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 The promise was withdrawn.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.