Photos by Jamie Alexander
Just three years prior, Thompson had visited a children’s home in Thailand for a short-term church mission trip. In May of 2013, he and his wife Layla, who was 8-months pregnant at the time, answered the call by relocating their family of four to that same children’s home.
Prior to departing for the journey of a lifetime, he was spending his days working for his father, Mark, who owns Integrity Nursery. The nursery focuses on outdoor living, lawn care, backyard builds, pools, and landscaping.
With the experience he gained at Integrity, paired with a Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Western Kentucky University, Thompson was tasked with overseeing a new building process—a new house for children. He also assisted in managing 25 acres that quickly grew to 40 acres of property that featured seven tree orchards for the organization that goes by Life Impact International (LII).
“We were placed in a very remote area of Thailand. We were located on 40 acres with girls and boys separated by a creek that runs between the properties,” he said. “There was no domestic water or sanitation system from the government. The only things that we received from outside the land were electricity and internet to two locations—we had to make and get everything else on our own.”
LII exists to prevent children from being trafficked, rescues children from trafficking, and heals the children that were trafficked in the sex slave trade. Generosity from their home church, His Church, allowed the Thompsons to assist locals in taking a blank piece of ground and constructing a village.
“The impact we can have when we all work together is remarkable,” he said. “Layla designed all of the structures, and I was able to oversee all construction. We are able to manage every project to the finest detail, ensuring the best quality for all the structures we built.”
The list of accomplishments and new constructions features everything from new office buildings and children’s safe homes to lakes and volleyball courts. They also constructed power and water lines bringing running water and electricity to the entire property.
The accolades are infinite and ongoing, but both Thompsons want to express the sincerest gratitude to all that made this dream possible.
“We are deeply grateful to the 33 men I worked directly with and led, and the six leaders who are currently running each of the divisions needed to accomplish all of this amazing work,” he said.
“We also want to extend a huge thank you to the other 35 staff members that did so much more – all of this happened because we all said yes to what God asked us to do.”
After eight years of service, the Thompson’s decided it was time to return home. Ryan picked up right where he left off, this time overseeing the service sales department and the concrete division at Integrity.
“They say you can never go back, and I think that’s true,” he said. “Even though we’re ‘back’ in our hometown… we’re moving forward in new & exciting ways! The whole company has grown and changed tremendously since we left for Thailand. And I’m excited to be back on board as we take it to the next level… and then the next & the next!”
“The Integrity team is loaded with experience and knowledge. They are translating dreams into outdoor living realities. And I love being a part of that,” Ryan said.
As they begin to transition back to life in the states, the Thompsons will have memories that they can cherish for a lifetime.
“I wasn’t sure how fast I’d be able to adjust into this new role. A new home, a new climate, a new career…. really, just a new life,” he said. “I walked back into a positive and welcoming work environment, and I was surprised at how quickly all of this ‘new’ started to feel… ‘normal’!”