Tractor Miracle

Today the girls, along with Mikey and I, decided to go and weed the peanut field, which is on the other side of Jason’s house, next to the road. The weeds were taller than the peanuts, so it was about time to get that job done.

While we were diligently pulling weeds, we saw Jason, Shoshana, Ivana and Yohan drive out the driveway and down the road on their motorbike. I knew that they were planning to go and check on the tractor, since Travis needed to get his battery back that they were using for the tractor. We pulled lots more weeds, and then we saw Jason coming back, all by himself. He went zooming by, towards the village. I idly wondered why Shoshana and the kids were not with him. We pulled more weeds, and then I saw Jason going REALLY fast back the way he had come! Right behind him was Obed, who is the village mechanic and a good friend of Jason’s, going just as fast. Hannah thought that maybe Obed was chasing Jason. While we were pondering the latest turn of events, a whole bunch of other motor bikes went zooming by. Our road is normally rather quiet, so this was strange indeed!

But, we diligently kept pulling weeds until I needed to run down to the house. As I was getting ready to walk back up the hill, Hannah came racing up to me, yelling about the tractor turning over with Shoshana and the kids. That got my attention!

I went right up to where Jason was hurriedly throwing ropes, chains, and cables into the truck, and found out that sure enough, Shoshana and the kids had an accident. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to help get the tractor, since it was blocking the road. Before we left, I saw Shoshana and the kids, and they looked fine to me, so I was not expecting much.

What happened was that they had gone to Hwoy Yah to check on the battery, and found out that they could bring the tractor home. So Shoshana had taken both of the little ones on the tractor, while Jason drove back to our village to get the key to the tractor. (He had jump started the tractor for Shoshana so that she could get going, but they needed the key to make something work on the tractor.) That is why we saw Jason drive by all by himself the first time.

Shoshana got to a steep hill, and about half way up or so, she tried to shift into a lower gear, but she had just gotten it out of gear, and was pushing on the brake so she could get it into the next gear, when she had the sudden realization that there were no brakes, and she was now headed down the hill backwards, going at a pretty good clip. I guess that tractors are made to turn sharp, so as she tried to keep the tractor on the road, it was making much bigger adjustments than she really needed it to make. And somehow or other, by the time she reached the bottom of the hill, the tractor rolled, and she found herself on the ground with two terrified children. Since she was holding them, she could not break her fall, and landed rather hard on her hip. Ivana was terrified, and was the first to get out of there and across the road. Shoshana was also able to get herself and Yohan disentangled, and over to where Ivana was. A man from our village had been riding a motor bike behind them, and so she asked him to go and get Jason. Then, she took the children for a little walk to pick flowers since the sight of the tractor was scaring them so badly.

So while Shoshana and the kids were picking flowers, another motorbike came upon the scene. The man was shocked to see the tractor on its side, and tools spilled all over the road, so he began picking up tools…too afraid to go and look to see if the driver was dead. He was pretty sure the driver had to be dead, since there was no noise or movement. After all, that is how this kind of story normally ends.

In the mean time, Jason had stopped at one house to get the key, and someone told him that the key was at a different house, so he drove over to the other house. Not long afterward, the man that Shoshana had told to go and get Jason arrived and got the message to Jason. The next thing the crowd at the first house saw was Jason driving like mad out of the village, followed by Obed, going equally as fast. They discussed this among themselves, and decided that there must have been a fight, and Obed was chasing Jason! So a whole bunch of them decided to go and see the fight!

Imagine their surprise when they got to the place where the tractor lay on its side. No, Obed and Jason were not fighting, they were making sure that Shoshana and the children were OK, and they were! Yohan has a little scratch on his ear, and an egg on his head where he hit the ground. Shoshana hurt her hip, but when I checked it, I don’t believe it is broken, probably just bruised since she is still walking around on it with only a slight limp. Ivana was not hurt at all physically, but she might not want to ride on the tractor again any time soon.

When Jason and I came over the hill and saw that tractor on its side, I was shocked. Clearly, I was looking at another miracle. About 30 men had arrived by the time I got there, and using the winch on the truck, and all those men, we were able to get the tractor back on its feet. It will take a little work to get the air out of the lines, and the oil out of places it shouldn’t be, but other than that, you cannot tell that there is anything wrong with the tractor at all.

