This quote sums up last week’s trip to bless the children living with HIV/AIDS at Agape Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Khalil Gibran

On the way to the orphanage, we stopped at Warorot Market to pick up a few bags of toys. Bubbles, balls, and some small animals. They were small and seemingly insignificant, but the reality was that we ourselves were the true gifts.

I watched as my toddler daughter passed out toys to the children .
I watched as my sister blew bubbles for the kids to chase.
I watched as my nephew tossed a ball back and forth to a little boy.
I watched as my wife cradled a little girl without a mommy or a daddy.

My heart was stirred. The story was not just about my little missionary kid or my family. The story was about lives entwined, about life on life, about the simple touch of love for those who do not have a family of their own.

And not only do not have a family, but those who are battling an incredibly deadly disease. The children were no older than 5, and most of them had HIV/AIDS.

A devastating thought.
A heart stopping reality.
A tremendously sad truth.

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But the 105 children living at Agape Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand do have a great staff and visiting volunteers that love on them and care for their medical conditions.

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Every morning and evening at exactly 7:am and 6:pm they are required to take a series of medicines to stabilize the HIV/AIDS virus. That is the life they know. It is their normal.

The normal of those children was drastically different from my little girl’s normal.

But as I watched my family playing with the kids, all those precious little human beings blurred together in a whirlwind of laughter and joy. It was not us and them. It was us only. It was togetherness. I looked at the smiling faces and could not tell who had HIV/AIDS and who was clear of the disease.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

We gave a small cash gift to Agape Home. We passed out balls and bubbles and held a few children. And then as quickly as we arrived, we were gone. But the effect stayed. An etch upon our hearts was made. A memory was created.

God, I pray for the children at Agape Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I pray that you would continue to look down upon them with love and that they might sense your love. I pray that you would be with them in the devastating difficulties that they face. I pray that you would show yourself as a father and as a mother, as a sister and brother to them. Be their all in all. Bring them hope. Bring them fulness of life. And God I pray that you would continue to use the infinitesimal gestures that my family makes to bring love and life to those around us. Amen.

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See the Joannes prayer card here.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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