"I can't believe it was only our first day," I said tonight as we were getting ready for bed.
We had breakfast with our group, then had a great meeting to learn about The SOLD Project's vision for 2010. It was great to finally hear from the Rachel Goble-Carey and Rachel Sparks-Graeser (founders) in person about SOLD and hear their passion for their work. I feel like I've known them forever. We learned some do's and don'ts about Thai culture. Mainly, it is the land of smiles and a soft-spoken request with a big smile will get you far. Oh, and don't pick your teeth in public.
The great thing about this trip is that all the members have been invested in SOLD in some real, tangible way--from child sponsors to interns to spouses etc. Everyone here knows the story on trafficking, and we're all committed to doing something about it. It's such a relief to be around people who share this passion and are ready to do whatever it takes. Yay for other crazy people! Hearing their stories about how they got involved and what they want their next steps to be is so encouraging to hear. The list of fantastic orgs and goals represented is amazing, and it just goes to show how there are so many different areas in this issue that someone can be skilled in.
We saw a lot of hard things today, and I know it is just the beginning. Nate, Rache SG's husband, took Mike and I into the heart of it all on the way home from dinner. A walk-through of a certain three-story "mall" (for lack of a better word) of about two minutes revealed more than I ever wanted to know. It's--everywhere. I don't know. Is there another way to say it? How could I have wanted to punch the man at breakfast with the girl today across the room, but by the time we had a nightcap on the patio, the same sight barely caused a double-take?
I've often wondered what prostitution really looks like. I imagine shady hotels and back alley dealings. I couldn't sleep last night after checking in with that man and girl. It was happening under the same roof I was sleeping under, in a room that looked just like ours, and, to be honest, had probably happened countless times in the bed we're sleeping in. To see couples go upstairs, to hear it in the hollow hallways... it's too close for comfort and we're not even close yet.
Sorry if that was a lot to take in. I want to be honest with you and invite you on this journey with us. I'm also going to apologize for the fact that this was all written in about ten minutes at 12:30 a.m. when I've gotten 4 hours of sleep in a bed in the last three days.
Okay, on a lighter note, quick summary of cool Bangkok experiences today:
1. 20-minute motorized tuk-tuk ride at high speeds that left me breathless, but laughing
2. Buying a $1 coconut milkshake and watching the woman crack a coconut, scape out the insides into a blender, pour some evaporated milk and ice on top and hit "blend"
3. Eating real real real real pad thai and it literally burning my mouth: so good!
4. Getting a tattoo with a bamboo stick full of ink
5. Just kidding, but somebody in our group did that last week
6. Collapsing onto this bed and starting to type like crazy while Mike laid down with a book and got to page 2 before dropping it, asleep
This morning, I got to the crucifixion in John today while I was reading my Bible. All day as I walked through the streets and saw man after man touching these young girls, I kept thinking about how Jesus died for them. Like, if you and me and everyone we know had never been born, Jesus would have still died--for these men. Sucks, right? I don't want to be put in the same category as those men, but God doesn't love them anymore than he loves me. I want so badly to think I'm better than them, but their sins of selfishness and greed are in their hearts just like they are in mine; they are just manifesting them in different ways. How can I be so angry at God for that injustice--look how much better I am, God!--and yet so thankful that everything can be forgiven, that every evil in this world makes sense, that there is hope for the hopeless?
7 years ago