As soon as I entered Payap University I felt a gust of rising emotion in my gut. The place got me. The atmosphere was serene. But there was something more than serenetiy, an intensity of emotion was infused within it. Similar to when I first saw the butterfly church in Taiwan. Divinity. Anointing.

Students in front of the chapel. Art work on the walls. Thai cultural depictions of biblical scenes. Stained class and wooden floors in a low ceeling chapel. A faint aroma of incense?

Ajun Chuleeepee was giving us the tour. I felt the similar entrancement I do when I go to museums. The depth of what this art, this setting portrays and encompasses. The stained glass beyond the pulpit: FLAMES. The same swoop of motion in much of the art. Thinking of my visions before coming. Lava. Surrounding flames. Sacré Coeur.

Walk through the library. Glancing titles of books that call my name. We settle in a multimedia room. I want to cry, surrounded by countless classical recordings and textbooks that I am yearning for. A sense of being home.

Ajun Krista arrives. We introduce ourselves shortly, stating why we chose this program. She gives what is truly a testimony of her life. Leah wants to cry. This harvard trained christian lawyer who before having her eyes opened, never had any desire for helping the poor, the marginalized is now heading NGOs and inspiring students… I can’t put into words what I felt, I felt what she felt and even more strongly because I feel it inherently without her. Her expressing her life is a reflection of what I want to live for. minus harvard and years of blindness. We begin class. Emotionally stirred almost to the same extent as my intimate violence class. 

This is what I am called to. And yet, that feeling of inadequacy was slowly creeping up. The repetition of needing business business business was screaming to me NOT YOU. I felt like when I was in politics classes, an undercover. The present missions movement is focused on social justice, on bringing development to these poor countries. Not only saying they care but helping the issues… And the present day answer is ending poverty.

The reality is that these are needs. The OTHER reality is that no matter what, ONE THING, ONE PERSON is not going to be the difference. We need to work together. After feeling a little off after class, I had a really great talk after dinner with another student. I realized she felt similar to me, that she doesn’t have the skills because she doesn’t have the social sciences training whereas I envy her knowledge of sustainable farming and such. 

I felt called to let this pass. But I hope my professors will be more inspiring and engaging than forcing perspectives and approaches to us. I understand the need, but I feel my heart and I know that God will lead. 

That night Sajun (promise) taught us Thai and the time spent was so enjoyable. The reading is extensive and I am getting tired but the time and relationships that are shaping with the Lahu make my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Last night we saw them dressed in their traditional clothes. It was breathtaking.


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