So once again, God protected our family. A lot of the villagers saw the tractor, and as I watched their faces, I could tell that they were dumbfounded that Shoshana and the children were not hurt. It looked impossible for them to be OK. But God is the God of the impossible, and he loves to show His power in behalf of his children. I am certain that this will be the talk of the villages for weeks to come, and it will be yet another opportunity to witness to those around us of our Almighty God.

Back From America

I just spent nearly three months in America, caring for my mother’s during her recent health crisis. It was an amazing trip, with many blessings. I was able to have plenty of time for rest and study, and also to attend camp meeting for the first time in a long time. I believe that God gave me a much needed time of rejuvenation…while having the joy of helping my mom too.

My furlough ended in quite an unexpected way…with a wedding! The last of my boys is married now. We are so happy that he found a godly wife that will help him in his mission to reach the lost.

Travis and Becky Sharon

Soaking Wet

It is Sabbath afternoon, and I am sitting in my office, soaking wet, listening to the bugs and the birds, and occasionally my monkey, who does not like it when I am not where he can see me. Why soaking wet? Well, it is HOT out, and that is the only way for me to stay cool enough to function.

We had a really busy couple of weeks since I was able to write last. Harvey and Brenda Steck came to visit for the Songkran holiday, and Becky was home for it as well. That made for a real exciting few days. You get a few lonely missionaries together, and we can really talk up a storm! Yes, we are surrounded with people all the time, but there are not many that I can actually speak to in English.

A couple of Sabbaths ago, I read for my worship in the morning about how to behave in the house of God. I was really impressed by that chapter. So, after church that day, I read the chapter to Jason and Shoshana and Kerry. We read it through twice! Then we got our heads together and tried to come up with a plan to actually do what we are told to do.

The first thing we needed was a church, since it is hard for all of us to worship and be reverent in our own living room where life is lived everyday. Finally it was decided to turn the head woman’s living room into a church! (She is living up in Chiang Mai for a couple of years while her daughter goes to the Adventist school up there…she gave us her house for safekeeping while she is gone)

We bought chairs and a table, put a nice mat on the floor for the Sabbath school area, and then we were set. We decided that we really need to be praying together more also, so we established prayer meeting times, and all the other things that good churches do. It is so nice! We have missed having a church to worship in. We even had communion last Sabbath.

You probably are getting tired of hearing about all of my patients, but that is most of my life right now, so I just have to mention…briefly…a few more. While Kerry was on her work permit trip to Chiang Mai earlier this week, a lady came to me with a burned foot. She had been working down in the valley, and had somehow stepped in a fire, and severely burned her toes. Her little toe was pretty gross, because she had burned it the day before, and then spent the rest of her day limping after her stray water buffalo. So, her foot was none too clean, and it was…well…disgusting! I spent quite a long time trying to get that all cleaned up. Now we are treating her twice a day, and hoping that it will not get infected. Honestly, I am not sure how it could not be infected with all the dirt that was on it. She is not the kind of Grandma who is going to sit around and wait for it to get better either. I know I would though…I would probably stay in bed and cry all day if my foot looked like that!

We did have one patient that I felt was a failure. She had really bowed legs, and she is old, and her knees hurt a lot. I think that it is because her legs are so crooked that it would put a lot of pressure on her knee joints. But, we tried anyway. We did everything we could think of doing, but the poor old grandma finally stopped coming. She didn’t live in our village, so I think that she went back to her home. It breaks my heart when someone is in that kind of pain, and nothing we do seems to help.

When Kerry came back from her work permit trip, she was sick with dengue fever…at least I am 99% sure she had dengue. She is one of the hardest patients that I have, since she does not like to take care of herself, or obey orders! This morning I came out of my office, and found her starting the fire in the wood stove! That is no way for someone with dengue to behave. But Kerry does not understand the word rest. She thinks she can do all her normal activities even when she has a temperature of 104!


