“Retreat to hua hin”


“What a huge testament to how these students are looking to make change for future generations, starting with themselves, as hope has been cultivated in their hearts.” 

After 16 hours, overnight on a bus filled with frequent food stops and endless karaoke singing, we arrived in Hua Hin and could see the ocean –bright and blue, shining on the horizon.  Before I even stepped off the bus, I could see through the windows that kids were already running to feel the hit of the soft waves crashing.  And maybe it’s because Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains, or maybe it’s because it was some of their first times ever at the beach, but despite the heat, the feeling was a cool calm over all of our hearts. 


Just a couple years in to working with youth homes and investing in youth, we found that kids were graduating high school and transitioning out of their youth homes and still needed someone to help them navigate how to do life on their own.  It’s out of that need that we created a group called God First.  A small group family for these students.  We had 5 students show up to my townhouse for our first ever group meeting in December of 2018.   

4 years later, we have two separate groups, going on three, and just took 20 students to the beach for what feels like the culmination of 4 years of investment and change.  I’m not sure the kids could feel it, but my heart swelled thinking of where they came from, how many of them are thriving, moving towards a better future, or honestly just still alive because of how they’ve connected with each other, how we’ve been able to pour into them, and how God has been sovereign over it all.


At the beach, during a break out session on one of the days, the kids were instructed to think about all the different areas of their lives – physical, emotional, spiritual, etc., and think about tangible ways that they could reach the goals they wanted to set for the future.  Some have simple goals, like wanting to wake up earlier and be more disciplined, while others crave having a family someday.  One of the girls who is usually out spoken, and as a result, doesn’t always go deep, teared up saying how she wanted a family.  Not so that she would be taken care of, but so that she could rewrite her own history.  A family of her own, to cultivate love and positivity, and unconditional love that so far in her life, she has only received from God.

What a huge testament to how these students are looking to make change for future generations, starting with themselves, as hope has been cultivated in their hearts.

When we returned from the beach, Facebook was flooded with stylish new profile pictures of all the kids standing in front of the beach.  They were all solo pictures as is typical in this culture, but the excitement was evident as they lovingly commented on each other’s pictures, ready to hype up their friends like family. 

This family is celebrating a lot of their kids moving onward and upward, graduating college and looking towards a bright future.  We plan to still keep in relationship with these students by seeing them regularly as we have been but making the monthly meetings less frequent, and more like reunions.