Sisters serve at Santisuk English School

Santisuk English School

The first thing Brynn and Bronte Oothoudt noticed when they landed in Seattle after three weeks in Bangkok was the complaining. As they walked through the terminal, it was all they could hear. The sisters looked at each other and said, “We are back.”

Bangkok is home to over 8 million people, and Santisuk English School teaches English, a highly valued skill in the business-driven city. With people moving there from all over the world, it presents a “can’t miss” opportunity for SES. Bronte knew she wanted to try an overseas mission for two years, but wasn’t sure where. When the opportunity came up to teach English to Thai Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus, she didn’t hesitate and her sister younger sister Brynn felt the same.

“We had been flying for 24 hours from Minneapolis by the time we arrived. Brynn and I were just zoning out,” Bronte said. “As soon as we walked outside it was so hot and humid we couldn’t believe it. But waking up the next morning was one of the coolest things. We were hit with the smell of different spices and it was cool to walk around and look at the food people were eating.”

As they made their way to the school for their first day of training, neither one knew what to expect, or felt qualified for the job. When they were welcomed at SES, they realized how they felt about themselves wasn’t true. After a quick cultural training and a breeze through the basics, both girls felt ready. They taught at the Silom branch of SES, in Bangkok’s business district.

“A lot of our students were college age up unto their 40s,” Bronte said. “They were accountants and lawyers. In the U.S. it would’ve been different. I haven’t even finished college yet and I was teaching a civil lawyer. Teachers are held in high respect and the students were super polite and respectful.”

Not only were the students eager to learn, they were open to hearing about the sisters’ faith. Hindu and Buddhist people tend to be more accepting and open, according to Bronte. SES tells students up front they are a Christian organization, and that they will be learning English through Bible stories.

“A few students asked a lot about we believed. I shared the gospel with five students,” Brynn said. “I just complimented them for their faith and it opened the doors for those kinds of conversations.”

Both sisters say they learned a lot from their students. They were always generous with their time and commitment to school and relationships.

“Relationships are a huge thing there,” Bronte said. “We would teach for two hours and then go hang out with our students afterward, even if they had to get up at 5 a.m. for a two-hour drive back. They just wanted to spend time with us.”

When it came time to say good-byes, Bronte says it was difficult. They also grew attached to the church they attended. Different from their Minnesota church, the members held each other accountable and lived in community. She says the congregants were very open about their lives and gave each other advice straight from the Bible.

“God really convicted Brynn and I of different things, like choosing to spend our time differently,” Bronte said. “The church we attended taught us a lot about the idea of community. They really were the description of the church in Antioch in the Bible.”

Brynn and Bronte are back at Bethel University finishing nursing degrees. Brynn starts her sophomore year, and Bronte, her senior year. SES was less about teaching English and more about relationships. Looking ahead, Brynn already knows she wants to do more missions trips. But until she finishes school, God has given her things to work on.

“I was convicted about my relationships back home,” she said. “I have some really good friends, but we can be too lazy to commit to something. These students were willing to give up all of their time. They were so generous. This is lesson that was cool to take home and apply to my life now.”

Santisuk English School was started 25 years ago by Steve and Nopaluck Cable. It has grown to six locations throughout Thailand. If you're interested in serving at SES, contact Susan at susanh@converge.org.

    Point - September 2018

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