November 5th, 2019
It was our last morning devotional before we had to head back to Bangkok airport to fly home. As I looked around the circle, I was sad that deep sense of community would be gone once we arrived home and went our separate ways. On our team we had nine Canadians, four Americans, and one Brazilian. Each from different cities, each with different reasons for considering a short term missions trip, but each with the desire to know God and make God known. I was jolted back into the moment as one of our leaders challenged us, “Make your lives a mission trip.”
Over the course of the trip, there were a lot of “little moments” where I could see God at work in the situation. One time in particular, five of our team members volunteered to help with a construction project in a Bangkok slum community near the Ruth Centre. The slum is on stilts, situated above three feet of black sludge water. A grandma living in this slum would wash her dishes on a small patio/pathway just outside her house, but the pieces of wood supporting it were almost completely rotten so we were asked to help replace them. The construction process was slow and tedious. First we had to remove the old pieces of wood which were buried below the water’s surface. Then we put new cement pilings in by digging a hole, and then by pounding it deeper and deeper, down into the hole. It was so tedious, physically taxing and strenuous.
Taking a water break, I stepped onto what was essentially the grandma’s patio to grab another bottle of water from our supply. She motioned for me to pass her a bottle of juice, but was having trouble opening it so I offered to do it for her. Then she started speaking to me in Thai and gesturing to her chest, stomach, and knees while looking uncomfortable. Even though I couldn’t understand what she was saying, her expression and body language conveyed her pain and discomfort. But there was a sense of peace in just sitting beside her and keeping her company.
One of the volunteers at the Ruth Centre came by later to check on us and I asked her what the grandma was talking about when she was gesturing to her chest. The volunteer told us that she had a history of chest pains and soreness in her joints. The grandma also was suffering from memory loss and spends much of her time alone. Sometimes she would forget to eat her meals. Because of her poor eyesight she also sometimes accidentally would eat or drink her cleaning supplies and get sick.
Despite her limitations, this wonderful woman sat on her porch the whole time we were working away, pointing her fan at us, praising God and blessing us for helping her with her. I was amazed that she felt comfortable enough with us strangers to open up about her health challenges and that she would go out of her way to bring her fan onto her porch to help cool us off. As we finished up the construction project, we were proud at what we’d accomplished. But we weren’t ready to leave. We went into the grandma’s home to pray for her ailments and bless her for her encouragement.
Now that I’m back in Canada, I can’t stop thinking about that grandma’s face as she shared her heart and her home with us. I find myself reflecting on many of these “little moments.” While I was in Thailand, we did everything only for God’s glory. We lived and loved like Jesus, and I came alive as I walked in His footsteps. I want to live my life like that, no matter where I am. I want to make my life a mission trip.