This is what I heard, at least 4 times a day from an average of 10 kiddos as we ended our class together… it was worth every uncomfortable and frustrating involved with this trip 🙂
I just came back to Chiang Mai from Phrao, a beautiful district 2 hours outside of Chiang Mai. Faithful Heart asked me to visit this area as my first “dorm visit” – although this is a school, not a dorm – and support this like-minded ministry. I was there for 11 days to teach English and art at a Christian nursery and kindergarten, called Little Candles School. Daniel Loo, one of the founders of the Little Candles, and Apple Angelcare, one of the pastors of the church connected with the school, showed me the”real Thai deal,” which includes: bathing in healing hot springs, traveling to the tops of mountains around Phrao, visiting rural villages, touring other Thai schools, shopping at the local markets, eating Thai food, receiving a Thai massage, riding on motorbikes in the rain, and making friends – many of whom were my own age. It was a great experience.
Little Candles School has a unique system where each class is exposed to every teacher in the school, so one of the 25 teachers is not responsible for all of the 200 children. The staff is incredibly friendly and made me feel at home. All the children are taught Thai, Chinese, and English. In addition, there are intensive English classes that the children can participate in – which I was most heavily involved in teaching. The school leaders are open to new ways of teaching and encourage creative interactions with the students… my kind of place 😉
I had unrestricted access to the art supply room… which is really a storage room with a closet of random art supplies. Putty in my hands. However, the difficulty is I had never taught before, so the connection between making stuff and teaching a redeemable quality through making that stuff was not easily put together. I found myself surrounded by piles of colored paper, neon orange pipe cleaners, and plastic straws, figuring out the best way to teach how to make a butterfly while reinforcing their education on shapes and colors. It was an amazing experience and I would encourage anyone who is interested in supporting a community through education in Nursery and Kindergarten levels to think about volunteering there! They take in many volunteers, as they support the idea that early exposure to different types of speaking and teaching styles is healthy for child development. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in volunteering at Little Candles.
The church associated with Little Candles School was also a wonderful experience. The service is either in Chinese, Thai, or English (and then translated to Thai). The worship team is composed of the church’s youth, who did a great job in leading worship. The pastors, Daniel Loo and Apple Angelcare, make an amazing team as they lead in worship, as well as Friday night Bible studies and fun activities with church members, like going to the hot springs after the Sunday church brunch. The members are composed of Thai people from within the community of Phrao. Daniel picked up many of the church members before the service, including those who are immobilized because of health conditions. I was able to lead the craft for Sunday school! The church also has an outreach center in the mountains, and I was able to lead a craft for hill tribe kiddos as well as see their homes! The love the church members showed me was amazing and I was truly blessed by their acceptance and encouragement.
This experience at Faithful Heart as well as Little Candles has given me a deeper understanding of what being the hands and feet of God mean. In addition, my faith has never felt so special before. Thailand is a Buddhist country, so many follow that Thai practice of placing spirit homes (tiny houses on stilts) on the side of roads, in their lawns, etc, so they can make sacrifices of incense, food, and drink – on a daily basis. Many people here wear amulets around their neck that have different gods on them. However, they do not have the stable relationship Jesus offers to us all. This is turning out to be a wonderful experience – which means both difficult and pleasurable aspects. Please continue to pray for me as I focus on supporting ministries like Faithful Heart and Little Candles as they spread God’s love through providing both physical and spiritual nourishment to the people of Thailand… and safety as I zoom about on the back of motor bikes and go on adventures with me new friends 😉