Sunday, June 28, 2009

Subtle Significance

In contrast to dramatic storms, deeply unnerving stories of oppression, giant lizards, high school students’ drama, and the multitude of novel situations I have faced this spring, life has been incredibly non-radical since returning to the states. However, it has not lacked important moments. Nightly walks with my parents, lefsa making with my grandma, coffee with friends who I have known since high school, my grandfather’s birthday, debates in the hot tub with my brothers, beach strolls with my mom, and phone dates all remind me of the importance of relationships.

My time in California has been extraordinarily uneventful. I have mostly kept loved ones company: doing laundry (yes, I’ve been to laundry mats in 2 cities already), assembling beds, photocopying documents… you know, the thrilling stuff people write blogs about. Yet, I would not trade these times for a cruise or world trip (well, you might be able to tempt me with the right trip). Either way, I have to say, my friends and family are pretty great.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I survived a monsoon at sea!!!

Okay, so it might not have been quite a monsoon. But, in the words of Lucy, our flamboyant lady-man tour guide who refused to swim because it was his “time of the month,” our boat was in the middle of “vely vely stwong lain” that resulted in massive waves and a very turbulent ride home. As one of the world’s biggest poor weather wimps, I can safely say that it was a big storm.

The day started out sunny and nice. Along with about 20 others, I took a speed boat from Phuket to Phi Phi Island. For the hour long trip, I sat on the front of the boat and laughed with the others when we hit occasional big surf that sent us bouncing in our seats. Once we arrived at the island, I stood amidst some of the most spectacular cliffs I have ever seen, strolled pristine white sand and waded in turquoise tides, swam in the cove where one of the James Bond movies was filmed, shoved other tourists aside to feed monkeys bananas on the beach, and ate a decent buffet lunch by some touristy marina.

However, after lunch the tone shifted. About 5 minutes into our ride from the main island to our next destination (an island about 45 minutes away), the wind picked up, the rain started to fall, and the waves echoed the increasingly tumultuous elements. It didn’t take long before I decided to move back into the main part of the boat, but the last remaining seat was one that was only partially protected from the now vicious elements. For the next 45 minutes our boat leapt its way through massive swells as ripping winds tore through the boat and heavy rain pelted the decks and slammed through the doorways to punch lowered faces. With two hands I clung to the bar beside me and shivered in the rain as we roller coastered our way across the sea. With each pounding impact, I promised myself a thai massage when and if we made it to Phuket.

When we finally made it to the island for a brief respite, I happily shivered on solid ground while my stomach and head grasped for equilibrium. Despite the fact that the rain lapsed for a few minutes, I held my ground. I was a bit baffled by the nonchalant way that some of my fellow boat-mates were laughing off the storm and parading the tiny island (and when I say tiny, I mean you could walk the whole thing in about 5 minutes at a leisurely pace). However, when we re-boarded for our last 25 minutes of the trip, I suddenly understood their laughter.

This time when we boarded, I made sure to situate myself snuggly between two people near the center of the ship in a real seat (oh, did I mention that the first time I was sitting on a crate on the floor?). I ensured that I was both under the cover and blocked by the front windshield (again, my first seat was neither of these things). As though God was laughing at our adventures, the moment we stepped back on to the boat the storm recommenced in full force. This time lightning and thunder added some special effects to our quest. However, as we rolled out, I realized how much more manageable the swells were without storm winds ripping my clothes or rain attacking my arms. I could actually raise my face without feeling like my skin was about to rip off! And what the difference that made! As a unit we gasped at the big drops and laughed as we rose up again. I suddenly saw the adventure in the trip and found myself actually enjoying the end of our memorable ride.

When we landed in Phuket, we clapped, laughed, and fled the ocean with happy dreams of dry clothes (and in my case, massage).

Quite the adventure.

Unfortunately, the rains have persisted. My last day in Phuket, I am eyeing the palm trees from rain-streaked window panes. I guess that’s what I get for visiting Thailand during the monsoon season!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Some Startling Stats/Facts for Pondering

As I have been meeting with various missionaries in Thailand, I have learned the following:

Approx. 60% of foreign males flying into Thailand will seek out the sex industry. Think about it: 6 out of 10 men on every single plane are going to exploit women (or occasinally "lady boys")!

In the foreigner districts of Bangkok, there are about 12,000 bar girls working every single night. Remember, this is just in Bangkok and only in foreigner districts.

Only 10% of the sex industry in Thailand is aimed at foreigners. The rest of the sex industry services Thai men.

60% of Thai 16 year old males have been with a prostitute (many of them went with their fathers for the first time)

90% of Thai college aged males have been with at least one prostitute.

Most bar girls are very poor women from the northeast regions of Thailand. These young women are often responsible for supporting kids and families. They are occasionally trafficked, but more often their situations have forced them into prostitution.

If a young woman worked a "normal" job in Bangkok for minimum wage + overtime (say a 60 hour work week), she still could not afford to live and eat in the city, let alone send money home to her family. Prostitution pays well.

It is not uncommon for girls to be sexually abused in Thailand (outside of the sex industry). There is minimal enforcement for rapes or other sexual crimes.

There is a very high rate for husbands leaving wives in Thailand (often leaving behind numerous children to support).

Even though there are tens of thousands of girls in the sex industry in Thailand, in Bangkok, all the outreach ministries of present are reaching no more than about 400-500 girls.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thailand here I come!!!!

Finals marked: Check
Comments complete: Check
Grades in and verified: Check
Keys returned: Check
Money exchanged: Check
Passport/VISA up to date: Check
Apartment cleaned: Check (well, checked enough)
Money & keys passed off so my apartment can be REALLY cleaned before I return: Check
Thailand e-tickets printed: Check

Time till I head to Seoul: 37 min

Thailand: T minus 19 hours

So ready. So excited. So nervous. Pray for me and all the people I will be meeting with :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Maybe I'm just missing psychology...

Somehow, the topics of personality types and preferred love languages have seemed to come up in conversations ALL THE TIME these days with people in my extended community. A bit random, yes, but important (and of course fascinating!).

As I have conversed with my friends, I have realized how an understanding of these could dramatically shift our friendships. For example, I had a friend who I was surprised to discover preferred gifts as her love language. I realized I had never given her a gift (though I had given her a lot of quality time, my own preferred love language). It makes me want to ask all my friends and family members about their preferences! I wanna make sure I’m loving people in the most effective ways 

Similarly, I have been realizing how important it is to understand my own preferences, approaches, and needs. Reading descriptions of ENFJs (my Myers-Briggs result), almost all of which are dead-on, I can understand so much better how my personality both affects me and differs from others’ personalities.

So, my results (in case you are wanting to show me some love or psychoanalyze me):
Myers-Briggs: ENFJ (I'm sure the E for extrovert is a total shock to you all)
Love languages for both giving and receiving: 1) quality time, 2) physical touch 3) acts of service