Gwaan – Love in Action

A Letter from Esther Wakeman, serving in Thailand

Christmas 2019

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Overflowing—that is the word for 2019—”my cup runneth over, and I drink from the saucer” is how my friend put it. Just this week I heard it again—Gwaan Payao, a Payap alum, said, “my life is overflowing with God’s love and good gifts and I love to share God’s goodness with my students.” He is a guidance counselor and psychologist in a private school in his hometown of Phrae, about four hours from Chiang Mai. He came to see me on a weekend to share two projects he’s nearly completed, to ask for my input.

For career exploration, Gwaan has created an adventure game for his students to take them through over 20 different activities to discover who they are, what their interests and abilities are, and to share what they’ve learned with their parents! The parents love it, and the students are grateful, too, for the opportunity to let their parents know about their dreams and goals. Fostering these kinds of family strengthening activities is Gwaan’s passion—and teaching creatively in ways that connect well with students.

Gwaan has also developed a course to teach his “youth counselor” volunteers some basic counseling skills and a process with roots in Gwaan’s Christian faith, that is appreciated by his students of different faiths. The first two years of the program, Gwaan had to recruit students – now they are competing to be accepted into the program. Gwaan is giving students an opportunity to explore whether counseling or psychology might be a good fit for them as a career, while providing peer support for his students.

I didn’t have much to critique in Gwaan’s projects; rather I am hoping that he will help me to revise the ethical development curriculum I’ve developed and use with all our students. His example of making a course into a game might be a good direction to follow. His good gifts are overflowing into my life! I’m grateful for the privilege of encouraging students like Gwaan during their time with us at Payap, and being included in their journeys after graduation is icing on the cake. Gwaan’s love in action with his students is building self-acceptance and confidence in their hearts. He is sharing God’s love brilliantly in his respect and affection for his students.

Thank you for your contributions of prayer and financial support that make it possible for me to be a part of Payap University, and our nurture of future leaders in Thailand. Your prayers and gifts are essential to this work. May you experience an overflowing of peace and joy this Christmas and throughout the new year.

Have a blessed Christmas!


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