Arrivals, Ceremonies, and Blessings
“Watch,” Paul replied. He took three of the fried bamboo worms out of the bowl on the table and tossed them in his mouth.
She looked a little green.
“I can do it now, too,” I said. I picked up a worm and bit it off behind its tiny black head. “They taste like French fries,” I told her. “I just don’t like the heads.”
Worms will never be my favorite food – unless food supplies dry up drastically. But they are actually clean bugs. They are the larvae of butterflies that lay their eggs inside the bamboo plant. All their lives the caterpillars never get out of the bamboo. They are even sold, alive, in short lengths of bamboo. They aren’t like roaches who live among nasty things, or even beetles that live in the dirt. The only reason we think they are gross is that we are not used to eating them. The people who grow up with them think they are a delicacy.
It was Sunday morning in the beautiful mountain-top village of Plang Hoc. We weren’t there for a Thanksgiving celebration this time, but were on our usual rounds of visits to the churches. Paul preached and William translated and, as usual, we had many songs. Afterwards we had lunch on the church porch before heading home.
On Tuesday we were off again – this time to a church in the far north, nearly to the border. One of the preachers Paul is training, Shaw -paw, started preaching there recently. The village is a large one with more than 100 families. The building – and the members – were abandoned when their preacher left several years ago. Shaw-paw meets with them faithfully and a good crowd filled the tiny building. Brother Ai Donkham came to interpret into Lahu and we had a blessed service. Afterwards we gave out bags of over-the-counter medicines for general first aid (antibiotic cream, charcoal tablets, Bandaids, etc.) Then we distributed hats and coloring books to the children—my favorite part of the proceedings! After a lunch of traditional Thanksgiving foods we headed back home. Please pray for this new and struggling work.
Last week we had a special festival day here in Chiang Mai. In fact, two festivals fell on the same day. The Loy Kratong ceremony involves little boats made of banana leaves and decorated with flowers and a candle. The kids make them in school every year. In the ceremony the candles are lit and placed in the river. It’s beautiful, with the river shimmering with lights from the tiny boats.
The full moon fell on Loy Kratong day, so it was also Yeeping – Festival of the Lanterns.
We wanted the day to be special for Kimmy, who is usually stuck at home with only the kids and us for company. That can be tough for a young person who is outgoing and used to a busy social life, like she is. Paul volunteered to stay with the kids so Rusty, Kimmy and I went to the dinner and ceremony on the river put on by the best restaurant in Chiang Mai. Besides the delicious buffet, we were entertained with music and Thai traditional cultural performances.
The best part, though, was the lanterns. As soon as darkness fell, the lanterns started floating across the sky. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. The full moon and the smaller lights of the lanterns made a breath-taking skyscape. We sat mesmerized and watched the airborne river of lights flow past.
As part of the ticket price we were given a Loy Kratong boat and a lantern to send off. I’ve watched them before, but never set one off myself. It was a memorable experience!
Another memorable experience came a few days later. Our secretary, Pann, had her baby girl. Mina is beautiful and we rejoiced with the family for her safe birth.
We are expecting an arrival of another kind in a couple of days. Our daughter, Rebekah, and her family and Cy and Diane Smith will fly in from the US to visit for a couple of weeks. Andrew will do dentistry in the mountains for our people who don’t have access to a dentist. Even if they could afford dental care, many don’t speak Thai, so it’s nearly impossible for them to get the help they need. Diane is a dental assistant and will be helping Andrew while Rebekah does the sterilizing and helps in other ways.
Cy is a builder and on his last visit blessed the people by doing much-needed repair jobs in the church buildings. We expect there to be many other jobs ready for him this time, too. Meanwhile, our grandsons will be helping me do medicine and distribute hats and coloring books and crayons to the children.
Some of the dental mission days will coincide with Thanksgivings, which will also involve church services and traditional Lahu ceremonies. And, of course, Thanksgiving food.
The schedule for the two weeks they will be here is already jam-packed. Please pray that the Lord will bless their efforts here and give strength to keep up with the many needs. He is good!