Besides taking care of sick people, I teach home school everyday. Hannah has not been at all excited about doing math. It is definitely not her favorite subject. I have been practically pulling my hair out trying to get her to learn her math facts. There are days when I despair of ever teaching her math. After one particularly bad day, I went to God in prayer, and asked for help. I feel like a terrible teacher, otherwise surely she would know her math facts by now.

I don’t know why we don’t pray more often. The next day, Hannah started in again, refusing to learn. But I had prayed this time, and God gave me a strange idea. He impressed me to give her a piece of sidewalk chalk and have her write her math facts on the sidewalk. So, I did. Hannah looked at me incredulously. “You want me to do what???” She inquired. I assured her that I was not crazy, and she was to write all her math facts on the sidewalk. I had no idea of what to do next, but Hannah dutifully went out and wrote them all out from one end of the sidewalk to the other. Meanwhile, I was desperately praying for the next step to take.

Hannah came back to me when she had finished, and asked me what to do next. She almost looked slightly interested in this break from the normal. I didn’t know what to say until I opened my mouth, then it just popped out. “Jump from number to number, and say them as you jump.” Out she went. She started jumping rather slowly, with no enthusiasm, until she got part way up the sidewalk, then she began really having fun! Pretty soon, Destiny, who had been washing the dishes, came running out and begged Hannah to teach her how to do math facts too. I watched God work His miracle in their hearts as they happily did math facts while running and jumping up and down the sidewalk. I sat back in my hammock and praised God for his amazing grace. By the end of the week, she had learned more math than she had in months.

Sometimes we get to thinking that this is our job, and that we are the ones responsible for it. But that could not be further from the truth. This is God’s home, and God’s patients, and God’s children. As HIS obedient children, we are just to study to understand His will, and follow his prompting. He is the one responsible for the success. He gives us strength, wisdom, love for the people, ideas of what to do…in short, HE does the work, we are just the instrument in His hands.

PS- Right after I wrote this, I found out that my mother has had a very bad stroke. So, today I left my family and am flying to America to be with my parents in their time of need.

Grandma Rachel and the Fish Hook Hand

One day, a little old Grandma came to our clinic. She was having a hard time walking because her knees hurt, her back hurt, and her wrist had a big, lime sized tumor on it. She told me that she had been to the hospital lots of times, but could not get any relief from her troubles. Nobody seemed to care. Then she heard about our clinic so she came to ask me if I could do anything to help her.

After an introduction like that, I was determined to do something…ANYTHING…to try to help her! I really do hate to see people in pain with no hope of help. So, after checking her out as best as I know how…which is not very good…I thought that maybe that tumor on her wrist might be fluid filled since it was kinda squishy. I got the brilliant idea of getting a needle and trying to draw out the fluid with a syringe. Right about that time, Kerry showed up, so I told her my plan… and let HER do it.

The trouble was that the tumor was not fluid filled. After trying several times, we decided that my plan was not working, and we would have to go to plan B. Cut it open and see what was inside. We have removed several small tumors now, and although this one was much larger, we were pretty confident that we could do it.

God is very good at taking us down a peg or two real fast! Kerry numbed her up, and then started cutting away at her wrist, being careful not to touch the blood vessels, while I stood by, mopping up blood, and watching our patient to see if she showed any sign of pain. (Because we did not have a translator that day) But after seeing our patient wince a little, and then glancing down at the open wrist with a terrible whitish stuff bulging out of it, I had to beat a hasty retreat to my chair and drink water real fast to keep from fainting! I love doing this kind of stuff, so my reaction was totally unexpected, especially to me!

Kerry demanded that I not faint, since I was needed for moral support at least. So, I did my upmost to get enough good oxygen inside so as to keep me upright. After at least 10 minutes, I was able to get up and go back to assist Kerry, who was really struggling to get that tumor out of that wrist. It was not nearly as easy as the little ones had been.

But about the time I came back to help, Kerry stood up straight and started doing some deep breathing of her own! I then had to command HER not to faint, because I certainly did not want to remove that tumor without her! And, somehow, having us sprawled out on the floor would not exactly inspire confidence in anyone. So, I started helping Kerry more, by carving away on that crazy thing. It was tough, but we finally managed to get it out, while our patient happily dozed in her chair, totally unmindful of our personal struggles. At least she trusted us more than we trusted ourselves.

