The last few weeks have held much activity. First, a team of friends, headed by Thara Dabu, a former teacher at Sunshine Orchard. Joining him where young men from Sunshine Orchard, as well as from our home. Their intent was to help build a home for us and our many Karen children. They were camping out on our building spot. They went armed with rice, salt, dried fish, tomatoes, greens and oil, with machetes, hoes, measuring tape, and cooking pots, ready to cut bamboo for our home. They remained there camping, for two weeks. Their work is mostly finished. At this moment we are trying to find someone able to supervise the actual building.
The SDA Mission school at our new place had started to build a school building. Last year they taught six grades in a small dinghy cement building with a dirt floor. It is difficult to picture the teachers being able to teach under such circumstances. This year they will have two additional grades. The new school building was sitting half finished with the new school year about to begin. They didn’t have money to pay the builders, thus the builders had left. They had borrowed money for the roof as someone had promised to pay for it. The promise was withdrawn. School was about to start without classrooms. We decided to give what we had saved up for our house. The builders have returned and are working very hard to finish it.
We have experienced a long dry season with an extreme heat wave, most afternoons we spent in the river with the children, this day was no exemption. As I told the children that I was ready to go, they all cried out that they wanted to go swimming at our new place and not at Sunshine Orchard. That would be fine, but the river is a little swifter there and I would be the only adult, but no need to worry, the news spread and a couple of young women decided to join us.
When we arrived, swimming was not a priority, everyone wanted to go see what was happening at the building site.
The young men already had curry cooked, rice as well, Karen style over three rocks with firewood-they are experts.
One boy was making a mortar and pestle out of a large bamboo piece. Others where cutting up garlic, onions and lemon grass to soon be pounded in the mortar.
Some where measuring the to be house, staking out the perimeters, some where burning and cutting bamboo clusters too close to the house for comfort.
Our place is the first place from the water source up the mountain and the blue PVC pipe is laying exposed on the ground. We decided to cut the PVC pipe and put a T and a faucet so they can have water for bathing, washing dishes and drinking (it is good for drinking direct out of the pipe, no need to purify or boil). We found a small piece of broken pipe, I decided to take it home to show the person in the hardware store what I need to be sure to get the right size.
I did not bring a bag and had no pockets, wearing a traditional married woman’s Karen shirt, it has strings at the V in the neck. It entered my mind that I could tie it to the strings and not loose it when we would go swimming…then later one of our girls gave me a package of powdered drink mix to take home for her, well, I guess I will add that one to my strings too…that way she won’t be disappointed that I would have lost it. It never entered my mind that this would cause a stir, yet I realized it was a unique way to carry these items.
After swimming heading up the hill to the truck, I met one of the village women, and it suddenly occurred to me as she was staring at the strings and odd things hanging from them with an astonished look on her face, that maybe it appeared that I was not only a gallowah (white person) wearing traditional Karen dress, in addition I must be an animist, wearing devil charms and amulets…like so many of the Karen do to ward off the evil spirits.
I got into the truck and upon entering our kitchen, two of our girls, one older and one around eleven, stared at me in disbelief and did not look very amused, now Emily came upon the scene and gasped with wide eyes “mom what is that you are wearing?” I calmly explained. It struck our “funny bone” and we two were soon doubled over with laughter. Our Karen daughters did not seem to be able to join in or see anything humorous in their missionary mom having appeared to be an animist. Maybe this was something we should not have laughed about and I probably should have removed the things once I realized what it might look like, yet it was innocent and we survive day to day by by the grace of God finding something to laugh about in our daily experience, “It doeth good like a medicine”.
That next day the boys asked us to drive them up the river and let them out in order to cut bamboo in a different place. They cut fifty bamboo poles in half an hour, tied them together and used them as rafts down the river. It was good to see the boys safely back after floating on bamboo "rafts" for three hours down the river to our place.
The water is a huge blessing in this hot weather, it is life giving, life saving and although warm to drink, it quenches and satisfies our thirst and gives us strength to go on...Jesus, the water of life is come to quench our thirst for the things of this world, to satisfy us and to give us eternal life.
