From time to time I am going to try and link up with some people who are working in cross cultural ministry settings and get them to share a little about what they are doing. Today we are joined by Evie who works in South East Asia with TCK’s. Here’s what we got to chat about.
Hi Evie, great to chat again. Could you fill us in about where you are and what you have been doing recently?
I have been living in Thailand since November 2014. I spent my first 5 months in Central Thailand (Lopburi) as a full-time Thai Language student before moving up North to Chiang Mai just after Songkran (Thai New Year, April 2015) to take up my role as TCK Support Assistant covering a large area of East Asia.
My role is diverse. It can be administrative work such as managing the TCK Resources (Library, Conference & Training – materials for TCK Programs), coordinating TCK Programs for the many training events held at our centre or it can be more practical. I work at one of the International dorms once a week and fill in if there is an emergency. In Chiang Mai there are 2 English speaking dorms & 1 German speaking with our Organisation. Each of the dorms have boarding home parents & assistants who provide a safe environment & family support for the kids who come & stay during the school semesters & attend either one of the International Schools or the German speaking school in the city.
For the keen eye reading this we will be able to see that you do work with children. But what exactly is TCK work? Could you explain it?
Firstly, let me explain that TCK stands for Third Culture Kid and this is a good definition:
TCK’s are Third Culture Kids who spend a number of their growing years in a culture other than their parents’ culture. Typically they are well equipped to handle cross-cultural situations as they grow in an environment enriched by many languages. However, frequent moving means they find it hard to identify with a geographical location they can call home. Mobility shortens relationships and they often find it hard to make friends.
TCK work is varied. As a TCK Support Assistant many work as Teachers in the International schools, not only in our city of Chiang Mai but in other cities/towns. Some work as Home School support teachers or helpers supporting individual families. There are those who are TCK Advisors here in Asia & on home soil offering support and advice to families as every child’s educational needs are different. We also support in a pastoral way too. There are many ways you can be involved even in a Short term capacity as a TCK worker.
Now we know a little more about it how did you get involved in TCK work?
It probably started when I was led to go on a Church team to Japan to help do a kids program supporting the families who served in the Japan field (October 2001). I believe God had planted the seed then about working with MK’s (as they were known then, Missionary Kids). I also had an interest in working in East Asia since childhood, especially hearing the stories of Gladys Alyward, Hudson Taylor etc.
When I returned from that short term trip I pursued more studies & during my final year of studying for my Bachelor of Theology, God was challenging me saying “what next?” During a morning service (2010) at my church God clearly spoke to me through an advertisement for help at a conference in Thailand serving TCKs on an international team here in Chiang Mai. I initially thought there may have been others from my church who would go but they didn’t, but that was okay 🙂 I was able to get the time off work & so after all the application process I was accepted to go. At the end of May 2011 I traveled to Chiang Mai to serve on the team working with 8-11 year olds. On the final morning while the kids between 5-12 got up to sing, my heart was pounding when I clearly heard God speaking to me. Was I prepared serve this people group standing in front of me known as Third Culture Kids. He reminded me of the verses in Revelation 7:9-10:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
I knew God was challenging me of what the next step was in my calling to serve. I returned the following year to serve with the 5-7 year old kids, this time another girl from my church came to serve with the 3-4 year olds which was wonderful. During this year God challenged me about the need to support families & serve TCKs but to think about coming back for a longer period of time. So when I returned home I started the application process & found out how I could serve TCKs. The role of TCK Support Assistant was the one that jumped out at me in the email I received. A varied role which I could learn about TCK work in a broader way. Many twists & turns in the journey but God is faithful & I am now here serving in my role.
This is great to hear and really encouraging. On a slight detour for a second, is there a specific food that you have enjoyed since moving to S.E. Asia?
This is a difficult one as there are a few but it has to always be Kay Phat metmamuang (phonetically spelt), Chicken Cashew. It can be made in so many different ways with various types of sauce. Sometimes it can be quite dry but other times with a rich sauce, quite sweet but a lot of spice!! I tend to like the one where it has the dried roasted chilli peppers through it which can be quite hot! It obviously has chicken, some garlic, onion, peppers, spring onion, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar, whatever extra veggies you want to put into it served with rice usually. AROY AROY MAK MAK! (meaning lots of good taste)
Sounds great! How have you found the rest of the transition to life in another culture?
It definitely has been in stages. The first stage was in Singapore for my orientation course in early November 2014. I was living in an international community amongst strangers who then became dear friends & extended family. The weather there was very humid & hard to stick at times and the food was hard to get used to. The second stage saw me was heading to Bangkok then onto Lopburi for language & culture studies. I had a certain amount of contentment having finally arrived in Thailand but it did hit me. I was away from what had become comfortable with in Singapore. The new friends I had made were suddenly not there anymore & I did miss my family & friends back home so much. The first days were difficult ones. When I moved to Lopburi I was surprised how much I adapted to being there as I had heard so much about it & didn’t expect to enjoy my time there.
The language was hard but worthwhile. When you are able to have brief conversations it is so satisfying. Learning to ride a bicycle again was a challenge, but now it has become second nature to me. Trying to be confident around the street dogs has definitely been an ongoing challenge both in Lopburi & now in Chiang Mai, there are so many of them!! Balancing work, rest & recreation has been challenging too especially during both hot & rainy season. Feeling a lack of energy to do things is common, so not being hard on myself is important. Knowing the reality of spiritual warfare & the subtleties of the darkness that is all around us has also been a big change; I must always be watchful & prayerful.
With so much change this year you are in a good place to tell us what are the three things you couldn’t live without?
Bible, phone & laptop
It has been great to hear a little of the work you are involved in Evie! How can we pray to support you in your ministry?
Pray for my personal walk with God, that I will stay close to Him; always being vigilant. Spiritual protection for both me, those I work with, the kids & the families I support through my work. Pray that each of the kids learn more of what being a follower of Christ means. That those they come into contact with have a positive impact on them, discipling & helping them to discover all that God wants them to be. Please pray that there will be sufficient helpers provided at each of the training events & conferences I am involved with. Lord send those with willing servant hearts to serve TCKs & support the families in these ways.
Thanks Evie. We will pray and look forward to seeing what God will use you for in the future.