Moving On and Moving In
Sweat dripped into my eyes as I bent down to open yet another box. I sighed. Why was this move more difficult than the others, I wondered. Maybe it was the heat – we were in the hottest part of the year in Thailand. Maybe it was the horrible air, so polluted with smoke from the burning fields, not only in Thailand, but from Myanmar and Laos. Or maybe it was just that I was three years older than I was the last move. At any rate, it was a killer!
God is good to me, though. On the other moves I did most of the before-and-after cleaning, the packing and the unpacking by myself. This time Paul was free to lend his muscles to the chore and Denise was an invaluable help. A couple of the older kids stayed behind from their vacations in the mountains to help, too. I couldn’t have done it without all of them.
And it is done, more or less. We are out of the Chiang Mai house and moved into our two houses in Mae Ai and neighboring Mae Sao. We even managed to leave with our deposit, which is almost unheard of here. The last two moves we lost it. The landlords came up with some creative reasons in spite of our efforts to leave everything in good condition.
But this time the landlord was pleased and refunded it with no question. We are settling in to our new homes. They aren’t really houses, but shop buildings on the main road with living quarters attached. We couldn’t find any ordinary houses at all to rent in the vicinity. It took a bit of ingenuity, but we adapted the shops to our needs and we think we will be comfortable here.
There are a few flies in the ointment – like the snake (or some other critter) which stopped up the plumbing in the big house kitchen and the well in the small house that keeps going dry. But, overall, we are okay and I think we will be happy here. Paul and I are living in the tiny apartment connected to what used to be a dress shop. We made that large shop room into a dormitory for the four boys. The larger house is behind a big room that was formerly a plumbing supply shop. (People still keep dropping by to buy or sell plumbing parts!). Our cook, I’kha, and her husband Asa, who is Paul’s liaison with the tribes, live in one of the bedrooms, Denise and the girls in the other two. We’ve already set up the big room as our office, learning center, and meeting room. (It’s VERY big.)
Last Sunday we traveled to the Hoe Mae Fue, which is now the closest village to us. Well, it is closer as the crow flies, but by the time we traveled all over the area trying to find it, it took us as long as one of the farther ones. We’ll know next time, though. We had only been there once or twice before and were, of course, coming from the other direction.
We had a good time with these sweet people when we finally got there. Pastor Sawpaw and his wife made us welcome. He is faithful in Paul’s training every month and is enthusiastic about serving the Lord.
The church was started by a missionary years ago. The missionary left, though, and the work fell by the wayside. The building stood empty and deteriorating. Then Sawpaw came to preach there and the people began to return. Now they have 20-30 people who meet regularly and they are gradually fixing up the building. They ‘ve tiled it since we were there last. The cheerful purple-flowered floor tiles were a huge improvement over the former cement. A ceiling had been added since the first time we were there, too, which helped a lot with the heat.
The tiny building was packed and every chair taken. People continued to come and stood outside the windows to listen. We sang several songs and Paul spoke a greeting in Lahu. Then Asa preached. As it was in Lahu, we didn’t know exactly what he said, but we followed the scripture passages.
Then medicine. The last time we were there we made the mistake of holding our clinic outside the building on the porch. A main road to several Lahu villages runs outside the church building and passersby soon spread the word that free medicine was being distributed. People came in droves. Several hours later we were cleaned out of medicine and had to turn the last of the crowd away.
I had a limited supply this time and we announced that the church members would be served first. Even holding the clinic inside without the “Lahu telegraph” we had lots of people in line wearing the tell-tale strings proclaiming their tie to the spirits. The lack of strings makes professing Christians easy to spot! The church members were reluctant to go first, wanting to be a testimony to their unbelieving neighbors, but we had plenty to take care of the smaller crowd.
Lunch followed and then we were on our way home. It was much quicker going back!
Please continue to pray for us as we get ready for our school year to start. We will have four full-time students and two part-timers in our learning center this year. We are also looking forward to Cowen and Lyla Villandry joining the other kids when they arrive in Thailand in a few months. In addition, we plan to teach tribal teens to prepare them for the learning center next year and will have classes for other groups of local Thai kids and adults.
We are blessed to have the open door of English classes to make connections with the people here. Our goal is to reach them with the Gospel, first of all, then to help lift those with few options out of poverty.
Paul’s preachers’ training continues to go well. We are preparing the big house to hold preachers’ training in the large carport area next month. The guys are used to what we would consider “roughin it.” Everyone sleeps on the floor, anyway, and showers are dippers of water from the water barrel. Bathroom facilities are the biggest problem, as there are only two in the house. We may have to build an extra outside bathroom. We don’t want to invest too much money, as we are only renting.
The sale of the property has begun to move again at last. There are still lots of hoops we must jump through, but the paperwork has been unstuck from the last one, at least. Please continue to pray that we get the title soon and that we can begin building our permanent home.
One more move. I think that may be it for me! Here are some pics of our new home and some of our activities.