When they say that time passes swiftly, they don’t mention that sometimes it escapes you completely and you are left wondering where it went. This is a story that should have been posted in February or March, but time got away from me. A wonderful young man came to Thailand in January to help us tell the story of our work here. In this retrospective look at his visit, I will share with you our goals for his assignment here and links to the wonderful videos that he compiled from the hours of video footage he shot in many locations here in Thailand.
I met Daniel Pappas in November of 2018 when he came to Thailand with a visiting team from Grace Presbytery in North Texas. At the time, he was working at Grace Presbytery as a videographer and he came on the trip to make a living record of all the people and church ministries that the team visited. I was so impressed by this young man and his work that I tried to figure out a way that we might have him come and help us tell our stories more effectively. In January 2019, using funds from a generous bequest left by a member of Red Bluff Presbyterian Church in Red Bluff, California, Daniel arrived in Bangkok to help us out. Over the next five weeks, Daniel met all of our active Christian Volunteers in Thailand and several of our alumni who are still working here. He interviewed each person about their experience in the CVT Program. He shot footage of cultural sites, tourist meccas, beautiful beaches, and children in the classroom and on the playground. Several weeks after his travels ended, Daniel sent us this very short but comprehensive introductory video: https://vimeo.com/320997466
Not satisfied with a video of me with me doing most of the talking, I asked Daniel to produce more videos where others were sharing their experiences in this program. One of our goals was to use these videos to recruit new volunteers and we know that prospective volunteers want to know what other volunteers have seen, learned, attempted and achieved during their tenure in the program. Blending together footage from the interviews of several different volunteers, Daniel sent a second, longer introductory video that is a more comprehensive look at the work of Christian Volunteers in Thailand, a ministry that many of you support. That video arrived a few weeks later: https://vimeo.com/318321674
While most “gap year” programs or programs that attempt to attract volunteers to serve overseas are directed at a younger audience, many of the volunteers who are currently active in the Christian Volunteers in Thailand program are retirees. Unlike programs such at the YAV (Young Adult Volunteer) Program of the Presbyterian Church (USA) or the YAGM (Young Adults in Global Mission) Program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Christian Volunteers in Thailand does not have an upper age limit. We have found that many “Baby Boomers” missed out on the chance to explore the world and/or engage in church mission overseas when they were younger and are now eager to dip their toes in the water in their active retirement years. With that in mind, Daniel produced a video specifically directed to this audience. Daniel was particularly skilled in drawing on the experience of those volunteers to speak of the work they are doing and their experiences in Thailand: https://vimeo.com/335432064/5c4e2888e3
Not to be outdone, the younger crowd wanted something for their audience as well. This was a slightly different story – a story of “getting lost along the way” that has been shared by some of our volunteers. Sometimes, in life, the way ahead is not clear. Some of the CVTs have taken a year or two and come to Thailand to serve in order to have the opportunity to envision a whole new life and ministry through service, through the four retreats that are offered annually, through new friends and relationships, through trying something new. In this video, Daniel tapped the stories of some volunteers trying new things and seeing life from another perspective. He also introduces the Xiong family, a family of five, who were active in the CVT Program for two year and still serve in Thailand today. While many programs are restricted to individuals, the CVT Program recognizes that couples and families want to serve together. The Xiong children played among all their “aunts and uncles” during the retreats they attended in the CVT Program. Part of their story is in this video: https://vimeo.com/340262161/c9f25aaac2
Finally, I cannot close without mentioning the work of our volunteers from the state of Nagaland in India. More than a dozen young men and women have come to the CVT Program through the work of the Nagaland Mission Movement. They have served with distinction at Christian schools throughout Thailand and several have stayed beyond their term of service in the CVT Program to continue working as teachers in the schools here. Because there is such a close tie between the Nagaland Baptist Church Council and the Church of Christ in Thailand, more Naga mission workers are planning to come. They deserve their own video, telling their stories of life in the CVT Program. Daniel took the time to put together a special video for them. It was hard to say “Goodbye” to Daniel when he left, but he has left us a legacy of videos that tell the story better than I have been able to do through my letters: https://vimeo.com/327611505/858f4903a6
I hope you have enjoyed these videos and the stories they tell from the perspective of the volunteers themselves. We are still looking for those who would give a year or two of their lives to these children to help them learn to speak English and use it every day in conversation. We need you. Will you come? Our next Orientation for New CVT Volunteers begins on Saturday, September 28, 2019. You can find the application on our website at www.teachingenglishinthailand.org.