As the smoky dry season has ended and we welcome the rains, the mountains surrounding Bala Village have undergone quite the transformation. The hills have exploded in green and the gray haze replaced by blue skies and puffy white clouds. It is such an incredible opportunity to be in the mountains this time of year!
Meanwhile, our work at the Highland Sustainable Development Center continues to push steadily forward in anticipation of this season’s rice planting. These initial rains, heavy at times, have washed out several of the dams in the newly dug rice fields. P’Witoon, his father, and our newest team member, Nate Tyson, have been working to rebuild and reinforce these dams as well as establish drainage channels to protect from further erosion. We are also excited to have been accepted into ECHO’s global community. For those of you unfamiliar with ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization), they are a Christian development organization offering technical resources to projects like ours worldwide, specifically in agriculture and appropriate technology! (see http://echonet.org/ for more info) Their Southeast Asian headquarters are based in Chiang Mai, where they offer numerous training seminars and an extensive seed bank of crops well suited to cultivation in Northern Thailand. We are eager to learn through ECHO’s extensive experience in tropical agriculture and hope to take advantage of further opportunities to connect with others doing similar work!
Over the past few weeks, the farm family has grown by a couple batches of baby chicks and ducklings; though neither has brought P’Witoon as much joy as his new compost-generating worms! In three-month’s time these worms will have processed our pig waste into a rich, organic fertilizer. What a testament to the fact that even on the farm, the “least of these”, the lowly worm, is one of the most essential components in a healthy, productive agricultural system!
Every two weeks, Witoon continues to deliver truckloads of bananas to market in Chiang Mai. However, we have been blessed with such bounty that he must make two trips, there and back, making for an extremely long day on the road. Despite this, P’Witoon seems to retain his usual high energy and enthusiasm. We are excited for the weeks to come and are so grateful for the steadfast prayer and support of our community at home and abroad. Thank you and stay tuned for more updates on our progress!
Thanks to God for all things
At this moment, the weather in the village is very hot. Villagers are able to work during the particular times when it’s cooler … the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. During this time, villagers begin to prepare the area in order to farm and plant rice. They also work at this time to cut grass. For this reason, there is time to go talk with other villagers. In this year, the number of families that grow corn together might be smaller because of the poor price the corn sold for last year. Many have left the village to work in the city. Some have already said that they will not return to grow corn. Working in the city, they make much more money. Witoon would also like help in praying for the village because if all the people in his age group go to work in the city, he does not know what the future of the village will be.
At the beginning of March, P’Witoon was busy building a pig pen. All month he has been busy doing many things while he and the villagers still have some free time. They have prepared areas for growing bananas, dug up banana shoots, and watered longan trees. This year longan trees have bloomed a lot (thanks be to God) but we are unable to know if there will be a lot of good fruit or not.
From March 21-30th Spring Semester in Thailand students, lead by Ajaan Mike, visited the village. P’Witoon was very happy for them to come. This year there were various activities but some routine work. With the students’ help villagers succeed in planting about 2,200 banana stems. We had a small problem on Wednesdays because about 14 students got sick, but we would like to thank God that by the last day strength, smiles and laughter returned to the students. P’Witoon is very happy with everything that happened and is thankful for everyone: Ajaan Mike and Ajaan Ann, Jonathan, and every student as well. This allows P’Witoon to be very thankful for today. Truly, thank you very much.
P’Witoon asks for prayers that God will strengthen everyone and blesses them, allowing them to be filled with happiness. He also asks that God will grant his blessing.