Social-Emotional Learning, Scripture, and Prayer

woman praying

I teach a class about mental health tools for the women at The Well. We talk about thoughts, emotions, and behavior; about balance and self-management. It’s a good class, and I see women putting their tools into practice and coming up with ways to care for themselves and others. 

I’ve noticed that the first step in nearly every recommended tool, strategy, or technique for better mental health is the same: calm down. Whether you are overwhelmed, solving a tricky problem, or changing an old habit, you must first gather your wits, take a drink of water, or count to ten. I find it ironic that the first step is often the hardest one, at least, it is for me! I know I’m not alone, though. Here at The Well, we spend a lot of time working on ways to find and restore calm.

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Learning, Thinking, Growing, and Healing

group of people gathered around two graduates, smiling

Once, *Bam, a woman in our program at The Well, complained to me about having to learn English. She was too old to learn a new language; what was the point? I explained that even if she never used it, learning English would help her focus, improve her memory, and strengthen her brain. She didn’t learn English but she kept coming to class and she grew healthier. I know using her brain to learn something new was part of that. (She went on to work in a ministry that includes many foreign, English-speaking volunteers; funny how that works!)

At The Well, we know that the heart, body, gut, mind, and all the other parts of us are working together, all the time. We aim to be holistic in our approach, so we provide everyone with opportunities to learn, from in-house classes to university support.

Education breaks cycles—all kinds: addiction, poverty, trauma and generational cycles. Education teaches that our lives can be different. It can increase resources and enable freedom. When we talk, think, read, and talk some more, our behaviors, emotions and thoughts can change. Learning new information and skills affects our brains, increasing neuron growth and even changing brain patterns that have been altered by trauma.

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Faithfulness, Butterflies, and a Few Good Men

Our ministry to women has always included men. Once during our first year in Bangkok, Jim and I met three young ladies at a park, to get to know them outside of their work in bars, and they brought two men with them – a boyfriend and a brother. The guys were as curious as the girls about what we were doing. Ever since, we’ve had many men at the edge of The Well. Some hope to work, to learn guitar, and to make friends. Some have hung around trying to sell drugs or stay in unhealthy relationships. But all of them, probably unbeknownst to them, bring a deep desire to find grace and love.  

We sometimes hear from Thai women we meet in the bars that they are looking for a foreign husband because “Thai men are no good” – they made bad husbands and bad fathers. In America, we use the word “players”; in Thai, they’re called “butterflies.” They flit from woman to woman – and never stay long.

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Enriching Children

March, April and May are the hottest season in Thailand. School takes a long “summer break” and our moms need reliable childcare, so we provide a holistic enrichment program for the children of The Well including science, art, and a lot of fun.

We thought you might like to get to know some of the volunteers, students, and teenagers who created a great summer program. Read on to get to know their names and faces – and thank you for supporting them with your gifts and prayers!

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Becoming the Moms We’re Called to Be

We believe in whole families here at The Well. Over the last six months, we’ve been doing some serious work on parenting education and support. We have classes for groups of mothers and one-on-one coaching. I’ve heard wonderful stories, but even with this focused approach, I still hear discouraging reports. A staff member pulled me aside to tell me of a mom hitting her 4-year-old. Another woman told me she hits her child with a hanger because he will only obey if he is afraid.

Improper parenting does not seem natural to me. None of us are born perfect parents, of course, but I believe people learn neglect and abuse from the generations before them. In parent education, we contend with automatic responses that come from memories of abuse and neglect. We invite women to end generational patterns, which isn’t something they can do quickly or easily. Our goal is to help them do very difficult work.

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