Malaysia and the Mountains

Playing catch-up after a quick trip to Malaysia to renew my visa directly followed by five days out in Thailand’s hill country near the Myanmar border with a crew of rambunctious youth.   Will try to capture a few of the highlights…

Malaysia was great; overall a successful visa run with a little time allotted to play tourist over the weekend before heading back to Bangkok.  I was hosted by a couple of good friends in Kuala Lumpur while I went through the visa process and was able to spend a day visiting the outskirts of town.  The gorgeous limestone formations at Batu Caves (272 stairs leading up to a Hindu shrine in a cave with 100-meter-high ceilings) made me wish I had thrown in my rock climbing gear, and a visit to the forested paradise of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia made me remember just how much I prefer trees to concrete.  I then hopped up to Penang Island to get a little more taste of Malaysia’s diversity.  I was fascinated to constantly look around and see a mix of Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures;  I left there not quite sure what Malay culture actually was, other than a mix of everything else.

Just days after I got back to Bangkok from Malaysia we turned around and hopped on an early bus headed to Sangkhlaburi in Thailand’s hill country for a five day youth camp.  We took a few handfuls of youth with whom we have relationships either through their parents participating in The Well programs or through other means.

It brought me great joy to see these kids getting a chance to trade in the internet, movies and the concrete jungle of Bangkok for a few days in hill country with fun community, games, music, mountains, rivers and challenging messages.  For some it was the first time entering into community of this sort, sharing their lives with others their age and being challenged with messages about what it means to follow Jesus as a teenager today.

So many beautiful moments (and many, many hilarious episodes) throughout the camp, all culminating in a powerful final evening where we saw kids take hold of the message of the Gospel in amazing ways.  I wish I could capture and share all the sights, sounds and smiles that transpired over the weekend.

On a personal level, I realized how challenging it is to connect with youth when you can’t speak their language.  Having been a youth leader in the States for however many years, I found myself frustrated to not be able to connect with them more and feel like I could really enter in their lives and hearts.  But… I remembered how much my youth at home liked to tease me about being so hopelessly out of touch with anything “cool” — be it music, fashion, slang.  So, it turns out it’s just as fun to make fun of me for my lack of language.  One of my favorite memories from the weekend was staying up late with the girls and listening to them laugh hysterically at my attempts to copy their boy-crazy, teenage Thai slang.

Beyond that, I had a sweet little 10-year-old from the village attach herself to me and take it upon herself to correct my Thai (often) and make sure I didn’t get lost.  And one of the teenagers paid special attention to make sure that I understood the rules to the games (and then did the embarrassing dances with me if I lost the game… which happened often…)

Talk about lessons in humility; I had a healthy dose over the weekend.  And it was good.

Aside from the fun and games, I loved seeing the responses from the teens as they were challenged to process through what it means to follow Jesus in their teenage years.  It got me excited to see so much potential in a pretty amazing group of teens, most of whom have already experienced some pretty hard stuff in their lives.

Though my role at The Well isn’t focused in on the teenagers, I’m appreciative of the window I got into their lives over this weekend as we all pitched in to make the camp happen.  I loved seeing so many seeds planted and have great hopes that God will supply the increase as they continue to be invested in by the leaders here at The Well.

I’m back to Bangkok now with a full plate of projects and a healthy dose of excitement for God continuing to stir things up and move things forward in our lives and community.   And I’m sure many more lessons in humility await!

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  • Comments (3)
    • Russell
    • October 20th, 2010

    Really cool pics! It looks like you visited some nice places and had some good experiences! I’m glad to read the update and know that you’re doing well and doing good things!

  1. Loved this blog, love the things you are doing, and loved reading about being goofy with the girls. 🙂 So fun! 🙂 Praying for you Cori!

    Last night, Michelle & I were talking about you! Talking about how we missed you, and were remembering the Prius, and then I happened to have my bike around, and I got to tell her that it was from you! 🙂 Basically – your ears should’ve been burning.. 🙂

    Love you!

    • adamtaylorethiopia
    • November 19th, 2010

    Great post that I missed. It is gorgeous there. Its important to appreciate the humiliating, humbling moments cause it reminds us who is really in charge. They aren’t the most fun lessons to learn, but then you realize you DON’T WANT to be in control or responsible for changing the lives of others and become grateful you have a God that is in charge of that! Love your refreshing obedience.

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