Through Faith and Grace: Mission Trip to Chiangmai - The Ark Home and Monk Chat Programme
Another part of our mission trip was visiting the Ark Home, a home for boys run by members of Hope Chiangmai. The boys were all so charming and I would love to show you more pictures of them, but in order to protect their identities I will not be posting any pictures of their faces.
When we first came, the boys greeted us politely, but they were quite shy and reserved around us. We tried to break the ice by playing soccer with them, but we soon came to realise that not all of them liked playing soccer and were just hanging around the house. So Huijun whipped out her loom band set and started playing with some of them. Soon, wordless bonds began to form. The boys were so clever! A couple of them already knew what to do, and I became their student!
We also helped to cook for the boys over the two days we were there. We were very touched to learn that Dee, who is like a mother to these boys, comes every day to cook and care for them on top of her own day job. We were inspired by her love and commitment to these boys.
On the second day, we conducted a mini English camp for them. We first played double whacko with them, which had us all laughing hysterically. We taught them English songs and had a mini home building competition. We split the boys into three teams and gave them newspaper, masking tape, straws and a time limit. Even though one of the teams struggled to finish on time, Leroy kept extending the time for them. It was very thoughtful of him, he said that he wanted to make sure that every team had a house that could stand. Eventually all the teams finished, and we put their houses together. Leroy then shared a very meaningful lesson to the boys (translated by Dee of course). He said that these homes were good, but they were better and stronger when put together. In the same way, the boys should build their home together, take care of each other and love each other.
We had so much fun with the boys, and on the second day they welcomed us excitedly! Even though we didn't undertand much of what they were saying, we somehow managed to communicate through body language. I had to keep asking Dee and Goi (the caretakers of the boys who could speak a little English) for Thai phrases over and over again to talk to the boys. But even with the language barrier, I believe that through the unspoken language of love we were able to connect with the boys and impact their lives.
Boy did they love our cameras
It was heartbreaking to part with the boys after the second day. We took polaroids with each of them and put them up on a board. They also sweetly wrote us a thank you card. The final thing we did was to pray for each other. I can really see the impact that God's love can make in a child's life. We came to learn that many of these boys had originally come from government orphanages, and through the love and guidance in God's word that they receive in the Ark Home, have grown in their self esteem and identity. The boys live in harmony with each other, and know how to be responsible for themselves and their home. For example, one of the younger boys spilt his drink, and without having to be told, an older boy immediately fetched the mop and cleaned it up. My prayer for the boys was that as they grow older, they would continue to know God's love for them. Also that they would grow into men of God, who would take all the love they have received while growing up and use it to shine light into the lives of others around them. The boys have a special place in my heart, each of them, and I am looking forward to going back in the future to visit them again.
"Chai loves Enying"
In the morning before our second visit to the Ark Home, we went to a temple in Chiangmai for a monk chat program.
It was a really fruitful time of talking to the monks. One was fluent in English while the other could speak Chinese quite well. We started off by asking them to tell us more about Buddhism and what they believe in. We talked about things like reincarnation, karma and nirvana. As the conversation progressed, one of the monks had a book on world religions and took it out, and so we asked him if he had any questions he wanted to ask about Christianity. He did have a few things that he didn't really understand from the book, and so we explained them to him. We even got to show him some verses from the Bible! I would have never expected that we would be able to do that. Overall, the conversations we had were very interesting. They opened my eyes to different cultures and the ways different people think. The monks were also more exposed to modern culture and technology than I expected, which meant that a lot of the assumptions and preconceptions that I had before about monks were rightfully challenged! We're thankful that we managed to have a meaningful discussion about our different beliefs, and I believe we both left with our perspectives widened.
Check back again soon if you're interested to hear more about the second leg of our mission trip to Chiang Mai! :)
In His Love,