God can work through a wide variety of situations in life to give us His bigger picture and turn our attention off of ourselves.
The first trip to the Orient in 2004 definitely left me a bit wiser. Staying in Taiwan for two consecutive years has stretched me even more. Then recently, living for a few days in the mountains of Thailand, visiting the markets, temples and schools there, I had yet another chance to see others from God’s perspective rather than my own. With each step I realize how selfish I’ve been! How blind to the needs of others! Content to find a “comfortable place” to stay rather than experiencing security in the furthest reaches of God’s best in meeting others’ needs!
The King Car Education Foundation hosted our trip to Thailand. Instead of taking a simple winter vacation, “vacation-teaching” for three schools was arranged–as well as visits to three other rural schools. The days flew. Simple lessons with simple picture flashcards went a long way. (One thing that was interesting to see was how few pronunciation problems the children had. Maybe Thai is more like English than Chinese in that it’s words consist of multiple syllables, making it easier for them to both hear and blend longer letter-combinations into one word.) From the beginning we appreciated the attentiveness the students showed and I also began noticing that with less influence from “the modern world” they were deeply personable and emotionally mature. This greatly complemented their attentiveness.
As a whole, the Chinese of Northern Thailand are a notable group.
Like the Chinese of Taiwan they had left China when the Communists took over. Since that time they have not only survived but become a blessing to the area. It was another example of character being the most valuable asset to success.
Trying the food, hearing a living history lesson from a soldier-turned-school principal, riding elephants, bird-watching, seeing the “Golden Triangle” where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet, and visiting the palace and the summer house of their king and queen all made for memorable highlights. But the brightest highlight was knowing that we were on the front line. The people in northern Thailand have a heart to learn English and we were the first native speakers to meet them! We found that behind the show of world events, media and technology, thousands of people want to learn English and hear the kinds of things that English-speaking people have to say. Reciprocally, their lives also are worth our interest and we not them are usually the ones with the resources to make the connection. That’s my motivation for writing this post: to let you know that if you can speak English and if you have a couple interesting ways of teaching English to others, much of the world would be glad to be your audience–just because of your native tongue.
Consider teaching English. The invitation is there. And if God calls us to the front line, we really shouldn’t be surprised.