I wish I was able to upload pictures....but alas, you'll just be hearing stories until I get home. We're on day 3 of Bangkok, with the other four (Doug, Jackie, Jeff, James) having left yesterday for Cambodia. Jeannie and I are staying at the Sukhimvit on Nut guest house on the far east side of town; the place, which is run by a Japanese ex-Patriot, Manji, among other things boasts a 300-menu item restaurant that we decide to pay a visit to this morning. Ahhh. It was awesome. There's nothing like a lack of government regulations to then make menu items 1-10 different kinds of Quaker oatmeal: #1: Apples and Cinnamon, #2: Maple Syrup, #3: Original...you get the picture. Of that the rest of the menu flows. :)
So yesterday Jeannie and I departed from the others to drop our stuff off at the guest house, and then went back into town to meet up with Roy Thompson, a Bay ARea native who now lives and works out of Thailand. WE had lunch with him, then met up with his wife, Bonita, who runs a ministry called New Beginnings out of one of the red light districts of Bangkok. [There are four main Red Light districts in BAngkok, each with an average of 50 bars per area, with around 3000 girls per area...]. it was good just hanging out with Bonita and the 10 girls who live in their house, and tonite we'll be heading into one of the districts to be with Bonita and her staffers on what they call "Outreach." Really, it operates quite similarly to what I've seen with Young Life when (for instance), leaders go into the school: yes, they're Christian, but the point is not then conversion, but it's to love those girls right then and there, where they're at and in their worlds. Some girls are very receptive to Bonita's presence in the bars, and some completely ignore her; either way, she knows that she's being a light by simply entering into their worlds, into a place that too many people shun and look down upon, even qualifying the girls' actions as demonic. And as we talked about yesterday, if Hollywood were to make a movie about Bonita, she'd be the most unlikely star of the show: she's a woman in her early 60's perhaps. White. Unassuming. She was an educator of 36 years - and now she finds herself in a place that she of all people would never have expected in a million years. I'm sure tonite will be life-changing, to say the least.
After time with the Thompsons, we then headed outside of Bangkok to meet up with Chaovalit and his team of Young Life Thailand leaders. They're putting on their first ever weekend camp this coming weekend, so Jeannie and I got to do a training for them. I've never spoken with a translator before, so that was a different experience in that it's hard to gather your thoughts and keep them organized when stopping at the end of every sentence or phrase. But the people were the epitome of the Thai: warm, hospitable, polite, generous, with FABULOUS homemade food that we - literally - ate up. I have found my new food love of the day: mango sticky rice. Mmmm.
On the docket before tonite's adventure: a Thai cooking class at our guest house, and then Bonita's "mission" for us: pictures. Pictures of old men with young Thai women. Wow....this is going to be intense.