One of the things that has amazed and delighted me throughout my tenure in Thailand has been the phenomenal intelligence and industry of my Thai co-workers in this ministry! It all began with Ms. Chonchineepan Acharayungkul, who was assigned to work with me when I first arrived in Thailand and my office was located in Chiang Mai. A seminary graduate whose husband worked as a chaplain at Payap University, she was quick to understand how much of the language I understood and was very helpful in interpreting activities and events of Thai life that I had observed, but did not fully comprehend the significance of, in those early days. Once she understood the goals of the program, she was quick to help me re-interpret those goals in a manner that was most helpful to the other Thai professionals who worked with me, helping me build relationships and see results.
When I was invited to move to Bangkok and work from the church headquarters, Ms. Wararat Chaisuk was already working there. She quickly became indispensable, as she knew far more than I did about the internal accounting systems, resources available for missionaries and all the informal networks within which office information truly flows. With a passion for ecumenical relations and interfaith work, Ms. Wararat Chaisuk had also studied at the Ecumenical Institute at Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland. In addition, she held a master’s degree in communication, which we used to craft better ways to “tell the story” of the ministry that we shared. We explored new avenues with social media. She also helped me interpret Thai customs and culture, but did not stop at just teaching me about it. She actually helped me to understand what the appropriate responses were to some of the activities and even the conversation that flowed around me. I knew the words and thought I understood their meaning.Ms. Wararat Chaisuk introduced me to new levels of meaning behind the words. I was devastated when she left to take a position at her alma mater.
But God knew better than I did that greater things were in store for Ms. Wararat Chaisuk and for me. While she developed new skills and built significant relationships in her new job, I met Mr. Worapod Sereerattanakul. The oldest of three boys in a Hmong family from Phitsanulok, he was also a seminary graduate who came to work with me in Bangkok. Quiet and unassuming, this young man is a silent superman. He has worked and traveled with me for more than a year, learning every aspect of this ministry and now, I have no qualms leaving him in charge if I need to be away for a time. As it is, he handles all the financials and the details that drive me crazy. At the same time, he can see the vision for what this ministry can do in the lives of Thai children, as well as for the volunteers who come. He has never flinched at any of the assignments I have given to him and now contributes new ideas and ways of doing this work that leave me in awe. His dream is to be a missionary himself, when he has completed his education. He wants to study missiology and I fully support his desire to do so, though I dread the thought of him leaving. Ah, well. Perhaps, God has another wonderful person in mind!