On Saturday we were invited to participate in the monthly outreach to our homeless neighbors, planned by ECB (Evangelical Church of Bangkok). This month over 30 volunteers traveled from all over the city to come and hand out meals, sing Christmas carols give practical little gift bags and make friends with the homeless men and women who live all over our neighborhood. Being a part of these outreaches has really been a treat for us over these last six months. Some friends from YWAM, who are part of ECB, first put the idea together and it has really gained momentum over this year. We love being involved each month, and we especially love that it is just a 4 minute walk from our home to where we meet the group (both in practice and also in principle). This Saturday’s outreach held an especially emotional conversation for me (Kashmira). I found myself connecting with a woman whose sad situation both mirrored and was a blaringly stark contrast to my own. The group I was in was talking with a young woman who was clearly very sick and laying on a mat on the sidewalk (there was a doctor in the group who was asking her about her symptoms), while I sat back a few feet on a raised part of the sidewalk. A separate young woman approached me very timidly and asked in Thai what we were doing. I explained that we are a Christian group who have come down this month to give gifts and food to people who have hard lives in this neighborhood, to help celebrate Christmas and share God’s love in this season. She told me that she was interested in learning more about God but didn’t know where to go to learn or where there is a church nearby (the reality is that there isn’t any churches nearby). As we chatted more she explained that she is 28 years old, pretty much homeless herself, and sells her body in the neighborhood to get money. The rest of my group finished talking with the sick woman and was ready to move on, so I asked them for a Christmas gift bag to give her, and someone handed me a children’s gift bag to see if she could give it to a child that she knows. I asked her, “Do you know any kids who might want this little candy and toy bag?” She looked down for a minute and then said, “Well, I have a baby inside. I’m three months pregnant, but my boyfriend threw me out so its just me and my baby. Is it all right if I just take the kid’s gift for myself?” That insight into her life opened up a whole new wave of compassion and emotion for me – here is a woman who is my age, just a few months less pregnant than myself, who is homeless, dumped by her boyfriend and selling her body to get by. We talked some more and patted each other’s bellies, and expressed a desire to meet again and share a meal sometime. The nature of the homeless and “working” people in our neighborhood is that we may see each other again tomorrow or not again for a year or even ever. I hope I see her again. I hope I can bring some encouragement and peace to her heart in the midst of her hard situation. Our neighborhood has so many needs and hurting people. As I write this blog post, Iven and I are listening to an elbum by “ELI”, a musician we love, who has a knack of really capturing God’s compassionate heart in his lyrics. The song that is playing right now is called “God Weeps Too”. It is such a comfort to know that even in the midst of Iven and my often feeling so overwhelmed by the stories and lives of our neighbors and the men we work with, we know that God is present and active in the midst of both pain and triumphs, and His heart is with these individual people so much more than ours ever could be.