Fourteen Month Update: Year 2 -- No Turning Back
We are officially into our second year living, working, and serving here in the beautiful country of Thailand in Southeast Asia. In these updates, I have regularly talked about how each step along the way, this country has felt more and more like home. This year has stretched and grown us unlike any other we have ever experienced. We have seen some beautiful times and some really ugly times. We have had overwhelming joy and bitter despair. We have contemplated leaving, and we have contemplated spending the rest of our lives here. But through it all, the perseverance that God has given us through the Holy Spirit, the encouragement he has given us through his Word and through His church, has sustained us and brought us to where we are today. We continue to look toward the future, praying that God will help us be faithful with the responsibilities he has given us now, and would increase them into the future as we work to prove ourselves trustworthy with what he has entrusted us (Luke 16:10).
Here are some things going on lately:
Chiang Rai International School
Summer break is over, and we are back to work at Chiang Rai International School. Well, Liz is technically "back" to work. I have started working there part-time this year. At the beginning of August, we had about 2 weeks of teacher orientation with time to prepare our rooms, units, schedules, and everything else we needed to get ready for classes.
I have the awesome privilege this year of facilitating the chapels and teaching the
Bible classes for grades 1-5. We are only a few weeks in, but I am starting to get a feel for how to do the classes and the chapels in a way that will engage the students and help them learn about the Bible and the most important questions one can ask-- "Who is Jesus?" and "What does that mean for my life?"
Right now, I am going through the gospel of Mark with all the students in chapel (the whole student body is split into 4 different chapels, so my voice is normally shot by the end of chapel day). In the Bible classes, we are working through a curriculum called "Superbook." Liz is still teaching music and helping lead some of the secondary students in a chapel band. For your daily dose of cuteness, here is a video of some of our first graders performing a song in chapel:
Love Seeds Vol. 2
Our church, Baan Athitaan Church, also just had a camp recently called "Love Seeds Camp." The theme for this camp was "Courage." Here is a video from that camp:
As I write this update, I am sitting in our house which we are currently preparing to move out of. We have been paying rent in a house that is really too big for our needs and more expensive than what we need. We will be moving to an apartment on campus at CRIS next weekend. This move will help us to save more money for the purpose of paying off more of our student loan debt and also, hopefully, saving for kids in the future (we will be in prayer, and researching, about adoption this next year, though we have no idea how long that process will take).
One thing I have already learned since this school term started is how incredibly busy the life of a teacher can be. I have gained a much greater appreciation for teachers than I ever had before. I know that we won't always have the time or energy to work at two schools, volunteer at church, mentor multiple university students, and learn a new language, so I'm glad we are able to "bear the yoke while [we] are young" (Lamentations 3:27). I'm not complaining; I am genuinely grateful we can do this now, but it does take discipline. Please pray for us, that we could continue this pace with excellence as long as we can, and that when the time comes to prune back, we would know what to prune.
Something to think about:
Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world. Really. According to some sources, Bangkok is the most visited city in the world, ranking higher than London and New York City. Statistically, Thailand is still quite homogeneous. However, there are a growing number of foreigners from all over the world coming to Thailand to study and work. Some of them stay for a decade or longer. Many stay for just a few years. But Thailand not only provides a great opportunity to reach and invest in native Thai peoples, but it also gives us access to people from all over the world. In our church alone, we have people from multiple countries in Africa, Brazil, China, and South Korea. At CRIS, there are people from Australia, the U.K., South Africa, and several other counties.