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From Mekong to Memphis: The Journey of 2 Thai Sisters Studying in America

by Amber Bosman

Exotic aromas fill the kitchen air. Two brown-headed girls half dance, half bounce from one side to the other making an afternoon snack. One eats Japanese peanuts and takes a seat, legs curled under her, on the bar stool while the other carefully cuts a green mango. She sets the slices aside and stirs a unique mixture that resembles a teriyaki texture. I learn that the sauce consists of red chili, sugar, and fish sauce. The smell is…unique. “It’s her favorite snack” says Chris Kuhlman, “She makes it everyday and dips the mango in the sauce.”

Meet Tiw and Taw, sisters from Thailand studying abroad in the United States. It’s easy to tell that the girls are sweet, kind, and gentle. Both smile and the whole room lights up. They are easy to be around. We sit in the living room overlooking a beautiful pool and begin to talk about their journey. Tiw sits to my left and Taw to my right. Taw is the oldest of the two and a bit more outspoken than her younger sister, who smiles shyly and speaks softly.

Taw (left) and Tiw (right)

Over the next hour and a half I learn about these two amazing young women and the family that has opened up their home. Tiw and Taw began this journey several years ago. Although their father is Buddhist, their mother is Christian and learned about a school called “Mercy Christian School (MCS).”

MCS is lead and directed by our partner, Dr. Chansamone founder of Mekong Evangelical Mission in Thailand. Through his vision and leadership, Dr. Chansamone began partnerships with schools in the United States for his top students to study abroad to better their English.

Tiw and Taw began attending the school and through the years rose up in leadership in their school and church. Both girls were class President at MCS and also led on their worship team through dance and singing. Taw loves to sing while Tiw loves to dance.

Dr. Chansamone saw something special in the girls. He told them “You have a heart to serve God and to serve people.” He decided that the girls must go to the USA to study and return to Thailand fluent in English to help the church.

Tim, Tiw, Chris, and Taw

The girls who will be Seniors in the Fall, left Thailand last year to begin their studies in the USA. With a few bumps in the road, the girls unexpectedly ended up in Memphis, TN. Global Ministries Fellowship quickly jumped into action to get the girls into a school and placed into homes. God provided through incredible ways.

The girls spent the past school year attending Evangelical Christian School (ECS) in Cordova, TN and lived with a family who are originally from Thailand.

“At the beginning, I felt very weird and different,” said Taw about her new American school. “In Thailand, we have many Americans come and we open our arms and welcome each one. Here, people didn’t really talk to me or even look at me in class.” As expected, the girls starting at a new school in the middle of the year was challenging. “But soon we began to make a few friends. The teachers were very helpful, especially Mrs. Houston, the school librarian. I feel much better now about going back to ECS.”

God’s plans are always perfect, even to the last detail. When the girls arrived in Memphis, they were placed in a temporary home but the hope was for an ECS family to take the girls for one year. I had placed a plea on social media to some of my personal friends about the girls needing a home. Within an hour, I already had a response.

Meet Tim and Chris Kuhlman. The Kuhlman’s have a reputation for being incredibly generous, godly, and downright fun! Their three children attended and graduated from ECS, so they were more than the perfect fit. The girls moved in a month ago and I can already see a special bond between the girls and their host family.

“When I saw the Facebook post, I immediately called Tim and he said ‘Yes!,'” said Chris. “They’ve been so sweet and have worked hard to make things easier for Tim and I.” Already the Kuhlman’s have taken the girls to Destin, Florida on vacation and have planned a trip to Gatlinburg, TN for the Fall.

Chris especially feels that God placed them in their home for a reason, “We have a background with ECS so I feel that we can help. We know people there and we hope the girls will have more exposure to the ECS family.”

The girls are attending Highpoint Church with the Kuhlman’s and enjoy the music. Their plans after graduation include returning to Thailand to join their church’s ministry. They will be translators for mission teams coming to Thailand. Taw explains, “When we return, we must help those in Thailand and those in Laos as translators of the Gospel of Christ.”

To learn more about Mercy Christian School click here.