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  • Susan Brown

Birthday Season

I pawed through the drawer with desperate haste. Where did I put the candles? I had a one-shaped candle and a four-shaped one put back in a “safe” place so I could find it easily for Bang’s birthday party. But where WAS that safe place?

It’s birthday season with three of the kids passing milestones within a month and one more following shortly after. I just had to keep track of the “15” candles for most of those birthdays as Molly turned 15 in June and Andy in July. Jay will follow in September. Bang, meanwhile, was 14 and I couldn’t find the candles for his cake.

The crowd was getting antsy and the ice cream was beginning to melt, so I grabbed the only candle I could find – a 6 – and plopped it on Bang’s cake. Andy had the appropriate 15 already on his cake. Since their birthdays are so close we always celebrate together.

Bang is good-natured and laughed at the 6. We sang Happy Birthday in English, Thai, and La Hu, as we usually do, and the boys blew out the candles. They appeared delighted with their modest gifts and everyone ate the cake and ice cream with gusto, even though we had just eaten at a moo-ga-ta restaurant as part of the celebration.

A moo-ga-taa is a buffet where raw meat and seafood, along with vegetables, are laid out on a long table. You pick what you want and cook it at your own table on a special grill. The kids love it and have started choosing it over pizza for special celebrations.

Molly chose to have moo-ga-ta for her birthday, too. Our big family, which includes kids, volunteers, staff, and

friends gathered at the restaurant for her 15th, also. She wanted a digital SLR camera, but we weren’t able to afford a gift that size. She gladly accepted money to put in her savings fund until we find a used one she can buy. She loves to take pictures and is forever borrowing Paul’s phone to snap photos. It’s a good hobby to have, and we are hoping an affordable used camera turns up soon. Meanwhile, I’m letting her practice on my Nikon. When we travel to the villages I am always too busy giving out medicine and talking to people to remember to take photos. I’m glad she wants to help so we will have pictures to share.

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to blog. Since Kimmy left, I’ve managed to keep afloat, but haven’t had any time to spare – except when I’m totally brain-dead from exhaustion. The Lord gives strength, though, and also sends us the help we need. We are delighted to have Denise Johnson from Ohio here to help us for the next six months. She homeschooled her kids all the way through graduation and loves to teach, so she fits right in with our mission. The kids seem to like her – and we certainly do!

Her son, Joshua, and his wife Sabrina are currently on deputation to raise support to come to Thailand as missionaries, so she has a heart-interest in Thailand missions. Denise’s picture with the kids is below.

The homeschooled kids are doing well. Moses and Nora are reading and writing English on a third-grade level, which is great considering that they knew no English at all just over a year ago. Both are eager to learn and work diligently on their schoolwork.

Andy just joined the homeschoolers this year and has already progressed to the second grade level. The other four go more slowly, working only in the evening after regular Thai school each day. We look forward to the time we can teach all of them at home. Molly and Jay will start next school year and Danny and Bang the year after.

Our goal is to have a day school – which we must call an English learning center, in order to be legal. So many of the tribal girls marry at 13 and 14, simply because there is no future for them. No school after 6th or 8th grade, no job opportunities, no prospects. The boys are condemned to a life of hard manual labor, with trafficking drugs being the only alternative. Of course, they wind up in prison, leaving their child brides to fend for themselves and for the next generation of children who will grow up in poverty.

We can’t provide an education for them all, but we can make a start and show other groups how it can be done.

The property we are considering to buy is located near several Lahu villages. We would be able to have a day school there and avoid having to take in borders. We’ve already seen that raising unrelated boys and girls together takes a lot of staff and a lot of work. This way we would be able to minister to girls and boys both without having to have two dorms, two sets of staff, etc.

We are praying for direction about this land. It’s in an area that is accessible to the preachers, so Paul could have preachers’ training there. It’s also much cheaper than any other place we’ve considered. Please pray with us for God’s clear leading and for His provision. The land costs more than we have saved, and then we will have to build, so we are considering carefully whether we can manage it.

God has been so good to supply all our needs through our loving, giving supporters. We aren’t worried, but are trusting Him to supply as He leads.

As I looked at our group of growing teenagers last night, I marveled at how the Lord has provided, not only funds, but strength and patience as we have raised these kids for the last four years. Each one is precious to us and we think they are the best possible investment of our resources and our lives.

After the party Paul and I were cleaning up. I opened a drawer to put away the cake knife – and there it was. The baggie holding a one and a four-shaped candle. Oh, well. Danny will be 14 next March. I will just put those candles in a good, safe place……

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