Note: By the time I actually finish collecting my thoughts and figure out what I want to say in this post it will probably mark the ‘one month since posting’ period. I would apologize, but once you see all that has happened over the past month you will understand. And I will certainly be posting something else before I finish, so you will at least have something.
I knew that this past month would be incredibly busy, but I never imagined it being this busy, if I am being honest. To give you an idea here is the schedule I had for the month.
- April 7-April 23: Vanguard team arrived
- April 21-25: Visa run in Malaysia
- April 25-30: Visiting host’s family in Phitsanulok (north)
- April 30-May 4: Helping another team in Mae Sot (north)
- May 5-8: Came down to Bangkok with team, spent a couple days with friends
It was quite the whirlwind of a month, and to be honest it has been challenging trying to remember everything that has happened when I hardly had time to reflect on it all. Through those months I got a lovely rash from unclean water at a village we ran an English camp in, met 18 people who became friends, went through a mini crisis in Malaysia, but drank more coffee than I ever have in my life in 4 days, heard the testimony that would shake and shift nations, and experienced things I would have put off to when I was 25 to do.
I am starting to forget what I write in previous posts, so for those of you who read each post, my apologies for possibly being repetitive. I heard it often enough growing up that I was unorganized and never thought ahead. Feeling like I had to have everything figured out before it all of a sudden showed up, seemingly out of no where, I felt that I needed a life plan. Especially after I found a talent of my own that was unique for my age and something that I was actually good at. After hearing many prasies of what I was doing was just so amazing and incredible, not bragging, honestly. Subconsciously began thinking that I could prove myself, that I am organized and do think ahead if I had my entire life planned out. And would then follow through on everything I said I would do. I never considered that having some plan but accepting the fact and knowing some things will change and being prepared for it was a thing. In my mind once I had this plan for my life I had to make sure that all along the way everything went as planned to a very strict timeline or else my future was basically just not going to happen. If I did not go to university straight from high school, then my career would be jeopardized because the fashion world is highly competitive and waits for no one. But not only that, if I did not finish school at a certain age, then my dating and then married life would be all messed up and pushed back, then before I knew it I would be having kids when I am 40. All this would happen because I took one year off or did not get into the school I wanted, or whatever the case would be that my life would go up in flames. I had it all planned out perfectly so that at these exact moments everything would fall into place. Thank God my life looks nothing like that now or I would have missed out on so much. Absolutely I am still going to school when I get back to Canada, but I never would have expected that going to one of the top fashion schools in the world would turn into going to a small campus bible college in Edmonton. I would have never expected that I would be going into college the year I turn 20, which in my previous perfectly planned out life would put me one and a half years behind everyone else that started the year they graduated. Which meant I was a year and a half behind getting my business set up, then behind on getting married, and behind on having children that would just mess up my life plans. The best part of my new plan is that it is not really mine. I was so against taking a year off in between high school and university to do something that would be such a waste of time. Something like travelling. Something that would have no benefit to my future. But now being something that would benefit my new future more than the one I had created. The most exciting thing you could do in life is just live. Or, should you be of Christian beliefs, is to hand your entire life over to God and just see what happens. When I look back at my planned life I cannot imagine how boring that would have been for me. To work so incredibly hard towards something that I wanted to only dip my toe into the life that I was made to live. To enter the world of not just donating to causes, but actually be in the midst of the cause. To be apart of the change and bring light to others that choose to dip their toes. Which is so important, but when my reason was so that I could live a comfortable life and then go to say that I did something, God knew that would not be enough for me. Being able to see all that happens when you just trust God and go with all he has for you and knowing that you just have to put in your best efforts and He will fill in the gaps and the spaces is the least stressful life you could ever live. Even through coming to Thailand taking the year to spend time with God and do his work where he wants me has put me in the best spot for my future. But the one that He has planned for me. I am right where He wants me to be and where he needs me to be right at this very moment. (Esther 4:14) I have met so many people that I can connect with that will help me, support me, and guide me through building His plans for the future. Plans that look something like a school of creative arts that will help men, women, and children out of human trafficking, to see that they have other talents and abilities, skills they can use to live off of so that they don’t go back into that world. A place where they can be built up and encouraged to live the life they had always dreamed of. That is my life dream.
