It hasn’t been easy here. I am discovering more of who I am. Sometimes I like what I find. Other times, I don’t. I have found through being the only foreigner on my team that I have a high need for meaningful interactions with others… not just an exchange of pleasantries, but my heart soars in those moments that I get to connect with someone else deeply. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen all that often right now. Something to do with not speaking Thai yet.
I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands lately, though, to work on remedying that not speaking Thai thing. I’ve also been really asking God to search my heart and show me His for my time here. And what has come to me in these times is something that was spoken over my life the very first day I said yes to God’s invitation to go to Thailand: “He’s calling you to be a friend to the friendless.” At times, I’ve wondered, what’s so powerful about that. Why He wants me to be that for people. And why it must be such a lonely place to walk in.
The other day, I borrowed a movie from a friend… Just to have an infusion of English in my day, or so I thought. But as “The Soloist” was spinning in my laptop, I began seeing the parallels between my life and the life of a journalist, Steve Lopez, who befriended Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man. I found myself crying when Steve’s wife told him, “You couldn’t stop that earthquake. You can’t fix LA. And you’re never going to cure Nathaniel. Just be his friend and show up.” And I felt the Ultimate Soloist reminding me that’s what I’m here for… just to be a friend. Just to show up. Is it significant? Sometimes I wonder… But I continued feeling the Ultimate Soloist playing the strings of my heart as the final scene from the movie rolled:
A year ago, I met a man who was down on his luck and thought I might be able to help him. I don’t know that I have. Yes, my friend Mr. Ayers now sleeps inside. He has a key. He has a bed. But his metal state and his well-being are as precarious now as they were the day we met. there are people who tell me I’ve helped him. Mental health experts who say that the simple act of being someone’s friend can change his brain chemistry, improve his functioning the world. I can’t speak for Mr. Ayers in that regard. Maybe our friendship has helped him. But maybe not. I can, however speak for myself. I can tell you that by witnessing Mr. Ayer’s courage, his humility, his faith in the power of his art, I’ve learned the dignity of being loyal to something you believe in. Of holding onto it. Above all else, of believing without question that it will carry you home.
I am encouraged in being reminded that being a trustworthy friend to these ones can bring hope and a sense of value…. or “change his brain chemistry, improve his functioning in the world.” However, I don’t believe that I was sent here simply to see things improve in such small measures in the lives of those I have befriended. In the day-to-day moments where I cannot see that my friendship is helping them, I choose to be loyal to this: I believe that the melody and harmonies of God’s everlasting love are powerful enough to bring a shift to the thinking not only of one, but of nations. I believe that though I cannot fix Pattaya, He can. I believe that though I cannot cure these ones, He can cure the most broken of hearts.
As I learn from the One who is Jealous for these souls, I am also learning much from these ones. I am seeing the power of their friendships in my life. Someone told me yesterday, “You are my best friend.” I was humbled at those words, as I have not yet been here three months. The other day I was crying because I was homesick and and a competitive dancer let down his tough facade to let me know he knows how it feels to miss home. A former prostitute said she knew what it’s like to miss one’s family because she misses her daughter. And they told me they would pray for me. And meant it. Maybe my love is changing them. Their love is changing me. And God’s love is changing all of us. What a beautiful symphony we will play as we arise as the Sons and Daughters of the Living God, playing with the Ultimate Soloist, releasing a song of love that will change everything.