Kerry allowed me to stitch Grandma up afterwards, which I find to be loads of fun. Then we took her out to the hydrotherapy room and treated her back and knees for her. She was one happy camper, and Kerry and I were both happy that we survived the ordeal! She ended up staying in our village for a week so that we could make sure she healed properly, and also so we could treat her back and knees everyday.

This week, she had to go back to her village, so a couple of days ago, Kerry drove over there to see how her wrist was healing. Grandma and her family were anxious to learn more about what they could do to keep from getting tumors in the future, and how to improve their health, so Kerry was happy to share some more ideas with them.

Then other people started coming to her for help with their medical needs. One lady had gotten a fish hook stuck in her hand about a month ago. She had it removed at the hospital, but since then, she was not able to move her first finger, and there was a lot of nerve pain.

Kerry only had her backpack with her, so all she had that might be useful was some little charcoal capsules. She really had no idea of what to do for the lady, but the only thing she could think of was to do a charcoal hand bath in hot water. We have learned that when we pray for help, we usually can’t go wrong to do what comes to our minds. So she heated the water and opened a few capsules and put it in the water, all the while feeling completely silly for doing something so ridiculous.

The lady put her hand into the water, and after only a minute or two, she took her hand out, and looking amazed, told Kerry that her hand did not hurt anymore! Then she wiggled her finger, and bent it, and said, “it doesn’t hurt anymore!” Kerry was shocked, but she didn’t want to appear to be, because after all, God can do anything, and we are not supposed to be surprised when he does!

But wow, can you believe what God did? That was a miracle! Hot water and a little charcoal cannot heal a hand like that in so short a time! Only God can do that! During my worship this morning, I read this quote that explained it for me. “When in faith the human agent does all he can to combat disease, using the simple methods of treatment that God has provided, his efforts will be blessed of God.” CC238

Blessed of God is a great way to explain how we feel. Every day we are confronted by things that we cannot do, but God in His great mercy, helps us every step of the way.

Steering

The other day the kids wanted to go up in the mountains north of us for a Christmas/New Years celebration, so we got in the truck and headed off down the road. In the next village over more people climbed on and we continued on a ways farther when suddenly I realized that the steering had a huge amount of slop in it. So I stopped and had a look and found that the steering cylinder had broken off two of the three bolts that held it to the frame, leaving only minimal steering.

So after turning around I drove slowly back. It’s just that the truck could only drive strait or to the right! Turning left was just something that didn’t happen. But a right turn in reverse turns left so I made it back to the school where I could weld all the broken parts back together safe and sound. All good except that just as I was coming back into our village due to a steering problem the right wheels  were slightly off the road and in the weeds and must have hit something because a distinct hissing sound started coming from the rear wheel. So now I had a flat tire! And I don’t have a spare! I asked around and no one else with a truck was planning a trip into town for over a week and we are planning on having a baptism here and the pastors are counting on me going to get them and bring them up to the school. Fixing a bike tire and a truck tire are two different things! Pulling it apart and patching it is easy but resetting it on the rim is not so easy until I remembered a trick someone had told me years ago. They told me to pour a little gas into the tire and then light it off, and that it would set the bead then you can pump it up normally. After two try’s it worked fantastically. But when I tried the tire on the truck after a short drive it blew my patch off and I had to start all over again. So before the pastors came I needed to get it fixed. After the second time held over night I decided to drive into town to get it fixed right. By the way the hole was a gash in the side wall not even the tread. In town I went everywhere looking for a new tire but no one had anything. Everyone told me they would need to order it from Bangkok and that it would be atleast $250 per tire. And at least a week to get it. So I wasn’t sure quite what to do. And it was obvious that my tire was loosing air again. That’s when I saw someone had some tires sitting beside their truck that looked like the same ones that I needed so I went and asked the man about them and asked if he would sell me one. They were the right size and everything alright. Just an inch wider. He bought these tires for his truck but they didn’t fit in the wheel wells very well so he bought new smaller tires instead. He used them some but not a lot so they are in good condition, and the best part was he gave them to me for only $250! So now I have a full set of good tires and three spares! Anyway God is good and I was able to make it back to the school yet that night.

