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  • Susan Brown

Updates and Moving Dates

Some days make all the trials fade to nothing.  Some days are worth it all. Like Sundays when we have baptism. We had that joy recently.

Paul, Moses and Sebat.

Moses came to us later and older than most of the others. He was 17 and eager for the education we offered him.  His father, one of our most faithful pastors, was just as eager for him to come.

We checked Moses out carefully before we accepted him into our home. “Has he been involved with any drinking? Smoking? Drugs? Involved with any girls?” we asked his father, Sebat.

“No,” he answered. “But we are worried that he will start doing those things if he can’t get away from the village and get more education.”

He had a valid concern. Young people in the village have little hope. If they have a school in the village, it is usually underfunded and ill equipped. At best, they only go to eighth grade. Without the important documents showing they have completed grade 12, they have few job options. The most they can hope for is manual labor in the rice fields, orchards, or tea farms.

All too often, they look to selling drugs for a way out of poverty, a path which leads to addiction and prison. Others try to better themselves by heading to the big city, where they disappear into the human trafficking cesspool.

The Christians want something better for their kids. Moses’ parents have kept their request for Moses before us since we have been in Thailand. We had a vacancy, and took him in.

For two years he has been part of our family. He was one of our homeschoolers from the first, learning to speak English and learning to read. Now he is reading and writing on a fourth grade level and can carry on a conversation in English. More important, he sat under the daily Bible teaching in our homeschool. He heard the Gospel repeatedly and listened to continual urges to consider his soul. The Word of God bore fruit in this young man who has believed and surrendered his life to the Lord.

His goal is to continue studying with us and learn the skills to become an interpreter. He is strong in Lahu, unlike some of our kids who are more comfortable in Thai, having spent longer in his home village.

We are rejoicing!

The long rainy season is over now and we can travel more freely to the villages. We were in the beautiful mountaintop village of Plang Hok. Paul had preached a good message on prayer. Then we ate a delicious meal cooked by the church ladies. Finally, it was my turn. I was doing medicine with William interpreting for me.

Nearly every person who came through the line at our little clinic complained of stomachache. That wasn’t unusual, and the famous black pills that take care of almost every stomach ailment went like hotcakes. The unusual part was that almost every person also complained of diarrhea.

I always ask those who request stomach medicine if they have diarrhea and for how long, because diarrhea can be a killer. Most of the ailments I treat are minor – things millions of moms treat every day. Sore throat, rash, itchy eyes, etc. Diarrhea, though, scares me and I take it seriously.

When so many people have it, I have to question why. Bad water? A virus passed around because of poor hygiene? A reaction to insecticide sprayed on the tea bushes or corn crop? I don’t know. There wasn’t much I could do about it but give out the black pills and rehydrating electrolyte powder. For those who had it for more than three days (and those people were legion) I gave out antibiotics, something I rarely do. This time, because so many had the same complaint, I was afraid not to treat it aggressively. At least none of the littlest children had it, or any of the feeblest elderly, the two groups that have the highest death rate from diarrhea.

We were able to minister to two churches at once that Sunday morning. The struggling little church in Pa Sak One traveled over the mountain to worship with us.

On our way home we stopped to encourage a third group. The church which met in the    little Pepto-Bismol-pink building has suffered a painful split. The pastor was ousted and a woman preacher, we understand, has taken his place. Yacob, is a faithful man who, in spite of being older than many of the other pastors, has been one of the quickest in my English class at preachers’ training. He is meeting with four families in his home. They are mostly his relatives, I believe, but they are valiantly starting again from scratch.

We were a bit surprised that Yacob greeted us wearing baggy shorts and a pressed, but stained, button-up shirt. He sorrowfully explained his wardrobe dilemma. On the way home from preachers’ training his backpack, containing every stitch of decent clothes he owned, fell off the truck. He didn’t notice until he got off, and by then it was too late. The loss would be a minor one for most preachers in the US, but for a poor pastor here in Thailand, it was a staggering loss.

