My time with MMR has finally come to an end after six months.
The Ranong experience has been a blessing for me personally. I had an awesome time and one that I will cherish for a long time, filled with many happy memories.
The most defining thing for me is that I will miss the MTP students. They were awesome! Their positive attitude and eagerness to learn is something I have never come across in my teaching career.
I will miss sitting in my usual spot at MEC when the students arrive and all greet you with “Good morning Teacher!” followed by a wai. At the beginning and end of every lesson where again the students greet and give their thanks, “All stand up! Say together!”. “Goodbye and thank you Teacher! See you tomorrow!” It’s the little things that make teaching at MTP an enjoyable experience. I could see that the students valued education. In some lessons the students’ minds were broadened and they realized that the opportunities gained in education could allow them to have a better future. There were times where I was humbled by the students in the way they gave respect to teachers including myself, their generosity and when they shared their personal stories.
There are many highlights for me during my time in Ranong. They are (in no particular order):
- MMR Xmas party
- MTP sports day
- Monday Night Mass at Marist House
- Hanging out with the Filipinos
- Teaching MTP level four class
- Friday night dinners at Marist House
- Visiting Peace Andaman Resort at Bang Ben beach
- The birth of Andrew and Nuala’s daughter Felicity
- Hearing Frs. John and Kevin’s inspiring homilies
- Christmas Day and New Years Day with the Marist community
- ‘Shooting the breeze’ with Jason Visscher on our apartment balcony
However, there have also been times when life in Ranong has been both challenging and frustrating. For example, the Thai and Burmese languages are so difficult to learn, although this did not mean that I did not make an effort. Another example is having been told time and again that ‘this is Asia’, meaning that things work differently here – something which I have tried hard to get my head around. All in all, I see this as part of being immersed in another culture.
Ranong was also a humbling experience after seeing first hand the likes of poverty, meeting HIV/AIDS patients and families, child labour and the Burmese learning centres.
I want to thank Fr. John and Fr. Kevin for their prayers and support during my time. You are both an inspiration with the work that you do. The Kingdom of God is well and truly alive and you keep things real! The rest of the Marist community makes a huge difference in establishing what it means to feel a sense of belonging. Without the community I don’t know how I would have survived half the time! Hard out! I thank Fr. Kevin and Khru Prasit for allowing me to do what I do best, to teach and for the opportunities that gave me while at MTP. I am grateful to the whole MMR staff for accepting me for who I am and more importantly, for their kindness and patience.
I will pray for the continued success of Marist Mission Ranong. To Mary our Mother, our role model and guide, may MMR look for strength, courage, patience and love for those that they serve.
Korp Khun Khrap, Jesu dem ba de, Fa’afetai tele lava,