An Oregonian in Thailand
Alyssa lives in Brookings, Ore., and will graduate from Pacific Union College this coming June.
Suddenly, out of my jetlagged sleep, a noise that sounded like a cross between a dying frog and a savage bird shocked me into alertness. When a quick glance around the room failed to inform me as to the source of the noise, I ran into the next room and woke up the secretary; together, we inspected every inch of the room, half expecting to find a wounded cat or other terrorizing animal. When the search did not reveal anything, we nervously crawled back into bed. Days later we realized that the sound was coming from the dozens of geckos that made their home in my apartment. This is just one of the exciting things that occurred this summer.
When I made the decision to teach in Thailand, for the summer of 2009, I honestly had no idea what was about to happen. I did not know the town where I would be teaching, or what to expect. I did not even know how to teach; or what lesson plans entailed. But, looking back now, I can easily say making the decision to come was one of the best decisions of my life. Being in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand has greatly expanded my world view of cultures and given me a greater appreciation for what I have. Most importantly, it has allowed me to experience first-hand being a hand for Christ; in a foreign land.
Thailand, a primarily Buddhist country, has approximately 12,000 Adventists (according to the General Conference). Because it is mainly a non-English speaking country, teaching English is one of the primary tools for evangelism. Through non invasive measures such as teaching English through the Seventh-day Adventist church, it is hoped Adventism will spread. It is because of this, the majority of the summer was spent teaching English at the Ubon SDA Mission School, providing English workshops at various public schools, and teaching weekly English classes with the local Adventist church at the neighboring military camp and orphanage.
The work was physically and emotionally draining, at times; to keep up with energetic children, teach English with myself not having a grasp of the Thai language, and be a positive witness for Christ and while not seeing immediate results. Yet, through the trials, positive light was seen.
The UbonAdventist Mission School has been open for many years. It has experienced times with high enrollment. However, through various situations, enrollment decreased. One of the major goals of the school is to increase enrollment and recruit more missionary teachers. In May of this year, when a new missionary leader, Carla Andersen moved to Thailand, enrollment was at a low of about 40 students. This summer, has seen a slow increase – through major advertising, passing out information packets, and word of mouth. Seeing student after student register and getting an opportunity to learn English and about Christ, more than repays all of the effort invested recruiting more students.
The school is run totally by volunteer teachers and missionaries. There is a currently a shortage of foreign teachers — the main reason why Thai people attend the school (foreign teachers are prized for their grasp of the English language and accents). Without a constant recruitment of foreign teachers, it will be very difficult to keep the school open. If you're interested in having a fantastic experience while serving God in Thailand, please answer God's call in Matthew 9:37-38. For more information on this exciting opportunity, please contact Kim Pergerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although I am no longer in Thailand, I still am experiencing the effects of working there for a summer. I miss the culture, the people, and even the teaching. There also is a change I cannot quite understand or comprehend, in the way I look at life. Although a cliché statement, this was definitely a life changing summer.
Christ calls us all to continue His work. It does not need to be overseas, or under the explicit term "missionary." However, there is something special that happens when one dedicates a part of one's life especially for His work. May you continue Christ's work wherever you might be.