What Do Typical American College Students Do On School Break?
From what I remember of those years, the majority of them head to the beach for a week of surfing, partying, meeting new people and generally having a good time.What do Thai college students do on their term break?Well this past week LaMon and I had an opportunity to find out.
On Tuesday morning we helped pack up our borrowed pickup truck along with 4 rented trucks to travel 180 kilometers into the mountains of Northern Thailand where we would be working in a Karen village.We were joined by 31 students from the Christian studies department of Payap University along with 5 nursing students.What was the plan?We were going to a remote mountain village to share with the people there.After 6 hours of traveling remote roads over the highest mountain in Thailand, a broken down rental truck, transferring bags (the rental truck had to turn back to Chiang Mai for repairs), and finally a flat tire on our truck, we arrived in the village of Naklong.
We quickly were dispersed to various houses of villagers where we would stay for the next 3 nights.LaMon and I were placed in the home of one of our students whose parents gave us their bed and provided us with the best their home had to offer. Even though our student's mother cannot speak any Thai we were welcomed by her smiling face and were made to know that we were very welcome in her home. The village is nestled in a valley between towering mountain peaks.The village has no electricity, baths are taken in COLD water and food is cooked over an open fire.It also is the home of a school with a hostel that houses over 100 Karen children from villages much deeper in the mountains.These children come to Naklong to live during the school term.They range in age from 6 years to 11 years of age.
On Tuesday evening, after a wonderful dinner of Thai food prepared by the students we trekked down the mountain for our first worship service of the week.We learned songs in Thai, Karen, Lahu, Akha and English.It was a wonderful time of fellowship and the beginnings of developing relationships.LaMon shared a sermon with the group after which we returned by flashlight to a restful, though cold, night of sleep.
On Wednesday morning the students met with the hostel children and nearby families to begin distribution of the items that they had brought to share.Each child received a notebook and a pencil for the new school term.Clothes were handed out to each child as well as blankets, mosquito nets and various other items that the students had purchased and collected to be shared with the villagers.The students also played games with the children and taught them new songs in Thai and English.The morning quickly passed with times of fun and fellowship.
The hard work began in the afternoon; the main purpose of the trip was to provide a cement floor for the hostel.The students had purchased all of the needed materials and brought them with us to the village.We had over 30 bags of cement, sand and rocks with which to mix the cement.It was amazing to watch the students work together in teams to mix the cement, form lines to carry it to the flooring site and then return the empty buckets to be refilled and sent back. We had no wheelbarrows, so the bucket brigade was the fastest and most efficient way to get the work done.After a day and a half of backbreaking work the floor was finally finished.But more was accomplished than just a cement floor.The students learned that farang (the Thai word for foreigners) Adjans (the Thai word for professor) could work along side their students.We learned a great deal about the hearts of our students, the love they showed to the children and the villagers.Many long lasting relationships were bound together.Two of the nursing students are not yet Christian and they saw the love of Christ exhibited to these villagers in many varied ways.
As we traveled back to Chiang Mai on Friday we left with hearts full of gratitude for the warm welcome we had received from these poor mountain villagers.Even as we were driving away they were stopping us giving us offerings of fruit, vegetables, cloth they had woven and wonderful smiles.It was indeed a week well spent in sharing God's love and learning so much about how to minister and be ministered to.