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Thailand Wrap Up

Hello! I wanted to give you all a look into some of the things we were privileged to be a part of during our time in Thailand and how they impacted me.

 

My team:

First off, training camp was an incredible time of preparation and getting to know my team. We listened to speakers on topics such as the Kingdom of God, listening to the Holy Spirit, and what it means to fulfill the Great Commission (from Matthew 28:19-20). My leaders, Tara and Emily, were incredible. Tara is artistic and very in touch with the spiritual world – she has the gift of prophecy. Emily is the sweetest person I’ve ever met and rarely do you see her without a big smile. They both took great care to know each of us personally on the trip and make sure we were doing okay. The other 9 (official) girls on my team were from all over the east coast/Deep South. We had one girl named Jasmine who was from New Zealand but was staying in Thailand for the summer (she grew up there and so she spoke Thai and helped translate for us), join our group about half way through, which was really fun! They were all genuine and kind, loving, and on fire for the Lord.

 

After training camp we traveled for about 40 hours to get to our home in Ratchaburi. We stayed at a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) base. Our hosts were Noi (a native Thai) and Bronwin (from South Africa who moved here and married Noi). They had two kids, Daniel and Naomi, who we got to love on while we were there. A sweet woman named Thaay lived at the base with us, and she acted as a translator, tour guide, and friend, along with Non (who also ended up being our personal photographer :). Kukkik was a friend we made the first day we were in Ratchaburi. She saw us in the mall and talked to some of my teammates (who had been praying for someone they could talk to who spoke English) asking what we were doing there. They told her they were coming to tell people about Jesus (she had no idea who he was so she asked to see a picture of him 🙂 but was intrigued. She asked to hang out with them, so the next day she met us all at a coffee shop, where she asked more about Jesus and we were able to share the gospel with her! As Noi was explaining it to her in Thai, I saw tears well up in her eyes as she began to understand all that Jesus had done for her. Within 24 hours of knowing us she had heard and accepted the gospel!! It was so encouraging for us to see how unreserved she was and how simple the gospel seemed to her. She was able to hang out some more with us the next few weeks and became a friend as well as a translator for us in the classroom.

Teaching English:

This was one of the craziest, most fun experiences we had. We taught 3 different English lessons to kids ranging from ages 5-16 at a school in Ratchaburi. Not only were the kids excited to learn and were extremely respectful, but the teachers were so so thankful to us for our willingness to come teach the kids (as the teachers barely spoke any English themselves). English opens up doors for the kids that helps prevent them from ending up in drugs or prostitution, so it was cool to be able to meet that physical need for the kids and relieve the teachers for a few hours. We made learning fun for them and loved them so hard. It was quite the humbling experience because I was expecting to go in and teach, and come out feeling like we hadn’t accomplished much, but if nothing else I learned so much about myself and my all that the Lord can do through me! I learned that even though I don’t consider myself a kid person, I can still ask God for silliness and energy and love for them (and to see kids like he sees them) and he will give that to me. I came in with the lie planted in my head that I’m not fun or crazy enough for kids and that I don’t have anything to offer them, but God showed me how he sees children (loved and innocent and beautiful and just as in need of affection and affirmation as teens and adults). As a result, I was able to love the children like Jesus did- with an unearthly type of love. Almost all of my highlights from the trip happened in the classrooms. One of my favorite moments here was when we were teaching the 2nd graders about colors and used the story of Noah’s Ark because of the rainbow. One of the little boys in the front asked about the story of Jesus and it was incredible to just see how the entire room went silent and gave Jasmine their undecided attention when he asked for that. Their curiosity was incredible and reminded me what it looks like to have a childlike faith. During lunch time at the schools, we were provided with food from the schools, but were asked to perform karaoke songs as entertainment in return! You would have thought we were celebrities the way that the kids interacted with us. Everyone wanted to hold our hands and sit with us and just be near us. Although I know some of it was because we looked different than them, I genuinely believe that a huge reason they were so attracted to us was because we had something they never had experienced before – the love of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in us. I know this is the case because at one of the schools, about 10 kids ended up hysterically crying when we had to leave. We had known them for less than 6 hours and the way they were acting was as if we were their mother leaving them forever. Although they didn’t know it, they saw something different in us and the way we loved them and it was attractive to them. It was heartbreaking leaving, not knowing what home situation they were going back to or who they even had in their life – especially knowing that many of them wouldn’t have any other Christians in their life, showing them the love of Jesus. We were able to pray for each classroom and each school, as well as share the gospel with several classrooms! One boy saw a Cru 4 spiritual laws bracelet (which has symbols explaining the gospel on it) that I was wearing and asked for it. So of course I gave it to him (which resulted in me having to give up all other removable pieces of jewelry 🙂 but it was so worth it. I just pray that he will come in contact with someone down the road who can explain what it means to him.

