Unsure of what you want to do after high school? Do you want to strengthen your relationship with God? Travel overseas? Throughout my final year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for further study; most young people would know the feeling. I contemplated going straight into university, however it’s […]
Unsure of what you want to do after high school? Do you want to strengthen your relationship with God? Travel overseas? Throughout my final year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for further study; most young people would know the feeling. I contemplated going straight into university, however it’s an expensive thing to do simply to have a test run, and I didn’t want to risk getting into something I wasn’t keen on. In May 2015, at the LCNZ Synod, I met Glenice Hartwich (LCA International Mission) who told me about volunteering through the church in countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, and others. After hearing many stories about how beautiful Thailand is, I decided to go to Bangkok and work at the Home of Praise, a nursery for young children and babies in the Klong Toey slum.
When I arrived on a hot, thunderstormy day, I had no idea what lay ahead for me.
I lived in the same building as the Immanuel Lutheran Church. On the second floor they had the Immanuel Church Music School, and on the third and fourth floor they had the Immanuel Nursery for 4-6 year olds. On the fifth floor was where the pastor and his family, the housekeeper and I lived.
During my two months in Bangkok, I ended up working at both nurseries, four days a week. Five days a week I taught piano in the afternoons, and English in the evenings, and once a week I would go to LST (Lutheran Seminary Thailand) and I would teach piano to the students, accompany the choir, and also play for the mid-week services there. I was kept very busy!
But I loved it. I loved the hustle and bustle of the big city, I loved the laid back attitude of the Thai people, I loved how friendly and welcoming all my colleagues were, I loved arriving back at the church after sight-seeing in the city, and being greeted with ‘Pi Mali!’ by all the young children. ‘Pi’ means ‘sister’, and ‘Mali’ is the Jasmine flower. This is how all the children and teachers at the nurseries would call me.
However it wasn’t all happy times. I heard some difficult stories about the backgrounds of the kids at the nurseries. Some of the children at the Home of Praise were actually too old to be there, however if they didn’t go to the nursery during the day, they would just be left alone at home, or an older sibling of just 7 or 8 would be in charge of looking after them. They would be left wandering the slums, a big and dangerous area. Some of them were so young they couldn’t speak properly. Another child would often come to the nursery smelly; her mother who dropped her off each morning always looked well made up, she felt unable to care for her children in that way. These little children that felt neglected by their parents would always be the most affectionate, constantly touching the teachers, just wanting to feel loved and appreciated.
The staff in the nurseries showed so much love towards these kids, gave them great learning opportunities and made each and every child feel special and wanted. I wish I could have stayed longer to be a part of that.
I think that these two months of volunteering will have a lasting impact on my life. Now that I am back home in NZ I realise how many things I took for granted. Things like safe roads, a roof over my head and walls around me to keep me warm, fresh food, loving family and friends. It has also inspired me to study nursing at university, a career that gives me the possibility of working around the world, and the chance to help those in need every day.
For those who are unsure of what they want to do after high school, don’t feel pressure to rush into university just for the sake of it. Take time off, do something a little out of your comfort zone, and venture into this world that God has given us.
‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email email@example.com. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/
Read more stories about volunteering at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/