Worshipping Our God Together
“Grandma, Grandpa,” the children said shyly. They gathered around us in the village of Pa Tong Eh where we stopped to visit. “God is so big,” one said, spreading out his thin arms. I was thrilled. They remembered us and at least some of the things we taught in the Vacation Bible School last March. I sang the song with them, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Growing bolder, they sang and did the motions with me.
Pa Tong Eh was the last stop before home last week. We had been to the Bible conference in Mae Ai on Friday and Saturday. The cold mountain air sent shivers down my arms and froze my bare toes as I waited for the conference to begin on Friday night. I thought longingly of my forgotten sweater and socks. Then the Bible Conference started, and I forgot all about my discomfort.
The Lisu men sang in three part harmony of the love of God. We could understand their hearts, if not their words. Then the Lahu preachers sang. What a blessing it was to worship the Lord together with 14 Lahu and Lisu preachers, as well as with those from America, the Philippines, Australia, and Singapore at the Bible conference in Mae Ai.
For a day or two we weren’t sure it was going to happen. A drought in the mountains meant a low water supply for Mae Ai. No water meant no Preachers’ Training and no Bible conference. But God supplied and our guests arrived on Friday.
Bro. David O’Neal from Tulsa came with his wife , Madelaine, and his daughter Teresa Seals. I hadn’t met the O’Neals before, but Teresa and I are old friends and enjoyed some catching up time. I don’t have many women to chat with, so I tend to talk the ears off any visitors!
We enjoyed the messages from Bro. O’Neal and Bro. Jack Green, Bro. Dan Sullivan as well as from Bro. Peter Lai, a missionary from Singapore.
The preaching was edifying, the singing uplifting, and the fellowship exceptionally sweet.
On Saturday afternoon we traveled back to the city, stopping off at Pa Tong Eh to show the O’Neals a Lahu village. The villages are such odd mixtures of ancient and modern. The houses are built the same way the Lahu have built them for hundreds of years. They are simple bamboo structures on stilts with ladder-like steps giving access to the house. The one-room houses are usually bare of furniture, and have only a rock or cement slab with an open fire to cook on. A motorcycle is often parked underneath next to where the pig is tied up and where chickens scratch around for any crumbs dropped through the bamboo floor above them. A satellite dish is a common sight next to the crude huts and Pa Tong Eh boasts several solar panels.
It was New Years for the Red Lahu and they were planning a big celebration and a cultural dance. They invited us to stay for the dance and spend the night there. We were all tired, though, and passed up the invitation. Maybe another time.
Then home to the kids. We were glad to hear that they had been good while we were gone and had done their chores well without complaining.
In other news, Preston’s wound is healing at last. Paul had a lesion removed and sent for biopsy. We were thankful to get the results today and to find it was benign. We both go for eye exams on Saturday. I’ll be getting a check up on my re-attached retina and probably a prescription for glasses.
A box full of water filters have arrived for Hoi Dua from and Paul will be traveling there this week to preach and to show the people there how to use the filters. I know this will make a huge difference for them, as their water is contaminated and makes them sick.
Tomorrow is my day to teach English at the local public school. They are a very active group of 30, and the children range in age from 7 to 16 in this second grade class.
Thanks for your prayers for all these things!