I wrote a couple blog posts, to which Josh promptly said "you can't say that" or "you need to say that differently." I deleted them roughly 5 minutes after posting them. I felt so flustered and confused about what I was allowed to say that I decided to say pretty much nothing at all and keep the blog mostly personal. I know that this blog is the only way some people hear from us though so I feel bad about that.
That being said, I still haven't exactly figured out what is appropriate to share on this oh-so-public blog. So if you read this, and are thinking, "wow it's weird that they don't talk much about their work with GHNI, I wonder what they are actually doing." then please e-mail me. Our private newsletters contain much more of the exciting information. And if you really want to know the gritty details we could also meet up, which is what we have been doing with a lot of people.
A few things I can share here: we will be living in Chiang Mai, Thailand and working full-time for Global Hope Network International. You can read all about certain aspects of the work on their website (link on the right side of the page).
We are really excited about this work. Over the past eight years we have traveled to more than 35 countries (I have lost count) and been to many remote locations working with people in need. We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to do that work but were sad to leave villages behind in dire conditions. In some cases, the chief of the village would actually give us a tour and tell us what some of their physical needs were- usually along the lines of "we need a doctor, or a medical facility", or "we don't have enough clean water." Children wore tattered clothes or no clothes at all and were visibly malnourished or sick in many cases. Even though we know we brought one good thing to their village (purposefully vague here), it was hard, especially after I became a mother, to leave a village behind knowing that their children were still dying of preventable diseases.
We have just been visitors in their villages, but we got a little taste of what life is like for them. We have mastered the art of the "bucket bath". We've made the choice in some cases between whether flushing the toilet or taking a bath was more critical that day. We've eaten via candlelight under a mosquito net....not by choice, more than once. We've had rats bigger than Josh's tennis shoe in our hotel room. We've eaten monkeys, snakes, camels, rats, pigeons, horse intestines, and some food that we may never know what it was. We are familiar with all the major anti-malarial medications because we had to be. We've had dengue fever, intestinal parasites, and severe food poisoning. We've received threats and been told we have to stop the work we are doing, and continued anyways. We've been robbed, cheated, and begged upon. And I am not complaining. It has been a privilege to serve in this way (though I don't always have that attitude in the moment). But I'm thankful that most of these are not everyday realities for us. We have lived comfortable lives- both in Illinois, Florida, and Thailand.
The people we visit on the other hand....they have no other choice in many cases. They live in remote areas, and are uncared for by the governments and majority groups in their own countries. These are the people we want to help. These are the people Global Hope Network International is helping. Their slogan is "bringing help and HOPE to the hidden and hurting." And they mean it. We're so excited to work alongside the amazing people we have met so far. Transformational Community Development is all about empowering the people in impoverished remote villages, to lift themselves out of poverty through sustainable means. Yes it is possible and not as hard as you might think...or maybe much harder than you might think! But it is happening, lives and communities are changing!
And we're so thankful for the people partnering with us and investing in this work. We have 69% of our monthly support pledged at this point (keep checking back as I've been keeping the sidebar updated). We're still hopeful that we might return to Chiang Mai January 15, but it's looking less likely. When we think about it realistically, February 15 is looking to be more feasible from a human perspective. Still we know anything is possible.
So far our experience with Global Hope Network is limited to a couple of trips but here is a picture of some of the amazing people we get to work alongside of.
Below is what public transport looks like in a village Josh went to last year for a GHNI training.
And here are some of the community members who went through GHNI's training program in that village with their trainers.