Last semester, I had the amazing opportunity to go Thailand through Clayton King Ministries. While I was there, I got to experience all kinds of different things and God taught me a lot. I got to do fun things like riding an elephant and releasing floating lanterns from the rooftop of the church, but I also did some challenging things like trying to have conversational practice with a semi-interested group of high schoolers and surviving a car ride while sick. I even learned seven different words or sayings within the week! However, what God taught me while I was there is what is going to stick with me the rest of my life. I’ll sum it up in three little points that I’ll go on to elaborate: patience, encouragement, and teamwork.
Patience: This is something that it seems like everyone will say they need more of. I know it is very true for me! But while in Thailand, I think I learned the meaning of that word on a whole new level. While we did have a translator, we still had to work hard to communicate with the people we were talking to. The translator wasn’t always by us or with our group, so we had to be creative with ways to try to get our message across. It was often funny, and we got to laugh at each other, but it was also sometimes frustrating when what I wanted to say wasn’t understood and visa-versa. However, the desperate longing for understanding on both parts kept the team going. The students we worked with wanted to understand us and we wanted to understand them. God answered our prayers of patience as we worked to communicate.
Encouragement: I never really thought about how much a few words can do, but words really are powerful. I got to see kid’s faces light up when I or one of the team members would tell them they did a good job. Little words of encouragement, genuine encouragement, helped me get through each day as well. Team members pointing out something that I did well and helping me improve in other areas, comforting me when I did get sick, and cheering me on when it was my turn to do something are all things that motivated me. With our little team of eight, it was easy to get comfortable enough to do this too. We quickly learned about each other and were able to provide encouragement when needed. Returning from the trip, that was something that I have been working hard on getting better at. Just a few words can make the biggest difference.
Teamwork: Like I said, our team was small. That has its pros and cons. It could have been easy to get frustrated with each other after living under the same roof for a week, but I think our team did very well! We broke off into our smaller groups easily to work on different things. Even though my group was the story group, we helped out the craft group with preparing their supplies. We got help from the craft group and music group and creating our props. We all were able to openly share ideas and critique each other in order to improve. That kind of teamwork is something I want to achieve in every group setting. It can be hard, and it might make some people uncomfortable because that kind of teamwork requires vulnerability and a willingness to make changes.