In Thailand as learners

MIS_sayyesThailand (MIS) — Editor’s note: Kelsey Gaines and Melissa Mitchell interned in Thailand and wrote about their life-changing discoveries.

Neither of us has a background in teaching or a plan to pursue a career in education, and yet somehow we have both found ourselves in southern Thailand doing just that: teaching. We had learned in our intern training about the importance as entering cultures as “learners.” So we decided that our approach should be to spend the months in Thailand as learners, even though our role was that of teachers.

As the first group of students arrived to the classroom, our hosts, Ubolwan and Nantachai, informed us that we would be teaching, even though we had thought we would simply be observing. We didn’t have a lesson planned; we didn’t know how much English the kids could speak or read. The next hour was absolute chaos!

One of us was flipping madly through books, while the other was writing various English words on a white board and having the students read them aloud. In the midst of the insanity, we realized something very important: the skills and talents we had would not be enough. We would have to be dependent on the Lord.

He made it evident that this ministry was already established and that, above all, we were to serve our hosts and love their students without an agenda. We realized we were not here for ourselves. We were here to be used by God as a bridge for Ubolwan and Nantachai (a Thai couple who has ministered for many years among their own people) to be able to talk with their students about the character of the Savior, who loves them greatly.

Approaching this internship as learners has allowed both of us to grow in understanding of God’s character, to abandon our agendas, and to genuinely love those we come in contact with. This internship has given us a time and place to better understand our individual roles in God’s mission for the nations. Through the ups and downs of being immersed in another culture, God has spoken truth into our lives that we can carry forward into our future ministries.

In the beginning, we were not sure why the Lord had us here in Thailand, but our saying “yes” to this opportunity has allowed us to understand the importance of being obedient. Through this, we have experienced a bit of what God is doing in this nation, and we have realized that through our obedience, God reveals His plans for us.

Gaines says, “After learning much more about who God is and what He is doing in Thailand, my current plans are to finish my degree at Texas A&M and attend seminary for counseling following graduation.”

Mitchell says she wants to graduate from Georgia Southern University in December and begin school for occupational therapy. She writes, “After this, I plan to pursue medical missions with a specialization in therapy for children with disabilities–wherever the Lord leads me!”

Pray that the Lord will continue leading Kelsey and Melissa to where they are meant to be and that they will continue to rely on Him.