Faith, Hope, Courage!

On Thursday, after waiting most of the week to get permission from the Amphur so that we could travel, Travis, Marybeth, Hannah, and I headed down to Sangkhlaburi to work on getting their birth certificates. We were unable to get permission for the other girls to travel, so Roy stayed home with them. We came late in the week because Travis had some business to take care of down here before the weekend. But, his work was done rather rapidly on Friday, so then he came up with an idea…maybe we could go to his school for the weekend???? During a moment of insanity, I actually agreed with the plan. I have not been up to his school for nearly 8 years…which was when the truck we were in rolled over on me on the way out. He looked at me with shock in his eyes….REALLY? There are not many people who are willing to travel on that road!

We all climbed into his truck, which is the first challenge of the trip. It is a very tall truck with no steps to get up into. Fortunately, I had experience with such things, so I knew just how to navigate it….almost gracefully. The girls were perched in the back of the truck with all the luggage, since there is no extra room in the cab.

As we traveled down the highway, I was wondering if his truck could handle those bad roads…if we went too fast, the whole thing would shake terribly, and give the distinct impression that it was ready to explode at any moment. If Travis pushed too hard on the gas peddle, black smoke would billow out behind. These were not the most encouraging of signs, and I mentally berated myself for bringing my town shoes, since I was convinced that I would be hiking for miles and miles, trying to get out of the jungle when this beast of a truck broke down.

At length, we came to the end of the pavement, and slowly made our way across a muddy field that had no signs of being a road, at least to my inexperienced eye. We then pulled to a stop at the bottom of a hill. Travis casually remarked that if we could make it  up this hill, we would probably make it the whole way. He quickly put the truck into four wheel drive low, and asked me to hold the stick forward as “insurance”, since if it popped out of gear on the way up this hill it could be disastrous. (It does pop out of gear often)

We slowly started up the incline, and then, rounding a corner, I saw a terrifying sight. The road seemed to go straight up the steep mountain, it was of slick clay mud, with very deep ruts in very inconvenient places. It looked completely impassible. But his truck suddenly turned into a mean, jungle road subduing machine! He plowed right up that mountain while I hung onto that stick for dear life, making sure that all my sins were forgiven! As we crested the top of the hill, Travis grinned in delight, “Looks like we can make it!” He said.

The next five hours were incredible. On more than one occasion we actually pulled into a creek, and then drove up it a ways until we found a bank low enough to get out of the creek and head on up the mountains. There were huge holes in the road, around 5 or more feet deep, that we had to drive right next to. The entire road is a single lane affair…if you even want to label it as a road! There is one place that Travis calls “Ascending the waterfall”, and another place is called “The rock mountain”. Both are totally fitting names. 

As we were grinding our way up one mountain, a motorbike was headed down towards us. For some reason the guy on the motorbike didn’t want to get off of the road into the jungle to let us pass, so he tried to stay on the road as we were resolutely headed for the top. Travis was yelling directions out the window to the guy to prevent his imminent death, and somehow we managed to get past him with only hitting him a couple of times. He survived, his bike survived, and after a few minutes, my heart did settle back into my throat again, where it had jumped to at the beginning of this trip.

After several hours of heart stopping adventure through deep mud holes and steep mountains, we arrived at a little town deep in the jungle. I was thoroughly impressed that anyone is able to live back there so far from civilization. Travis then informed me that the “New road” that had just been built would start at the other side of the village. Now…when I hear the phrase, “new road” I think of a road. That should be normal, right? Well…it started out to look more like a footpath through overgrown rice fields. LITERALLY!

