My reason for going to Thailand wasn’t for vacation, although it would be a great place for relaxing and doing nothing! I went for the sole purpose of teaching children. They weren’t even Thai children. These kids were of different nationalities, languages and ages! Most of them were bilingual. I went three years in a row but I’m only going to write about my first year here.
These were children of workers, from several different countries, who came to Chiang Mai for a week of relaxation and seminars. Before this program was started both parents couldn’t attend the seminars because most of them were couples with young children. One of the two would have to stay with the children while the other one attended the classes, growing in strength, knowledge, determination and innovation for their particular field of work.
I was the first one to go for the children. It was a whole new concept and I really didn’t know what I was in for! But I was determined, ready and excited!
I was given a house to use, at the resort, for the children. I had a person assigned to crafts, women from the kitchen brought snacks each day and there was a swimming pool for us to have fun and get cooled off in the afternoon. It was going to be a great, fun week.
The first morning I went over a little early to get ready for ‘my kids’ to arrive. i was so excited. Everyone seemed to arrive at once! Parents and kids and babies and toddlers and… Mayhem! Total mayhem! The toddlers were screaming, babies crying, parents talking and I was trying to make some sort of order. I was ready to scream!!! I finally asked the person over the babies and toddlers to please take them to their own building so we could get started. The parents slowly began walking out to go to their own classes. I’m sure some were late!
I suggested to the children we sit in a circle on the floor and get acquainted. Each one was to tell their name and age and what was their favorite thing to do. The kids were all ages from five to thirteen. We were all patient with the younger ones and gave them equal time to share. It was fun. Finally it was my turn…I said, “Well, I’m a mom and a grandma. I love kids and we’re going to have a really fun week together learning and playing. I have some very good lesson plans so we’ll have some good lessons…”
Suddenly the oldest girl in the group put her hand up.”Yes, Susan?” I said. “Eh, Miss Anita,” she said timidly, “we don’t want lessons! We’re all home-schooled and we have lessons everyday. We don’t want lessons this week!”
“Oh?” My mind went into over-drive. “Well, today we’ll just play games and get to know each other, does that sound alright?” They agreed.
That night as I laid in bed, my mind began to spin. I became sick to my stomach. I was so sick I felt if I even moved my hand I would throw up. I just laid in bed and prayed, begging God for help. My prayer went something like this,”Lord, what am I doing here? I thought I was supposed to come. I thought I was the person for this job… I thought You were leading me here. But, I’m not the right person. What am I going to do? I can’t just quit and go home. Oh…I’m so sick, please touch my body.”
Somehow I went to sleep. I know I did because I woke up in the morning! And…I felt fine! No sickness… I even felt energized! I got ready to go to our little house. I left my lesson plans in my suitcase. I had brought some relay batons with me in case we wanted to have a relay race sometime during the week. I took those with me this morning. They just might come in handy.
So we started out on a friendly basis. Just talking, laughing and sharing. Then we established a buddy system. Each child had to have a buddy, but not their own age. The younger children were assigned an older child as his/her buddy. Suddenly the door opened and a teenage boy came walking in. Before I had a chance to ask if he was looking for someone, he said, “Hi, I’m Randy. Could you use a helper?” Could I? Oh boy, he was a God-send!
I discovered some of the kids had feelings of not quite understanding why they were living in a different country then their homeland. It was their parents job and so they just had to be there because of their parents. I got out the batons. “Hey,” I said, “Let’s have a relay race.”
“Huh?” they asked.
Randy and I explained what a relay race is. No one can win a relay race on his/her own. It took teamwork. We had two large teams That first day the race went badly…very badly. But we worked on it every day and quickly learned that it took everyone on the team doing their best to be successful! Everyone took part. Everyone rooted each other on…It was so fun and a joy to see them learn team work, each one having equal importance. They learned a lesson without it being a lesson!
And me? Oh yes, God answered my prayer that first night when I was so sick. He had a better plan for those kids then just my lesson plans. So I went back for two more years. After that first year a team of workers went equipped with a Daily Vacation Bible School curriculum, a fun, high energy program. I felt it was my place to go and work with these kids that I had learned to love so much.
Below is a gecko that I had to learn to get along with! They ate the bugs and insects so i learned to respect them!