Only God knows the many tears I cried the year I lived in Thailand. My heart fell in love with the Isaan people and culture and I had so much joy in relationships, yet pain seemed to be a chord that ran through it all. Tears were my prayers as I watched teammates struggle and fall, teams begin to crumble and a dear friend lose her young daughter.
So when I sensed God speaking Psalm 126: 5 for my Thailand trip, it made sense.
“Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.”
God was right, as always. Returning to Thailand after 11 years truly was a return to joy.
My first day in Det Udom, I ran right into the teacher who I was with 11 years ago when her 10-year old was abducted. We embraced, we cried, and we shared hope. She shared of a letter I had written to her 11 years ago that described how her daughter is with Jesus in Heaven. She, a Buddhist, still pulls this letter out when she needs comfort. She invited Mike and Nicole, my co-workers, to come back to the elementary school where her daughter attended to train the students on how to protect themselves against human trafficking.
A thread of pain woven in joy.
My host mother whom I lived with for my year in Thailand, has cancer. I thought I would not be able to see her as her chemotherapy was scheduled for the same week of my visit. God changed things at the last minute and we were able to be reunited. My host parents insisted I stay with them, despite their illnesses. “You are our daughter! You must stay with us! You are our family!”
11 years later…Joy remains.
I wanted to see the teachers in the high school where we taught English but wasn’t sure if they would even remember me. When I called them, they were in the staff lounge looking at our team picture and telling a story about me at that very moment. I went to visit them and they recounted many stories of things our team had said that still touch their hearts today. We hugged, they shared pain, joys and memories. They invited my co-workers to come back and train the school on trafficking prevention.
Returning in Joy.
Eleven years ago on Easter Sunday there was the funeral of Nong Pat, the precious 10-year old who was raped and murdered. Now, Easter Sunday, 11 years later, in the same town, there was a baptism of 12 new Isaan believers.
True resurrection life, resounding in joy.
Eleven years, ago, I left Thailand wounded, yet knowing that my wounds were to be healing for others. I left with a longing to reach out and care for missionaries. Now, 11 years later, I return do pastoral care with Justice ACTS International co-workers, Mike and Nicole.
Healing turned to Joy.
We shared the human trafficking prevention training with the Life Enrichment church leaders. This is the same network of house churches that our team came to serve among 11 years ago. They embraced the teaching and shared how human trafficking had touched the lives of their village churches. They asked Mike and Nicole to come to one of the villages to teach again.
At the end we prayed for them and I felt to share Psalm 126, my heart pounded within me as I felt God prompting me to share that this is the time for Harvest for Isaan. Though they have reaped in tears, it is time for many to come into the Kingdom with Joy. When I finished praying/sharing, many were crying. Then the lead pastor spoke up, saying that this word was a confirmation of what God is doing among them and what He has been speaking to them. They had more people come to Jesus that month than ever before. These were tears of joy.
Reaping in joy.
Thank you God and thank you to all who prayed and gave to make this trip possible.
I am overwhelmed by the Joy giver. He has given beauty for ashes.
Joy for tears.