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  • Susan Brown

Serving the Poorest

We crowded into the tiny house of bamboo and boards. Our eight kids plus Paul and I, Lek and Asa doubled the attendance of the church service.

This was a Lisu house in a Lisu village. Unlike the Lahu houses, which are built on stilts and are reached by a crude ladder, the Lisu houses usually crouch flat on the ground. The floor is dirt instead of bamboo, so there is no need for us to remove our shoes before we come in.

In deference to my age and guest status, the hosts offered me their only chair. The others sat on benches or squatted on the floor. Paul, Lek and Asa were given seats on the bed – a sturdy structure of wood taking up about half the room. The mats lay rolled up in the corner of the bed and the underlying boards served as more seating. I’m not sure, but I think they sit on the bed (minus the mats) to eat their meals, too.

Sunday school was just finishing in the small village of Silidam. Two of Paul’s preachers’ training students, I’liya and Dwungsuwan, have been coming to preach in this village for quite a while. The people have no church or pastor, but were receptive to the Gospel. Several want to be baptized and they want to form a church here.

The men taught Sunday School to the children and also gave them a lesson in reading Lisu before we arrived. The children learn Thai in school, but have no way of learning the written language of their people unless someone takes on the task of teaching them. Paul’s preachers are concerned about this need and those who have the ability teach the children. The children sang for us, and Dwangsuwan presented Paul with a pot of flowers, which he gladly shared with me.

Then it was time for the service. Asa, who is Lisu, led the singing while I’Liya accompanied on the guitar. Our kids sang a special song and so did the village children. Then it was offering time.

They don’t pass a plate in the mountain villages. Usually they pass around an embroidered bag. In this new place they passed a tiny pink bag the size of a wallet. Obviously, they were not in the habit of collecting much.

Then Paul preached. What a challenge it is to preach in Lisu villages! We have no Lisu interpreter, so Paul preached in English, Lek translated to Thai, and Dwungsuwan translated again into Lisu. The sermon was a good, clear Gospel message, though, and the people seemed to understand and appreciate it.

After the message came the lunch – much simpler fare than we usually are served in Lahu villages, which is okay with us. Many people won’t eat in Lisu villages because of the cleanliness factor (or lack thereof), but so far we have never become ill from the food.

After lunch it was my turn, and I got out the medicines, My patients, many wearing the colorful traditional

Lisu clothing, lined up by the tailgate of the truck where I had my “clinic.” The complaints were the same as in the Lahu villages. “Skin got itchy,” and “stomachache” are the two most prevalent. Lek and Dwungsuwan helped with the communication and I gave out the simple, over-the-counter meds for the problems that were familiar to me. Pills for worms, paracetamol (Tylenol) for pain, and diclofenac for joint aches and pains, and so on.

Paul demonstrated the water filters, showing the people how to

assemble the filter and how to use it. We are thankful for the special gifts which made it possible to buy so many of these filters to give out to villages where there is no clean water available. We have discovered that teaching WHY they need the water filters is also important. They figure that water piped from a mountain stream must be clean enough. Only when they can see the dirt and debris do they think they need to filter the water. Whenever I have seven or eight people in the same village complaining of diarrhea, though, we pretty much know that their water supply is tainted.

Finally, we headed home again, another Sunday of service to the mountain people finished. Please pray for this village and for the new group of Christians there.

Weekdays, for me, are full of caring for our big family. This week our angst was over hair. Jan’s teacher

sent a message that Jan needed to cut her lovely, shiny, waist-length hair. School rules say the hair has to be cut short in a “student cut.” Lots of tears that day! However, we have had lice problems, and I have to say shorter hair will probably make it easier to handle the critters.

It’s easy with the boys. Preston and William have learned how to give the regulation school haircut , which is similar to an old-fashioned flat-top,

We don’t have a tutor right now, but I spend some time each evening teaching the kids English. They are all coming along well. They are also learning to do chores, which is an important factor to me. The work of keeping up with a family this large would be too hard for me to do alone at my age!

The family was too much for our long-suffering washing machine. It died this week. This was a crisis, because I do three big loads in the large-size washer each day and hang them out to dry on drying racks. We called a repairman and he came twice, but failed to resurrect it. You will see a new washing machine on the financial report for June! It just arrived yesterday and we put it right to work. We bought the largest capacity washer we could find, a 20kg. This one also has a steam feature so we can have hot water to wash our clothes and a special spin dry to remove more water. What luxury!

It’s Sunday morning again – I’ve been three days writing this blog between interruptions.   Our staff asked if we could start having services at our meeting place here in Chiang Mai again, so we are having an early service before going to visit Plang Hoc. It’s a lovely village right on a mountaintop with stunning views whichever way you look. It’s also a troubled village, though, and the church has suffered through many conflicts and problems. Please pray for us as we go there to preach, teach, encourage, and serve.

God is good, and it is a privilege to serve Him by serving those He loves.

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