Last night we were able to do our first bits of outreach. In small groups we went into some of the pool bars (think sports bar or pub) to talk to the girls.
I had been so nervous about that part of the trip, but honestly, I found it to be the best part so far. We all bought pineapple juices (could we look anymore like missionaries??) and struck up conversations with some of the waitresses and girls working in the bars. It was refreshing how warm and friendly the women were, and not in the same way they were with potential customers. It was clear to them when we began asking where they were from and if they had kids that we were not looking to buy sex. Once that barrier was broken, we saw faces light up.
One woman our group spoke to last night was in her early 40’s and had been working in the bar for many years. She had an 18 year old daughter whom she referred to as “my love” and “my number one”. She proudly told us her daughter was in school and was going to study to become a nurse. Without missing a beat, she told us how glad she was that her daughter would have a good job.
It’s hard to imagine a mother supporting her daughter and putting her through school with this job, but that’s exactly what she was doing. And she wasn’t the only one.
The next woman we met was also in her early 40’s. (This is unusually old for women working in the bars, but neither of the women we met last night looked even close to their age.) This next woman’s story unravelled similarly. She was cautious of us until we bought her a drink and asked to see pictures of her three children. We, in turn, showed her pictures of our babies, which she was delighted to see.
We told both women about the upcoming Christmas parties, letting them know that someone would be coming by to pick them up and pay their bar fine.
As the majority of my readers are waking up and reading this in the morning, teams from our larger group will be in the bars picking up girls to take to our first Christmas party. I would like to ask for prayer for this first evening.
First, we are asking that God allows LOTS of women to come to the Christmas party; many of these women work 28 days out of 30, and a day off would be a welcome reprieve from their physically and emotionally demanding work.
Next, we are asking for the hearts of these girls to be open and willing to make friendships with those of us working with beginnings tonight; there are 30 of us from all over the U.S. and a few from England. Each of us is looking forward to meeting and getting to know the women tonight.
We also ask for safety and no conflict with mama sans and customers. Some mama sans can be difficult to work with, and others may not let any of their girls go to the Christmas parties. Some of the customers may be just curious about why a group of women is buying prostitutes, but others could be hostile to us.
Finally, we are asking that the girls enjoy themselves at the party tonight, and have open hearts to hear the Gospel presented. A Thai Christian pastor will be speaking tonight, giving a clear Gospel presentation. Though we will not understand a lick of what’s going on, the girls will get a better sense of why they are there.
I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers. Check back tomorrow to see some pictures of the beautiful hotel where we are having the parties, as well as some of the fun and games from the evening.