From there on, our trip became more like threading a truck through a jungle needle. Yes, it did fit, but sometimes Travis had to use a tree or bamboo clump as a pivot to swing the truck around to get between the trees. Large holes, 5-6 feet deep were in the road, and he had to very carefully maneuver around them, avoiding the trees by a hairs breadth. We came to one spot where there was a creek under the dirt. On both sides of the road, the dirt had caved in, so we could see the water running through. Travis decided that he would have to build a bridge of sorts in order to keep the truck from breaking through and falling into the creek. So, he jumped out and chopped down a tree using his machete, and cut it into pieces to drive over. It didn’t end up looking like something that I could trust, but he did make it while I stood on solid ground taking pictures of the amazing sight. All the while we were on this “new road” he kept crowing about how wonderful a road it is now. I wonder what it was like before?????

When we finally got off the “new road” that in nearly every place is as narrow as a hiking trail in America, we hit lots of mud bogs. Up until that point, we had managed to stay relatively clean, under the circumstances. But as soon as we started through the mud bogs, we were all coated with mud, even though we were inside the cab. Good thing we had to stop and build a bridge over a creek so we could clean up a little before getting to the school.

I found out later that even the grown men of the villages in his area were afraid to try to travel on that road. He had fun telling them when we finally arrived at the school that even his mother could do it!

Nobody at the school had been expecting us, so when we pulled in, people came running from all directions, and much excitement ensued. I fell in love with the people and the place right away. Peace reigns there, and the quiet of the jungle, with children’s laughter mixed in. All the time we were there, delegations of people kept coming to see Travis to have him solve their problems. They had a lovely church service, and in the afternoon we went from house to house to visit. At each place, they set food before us, and expected us to eat. If I had to go up there very often I would be really fat! 

On Sabbath evening, Travis was called to a meeting with the man who has been threatening to kill him all these years. He was a little reluctant to go, but it turned out to be very good. The man told him that he has not been a Christian for many years now, but that he wants to come back to God. He asked forgiveness for all the things he has done, and worked out a plan of restitution, even putting it in writing in front of witnesses. What a blessing!

On Sunday morning, we woke up to high winds and storm clouds. I was pretty certain that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to go on that road if it rained, so we had to hurriedly pack up and get going. The students and two of the teachers insisted on going with us to the nearest village, so we had plenty of help to cut the fallen trees and bamboo out of the way, as we reversed the process of getting in. I was amazed that the students wanted to go so badly since it meant  a very long walk back to the school for them.

We managed to get all the way out of the jungle before any rain fell…which goes to show how good God is at taking care of us. We decided that it takes faith, hope, and courage to go on that road. Faith that God will help us, hope that we can make it the whole way without dying first, and courage to try it in the first place!

Cold Season

It sure is cold! We got fed up with being so cold today, so we set out to do something about it.

Jason put up a short wall all the way across the living room, then he built a whole wall beside

the hammocks so that the hammock corner would be warmer, and the low wall should keep

some of the rain out. Then he and Shoshana dug through all the suitcases and bags trying to

find my long sleeve shirts. (I think I am the only one who actually has any long sleeve shirts!)

They did finally find them, but they stunk so bad after being packed away for so many months

that I had to wash them instead of wear them. Oh well, at least next week I can be a little

warmer!

 

We have been trying to figure out how to describe to you what it is like living here. I finally think I

got it! It is like living on the beach at the Oregon coast! It is actually around 70 degrees during

the day, but it is rainy, foggy and windy so that it feels dreadfully cold. Just imagine being out at

the coast day and night for months, without a hotel room or car to get into! (Only a roof and a

fence to block the wind) If you can imagine what that would be like, then you can understand

how we live. It wears us out after a while, but we still like it much better than being in the oven

down in the valley! Our biggest problem is simply not being prepared for such conditions.

When it is not pouring down rain, we have been working on the orchards again, and the never

ending job of trying to keep the jungle at bay. That grass and the weeds grow so fast! The good

thing about that is that I am using the grass to mulch around all of our fruit trees. We planted

four mango trees this week, along with another pomelo tree. Our orchard is getting to be quite

extensive! Fruit is so expensive here, so we intend to grow our own and enough to share. So far

we have a lot of banana trees, three pomelo, three pomegranate, two mangosteen, two

rambutan, seven lime, two orange, fifteen coconut, two sugar apple, one passion fruit vine, five

mango, one jackfruit, and one durian tree. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Oh…Destiny and I

planted about 50 papaya trees also, but they have not come up yet.

