by Cai Yin Shuang, Volunteer from Geylang Chinese Methodist Church, Singapore.
I have always wanted to visit preschools in other countries, especially in areas that are less developed. After browsing around the MMS website in 2018, the Singapore Mission School (SMS) in Laos caught my attention. I decided to spend three weeks of the December school holidays to help out at the school.
What struck me most was the children's eagerness to learn, and their humble dispositions. I had a language barrier with the young children and I was worried at times that I wouldn't be able to bond with them. However, I thank God for opening up their hearts to interact with me and playing with me. They were so warm and welcoming to me, and I enjoyed interacting with all of the children and staff in the school. Even though I went there with the mindset to give, I felt that I was instead being blessed through receiving their friendly hospitality. Through helping out at the Christmas performances, I also bonded with the preschoolers who were so lovable and fun to be with. I also enjoyed helping to direct the nativity play put up by the preschoolers, and also relished the time in making friends with the teachers there.
On my last day, I was especially touched and surprised when the staff gifted me with a locally made handbag as a farewell gift. Even though they didn't have much to give, they still took the effort and time to gift me with something so valuable. This act was something I'll truly cherish for a long time.
Because of the enriching time I had in SMS in 2018, the decision to return to visit the school in 2023 was an easy one. However, the visit was slightly different this time. I was thankful that I was able to visit them this time to train the teachers with my current knowledge and experience in the early childhood industry. I conducted two trainings entitled "Teaching Children with Special Needs" and "Effective Classroom Management Strategies". This trip was therefore more stressful as I was afraid that my knowledge and expertise would be of no use to the teachers. However, I went ahead with faith and gave my five loaves and two fishes, and prayed that God would be the One to multiply it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there in 2018 and 2023, and I would gladly make trips to go back and visit again and again. I believe that God is working greatly through Mr Kok Liang and Ms Lesley. To have started the school from scratch in a foreign country is truly not easy. Yet, God has sustained them and allowed the school to flourish and be a blessing in Laos. I pray that SMS will continue to grow and be the salt and light in Laos, where many are still lost and many families are broken.
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