This past month felt like I blinked and it all flew past me. That is what happens when you are so busy you do not even have time to reflect on what has happened. So this is now the time to reflect or else this post probably will not be up for another few days, or weeks even because from now to the time I return to Canada I will be teaching English full time. Which I am incredibly excited about. So starting with Vanguard and the Hat Yai team.
The greatest confirmation of change I have experienced since coming to Thailand was the day Vanguard arrived. While Tak and Te (my hosts should I have not mentioned their names before) went up to Phuket to get the team from the airport, I thought I would take this last day of rest to go up and explore Khao Lak, which is just 30km from Takua Pa. To begin with, I took the scooter up and left with about a quarter tank of gas. I thought, ‘well I ‘ll just fill it up at the gas station leaving the city.’ You think I filled up the tank? Nope. I kept driving thinking, ‘I’ll just fill it at the next station.’
About 10 minutes out of the city, with many kilometers to go, it starts pouring rain. And when it rains in Takua Pa that means massive rain drops, and it is heavy, blinding rain. So driving through it feels almost like getting hit by paintballs. Next thing I knew I was in Khao Lak, soaking wet, with the gas tank nearly empty, and the scooter pulling in all directions. I was a little nervous at this point as I have not yet found a gas station even though google maps was telling me that there were two in either direction of where I curently was and just 5 minutes away. So, driving slowly because the scooter felt like it was stiff and I losing some control, I putter along the side of the road, irresponsibly with my phone out driving past the gas station about three times at this point and getting honked at every 30 seconds. Finally I see the sign for station on the fourth passing and pull in. I fill the tank with gas and start driving out. The scooter, still pulling in all directions thinking that for whatever reason it would stop once I filled the tank with gas, I pull over about 20 metres from the gas station. I get off the scooter, look at the front tire and, it’s flat!
Hoping that around the world gas stations are similar, in the way that there is a place where you can fill your tires, I go back to the gas station, and praise Jesus, there’s air! I fill the tire but it does not sound right. Almost like there is a leak somewhere. But I ignore it, as I do, and put the cap back on and begin driving away. Once again, like 2 meters from driving out the scooter is pulling everywhere. The tire is completely flat. Again! I do not know what to do at this point. After making it to the gas station, now the tire has popped 🙂 I message the group that is Imagine Thailand asking what to do when this happens. I was advised to ask someone Thai because usually there is a place near by. And boy was I ever lucky because there was one right infront of me. Just super excited about being so blessed, I roll the scooter over, not knowing if I can still drive it, and a young man is there. He gets up, walks over to me, I look at the tire, he looks at the tire, then he looks at me, smiles and says, “Oh, I cannot do. I cannot. So sorry.” So I stand there and continue to smile, not knowing what, or even how to say anything I would want to should I have wanted to. He then realizes that I am not going anywhere so quickly, so he goes into the shop. I thought he was leaving, but he went to grab someone who I would assume is his father. He looks at me and says the same thing. “Sorry, I cannot fix this. Oh, no, I cannot fix,” in very clear English. So I confidently ask him where I can get it done. He tells me that 200 metres down is a place that will do it for me. I thank him and start rolling away when he tells me I can drive it, but “s-low, s-low.” So I hop on the scooter, and get motoring to the tire repair shop.
The whole 20 metres I was thinking how expensive it would be until I got a call from my Canadian host telling me that it shouldn’t cost any more than 200฿ which is roughly $8 Canadian. Wow was I ever feeling great. Talk about favour of the Lord. I roll up infront of the shop, and someone is there to aid me immediately. It took all of 5ish minutes to get it all done and only cost me 140฿. I was truly blessed. I was ready to fork out 1000฿ becuase in my Canadian mind that would make sense and would probably be what it would cost to get it fixed in Canada. So I thank you, Thailand, for all that you do for me.
I thought about going to a coffee shop, thought long enough to drive through half the town twice before realizing I did not have enough time, so I went back to Takua Pa to be there in time for the team to arrive.
I am realizing now that too much happened in the last month that I will have to make this a three part-er I think.
Continuing on. When the team arrived I was assulted with questions as I am when people meet me in Thailand because they want to know what I am all about and why I am here and what I am doing, and want I want to do. After I got through the 10s of thousands of questions they asked me, it was my turn to ask them a few.
