Sunday at Plang Hoc
She looked up at me with eyes glazed with fever. Obviously, this child was ill. Something about her drooping shoulders and hopeless expression hinted at a deeper trouble.
“Who is her mother?” I asked the group of Lahu people clustered around the back of our truck. The medicines sat on the tailgate and a sizable crowd had gathered to tell me their complaints and to collect the simple over-the-counter remedies I hand out.
I got the answer I expected. “She not have mother, father. She orphan.” My heart sank.
Please, Lord, don’t let them ask me to take her home with me. It is so hard to say ‘no,’ I said in swift silent prayer.
“Is there someone who takes care of her?” I asked. An elderly lady with a cheerful, toothless smile waved her gnarled hand. Her grandmother, perhaps. At least the girl wasn’t totally abandoned and alone.
William handed me the plastic bag with children’s Tylenol and cold medicine already in it. He is helping me so he can learn to translate when we do medicine – and perhaps learn to give it out himself. Maybe, I tell him often, the Lord will call him to be a doctor for his people. I added vitamins to the bag and gave it to the woman while Lek gave her instructions in Lahu.
There are advantages of arriving on the mission field at an age when most people are retiring. We don’t have the stress of raising kids in another culture, for one thing. We don’t have stress on our marriage, either. Paul and I have become even closer than at any other point in our forty-two years together. We only have each other here, and we are everything to each other. Many years of serving in the ministry in the US have ironed out the wrinkles in our character – as they added them to our faces!
There are disadvantages, though. We don’t have the stamina we had a few decades back – and we know plans for the future will likely be carried on by someone else. Who will they be, we wonder? We pray for the people who will come and continue the ministry after us.
And we can’t do everything we would like to do. I would love to bring home this little girl – and dozens more like her – to care for and comfort. But we can only manage the five we have. Paul’s ministry training preachers is all-consuming and we have to weigh every new project carefully. In the meantime, we are taking care of our health and making use of every day and every opportunity.
One of those opportunities came last Sunday on a mountaintop village with a stunning view. Plang Hoc, or Pa Ho as the Lahu people call it, has long been a troubled village. Divisions troubled the church there even before the showdown with A. For long months the building was locked as we fought in court along with the members to regain control of the property. It was a glorious day when we were able to remove the padlock and to hold a service in the building again! Now there is a small, but growing group meeting there. They have lots of troubles, and need our prayers, but things are looking up.
Paul preached a good, encouraging message about the importance of the church and of the members working together. Then we had lunch on the porch, handed out a new baby kit to a little one who had arrived since we were there last, and then did medicine. Later that afternoon we traveled down the hairpin turns of the mountain back to our home in San Sai.
It was just a couple of days later that Paul, Lek, and I were off again, this time to the town of Mae Ai for preachers’ training. He’s teaching 15 men from the Lahu and Lisu tribes at the training center here. The schedule of meeting the first week of every month seems to be working out better than our original idea of two months straight. It keeps the guys motivated and learning and they bring questions to each new session. Paul feels he is better connected to the men this way and able to keep a finger on the pulse of the churches. We return home tomorrow (Friday), and then leave again on Monday for the training on the border of Laos.
And then – our daughter Rebekah and her family will be here at the end of next week! We can’t wait!
Pray for the smooth and trouble-free passage of their luggage through customs.
Please pray with us that the Lord will take care of all the logistics of the English/Bible camps (like VBS) we have planned for the last two weeks of March. Especially pray that the Lord will make His way of salvation plain in the Bible stories and teaching. We long to see children saved!
Special request: We really need property in a central location so we can have the preachers come to us rather than travel for the training. It’s difficult to be away from the children at home so much, but Paul feels my English classes are a big help to the preachers. Owning our own place would allow me to do both without slighting either. Renting facilities, as we are now doing, is not cost effective, either. A permanent place would help the people know we are here to stay, too. So many missionaries come and go. We want them to have the security of knowing they can trust us to be here.
Lastly, please pray for our health. Paul has had trouble with back pain – possible from an old dislocated rib injury that is flaring up again. The doctor discovered he has a kidney stone while he was looking for the source of the pain – although he says the stone isn’t related to the back pain. Please pray for him about this issue. It hasn’t slowed him down any, but is a matter of concern to me.
Thanks for your support and prayers!