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!

Leroy Returns to Thailand

I arrived in Chiang Mai with Becky on Wednesday. We were really glad to see Jonathan Hill at the airport waiting for us. He had arraigned for us to travel on the 4:00 pm. bus to Mae Sariang. Jason met us at the bus stop and took us to Hoy Tee Chaw. It was so good to be home.

On Thursday I learned that Travis would be arriving before the weekend. I picked him up and brought him home also. Travis wanted to pick up the supplies that had been pilling up for him here. Our truck is in the shop being fixed. It is at least 2 months from completion, so on Sunday we were trying to figure out how to accomplish that. Monday morning we learned that Rodney was on his way to bring Travis a partial truck load of supplies. We asked Rodney if he would be able to take us down south. He took us all the way down to where the supplies could be transported into the school. I then spent about a week there at the school. It was of course vacation time and almost all of the students had gone home. I am very pleased with the progress of the education and buildings. The school building is largely completed. The teachers are doing well and are in good spirits.

I was eager to get started on my teaching again, so I left in time to arrive home for the weekend. On Sunday, I delivered a set of Bible Story books to the SDA Mae Sariang church. The pastor was gone until Thursday, so I just left them there. The students are still on vacation. After shopping, I came home to get ready to teach in the camp.

Monday, I left at the usual time. Since it it cold season the roads are dry and traveling is much faster. When I arrived there Thra Kochue was gone, so I asked Thra YoPoe if I should begin teaching. He said that Tuesday morning would be fine. I spent the rest of the day visiting and delivering Bible Story books. I put one set in the KAA library, then I took a set to the Junior College. The Junior College principal told me that I would be teaching 3 classes on Wednesday. I was teaching 5 classes last time. I began to wonder about the change and felt a bit down. A little later I was speaking with one of the administrators of JC and mentioned to him that I would only be teaching 3 classes. I told him I wasn’t sure what I would do with my extra time.

I then visited Saw Jane who asked me if I would stay in his house. I agreed. His house is on Main Street and he has arranged for me to teach in the evenings also. He told me one of the teachers and her son from the Baptist Bible College on the hill will be attending. He also said that the Roman Catholic priest and his family will also attend. Saw Janes wife is Roman Catholic and he wants her to be converted to SDA. I think that God is about to do marvelous things. On top of all this I have many young children that are learning to pronounce “NOSE” …ect. It looks as if a beginners class and an advanced class is in order. A theology class might develop as well.

Tuesday, I taught at Karen Adventist Academy and the day went very well. It is good to see their progress. Thra Kochue told me how pleased the students are with my teaching. It is very encouraging to hear reports like that. Every class begins and ends with prayer and the content is Bible Stories. I know that they understand that their teacher (me) really believes what he teaches.

Wednesday, I taught at JC. The principal had a list of 5 classes for me to teach. One class I taught twice in order to make 5 class sessions. They only have four different classes, because since I was here one class completed their course. I learned from talking to the principal that they had another foreigner English teacher since I was here before. His style of teaching I was told is to lower himself to the level of the students and play foolish games with them. This was how they explained it to me. He apparently has visa problems so after a few weeks he left. Thank God for visa problems! I had to smile a little. I think we might get to see a contest between serious Bible teaching and foolish game teaching. I believe that Gods ways are best and they will prevail.

I am so thankful for the sets of Bible story books that were provided by God’s people in America. I have placed four sets now and I will take a set to the camp to be in Saw Janes house for me to use in teaching from there. There is a chance that one will migrate up the hill to the Bible College. I believe that I have one more set in reserve at home. I will use My Bible Friends, Bible Story or the Conflict Series depending on the level of my students. I also am so thankful for the ten Fountain View DVD’s that were donated. I think that I can use them from Saw Jane’s home in the near future. I wish that I had the talent to sing like that in this situation.