Now it seem that the rainy season is upon us and the cooling temperatures are very welcome.
We where about to head to Mae Sot for Lay Wah Paw to have her eyesight checked before school starts, when villagers came asking for help. A woman in her fifties had a very angry locking large breast tumor. We brought them to the hospital, I felt a little worried as surgery and cancer treatment can get very expensive. The thought went through my mind "If this was my mother, what would I do?" Of course we would help. She is admitted for surgery and we will be expected to cover the cost.
Lay Wah Paw had her eyes checked and she did need glasses as she can't see to read or to see the blackboard at school. Today we have a happy girl, the first student at Sunshine Orchard who actually is wearing the glasses prescribed for her; she is so very happy to be able to see, $300 is a huge expense, but the blessing of being able to see is a gift that is treasured by her.
The phone rang and I was told that the posts for the house will cost about $600. With Jesus4Asia sending us donations amounting to $400 for this month, we would have reason for worry.
In some amazing way God always sees us through. This time one of the ways in which God intervened was through a friend from the Philippines, who is a teacher at an Adventist school in Thailand, who frequently come with a team to do volunteer mission service at sunshine Orchard. He had forgotten to send us a $600 donation given to him by fellow teachers and student parents at AIMS (Adventist International Mission School). This donation had been given a while back for the children's home. We praise God for him not giving us this donation when Sunshine Orchard received their part. God's timing is perfect.
On our way home from Bangkok, leaving Paul all alone to travel to America at the airport, we drove slowly along the curvy country road leading home, it was getting late in the day and we looked forward to be back home. We had some apprehension of what the next month has in store for us as Paul is a huge contributor to making the home manageable and making the children mind and be sweet...
The phone rang and a certain person was asking if I please can come to were the Bible seminary will be, for filming an interview with him. I consented, but wondered how to record without a camera...I asked some of the other missionaries and was told that there was a wedding in the morning at SO...they forgot to tell us...no camera's available and no persons to help.
Praying I went ahead, asking God to make a way. meandering down to the fine white sandy river bank, this was my first time crossing without the assistance of our boys or Paul...The boat was on the other side of the river and the only mode of transportation for me was to jump on the bamboo raft tied to a rope which is tied across the river, I had watched the Karen men and a couple women stand up and guiding the rafts across with the help of the rope, I had admired their balance...now it was my turn. Pretty pleased with myself and our great God and enjoying the voyage greatly, I crossed without any mishap or getting wet.
Walking up the sandy hillside onto the open space in front of the mountains with goat herds running to and fro here and there, I again felt the tranquility and simplicity that I so much treasure there. It was barely 9am but the heat was intense and drops of perspiration was making me feel like I indeed had been in the river...wiping of my brow, I meandered over the fields down a hill and over a wooden rickety bridge and up a very steep sandy hill to the headquarters. This is indeed a beautiful place, I walked down the small footpath and soon watched as those I had come to meet were having breakfast. I treasure how you can sit down outside in a rustic gazebo like structure with a rustic long wooden table and wooden benches all year long, to fellowship and sup with each other. No walls, no insulation, no protection needed, the only protection in this case were the soldiers in full uniform and armed, lingering about the place, in wait for their beloved great leader.
I sit down and meet a most delightful young woman, a foreigner. She is involved with a project aiding the Karen and was spending some time in this place, why I don't know. But we hit it of and enjoyed each others company. Soon we are motioned to join the person I have come to interview and record/film. God had indeed prepared a way and this young woman was our needed camera man...She faithfully proceeded to record several interviews in regards to the Bible Seminary, later we went on a tour and she kept recording. We were brought to the Bible Seminary property and although I already knew where it is going to be...I was not prepared for how beautiful and large it is. It is a very huge property. Much, much larger than Sunshine Orchard with much fertile land to grow gardens and have rice paddies. It has the water system from the mountain spring for cooking, bathing and drinking-no need to boil it, it's been tested and is safe to drink. The seminary property has river frontage.
