It was during my education at the Zaokski Theological Seminary, Russia that I decided to serve God as a volunteer. So my best friend, Marina, and I prayed about it and asked God to lead us. By the time we passed our final exams, we were invited to Thailand to volunteer at the Chiangmai Adventist Academy. We were sure it was God’s calling, so we set out. It was our first time in Thailand, and we felt a bit of culture shock. Everything around us was so strange and different. I remembered a quote that I had seen in a brochure about volunteering. It went something like, “When we go somewhere as a volunteer, we want to change people and help them. But we should remember that we ourselves will never be the same.” How true that was!
I met a great bunch of people who were poor, but very happy. They treated me with kindness. My smiling and helpful students had been taught from their childhood to respect older folks. This is why I couldn’t just tell them about Jesus being a good Person. My students – the majority of them being Buddhist – were all good people! So I knew that I had to have a very strong relationship with Jesus to be able to provide His light every day. For them, I was to be a living example of Christ. And I took this very seriously during the nine months that I served there.
At the end of our service, right before our departure, Marina and I went to say goodbye to our cook. We gave her a small heart-shaped memento. She touched it to her chest with a motion that looked as though she were taking my heart to hers. She did the same with Marina. I saw tears in her eyes as she said, “I love you like my daughters. You are always welcome in my house.” I will never forget the love I felt from her simple words.
I still remember my last days at the academy. I went around with red eyes because of my tears, and my heart was breaking to know that I had to leave. I loved the people that I had met and I didn’t want to go. I loved my job as a volunteer. A few months later, after I had returned home, I met the best person in my life and I got married. Now, my husband, my ten-month-old son Ariel, and I have one dream. We want to go somewhere to be volunteers! It could even be Thailand! We’ll let God lead us.
Olga Maslova, originally from the Ukraine, served as a School Assistant at the Chiangmai Adventist Academy in Thailand. She served there from August of 2006 through May of 2007. She hopes to be able to volunteer again, this time, with her family!
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