Shelly’s thoughts from her ministry trip to Thailand:
(Due to the sensitivity of those served on this trip we’ve had to limit the photos used)
Usually it is Phil who goes out on Mission Trips and travels to strange and exotic places. This time, Simon and I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand to serve God and many missionary families. Of course, we know God is incredible and He’s the master planner, but I am continually amazed how He puts all the pieces together. His timing is perfect.
Let me give you a little background information. Approximately 3 months ago, Phil was speaking in chapel at Wycliffe Associates and my name came up. A recruiter was listening to Phil that morning and asked him if his wife would consider going to Thailand to join the Kidzone Team. The Kidzone Team would be serving missionary families by putting on a VBS/Camp program for the children while their parents attended a conference.God’s timing is perfect—as a teacher, I have the summer off and that’s a great time to go on a Missions Trip.
The Thailand KidZone Team (Lori, Shelly, Simon & Marc).
One of my summer goals was to spend lots of time with my children. This past year was my first year as a VPK teacher at First Presbyterian of Mt. Dora. Although its a part-time position, I found myself putting in a full work week preparing lesson plans, researching and creating curriculum activities, picking up classroom supplies and taking on-line courses. It was tough on my kids to share their mom with my students. I thought if I could bring Simon with me on the trip to Thailand, it would be an opportunity to serve, share the experience with Simon and have time with him. It would help Simon understand what we’re trying to accomplish as a family. Many times, Simon hears we serve as a family, but it’s Phil who travels. I know kids learn best by having hands-on experience. Again, God’s timing is perfect and it’s amazing how He puts all the pieces together!
Simon shares with other missionaries about his first missions trip.
At orientation (2 days before the trip), God showed me again how He’s the master planner and His timing is so perfect! I learned that Marc (our Team Leader) had lost his whole team for one reason or another. The VBS/Camp portion of the conference was almost cancelled. The conference was still on, but the parent’s would need to juggle work and their children. Many had purchased airline tickets and prepared to attend workshops provided that there were accommodations for their children. For many of the families this was a reunion. They get a chance to see friends they only see once a year. Thankfully, God is SO GOOD. Nearly the same time that Simon and I came on board, another person had joined the team—Lori. Marc, Lori and I each brought to the conference, the things that we’re good at. God put together an incredible team. Marc had experience working with the older children, Lori would assist with the elementary age and Simon and I would take the 5 year olds and younger.
To be honest, I had many anxieties before the trip. Would there be language barriers? How would I handle cultural differences in responding to the children? Would we have enough materials to fill 2 weeks? How would I handle teaching, leading and having my son as an assistant? What would it be like working and living with people I barely knew? Would the materials be stimulating and of interest to the children? What if our VBS luggage was lost?
Shelly and Simon were able to treat the VBS kids to an elephant ride.
The answer to these questions and many more is be willing to serve. All God wants from me is to be willing to serve others, do the best that I can do to plan and prepare, be flexible, love others, learn from day-to-day experiences, guide my children and share the gifts he supplies. All I need is trust that God will provide what’s needed for any situation.
What did I love? Meeting all the children and families. It was interesting to hear about the areas they served and how they creatively share Jesus with others. One missionary woman started a women’s ministry masked as a cookie business with locals living in Nepal. This is a chance for her to help these local women earn money and at the same time share Jesus with them. Another person used henna tattoos tell Bible stories. And another used oral story telling to teach the Bible. The area he works in doesn’t have a Bible written in their native tongue, but he meets with a group consistently and tells the Bible stories orally. Afterward the stories are discussed much like a Bible study and the nationals are asked to pass on the stories to others.
Riding a giant. What a fun experience for Simon.
Of course, we had struggles on the trip, but we managed to work through the issues. I am thankful my team was willing to be honest and open with each other. It allowed us to work through them in an efficient manner.
It was interesting serving in a distant land. The children were incredibly intelligent. One child spoke Finnish, English and Chinese. Another child explained that his school in Chaing Mai has Monkey Drills–similar to Fire Drills. Apparently, his school is located next to monkey exhibit and should the monkeys escape the children are to shut the windows and hide under their desks.
VBS kids get to enjoy some fresh coconut.
The hardest part was saying good-bye. Simon asked, “Why would God let me become friends with someone for such a short time”? That’s a difficult question to answer. The best I could come up with is to be grateful for the time you have with that person—even if it’s only for a little while.
Simon and I would like to thank everyone for the prayers, support and generosity we’ve received. It was a wonderful and memorable experience. God willing, we would love to go back.
Simon works with the children, painting and having fun!
The street food was nice too. This is one of the favorite chefs during the trip.
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