As I sat down on the grass in front of the school at the end of my day’s work, I hear footsteps carefully and cautiously approaching me. I look up to the company of three Karen students with notebooks and pencils in hand. As they nervously giggle, one nudges the other to go ahead, encouraging her to approach me. The most beautiful eyes look up into mine, handing me what appears to be an interview questionnaire. She had carefully written out questions in English to gather information about a person, while also practicing reading and writing in English and her self confidence.
She asked me, “How are you?” I answer, “I am well!” I write my answer down for her and help her practice reciting back my answer. While the others silently and nervously giggled, we continued with her questions and my replies both in English and Thai. Each time, both encouraging each other and giggling over each others attempts in each other’s own language. As we finished up, she bowed her head and clasped her hands together with these words of respect and gratitude, “Kob khun kha” (thank you).
“Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am our God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
As they scurried away, I couldn’t help but think how courageous it was to not only approach me as a newcomer to her village, but to find the strength and courage to ask me questions in a very foreign language to her. This simple exercise was so powerful and just one example of the education and empowerment that is being instilled in these children through the teachers and ITDP at the Ma Oh Jo School. The hope and encouragement they are providing for their futures is evident.
I also couldn’t help to think how this simple exercise of faith and hope was much bigger than just the teachers, ITDP and beyond… This was the steadfast love of our greatest Encourager working through others to lift these beautiful children up to one day live out His purpose. I too, was inspired and encouraged on this trip from that simple act of faith and confidence in this precious child of God.
He speaks to us in many different ways, if we are still enough to listen.
Written by Debbie Tingley
Debbie has been to Ma Oh Jo Village almost yearly for the past 5 years, she’s completed 4 service project trips and she is currently serving on the Lanna Foundation Board as a member.