One of the reasons why Jason and I chose to do DTS in Chiang Mai, even though it is readily available in Singapore, is because we wanted to immerse ourselves into the culture of the country we know we are called to. Looking back, God definitely honoured our decision in this area. We made wonderful Thai friends and got to learn so much from them about their culture. Not only have they been accepting of us as international students, they have constantly honoured us as a couple who is praying to serve in Thailand and are generous with their help along the way. Throughout the 5 months, we had precious conversations on different aspects of each other’s cultures. Through some of the first-generation Thai Christians, we also got a glimpse of some of the difficult realities of being a Christian in Thailand. We gave to each other and built each other up, forgave each other as we made relational mistakes and celebrated victories together.
I do not just treasure our Thai friends that we made, but also the international friends that we got to call family. We too shared our unique struggles and supported each other as we lived together in a foreign land. In our DTS, we had such a mix of cultures – Thai (all from different parts of the country!!?), Taiwanese, American and Singaporean. It was a great cultural exchange, not without pain and heartache, but so rewarding at the end.
One personal highlight for me during the DTS was to be able to serve as a translator. I remember the first time that God spoke to me about missions in Thailand back in 2014. As someone who doesn’t find picking up new languages an easy or enjoyable feat, God supernaturally empowered me to pick up the Thai language very fast without any formal classes. Still, I never imagined that one day I’ll be able to translate and experience the joy of bridging cultures together. This is a big push factor for me to continue improving and language school is a natural next step. I know it’ll be difficult but I’m excited to especially focus on picking up reading and writing Thai, and of course continue sharpening my listening and speaking skills.
As for future ministry, the burdens of my heart have not changed. In God’s timing, I hope to see the platforms of mercy ministry and art come together. One hopeful opportunity in Chiang Mai is to work with at-risk women and their children through an anti human-trafficking ministry. I don’t have many details now, but if things work out, the stint with this ministry will be concurrent with language studies. There’s still a long way to go in learning how to serve at-risk communities and I know God will give me the right platforms to assimilate in.
Having just finished DTS, we are in a special place of being able to give back to the community that has given to us. To see transformed lives is always a privilege and we have been wondering if we should staff with the next DTS. During the DTS that we attended, an issue was the shortage of female staff and I felt the impacts of it. While I know that the female staff that we did have did their best to journey with us, I also know that having more female staff around will help greatly. One day, I felt God nudging me to be part of the change that I hope to see and partner with him in the area of female discipleship for the next DTS. Details are still being concretised, but if this goes through, the next DTS will be from August 2019 to Jan 2020.
Now that our DTS is over and we are back in Singapore for a short time, I have been investing time into building up the small art business that I started in 2018. Other than it being an artistic pursuit, I hope for it to be a viable tentmaking platform for us as we look ahead into long-term ministry in Thailand – both as an avenue that would enable me to work with at-risk communities through art, as well as a channel of financial provision.
For now, I’m dabbling into some ready-made products and customised work. My social media pages are instagram.com/oakeydokes and facebook.com/oakeydokes61 ?
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