We finally arrived! Uncle Terry and Aunty Linda came to fetch us at the airport in two trucks and a van. It was late and we didn’t do much. After reaching the house, which was owned by a man named Kitichai who generously lent it to us for our stay, we unpacked and sat for debrief. Uncle Terry once again told us to be prepared to leave with our hearts stolen away. Not knowing what that meant, many of us didn’t pay heed to it. Little did we know how true that statement was. After the debrief, we went to sleep.
Today, Karlo, Jeremy, Ecclesiastes and Mrs Lim made our breakfast. Once we ate our fill, we headed down to LTC. For those who don’t know what that is, LTC, which means Lahu Training Centre, is basically a Bible college. To get there, we took a truck. Instead of sitting in a stuffy air conditioned area with all of us squishing each other, we road at the back of the truck with the cool winter wind and a whole lot of fresh air. It was a wonderful experience, one that many of us had never done before. When we got to LTC, the first thing we saw was their soccer field. It was big! The boys were all excited to play with the other LTC students but we had other things to do first. Mrs Boey shared about the Holy Spirit, Karlo shared his testimony and Mr Raj shared with the LTC students on the beatitudes after a short but wonderful worship session. When done, we broke up into small groups to share and interact with the other students. We found it quite hard as the language barrier posed a huge challenge for both us and the students. Mrs Valluvan, Mrs Lim, Mrs Rajan and some of us students helped out with cooking lunch for the whole school. The menu: chicken curry. It was wonderful! Finally we got to play with the students. The guys played with the guys from LTC, and the girls played with the girls in LTC. After playing, the boys from our school went with the students of LTC to learn how to cut banana trees and the girls climbed the hill to pick tea leaves and mustard seeds. One thing we learned from this was how patient the LTC students were with us. Even when we kept making mistakes, they just laughed it off and showed us the right way. When we got back, Nabi, our translator braided the girls’ hair. By then it was dinner time and we headed to church where we had a scrumptious thanksgiving dinner. After that, we took trucks to Uncle Terry’s church where we had a wonderful church service. Our students played a song, and Mrs Kwang shared her testimony. We finally ended the day with a debrief.
Morning came and Elisha, Ting Yi, Mrs Valluvan and Vino helped set the table and make breakfast. When we were all ready, we headed to LTC once more. It was our last day to be with the LTC students so we were all quite upset. Today Mrs Lim shared, and Mr Raj continued the sharing of the beatitudes. Then, Mrs Rajan came up to teach the students basic English. It was a fun and interactive way of teaching, where our students demonstrated how to use phrases such as, “good morning, how are you and how old are you,” and the LTC students practiced with each other. For lunch, apart from rice, meat and vegetables, we had one extra dish – fried worms. For those who have never eaten them, fried worms are crunchy and salty, a wonderful add-on to a simple dish. After lunch, we tried out the traditional costume of the Lahu people. The design was one of bright colours set on a black background. For added design, there were silver bells on it that jingled, making a soft delicate sound as you walk about. We had a time of photo taking while the students crowded around us looking. Though we didn’t want to leave the LTC compound at all, we went to see the Myanmar-Thailand border and then went for a picnic on a beautiful forest area. When we came back to LTC, it was already dark. We had a campfire complete with games, dancing, singing, a time of sharing of testimony by Timothy, prayer and food. It was here that we finally had to say goodbye to all of the students. We were touched by the simple way they lived their lives and how much on fire they were for God.
After eating a scrumptious breakfast made by Ramona, Samantha, Eunice and Mrs Rajan, we brought our luggage down and onto the truck. We were on our way to Mae Sai. First, we stopped at the Golden Triangle where we shopped and ate lunch. After that, we went to our hotel to unpack and unwind. When that was done, Elisha, Ramona, Ting Yi, Eunice, Samantha, Mrs Lim, Mrs Boey, Aunty Linda and Vino went to an orphanage, while Karlo, Jeremy, Ecclesiastes, Mrs Valluvan, Mrs Rajan, and Mr Raj went to DTS, Discipleship Training School. The orphanage was made up of 7 girls, the couple who ran it and their two sons. At the orphanage, Mrs Lim narrated the story of the prodigal son and shared her life story with the girls. We hugged each of them and gave the gifts we had made or gotten for them. Many of the girls were touched and cried. It was a touching experience and we stayed longer than we intended to. At DTS, Mr Raj shared his life story, and many were touched as well. The students made friends with our students and left a lasting impression on them. The one thing that stood out in both the orphanage and DTS was the degree of sincerity in their worship. Afterwards, we had a steamboat dinner and headed back to the hotel.
On the last day of our mission trip, we ate the breakfast buffet provided by the hotel, did some last minute shopping, and then headed to the airport. None of us wanted to leave, and we were all sad. True to his word, Uncle Terry was spot on when he said we would have our hearts stolen. However, each of us knew we were touched by this experience, and through it we became more certain that there really was a true God, Jesus Christ.
When asked to comment on the trip, Karlo said, “Life is short. We need to use our short life to glorify God.” What he said was what each of us students felt. None of us wanted to leave, and each of us would love to go back there, not only to help the people in Thailand, but also to learn from them.