 

All of our teaching outside of our home has come to a screeching halt. Nobody wants to go out

in the rain to attend classes, so they decided to wait until cold season to start studying again. At

least it gives us more time to study Thai. I sure do miss having full time students though. I hope

we can be ready for them next year.

 

All the girls are doing pretty well in school. Hannah is on the verge of learning to read….she

made it through her first word the other day due to Shoshana’s incredible patience. It is so

wonderful having two teachers here….there is no way I could keep up with all the girls by

myself. Destiny does not like being the only one not in school. She is determined to learn

weather we like it or not. She can sing her ABC songs just as well as Hannah does, and count

to a hundred almost without help! When she is not learning, she teaches! She uses her plastic

blocks as flash cards and drills me until I beg for mercy. Her favorite line at the moment is “what

plus one equals????” She normally thinks I get the answer wrong, but I think I need a few more

details!

 

Becky is learning to read also….but it isn’t English! She is working on learning Thai and Karen.

Every evening she goes over to the head woman’s place, right across the road from us, and has

a Thai lesson. The rest of us can learn from her once she gets it maybe? But for now, we are

sticking to learning Thai via the iPad. By evening we don’t have enough energy left to want to go

out in the rain again like Becky does.

 

Jason has devoted Sunday’s to doing outreach in the surrounding villages. Starting over like this

requires us to do all the same things over again. We have to get to know the people in this area

before they will be willing to listen to what we have to say. We also have to learn about the

culture, since these villagers are not Karen. We get a lot of interruptions from visitors each

week, but we consider each visit to be very important. At this point, people are forming opinions

of us, and so everything we do is important. One funny thing that went around when we first

came was that since we were foreigners, we would be lazy, and exploit the people…hiring them

for next to nothing to do all our work for us. So, even our daily work time of cutting weeds and

building and pulling out stumps is really important. We have to live down our “foreign” reputation

before the people will accept us. It seems to me that they should be getting the idea that we are

different by now. We sure do a lot of hard work anyway!

 

When your “witnessing” is mostly just living for Jesus in a dark place, it is hard to see that

anything is really being accomplished. We have to constantly look towards our goal in order to

not get discouraged. With the eye of faith, we can see a church here full of villagers, and a

thriving school….but for now, we have four little girls who need love and consistency, and a

whole lot of work to do while the villagers peek at us through the fence. Keep praying for our

villagers. We want to reach them so badly!

Getting Settled

The other day we were sitting on my bed in my brand new room, and it occurred to us that we have been racing top speed for 3 months now. That is a long time to be unsettled and working so hard…and those three months just happen to be hot season. We are all worn out, but happy.

We are still working hard each day to try to get our new property ready for teaching. Things are starting to come together. We still have a water system to put in, but at least a few spigots are in already, even if we don’t have a well yet! We have a lot of the classroom building up and usable, although we just found out that we need to build with cement instead of bamboo. So, as soon as we are able we will need to replace what we have done with more permanent materials. The road ahead looks impossible, but God leads us one day at a time.

Already, we are seeing the benefit of living right next to the village. People drop by every little bit all day, and each day a group gathers for English classes and evening worship. We have found lots of ways to make friends in the village. This past week, it was rice planting, or driving people to where they need to go, or helping displaced people move all their belongings to their new homes. (We were not the only ones to lose our land)

We have a new family here assisting us. Millissa and her three girls, Rebecca, Rachel, and Samantha joined us a month ago. Millissa has taken over the kitchen responsibilities while Rebecca is training to be an English teacher. Rachel and Samantha are younger, but they help us as much as they are able to. It is not hard to stay busy when there are a thousand things that need to be done right away before the rains start in.

Although the last three months in many ways have been the hardest of my life, I would not trade it for anything. It is only when things are simply impossible that you really see God working and sustaining. When I look back, I don’t see any way possible that we could have done what we just did. I believe that God wants us all to get to the place in our lives where we depend on Him completely, and not on our puny little selves. In his will is the happiest and safest place to be.

