TITLE: A Change for Amanda. November 20, 2018
By Marlene Custer
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Sighing, Amanda turned off her computer, gathered up her jacket and purse, and trudged to her car. “Well, another day, another dollar,” she thought to herself as she started home. Before going into the house, Amanda checked her mailbox. “Probably a bill or two,” she thought. It was definitely going to be a melancholy evening.
“Hmmmm, this looks like news from the district church office,” she mused. Opening the envelope, her eyes were drawn to information about an upcoming trip.
“Help a small congregation build a church,” she read aloud. She continued to skim the article. In addition to construction, there would be an English camp held for children. “Come encourage a young congregation,” Amanda finished reading.
“Central Thailand...Is that Southeast Asia?” she pondered. She quickly brought up a map on her phone. “Definitely as far from here as possible.”
“An information meeting will be held next Sunday evening,” Amanda finished reading, then tossed it on the table.
As Amanda went through the motions of work the next two days, her mind kept drifting back to that trip to Thailand. Since her mother’s death two years ago, money was not an issue. By the weekend, she had decided to at least attend the information meeting.
Six months later Amanda was sitting at the gate for international flights to Asia. “I am actually going half way around the world,” she marveled to herself.
After a grueling 27-hour flight, the plane landed in Bangkok. In spite of weariness, Amanda’s senses were keen to her new surroundings—sounds of a different language, signage she could not read, and stifling heat.
The team spent two whirlwind days in Bangkok, adjusting to the time zone. While tourists admired the Grand Palace with its Emerald Buddha, Amanda felt an overwhelming compassion for the Thai people. “If they only knew the Truth,” she whispered to herself.
On the four-hour bus trip to the worksite, most of the team napped, but Amanda’s eyes were glued to the landscape and little obscure villages along the way. When they stopped at a roadside market, she gazed in wonder at all the different fruits she never knew existed—rambutan, guava, and mangosteen, to name a few. Someone peeled a pomelo so she and others could have a taste. “It looks like grapefruit, but tastes sweeter,” Amanda remarked as she licked her lips.
Amanda’s stomach felt aflutter as the bus finally approached the worksite. She focused on the small crowd of Thai people gathered where the bus would be stopping. Several young children pushed to the front. As soon as the bus stopped, the young Thai pastor, Daniel, and his wife, Jen were introduced to the group. Listening to them speak with hesitant English, Amanda thought, “I feel such a kinship with them.”
A few days later, while the team finished a breakfast of fried rice and eggs, Daniel and Jen shared their vision. “We want to expand our English Camps. They are a successful evangelism tool. Being proficient in English is a key to better jobs and education. More importantly, we can teach the Bible as part of our English lessons.”
Amanda leaned forward in her seat. “ I can get excited about giving to this,” she reflected. “I can share the Gospel by praying and giving to this endeavor.”
As the meeting ended, a little girl ran up to Amanda. “Good morning, Teacher,” she greeted.
Amanda’s heart melted as she hugged the little barefoot, bright-eyed child, complimenting her on her English. “We have more fun games for today. Ready?”
Amanda laughed as the girl answered, “Ready.”
All too soon the Thailand trip came to a close. Amanda’s heart warmed as she took in the new meeting facility, and thought about the new families coming to services as a result of their children participating in English camp. As the bus pulled away from the small village, Amanda felt hot tears flowing down her cheeks.
Returning home, Amanda was gripped anew by the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19. She wanted to do more than pray and give funds. Two months later, Amanda was finishing paperwork for her return to Thailand to be the new Central Thailand English Camp Coordinator. The Thailand trip had been more than an antidote for a monotonous job. It had been a life-changing experience!
* Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
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