Witness Testimony: “When You See Them, They See You.”

This testimony comes from Lee, who, during a missionary trip across Southeast Asia, encountered the paranormal. In this photo he is in Cambodia, travelling to the school where he taught Korean. (Image submitted by the witness.)

When people claim to have witnessed an apparition of someone once living, it is often the case that the person departed this world in some sort of crisis. Tragedy, it seems, is often a prerequisite for hauntings. Such is the case in the following eye-witness account submitted by Lee. It details a paranormal encounter he experienced during a missionary trip to Thailand.

Editor’s note: The following account has been edited for grammatical mistakes and increased clarity of information. Permission to perform these edits was granted by the eyewitness.

“When you see them, they see you.”

I encountered “them” when I was in missionary school in Hawaii.

I joined right after graduating high school, thinking that I might experience something which would help me to decide my future and my faith. The school organised a great varieties of lectures and classes, as well as taking students on missionary trips across the globe. I seemed so certain of myself at the time, but I know now that I was not ready for what was waiting for me.

My sister had gone through the Southeast Asia evangelism course before me. She was always cheerful and smiling – a role model to me. I wanted to follow her footsteps. However, when I told her that I had volunteered to help people in Southeast Asia, as she had done, she looked worried. She told me that it was something to take seriously. It was like she wanted to say more, but left it at that for now.

For the next two weeks I attended lectures and cultural awareness classes in preparation for the trip. One night, my sister called me to meet her in a prayer room, as it would be quiet there and give us some privacy. My sister worked at the school as a member of staff by this time, so we hung out a lot during which we’d chat and she’d give me advice. I figured that our meeting would be one of those sessions. When I arrived she was sitting quietly in the dark room, praying to an opened Bible in the low candle light. She did not even notice me as I walked in.

Sensing the heaviness of the atmosphere, I instantly realised that she didn’t call me just to have a conversation or friendly prayer together. Something was wrong. I could hear her sobbing.

Concerned: Lee’s sister was clearly unhappy about him taking the same trip she had. (Image source)

After a while she greeted me, wiping tears out of her eyes. I could see her face glimmering with tears in the candle light. When you see a person crying, you can usually tell the motive of the sadness. Why my sister was crying, I did not know.

Thousands of questions were in my head, but I didn’t dare to ask her. She was terrified. I mean absolutely terrified, enough to feel her shaking from a distance. She was trying her best not to show her fear to me, but it was obvious.

My sister then told me to sit, which I did. A moment of silence passed between us before she spoke.

“Do you really need to go there?”, she asked.

“Go where?”, I asked back.

I could see her face covered in fear again. “Missionary trip.” She responded plainly.

I then realised that her fear was due to the trip, which she had taken prior to me. Her fear did not make sense to me, though. She always seemed happy and willing to share her experience of the trip to anyone who asked, never scared. In that moment, she was terrified. She really did not want me to go, and not because of petty reasons like missing me, and those sorts of things.

I was leaving for Cambodia in a week’s time, and would be gone for five months. The trip would take me to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. I calmly asked her why she did not want me to go, but she did not speak. She was choked with emotion, covering her eyes and holding back more tears. Finally, shaking and her hands making a fist, she began:

“Look, when you go, when you go…”

I remember encouraging her to finish her sentence, but she never did. She ended the conversation by saying, “Just be careful in Thailand, ok?”


She gave me a hug. I could feel her body was chilled, even her tears which now wet my own cheeks.

Over the next week I asked my sister probably more than a hundred times to tell me more, but she refused to talk to me about it. On the day I left for Cambodia, she texted me the following words: “When you see them, they see you.”

“Them” was a word often used in lectures to refer to evil beings, devils. Unnerved, I asked her what she meant by that message. She responded with an instruction, laced with fear: “Pretend you do not see them.”

I laughed it off, even showing it to my buddy who was sitting next to me. We both laughed together, but I saved the text to my phone.

My experience in Cambodia was amazing. I worked as a Korean lecturer, since Korean drama was very popular on the TV. I had my hands quite full, working and teaching people.

Looking back now, I was definitely enjoying such a life, and was happy. It was exactly what I had hoped for the trip.

“In a Cambodian AIDS hospital, reading the Bible and praying for those who were facing death in a few days.” (Image submitted by the witness. Faces have been blurred for privacy.)

That joyful experience did not last long, however. It ended when I heard that we are being transferred to Thailand. We were going to be helping to build a church, whilst staying in a motel owned by a private owner. My co-workers were happy about it, but all I could think about was my sister’s final words to me, and her text messages which she sent on the day I left.

“Just be careful in Thailand, ok?”

All I could see was her terrified face. I wished she had never said anything. I remember hating her for it, at one point, as it unnerved me and was threatening to ruin the whole trip.


After 16 long hours on a bus, we finally reached the motel we would be staying at in Thailand. It was an old, wooden building with lights run by loud generators installed at the back of the house. The building was shaped like the letter “L”, with rooms divided by a hallway.

In the middle of the motel was a shrine. It was a common shrine that Asian people worshipped every morning, clapping their hands and bowing their heads. I did not pay much attention to it, as I was more eager to find out if this building safe, as it looked like it might collapse any minute and crush us to death.