On the way back, I again walked down to the river bank, wondering how I was going to cross this time. The metal large boat was there tied to the rope, but not close to the shore, well, I will get on the bamboo raft and get to the boat that way...now managing this large heavier boat was not as easy, but I was pretty pleased and wished that there would have been some silent observer snapping a picture of this aging woman having some fun...I was thanking God that being raised on ships and sailing vessels in my childhood would one day come in handy...
Back home at Sunshine Orchard I was greeted by the children wanting to go swimming in the river...being the only adult surrounded by lots of children in the water, all wanting your attention at the same time does not make for the most peaceful afternoon swim...but it was fun.
We have the greatest jumping rock across the river with a deep area to jump into, it's a natural God made place to play in the shade on a intensively hot afternoon!
"Momo Doh, I had a dream last night about Jesus coming back!" Lay Lay Wah exclaimed.
Over a year ago, I met a woman in Mae Sot who became a friend, she had nine children, seven of which were adopted at birth through a local hospital specially for Burmese and Karen. Charlotte was one of those children(her name was changed to Lay Lay Wah by our children when she came here to live).
Her German mother who is married to a Karen man but who due to alcohol and abuse, was living in a guest house in town was having a difficult time and the children were living in different locations, some would join their mother during the day, others would hang out at the boarding house at a migrant school. It was not a good situation for the children. My friend asked me if four of the children could live with us and attend our school until she would figure out where to go and what to do. We said yes, thus Lay Lay Wah came to live with us. I had received an email describing each child, their strengths and weaknesses and what to expect in caring for them. It was a challenging time which followed.
Lay Lay Wah was described in an extremely negative way, she was the one child who the mother just could not get along with and who's personality was extremely trying. When Lay Lay Wah came to live with us she was fluent in English, Thai and Burmese but did not speak or understand Karen.
Although we had some challenges with her in the beginning and she was homesick for what she used to know and had to adjust to our way of life. we very quickly formed a close bond with her. Both Paul and I became very close to her and she is now like a true daughter to us, who we treasure as a gift from God.
It's been challenging for her to learn Karen and to attend the many long worships, not understanding everything. Before she came here she would pray occasionally. She was the one child who her father would abuse when intoxicated, she would pray not knowing who she was talking to, sometimes she would go to the Buddhist temple and pray, sometimes to some church and after praying her father would not hurt her. She knew nothing about God, but that He answered her prayers. We have watched her develop into a lovely girl who is learning to love and trust Jesus.
Yesterday many of the children gathered around our truck to say goodbye to us as Paul is going to America for one month, we were leaving for Bangkok. She came to me and shared about having a dream that night about Jesus coming back...her face was shining with joy as she shared how she saw a huge rock coming down from the sky, destroying all the houses and then she saw Jesus coming with many many angels. She saw people with their arms stretched up going to meet Jesus in the sky. "Momo Doh, I saw you and Papa Doh going up to Jesus" "Momo Doh Heaven is so beautiful" "Jesus gave us crowns, we laid them at His feet, then Jesus washed our feet!" I asked her if anyone had ever told her about Jesus washing our feet when we go to heaven, she said no, "but I saw Him doing it".
Tears trickled down my cheeks as she shared her dream, God is so good and although we are so very undeserving He loves us with an eternal, unconditional love. Jesus is the very best friend of our children.
"It's just like having a Martha Stewart in the house..." Emily exclaimed. You see Anna is back living with us for the first time in a long long time, it's been years. She is excelling us all in house keeping and cooking and in making children mind... and can not stand unruly children and an untidy house. The result is a much cleaner and orderly house...-she has inspired us all and it is so much more welcoming.
Emily is amazing at being faithful in the little things and always care about our and the children's needs, she is always cooking, cleaning and caring for us in the most sweet, loving and tender way, much of the time she is holding little Hser Hser Paw who have attached herself like a little leech to her.
