Thailand and Cambodia Adventures: Part 1

Chiang Rai, Thailand | Vision Trip with Destiny Rescue
Chiang Rai is in the far northern part of the country and close to several of the hill tribes of Thailand.
From elephant rides to playing soccer with kids in a prevention home, and from walking around the night bazaar to leading games and Bible study time at a project home, our team has really jumped into the deep end and found ourselves immersed in the work of the organization we’re here with, all while soaking up every possible opportunity to enjoy the beautiful country of Thailand.
Here’s a brief glimpse of what’s stood out to me on this trip so far…

DESTINY RESCUE

My respect for the work Destiny Rescue is doing only continues to grow as we meet more of their staff and see their centers first hand.
From prevention homes that provide a safe and loving place for at-risk kids to grow up, to recovery centers that provide aftercare for girls rescued out of sex trafficking, they are doing incredible work to bring so much hope into their little corner of the world.
Chiang Rai is where the international office is located, so we had the chance to have several of their staff join us for meals and talk to our team about their role. The spectrum of prevention and care they are working together to provide is thorough, thoughtful, and well executed. It’s a privilege to see firsthand what they are doing, and meet the incredible men and women who are making it happen!  

THE GIRLS

We’ve had a few opportunities to meet the kids that are having their lives changed through the work of Destiny Rescue.  
The first day our team of 12 rolled up to a prevention home and piled out. Our tour guide had stopped for supplies and was just a few minutes behind. With the language barrier we all just looked at each other and no one quite knew what to do. But if there’s one thing that works universally to bring people together, it’s soccer! They had goals set up on their field, we found a ball, and somehow I found myself running around in crazy hot and humid weather playing soccer with Thai kids and wondering when I would wake up from this dream!
The next day we visited their jewelry making facility and spent time with the girls making bracelets. I’m pretty sure it took us all the full hour to make one simple bracelet while they could make 3 or 4, but the time at the center provided great insight to better understand the vocational skills and training these girls receive through Destiny Rescue’s care.  
The last day in Chiang Rai, we led “len sanook” or active fun/play time for the girls, including a Zumba dance lesson. Next it was Christian studies time and we led a lesson about the importance of encouraging one another from 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Finally, for a life skills lesson, 3 of our team members who are dental hygienists led a lesson in oral hygiene and all the girls received a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.
What’s stood out to me the most is the hope I see in their faces. I expected to feel heartbroken and heavy from meeting these girls, but instead I saw so much joy that it was contagious! I can’t even imagine how much they have overcome, but rather than be defined by their past they are choosing to be defined by the bright new future ahead of them. They laughed and sang and danced and smiled, and I kept shaking my head in awe at how hard it was to believe the past these girls had come from.
I was humbled beyond anything I could have imagined to learn so much from these beautiful girls and how their lives just radiate joy. I expected to feel hopeless; but instead, I walked away with so much hope for the future. What an honor to witness the true power of transformation these girls experienced as they were rescued from the worst possible environment and brought into a loving environment run by people who just want to show them the love of Jesus!
THE TEAM

I’ll be honest: this is the part I was the most nervous about. I’d briefly met just a few other members of the team a few months ago, but basically was showing up at LAX to go on this trip with a bunch of strangers. There are 12 of us from the states: 9 from California, and one each from North Carolina, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. We range from 19 to 35, and all come from different denominations and church backgrounds.
And I’m SO happy to be able to share that I genuinely LOVE these people. It’s been so sweet to get to know each of their stories and how God is at work in their lives in such a way that they would want to go on a trip like this. I’m slowly seeing the different personalities and strengths shine through, and it’s so fun to get to share two weeks of life with this incredible group of people.
THE ADVENTURE

And then there’s the fun parts of the trip. Thailand has not disappointed!
It’s been an elephant riding, waterfall jumping, jungle hiking, street bazaar exploring, Thai iced coffee drinking, river boat exploring, crazy good Thai food eating adventure so far and we’ve barely gotten started!
I have a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity to be on this amazing adventure, and can’t wait to see what happens next and continue learning more about Thailand, Cambodia, human trafficking, and how ordinary people like you and I really CAN make a difference.
We’ll spend the next 5 days in Cambodia before heading back to Thailand for a few more days. Check back for more updates!
One last note: for safety purposes we can’t take or post pictures of the facilities or kids.  But check out some of these other photos from my time here so far!

   
                   

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Author: lauramcopeland

Jesus follower. Coffee consumer. Reluctant runner. Outdoor explorer. Travel opportunist.

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