The Witch Doctor

“Mommy, there is a strange man outside”, one of the girls whispered to me. By strange, I thought that she meant someone we had not met before, but I was quite mistaken. When I finally went and peered over the edge of the classroom, I was met by a very unusual sight.

A man sat on a post down below me. On the back of his head was a mass of gold Christmas tinsel, colorful feathers adorned the sides of his head, and the front of his long hair was held in place by a multitude of large, women’s hair clips of various colors. He was chanting something, and looking around with interest at all the activity. He did not appear to be drunk, or on drugs. He had a degree of intelligence to his face, although we all thought that a person in their right mind would NOT look like he did! In his hands he held a bag full of many kinds of devil charms. He had an aura of evil about him, and the children naturally shied away from him.

He stayed, watching the activities for quite some time, then got up and left as abruptly as he had come. But, after leaving our front yard, he went to the corner of our property and went through some kind of little ceremony, using his devil charms, singing, dancing and chanting. Millissa figured that he was putting a curse on us or something.

I have often read about witch doctors in the old mission books, but I never expected to see one in this day and age. It reminded me of just how far we are from actually finishing the work that God has given us to do.

How would you like to be that man? What if you never knew the love that God has for you personally, and all you did know was demons and trying to please them? Would you want someone to come and tell you about the God who loves you? The God who has power over the demons? I know that I would.

Somehow, when I saw that man, I was reminded of the demoniacs in Jesus’ day. That man is bound, and maybe he would like to be free. I ask you to join me in praying for our witch doctor. Pray that he would be open to hearing the truth, so that the truth can set him free.

 

A New Start

This week finds us getting settled on our new land. It has been an incredible month of miracle after miracle to get us to this spot. It is easy to see, in hindsight, how God was working to put us in the place where He wants us to be.

Several months ago, Jason and one of the students were asked to go and fix a tractor up at a village in the mountains called Tee Thay Kee. He was not all that busy, so he went and fixed that tractor. While he was there, the head woman of the village asked if he could possibly send someone to teach English and Bible in their village. Jason came back and talked to us about it, and Roy ended up going up there to teach for the rest of the school year, which was nearly over.

When we lost our land, and had to move so quickly, we had no idea of where God wanted us, but we committed the decision to His hands, and waited for doors to open and close. Within a week, we had 5 places offered to us. None of them were ideal, but we laid out our options before the Lord, and asked that His will be done.

During that time, I had a bit of free time on Sabbath, so I got out a piece of paper and pen and started writing down all the different options, and the miracle that would have to take place in order to move to each location. One needed a large storage tank and a truck. One needed permission from the government in a different province, and so on down the list.

One day, Jason went up to Tee Thay Kee to check out a piece of property that he had heard of there. He was ready to tell the people that we would take it, even though water would be a huge issue. But, right then another man came and offered him a different piece of property. The only catch was that we would have to pay for it instead of getting it for free. Jason was really impressed with the place, and felt that we should accept the offer. We all prayed about it, and decided that although we had no money, we should take it.

The day before we were to go to the Umpur to sign the papers for the property, a very large donation came in unexpectedly that completely covered the cost of the property, and a used truck that will be necessary in order to live in that location! God is so amazing and good to us! When I looked back at that piece of paper that I had written down all the things that would have to happen in order to move to that place, I saw that God had provided for every single thing I had written down… Including a farm truck to move all our stuff up there since there is no way we could have done it by motorbike.

When the papers were signed, it seemed as if all hell broke loose against us. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Two of the girls got malaria, we all got itchy rashes and hives. The river got all muddy, making it impossible to take baths, or cool off during the incredible heat. Then we got word that the military would not let us move to the new property. The battle was so intense that we knew for sure that it was a spiritual battle that God has already won for us. So we hung on, and prayed through each circumstance that came our way.

It is amazing how God can make mountains of difficulty move out of our way. We now have the blessing, and support of the military, as well as the local government. We moved to our new property this week, and are busily building new houses. Each day, villagers come to help us, and to visit and make us feel welcome. Roy has started to teach English to all the interested villagers each day.

We can now say from experience that God is faithful and true. We are ready to expand our work for God. The best way to move forward is on your knees!