Vanguard is a bible college and I heard about them through a summer camp I went to and will be counselling at the day, and week I land in Canada. So I asked them what they were taking and they were all in the one year program HMS which is a missions program. I remembered seeing and hearing that Vanguard had a program for Global Workers and volunteers and went onto express to them that when I heard about it I thought it was the dumbest thing ever and could not figure out why you would ever go to school and pay money to learn about going over seas. And they all collectively agreed with me and found that they thought the same thing when they heard about the program. Then they went on to tell me what the program did and how it was connected to a degree called Intercultural Studies. Through out the next many days I would be further convinced and swayed into applying to the college to begin next January.
We were with the team for about 2 days before the Hat Yai team came up. We went from a team of 10 to 17. We met with the girls, learnt their names, and I found two girls when together we made a family. Lucy, her mother’s name is “Malissa” which is my Thai name, and another girl, her name is June, which is my grandmother’s name so a friendship was formed quite quickly. It was an absolute blast being with these girls. They are so full of life and love and laughter. The first camp we ran was in a Muslim village. I found out that Lucy was Muslim, so I got the chance to ask her questions about what it looked like and what it meant to be Muslim. It was so interesting and actually really insightful to hear it come from someone who was not on the internet. It was a time of connecting with the team, killing flying ants the size of wasps because it kept raining and they show up after the rain. A time of eating absolutely amazing food that I never had to ask whether it was chicken or not. A time of sleepless nights because the floor was harder than concrete and sleeping on mats that pretty much just kept you from sticking to the tiles, which I am absolutely thankful for. A time most importantly spent blessing and connecting with 20-some girls, teaching them English and being able to empower them and encourage them to continue learning English and keep practicing with eachother. Laughing with them, eating with them and getting to know them. After three days getting to see the affects of unclean water by breaking out in a gnarly rash that thankfully only lasted 5 days when I heard it would last anywhere from a week to one month!
The most amazing thing that happened at the camp was the director telling Tak that she could not help but tell her that she could really feel the love from the team and how much we cared and really loved the girls that we were teaching. Tak and Te have brought teams to this school four years in a row now and the director felt that she could not tell her about the love we showed the kids, but this year she felt that she could not hold it in anymore. It was such a blessing to be with the girls for 3 days and get to know them even if they spoke little English, and I spoke little Thai, and everyone else communicated through Thai, or just actions, smiling, and loving.
When we came back to Takua Pa, the day after was Songkran. Songkran is the Thai New Years basically being a nation wide water fight that lasts anywhere from 1 to 3 days depending on the city you are in. Takua Pa celebrates for just one day, but it was so much fun. The night before I had discovered the rash, and well, the water during Songkran is not very clean and I was advised not to participate or to play. But being who I am, I figured since I have not yet been to the doctor or hospital, I may as well make it worse seeing as a professional had not yet strongly advise me to not play. So with my face burning hot and bumpy with reaction, I played in the unclean water, with a coloured flour mixture smeared all over my face. And I enjoyed every moment and in no way do I, or will I ever regret it.
That evening we would say our goodbyes to the Hat Yai team, and half of the Vanguard team.
From then it would be three of the Vanguard students and myself leading an English camp with what would turn out to be 45 kids attending. I helped the team navigate through working with Thai kids and helping them the best I could with tips on how to teach them and what to expect from the kids. To say the least, the camp was a success. By the end, I felt like I had actually spoken more Thai than English, but the kids had so much fun throughout the week. Although I had to leave early for my visa run, which will be the next post including my summer break, I loved every single moment. This marks the week where I fell completely in love with teaching. I learnt about 80 per cent of the kids names, after being at the centre and knowing them for over a month at this point, and felt like I really got to know them and connect with them.
The beginning of April was so valuable as I was able to connect with people in Thailand, and in Canada. I had conversations where I did not have to worry about if I was being understood. Had conversations that allowed me to get honest with myself and figure out the next steps in my journey not only in Thailand, but also just in the furture. When I go back to Canada for some time, and when I come back to Thailand for a longer time. Each relationship formed and conversation had was so valuable, a word I feel that I have overused by this point, but the only one that genuinely expresses and describes everything. These two teams gave me guidance and support. I could not be more thankful for the time I got to spend with each and every friend.
Until the next post. (hopefully not, but probably in a week)
With much love and thanks,