Before Anna came it seemed that in spite of working very hard, we were never able to keep on top of things, we cleaned and cleaned but the children made sure it became messy again in no time, it was discouraging; housework never seemed to end. Now we can take a rest and be refreshed and things are still pretty good. We can tell that even the children are so much more contented. Sure, we still have mountains of laundry and things that need to be done, but this small young woman has imparted to us a way to do it in a more efficient way...
We are still at Sunshine Orchard but the near future holds much change for our family, some things are uncertain. After having spent almost eight years at Sunshine Orchard some of us more than others are going through a difficult time adjusting to the thought of what will be. But one thing we know; God holds the future in His hands, and we can trust Him.
Recently we had a huge team of teachers and students who are mostly from the Philippines but who are teaching and studying in Thailand in varied Adventist schools near Bangkok. Some of them started to come to Sunshine Orchard on their school breaks back in 2010 to volunteer. Since then they have come several times a year and each year the group they bring have increased in size. This time they brought 52 people ready and excited to serve God here.
They are a true inspiration to us each time they come. This time they spent three days at a school in Karen State south of us and poured a cement floor in a classroom building. It was a daunting job and it seemed impossible to have it finished in three days, but when we came to pick them up we received the incredible news that they had finished the entire floor. They had seen God's hand intervening in many ways for them to be able to complete what they had set out to complete.
They painted the school building at Sunshine Orchard and it is looking so very good. Two days were dedicated for the whole team to work at Mu Aye Pu, they dug a septic tank, cleared the building site, filled bags with sand and gravel on the beach and carried it all to the building site. Such happy cheerful faithful workers although it was exceedingly hot.
Dear friends and family, We have a prayer need, it's this baby...the mother and father came out of the mountains of Karen state, Burma earlier this year with their baby who has hydrocephalous. It has been a long road of many surgeries, in and out of the hospital and much money spent...
The dear young father is a self supported missionary teacher in their mountain village. Anna have been busy caring for their needs, bringing them to the hospital, providing them with money for food and other needs while there for extended stays. Please join us in prayer for the wisdom of the physicians, for the expense and for strength to carry on for the young mother and father.
We had paid around $1500, but last week we had another bill of $3000, but could only pay $800...the hospital is asking that we pay the remainder soon.
At this time the baby is doing so much better. The tube inserted to drain the fluid from the brain into the stomach is finally working! The cavity on top of the skull is created as the fluid have drained. It is expected to come together some in due time.
Thank you for keeping them and us in prayer as we are responsible for the hospital expense and give moral support. Tomorrow Anna will join them at the hospital again, taking the mother to see a doctor as she is not feeling well and they suspect her to be pregnant.
He is so mighty and big there is nothing He can not do!
Below is an urgent prayer request we sent out recently
We Need Your Prayers
Our God is a mighty God and He sees the end from the beginning
Isaiah 49:16 "Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands Thy walls are continually before me"
We have spent the last week in Chiang Mai, in parting with our little ones at home we told them we would be gone for three days...after almost one week we still had not been able to accomplish what we came to do. Each day I was somewhat upset that I was not able to go home. God had a plan and we had to be patient.
Sunday morning Anna, Emily and I headed out to find a place for them to stay while studying in Chiang Mai, we had found it impossible to find anything close to the school that was available and affordable. We asked over again at some places but without success. There was one place that we had not checked due to it looking very nice and saying luxury apartments having 24 hour guard and a swimming pool. Surely it was out of the question...out of desperation we decided to just check it out. The girls came back to the truck with huge smiles on their faces saying that this was it. It was cheaper than anything we had seen and they had one room available at $120 /month. My heart was singing God had again worked all things out for good! It was but a very short walk for Anna to get to the Thai language school. Thank you Jesus.
It was late in the day before Paul, Timothy, our new baby and I were on the road for the seven hour drive to home and the Thai Burma border.
Halfway we stopped at a guest house to sleep, monday morning we were again on our way, arriving home in the afternoon we were met by happy shrieks of laughter and lots of hugs, with everyone wanting our attention, for over an hour our ears were attentive, listening to everything they wanted to tell us...then I took them to the creek to take a bath, little Hser Hser Paw in my arms, Timothy, Talitha, Ku Ku Paw, Naw Bee Dah, Vah Ney Paw, Ningeh, Jojo, Moa wah and La La Moh. We had a happy time.