I didn’t take any pictures because it gives the wrong flavor, but every time I went by the library at KAA there were students sitting on the floor going through the Bible books looking at the pictures. I didn’t see any teachers looking at them, because I think that they are shy. They will check them out when I am gone. They know enough English that they will be able to read and understand. I was quite amused because the novels and the evolution books were on the shelf and the students were searching the Bible Stories.

Well, that should be enough for this week. My plate is rather full.

Sincerely,
LeRoy

New Opportunities

Since moving up to the mountain, we have often wondered just what it is that God had in mind for us to do. Our first year was filled to the brim with building our home, and planting gardens and clearing the land. But, our contact with the villagers was not what we wanted it to be. From experience, we knew that we could not just barge into these people’s lives, and expect them to be thrilled about it, so there is much waiting and hard work involved in starting a new project.
The breakthrough for us came when we asked for help in plastering the walls of our house.When the villagers came to help us, and then refused payment, we knew that they had finally accepted us. But we still did not really understand what our work would be….should we start another school, or did God have something else in mind?
The answer came rather unexpectedly, like it usually does! One day the head woman brought an old lady and her husband to see me. They were in terrible pain, and they wanted to know if I knew what to do to help them. I examined them, but I had no clue what to do for them. I felt terrible….I turned to the head woman and asked her if it would be OK if I could find a nurse to come to our village. She said, “Yes, Oh yes! We need one so badly!” So I set out trying to find one who would be willing to come….but so far I have been unsuccessful.
But as the week’s rolled by, it became clear that these villagers could not wait for a nurse to come. I am only a lowly EMT, but I know far more than anyone else around here, so the people began to come. Instead of not trying, I began to ask God for answers. Each time I am confronted by a new problem, God gives me ideas of simple things that we can do to help. I have used charcoal poultices, hydrotherapy, simple medicines I can make myself, and herbs that people have sent me. God has blessed my small things, and people are actually getting better.
The girls also wanted to get involved, so one afternoon we sat down and watched a
presentation on how to do a kind of massage. Then, they headed out into the village to practice.It just so happened that the villagers have been cutting weeds in the rice fields, which means bending over from morning till night. The girls were instantly in high demand! They were so excited about being able to help others. Each evening they would come home and tell me how many people they “put to sleep” with their massage.
One evening, I was standing under the edge of a roof, waiting for a downpour to stop before heading home after taking care of some hurting people, when the head woman told me that there are people that are actually starving in this village. I was shocked! When people become too old to work, and they have no family willing to care for them, they just slowly starve to death.I decided right then and there that we would find these people and relieve their suffering.
Right away, we learned of a lady that had been out of food for several days, so we went to our own pantry and loaded down the motorbike with food for her. By the end of that week, some other missionary friends here in Thailand brought us a whole truckload of supplies to give to the poor people here. We were kept very busy seeking out the lonely, starving ones and meeting their immediate needs.

Roy also found an area of need, and is away from home teaching English and Bible in several different schools from Sunday through Wednesday each week. The people he is working with are so open, and their Bible discussions get rather lively at times.
Now our lives are kept very busy teaching, giving simple treatments to relieve suffering, feeding the hungry, visiting the elderly, meeting every need we possibly can. It is amazing to me how everything changed so rapidly. All of us have found that serving others brings the greatest joy possible.

The Accident

Since most of my family is in America right now, the little girls and I have had quite the time getting to town to do our shopping. Our first trip with the truck went pretty well, until we came out of a store and tried to drive away. Instead of starting the way a truck should it said “click”. Click? What is that supposed to mean anyway???

Part of the trouble with having four boys and a brilliant husband is that I never had the need to learn mechanics. If fact, I never even checked the oil before! So, since the truck said “click” instead of starting like all good trucks should, I sent Esther, my 13 year old, out to check under the hood. She doesn’t know much about trucks either, but she tried to act like she did. She kicked the tires, wiggled some wires, checked the oil….what more is there to do anyway? So, I tried starting the truck again. It said he same thing….”click”.

