Monday, April 28, 2014

Back To The Beginning: Thailand

“The adventures of a humanitarian striving to keep Love at the root of it all.”
While the original tag line of my blog still rings true I find it has evolved from a place for friends and family to read about my humanitarian adventures into a place where I write about my passions, dreams, experiences, bring light to important issues and share what inspires me in hopes it will inspire you.

Thinking back to the beginning of this blog, it never would have started if it weren’t for people mentioning I should write so they could keep up with all of my travelling adventures. Upon arriving home from places like Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake, or leading students in Dominican Republic various years, people in my life were interested in what happened on these trips. Sit down chats were often had, stories shared, pictures shown on phones and laptops… It was always fun to talk about my experiences with those I had an opportunity to do so with. While I wanted to tell everyone about the trips I was taking, by the time I saw some friends the stories had already started to fade and the generic “it was good” became a response all too often given. After a while the excitement fades as time goes on and new things in life unfold.

Before travelling to Thailand in 2012 with Live Different I started Love Inspires Change to document what was sure to be quite a different expedition as I had been eagerly waiting to go for a couple of years. Being able to write almost daily about what I was experiencing kept the information fresh, the stories as accurate as I could remember, and the memories engrained in my mind for as long as I can look back and read them. Not only was I able to document these adventures for friends back home to read, it has served as a way to draw on my experience when needed—for public speaking, re-sharing my experiences, and for remembering the faces that now corresponded with statistics I both hear and often quote.

Being back in Thailand feels almost like a reunion—I am back to visit the people I think about often, people I told I would try hard to return to.  The factors that make this trip most exciting are an accumulation of my life experiences since the first time I was there…

Having participated in the Not For Sale Fellowship lends itself as a main contributor to my excitement. While with Not For Sale I learned so much about their projects (including their Thailand project—the children’s home we work at), more about human trafficking, and had the opportunity to see Kru Nam again and hear of all the amazing work that had been happening there since the Hero Holiday in 2012.

The completion of my stint with Not For Sale was the onset of my blog as an education tool—a way to share about what I had learned and what I was continuing to learn, and hoping those who read would be inspired to allow their lives and decisions to stand as an example to end slavery. Now that I have grown my knowledge (and am still doing so) it is exciting to return back to Thailand knowing more and more about the issues at hand. When I went to Thailand the first time, although I read books and stories, watched documentaries, etc, there is nothing like the combination of knowledge and experience to really grow your passion for the cause.

I am also excited to see the projects we completed last time we were there—it will be SO exciting to see how the library and meditation building is, how the playground is holding up, and even though we were unable to actually build a pig pen and chicken coupe (since the rain made the ground incredible tough to dig in to) it will be lovely to see how the employees at the home put it together! This, of course, makes me excited for the work we will be doing when arrive there soon! This year our agenda involves spending time with the kids at an arts camp, building a green house and doing other creative projects! As an individual who works at a bakery committed to growing as much of its own produce as possible, and sourcing the rest locally, it is exciting to help create self-sustainability for the home.

Still a favourite picture from Thailand 2012
Most of all I am looking forward to the simple acts of Love that make communication stretch beyond the different languages, cultures and experiences that define who we are. The way holding hands, a simple hug, or sitting together in silence are the only requirements to communicate and show love to another human being who needs it is absolutely incredible. I am looking forward to tangibly showing compassion to individuals whose stories I do not yet know, and being able to put into practice the qualities that each individual needs to be shown to truly feel as valuable as they were created—love, kindness, grace, compassion, patience and all other good things. The truth is, as much as I am looking forward to giving those things to others, I know the only way I can is to ask God every day when I wake up to show me how. I receive those things from Him and I look forward to passing it along.  Compassion has no limits—a line I heard in Thailand in 2012 which has stuck with me every day— and as I am continually shown compassion and grace I will strive to extend those to everyone I can both in Thailand and when I return home.

Thailand 2014, I am looking forward to this experience and sharing it with others who also look to make a change in the world, live a life of Love, and strive to show compassion to everyone.