The Villagers have now begun to prepare to plant black bean seedstock as the rain has begun to fall. Thank God that there has of recent a steady rainfall after 2 months of waiting for the rain. Many villagers are thankful for the rain because this year the rain came late. Last weeks villagers in the Banana group were able to sell about 900 Banana’s combs at 4-5baht a comb. Last January we had a devastating hail storm that not only destroyed many of our crops, but also destroyed roof’s and killed a man in WiangPaPao. This year most of the bananas planted by the Spring Semester in Thailand group have suffered due to the hailstorm. But by the grace of God the Bananas in our fields have begun to heal, and we believe that by next year we should have a more stable harvest. In January students from St. Olaf group helped to prepare trestles for passion fruit. We are excited to note that the passion fruit is healthy and growing. Due to the heavy rain, clearing the farm of weeds has been a top priority, especially around the Coffee that I have planted. Please continue to pray for the work of Jon and myself and everyone who contributes and has contributed in our service to the villagers. We believe that everything that has come to be is indeed the plan of God.
This month we had the opportunity to hear from Busajoe village located deep in the mountains of Mae Hong Son. Busajoe is a very under-resourced Christian village, and in the past they did not have water, bathrooms or even adequate farming equipment. The villagers have been praying for many things including a local missionary to come and be their pastor. They have such strong faith and ask God for their every need. When my students and I visited two years ago, we built a church in the village, this year my students and I visited to pray and worship with the villagers. We heard their stories, heard their pleas and we prayed with them. We are pleased to hear that now they have a watertank at the church that provides water for every house. An organization came in recently and drilled a well and provided miniwater tanks for each home. Villagers from Teemekerlah joined together to provide bathrooms for each house. I received a phonecall from a villager that told us that God had answered their prayers, and God alone provided their needs. This village is still praying for a pastor to come and teach the bible, how to play the guitar and how to worship. The villagers of Busajoe have asked that we join them for worship next month. We ask for you to join us in prayer. We are reminded that our God is an awesome God, and He thankfully is our provider.
Tatupa and Tatumo
In June and July, Tatumo and I went to join our friends in the rice fields. We went many days, and helped each other in the fields. Every time we took a break I noticed almost all of my friends, 3-4 that were with us, would smoke so much. So I told that smoke is dangerous, you must use a lot of money, and it is dangerous for those who are around you. I told them that we are the tabernacles of God, and we are to honor God with our bodies. I told them that I used to be addicted to drugs as well, (of course they all remember) so I asked would they like to come and spend time in study at The Life Center? Our friends responded that they were interested in going. After rice planted was over, my friends joined me at the center for about a week. Every morning and evening we prayed. We joined together to read the bible. We went fishing, and we built a small hut. Before coming to the center these three villagers were addicted to drugs, and would go out into the jungle for months at a time and sell drugs. But by the grace of God, they were able overcome there addiction to cigarettes. After the program Tatumo and I went to visit some and our friends have come to visit us, they have gained weight, and are beginning to look healthier. Thank God that God alone can help us in our need and enable us to overcome ourselves.
Tatumo and Tatupa
What an exciting month for me! During this process of transition, I have had the awesome opportunity to meet with the Musikee Center Committee working on the Revolving fund known as The Restore Initiative. We have met together for almost a year now designing a program that will engage local farmers, encouraging and empowering them to plant fruits, vegetables, or raise small livestock. It has been more than exciting watching, learning and growing with this Committee and listening to the dreams they have for their own community to be able to make small income to help lift struggling villagers out of poverty. This committee is made up of farmers and villagers that I trust and love. We have learned a lot from our practice group who has already made profit in their own program raising pigs. In the next two weeks we will open The Restore Initiative program to villagers from Ban Den village and Teemekerlah village. All together, 13 farmers , split into 4 groups, will be engaged through this next years program. We are excited to work, worship, and serve God together holistically meeting some of our most basic needs. We hope this group model will engage fellowship and accountability, so that each individual member can meet success in their endeavors. Pray for us as we hold our first Seminar on the 2nd of October. Pray that God prepares these villagers to receive us and we to meet them. As we grow and learn together, we give God the glory.
After spending a month and a week back in the State’s I have returned to work here in Thailand. During my time home I was asked quite a few times about what daily life looks like in Thailand, for me. I pondered, but I couldn’t seem to accurately portray what my day to day routine would be, I mean I could be in one province one day traveling to another province for a meeting in the same day! But today, this day, as I look out into the lush green landscape from my porch in Galya District, Chiang Mai Province, l can’t help but think to myself, “wow, many you who will be reading this live at least 7,000 miles away…literally on the other side of the world! “ Right now it is 1:04pm here, which means that it is 1:04 am EST back in the USA. Outside, the soft sound of the rain echoes around me, the air is nice and cool and I am alone. How I long for you to be here with me, to see what I see, know what I know and experience as I experience. To be blessed by the very people we have joined together to serve. Joining in worship in a different tongue, culture and language with different customs, food and lifestyle.
To be among those who Jesus considered the blessed of God, the meek, righteous and the poor in spirit has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. As I take a minute to rest and reflect on everything that is happening now, and I smile. Just 2 weeks I was in Chattanooga, TN, visiting Covenant College, and old friends, and two weeks before that Northfield, MN struggling through my first sermon…in English! It’s hard to believe life is moving so fast. I am so thankful for each and everyone one of you that I had the opportunity to meet, pray with and chat with during my month and a week back in the States. From getting together with old friends to making new one’s I praise God for the time we spent together. I am honored to consider you all my brothers and sisters. Project: Restore has grown. The organization now stretched by nine hours of travel. For the last 3 years Chiang Mai city has been my rest area on the way from the Galaya District to the villages in Chiang Rai. This is also the location of my main office and the foundation offices at the present time. After months of painful, prayerful deliberation I have decided to move out of the village and down to Chiang Mai in an attempt to be a more effective resource for both Tatupa and Witoon. I have been stretched SO thin my two main ministries, one being in the mountains and my ministry of networking and resourcing Witoon and Tatupa, connecting with supporters and coordinating with the main office. This is by far the hardest decision I have had to make since being in Thailand. I love the villagers and I love Tatupa and Tatumo as my surrogate parents here in Thailand. To leave them is to leave a piece of my heart. I really feel that this is God’s leading and I am praying that God honor this decision and the sacrifice to move out. I ask for your prayer and I am so thankful for those of you who have prayed with me and for me through this process. I have spent almost my entire Thailand experience with the hill tribe people, living life with them and working to resource them. The longer I am in the villages the harder it has been to maintain effective contact with both problems equally. This is no longer about just my own personal adventure; this now must be to be faithful to what God has called me to do here in Thailand. I will still be up in the villages every month, but on scheduled visits. Anyway’s these are my thoughts, but this is also reality! Join me as I move to the next stage of life, as I travel between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. This means I will be more regularly engaging with you, updating you on the project’s progress and hopefully getting some more pictures, and video’s up! Please bear with me through this transition process!