By Stan Friedman
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND (November 23, 2011) – Staff from Covenant Heights Camp and Retreat Center returned to Estes Park, Colorado, this past weekend after working in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they helped the Thailand Covenant Church further develop its own fledgling camp located on reclaimed rice paddies.
The 13-member team, which also included people connected with Covenant Heights, made progress on construction of a multipurpose building. They poured truckload after truckload of cement for the deck as well as the downstairs bathrooms and kitchen, and installed underground plumbing.
The design attempts to maximize optimal use of natural resources. For example, drains from the sinks will extend down the hillside and be used to water the soccer field below.
Part of the construction is being funded by the more than $9,000 that campers donated to the 2010 summer camp offerings that were designated for the facility in Chiang Mai as well as Roi Et. The Covenant Heights team also raised an additional $3,000.
“There are enough funds left from their giving that we hope to be able to get the roof up over the structure, but will need to fund-raise to complete the bathrooms and kitchen area,” says Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Randy Bevis, who hosted the team.
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“Covenant Heights has forged a sort of partnership relationship with Randy and the camps,” says Tom Cousineau, director of Covenant Heights. Cousineau was one of three camp directors who traveled to Thailand in 2010 on an exploratory trip to determine how to best assist the Thai Covenanters. Cousineau was critically injured in a motorcycle accident during the trip and is grateful for the extensive care he received.
Cousineau says working in Thailand is important for his staff because it is important that they see beyond developing their own camp to being part of the broader Great Commission. He hopes to bring Thai camp directors Aye and Dao Jansai to visit Covenant Heights to learn more about how camps can minister to others.
The team that traveled to Chiang Mai ministered to others beyond serving in the camp. They entertained students at a local school as well as an orphanage for children with AIDS or whose parents died of AIDS.
The Americans also dined on an early holiday meal when they visited two local Akha villages and celebrated the residents’ Thanksgiving services that coincide with the recent rice harvest. A new church also was dedicated during the celebration. The Akha tribe is one of 15 tribal groups that live in Thailand and have a language and culture of their own.
Editor’s note: Photos courtesy of Chuck Eklund.