Here's What's Happenin'

Hey readers! Sorry I haven't posted in a while! Below you will find a copy of the newsletter I sent out for the month of November. It should give an idea about the kind of work that we are doing and what it is that wer are hoping for. Enjoy: 

I’m happy to be in touch with you again with my Newsletter for the month of November. Given that last month was one of beginnings and getting started with my time here in Bangkok, this month has been one of deeper familiarity with my surroundings, growth, and overcoming certain obstacles that come with the beginning months of cross-cultural service.

Among the most exciting news to report this month is the kick-off of this semester’s Youth Leadership Development program for youth in several communities located here in Bangkok. In this program, the Servant Partners staff and interns attempt to train youth as leaders and equip them with important skills they can use to serve their communities. This time around we are teaching classes on Music, English, and Art. With music and art, students are able to develop modes of self-expression that prove to be extremely useful when coping with difficult surroundings and/or family life. Our hope is not only that they share these skills/gifts with their families and neighbors, but that the cultivation of personal creativity will help them break free from destructive patterns and systemic cycles that they are born into. Imagination can work as a tool of liberation for many entangled by poverty.

I’m helping out with the Art class. Our theme for the course is Surprised by Beauty, the main teachers for the course (Kyle Apuna and Daniel Boehm) conveyed our vision this way:

“Our vision is to see participants develop joy in expressing themselves through original art. And through that being inspired to find, appreciate and create beauty in everyday life. We want to give them opportunities to explore different media, and gain working knowledge of the creative process – individually and as a team. But above all, they will grow in confidence that everyone has a unique artistic voice that can be expressed visually. The final project—possibly a mural—will communicate the value of serving the community by beautifying a public space while engaging children in the process.”  

It’s exciting to be a part of something so hopeful and imaginative—prophetic.
“The offering of symbols that are adequate to contradict a situation of hopelessness in which newness is unthinkable. The prophet has only the means of [artistic] word, spoken word and acted word, to contradict the presumed reality of his or her community.” –Walter Brueggemann (bracket word mine)

Community Organizing—Starting the Conversation

Now that my Thai language skills are improving, I’m able to have more intellectual (I use this word loosely) conversations with my neighbors. Thus my next task is to learn more about my community member’s visions of a peaceful community. What are the things in their lives that they see as problems? What dreams do they avoid having for their children because their circumstances hinder hope? My goal is to begin these sorts of conversations with people in my community in order that we can start the process of working together—sharing labor and rest, burdens and joys, hopes and disappointments. My prayer is that in our work together we will undoubtedly discover the good news of God with us.

Some Highlights

1. On Saturdays after our activities for Youth Leadership Development (YLD) we play sports (either badminton or volleyball) and have a short devotional after. Last time I had the opportunity to share a little of my personal journey as a Christian and the ways in which Jesus has changed my life and been a source of refuge.

 2. A few weeks ago I gave the message in house church for that Sunday. My friend who helps translate unexpectedly couldn’t make it that morning, thus I was forced to share my message in Thai! This called for a much more simplified version of what I prepared, but still it is an indicator that I have improved! 

Thanks for reading, everyone!