After I completed my course work at LTC, my sponsor sent me to Huay Jaw village for my internship. At first I was really excited. I was finally done with school and could now do the work I had spent four years preparing for. Huay Jaw is a village that has three churches. I thought it would be an easy assignment with people who would mentor and encourage me. Little did I know that it would be a nerve-racking 10 months.
Come to find out, Huay Jaw is a center for drugs and alcoholism. Some of the area's main drug dealers live in this very village. In addition, I learned the village has a reputation for violence. One family killed their mother as a result of drug-use. This family lived right down the street from the church where I slept.
Evenings were the worst. I had to travel 5 kilos from my day job back to the Huay Jaw. I knew the men of the village were usually pretty drunk and full of drugs by that time. What if they waylaid me on the way home? No one would miss me and come look for me. I could die alone out here on the road. What if they came for me at the church at night? Who would help me? These thoughts plagued my mind each night.
After the first three months, I was a nervous wreck and ready to give up. I took a week off and went back to Chiang Mai. I spent the week at LTC talking with my professors. They encouraged me and reminded me that God often teaches his greatest lessons in adverse experiences. They challenged me to return and see what God had in store for me. By the end of the week I was ready to return. Looking back, I can see two big lessons God taught me at Huay Jaw.
My first lesson was how to cope with fear. I learned that the only solution to fear is prayer. I prayed like I had never prayed before and discovered in prayer there is peace and when peace comes there is courage.
The second lesson was how to endure. I had never been in this situation before, and I had no idea how to minister to these people. I was alone and at a loss. I really wanted to give up. But, God came through for me! No, I didn't turn the church around. Those folks continue to struggle with their addictions. But, I turned around. I learned that God doesn't always fix everything. But, He will always stay with me if I am willing to stay the course.
I admit that I am glad to be out of Huay Jaw, but I am also glad I stayed.