Free to serve others

Unsure of what you want to do after high school? Do you want to strengthen your relationship with God? Travel overseas? During my final year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for further study; most young people would know the feeling. I contemplated going straight to university, however it’s an expensive thing to do simply to have a test run, and I didn’t want to risk getting into something I wasn’t keen on.

In May 2015, at the Lutheran Church of New Zealand synod, I met Glenice Hartwich from LCA International Mission, who told me about volunteering in countries such as Myanmar and Thailand. After hearing many stories about how beautiful Thailand is, I decided to go to Bangkok and volunteer at the Home of Praise, a nursery for young children and babies in the Klong Toey slum in the Thai capital.

When I arrived on a hot, thunderstormy day, I had no idea what lay ahead for me.

I stayed in the same building as the Immanuel Lutheran Church, on the fifth floor, where the pastor and his family and the housekeeper lived. The Immanuel Church Music School was on the second floor, while there was a nursery for children aged four to six on the third and fourth floors.

During my two months in Bangkok, I worked at the two nurseries four days a week. Five days a week I taught piano in the afternoons, and English in the evenings, and once a week I went to Lutheran Seminary Thailand to teach piano to the students, accompany the choir, and play for the mid-week services.

I was very busy but I loved it – the hustle and bustle of the city, the laid-back attitude of the Thai people, the friendliness of my colleagues, and arriving home after visiting the city and being greeted with ‘Pi Mali!’ by the young children (‘Pi’ means ‘sister’, and ‘Mali’ is the jasmine flower). This is what all the children and teachers at the nurseries would call me.

However, it wasn’t all happy. Some children at Home of Praise were only there because the alternative was to be left home alone. Even at very young ages, they could be left wandering the slums. One child would often come to the nursery smelly. Her mother, who dropped her off each morning, always looked well made up but felt unable to care for her children in that way. Children who felt neglected by parents usually were the most affectionate, constantly touching the teachers- just wanting to feel loved and appreciated.

The staff in the nurseries showed so much love towards these kids, gave them great learning opportunities and made each and every one feel special and wanted. I wish I could have stayed longer to be a part of that.

I think that these two months of volunteering will have a lasting impact on my life. Now that I am back home in New Zealand, I realise how much I had taken for granted. Things like safe roads, a roof over my head and walls around me to keep me warm, fresh food, loving family and friends. It has also inspired me to study nursing at university, a career that gives me the opportunity of working around the world, and the chance to help those in need every day.

For those who are unsure of what to do after high school, don’t feel pressure to rush into university just for the sake of it. You may be being called to do something out of your comfort zone by venturing into the world God has given us. ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” ‘ -Isaiah 6:8

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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