By then, unhelpful people were beginning to stare wide eyed at this crazy foreigner with the very old truck. I had to do something! So, I got out, kicked the tires, wiggled some wires, and tried to look halfway intelligent. I then got confidently back into the truck, smiled at the onlookers, and tried the key….click.

What would you do in a situation like that? I did the only reasonable thing…I prayed….waited for God to fix it, then tried the key. The truck roared to life, and we were off. We were cautious though, and did not turn the truck off for the rest of the trip.

So, over two weeks later, we finally decided that starving was not a good alternative, so we gathered our stuff and made our way out to the truck. I will spare you the terrible details, but this time it would not start, no matter how hard I prayed! Jason seems to enjoy the challenge this truck gives him, but I really do prefer trucks that start. So here I was….in quite a predicament. We needed to buy food, but our truck would not cooperate. My only other alternative was the motorbike. So, I was forced to leave two of the girls alone at home, while the three of us headed to town, with big black clouds threatening a downpour at any moment.

Now, I did learn to drive a motorbike quite young in life, but one of my least favorite things to do is to take passengers with me. When I was nine years old and my dad was attempting to teach me to drive a motorbike, he was sitting on the back, and I promptly ran us both into the well house. Having such a traumatic event at such a tender age made me wish to permanently refuse all passengers. But, under these circumstances, I had no other choice.

On our way down the steep mountains, I was crying and praying. I may have to do crazy things, but I am not always that brave about them. I was telling God that I just needed some encouragement, and it would be so nice if it wouldn’t rain on us, even if it is rainy season.

Believe it or not, those heavy clouds did not rain on us at all….all day long! If fact, it turned out to be rather hot and sunny in town.

When we got to town, I went over to the church since Jason had left our trailer there when he left. I was amazed to see our pastor friend from Mae Sot there, along with our local pastor. Then another pastor came out of the house. He was from the Loma Linda area of California! He was so incredibly nice and encouraging. I knew right then that God sent him to strengthen me right when I needed it the most.

We then went and tried to do all the shopping so that we would not need to come back to town any time soon. Driving the motorbike is physically very challenging for me, and I knew I could not do it very often. But I was also careful not to overload the trailer since we have a very steep mountain to climb on the way home. But how much is “overloaded” anyway?

All went well on our return trip until I got to the first very steep hill….they don’t believe in doing 6% grades over here! I could tell that we were in trouble when the bike started to really slow down in first gear. So I thought I would try my husbands trick of swerving all over the road to keep from going down backwards. The only problem was that I am just not a good enough driver, nor was I strong enough to pull it off, and we crashed.

When the bike fell over, I rolled off and down the mountain, landing on my arm. I jumped up immediately to find out how the girls were. What I saw amazed me. Hannah was standing in the middle of the road, unhurt. Destiny was still sitting in the trailer, which had somehow unhitched itself from the bike….she was unhurt. And the trailer was sitting sideways in the middle of the road, and didn’t roll anywhere! I told Destiny to get out of the trailer just in case it did start to roll.

I don’t really understand the next part, unless you can say it was adrenalin, but I was able to pick up the bike, and get it to the side of the road, and then pull that trailer up to the top of the hill. How in the world I could do that when the motorbike couldn’t, seems like a miracle to me.

Next, I ran back down the hill to get the bike. But there was just no way I could get the bike going without crashing again. I cried out to God for help…I told Him that I just could not do it. Right then a motorbike roared up beside me. It was the only Christian guy in our village, with his wife and baby. He took one look at the situation and came racing to help me. Between the two of us, we were able to get the bike up the mountain. He then insisted on taking Destiny on his bike, and he followed me all the way home. It turned out to be a good thing too, since I crashed one more time in a very muddy spot. He was off his bike in a hurry and once again helping me to get it going again. During all this trouble, my motorbike only sustained a loose mirror….there were no other injuries on it that I could detect.

So tonight, although I am covered with scrapes, bruises and burns, I am one happy missionary. God does not always keep us from trials, but He does give us the help that we need to make it through them. I know for sure tonight that God loves me and is taking very good care of me. Both of my little girls were not even scratched, which is the greatest miracle a mother could ask for!

