Young volunteer files reports from her overseas assignment

BIG SANDY, Texas--When a young Church of God member, 23-year-old Amie Hufton of Hawkins, Texas, decided to go to South America to teach people about God, she had no idea that she would end up instead in Thailand teaching at a school for "leaders" founded by Leon and Gloria Sexton. (See "Congregation Sends Volunteer to Thailand," THE JOURNAL, Oct. 31.)

In this article THE JOURNAL publishes updates from Miss Hufton chronicling her adventures at Legacy Institute Leadership Training Center.

Here are excerpts from notes Miss Hufton sent to Dave Havir of Big Sandy, pastor of the Church of God Big Sandy, the congregation that is sponsoring Miss Hufton's experience in Thailand.

New culture

Thursday, Oct. 30: Good morning, Mr. Havir. I'm here. Everything went really smoothly, no problems. I'm not even jet-lagged. Although I am adjusting to the new culture and trying to learn as fast as I'm being taught all the new things, I feel so honored (that is the best word, I think) to be here doing this--honored by members of the Big Sandy congregation for their trust in me to represent them.

The school is set up very well. I have yet to meet Mr. Sexton, but the students and teachers are friendly. I haven't had a chance to unpack yet, but I will be settling in this weekend.

Bible and farming

Friday, Oct. 31: Life is pretty simple here, and the school is well run. The teachers are committed and work long hours to help the students. There are 15 students, most of whom are from Myanmar [Burma]. One girl is from India.

The classes vary from Bible to speaking to farming, and the students have duties and chores to keep the school running smoothly.

This is the first week of the new semester, and next week will start my first full week here. I'm excited about the challenge. I will spend this weekend preparing and thinking about how I can be most effective in the classes I am responsible for.

The other volunteers are so friendly and helpful. They have made my adjustment very smooth so far.

Special music in three languages

Saturday, Nov. 1: I just wanted to share my Sabbath with you. It's really spectacular when I sit back and think about it. We had services here at the school, where the students, teachers and two village families gathered at 2 o'clock.

We sang hymns in English, listened to (with an interpreter for the Karen students) a sermonette by Daniel (a 21-year-old volunteer). Then we heard special music in three languages (Karen, Kachin and Thai). Then there was a sermon by Ryan (a 24-year-old volunteer).

Little overwhelmed

Monday, Nov. 3: I miss you all and being able to pick up the phone and talk at any time.

I've thrown myself into everything I'm supposed to do, and at first it was a little overwhelming, but the challenge has me motivated.

We do have hot water here at the school, but I am staying at the apartment in town. It is a one-room place (with an attached bathroom) where two female teachers stay at a time, and we rotate between that and the really nice house at the school (with the hot water and kitchen).

I'm slowly getting used to cold showers. I have to talk myself into getting in there. Some of you may sing in the shower. Well, I dance in the shower, or really jump, just to stay warm and keep my mind off the cold water on my back.

I'm pretty focused on my classes now, and being effective as a teacher. I never realized English was such a hard language, but it is. So many tenses, so many parts of speech, so much slang, so many spelling exceptions. Be glad you know English.

These students are amazing. Only one is Thai. The rest speak different languages. Some of them are working on English as their third or fourth language. They all work hard. They have to work on the farm in the mornings, and they take care of the school and kitchen stuff. One student who is 17 has not seen his parents in seven years because they are in a refugee camp.

Very much love to all of you.

E-mailing problems

Thursday, Nov. 13: Hello, Mr. Havir. I was out of touch for a few days because my Hotmail account was not sending E-mail to my AOL account, but hopefully that is fixed now. Please E-mail me just a quick word back if you do get this. Thanks.

My second week here is going great. I finally met Mr. Sexton yesterday when he returned from vacation. He welcomed me and then had a meeting with all of the teachers.

One of the things we discussed was the production of The Legacy Leader, which will hopefully be a newsletter on the Legacy Web site.

This will keep everyone updated on the activities here.

Another thing he discussed with us is the "recruitment" of new teachers.

Here are some requirements for teachers: Be at least 20 years of age and have one year of college. He would prefer them to have a degree, but just some experience in an academic setting is important.

He wants a year commitment, starting in May possibly, with school in session from June until February. He wants them to have a strong desire to serve God, and, of course, they will be volunteers.

I hope there are young people in East Texas who want to come. It's an unbelievable experience.

I have done one interview with a student, Indhu, to send to the Big Sandy church. I just finished her pictures today and hope to have it in the mail tomorrow. It should take a week to 10 days to reach you, along with (hopefully) many other pictures of the school and students.

Last weekend was some sort of festival of lights. It seems like everyone was shooting off fireworks night and day. They also light small hot-air balloons that go high and look like really bright stars until they finally run out of fuel. Sometimes it looks like all new constellations floating around.

That's all I have for now.

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