After playing with all the kind little souls during opening ceremonies and beginning our service, I think we were all a little anxious to get back to the school the next day. The kids, plus the fact that the 3 minute drive from our guesthouse to the school is one of the most beautiful drives you’ll ever go on made us all excited to return to the school. Everything is lush and vibrant green. Little markets are around each corner, and smiling strangers are as common as air.

We’ve started our English lessons and the Thai kids are excited and serious about learning, which is both inspiring and motivating to us. The educational environment in Thailand is a lot different than that of the US, which initially took a few off guard. The kids are free to roam and play without much supervision or direction, so the traditional US classroom setting wasn’t a very realistic or effective teaching strategy. No matter how much research you do on a place or how much you plan based off of that knowledge, the only real way to understand a culture is to entirely submerge yourself into it. Given this it was entirely inevitable that we would be caught off guard a little, but the creative minds and flexible attitudes of everyone on this team has made each bump in the road seem minuscule.

In some cases you develop a strong relationship with a few of those you’re serving, which we all learned prior to the trip, but what has made this trip unique and so incredibly special are the home visits. Through them we’ve had the opportunity to see life from their perspective entirely. We’ve heard stories about love, loss, and struggle. We’ve seen where they live, where they sleep and where they cook. But regardless of their situation, one thing all of these people have in common is their happiness. It was a very humbling experience, and knowing we are there to help made the entire team more passionate about the work we’re doing. And we can’t deny that in a significant way the villagers are helping us too.

The rest of the week continued as before. English lessons ran smoothly, vocational made progress with sewing, and business was moving a bit slower than expected but successfully. We are nearly done with the wall in the back and we are starting another one in front of the kindergarten. It’s beautiful to see all of the different people come together on our team to accomplish what needs to be done. We all have learned to trust and support each other, in and outside of the work we’re doing. This team is really becoming a family.

Alongside of our work we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to the rice fields and plant rice. We were about knee deep in muddy water and only a few of us were all that good at it, but what an incredible experience, as well as a very beautiful one. We also got to go on a hike, which was arguably one of the harder things any of us have had to physically do in our lives. We crawled under bamboo, and crossed a rocky river where some of us picked up leeches. We were all caked in mud by the end, but the beauty of it all was incomprehensible.

Our time has flown by here, but there is still much work to do and many adventures to come!