Why were we going to Thailand in the first place, you ask?
The story begins a long time ago...way back in summer 2011. One night our family had a discussion on a topic that for the first time we were taking seriously. We were talking about the possibility of doing a family mission trip. The purpose was for my dad to take us for a ministry experience before my siblings and I grew up and went off to college. We all agreed it was a great idea. So we started batting around ideas of where we could go. Because of expenses we thought staying on the continent would be best for us. Maybe to inner city ministry, or an Indian reservation, or down to Mexico. That was our thinking.
Later that year we realized we couldn't do a family mission trip with just the four of us (my dad, my brother and sister, and myself). If we wanted to make a more significant difference where we were going, we would have to go with a team from our church so we would have a bigger group. In February 2012 we held a meeting at our house to invite anybody who was interested in a mission trip. Only two or three people came, but it was a start. By June of that year we had about a dozen more from our church interested in a mission trip. We had a list of about ten places we could go about then. Some were also concerned about expenses and opted for going down to Mexico. Others wanted to go overseas to Ireland or India to help out our supported missionaries there. It was a long list and we all had a hard time narrowing it down, but we finally got it to about three places. Then someone randomly brought up Thailand. A nearby church had gone there a few times before and someone thought it was a good idea to go with them next year.
After all that work the last thing we wanted was another addition to the list. But, nevertheless, we stuck Thailand on the chart and waited to see what would happen. After that, something strange started to come over our group. All of us felt a pull towards Thailand. I felt it too. I can't really explain it. It was as if Thailand stood out from the rest. It did not take long for this to become apparent to us all.
That month, we decided that Thailand was going to be our destination for a mission trip by June of next year.
But where were we going in Thailand? Well, that was about the time we contacted the church who had gone there before and we got the whole story. In a small town in northern Thailand there is a Christian youth hostel. The hostel was built so the kids could have somewhere to stay while they're going to school since their homes are very far away. Our goal in going there would be to help fund and construct a new dorm so more students could come to the hostel, as well as teach the kids conversational English. Now, back in 2011, the idea of going to a youth hostel in northern rural Thailand was the last thing I would expect from a family mission trip. However, we all felt in our hearts that we were being called there.
That summer, fall, and winter were spent doing all kinds of fund-raising for our trip to Thailand. We needed about $20,000 to cover for plane tickets, hotel rooms, food, vaccinations, and construction materials for the new dorm. To raise the money, our group took orders for over 500 pizzas and baked all of them in one day. We took up offerings. We did promotions for the trip on Sunday mornings. We hosted a brat/hamburger sale in front of the grocery store. Our family sent out dozens of letters asking for support and gave up all our rare treats like going to the movies and eating out. It was a crazy ride that whole year. But by June 2013 we did it. We had raised the $20,000!
As the date for our departure approached, I began to get more nervous and excited at the same time. The farthest I had been away from home before was no more than 500 miles. I'm used to long road trips, but this was different. We were going to, literally, the other side of the world. I couldn't believe it!
June 10, the day before we were to leave, was spent packing, checking and re-checking our luggage, and trying to ease my nerves. I know I watched a couple movies but now I can't remember what they were.
At last, after years of waiting, the time was just hours away. We were going to Thailand!