i am currently writing this post in a bed with a white down comforter, air conditioning blowing on me, a warm indoor shower in sight, and wifi.
we are being treated to a weekend get-away lake trip for mid-debrief.
actually more than mid-way. with three weeks left to live here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we are headed in to crunch time. so before things got even more stacked up, its time for an update!
this post is harder to write. there are so many tangible events to remember and write about, and there are also subtle changes and movements in my heart that i am overwhelmed with what to offer and how to portray it… perhaps a part two or coffee in the states when i return is in order. but for now, my best account of happenings and heart:
so the last update was preceding my journey into the Karen village of Thailand. i do not know if i will be able to portray how incredible that time was through a post that won’t make you nod off after scrolling the page for 30 minutes.
but what i can say is that God loves living in the mountains. His presence was surely there.
the drive up in and of itself was life-giving. refreshing. full. pulling away and unplugging from the matrix for a while. escaping the darkness and heaviness of the city. i felt like i could again breathe. physically and spiritually. excitement returned that i didn’t know left. excitement for life. MY LIFE! full abundant outflowing glorifying joy-filled Life. the immensity of it. the Artists fingerprints all over it. memories and flashbacks of amazing seasons or moments from being little, all the way up to my past year. replaying and replaying in my mind until all i could do was thank Him. for the wonder and amazement that came over my own life. i never want to come down from that feeling.
from then on i felt like my heart felt a new softness. i don’t know when it turned so hard. i was aware of it. my negative thoughts that would come out as venting. or my judgments of the systems and people around me. toxic. life-killing. but the life around me was beginning to allow my hardness to release. more and more let go, without me forcing it to happen. just little joys and realizations and happenings. amazing. because it was only half of our usual 20 girl group, the authenticity and honesty levels that i have been praying for and desiring were able to grow. questions were asked in wonder and authenticity, outside of the system and planned meeting times, that got our hearts racing a little faster for Jesus and His plan.
when we weren’t having sweet time with Jesus or the team, we were spending time with the kids of the safe house that we were staying at. teaching them one-on-one english. it was amazing. who knew i could teach?! well, then we went to the elementary school to teach… thats when i remembered why i knew i wouldn’t teach. :) it was so difficult. the language barrier was terribly discouraging. but we showed up. shined Love-Light the best we knew how. even if at one point i told a little kid to get off of me, knowing they wouldn’t understand in english. i prayed for forgiveness already.
we also taught in the high schools. lets just say many girls on our team are getting a hearty handful of Facebook friend requests. in the form of suiters and friends. it was sweet time. i loved and thrived teaching english to these kids. truly loved it. didn’t want the time to end.
and then the rice fields.
hilariously terrible. fish that i believe were leaches. allergic reactions and rashes. frogs. bugs and wasps. it was awful. but truly an experience. i will never take rice for granted ever again. thank you, rice field workers.
more about the village itself: it is one of four villages on a mountain about 4 hours away from the city of Chiang Mai. it was predominantly and surprisingly christian. and it was felt. life was in the eyes of the people. peace and settledness and good. a complete and drastic difference compared to the city around us typically.
Thailand is known as the land of smiles. i would call it the land of masks. masks covering an emptiness. attempted to be filled through the senses. movie theaters are dramatically louder. everywhere you look someone is trying to get you to see and buy something. prostitutes to be felt and experienced when something so much deeper cries out.
but here the cry was no more. it was met.
i loved living so simply. it was an amazing trip.
then returned to some hard news. a door fully closed. hoping that it is the final closure longed for for so long. fighting memories and interpretations. but proverbs ain’t lying when it says unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick. i have tried and tried to heal for 6 months, and at the end of some days disappointment is a major understatement. but it goes on to say that a sudden good break can turn your life around. i am hoping this is the last knife-in-my-heart feeling. that this is the sudden good break. Jesus is holding. picking me up always. healing the same wound a million different ways and over and over again.
the past few days have only gone up from there. i put on some lipstick and felt like a bombshell with the rest of my abundant life ahead of me. we packed up and headed to our hotel. celebrated the 4th of July aka the best day of the year with mexican fajitas and flower crowns. we set off paper lanterns from a bridge and crashed an exclusive dance party. made smores and took a regularly pressured shower. days of Abundance. no other way to describe them.
i am seeing how the more alive i choose to live, choosing to show up and be present and soft and love in every moment, those are the moments that Abundance and Fullness and Presence awaits. and then in return, He is glorified, and i am alive. His economy is backwards and beautiful.
so now we are stepping in to full blown bar ministry. going in to the bars about 5 nights a week. because of many events in June, this area of our ministry was almost nonexistent. please pray for every part of this mission, as well as my heart towards stepping back in to routine and systems and plans that i don’t tend to thrive in.
i am trusting that Jesus is up to good behind the scenes. feelings that we have been very ineffective in ministry and not doing much at all are very much trying to get a foothold. but Big God promises that the prayers of the righteous are effective and so i choose to believe that He is on the move.
i feel like i am only scratching the surface of what has truly been at work and going on. there is so so much that i need prayer for and that is being done to my heart and around our team and throughout Chiang Mai and beyond. i ask that you just say, “Jesus, you know. and i pray in your will for Ashley and partner with the work that you’re up to already all around and within her.”
more prayers: bible study leading… i feel like Jesus is exciting my heart for the idea of leading a bible study next year. i don’t know if that would be through CRU, but if so, it goes against a rule of only having one leadership position. Kirby is teaching me to pray big and this is something i want. for me and the Kingdom.
also for my team: there are some lingering false spirits on our team. i am so over religious spirits of strife and doing and working. finding the balance on our own is impossible. but the balance is always found in Jesus. sitting at His feet. the same way a train can’t go where the tracks are laid out, same with our life with prayer and life giving words and speak good. so i will start talking about whats new and alive and ready… so to gently call out greatness, to woo new hearts and natures, to model authenticity and free Life. prayers for that please.
in other news:
-I will never take a washer and drier for granted again or any appliance for that matter or a shower or a toilet. squatty potties and bucket showers are hard.
-my skin here hates me.
-sparklers are my new favorite hobby.
-Begin Again is a must see. i wake up with the soundtrack playing in my head every morning and don’t hate it one bit.
-i cannot wait to come home and am so excited for the rest of my life. and i can’t not be here and be amazed that i am here and so so so happy.
-this is an all over the place long post. you’re a trooper for making it to the bottom.
our safe house babies. we taught them english and played so many games. i could go the rest of my life without hearing “little sally walker” again.
setting off paper lanterns from the iron bridge. best. day. ever. my dream of being in Disney’s Tangled has been fulfilled.
one of two rooms in our sweet village house. our other room was our princess mosquito net tents!
this is a squatty potty and bucket shower. i dont want to talk about it anymore.
we made rice grow
i LOVE my gerlies. they love life and love jesus and love me.
i love Thailand and i LOVE america!!
to becoming Love,