On returning the phone rang, it was Thara Ekganyaw wanting Paul and me to come right now...there was a meeting in a near by village and the headman was at his house asking that we come immediately.
Giving the baby to Mu Jel Htoo and the rest of the children's care to Thin Thin Aye our oldest girl, Paul quickly washed up while I bowed down in prayer.
God I know you are in charge, I know that with you all things are possible. Thank you for bringing us back just in time for this meeting...God I trust everything into your hands, I will not worry about what to say, for your promise says that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say.
In perfect peace yet not without trembling, we left together with Ekganyaw, driving into Mae Salit Noi, Memories of days past flooded my mind, I saw people who we ministered to through the years...I remembered all the times Paul and I had entered this village being surrounded by people who needed medical help and how the busiest and yet most rewarding time in our lives were spent helping these dear people. We had spent day after day and even nights on the road and in hospitals for them, we had gone forward scheduling surgeries and committing to paying for their medical needs even when we had no money on hand and the ATM account said empty...God always provided.
Then Gayle Haberkam came and treated them on our porch and in our home, when she left for the mountains, I did my best to care for their needs on the "clinic on the porch" but we had been given babies, Maria saw my plight and came to the rescue, training the students to translate and care for them. Then Brenda Steck came and have since attended to the clinic on the porch, The numbers have dwindled from 40-70 a day to a handful but still the truck goes to the hospital almost everyday and often twice a day...Brenda, Hannah and Erick Reeve are the drivers. Anna was also very busy attending to the sick and visiting in their homes.
We were redirected to the Buddhist temple and meeting hall on a hill overlooking the village. Walking up the hill we each call upon God for wisdom and His power to intervene in this our time of need.
Looking at each face in the room I discerned a few who I knew but most I could not recall seeing before. Some were warm, others as hewed out in stone...here the women seemed to be the most vocal and the men quiet and somber. Would we be asked to speak, what were we expected to say...they discussed things like keeping things clean and village improvements. Then the subject of Sunshine Orchard was entered upon, we were asked to share who we are and what our plans are, I was asked to share...soon I was interrupted and told that they want us to ask the villagers if they have been blessed by Sunshine Orchards...Paul stood up, and softly and simply asked "have you been blessed by us?" The response were strong and positive, the villagers saying that they had been blessed by being helped with their medical needs. My tears were softly trickling down my cheeks as I felt very unworthy.
It dawned upon me how God all along had known that this hour would come and when He called us to minister to the people through the right arm of the gorspel, attending to their physical needs...He knew that one day our existence and the continuation of Sunshine Orchard would depend on it.
The village leaders told the people that they needed signatures of over half of all villagers saying that they want us to continue the work we are doing at Sunshine Orchards and for the school to stay...
They said that votes had already been made in Mae Salit, Doh Wah, on the mountain and that Mae Salit Noi had been left to make the final decision as they are our closest neighbors.
Paul simply asked them if they want us to stay, bowing my head in silent prayer not wanting to look and embarrass anyone not wanting to support us, It was clear that the whole crowd had raised their hands in favor and rushed to their feet to sign the papers.
Today while you our friends, family and partners in ministry get ready to settle down for the evening and a night of sleep the village heads are going door to door entering every home in this large village to give their answer for us or against us...will you please loose some sleep and join us in prayer?
On November 14, there will be a government meeting, the villagers votes will be presented to the government. We are told that there are two government leaders who do not like us and would like to see the school closed down. But if there are enough villagers who want us we will be able to stay and we will be able to do anything we choose on the river property, building etc. as well as carrying forth the work God has given us to do in peace.
Some in government say that we have too much land and that we don't need this much property for the school...
We need your prayers today and through the next few weeks.
The river property was originally set aside as a special project dedicated to be used for the benefit for the local people and if the local people do not think that the property is used to benefit them, it will be removed from us and given to the Buddhist community to use.
