When I was 12, I had visited three states and had never traveled outside the USA. I lived in Wenatchee, WA and my big travels had taken me to Oregon (the northeastern tip, LaGrande) and Idaho, mostly by car, but at least one time by plane. I would venture to say that at that point my world was pretty small. Then, around the time I turned 13, my world quickly expanded. First, it was a trip to Canada for Expo '86, then Christmas in Florida and a trip to DisneyWorld. (I still find it funny that I lived on the west coast, but visited Florida before California!) Shortly after my first international and cross-country trips, I went to California (and Disneyland), Ohio, Connecticut, Mexico, and even spent the night in the Chicago O'Hare airport. I have had the privilege of participating in ministry trips to Canada, Spain, Philippines, Mexico, and South Africa. I have been truly blessed by all of the travel opportunities, and have met people and experienced cultures around the world. These experiences have been fun, exciting, adventurous, and at times, very challenging. All of these journeys play a part in who I am today.
Last fall I was invited to consider a ministry trip to Thailand. To be honest, Thailand has not been in my top places to visit. I know missionaries in Thailand, my niece went on a mission there, and I have a friend who lived there for a year, but it is not on my list of glamorous dream locations.
Another piece of this mission to Thailand is that our work will be done with girls caught in human trafficking. As you probably know, this is a huge issue around the world (even in the USA) and many people are passionate about this topic. I am aware (even more as I prepare for work in Thailand), but it has not been my area of burning passion.
At this point, you may wonder why I am going on this 9-day intensive ministry awareness mission trip to Thailand to work with girls in the sex trade. Let me tell you. . .
One morning in October I was working in the book, 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life. The topic of the day was, "Does God have great plans for my future?" The homework had two parts. First, list what plans God might have for me. Here is what I wrote: "influence, speaking, teaching, sharing my story, extraordinary adventures, financial abundance, watching your kids follow God and live their own extraordinary lives, generosity - bigger and more genuine than ever." The second part was to write out a prayer. One part of that prayer says, "I don't know exactly what you have for me next, but I do know that I want all you have for me. I don't want to miss anything because I am too afraid." The phone call about Thailand came two hours later and I knew this is what God had next.
Details about the Mission to Thailand:
In the northern province our ministry is about prevention. We will teach English in the public school with emphasis on loving the girls and teaching them about their great value. We are told that girls, from every school, head into the city with the sex trade each year.
The next place we will minister is in the red-light district of Bangkok. We will see first-hand what life is like in this area and hopefully have opportunity to be part of a weekly bible study that began recently. Again, this will be an opportunity to love on these young girls. We are told that many of them are kids, just 12-14 years old.
Finally we will spend time in the "rescue house" where girls are coming out of the sex trade. Many are recovering from drug addictions on top of deep trauma. We have several biblical counselors on our team that will be training the leaders in this facility.
It's a quick trip (June 19-28) and although we have some specific tasks while we are there, the missionaries want us to become aware, first-hand, of the tragedy of human trafficking. They know that we will be changed and that God will use that change in each of our lives.
There are nine women, including myself, going on this trip. We ask prayer for the preparation of our hearts as well as our lesson plans. And then prayer for safety in our travels and on the ground in Thailand. And finally, prayer for our families at home while we are gone.
If you would like to commit to pray for myself or our team, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of ways you can support the trip financially:
For a tax-deductible donation, give through our church and include "Traci Castaneda Thailand" in the memo box. Donate here.
You may give on-line directly to me through the GoFundMe website. Donate here.
You can give by purchasing coffee, then each time you make a cup of coffee you can remember to pray for me. Purchase here.
You can give by purchasing Jamberry nails through a friend who is currently doing a fundraiser party for me. Join the party here.
Thank you for all of your love and support for me and my family. I am blessed beyond words by all of the people who love us and care about our story. I love my partnership with you.
(I’m Traci, the "Be Extraordinary!" blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)