Central Thailand is very different from other mission fields. In essence I am just an after-school piano teacher which in comparison, it sometimes feels like the real mission fields are the places where my fellow missionaries have to cut trees in the jungle to clear paths in the jungle with machetes. In a city like this filled with materials and easy access to so many things I need to pray frequently to not forget my purpose of being here and keep up with the teaching game to attract the middle-class Thai people.
Every five days I work from 2 pm to 7:30 pm the latest, and every Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm teaching students from age 5 to full-grown adults, and I would teach different students with different personalities to according to their needs. I don’t know if this is easier compare to teaching a room full of students, but at the end of the day I am sure both kind of teachers just want to sleep. Once I have adapted the routine of teaching I know what to do and what to feel, and the cycle of events keeps spinning over and over again, week after week.
Frequently I had to pause and think, am I qualified to do this? I have been teaching like this for the past 3 months and more, how much piano have I really taught into the students’ heads? The closest to this amount of teaching would be a semester of working as a teacher assistance and tutor for music theory, but never have I taught piano with books this long before. I have students who are very diligent in practicing and those who would tell me they did not practice without a sense of guilt, and students who can’t practice because they don’t have access to pianos. Regardless of the learning results I am reminded again and again the universal lesson is to teach the love of Jesus into their hearts, even if they cannot find the middle C on the piano. The love of Jesus is the last thing they are allowed to forget.
During lessons, some students would tell me random things about their lives, often in a way to distract me from telling them to play certain thing on the piano. At first I thought these are childish acts and quickly turn their attention to the music, but soon I realized that’s their one way to open themselves to me. I learned to engage their conversation a bit and pay attention to what they are telling me, and I would ask questions to acknowledge them. Subtly I have built a friendship with them, even though the language abilities are quite limited on both sides. At last I would eventually get back to the music before we spend too much time talking.
Perhaps God knows that I needed to know of how I have been doing as a teacher, one of my students recently gave me this tin box covered chocolate as a gift and tell me, through his mother, that I am his favorite teacher out of some teachers he has taken lessons from. While trying not to be prideful my heart was humbled and filled with joy, seeing that I am indeed making a difference in people’s hearts and putting seeds in their mindfields. For a guy who has a bachelor degree in something but not education, it makes me understand more that qualification is not just what I can do but what God can do through me. If God calls me to do something, it is something He can do, and He just wants to do it through someone with flesh and bone like me who would say “yes.”