The House

For the past few months, we have been building like crazy, trying to get our new house finished before rainy season started. Well, rainy season did start, and the house is to the point where we can call it good enough for now. It is dry, and comfortable, and nearly finished!

When I look back, it does seem like a miracle to me that we were able to do it so quickly, with so little money. We didn’t have much money, so the entire house was done the hard way…going to the river to get the supplies that we need, like sand, gravel, and rock. But, our hard, cheap way is beautiful. The whole house cost us a lot less than I could have ever imagined it would.

What is even more beautiful to me is the growth that I have seen in the children. They have learned many new skills, and are so excited to live in a “real” home for the first time in their lives. They have happily done everything that needed to be done, working together for a common goal. When anyone asks them who built the house, they can say “we did!”

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Someone is Watching

No man is an island. We have all heard those words, but do we really understand how true they are? The first time this was illustrated to me was when I was a young mother, with four little boys to take care of. We lived in a remote area where I did not see other people very often. I was very busy training my little boys to love God, and with building our dream home. I was not doing anything “important” or exciting in my estimation. I was not out giving bible studies, or doing important church work. But one day I got a phone call from a distant neighbor. She told me what an inspiration I was to her and how it made her want to be a better Christian. I was shocked, and very humbled. God was using me to speak to this lady’s heart when I thought that nobody was watching.

Another illustration of this happened when we first moved to Thailand. We went to the village that Travis is currently working at for the school graduation. It was a “Christian” school, but on Sabbath evening, they had a rock concert at the school to celebrate the graduation. We were asked to sing for it. We agreed. Try to imagine this scene….loud speakers, electric guitars, alcohol doing its work….we got up front and sang “Nearer, Still Nearer” to a shocked and somewhat embarrassed group. We then left the scene of revelry and never thought about that incident again. Fast forward six years….Travis is now the director of that same school. One day he was telling me about a gentleman in that village. I was trying to remember which man it was that he was talking about. He told me that he was the man that played the electric guitar at the rock concert. Oh, I did remember him vaguely. Travis then told me that he now preaches the sermons when Travis is gone. I was shocked! How could this be? Travis told me that the song that we sang at the Rock concert changed this mans life. He gave his heart to Jesus, and his life changed completely. We never even spoke to this man. No bible studies, no sermons, just a song that was sung for the glory of God at a rock concert.

Yesterday, a young man from another village came to visit us. He is studying English at a university here in Thailand, and wanted to practice his English on us. We sat and talked for a few minutes, and then he said, “You are such a happy family!” He then went on to explain that he does not have a happy family. His mother died when he was quite young because a witch had cursed her. His father turned to alcohol to drown his sorrow, and there was no more joy in his family. Only a few minutes in a busy home, and he showed a hunger for what he was seeing.

One of the things he told us was that he had heard about our first outhouse hole long before he had met us. I told you while we were digging it about all the little delegations of people who were coming to see our famous hole. Well, that hole was being discussed in villages all over this part of Thailand. He told us that people were amazed at how diligent we were, and what a good job we were doing. It was just a hole! A simple task that had to be done! It was not meant to be a bible study or an object lesson, and yet it was.

Again this was illustrated when our student came back and told us that he wanted to be a missionary after observing our family. He could not even understand our words, but he saw a difference in the way we live.

I am not saying that we are in any way a perfect example, to the contrary, we make a lot of mistakes every single day, and are far from where God would have us to be. But, we try with all our hearts to follow God and to please him in all that we do. When you are the only living example of Christianity in an area that is controlled by the powers of darkness, it is pretty easy for people to see the light, even if we are not very bright.

The lesson to me in all of this is that I believe that we do most of our preaching when we don’t know about it. When God tells us to do the little things “as unto the Lord” it is because He can use those little things to further His kingdom. When we are sifting sand, digging holes, laying block, working in our gardens, or when our little ones are just sharing their toys, we don’t really feel like we are doing mission work. But it seems that this is the very kind of mission work that the villagers can understand. Ellen White said that we would be surprised at the simple means that God will use to finish the work. Do you think it could mean simple things like these?