Rice seeds:

We had a Sunday school every Friday night for the Burmese refugee kids in the area. We taught them a lesson from the Bible and just hung out and loved on them. These kids ranged from 3 to 17 years old and other than any siblings that also attended, they were the only Christians in their families, which astounded me. They all became Christians through this program hosted by Bronwin! They said at first they just came to hang out and eat food, but then they began to listen to what she was teaching and they all fell in love with Jesus. I loved all of these kids and they taught me so much about bravery. In Thai culture it is very disrespectful to go against what your parents believe (Buddhism) and can cause major family tensions. The fact that they are so young and still decided to follow Jesus just shows how powerful and incredible the Gospel really is! It is called the Good News for a reason!

Sunday:

We attended 3 different churches while we were in Thailand. I thought it was hard living in New England with few Christians, but there are even fewer in Thailand! They make up less than 1% of the population. Each church was about 15-20 members, but each worshiped God so genuinely. They were hungry for his word, and so encouraged to see more believers and to see what we were doing there. They even asked us to take care of various aspects of the service! So we gave sermons at 2 of the churches, and lead worship at all 3 (and were not exactly a musically talented group, but they still loved it!)! One thing I appreciated about the churches there that is more rare in America is their focus on prayer. At each church we had corporate prayer for 20+ minutes, which was really encouraging and uplifting! Also, church services didn’t seem like a bother to anyone! We easily spend 2 or more hours doing regular church, plus fellowship and lunch at the church after. People truly appreciate the community there because it’s likely the only time they have to see other believers during the week and they live worshiping God. I hope to be more excited about church and be grateful for the huge body of believers I have to fellowship with.

The Radio:

One of the catholic schools there has a Christian radio station and asked to host us 3 times while we were there. They interviewed us about what we were doing to encourage other believers listening or inspire non believers who were tuned in. They also asked us to prepare songs for each time… some times went better than others :).

 

Juvenil Detention Center:

We were able to spend 2 days at an all girls juvenile detention center. We taught them English, which shortens their sentence time. They “graduated” the first level of English classes (so each got time taken off their sentence) after our second day there, which was really encouraging! We also had some free time to talk where a few of the girls asked about Jesus. Many of them had heard some things about him, but were clearly hungry for more because we didn’t have to prompt the conversation. The first day during the topical lesson, we shared about worth and how your worth doesn’t change depending on what you’ve done – that God still loves them just as much as before they ended up in the detention center. This is very countercultural because Thai people essentially believe you are worth less if you do anything wrong (they also believe in Karma), so hearing this about God and that he would forgive them was very encouraging for the girls. One thing that really surprised me was that many of the girls weren’t even there for things they had done. The judicial system there isn’t very fair or truthful and so many of the girls were there because they had taken the blame (usually willingly) for something their boyfriend had done. This made me sad, not just for the girls missing out on months if not years of their lives, but also because they were clearly putting so much of their worth in their relationships! I will continue praying for them that they come to know the love of Christ after hearing about it from more teams that visit there. Please join me!

 

Off ministry days:

On our “off days” we either spent doing touristy things such as going to a floating market, getting Thai massages, or going to a national park. Although we didn’t have any scheduled ministry these days, my team was very mission minded and made it a point to continue doing ministry while we were having fun. A few people you could pray for would be Duh, who I met at the floating market and was able to explain the gospel to and give him a drawing of a cross, Song, one of our neighbors our age who became a Christian the last night we were there, and the owner of a hotel we stayed at (and friend of Non’s) whose name is Ake. We had the opportunity to talk some to him and hear what he believes in and what he enjoys about owning the resort. He said one of his favorite things is just hearing everyone’s story and beliefs. When he heard we were Christians he got very excited and told us that he had a few Christian employees! At the end of our conversation, I felt like the Holy Spirit was nudging me to suggest to Ake that he ask his employees what they believe about Christianity, in hopes that they would share the gospel with him! His heart is so open and ready so please just pray that he would see his need for Jesus.

Please continue praying that:

– the kids we interacted with would continue to be curious about Jesus and that other YWAM teams would continue teaching them about Jesus

– the kids would work hard in school and that their home life would be a safe, loving environment

– the girls from the juvenile detention center would know their worth and desire a relationship with Jesus 

– the next teams to stay at the YWAM base would continue building relationships with the neighbors and that the Holy Spirit would be evident in them

 

Thanks to everyone who prayed for my team while we were gone!

You can find more pictures on my FaceBook album here

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