In today’s post, I’m sharing some of the not-so-glamorous, behind the scenes moments of my recent trip to Bangkok. I had the time of my life in Thailand. I played with baby elephants, explored ornate ancient temples, and swam in the bluest water I’ve ever seen. I met some incredible women at my partner organization and left a piece of my heart with the sweet kids there.
But I would be lying if I said my said my journey was easy. If I’m being completely honest, I struggled daily missing home, missing things I used to take for granted. I missed my family. I missed having air conditioning. I missed having personal space. I shared a small room not only with three teammates, but lots of little critters, as well. I woke up to a dozen new bug bites each morning. I constantly felt sticky from the humidity and my throat hurt from the smog.
I had vivid nightmares that left me exhausted in the morning and lingered in my mind throughout the day. I saw things that broke my heart. There were moments I felt completely helpless and broken. I was reminded that not all stories have happy endings and this world is full of pain and suffering.
I walked into some dark places and experienced things that make it difficult to carry on with everyday life.
What am I supposed to do after meeting a young girl trafficked from Russia, trapped in a cage and forced to dance for customers? After seeing hotels where women are stored in the basement, while men sit around and negotiate their prices? The prices of other people’s lives?
How can I continue with life as usual after meeting a 6-year-old girl selling roses on the street in a red light district, wearing tattered rags and seeing things no kid should ever have to see? What do I do with the knowledge that Cambodian orphans are sold into sex slavery? That 12 year old boys are for sale? That women are transported from Africa and Russia in shipping containers to be sold to traffickers, some suffocating on the months-long voyage?
I’ve seen kids being used as bait, women and men being treated like cattle and sold like commodities, and met reckless tourists who tell me that watching a strip show in the red light district is “harmless fun.”
On a large scale, it seems hopeless. How much of a difference can I really make? I can’t arrest traffickers and close down brothels and rescue every person in the sex trade. I can’t save every child from the horrors of sex slavery. I can’t change the world.
But I can let God work through me to change one person’s story. I can show one woman, for the first time, that she is worthy and loved. I can pray for one young man forced into prostitution. I can plant a seed of hope in a child facing impossible circumstances. I can change someone’s life story, and that makes it all worth it. It's the most fulfilling feeling in the world. There’s beauty in the struggle.
I hope this post inspires you to think about what breaks your heart, what captures your attention, and challenges you to go out and change the world for one person, or a few people, to inspire someone else and create a ripple effect.
Thanks for stopping by. A little about me — I have a latte each morning and drink about 7 cups of tea a day (not exaggerating.) I live in Atlanta where I'm going to law school. I like long distance running and I love my city and I love exploring our beautiful earth. I believe in following our passions & being free.
I started this blog to document and share my favorite moments while traveling. This is a place where I process my ideas, share the aches and joys of my heart, speak truth, and shine light on the beauty I see in the world.
I've realized that what I probably love most about traveling is the same thing I love about writing — the way it connects me to myself and other people. I hope as you read my words, you feel connected to our shared humanity.
Thank you for reading. :)
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