We got out the medicine and were happy to discover that the plague of diarrhea hadn’t hit this village. The requests were mostly for colds and sore throats.

We bounced back over the rutted road to the highway. Kimmy and her friend Rebekah,who is visiting, rode in the back of the truck on the way to the village so that Rebekah could experience mountain travel. They were both ready to exchange their bench seats in the bed of the pickup for the more comfortable, air-conditioned seats in the cab for the return trip. The passengers in the back flew around like popcorn in a popper as the truck bounced over the holes and ruts.

Last Sunday we were in the remote village of Canaan -and what a blessing! The horrible road has been remade and improved. It had been the worst of the roads we traveled in Thailand and the most dangerous. This time it felt like we were traveling on a super highway in comparison.

A good crowd gathered in the tumble-down building. Things are improving for this little band of Christians since the Lord answered fervent prayers for a pastor. A dedicated young man (also named Yacob) leads them now. He is one of the most excited and responsive of the men in Paul’s preachers’ training. Afterwards we did medicine, as usual, and also did a pickup truck dedication, which is not so common. At the request of the new owners, Paul prayed and asked God’s blessing on this new vehicle.

Then we had a medical clinic and hiked to the nearby waterfall. It was beautiful, but we were worn out after walking there and climbing the rocks to get to it.

Paul and I just returned from preachers’ training. We had a great week. About 24 men came and Paul poured his heart out teaching them. His only break in the long day of classes was the hour I spent teaching the men English.

English class is always fun. I’ve been teaching them the parts of the body and the words for ailments, like “headache,” “stomachache,” “sore throat,” etc. They really get into it, doing the motions for the words and laughing at each other. Just teaching once a month for a few days won’t make anyone fluent in English, so I try to focus on simple words and phrases they will likely have an occasion to use.  The guys seem to enjoy it and Paul really needs the break by that time of day, anyway. We are looking forward to the time Bro. Matt Villandry will be here to help with preachers’ training.

We took the kids to see the new rent houses in Mae Sao last week. They weren’t

overwhelmed, (they love living in the big city) but  they were happy to see the river and park which are in walking distance from our property. Please pray with us that it will, indeed, be our new property before long. We are progressing, but the red tape takes a long time to untangle. Also, we still need funds to begin building once the sale is complete.

The kids are finishing up their school year, which ends mid-March. Some have masses of homework and are struggling to complete projects and study for tests. Others are taking it easy, which makes me wonder. We’ll see before long how things turn out. Jay and Molly will begin schooling with us next semester and we look forward to having Lyla and Cohen Villandry join us for at least part of the days when they get here. We hope they will be in Thailand by the end of the summer. Please pray with us about that!

Danny and Jay checking out our new property.

Kimmy is still having gall bladder trouble, which seems in remission as long as she eats carefully. However, she does have a large stone which is the kind which won’t dissolve, so she will have to return to the States for surgery. Please pray that she won’t have complications while she is here that will require emergency surgery, as she doesn’t have insurance or funds to cover the surgery.

She is traveling this week with her friend Rebekah and a group here for a two-week mission trip. We are glad she is having a chance to be with other young people. We don’t have a lot of social contacts or activities here. That’s fine for us older folks, but it has been a challenge for Kimmy.

We are in moving mode and I continually prowl around looking for things to pack. I think my family here believes I am a little overzealous and are unusually good about keeping their things put away.

“Oh, that’s already at the new house,” I say several times a week when questioned about things I mistakenly thought no one would miss. We probably will make another trip to take things to the new house this week. After that I will have be going to Bangkok for a training in the ACE curriculum I use for teaching the kids. Then we have another week of preachers’ training. A few days after that, on March 19,  the public school will be out and we can do the actual moving. I can’t wait!

Hmmm.  I wonder if Paul really needs all that stuff on his bedside table. It would just fit in that partially empty box……

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