This morning, like most, I woke up at 7. This is very early for Pattaya, so I actually enjoy going out early, if I can, before the city wakes up. But today, I brewed a cup of coffee at home and did a bit of Thai homework… Not real likely I’d be able to get a good cup of coffee out and about that early anyway. Between writing sentences in phonetics, I was putting up my laundry from the previous day’s washing. A few items were still damp, so I left them to dry… Darn that not being able to get laundry done early around here. Though there’s a laundry place just a few doors down and they say they open at 10, they work on Thai time, which meant after asking around yesterday with my broken Thai I decided to just lug my laundry across Sukhumvit (the highway) to where I knew they’d be open. Oh well, I’ll check into another laundry spot that opens early enough for things to dry before bed (hopefully) another day.
Before I knew it, it was 8:45 and I was running out the door, a little late for my Thai lesson. Doesn’t help with timeliness that songthaews don’t get running regularly super early around here. (I ended up jumping on an already quite full songthaew and standing for a bit of my ride.) Nor did it help that it was a market day on Soi Buakaow and the songthaew I thought would take me to my Thai lesson was content to merely sit and try and pick up more customers. A dirty look at my driver instead of 10 bhat and a quick jog down the street landed me there about 5 minutes late. I hate being late, but here, mai bpen rai (never mind).
A couple of hours later, my head exploding with the Thai Teacher Nit-Noy had tried to cram in, I was walking back down Soi Buakaow at a more leisurely pace. Suddenly I heard my name and my friend, May appeared out of one of the clothing shops with a hug and a kiss on each cheek. I told her I needed to eat and so she came with me and ordered an amazing dish of rice, chicken and vegetables and we shared a quick lunch together.
When I got back to my place, I had enough time to wash my feet with cool water and pack a smaller bag before P’Lai came and picked me up on her motercycle for a day of outreach. After meeting Sherri, one of my teammates from Canada, we visited a spa where a Christian woman’s trying to begin a training program for girls who want to leave the bars and then headed to the beach to prayer walk. We stopped a few times along the way to say hello before settling in with a few women who had gathered to share a meal.
A parade protesting violence against women (or promoting the good treatment of women, depending on how you look at it) was beginning to line up as we were talking and we decided to cross the street before they got going. Sherri needed to stop at a 7-11 (on practically every corner here) for some water and we noticed a foreign guy with his arm in a sling. He was from Hungary and couldn’t speak much English, but we asked him if we could pray for his arm and he let us. He said after we prayed the hair on his arm was standing on end, but the pain wasn’t any better, so we told him that God was going to heal his arm… to just watch. He also seemed interested in more prayer, so we invited him to come to church. It’ll be interesting to see if he comes.
On the way back to the office to do some language study, we stopped by a bar where Patsy and Erika, a couple of ladyboys I know, work. We just chatted for a bit about why I’m here for so long, which led to inviting them to come to church if they ever have a Sunday off. Erika seems so much more open to God than Patsy… In fact, at one point, Erika seemed to accept Jesus or at the very least be very deeply impacted by God’s love. So I stop by when I can and say hello… they seem to like that, as it’s the slow season and they don’t have many customers.
On the way to the office we said hello to a lot of bar girls and smiled a lot, not really stopping to chat as many are preoccupied with their work. Then we spent about an hour at the office exchanging language… Sherri and P’Lai helping with my Thai and Sherri and I helping P’Lai with her English. Somehow, we managed to get some pieces of language exchanged successfully.
Then Sherri and I walked Soi Buakaow, stopping and doing a little shopping on the way. We both needed new shoulder bags and found cute ones that zip closed instead of the open ones you’ll often find here for 98 bhat. As we continued on to where we could catch a songthaew, I found my heart breaking over how many bar girls and ladyboys work that strip. Jesus loves these ones so much!
Sherri and I kept sharing bits of our stories on our way to The Crossing, which is the skateboard ministry just on the other side of the Big C parking lot from where I live. (Big C is kind of like Wal-Mart.) We found ourselves in the middle of a story about one of my ladyboy friends here when we got to The Crossing, so we sat on the curb talking for a while. Sherri occasionally checked in on one of her kids that comes and hangs out there while Craig, her husband, was ministering to the guys that come and skateboard there.
After Sherri and Craig left with their son, I wandered over to Big C and had Phad Thai with chicken and then went back to The Crossing to hang out some more before heading home.
And there you go, a day in my life, though I can’t say whether it’s typical or a-typical here… I don’t know if there is such a thing as a normal day. There’s always new adventures to be had here.