American Girl : Part Two

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis

Oh man, as I started to write Part Two of this series I began to realize just how much time I had spent thinking of myself.  In fact most of this post is about a lack of humility.  I started this series thinking I was writing to share a story with you. But I’ve been amazed by how much I’ve needed this experience for myself.  This wasn’t an easy journey and I most certainly wasn’t qualified for any of it. But I’m incredibly humbled, despite my pride and many short comings, God chose me, an ordinary, American girl, to be a voice and make a difference in this world.


American Girl : Part Two.

I was raised in small town, attended a Bible school in a smaller town, and then I spent a short time testing out the city life in Portland, Oregon before leaving on the World Race. I celebrated my 21st birthday two weeks into the World Race, and before arriving in Thailand, I had never stepped foot into a bar. It could be said that I was pretty sheltered, very naive, and completely oblivious to the dark world I was about walk in on.

Upon arriving in Bangkok, Thailand, I found the afternoons to be incredibly hot.  SO HOT! Like hotter than hades, HOT!  Sweating is not my jam. Period. I’m completely embarrassed to even admit it, but a lot of my memories of Thailand are related to how I would peel my sweaty legs from the plastic seats on the bus.  And from the bus we would make our way to the air conditioned sky train. That’s right. Air conditioned. It was heavenly, right up until the moment the beads of sweat sitting on my arms turned into ice crystals. But I was willing to shiver for 15 minutes of freedom from sweating. Because just as soon as the train stopped and the doors opened, I felt like I was like getting smacked in the face with liquid fire. Perhaps thats a bit dramatic. But my point is, it was hot and I was not adapting. I struggled to get used to the heat, so much that I had kind of forgotten my purpose for being there. I was so distracted by my own discomfort that I was hardly preparing myself for what I would experience when the sun went down.

After a couple days in Bangkok, we had been coached and briefed on what to expect when we arrived at the red light district, known as Nana. I had just finished the book, Not for Sale and I could hardly comprehend it all. I had only just learned of human trafficking days before this, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would look like in front of my own eyes. Frankly, I was scared. I thought about not going and maybe just staying back in my room and praying instead. But there was a prompting inside of me telling me to be brave. I wasn’t scared of anything bad happening to me. I was scared that once I had witnessed this reality, I would never be able to forget it. I was scared of the responsibility that would follow. I knew once I had seen their faces I would no longer be just a bystander. I was being called into action for a fight I was not prepared for. I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough for that kind of responsibility. I was scared on so many levels. But I knew I couldn’t go back. I didn’t know what was going to happen when we got to Nana, but I knew my life would never be the same.

As we walked through the gates of hell, entering the red light district filled with elated tourists, my fear quickly turned to shame. I hated the way pimps tried to sell me a girl, or the way other customers thought I was there for the same pleasure they were seeking. And then I was ashamed that I was thinking so much about myself when I was free in a place filled with captives.

We made our way past the main entrance and into a bar. I found a seat, sipped my coke, chewed my straw, and tried to take it all in. I noticed one of the girls looking right at me. I tried to look away because I was ashamed. But I didn’t want to give the impression I was ashamed of her, so I looked back. Once she had my attention she started making sexual gestures, suggesting I buy her services. Shame was suddenly replaced with anger. I was angry at her for thinking I wanted sex. I was angry at the men who put her up on that stage. I was angry at the people around me who kept this business running. I was angry that all I could do was sit and watch. And I was angry that evil was so dominant. And while I wanted desperately to be a light, it seemed impossible to shine in such a dark place.12Coming Soon, Part 3: My experience in Nana

Please continue to follow along for more from the series, American Girl, to learn about my journey in the fight against Human Trafficking.

Get caught up on past posts here:
 Part One


  • I love that you’re doing this series. I was in Thailand for a month in 2009, working with a girl’s home in Chiang Rai (House of Grace) doing photography for them. The last 36 hours of our trip were spent in Bangkok, and my friend and I shot in the Patpong night market, which is lined with brothels and part of the red light district. One of the hardest experiences of my life. I read “Not For Sale” shortly after coming home. We’ll have lots to talk about in August. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Oh my gosh, Sarah! I can’t wait to hear more about your experience. It’s so crazy how surreal it all feels. It is definitely an experience I will never forget. Hurry up August! I’m dying to meet you in person!ReplyCancel

  • Candice, you are so inspirational, and I love how the more I follow you in your work and your life that you live with such a passion and purpose. Too many of us just simply exist and I find myself doing the same, but it’s important to take those moments to reflect on who you are as a person and what you want your mark to be on this world… what makes the fire inside you stir. I always feel like I can see the fire inside you, a steady flame.


  • Jacquie

    Thanks so much for writing this. NEVER GiVE IN! You are the best and I am blessed to have you as part of my family/ReplyCancel

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