kids that don’t normally get a lot of attention. It’s a lot of fun. Here are Katie and Diane reading a story to a young Thai girl:541

3. Relocating a coffee shop

I want to introduce you to an amazing woman named Emmi. God has given her a dream of how to combat sex trafficking – not only must you minister to people in the bars, you must also fight it firsthand by educating people on trafficking in the university and villages. When I grow up, I want to be just like Emmi Smile But at least I can do my hair like her. P1050002

One of the three components of the Lighthouse ministry is the Wongen Café, which is is a place where students, missionaries, bar workers, and families can eat delicious food and hang out in a safe, loving, and Godly environment. Emmi has been looking for a new building closer to the red light district to be more accessible to the bar workers. Last week, a man met with her and offered her a space only three blocks from the bars! And get this – he gave it to her for free! Now, the English classes, meetings and open mic nights can happen right next door to the red light district, the population she is hoping to reach. She named this new café Zion, which is significant because in the Old Testament Zion was a territory of the enemy that was redeemed for the Lord.

So the past few days, we have been cleaning, moving, and spiffing up the new building. We’re hoping to open by the end of the month! Here I am with Jillian and Katie, cleaning the kitchen.

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About a month ago when I began praying about my future team, before I knew anything about what we would be doing, God gave me the name “Jubilee.” Jubilee doesn’t just mean joy – it was something that occurred every 50th year in the Old Testament in which slaves and prisoners were freed, debts were forgiven, and the mercy of God was particularly present (Leviticus 25:10). To my surprise, when Emmi was talking about this year, she mentioned that this was a year of Jubilee for her ministry. Praise God His favor and provision for the work Emmi is doing!

Here is Team Jubilee standing in front of the waterfall we visited on our day off. These girls are awesome – and we love Thailand!P1050143

Asian Momos (Recipe)

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One of my favorite meals so far on the Race has been momos – they will probably be the first thing that I cook from scratch when I go back to America. Momos are traditionally a Nepalese food, but are also made all over Asia as dumplings filled with spiced vegetables and meat. They take a while to make, but I promise you, they are totally worth it!

This recipe makes approximately 80-100 momos and will serve 8-10 people.

Ingredients:

For filling:

  • 1 large or 2 small red onions, diced finely
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 pound+ raw ground beef or pork
  • 15 cloves garlic
  • 4-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 beef or chicken bullion cube, crushed into powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder or fresh chilis (adjust to your desired spice level)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  1. Crush/mash diced garlic and ginger together in a small bowl
  2. Place in large bowl, then add diced onions, cabbage, and meat, and stir well
  3. Add bullion, salt, chili powder, and mix
  4. Finally, add fresh coriander and vegetable oil and mix thoroughly by hand

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For dough:

  • 2 pounds flour
  • 2 C+ water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Slowly add water to flour, mixing by hand until dough-like consistency. Let sit for a few minutes

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  1. Take cherry-sized dough balls and roll them out individually on a floured surface.
  2. Place 1 spoonful of filling inside, then fold closed and pinch the ends. It’s a tricky technique to describe, but basically you fold one end in, then push pinch, push pinch until you get to the other end. The important thing is that it is sealed shut. They should be in a half-moon shape, and look something like this:P1040921
  3. Steam a single layer of momos for approximately ten minutes. To check if they are done, press the sides to see if they are tight. Momos are also tasty fried in a frying pan. The most important thing about making momos is that you have fun doing it!

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Serve with chutney as dipping sauce. Chutney can be made from any number of ingredients, and is usually made from whatever vegetables are leftover in the house (tomatoes, sesame, cucumber, etc). An example chutney is below:

  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and chopped
  • 6-inch long piece ginger, chopped
  • 20 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder or fresh chili
  • 3 tsp white vinegar

Crush ginger, garlic, coriander together in a small bowl. Add tomatoes, chili powder, and white vinegar. Adjust to taste.

Eat momos Asian-style by sitting on the floor without silverware. Enjoy!

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