But I have to stop and ask you, what would have happened if we had sung a soft rock song for the concert? What if we spent our time doing worldly activities in our home, such as watching TV or movies, listening to worldly music, or discussing the latest fashions, or our jobs and making money? What if we did not train our children to love and honor God, and just let them run wild with the neighbor kids? Would people be able to see Jesus, or would they see another family that looked just like them? Can we honor God by getting as close to the world as we can get, or does God expect people who bear his name to actually be as close to Jesus as we can get?

What about you? Are you a missionary in your home? Your town? With your neighbors? What do people hear when passing your home; the world, or praise to God? Would your coworkers say that you are living for God, or are you just like them? It is not what we say, but what we do that makes a real difference in this world. Jesus is coming very soon, and we need to do ALL for the glory of God, so that those around us may see the light before it is too late.

Building Project

It started out innocently enough. I needed to choose a site for our new house. After surveying the area, I chose a nice location to one side of our garden area. It was covered with tall bushes, so I could not see the lay of the land, but it looked pretty level, and I figured it would work. The best part about it was that it did not appear that there were any tall trees that might fall on it. In my mind, that was a major consideration! So, I sent the little girls out to clear the land so that we could level it. I wanted it to be all finished before Roy got back from America. If we all worked hard, surely we could get it done quickly and surprise him!

It really did not take long for the girls to clear it, so several days later, we gathered the hoes and buckets and went out to get that spot level. When I finally surveyed the cleared land, I was a bit surprised to find that it sloped up a lot more than I had imagined! In fact, it was on quite a hillside. But, since my girls had worked hard to clear it, we got started digging.

We dug, and dug and dug, and we had just barely made any dent at all in that hillside. I was getting a bit panicky, since I wanted it all finished before Roy got back, so we worked a little longer each day. But finally, I had to admit defeat. Roy was going to be back in a few days, and there was no way in the world we could get it finished. So, we made sure the rest of the property looked great instead.

Having Roy back helped our digging program a lot. He has far better methods of moving dirt than I ever thought of, so our hole in the hill got bigger much faster. Finally, one day, I figured that it was nearly done, so I pulled out my house plan and looked it over. Once again I found myself in hot water! What I had drawn would certainly not work when it was in the hole in the hill! If I were to even try to put a door in the back, we would run smack dab into a mountain. That would be rather embarrassing. So, I got out my drawing tools and went to work to redraw the house plan to fit the current conditions.

I fought and fought with my house plan for several days, trying to make it fit into the hole in the hill that we had already dug. But no matter how I tried, it just would not fit. Roy finally informed me that my house was way too small. We would need to dig out more hillside. Now my little project was starting to look like a very big project, and we had a lot more digging that would need to be done.

Fortunately, about that time Jason and Shoshana returned from Travis’ school, and so they pitched in and started helping us dig. Roy estimated that by the time we are finished, we may have moved around 14 dump truck loads of dirt out of that hillside by hand! In case you have not thought about it, that is a lot of dirt!

You might be wondering why in the world we need a new house. Well, in order to meet the government standards, we need to have a permanent building as our children’s home. So, it is a rather important project for our kids so that they can be legal. We will not be given a house number until the project is finished. The good news is that after all the work of digging out that hillside, I don’t think that anyone would think that our house is not permanent!

The good part about all this is that it is teaching us all a lot about how to work as a team.  In life we can find many mountains of impossibility. If we look at ourselves, we know that we cannot move the mountain. When we work together, and help one another, the mountain is moved, one shovel full at a time. What kinds of mountains do you have in your life?

When God Has Other Plans

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When we first lost our school, I found myself sinking into depression. I felt cast aside and useless. I could not understand why we had to lose everything right when things were going so incredibly well. Our students were excitedly learning about God, and we had so many things that we wanted to teach them. But I could also clearly see that God was still with us, guiding and directing us, and providing for every need. It is sometimes easy to intellectually know that God is leading, but very hard to convince your heart of that fact.