They can probably not take the whole property away from us but take possession of the original buildings that are in the heart of the property and they can have the school shut down.
Thank you for joining us in prayer!
Exodus 14:14 "The Lord shall fight for you and Ye shall hold your peace"
1 Timothy 2:1 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
We have confidence in that God will work all things out for good and that He has a plan and that in His plan there are to be many of the older generation added to His family in the near future. Will we be granted freedom to continue the school and ministry, we will need a new chapel. At this time we can not fit all into the chapel for worships and on Sabbaths latecomers have to stand on the stairs or listen from the outside. Please remember this need in prayer as well.
May God bless each of you with much love from the Adams family and team at Sunshine Orchards
Our God is so mighty and great and there is nothing He can not do!
We praise God for answered prayers. The local government leaders came to share the good news that we are loved, welcomed and wanted and have the government permission to use the land as the villagers voted for us!
The leaders actually went to all the homes in each nearby village asking if they wanted our school to remain here and if they had received a blessing by us being here. As they needed help in completing the huge task, our teachers were asked to assist them in going door to door getting signatures.
We are extremely grateful for your prayers and to God for His unfailing faithfulness.
May His love and peace be with you all,
Paul and Lena
So much is happening, but what would be interesting to you...I will just share a couple of things that come to mind. We have been in Chiang Mai the last few days, came up here for Timothy's doctors appointment which is something we have to do regularly. Since the Spina bifida surgery they keep a pretty close eye on him, monitoring him for signs of loss of bladder, bowel control and paralysis of his lower limbs which will necessitate another operation.
We found a Thai language school for Anna to attend. It was not without difficulty and some anxiety that we have decided to have her attend school in the city...God is faithful and we just learned that there are several other missionary couples/families who are attending at the same time!
She is heading up here today...Emily will stay with her for the first month as she is attending a Swedish Massage School and is working on a special project for God which necessitates a commitment of time.
A missionary family who are going to take Thai lessons at the same school have offered for Anna to stay with them next month as the Lord leads.
Anna is leaving her little "family"behind...Kay Ghee a teenage girl crippled by arthritis, Naw Bee Dah 5 years old (who has recently had many surgeries), Vah Nay Pah 9 years old, Naw Mu chet 6 years old. Mu Jel Htoo's Anna's best friend will care for them. They all call Anna Meh which is mother in Thai...
Our new baby girl Hser Hser Paw is such a blessing, Paul wanted to change her name to Little miss sleep sweet...most Karen names have a meaning, the meaning for Hser Hser Paw is Sweet sweet flower.
Emily and Maria made me promise them to not take another infant as they felt this would be too hard on Paul and me. But I can with a clear conscience say that I did not break my promise. Thus it was that I received a phone call from my kind and thoughtful husband on my way over the mountains heading from Chiang mai where Naw Bee Dah had gone through another surgery. We were getting close to Mae Sot two hours from home..."are you sitting down?" "Yes, I'm driving" The glee in his voice kept me from alarm "We are parents" "Yes, I know we are parents" "We have a baby girl, please pick up baby clothing, infant formula and diapers" "What a baby? How old is she?""Two months and she is very sweet" He proceeded to tell me that the father abandoned the baby and the mother had died. Paul told us later that he will take in any baby that is abandoned or orphaned, thus I'm without guilt.
Little Hser Hser Paw is amazing to us in that she is sleeping most of the night, around 6pm she want to sleep and she is hungry around 8pm then she sleeps all night until 4am when hungry, she drinks her milk and proceeds to sleep tip around 6am but is just as happy as can be and not hungry for some time. She is fat and healthy add to happiness in our home, everyone want to hold her, cuddle her and be with her...
Maria and Jordan is having their third child after only six months of marriage... Jabez is four, Jesse is 9 months old and Maria is due in March. Both Jabez and Jesse are unusually happy and content, Jabez is very obedient. Maria and Jordan are doing a wonderful job being parents. We praise God for bringing them together.
May God bless and keep you all, much love from our family,