When Uthaiwan Arkomkong, 3, tried on her new ruffled yellow dress, she danced and preened before missionaries, even though she is usually a shy little girl.
She, like many Primary children in the Issan region of Thailand, wear the same clothes to Church on Sunday that they wear every day of the week because they cannot afford anything more, said Sister June Eldredge, who served as a missionary in the Thailand Bangkok Mission with her husband, Elder Louis Eldredge. The children's only change of clothing is their school uniform that they wear every school day.But now, thanks to the kindness of Primary children in the Bangkok English Branch, Bangkok Thailand District, some Primary children in the up-country of Thailand have special clothes to wear to Church meetings.
Encouraged to serve others, the Primary children in Bangkok began a project to share what clothing they had with children in the Issan region.
They brought clothing to Primary that they wanted to donate and made sure everything was clean, pressed and mended. They then matched dresses to underclothing, stockings and sometimes even shoes to complete an outfit. The clothing was put in plastic bags and tagged, indicating, for example, that the clothing was for a 7-year-old girl or a 4-year-old boy.
During a mission zone conference in the Issan region, two large boxes of clothing and a large bag of shoes were delivered by Janice White, the wife of Thailand Bangkok Mission Pres. Larry White, to Elder and Sister Eldredge, then serving in the Ubonratchathani province.
One outfit included pants, a shirt, tie and belt and was given to 8-year-old Sarawuth Buttho, son of Orayuth Buttho, a counselor in the branch presidency in Ubon.
Sister Eldredge said as Sarawuth pulled the belt out of the package, his eyes lit up and he turned and darted up the stairs into the living area of his home, which sits on stilts. After a few minutes he called to his father, saying, "Dad, I've never seen clothes like this. Come show me how to put them on."
His sister, Oranut, and friend Chanchira Thondee, daughter of Branch Pres. Tan Thondee, clasped their bags and ran next door to Pres. Tan's house where they tried on their new clothing.
Everything fit like it had been made especially for the children, Sister Eldredge remarked. "Chanchira whirled in her ruffled, lavender dress while Oranut's smile would have been enough to let the children in Bangkok know their efforts were more than rewarding."
About 20 children received clothing, ensembles that were suitable for wear to Church meetings, plus underclothing and night wear, as part of the project.