Hey everyone! This blog is really getting kicked off about four months before I’m planning on coming back to the States at the end of my two-year assignment. It’s not a long window of time but I’ll do my best to show you what life in the Big Mango looks like for us. That being said, this first post is a little long so I can give you an overall picture of what happens here.
First, a quick word about me and then I’ll talk about the last few months here in Bangkok. I was born and raised in California where I graduated from Azusa Pacific University with my degree in Youth Ministry and Biblical Studies in 2010 (which honestly feels like a decade ago). I got started with GoCorps and my organization, United World Mission (UWM), in early 2011 and have been here in Bangkok since February of 2012. We primarily do university outreach at Kasetsart University using semi-formal English classes as our inroads to working on-campus and building relationships with the students.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the last 2.5 months:
July/August- Foot drama, lots of English classes, student retreats, seminary applications
September- Brief trip to the Philippines, getting sick, finishing English classes
October- Refocusing on spiritual formation, planning for next semester, training seminar with Compassion Int’l.
Yes, foot drama. On a student retreat in July, I was riding an inflatable boat with my team leader’s kids when one of their feet made pretty jarring contact with my pinky toe and broke it. I had no complications with it healing but it made mobility fairly difficult for a few weeks since I walk everywhere.
On to more important matters: this semester of ministry was incredible! We have never had so many students come to our Bible study/dinner (Team Care) at the girls’ house. Students that we started to teach in late May are still consistently coming to our events and they’re either bringing friends or telling their friends to go even if they themselves aren’t free. We’ve typically been having around 15 students every week which is amazing because last year we felt lucky if 2-3 showed up. Our pastor usually leads a Bible study during this time and most of the students are very active participants. Lots of students are opening up about their lives and are slowly getting a fuller picture of the Gospel.
Our regular English class ended in early August and we weren’t sure how much more we would be able to teach this semester. We ended up teaching a special class for a professor my team leader knows. This group of students is from the Physical Education department and will be studying in Malaysia for a month. It has opened doors for us to continue working with this department and we are planning on teaching another class for them in November and December when the new semester starts.
I had the chance to go to the Philippines at the beginning of September with a Filipino brother (Eric) from our church here in Bangkok. Gotta love having to leave Thailand every 90 days for my visa requirement. It was basically the first week I had no splint on my foot so I was excited to be fully mobile again. Eric took me to his hometown in the northern highlands of Luzon Island, the main island of the country. The mountains were beautiful and the hottest it got was 75* with lows in the 50s. Praise God for that! I preached at a church in a small farming village and was richly blessed by the scenery, the people’s hospitality, and delicious food. We explored caves, snorkeled around islands, and rode in buses the whole week before coming back to Bangkok.
Rainy season is at its peak right now and there are worries that the city will flood again like it did two years ago. Those floods caused massive damage in our area and made life incredibly difficult for everybody since the area essentially shut down. The university was forced to close and all the students had to return home. Please pray with us that this doesn’t happen again.
All in all, October is a slower month for us because it’s the mid-year break for the students and most of them go home for a few weeks. We have enough local students to spend time with so we will still be doing some events. Closer to the end of the month, we went back to Chiang Mai to do another discipleship training seminar with university students from Compassion Int’l. Our Thai pastor and American team leader did the bulk of the teaching. We previously worked with them back in May and it was very refreshing to reconnect with these students and see how they’re reaching out to their campuses. Even though they live in different parts of the country, we’ve been able to stay connected with them via Facebook so we can answer their questions and encourage them.
Note- The picture is of my team at the Compassion Int'l training. I'm the guy on the right side wearing the green baseball hat.