Reflections of Noh Bo Academy, Thailand, Summer 2017

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Jan 30, 2018

Joan Morris is a third-year MDiv student at Wycliffe College. She retired after a lengthy career in the financial services industry, and says she is now “realizing her calling to the service of God.” As part of her program’s internship requirements, she applied for an international summer placement and travelled to a remote area of Thailand (in the summer of 2017) to teach English and the Bible at a small school there.

I went to Noh Bo Academy in Thailand to teach.  But I learned more from the wonderful people there, and more about myself, than what they may have learned from me.

On arrival in Bangkok, my colleague, Ted Williams, and I were welcomed warmly by Reverend Tim Eady and his wife, Julie, as well as the staff and parishioners at Christ Church Bangkok. While in Bangkok, we were able to visit the Immigration Detention Centre, where thousands of Pakistani refugees are being held in horrible conditions. As bad as the conditions were in the IDC, the people inside at least had a roof over their heads, some food, and they were safe from persecution and gunfire, even though they were pushed around by gun-carrying soldiers every day.

The next week we headed to our final destination, the village of Noh Bo, which is situated in the northwest, approximately one kilometre from the Myanmar border, and is surrounded by mountains – so beautiful. My mission was to teach English and Bible knowledge to the 180 students at Noh Bo Academy, which is sponsored by Christ Church Bangkok. 

The students were a great joy. Although some students hardly spoke in class, outside the classroom they were all very sociable. What truly impressed me was their commitment to—and acceptance of—each other, especially the new and younger students who immediately became like little brothers and sisters. The students’ thirst for Bible knowledge, their enthusiasm for learning and participating in our Bible talks, was very encouraging and a lot of fun. The voices of the students raised in praise for God always filled my heart with joy. One of the most remarkable things I observed in this community, is the lack of material “things.”  A soccer ball, or volleyball, a guitar, a Bible, and friends, are all any of these children need to be happy. I never heard a harsh word or saw a dirty look, only love, respect, and cooperation. 

Towards the end of my stay in Thailand, I was privileged to visit Mae La Refugee camp where 50,000 people reside, most of whom have had to flee from their homes in Myanmar (Burma) to escape persecution. Some have been in this camp for thirty years. Although it is peaceful now, there is nothing left for the refugees to go back to—no family, no homes, no jobs.

During my stay, I was able to witness new beginnings in the form of a Baptism, and the wedding of one of the teachers. We also witnessed the devastation of losing a young student who was hospitalized with a fever and died about four days later. The love and support shown by each and every person in the Noh Bo community, in both celebration and tragedy, only confirmed to me the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in this remote part of Thailand. 

I will always treasure my memories of my visit to Noh Bo Academy, and the school, its students, and staff will be forever in my prayers.  

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