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It’s been so great!

The past few weeks have been great! We’ve done several projects from teaching English, teaching health, and working on infrastructure projects.

One special project was the installing of a water pump, tank, and well to provide fresh water to 30 families in a mountain village. The villagers provided a list of equipment and everything else needed. HELP International provided the more expensive equipment such as water tank and water pump, but the villagers provided the labor and expertise in jungle construction. They impressively constructed a platform to place the tank on, and dug a large well to access ground water. Thai construction is extremely simple and straight forward, but effective.

One thing I’ve learned from teaching kids every week, is one, how different they all are, and how innocently loving and bonding they can be. They don’t speak our native language, are from an entirely different country, but they all share one simple thing that connects us: love. They’re able to feel our interest, concern, and love for them and it builds a bond that transcends boundaries. It’s really quite impressive. We’ve been able to see the impact we’ve had in their lives even from just a short visit every week for a limited number of weeks. I feel like giving the children an outlet and an example that they can remember can help shape their lives. Kids come from all kinds of different backgrounds, but they all have similar needs.

We’ve been working with another village to help better their economic situation. A lot of mountain villages of goods or skills that are very unique from mountain to mountain. On such village makes traditional shirts and bags that are unique to their culture. Because these villages are so small, they often only engage in trade with each other. This makes it difficult for the villagers to be able to go out trade with the outside world. We’ve been helping them design and improve their products and find the means to sell their products to a larger customer base by establishing a small business. We’ve let them come up with the plan themselves and give them suggestions, but we leave the sustainability up to them and hope that they will be able to improve and grow in the future.

We’ve had all sorts of adventures and experiences here. It’s been a great opportunity to make a difference and see new things. We only have one more week left, but I’m grateful for all that we’ve been able to do.

We’ve hiked a canyon, ridden a roller coaster in the jungle, climbed to the highest point of Thailand, tried new foods, made new friends, fit 20 people in the back of a truck, swung on a four man Ferris wheel swing, gotten super carsick, raced wooden race cars down a mountain, and have probably avoided more medical issues than I can count.

This past week I had the chance to say good bye to all the friends and members in Chiang Mai. It’s been great to get to see them all again. It’s definitely different n longer being a missionary, but it’s a new chapter in life and like a great new start too. I know that whatever is ahead is even better and where God wants me to go. So often when we’re doubting the path we are on or where we need to go, we can often find our answer through the Gospel, scripture study, prayer, being in-tune with the Spirit, and often in ways and places we don’t expect. Today at church, there were some powerful speakers, testimonies, and lessons. It amazes me that even though it was all in a different language that I would not consider myself super fluent in, I was still able to understand enough to receive my own revelation as well. Last week we weren’t able to attend church because we were not in a province with a church, and I never realized how much of a difference it makes and how much we miss out from not attending. It was probably the first Sunday I’ve missed in over two years and I could really tell a difference between the weeks. Today I felt the Holy Spirit at church. I received revelation. I was uplifted. I was motivated and strengthened. The lessons were mostly on eternal families and it made me reflect on my own life and the people in it. I’m thankful for the many blessings that He has given me and look forward to what He has in store.

Have a great week!!!

Derrikk Sun

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A great week in Thailand!

This past week has been super eventful! It’s great to be busy and be engaged in a good cause! Some of the highlights the past weeks have been getting familiar with the activities of HELP International. They work on several projects to improve the local communities. We teach english, raise awareness for public health practices, and work on infrastructure projects.

We’ve helped build a retention wall to hold back erosion when it rains. It’s interesting because not many people have experience with construction or concrete. However, Thai construction isn’t super exact. The rule of thumb is, if it works, it’s good enough.

We ride around in the back of a truck with a metal cage welded onto it. It’s not the safest or most comfortable way to travel, but it’s pretty efficient and a popular way of travel in Thailand. We weren’t allowed to ride in the back of pick up trucks as missionaries, so it’s a new experience.

We’ve had a lot of great adventures from sight seeing to work projects to fun activities.

We’ve looked at a lot of cool temples here, to the point where we’re almost templed out. There comes to a point where things that are similar start to all look alike. There are some special cool locations though, such as abnormally large Buddha statues, ancient ruins, and large towers, but for the most part, the little ones look the same.

We’re making progress on the wall, a little at a time, but it is coming along. We’re learning a lot which is good because we’re planning on building another retaining wall at another site. I’ve learned that not only do you need to know correct techniques, but efficient team work goes a long way. It would probably fall under the category of specialization, where everyone is given one job and they do that job so they become more proficient at it. If one is too diversified, they’ll likely be unable to perform any job at the same level as someone specialized. When we divide our working team into specific tasks and keep the structure, it seems to run more smoothly. If people try to see a need and work on it, there comes a point where that type of pro-activeness becomes less beneficial.

We also teach English nearly everyday to some pretty cute children. Teaching at a school in classroom is a lot different than at church as a missionary. It seems like as a missionary, we were less stressed and more focused on fun. We would teach grammar, vocabulary, and principles, but the students would come to learn and would be more willing to apply themselves. At the school, the kids are much, much younger, and many, of course, have a hard time paying attention. I feel like in some ways it’s good practice for being a parent as far being patient and understanding kids. I prefer a smaller class and more one-on-one, but sometimes we do team-teach which makes for a little more individual time. We also get the chance to teach some of the teachers at one of our schools. Teaching adults and kids are so different, but you can also see some similarities, too. Sometimes some of the teachers seem as child-like as the kids.

Rainy season is starting up and it’s poured rain just about everyday this past week or so. It’s made traveling and vacation a little difficult, but it’s something else we don’t see very often stateside. When it pours down, the volunteers here aren’t used to it so they get very excited. It reminds me of biking through the rain in the Northeast. Fun times.

I’m so grateful for the opportunities that we have each day to learn and grow. To make decisions and see the out comes. We are the authors of our own lives and I’ve seen all of the help that God gives us everyday too. There’s no lack of trials, challenges, and difficulties that we face, but despite it all, we’re able to overcome it and realize that He loves us, that Christ gives us the ability to overcome it all, and that at the end of the day we can lay down and take confidence and reassurance that if we gave our best, it’ll all work out for our good. I love Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God”. This is so true! I’ve seen it in my life and the lives of so many others. Love God and love others. Bad things happen to good people, to all people, but all things will work out to those who foster charity and love.

See you next week!
Derrikk Sun