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Our own Kyle Fleischmann, co-founder and principal here at Vantage Clinical Solutions, came back from Thailand recently to a flood of questions about what it’s like to be stung by a scorpion. You may not be so surprised by his answer:

“It caught me off guard,” he said, humoring yet another round of questioning. “And it hurt.”

And while this misstep (literally – he stepped on the scorpion in question) certainly puts a colorful exclamation point on his international jaunt, it also buries the lead. While Kyle’s trip was filled with new personal experiences, it was also filled with teaching and building and giving and fellowship.

Kyle and three others, including his wife, Kalisha, the Global Care Coordinator with Compass Church in Bend, OR, spent nearly three weeks in Thailand to volunteer at Zion Land, a rural Christian camp that assists and supports local villages with food, education and counseling.

While at Zion Land, Kyle, Kalisha and the others spent five days teaching English to 1,000-plus kids while laying the groundwork for a continuing English as a Second Language (ELS) curriculum. The program supports a Thailand government mandate that all citizens learn English and helps to ensuring poor, rural students don’t fall through the educational cracks.

Kyle’s new best friend.

The four also completed some building and maintenance projects to support Zion Land’s Jasmine Project, a program to help unwed mothers.

“In Thailand, it’s taboo to have kids while you’re unwed,” said Kyle. “Abortions are also taboo and, in Thailand, unsafe. So really, unwed women who get pregnant have few places of refuge. That’s what the Jasmine Project is for – so these unwed women can safely carry their child to full term.”

The trip was self-funded, and the four made their way to Thailand toting 11 suitcases full of personal effects along with a few extras: ESL books, tools, toys, soccer balls, and anything else they felt might help them in their mission. These “extras” were left behind knowing Zion Land would put them to good, long-term use.

According to Kyle, this was the second mission trip he and Kalisha have taken together, though Kalisha has organized others. Three years ago, the couple traveled to India for a similar purpose – to offer humanitarian aid, education and fellowship to people in need – and Kyle said the experience offered him a fresh perspective on life and happiness.

“There’s something very different about overseas mission work,” he said. “In India, we saw kids – families – who have very little as far as homes and personal possessions. They were very poor by our standards. And despite that, they had more joy than anyone you’d see here [in the U.S.] They’re always smiling, and the joy is really indescribable.”

Thanks for sharing, Kyle, and thanks for doing your part in making our world a little stronger, a little happier and a little better. And welcome back!