Landen Smith On Mission in Thailand

Q. Why are you in Thailand?

A. I am in Thailand because my family and I felt God’s calling to come and share the Gospel with the people of Thailand. We have been missionaries before to Thailand about twelve years ago, and we still felt that we were called to continue to share with the people of Thailand and its beautiful culture.

Q. What are your parents doing in Thailand?

A. My dad and mom are here as missionaries.  They are serving people by teaching English for free while they build relationships and look for opportunities to share the Gospel.  My dad is also working with a local Thai pastor and church helping with leadership development and their community outreach to children in the slums.

Q. What is the culture like there? Differences?

A. The culture is very different here than it is in the United States. In some instances, the things we take for granted are the things that can determine whether you are a polite or rude person, such as always having to hand money and objects to people with your right hand and wying (slight bowing with your hands put together) when you say hello to someone. They also have religious sites and Buddhist altars all around the city where people can make daily offerings and pray, so you have to be very respectful around those areas and just walk through as politely as you can. The food here is very different as well, with seafood and noodles being the primary delicacies of the country. My favorite Thai dish is Phad Thai.

Q. Was it hard to adjust to the changes?

A. It was difficult at first, especially with all of the rules of etiquette and learning the language, but I feel that I have adapted pretty well as of now. I try to blend in with the people, talking and making jokes as normally as regular conversation, and I try to maintain a very polite posture with the people and abide by the rules of the culture, such as the wying. I find that being engrossed in a new culture is very exciting though because it allows me to see the world in a way I never would have otherwise.

Q. What has been your best experience so far?

A. One of my best experiences so far would have to be going to the River Khlong Market just outside of the city. It is an old market that very few foreigners know about. My dad had to try to describe how to get there with the taxi driver; it was quite an experience to even get there. Once we were there though, I got to see Thai people in their essence, selling and acting in the ways they felt most comfortable when foreigners weren’t around. We were stared at a bit at first, but after they realized we spoke their language, they welcomed us into what they were doing, and it was great. They also sell very strange (but interesting) things in the market, such as fried bugs and sticky rice in bamboo sticks! The fruit there was absolutely amazing, too. They cut it fresh right in front of you and it tasted delicious and ripe.

Another great experience was when I got to perform magic tricks for children at a children’s ministry event last month. I got to do a few illusions for the children and they all loved it. Many of the kids returned the next event wanting more, so I felt that it was great that I was able to bring these kids from the slum into church even if I was doing something as simple as magic.

Q. What is your schooling like there?

A. My schooling has been mostly online classes through MAC and the high school; however, I also had classes with a tutor in our house to learn the Thai language, so it was a mix of both.

Q. Who are you teaching English to? How did you get involved with that?

A. We are teaching English to the workers and staff of the building complex we live in. My dad went to the managers and told them he would teach English for free to the employees. They were very happy and said yes. They also gave us free use of the meeting room so we could teach. After that, the employees’ friends and some of the people who are nannies and house keepers in the building for other foreigners started coming too. My family and I are a team over here, and we do everything together, so that meant that I could help my dad teach these people along with him, so that is how I got involved with it.

Q. When will you be coming back to America?

A. I will be coming back to America most likely around late March for college interviews with Washington University.

Q. What are your plans for next year?

A. My plans for next year are to attend Washington University in St. Louis and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. I would also like to be admitted to their pre-med program so I can start on my goal of entering their medical school.