One morning, while I was pouring out my woes to God, I asked him what we are supposed to be doing now. Very clearly, he told me to do the work that lies nearest. I looked down, and there was Destiny, sweetly sleeping beside me. I suddenly realized that God loved my little girls so much that if all I did was teach and train them for Him, I would still be doing missionary work. I contemplated that for a while, then decided that if God had given me only five people to care for, then they must be extra special and need a lot of care!

So the last few months have been an incredible time of learning, studying and growing. I spend all my time with my girls, teaching, training, observing, and praying over them. God has shown me so much about them and their needs. At the same time, I am learning so much more that I didn’t know about training children for heaven.

When Sarah came to visit one time, she gave me a set of DVDs that I can highly recommend to anyone. It is called “The Classroom of the Remnant”, by Joshua White. This, along with lots of bible study with Jason and Shoshana, has given me a new enthusiasm for child training. There just is no other line of work that has such far reaching results as raising a child for Jesus.

We also have the privileged of having Rebecca and James with us. Both of these young people plan to be missionaries, so they are here for training, language and cultural learning, and practical mission skills experience. We love young people, so we are having lots of fun with them also. It is wonderful to see young people who are actively working for God at such a young age.

I now realize that God needs people who will be willing to be putty in Gods hands, to do anything, large or small, that He asks us to do. Missionary work does not always consist of big, important sounding things. Sometimes real missionary work is simply holding a child, and listening while they pour out their troubles to you. So as we see time coming swiftly to a close, let’s covenant to be or do whatever God asks us to do, so that many others will be ready to meet Jesus when he comes.

 

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!

Abundant Clean Water

When we first moved here, probably the most distressing thing to me was the water. After living down by the river, with three wonderful creeks at our disposal, not to mention all the springs pouring out of the side of our mountain, to have less than ideal water was a real disappointment.

Not only was the water a disappointment, it was scary! The very first week we were here, I was busily washing my laundry in the dirty water, when I started itching like crazy! Every place the water touched me itched so bad that pretty soon I was frantically scratching while the tears poured down my face. I found out later that a certain kind of flower pollen was probably to blame for the itching.

By that time, we decided to go and check to see where our water supply was coming from. Sure enough….it came from a dirty, scummy frog pond! Well, at least now we knew why there were so many tadpoles bathing with us!

After describing our water situation in one of my newsletters, a friend of mine wrote to me and asked if we would mind if she prayed for abundant clean water. I am certainly not crazy enough to turn down an offer like that, but I wondered how in the world that would ever be possible.

About a month later, our water situation became desperate! The buffalo had discovered our frog pond and were using it as a wallow. Now, our water was as muddy as could be, and it stunk like dirty buffalo mixed with tad poles! Yuck! Even Jason, who always tried to remain positive about the water, had had enough.

So, one afternoon he disappeared up the hill with a hoe in hand. Within an hour or two, he came back grinning. He had found a spring, dug it out, and was coming back to find pipes to get the water to our place. All available hands went to work, and that same afternoon we had sparkling clean water trickling into a bucket on our own land. We had clean water to drink for the first time since moving here!

The only problem was that all our different sized pipes were leaking at the joints, so not much water was getting down here….besides the fact that it was a rather small spring to start with. But, Jason had been given a thousand gallon water tank that was all cracked and broken which he was determined to fix and use for a holding tank for our trickle of water. So, over the next week, the tank was fixed, we bought new water pipe, lots of digging and leveling were done, and our tank was installed.

Meanwhile, almost miraculously, more and more water came rushing down our pipe. We now have over a thousand gallons of pure, clean spring water at our disposal every day! Washing our laundry in clean, non-itchy water, bathing without our little tadpole friends, drinking water without green algae in it equals nothing less than pure bliss!

So we are praising God for our abundant clean water, and for the friend with enough faith to pray for it!