‘She won’t be needing those, she’s gone’; with these words another neighbor swooped in to claim the plastic bottles that we always leave out for Ba’Saa who earns her meagre living from recycling and sorting rubbish. We look out for her, and fight her cause when others want the rubbish out of sight. She is quiet and unassuming, an easy target.
‘Gone?’ Apparently the police had picked her up for possession of methamphetamine the evening before. A small-time drug user struggling to get through each day at a time, people like Ba’Saa are targeted for arrest whilst those at the top of the supply chain buy their protection and walk free. By the time we got to the police cells, visiting hour was over but we could call through the bars from the doorway. 56 year old Ba’Saa looked small and scared.
Her partner was not informed which prison she was moved to and after an anxious two weeks of waiting for a letter to arrive we decided to track her down ourselves. We set off early and waited six hours outdoors in a queue to visit her. I couldn’t imagine myself in her position, alone with nobody to speak up for her even in court. I was nervous about what state we would find her in.
Behind the glass screen, we were met with the biggest grin.
We were reassured. She is ok. She is getting on with the other 10 or so women in her room. She is awaiting sentencing. She is a survivor. We pray the judge will show mercy.
Our only physical weapon against corruption and systemic injustice is Presence. It holds no guarantee of results but the only cost to us is time and the emotional space to put ourselves in difficult places. Presence stands in witnessof injustice, stands with the oppressed and stands up to speak truth to power. When Jesus announced his Nazareth Manifesto in Luke 4 we see what he had come to do – his mission statement, the intention for his incarnation:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
This is so rich in meaning at so many levels, but the simplest for us right now, is to follow Jesus’ way and be present to proclaim the Lord’s favour to those that need favour.
The pictures above are from our celebration of the Thai festival of Loy Kratong with our Housechurch. We took a picnic to the park and lit our Kratongs together and let them out onto the water, watching them burn brightly and float away. This festival has themes of saying sorry, and then letting go – allowing the past to float away. The park was crowded with thousands of people. Everyone needs this. Everyone needs the Lord’s favour. For us, a timely reminder of the need to seek forgiveness and of the true Light that shines in the darkness of our hearts and our communities. Hope does not burn out even when we do! As we transition expectantly into Advent may each of us be transformed by the Presence of Jesus and be renewed to walk closely with Him.
In The Neighbourhood
Puppies, puppies and more puppies. 14 in just a few months, and we now need to spend time intentionally socialising them so that they don’t turn into a vicious pack that we will need to sneak past every day on the way to school! Dogs here are mostly managed with violence, so our approach of friendliness is counter-cultural for our neighbours.. but also for the dogs – many are not used to human kindness, so it is great to see them respond with wagging tales to our approach, rather than the usual barking or cowering.
Weekend kids activities continue to be well received and offer a great point of connection with families.
During October half term we were able to get some time away in the North of Thailand. We enjoyed re-connecting with nature and finding some stunning scenery that we had not experienced here in Thailand before. During our time in Chiang Mai we had a precious few hours visiting Bow, the girl we are in the process of adopting.
Elliot was recently chosen to be head boy at school – we think staff and pupils made a great choice! However, the responsibility is bigger than any of us expected and takes up a lot of his time. Both boys are ready for a break! They have been overhearing a lot of violence in the evenings as tensions boil over in the relentless heat. Pray for our children as they process this and indeed children who are at the receiving of domestic violence.
It is a busy time of Christmas sales and fairs for the RoyRak team. We have been selling well but have been hit hard by our PayPal account being ‘under investigation’ during the busiest season for internet sales! You can still view products on the website and then email us with an order that takes around to weeks to ship!
An exciting development has been the launch of our new ‘Stories of Hope’ programme; a day of workshops and community exposure designed to showcase some of the great things happening in Khlong Toey! Expat guests have had their eyes open to the realities of slum life and been very supportive. Staff from RoyRak and other social enterprise projects have been wonderful hosts and risen to the challenge of sharing local knowledge, skills and stories.
- Learning to allow for the incidental and unplanned elements of life in community is hard. It means saying no to other things to keep ourselves available and attentive to the Spirit. It means drawing deeply from the Source to resist getting overburdened. As we plan for the future please pray that we will know our capacity and stay true to our calling.
- We are tired. Teammates are ill. Cool season isn’t cool. There is so much work to do! Please pray that God will sustain us and heal us. Pray that we will find rest as we holiday with family over Christmas.
- Pray that the adoption happens, sooner rather than later.