The cool mountain breeze wafted over us. It smelled just a bit like pigs, but it was cool. We were at Long Khoad last Sunday to help and encourage this small group of believers who have been through so much. We were meeting outside this time, because the group has grown too big for the house – especially when you add in our eight kids, Lek, A’sa, Ca Hka. Paul and me.
Things are better now for these folks. Ca Heh, the man whose house burned down, now has a new one of cement blocks. They have a pastor. Ca Suh. has been faithful from the beginning in Paul’s preachers’ training. He comes over every Sunday from his home in a nearby village. He teaches the children to read and write the Lahu language and teaches them Sunday School. Then he preaches.
Long Khoad is one of the few villages that lost control of their church building. A.’s group has the building, which stays locked up. That group doesn’t have a pastor and A. has fewer and fewer followers to send around to preach. The building wasn’t much, anyway, and was in an inconvenient location, so our group has decided to build a new building. Ya Feu, one of the members, donated the land. They had dirt hauled in to level it and are preparing to build. Please pray for them as they work on this project.
On that Sunday Ca Suh accompanied three little girls on the guitar. They sang several songs he taught them, complete with hand motions. I couldn’t help but wonder if the others were remembering the fourth little girl who would have been here if it wasn’t for her sudden death a few months back. I’m sure her mother was thinking of her.
The bird with a toucan-like bill squawked behind me, making me jump. His cage sat in the covered patio where I was sitting and he objected to our presence. The chickens took advantage of his distraction to peck from below at the mango in his cage. He noticed and took out after them. We almost had a bird fight on our hands!
The singers went on, unperturbed by the ruckus. We had several special songs. Our kids sang after the Long Khoad children. A lady from Burma sang several songs. The pastor accompanied her on the guitar, but they weren’t on the same song. At least, it didn’t sound that way. Every now and then one of the people in the congregation would sing along for a few bars to help her back on tune. She sang with joy and gusto, though, and that joyful noise is what the Lord loves to hear. Several of the men sang, alone and in groups and we had several congregational hymns.
Finally, just about everyone had sung and it was Paul’s turn. He preached a good message to these poor people about how Jesus became poor to make us rich spiritually. He made it so clear with simple illustrations that I’m sure even the children were able to grasp it – as well as their somewhat child-like parents.
After the service they brought us their best for lunch, and we ate it thankfully.
Paul demonstrated the water filters and gave them out, and I set up my clinic in a little open-air hut with a thatched roof.
“Of course,” Paul told him. “Jesus said to bless them that curse you. Giving to their need is one way of blessing them.”
“In that case,” another man asked, “Should we invite them to our church service? They don’t have a service to go to anymore.”
Paul assured him that forgiving and inviting them to come was absolutely the right thing to do and what we are praying for. Perhaps soon this village will once again be united and old hurts will be forgiven.
As so often happens, the people brought a little boy to us.
“His parents went back to Burma and left him here. Will you take him home with you?”
He was a cute little guy. No one knew how old he was and he didn’t have an ID card to tell. They guessed he was about eight years old.
“Where is he staying?” I asked.
One of the church families had taken him in. We explained that we are at our limit right now and can’t take any more kids legally.
“Will you help with his school expenses if he stays with us?” the family asked. We agreed.
We still had some money left in a special fund for needy children. There are so very many needy kids and such a variety of needs that the fund has melted fast. It has gone to care for an abscessed tooth in a small child and a broken-off tooth in an older one. It bought formula for a baby whose mother has HIV and so can’t nurse him and food for several children whose families were devastated by the drought. The list goes on and on. This little boy qualified, too. We made arrangements to help this poor family take on the expenses of a foster child.
Then it was back home again through deep green jungle. The rainy season makes such a difference in the landscape. The dusty brown trees of the dry season have sprung to emerald green life and flowers bloom everywhere. The weather is cooler, if muggier, and the baking sun is shrouded with clouds. It rains every day now. Usually we have a shower or two, but this week it has poured almost all day every day. Laundry takes forever to dry, but the cooler weather and the lush flowers and greenery is worth the inconvenience. Besides, it isn’t a cold rain. More like a warm shower bath. If you get caught out you’ll get wet, but won’t catch cold.
Paul is in Mae Ai this week teaching the Thailand Lahu and Lisu pastors. We miss him, but are rocking along here at home with no major disasters or illnesses this time.
The sun is out! Time to stop writing and drag the drying racks out into the sunshine before it clouds up again. God is good!