A letter from Sharon Bryant in Thailand
There was joy in the Bryant home in Chiang Mai over the Christmas and New Year holiday period when family from all over the United States came to stay for two weeks and more, bringing needed supplies and the warmth of family that is impossible to replicate! For my mother it was a time to hug and be hugged by my younger sister, Carol, my older brother, Ken, and my younger brother, John. Carol’s husband, Tim, and their two children, Kimberly and Ryan, and my son, Julian, completed the circle of family visits that began on December 22, 2011, and continued through March 2, 2012. Amazingly, few photographs were taken as we were too busy catching up on each other’s lives and going places together. But we did get this photo of our Thai family (from the left): Ink, Ice, In, A, Mom, me, Kathryn McDaniel, and Oi after the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.
Immediately after the new year began, I began working full time on the recruitment of Christian volunteers who are native English speakers to serve as teachers in 26 private Christian schools of our partner church, the Church of Christ in Thailand. The first project with that goal in mind was our website, and that was completed by the end of February with significant assistance from my son, Julian, who designed websites in a former life and now builds iPhone applications. It was with his knowledge of Google statistical data that we secured the URL www.teachingenglishinthailand.org, instead of the one I originally suggested www.christianvolunteersinthailand.org. It turns out over 1,900 people each month “google” the first phrase and only 50 people each month “google” the second.
I invite you to visit our website and encourage others to visit the site as well. Any who might be interested in teaching in one of our schools can apply using the application that is now online. The featured school on our website this month is Saha Christian Suksa School outside of Sangklaburi, one of our poorest, yet most active schools. This school, which serves the marginalized and disenfranchised in a remote area near the border of Myanmar, is saving money to build a new building since they are bursting at the seams with students, some of whom sit on the floor to study. Yet, the attitude of the students is incredible. They are convinced they can do anything! Their choral group (seen rehearsing in the school auditorium) took third place in a national choral competition after placing first in their district and first in their province.
In March we also completed a brochure that describes our program and invites readers to participate in this mission outreach. We are sending multiple copies of the brochure to universities with certificate programs in teaching English to speakers of other languages, to large Protestant congregations with a mission focus, and to private Christian schools in English-speaking countries with a twofold purpose: (1) recruiting volunteers to teach in our schools and (2) establishing partnerships for the development of our teachers and fostering exchange programs for our students. I invited my brother, Ken, a PC(USA) pastor and a former CVT volunteer, to review the cover letter to other Presbyterian pastors. The first 10 letters have now gone out to churches in Grace Presbytery, which is my home presbytery. More will follow. Let me know if you would like a few brochures to share with others as well.
In the meantime I have continued blogging, though not at the frequency that I blogged while I was studying Thai. Time just seems to get away from me now that my inbox is full every day and the phone never stops ringing! Please keep the work of the Christian Volunteers in Thailand program in your prayers. Pray that we will find the volunteers we need for the coming school year. Pray that, despite the challenges of our current economic times, our students will be able to attend school and our schools will be able to support those who really wish to come but cannot afford to do so. Pray that our teachers will continue to be beacons of light, drawing their students to Jesus Christ through the witness of their lives of faith. Pray that I might have the wisdom to do what is most beneficial for those teachers with the limited resources that we have. Your prayers mean so much to all of us here. Just keep praying!
With joy in God’s work,
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 183
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