The training.

November 2010. Applications approved. 

December 2010- April 2011. Fund raised $3700 each. 
Wrote letters, sent out emails, prayed, asked, borrowed, worked. Were blown away with generosity from unexpected, sometimes even unknown people.  

January 2011. Road trip to Nashville for Intensive Training (IT) Weekend. 
We were only allowed to bring 14 pounds of luggage, bedding included. LST created a schedule to simulate jet lag. We had several team building tasks, which included bartering for materials to make the tallest tower... 
...We lost haha. But it was very funny.
We also took personality tests to learn about our teammates. We joke about it now: Alyssa's a people-gatherer, Hannah "just wants a break," Cole's a loner, and Jacob and Michael are rebels :) 
We also went on an intense scavenger hunt all around Nashville. We had to eat each meal for $2 or less per person. It was stressful, but I think we learned a lot about the dynamics of our team. 
Reppin UA
Sleeping on a concrete floor was also an adventure. Each of us had our own technique to get comfortable, but it was hopeless.  And hilarious. After a long weekend, we sat through a church service in German. It was quite the test of willpower to stay awake...more challenging for some of us than others. 
IT weekend was stressful and challenging, but we look back and laugh about often.
Group training kicked off!

February 2011- April 2011. 12 weeks of group training. 
We met up at church for 2 hours on Wednesday nights to work through training workbooks together. To be honest, we didn't always have the best attitudes about training. Some of the tasks seemed tedious or pointless to us, but I think now we understand how well LST equips their teams. 
Shoutout to Andrea Zahler for being an excellent team trainer! She gave up hours of her time to make sure we stayed focused, prepared, and encouraged. Quote: "Faithfulness is more important than excellence."
Most of our memories from training include us all laughing. I love that about our team. 

One night we headed out for family dinner at a Thai restaurant in Tuscaloosa.  

March 2011. GO Weekend. 
As training came to a close, we headed back to Nashville for GO Weekend, a time of tying up loose ends and being commissioned. Alyssa learned how to keep the team's budget on Excel. Hannah practiced leading the Information Meeting we will have with our Readers. The team presented one idea for our weekly parties, Flapjack Fun. (We'll let you know how it goes in a few weeks!)  
We got the Luke workbooks which we'll hand to Readers soon, as well as our LST t-shirts and On-Site Handbooks. IT'S GO TIME.

June 13- July 25, 2011. Bangkok, Thailand...

Wai from the Way. 


The wai.

"Wai" is the Thai greeting, a slight bow with palms pressed together.  
Allow us to introduce ourselves.

 Cole, Hannah, Michael, Alyssa, Jacob

If we are nothing else, we are servants of Christ. 
We are full of doubts and fears and insecurities and struggles and pasts, and there is no reason to believe we could be of any use to God.  But He is just that big and just that powerful, and He does want to use us.  This summer, He's given us work to do in Thailand!

There's no real beginning to our story, because it is so high above us. Somehow we all ended up together at the University Christian Ministry (UCM) in Tuscaloosa last fall and quickly and easily started forming friendships. In September, the Let's Start Talking (LST) program first began recruiting our campus ministry. They've run a program for 30 years sending college students and adults all over the world to teach English lessons and to plant seeds about Christ. Each of our initial reactions to the opportunity was different. 

Jacob had felt unmistakably called to Thailand during a Religion class and saw LST as the doorway he needed to step into his calling. 

Alyssa was confused.  She wanted to support Jacob in his excitement but felt like she needed a clear sign from God to assure her that it was His call for her as well. 

Hannah didn't know what to think, but she tried to keep an open mind about it.  She kept the info card on her fridge where she'd see it every night and consider it. 

Michael bluntly rejected the idea.  LST had recruited at UCM for years and he was simply not interested.  But when Jacob and Alyssa showed interest, he gave it another look.

Cole was initially going to spend the summer in Honduras, but that fell through. Then summer school didn't work out. Our campus ministers saw him as the final piece to completing our team and spurred him on in the direction of Thailand. 

Here we are, together. 
Our flight leaves for Bangkok in a few weeks, June 13. God must know what He's doing. 

One more thing for now: 
This is probably painfully cheesy, but give it a chance. 
I love that the Thai greeting is called the wai and Christ's church is called The Way.  We want to greet everyone in the name of Christ, knowing that they are part of His Kingdom no matter where on this earth they are.  We want to bow to them in humility and put our hands together prayerfully for them.  Call me crazy, but there's just so much symbolism there.
Wai from the Way.