A PRICELESS GEM.

She loves cheese. This is not just limited to cheese pizza but spans all the way to her favorite dessert: cheesecake. When cheesecake was nowhere to be found, she ordered strawberry cheesecake gelato.

She is ambitious and fiercely independent. Her dream is to start a restaurant. Despite offers from her family to give her money to start it, she desires to work her own way there. She wants her children to know that their mom has built all that she has from the ground up.

We met her at a bar on Friday night along with two other girls. We all immediately connected over conversations in broken English and Thai, terrible games of pool, and a Polaroid camera. As we talked with them, the preciousness and uniqueness of each girl emerged. But about 30 minutes in, a man walked in to the bar, and she got pulled away to entertain him.

We overheard the man talking. He had been here a few nights before and was back to buy her and another girl for a threesome. All of the joy and light in her face left and she just appeared empty. We decided that we were going to try to buy her away from him.

The man challenged us to a game of pool. We obliged, using the opportunity to pull her aside to tell her that we wanted to take her to dinner and pay the fee for her time tonight. She looked like she was about to explode with excitement.

She ran to the back, changed her clothes. With that, we ditched the man, ditched the bar, and for one night, lavished her with love. She had never had a girls night before, and she was absolutely glowing from excitement. Over pizza, she shared her story, talked about her family and her children.

She has three children - all from different fathers, all whom were abusive. One of her children died at 11 from a seizure, and the other was stolen from her by the father's mother. Despite it all, she is strong and works to support her children and parents.

So much happened that night. It is hard to describe all of the words that were said and the whirlwind of emotions that came along with them. While it might have only been one night that we were able to get her away from the bar, it will be a night that she will remember and realize that she is seen for more than her body. That there is such thing as love without agenda or manipulation. She is a gem. So precious and so special. A price tag cannot be placed on a gem so beautiful.

It hit me today - do not underestimate the power of a simple meal, of a word thoughtfully said, of choosing to listen. They may seem insignificant most of the time, but they always weave themselves into the story of someone's life. We don't always see the impact that they leave, but sometimes we do. Those are special moments that make everything else

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Shannon Wey

Shannon joined Not Abandoned on this recent mission trip to Pattaya, Thailand.  Check out Not Abandoned for more info on how they are working to end human trafficking, www.notabandoned.org

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