[Home of the Swallow - mother and baby home]
On Friday, we welcomed a new mother and baby into our home. Unfortunately for our new Mom, the road she has traveled has been less than ideal. She is only 17 years old and has a 1 year old girl. She has just been released from juvenile detention for drugs charges and has a history of being involved in gangs notorious for drug trafficking, human trafficking, crime, and prostitution. We ask you to pray for this family that they may settle into our home well, because we know that it will be a very tough time for them and they will want their freedom more than anything else. Also pray for safety and protection of this family and for God to work in Mom’s heart so that she will want to change her life and her child’s life forever. The grandmother is very sick and slowly dying of HIV AIDS, so our Mom has little to no support networks at all. Very sad life that we pray will be transformed by the loving kindness of our Lord.
[Home of the Swallow - mother and baby home]
We have been blessed by P’Ae and the PHJ [PH Japan] organization that has helped 2 of our special needs children. Somchai attends our Nursery and his parents are very poor as they work on construction sites and earn as little as $7 per day for their work as they are from the Thai Yai Hilltribe. Eh also has had problems with bone formation since he was born to Mom Song, and we are not sure whether he will ever be able to walk. He attends our Nursery during the days as well as Somchai.
The PH Japan organization has been a continual support for our 2 special needs children. P’Ae from PHJ comes to visit each month to provide emotional support to these 2 families and also financial support to attend Hospital appointments and buy special needs equipment. Last week Somchai received special walking shoes to help him be able to stand and keep his legs straight. Eh has previously received a back brace to help keep his back straight so the bones form better. We are very thankful that PHJ covered the financial burden of this to allow Somchai and Eh to develop.
PHJ also takes the families they help out on field trips and both our families were able to go to the Elephant Camp last week. All the children and parents had a wonderful time and were blessed by the fellowship and community. Everyone is very thankful for the support and blessings provided by PH Japan.
[Home of the Swallow - mother and baby home]
We want to again thank jT/ASH (Thai-Japan Association of Supporting Health and Welfare) for their generous hearts in supporting Home of the Swallow. We are thankful to receive a donation of rice, Piegeon baby bottles and baby wipes. We look forward to your visit again next month.
As the students prepared for our annual evangelism outing you could see the excitement in their eyes. During their time at The Life Center, students learn how to the basics about the bible, as well as how to play the guitar, sing songs, and share the word of God with others. This would be their first time traveling to another village and sharing the word of God with people they did not know. The Village that was chosen was Busajoe, a very remote and poor Karen village in Mae Hong Son. The Busajoe church is young and without a leader, or a pastor. So the people were eager for a visit. Along the way we stopped and snacked before heading out again. Joined by a volunteer by the name of Danielle we traveled 2 hours into the mountains before finally arriving at the village. As we visited different houses around the village we took turns sharing about God’s love, encouraging the people to continue to press on. We prayed that God would send a servant to tend to the people of this village, please be praying for them as well!
As time dwindles down at The Life Center, we have decided that this last week will be a fun week. Starting the week off at the Taemekerlah KBC meetinghall, we picked up trash as well as helped to cook food for other workers. On Tuesday we decided to go fishing! Karen style, upon reaching out destination in the woods we found a half dried creek filled with tadpoles, bugs and small fish! We fished all day and in the early afternoon we decided to settle down, and prepare for lunch. We started a fire and degutted the fish and the Tadpoles. After that we boiled water in a pot slowly adding food that we caught through out the day. Finally we added spice and our meal was finished. We ate, shared stories about the day and took pictures. What a wonderful time to spend among friends, and now family. We have grown so close in 4 months it will be difficult to leave, but all good things must come to in end in order that better things can come to light. Coming back to worship we shared testimonies of our time here, blessing one another and sharing tears. What a beautiful picture, and reminder of our unity in Christ.
As 4000 excited Karen people descended on Teameklerah Village this past week, Tatupa and his students quickly helped prepare for the visit. Tatupa was put in charge by the Karen Baptist convention of designing the meeting area that those participating could come to sit and enjoy the conference. Government officials as well as many local community leaders came to the conference, it was exciting to see so many Karen people from all over the country come and participate in a week of worship and preaching. Students worked with different area representatives to set up booths, certain areas presented issues of concern or sale outside of the meeting area. I met many old friends as well as making new friends. At our house in Teamekerlah we had about 20 people stay, and at The Life Center, another 20 people stayed for the duration of the meeting. After the meeting students, Tatupa as well as myself returned to the field to pick up trash as well as deconstruct the meeting area. Praise God for an exciting week!
Spring Semester in Thailand students had an opportunity to visit Witoon in Bala Village this past month. 29 students 2 helpers and 3 translators Mike and Ann Leming (Directors) traveled to the village on the 22nd of march and stayed until the 30th. Students in the 2012 SST group planted 500 banana tree’s alongside farmers. This year students worked hard to plant 1009 Banana tree’s with local farmers in our banana group. The students had the opportunity not only to learn about Lahu and Akha culture but also had a chance to understand the reality that many local farmers face in addition to being exposed to change in the midst of a broken world. I firmly believe that lives were changed and visions were cast by students fascinated and passionate about the world they live in. Our hope for them is that their experience could be lifechanging and eyeopening that one day they can commit their lives to serve those less fortunate than themselves! What a great week for the students and the villagers!
The Restore Initiative has been coming along wonderfully so far. Farmers in Pai, in Bala Village as well as Teemekerlah are well on their way into the program. 4 months in and Ajaan Suriya, who chose to raise chickens will be selling his 90 Chickens in late May, early June. The 5 Bala village farmers who chose to invest in Passion fruit have planted their seeds, built their trestles and await the fruits to grow. In Teemekerlah village farmers have invested in pig feed for their pigs. It is exciting to see community interest growing in all three locations, it will be great to watch this program as it grows. The local committee will meet later this month on how to better tackle some of the issues as well as add more structure to the program. The goal of this initiative is to see local farmers having the resources to begin to make a sustainable income through their existing agricultural occupations. As this small program grows we will continue to pray for God’s good guidance.
For the second year in a row, our friends from Yamagata Prefecture Japan have volunteered their time to come and join Witoon in Sustainable Agriculture Project. Whether working in the field or spending time in the village our volunteers had a chance to interact and build relationships with the local people. In the field our volunteers worked to create a dam from water slowly streaming down from the mountaintops. As most of the land has been burned and destroyed by chemicals some of the top soil has washed away. Some land cannot be used anymore because it has been utterly destroyed by overuse of chemicals and pesticides. We appricaite our dear friends visit and hope to bring more groups from Japan to join with the local farmers and work to build a more sustainable future through local grassroots initiatives like Witoon’s Community Development Project.
Students are coming up on their last few days at The Life Center. After 4 months of living together we have come to be like a family, working together, cooking together, playing together, and even crying together. This experience has been truly life changing for them as well as life changing for Tatupa, Tatumo and myself as well. After spending time learning the bible, learning English and learning life skills, students have become much more confident in themselves and also in their relationships with God. Nawgeay, which means beautiful in Karen, has experienced much growth in her walk. Upon coming to the Life Center she shared with us that Demons had tormented her for years, in the past her family would engage in animal sacrifice to the spirits, but upon coming to the local community they have come to accept Christ as their savior. Nawgeay herself has shared that her life is truly changed and she feels much closer to God. She has gained confidence and I believe she will be a future learned in her new home village of Ban Den.