Our second half of the trip moved us to a different area. We loaded vans on October 9th and headed to Ramkhamheang 2 where my last two years living in Bangkok where spent. I think this is the post I most want to get right in my thoughts. This is what we left behind when we came back to the States. I know I won’t do this justice for those that know all about this area and work, but I will attempt it in my broken way.
In 2005, our team left downtown and settled in the Ram 2 area to begin a foundation that served the community. We had affordable English classes, one of our young single girl teammates started a children’s ministry called Joy Kids, and we began getting to know the community. This area was so different than Bangkok. It was easier to form relationships with those we worked and lived among. We had budding relationships in our neighborhoods, and in the area where the foundation stood. A lot of foundation laying began this year. It wasn’t always easy. Our team was in a constant state of growing and figuring out the next steps just one tiny step at a time. There were times of being too short handed to sustain it all. These years were very transitional and there was an abundance of learning along the way. It was these years that my family also faced two major physical crises with my daughter having a significant injury and I faced a rather difficult pregnancy. So yeah…hard years. Even still, seeds were being planted and watered. God was faithful. It was worth it and it was a privilege even on the hardest days.
In Ram 2, this is what you would see.
Vendors selling and consumers buying fresh items
Sons and fathers working side by side
Keeping up with the times and Friends enjoying their Boba tea
A living being made by creating flower garlands
As you can see, Ram 2 is mainly a community of the working class and lower income brackets. People are working out a living the best they know how. Many desire to rise above their current circumstances to better themselves for the future. New Community, the foundation, seeks to help people do just that. But, also, community has been formed by seeing a little church sprout here meeting the greater needs of the people. As we were leaving in 2007, the church was but just a tiny seed. The seed germinated, and began to grow. Slowly and surely, the growth has lead to the Thais taking more ownership of this ministry which was always the plan from the very first day. The time has now come for the reins to be fully handed over after 10 years and that is happening. While some support will still be in place, this work belongs to the Thais staying here as the foreign contingent moves on to the North, South, and in the center city. It’s a blessing to see this work of faith come full circle. And it’s a little bittersweet. I’m thankful to have been part of it somehow. It was awesome to worship with this community once more and for the last time in “what was”.
It was so odd to be in this area, in a way. I kept thinking that I could jump in any taxi and be home in a matter of a few minutes. I kept thinking my family was waiting for me at the end of that imagined journey. It felt real, but then I would snap to and remember that they weren’t there with me. They were half a world away. As much as everything had changed in seven years, there was something that felt very much the same as all those years ago. Like time stood still. There was a comfort to it that I had missed and there were faces I still half expected to walk through the doors. I kept looking for them.
What I felt most was encouragement. It made me smile to witness a healthy team all seemingly working within their strengths, personalities, desires, and future vision. I’m so happy for where they are today. Time didn’t stand still, and there is growth to show for it.