After a long night/day of flights the group safely arrived in Chiang Mai. At the airport we were greeted by Pastor Sarah, whom had already been in the city for almost two full days. As jet lag began to set in, most members of our group made their way to their rooms to get some food and to their rooms to unwind. The streets were filled with smiles and smells, some not so familiar, yet very pleasing. After some down time, a prayer walk through Chiang Mai’s red light district led us to our first dinner meal as a group before our trip to the border the following morning. Fruit juices and curry dinners lined the table, fitting for the restaurant’s name, “The Whole Earth,” but only a few dared ask for “Thai Spicy.”
As our minds were set on the goal ahead, jet lag seemed like no obstacle. Suitcases being stacked into vans, and small bags tagging along with us to our seats, we were on our way to the border. The Chiang Mai Aquaculture Development Farm was the first stop of our estimated five hour drive. From fish, to egg, and back to fingerling, this faith based tilapia fish farm produces 1.5 million fish for sale per month, with only 40 total workers. After a humid tour through the farm, we prayed for the success of their business, as it provides food and salary for many of the families in rural areas nearby, and for rain during this drought Thailand is experiencing. Back on the road we went, and prior to the mountains, Dramamine seemed to be the meal of choice. After a few more hours, we stopped for a flavorful lunch in the mountains right on the river. We purchased pie’s for the girls and boys across the border, ranging from our traditional apple pie to a tropical pineapple pie.
With the border nearing, not even a flat tire nor van change could stray us from bringing smiles and positivity to our family. At the border we were greeted by a big smile from Leik, the Home leader and pastor, and after playing suitcase Tetris in the back of her truck, we grabbed our handbags and walked across the border bridge. Fitting into our “9 star hotel” rooms was quick and flawless as we were all anxious to meet and/or reconnect with the smiles of our family across the border. Never have I seen so much light from a smile, and so much joy from hugs, high fives, and the exchange of names. As guests, we all sat down to a deliciously prepared meal, followed by introductions and a great worship service led by the home band. They give the David Crowder Band a run for their money. Saying goodnight was difficult, but tomorrow we look forward to a church service and continuation of building hope in the eyes of Christs children.