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  • Susan Brown

Making Bitter Waters Sweet

I opened the truck door and looked down. The stream swirled over the rocks below me. I couldn’t see the edge of the bridge. At all. I leaned out and saw the truck tires on the very lip of the logs making up the primitive bridge.

“You don’t have any room on this side,” I said to Paul. “Don’t veer even an inch to the left or we’ll fall off.” He drove and I prayed as we crossed the logs perched so precariously across the water. We wouldn’t have far to fall – only about six feet or so — but I still didn’t think it would be healthy to tumble off. We made it across and I breathed again. God is good.


Two more of those scary bridges and we were on our way up the dreadful road to Hoi Dua. We were at this isolated mountain village last on Christmas Day for a Thanksgiving celebration. (Yes, that’s right. Their harvest celebration was on December 25.) They had asked us to come many times, but it was impossible in rainy season. The steep roads become as slick as glass and it’s all too easy to slide off the narrow one-lane roads and plunge down the mountainside. We had to wait for dry season to visit. Paul had been there before with Lek. (See the November blog “The End of the World.”) Last week was my second time to travel the steep, rutted path up the mountain.

When we went there in December, we had a wonderful time of fellowship. Paul preached and we distributed hats and clothing. Last week we came bearing even more precious gifts. We had water filters for them.

One of their biggest prayer requests was about water. They get it from a mountain spring, but it is tainted with debris and animal droppings by the time it comes down from the mountaintop in poorly fitted pipes. They boil it, but it still has thick sediment and the people are often ill. A friend in America put us in contact with WATER is LIFE. An engineer invented water filters for developing countries and a church in America bought them and sent them to us for the people in Hoi Dua.


The crowd of Lahu and Lisu tribal people sat on the bamboo platform and listened attentively while Paul preached a wonderful message about the tree that made the bitter water sweet. (Exodus 15:22-26 ) Because Jesus died on the tree, we can overcome bitterness in our lives. The new filters which turn the bad water into sweet, clean water should remind them every day of this truth, he said.

Then he showed them how to assemble the filter and how to clean it when it becomes dirty. They were so excited!

Afterwards we did medicine. As usual, I handed out packages of carbon and rehydrating powder for those with diarrhea. I hope that next time there will be fewer people with those complaints now that they have clean water.

Lunch was dove and spinach soup over rice. They had been out hunting with their long-barreled, homemade hunting rifles. They had hoped to kill a wild pig, but we were satisfied with the birds, which tasted like chicken to me. They said they would try to get a monkey for us to eat next time. I’ve never had monkey meat, and I’m hoping I can continue to say that. Maybe I’ll talk to the Lord about their hunting trip …..

During lunch at the mayor’s house, he asked us to pray for his wife, whose baby was due the next week. He said “We haven’t decided on what to name the baby, but we know it will be a boy. Would you give him a name?”

I didn’t hesitate. “I would give him my favorite name, after the wisest and most godly man I’ve ever known. Name him Paul.”

The man and his wife were pleased. “He can be named for Paul in the Bible and for Brother Paul – two great missionaries,” he said. Paul was embarrassed and somewhat taken aback to be classed with the apostle Paul, but was honored to have the baby named for him.

We are wondering if the baby has arrived yet. He was due this week, and I had a hard time imagining that poor mother going down the mountain on a motorbike while in labor. This week has been unseasonably cold and even rainy. It doesn’t usually rain in the dry season, but it has been pouring for the last two days. If it is raining there, the road will be impassible. Please pray for this lady and for baby Paul.

Other prayer requests:

Our new helper, Eve, became very ill Sunday night and had to have an emergency appendectomy. Please pray for her as she recovers.

We will be traveling to Mae Ai again next week for the preachers’ training. We appreciate your prayers for Paul as he teaches and for the kids and workers who will stay at home here in San Sai.

And praise requests!

I had a good report from the doctor on my eye. The retina is firmly attached and looks great. My other eye is still fine. Paul had a good eye exam and check-up, too.   Also, Preston’s leg is finally healing well and is scabbed over. God is good!

We are thankful for His goodness, and for the tree that makes even the bitter things of life sweet for us.

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