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Feast of Tabernacles 2014, Chiang Mai, Thailand – Memories from Legacy Volunteer Aj. Lacee Hilgen…

Elephant Camp 04

The Feast of Tabernacles went very well over here in Chiang Mai, Thailand! The other teachers and I were quite busy during the Feast but we loved every minute of it. It was great for us young volunteers to see just a glimpse into what running a Feast site is like! The best part of the Feast for me was witnessing the students so happy as they experienced new things and places. My second favorite part was the music. These students love to sing and I hear them sing on a daily basis. I think it was extra special because the songs were “feasty” and the Feast is always an emotional time for all involved. I balled like a baby when all the kids sang a song they had been working on for months called, “Where Would I Be.” They got off the stage and one of my students was sitting next to me during church, she wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “I know you are crying because you know you wouldn’t be anywhere without God’s love. But next time don’t cry so much because I couldn’t sing good because you were shaking and turning red.” WOOPS! It was a very uplifting and rewarding Feast. Great messages, wonderful activities, and days spent with our students and guests. God sure put protection over everything that happened.

Elephant Camp 01

Elephant Camp 02

We went to an elephant camp with our 3rd year students and our guests. It was so wonderful. It was the first time for a lot of the students to come here. We have two students who actually have worked with elephants in the past and one of my students MoPalel was silent while he was staring at the elephants. I asked him what he was thinking and he said, “I really miss working with the elephants. They love me so much and I love them so much. I miss them.” Watching these elephants and caregivers interact was really amazing. Considering how huge these creatures are, it is amazing how gentle and caring they are. They truly are beautiful creatures. We not only got to ride through the jungle and cross a river on these amazing creatures but we also got to be picked up by them by their strong trunk. That was unreal!

Elephant Camp 03

The students loved it so much; most of them did it multiple times with giggling squeals. When I did it, I didn’t follow direction fully… oops, so the elephant was lifting me up but I didn’t grab onto his trunk the right way, so I was clutching onto him for dear life while the caregiver and all those watching laughed at the state I put myself in. The elephant let me down and the caregiver made me do it again the right away. I definitely liked just petting and hugging the elephant’s trunk instead. After the elephant ride we went on a raft ride down the river. The raft ride turned into a water fight. Let me tell you, I didn’t start it… I only escalated it quickly. Buoy, a Legacy worker filled up her empty water bottle with river water and squirted it on us. We only got sprinkled with it. I took that to be a sign that I needed to dump water all over her and the people in front of me. Another raft that had most of the 3rd year students saw the fun we were having and 2 of my students grabbed the oar and started to splash us. Let me just say, we all walked off the raft completely soaked and onlookers thought that everyone always got wet on the nice and peaceful raft ride. Nope… just us! The day was just really special spending it with the students and getting to know the guests.

Rafting 01

Rafting 02

Elephant Farm 05

All guest, volunteers, workers and students spent a day and went to Queen’s Sirikit’s project. It was beautiful and a wonderful treat. The best part was seeing the students so happy exploring somewhere new. Another cool part was eating crickets. Mmmmm!

Queen Sirikit Royal Project 01

Queen Sirikit Royal Project 02

Another highlight was an art museum that we were blessed to go to because of donations. It was called Art in Paradise and it was a museum that had 3D paintings on the walls and the floor that made it look like you were standing in the painting. The students absolutely LOVED it! They had so much fun running from painting to painting and jumping into that world. It totally reminded me of Mary Poppins! It was a pricey museum, for Thailand, so it was such a blessing to take ALL the students and Legacy workers. It was a really special day!

Art in Paradise 01Art in Paradise 02

Art in Paradise 03

Art in Paradise 04

The volunteer teachers and I, along with guests and old teachers who were here for the Feast went to Tiger Kingdom one day. I chatted with Leon at church before we left and he asked what tigers I was going to choose to “play” with. This is what I said, “HA. I am only going to play with the babies. I like my life. I am not about to step foot in a cage full of grown tigers. I can do that in the Kingdom.” We chuckled together and I went on my merry way to go play with some baby cubs. I fully believed I was only going to cuddle with the baby tigers. We took a songthaew up the mountain to Tiger Kingdom and as we walked in, I went over to the upper deck where you can look down at the full grown tigers. I instantly decided it was a once in a life time experience and I had to do it. I also thought, “Hey, it’s the feast, what better way to envision the Kingdom than lie down with a tiger!” So I splurged and I paid to hang out with the big, small, and smallest tigers! There was a group of 7 of us and 6 of us went in to play with the big tigers. We went during nap time so the tigers were relaxed and sleepy. It was the perfect time to go see the big tigers. The first tiger we went up to was HUGE. These tigers are full grown at 18 months old, which is unreal. I volunteered to go first because I was nervous and wanted to get it over with. The minute I walked behind the tiger and started stroking his back and felt the vastness of this creature, my mind changed. Michael went up to the tiger 2nd to last and the tiger started to yawn and the tiger fell asleep whilst purring! It was so precious. We now call Michael the “Cat Whisperer.” The next tiger we went to was massive and even bigger than the last one.

Tiger Kingdom 01

Tiger Kingdom 03

It was a he and he was chilling in the sun next to the pool. His paw was the size of my head and he was so beautiful. The trainer instructed us that we were able to lay on him. At first I thought, “HUH!??!?!” But I watched my friends risk their lives and go before me and they survived, so I crept up to the tiger and laid my body on him. It was so incredible. To lay and cuddle with this creature made us all think of the Jurassic park when Dr. Alan Grant lays on the triceratops while she was breathing and he rises up with each breath. It was unreal just like that. I got up from the tiger and I touched his huge paw, and the trainer said that I could give him a foot massage, so I can now say that I gave a tiger a foot rub! The next big tiger we saw was on her back and she was totally waiting for us to give her some belly rubs. That was neat!

Tiger Kingdom 02

Next were the small tigers and 5 of us went inside. This was a neat experience because these tigers were so playful with each other and with us. They were 9 months old and to give you an idea they are what you envision little Simba to be in size. They were so adorable! Last but not least were the baby tigers! This is the part of the day I had been waiting for. I won’t go into much detail because it was just so amazing and I was filled with joy after my time spent with them, but there were 4 cubs that our group got to play with. They cuddled with us, played with us, and laid in our laps. A few fell asleep and we got to take selfies with some of them. It was just a really great experience and I cannot wait until the day when we can all dwell with animals peacefully in God’s Kingdom.

Tiger Kingdom 04

Tiger Kingdom 04

The Feast spent here in Chiang Mai was like nothing I will ever experience again. It was filled with service on everyone’s part. It was filled with love and kindness. But most importantly it was filled with a sense of oneness. There were people from all over the world, sitting in a hall learning about God’s word and His plan. All of us sat in that hall everyday and were a part of something that was happening all over the world. I was thinking that I am involved in something so wonderful and so peaceful. We all are called into God’s family and we are here because God thinks that we can help Him build His Kingdom for all of mankind. Each year when we take part in the Feast it’s a week of oneness and an amazing connection with our brothers and sisters in Christ, with our Father in Heaven, and with our Savior Jesus Christ. This Feast really hit home with me that one day, WE ALL are going to meet, WE ALL are going to work together and finally be at one with God. We will be able to see how God has worked with ALL of us in the physical life that He blessed us with and we can see how we overcame the spiritual war and made it to our final destination, God’s Kingdom.

Legacy School Visit 02

Traditional Karen Dress

I hope you all had a very special and inspiring Feast!

Until next time,
Aj Lacee

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