Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Learning to Dream Again

What would Jesus do? I feel that Jesus would go kick that man wear it counts.

At least that is what I watched a very large man shamelessly walk down the street hand-in-hand with a boy that was maybe seven.

It was the final wrench in my heart of a very difficult day. Today we learned everything we didn't want to know about prostitution in Thailand. We spent the day at the Home of New Beginnings, a holistic recovery center for Bangkok prostitutes. We heard from Bonita A., a former California teacher my mothers' age who moved here with her husband a few years ago and started this amazing outreach to prostitutes. The staff/volunteers go into the go-go bars to talk with these women and invite them to English lessons at the home. (Speaking English gives them more value so they can communicate with clients.)

We were essentially in school today for eight hours. Bonita explained everything beautifully, and her humility, wisdom, and insight were inspiring. She has seen unimaginable things, and she isn't afraid to cry about it. She will also fight for these girls that she loves like her own to the death, so don't mess. Today in class, we did math problems to learn how much the girls make and how much the bars make. We studied geography to see where these girls are coming from. We dabbled in their psychology. We learn vocabulary I pray I forget. We heard story after story after story.

(Side note: I was the one that couldn't stop raising my hand. I finally looked at Mike and said, "Is this what it feels like to be you? I am just so excited to learn!")

I cannot believe what I didn't know about prostitution, especially here. Trafficking is just the production side, the tip of the iceberg, of an issue that is so large it is hard to fathom. Are these girls enslaved? No, most of them aren't. They could leave. But, for many, they--and, perhaps most importantly, their families--would literally die without it. (I know that might be hard to believe, and I won't attempt to summarize the seven hours of convincing we got today on the matter.) So it shifts your definition of "slavery." Poverty is the trafficker, as Rachel said yesterday. In this culture of Buddhism and providing for your parents at all costs, there is simply no choice in the matter. You deny yourself for what has to be done to take care of others.

One girl looked in the mirror every morning and thought of her family. "You have to do this," she said to her reflection. "Use your head, not your heart." How else could she--they--survive?

Here is the question I am going to sleep on, probably for many nights:

I would die for Mike, my family, my friends. But would I allow myself to be raped 28 days out of the month by old ugly men to send money to my family for their food, health care, and home?

I don't know. And I am glad I never will.

P.S. - It was a joy to wake up to your Facebook/blog comments this morning. So encouraging, so thank you!


Mrs. Wenzel said...

As I was reading Psalm 139 this morning, the verse "If I make my bed in the depths, you are there" jumped out at me. When I pray for these girls and women (I hadn't thought about the boys!) I pray that they will sense God's presence in their lives, even as they are "in the depths." I love you and am praying that you both will not be overwhelmed by all of the horrors you are experiencing, that you too, will sense God's presence.