Friday, February 19, 2016

Banquet Night

Mango Sticky Rice
The week here in Bangkok culminated in a banquet for the women in the safe houses.  It was our opportunity to love on them, treat them with love and dignity, and just have fun.  All week we have been abuzz with our preparations.  We put games together, made gift bags for them and decorated the banquet hall.  It looked beautiful with floral arrangements, ice sculptures, china and linen.  The local Christian college band was hired.  We had a woman on our team from Switzerland who came to teach them a dance with flags.  It was all beautiful - from what I hear.
I was one of four who were asked to be part of the children's team (notice, we were all asked because no one volunteered!) Of course I said "Yes!" when I got the email because I came on this trip to serve and minister to these women, and if watching their children, so they could have a night of being papered and treated with dignity, is what needed to be done, then sign me up.  You see, the last time or only time some of these women were in a hotel, is with a customer.  How difficult it must have been to walk through those doors, but how freeing to know that this time was going to be different.
So our children's team planned and prepared.  We had crafts, songs, food and a story.  The safe houses began arriving and the children coming in.  It was your typical scenario of some clingy ones who don't want to leave mama and others who ran in as the the mom said "Don't let him have any sugar!"  - You think?  I was a bit surprised as the little girls came in. Many were dressed as true princesses in pink tulle dresses with their hair professionally done and little tiaras pinned on top.  They were beautiful and it gave a glimpse of how precious this evening was for their moms.
Within 15 minutes of all the children being there (around 40), we completely threw all our preparations out the window and went into "crowd control" mode.  We locked the doors, one of us stood at the entrance acting as the bouncer, and the rest of us threw crafts at the kids like crazy.  The kids didn't speak English and may had never been in a kids program type situation before.  All in all, the kids were happy and no one got hurt.
OK, you know me and you know kids are not my thing.  I can do well with a small group of kids I know, but large groups are overwhelming.  It was really hard to meet for pizza in Girl Headquarters after everything was cleaned up and hear all the ladies talk about how that was the most fun they had ever had.  It was truly a highlight of the week for them, and I'm happy that the night was such a success, but I left the experience a bit traumatized.  It helped a lot this morning when I was sitting at breakfast with our children's team and one of the ladies said in a thick Southern accent "Well that was a Debbie downer last night."  None of us are complaining, we are all happy that we could love in this way.  It was just difficult.
The difficulty will quickly wear away and instead I'll remember the night with little snapshots of the kids.  Like "sticker face" who came in and found a sheet of stickers and covered his face in them.  He had a bit of trouble opening and closing his eyes because he had stickers stopping the blinking.  He walked around for 4 hours with his head tilted back trying to see and not bump into anything.  He had really piled the stickers up around his mouth so that when it was time to eat, he would open a sticker flap, shove a French fry in his mouth then close the sticker flap, chew and repeat.  It was hysterical. Or the little princesses who came in so fresh and sweet and left a sweaty mess with their tierra's crooked.  Also, as the little people left, their faces snuggled into their new stuffed animal, peeking out of a bag of goodies.  And the mom's joyous, rested faces as they picked up their little darlings.
I need to remember that love comes in many forms.  It's so important to be aware of working as a team to give those we've come to serve, love - in all forms.

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