It was hard to believe today would be our last full day at Khaodee. We finally figured out the schedule. The kids get up and do chores first thing in the morning around 6 am, change into their uniforms and have breakfast by 6:40 am. They head off to school between 7:00 – 7:20 am in the truck bus. We rode the bus with the middle school and grade school girls. It was another opportunity to talk to a couple girls even though my Thai was limited to “What’s your name” and “How old are you”.
While the kids were at school, we took the hard-working Khaodee staff out to lunch for hot pot at the local mall. (The duck was awesome as well as the green garlic noodles!) Mark, Nathan, Lisa, and I sat with P’Bonjung. We found out he was the cement guy. He helped with the foundation work at Khaodee. After lunch, we went to Swenson’s for dessert and the staff shared their prayer requests and we prayed for them. It was wonderful being able to take the staff out to give them a little break. The staff is small in number and aging compared to the 100 kids that are at this children’s home.
During dinner, I had a chance to talk to a few of the high school girls in English! Ahmonwan and the twins, Chutima & Chutimon. We talked about school and how many more years they have at Khaodee before college. The three of them only have one more year at Khaodee before heading off to the college house.
I was reminded of the sharing and prayer time with the college house girls from the evening before and I really felt a burden for the older kids who would be going off to the university soon. Khaodee is a place where they are immersed in a routine where worship and prayer time happens on a daily basis with the older kids leading the younger kids, but once they are at the college house even though they live together, they are kind of on their own. It was another reminder about what God has been recently teaching me that the Christian life is not meant to be walked alone. It’s hard to struggle alone and so easy to fall away without support and also, just as easy to live complacently & not realize how far you are out of God’s will. Not walking alone means letting your guard down and being vulnerable about your struggles and the challenges that God has placed in your life. My prayer for the college kids and the older kids soon to go is that there would be someone to walk beside them to hold them up if they fall and to remind them that they are not alone…that God loves them unconditionally and is always there for them and wants them back, even if they fall. Please pray for them!
For evening program, we played a glow in the dark Quidditch game. There were glow in the dark balls and frisbees flying around in the dark and lots of screaming once the lights went out. It was quite chaotic but the kids had a lot of fun.
After the program, we said our goodbyes to the kids and Pastor See Moon had the kids surround us in a circle and pray for us. If you’ve never experienced praying the Thai way, everyone prays at the same time out loud. Afterwards, there were individual goodbyes with the kids. One girl, Moon, who was standing right behind me hugged me really tight and wouldn’t let go. And there were more than a couple kids who asked “Are you coming back?” It was then that I realized how much our visit meant to them. I had seen in the past few days how the relationships built by returning team members made a big difference to the kids. Again, I was reminded of how we are not meant to “walk alone.” Making connections and having interactions with others is how you can see God working. Coming to Thailand, I had been fearful about the language and not being able to communicate with the kids, but God has shown me that even the smallest interaction like a greeting can make a difference. I don’t think there was one kid who walked by me without saying “sawadee” (hello). How often have I walked by people back home (even at church) and not greeted or acknowledged them? We had planned a lot of “activities” with the Khaodee kids, but sometimes it’s in the small moments (the simple hello, the smile, or even a hug) that God will reveal Himself but you have to be ready to act when God calls you to move.
Just when I felt like I was beginning to make some connections, it was time to go.
I wish I could say that I could remember all the names of the kids I met at Khaodee (I tried but most of their names are tricky and long!) but I leave Khaodee holding onto the promise that God the Father knows and calls each of them by name to claim them as His own. (Isaiah 43:1)
Next stop: House of Faith
Once we reached House of Faith, we were reunited with the other members of our team, Kim and Jennifer, who had spent most of the week helping HoF settle into their new house. (You will find out more about what they’ve been working on in their v-log.) We picked up the HoF kids from school and played quiet games with them before dinner. Jigsaw puzzles and Bingo were big favorites. For dinner, we had KFC. I couldn’t believe how excited the kids were for KFC and how much chicken they could eat! After dinner, they had homework time and we did a painting frame activity with those with no homework. We had worship time with the kids and sang praise songs in Thai and English. Toni did a picture story about the Prodigal Son to share with the kids about how much God the Father loves them and wants them.
First full day at House of Faith
Pastor Yo picked us up after dropping the kids off at school. The team split up with Kim, CJ, and Toni headed out to buy organizational supplies for the house so that the kids could be responsible in putting things back in the right place on their own. The rest of the team stayed behind to paint the whole downstairs (dining room and living room) plus the stairwell. We were trying to put on two coats of paint before the kids came home from school. Pim and Honda also came to help paint. It was a lot of work, but we kept going, knowing that the new paint job would brighten up the space.
During the late afternoon, the shopping team members returned and we re-organized the team to finish: painting the stairwell, organize and decorate the kids’ study room/bathroom/play area, put up the HoF portraits, and dinner prep.
We also had some special deliveries: the arrival of the basketball hoop, ping pong table, and the bunk beds! It was great being able to see the donations for the “Wall of Need” from the Reacts Benefits dinner come to fruition.
After a yummy dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread & ice cream, we helped the kids settle into their new bunk beds. They each got to pick their own bed sheet set.
It was a really busy day and not too much time to interact with the kids, but it felt good knowing that the House of Faith is being built on the sharing of God’s love with these kids through the donations and our labor.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” - Galatians 6:9-10