Suzanne and I arrived in Thailand on the 8th of August. Along with us was our german friend Christina whom we had met in Hawai’i at one of the couch surfing parties we hosted. For ten days we stayed in Phuket, and I will be honest right from the beginning, this was the most challenging 10 days of the whole trip. Dana and Cindy Bratton, who are connected with YWAM Thailand, let us stay with them and we were so blessed to have a two bedroom duplex to ourselves with a living room and kitchen for only about $3 U.S. dollars a night. The area we were staying in was not the touristy Phuket, it was in the very north and located in a small fishing village. So we were going to have the opportunity to experience the real day to day of the locals.
Shortly after arriving we knew that our time in Phuket was not going to be like our time anywhere else so far. There were very few things to do and it was extremely hot. In the first couple of days we rented a motor bike and went around then took a tour of “James Bond Island” throughout Phang Nga bay. The day after all three of us volunteered to help Cindy at the Thai school where she teaches English.
Sadly after only a few days in Phuket, Christina had to go back to germany. Then it was only Suz and I in the big duplex. On wednesdays we would attend Cindy and Dana’s mini church, Saturdays we helped out with their kids club, and Sundays we went to their church service. But all the other days, and hours, we had nothing to do. After being so active for the past month in Australia and Indonesia, constantly being surrounded by people, and distractions then going to having no one around that spoke your language and having nothing to do was very challenging for me. I was being forced to be still. The most uncomfortable part was I could literally feel God teaching me a lesson on not letting distractions and people get in the way of my relationship with him. When you are traveling it is so easy to start just talking about God to people, and just going place to place, from activity to activity, with so much newness around you and completely forgetting why you are there in the first place. I will admit I am guilty of getting caught up in the chaos of travel, and I had a harsh reality check.
So in Phuket me and Suzanne had a lot of down time. The nicest part was being right by the ocean and having a national park right next to us. So everyday we went running, sometimes twice a day. I would run, and pray, and worship and really try to figure out why I felt so uncomfortable and what God was teaching me. Usually my worship runs would bring me so much clarity and refreshment, but in all honesty everytime I was done running I just felt so irritated and spiritually dead. I was so uncomfortable being forced to be still and having nothing to do, which then forced me to spend time with God, which made me more irritated because I dreaded trying to do that becasue I just felt so spiritally blocked, so it was this crazy circle that I was going in and just building up a wall. So because I had this wall up between me and God, I was not the happy, bubbly Emily I was so used to being. The part that made me feel the worst was how I brought my negetive emotions, confusion and disgust with myself onto Suzanne, whom I’ve spent almost everyday with for the past six months, and is like my sister. Everything I was feeling was just so weird because prior to this trip I felt so led and filled up by the Holy Spirit, I had so much clarity about the trip and what I was going out to do, I loved people, God was having me encourage so many, and I just felt like I was in perfect alignment with his plan. Then here I was a month into the trip where I had already expereinced so many blessings and I felt like I wasn’t growing spiritually and just building up this wall. I felt like the woman in song of solomon who longed for God, knew that she needed him more than anything, and craved him, but kept saying no to his calling.
After 10 days in Phuket we went to Bangkok for one day, where Suz’s friend Carly from Ohio joined the trip. Then we traveled up to Chiang Mai for 4 days. Chiang Mai was so awesome! It was a cool laid back town with a lot of markets and travelers! It felt so good to be around more people again! The three of us took a thai cooking class which was delicious and a lot of fun. The second day we were there it was raining so we decided to go to the closest mall. Suzanne was trying to order some food but couldn’t communicate with the person working. Out of no where this guy walked up to her and said, “Oh you American! I’m Christian come to my church!” Then he helped her order, wrote down all his information and left by saying, “It was by God that I was supposed to meet you today.” We were all really taken aback but thought it was super cool so Sunday we figured out where his church was and went. Instantly everyone was SO welcoming. They fed us fresh papaya, banana bread and coffee. They gave us special translator headsets and it was just so amazing how nice and welcoming they were. We started worshiping and I was overwhelmed by God’s love, I didn’t understand the lyrics but I felt the holy spirit. I was standing up looking at all the Thai people laughing, dancing and singing, amazed like I always am when I travel that the God that I serve is the same everywhere and in every language. I felt all of this junk coming off of me and I surrendered. I finally dropped my walls and gave it all to God. I surrendered the trip, my attitude, my future, my relationships, I surrendered everything. All I wanted was to finally have my father back. I have only been a christian for two and a half years, so I know what it’s like to be without God and I know what it’s like to have God in your life. I had forgotten what it felt like to be apart from God, but within that two weeks I felt it and while I was standing in church I was able to see how drastically different my life, attitude, choices, everything was apart from God. It scares me now to think about it. I don’t ever want to feel that again. It’s actually hard for me to recall all of this and the feelings I felt during that time, I can’t explain it but I finally let my walls down and let God teach me. I felt so unworthy, but God spoke to me that he found worth in me. He told me I could use my words to build up or break down, but he gave me my mouth to encourage. He showed me where I was out of line with jealousy, and competing and really humbled me. I am really nothing without God, alone I am just Emily, with God I am a daughter of the most high.
Our last day in Chiang mai was amazing. Suz and I went on a tour where we went to an orchid farm, white water rafting, rode elephants, hiked to a waterfall and ziplined through the trees. We were on the tour with 6 guys from Israel who made the trip so fun and we will actually be staying with one of them when we go to Israel next.
So Thailand was bittersweet for me. I went through the refining fires but came out with some lifelong memories, and lessons. [= Apart from God I am nothing. Aloooha.