In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Church of Christ in Thailand (our partner in mission here) will open a new site for Young Adult Volunteers in Thailand. We’ve been planning this for over a year and are so excited that it will finally happen! The Young Adult Volunteer program of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a one-year adventure in Christian service and servant leadership for college graduates between the ages of 21 and 30. It has several objectives:
- To experience living in intentional Christian community — Whether or not the young adults live under the same roof, they explore what it means to be a Christian community.
- To focus on spiritual formation — Through the mentorship of site coordinators and fellow interns, young adults reflect on their experiences and explore their relationship to the church and their ministry in a broken world.
- To engage young adults in the church’s mission — The church seeks to provide opportunities for young adults to serve the church and their communities. Young adults experience and develop leadership within communities of faith. With training and support, they can provide leadership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in the ecumenical church.
- To assist YAVs in vocational discernment.
- To be present in communities of need and to facilitate young adults’ engagement in communities of need.
In Thailand, the YAV program will have some unique characteristics. In the first place, all the Young Adult Volunteers who serve in Thailand will live together in one of three sites. In 2014, the first YAV House that will opened will be in Bangkok. It will house four volunteers who will serve in four different ministries of the church. The Bangkok YAV House is the house that I moved into just before Christmas. It is a tiny three-story building, nestled among towering condominium complexes, on a small lane between two major streets in Bangkok. Its best feature is its proximity to the best rapid transit system in the city: the Bangkok Skytrain. It is only a ten-minute walk away! The walled “yard” is barely larger than the footprint of the house and is entire made of poured concrete. There are four-and-one-half bedrooms (I don’t think the last room really qualifies as a bedroom, but we are putting a bed in there anyway!) and four baths, a kitchen, a living room, and a third-floor terrace that stares out onto monoliths of Bangkok skyscrapers. You can hear traffic and sirens all night long and the glow from the lights of the condominium parking areas keeps the building well-lit at all hours of the day and night.
But inside, it is a whole new adventure. Last night, at 10 PM, we unloaded the truck from Chiang Mai that delivered all of my worldly possessions to Bangkok. Five delightful young men (including a new neighbor and the night watchman from the condominium complex on the opposite side of the lane) helped us unload the truck and get everything inside and out of sight. Boxes, a mattress, chairs, and more boxes block the view of everything in the living room except the front door (on the right). There are more boxes on the second floor and even more on the third floor. And I have company coming tomorrow :)! The four CVT volunteers from Nagaland will be spending the weekend with me because, on Thursday, 2 January, they have to be on hand to go to the Ministry of Labor to pick up their work permits and then travel to Thai Immigration to get their visas extended. It will be fun to see whether we can a) find and put together a bed so that no one has to sleep on the floor and b) find more washcloths and towels so that none of them will repeat my experience of last Sunday! If all goes well, I should have some idea of what it will be like to have four YAVs in the house. Don’t stop praying for us! Happy New Year!