On Monday we started the routine of being an AH volunteer! We are own our own as a team until 1pm when we join the men from NewLife here. There are 11 Thai men aged 17-51 that are in the NewLife half-way home. They are coming out of either prison or drug rehab and have given their hearts to the Lord. The NewLife guys come to Abba House every day and work on the grounds, building, cleaning, and improving the campus, share lunch together and then spend the afternoons with us as we teach. we spend the afternoons with. At 1pm we join them in an open-air classroom and 2 from the team share a "testimony" aka: mini-Bible study on a verse and application time -with our wonderful friend and translator working along side us for the time. On my day I spoke on the Greatest Commandment- Loving God with our WHOLE Hearts and ended up teaching for 45mins as the Lord led me through His Word. Just in the process of preparing each day's studies we have been learning and growing so much.
Afterwards Dave, a guy from Michigan who is a volunteer here, and Francis, who along with his wife are on staff, join us in in worship - both in Thai and in English depending on the song. This week we taught a few Christmas songs in English and had them teach us a few Thai Christmas songs as well! After an hour of worship we split into 3 groups and teach English until 4-4:15pm. I teach the advanced class with teammates Ivy and Allysha. We have 5 guys in our class and each one of them I have come to dearly love and admire in this last week. Pi'Dave is the oldest of all the men at 51, and spent 13 years in prison. (Pi' is put in front of their names to distinguish that they are elder to you in the Thai culture) He is very good at English and is such a grandpa, taking care to help the other guys and translating even a bit for us as we try to teach more difficult words and lessons. Pi'Veerawot is the next oldest, having spent 17 years in prison - part of that time pastoring his fellow inmates after he came to know the Lord and and having just been released a few months ago. His testimony is truly amazing and in brief he had people sent to kill him several times while in prison because of his faith, each time the Lord protecting him. He too can communicate with us fairly well. Veerawot is a sweetheart and within him is a very deep well that I can hardly wait to learn more from. Throughout the week there were many times when I felt that he saw me in a way many people do not, and we'd often end up smiling at each other from across the room. Pi'Chon is in late 30's-40's (i think) and has the most difficult time learning English, knowing very little himself, but too much to be in a lower level class. Chon is the handy-man though and has been so nice to help us out by helping flip the breaker when we got in the first night (did someone forget the international voltage change? haha), making ladders to get on our very tall bunk beds, finding out why our water stopped working over Christmas and many other things! He truly has a servant heart. Next is Moo, a young man in his early 20's whose "purpose" is to spread the Word of the Lord. His passion and drive is unbridled and I admire his heart so much. He is very good at English and often it is Dave and Moo who are translating instructions/ clarifying word meanings between the guys and us. And our youngest pupil, Tom, is Mr.Musicbox. He is pretty good at communicating, but it is still very difficult for him. He is so funny and very talented - always rapping, playing the drums, piano, or guitar, or listening to his headphones and loving the grooves.
We spent the week of lessons learning "communicating directions" - how to give/understand directions to and from places in town. A very useful tool, the guys can now verbally give and/or write directions in English, which we are hoping to get use from in the next few weeks as well! haha
At 4:30pm the guys go back to the New Life house, about 3 miles from here. And the girls get back from school! There are 18 girls aging 8-15 with 2 in their early 20's who live here at AHF with us. And there is also, little Laa, a 10 year old boy who lives here in the guy's dorm with Dave. These are "at risk" kids whose mothers are prostitutes, who have been in the sex slave trade, or are orphans. Splitting into 2 groups, we all share a dinner made by the amazing Famai - our cook and now a dear friend of mine. Then after dinner we have an hour off while the kids do chores and then we then get into our small groups and teach the girls English - this we've found is much more difficult to communicate - but really fun just the same. Co-leading with Catherine, our small group has Bee2, Ked, Nay, and Ya - ages 11 and 13. (I'll post a picture of them soon!) Each and every one of them is so full of joy and an eagerness to learn, I can not imagine how anyone would every wish to inflict pain on any of them. Many of them have heart wrenching stories but an incredible testimony of God's love prevailing in each one of their lives, now being taken care of here in the folds of AHF. I am so honored to be here and will tell more stories soon! Including Christmas spent with Abba House Foundation!