I sat on a stool very near to the ground, took in the view, and breathed in the clean mountain air. The stresses of the last few months seemed to dissipate each time my lungs filled and emptied. I imagined breathing out the sicknesses, financial questions, relational challenges, and homesickness that we have experienced since moving here to Thailand in June. As my lungs filled with the fresh air, my mind began to clear, and I remembered why we embarked on this adventure. We believe that God called us here to be a light, to share our knowledge, our hope, ourselves with people who are often disenfranchised, oppressed, or forgotten. In the midst of the challenges, it is easy to forget this calling.
We had come up the mountain to Charis’ foster care home, Baan Saeng Sawaan, to help put together a rice mill that a friend of Charis recently donated. While the center’s staff and some other Charis volunteers spent several hours assembling the mill, our kids ran up and down the hillside, checking out the chickens, pigs, and various varieties of plants. I took the opportunity of our littlest one being asleep to have some downtime, which is when I found myself sitting on the stool, taking in the view, and breathing out my cares.
Nearby the grandmother of the house sat, caring for her two year old granddaughter, while her daughter and son-in-law helped construct the rice mill. We spent most of the day watching the kids and smiling at each other. We could not speak the same language, but it felt comfortable and peaceful being together. Throughout the day, I watched her and the other adults interact with the children staying in their home. They prepared nutritious food, much of which came from their own land, looked at books with the kids, and still found time to participate in the construction of the new rice mill. All of this reminded me why we came to work with Charis. Charis partners with this family to help them build a thriving home and share their abundance with children who are currently unable to live with their birth families. Charis does this not only through providing financial support but also by helping them to develop new ways to financially support themselves. This new rice mill is one such way. The machine provides the potential for increased income. Not only will the staff be able to mill their own rice, but they can begin milling their neighbors’ rice for a fair price and give better quality service than the community has had access to up until now.
Recently, a friend shared a video in which a motivational speaker compellingly illustrates how knowing “the why” affects how we do “the what.” In other words, when we remember the goal of what we are doing, we are better able to do what needs to be done to achieve that goal. The “what” we have chosen to do is to move our family to Thailand to work with The Charis Project. As we have written about pretty extensively on our blog, this has included many challenges for our family. However, when we keep our motivation at the forefront of our minds, the challenges take their proper place in our perspective. The “why” is that we have heard God’s call to this specific place at this specific time to encourage and empower anyone we encounter toward their own good life.
Shannon and her husband, Mike, are recent additions to the Charis Team. They write about their adventures in Thailand at their blog, diythegoodlife.com.