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!
Blue and her friend have a lot of fun cooking together!
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!
- 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
- Cook garlic in oil until slightly browned
- Mix garlic oil with noodles
- In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, sugar, and crushed red peppers
- Layer the salad as follows: lettuce (bottom layer), noodles, meat, soy sauce mixture, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, with a lime squeezed on top.
- Toss and eat. Mmm!
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.