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  • Susan Brown

Gearing Up for Challenges Ahead

I shoved the last book into the bookcase with a sigh of satisfaction. Empty boxes and packing paper still littered the tiny living room, and my muscles ached with the unaccustomed workout, but the latest load of stuff was delivered and put away.

It will be another six weeks before we move to our new location in Mae Sao, but we are getting a head start by bringing a pickup load every other week or so and stashing it in the little house we’ve rented.  Almost everything which isn’t in everyday use is already there. When school is out next month, we can begin moving in earnest.

It may be a little tricky, because we take possession of the second house we’ve rented – the larger one – the first of April. We also have to be out of the house in Chiang Mai the first of April. Just how we are going to coordinate the cleaning and repairs of both houses and move on the same day…..well, I don’t know how that will work.  I’m sure we’ll figure something out, though.

I enjoy the beautiful walk from the little house to the property.

We are excited to be moving to Mae Sao. Our property is a nice walk from the little house and a couple of miles from the big one. It’s beautiful, surrounded by farmland, lychee orchards, and a rubber plantation. Orange and yellow wild flowers bloom everywhere and the view of the mountains just makes me happy!

It’s still not officially ours. Buying property . here is difficult for foreigners, and we keep running into glitches that cause maddening delays. One lady at the government office who deals with property in that area told us that it takes about four years for a sale like ours to be approved. Our hope is in the Lord – and we do have a ray of encouragement. The man who is selling the property is the local bigwig and has a lot of influence. I’m sure he would like to have the remainder of his money, which he won’t get until we have a title. Perhaps he has enough clout to move things along.

We are eager to move, but we have a tiny bit of sadness about leaving our comfortable Chiang Mai home. God has blessed our time here. In the last three years we have truly become a family – a cohesive unit.

Life will be different when we move. Rent houses in the Mae Sao area are hard to find, and we must have two. Thai law demands that you have separate houses for non-related boys and girls. God never fails to provide, though, and we’ve rented two houses, a couple of miles apart. Both are actually buildings built for shops with living quarters attached. Paul and I will have the small apartment with a large room that used to be a dress shop.  We plan to fix the shop up as a bedroom for the four boys who are coming with us.  Preston and William will stay in Chiang Mai to continue at the university, but Moses, Bang, Danny and Jay will be moving with us.

The bigger house was a plumbing supply store. Our workers and girls will have bedrooms upstairs and we will cook and eat on the covered patio behind the building. It also has a large covered area in back which will work well for preachers’ training, so Paul won’t have to travel. We will have church services and teach the kids in the area formerly occupied by shelves of plumbing parts.

The informal school is in this building very near our larger house.

It’s going to take some creativity, but we will make it work.  We are eager to get to work in this new area. I hope to begin teaching English to kids from surrounding villages as soon as we get settled. Then, next school year, perhaps they will be ready to join our kids in our learning center. We aren’t allowed to have a “school,” but can teach the kids who are 15 or older in a learning center with no problem. They will attend the Thai informal school (think GED classes) one day a week for their certificates, so the government isn’t concerned what they do the other days. The informal school is practically across the street from the big house. The kids can easily walk there. We were worried because many of these schools meet on Sundays, which would throw a big kink into our plans.  The Lord had that already taken care of. This particular school meets on Thursday mornings.  Perfect!

In other news – Kimmy has been very ill and in pain with gall stones. The doctor here was discouraging, saying she would absolutely have to have her gallbladder out.  She has no insurance and, even at the less expensive Thai rates, the surgery will be out of range for her. It will mean  returning to America for the surgery unless she gets a better prognosis from the doctor. Kimmy’s determined to avoid surgery and has stayed on an extremely strict diet. She hasn’t had any more pain or issues since eating so carefully. Another ultrasound on Friday will tell whether avoiding the surgery is an option. Prayers appreciated!

And — Paul has a new motorcycle. Friends in America sent a love gift to help with our transportation problems. We added personal funds to make up enough to buy a big motorbike. He got a good deal on a low-mileage used cycle and is very happy with it.  It’s much easier to get around here on                                                                                    a motorcycle, as car traffic is a nightmare.

I’ve debated on learning to ride a motorbike – but on our small one. I’m actually a bit chicken to even do that.  I’ve been thinking a mo-ped might be more my speed. We found an electric one that is a possibility. I have a hunch that after we move, I will be continually discovering that something crucial that I need will be two miles away in the other house. We’ll see how often that happens and how much I will need some non-pedaling transportation.

This week is a big one for Paul with a court case scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Our old adversary is still taking advantage of the hill tribes people and we are using every legal way we can to stop him.  We would soooo like to be through with this guy!  We would appreciate prayers that he would be stopped and somehow put out of action. Prison would be a good solution, in our opinion.

Preachers’ training is next week. We’ve had a  break due to the holidays (the Lahu are big on their traditional celebrations). Paul is champing at the bit to get back to teaching on a regular schedule. I plan to go along to teach English this time since Kimmy and Denise are here to look after the kids.

We have lots of changes and challenges — and lots of work — ahead in the next couple of months. We appreciate our praying friends and are counting on the Lord for strength to carry us through!  He is good!

The kids have recently discovered a love for jigsaw puzzles.

I saw these ladies making thatched roof panels for huts as I walked to the property.

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