Our missionary work was to help build the church which was about ten minutes away from the motel. In the evening we would relax, pray and share messages.

“This was where we were building the church, we were taking a break.” (Image submitted by the witness. Faces have been blurred for privacy.)

Three days has passed without event. The whole time my guard was up because of my sister’s words. I slept well due to the exhaustion of the physical work during the daytime. However, on the fourth day I started feeling strange. I felt goosebumps when working, despite being covered in sweat from the heat and labour. I got really big headache, and had to take time out, sitting down with some water. I did not feel better. My leader told me my face looked terribly pale, and that I was probably being affected by the heat. They said I should probably head back to the motel and get some rest.

I felt bad for leaving the work so early, but everyone seemed concerned and encouraged me to head back. So I started to walk down the road looking at the motel which stood at the end of the road.

We were the only people staying at the motel, so during the day it was practically empty. It was incredibly quiet. Too quiet. There was something about the atmosphere that I cannot explain, a quietness that tells you something is off.

As soon as I stepped into a hallway, I noticed the shrine and a person standing in front of it.

The person was a girl, dressed in what seemed to be a white school uniform it seemed. She had her head bowed before the shrine. I thought she was the daughter of the motel owner. As it was a business relationship, he did not talk to us and we did not talk to him. Therefore, I had no reason to talk to her. I just started to walk down to my room, still looking at the girl in the middle of a yard.

Then, I noticed something.

Her head, bowed before the shrine, did not come back up.

At first I thought she was praying with her head down, but as I walked along the hallway, passing the shrine, I realised that her posture… was a bit off. Her bowed head seemed strange to me, as though she had some kind of injury or disability. The angle of her bowed head was not normal.

I slowed down to observe if anything was wrong. It was then that I saw it.

Head to her shoulder, shoulder to her body, her body to her legs, her legs to her toes.

One straight line, and swinging.

Her feet was off the ground, hanging, her entire body was swinging front and back slightly, in front of shrine.


My heart stopped and I was frozen. I immediately realised that she – it – was not from this Earth.

And that is all I remember.

The next thing I remember was being woken up in a room surrounded by my team asking if I was alright. They told me that they had found me collapsed in the middle of hallway. I was distressed, and still had a massive headache.

The motel where Lee and his group stayed was used to hosting missionaries. (Image source)

The next day I was not able to go to the church. I just about managed to get up from my bed to look at the shrine from my room’s window, wondering if it had just been a dream.

I saw the motel’s owner come to the shrine, with some scents and fruits in his arms. I had not talked to him, but something told me that I had to, and that this would be my only chance to discuss with him.

I calmly approached the man from behind. I did not know if he would be friendly, or speak English even. Before I opened my mouth, however, he turned around and looked at me with a grin on his face. Giving him a proper greeting, I walked up in front of the shrine, where I had seen the girl the day before.

I started the conversation by saying how hot it was, and told him about building the church. His English was not great, but it was conversational when taking it slow. We even managed a few jokes and laughs, and enjoyed each other’s company. He asked me how I was feeling, and I said a bit dizzy, but it was manageable. He smiled, and said, “My daughter, sorry.”

The look on my face must have been amazing. He asked me if I was alright again. This time, I could not even answer.

The man let out a long sigh, and showed me a picture from his old, torn wallet. It was a photo of his daughter, smiling. I instantly doubted what I was seeing. It was that girl, it was that girl that was floating in front of this very shrine and swinging back and forth slightly. For a second I thought I had been mistaken and that she was alive. Before I could do anything else with that thought, he said, “My daughter, died.”

My hopes were crushed by his short words.

He made a circle with his hands, motioned his head through it, and made a choking face. Explaining how she had died. I will never forget the face he made.

I started stuttering, trying to ask one of the many questions now racing through my mind. “If she is really dead…”

I told him that I had seen his daughter, in front of the shrine, and that she had been…

The owner’s face was featureless, He just stared into my eyes, before breaking out into a smile. His smile was so big that it stunned me.

“I know,” he said.

After that I did not have the courage to say anything else to him, or stay with him for that matter. I made my way back to the church to be with my group, and share my story. The leaders looked stunned, and separated me from the group to speak with me alone. They told me more about the motel.

They had been in contact with the motel owner for many years. The missionary course has to find safe motels to stay and eat at, and he was a dedicated Christian who had welcomed missionaries to his motel many times. One day, his daughter committed suicide – hanging herself. After this, the owner lost himself, going somewhat crazy. He established the shrine for his daughter, saying that she would visit him and the shrine. He loved her so much… He lost himself.

After all this, I did not go back to that motel for any reason. I ended up sleeping in the half-built church, using a Bible as a pillow. I do not know why, but having a Bible around my head somewhat helped ease the pain of the headache I still had.

I did have some nightmares. I was so traumatised by what had happened, and kept seeing the hanged girl in my dreams until I left that place.

When everything was over and we had landed in Hawaii, my sister greeted me with open arms. I was eager to discuss what had happened with her. Going back to the same dark prayer room as before, she straight away asked me:

“Did you see her as well?”

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About Laura Rowton 82 Articles
Laura Rowton is a filmmaker and paranormal researcher. In 2019, she released her debut feature documentary on life after death, "In Search of the Dead", which she co-produced with her husband, Erik. Follow her on Instagram for more.