Our farm has finished the Aquaponics house. The purpose of this project is to protect local vegetables. Nowadays, it is hard to find local/wild vegetables because a lot of chemicals are used for farming. Especially wild vegetables that grow along rivers. Villagers know these vegetables very well and really enjoy eating them. If we just eat and don’t protect them, someday these varieties of local vegetable will lost. Moreover, the next generation will lose their traditional knowledge and not recognize or even see the wild vegetables. “I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat.” (Gen 1:29) God created nature so we can cultivate it and guard it, and praise Him by caring for creation.
The villagers celebrate Christmas by caroling around the village. On the 25th, they play games and have lunch together. At night they worship and enjoy the Christmas show.
This month, we hosted a foreign team who came to study and experience Lahu life. The team did many activities around the farm such as making a sandbag dam to prevent erosion and catch rainwater, collecting fire wood, picking coffee, harvesting banana, and building the aquaponics greenhouse. They learned the process of coffee and banana, and how we can make income from the farm; all by doing! I thank God that for giving me a chance to share my abilities and knowledge with others, as well as the opportunity to learn new things from them. As this month is the month for Christmas, the scripture of hope and love I would like share is this: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16
After harvest season, this month is the month for thanksgiving (eating new rice). The members of the church will bring the best produce from their fields to offer God in the church. Next, the local church will invite other churches to join together. After the thanksgiving service, we will have lunch together. Rice is the most important in this festival because every house will cook their new rice to share at lunch time. They will talk about the taste of the rice, and ask each other about how many bags they could harvest from their fields this year. “Is it enough for a whole year?” we ask each other. Everybody wants to share their new rice with their neighbors.
A note from Witoon: I would like to thank God for the chance to welcome a team from Japan who came to learn about Lahu life and culture. I got to share my vision and work with new friends. I also thank God for the villagers who came and helped to build a new bamboo guest house at our farm. By using their ability and gifts that God has given them to share with me, I have seen their love, care, sharing, and value in what God has created. It would have been easy for them not to help me because they have lot of work to do in their own farms, but by the grace of God, they put my work first. By myself, I don’t have the knowledge and skill to build a house. Without the villagers help I would not see the new bamboo house! Through good relationships we help each other in order to serve God by each of our personal gifts. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.” (1 Co 12: 4, 11)
As the weather continues to warm up, so we as a family at The Life Center begin to grow together. I have gotten to know the students better, and have had the opportunity to spend more time than ever before at The Life Center program. Two months in and we have had nothing but harmony through out the program.
What does our day look like?
Waking up at 6:30 every morning we exercise, stretch and pray together. After prayers we break up and do our morning chores. Because I don’t have an assigned duty, I usually just plug in somewhere, helping in the kitchen, sweeping up leaves or watering the veggies. At 8:30 am we eat breakfast-with RICE, and at 9am Tatupa will begin to teach. At 11:30 am students break to eat lunch and prepare for afternoon lessons. At 1:30, I will teach English until 3pm. Students then prepare dinner and do evening chores and rest up before dinner. At 6:30pm we eat dinner and prepare for worship. By 7:15, Tatupa gathers the students and begins worship. This is not only a time of change but of real healing. As we sit around the campfire, we sing songs of praise and love. After worship one of the students has an opportunity to share with the other students about life in Christ. Although living together has its challenges, we have seen great growth in our students this year.
Service Trip to Chiang Rai
On the morning of the 22nd we gathered together in prayer for safety on our long trip to Chiang Rai Province. Students prepared their hearts and minds for a 11 hour trip to Ban Bala village, where Witoon and his family eagerly waited our arrival. In early November, Witoon decided to begin a final and massive piping project, to bring water to his center from over 4 kilometers away. Unlike our previous piping project, which brought drinking water to the center, the current project will bring water for a small reservoir located on the center property. After 11 hours in the car, we arrived at Witoons agriculture center with great excitement!
We hit the ground running, students joined Witoon and his wife Nayu in preparing a late dinner. After dinner, we worshiped and went to sleep quickly. The next day, we joined many Lahu villagers and Nate and his wife Stephanie. After two days of hard work, laughs, worship and testimonies we left Ban Bala village in good spirits, leaving with a sense of brotherhood and friendship. Witoon shared his life story, his struggles and hardships with the students as well as his victories. I firmly believe the students gained an idea of what to expect when they graduate from The Life Center.
After leaving Bala village we continued our journey northeast towards Chiang Rai the morning of the 24th to visit Tatupas younger brother Boonperm. After a night of good food, and worship we enjoyed great hospitality and a good night sleep. As we woke up in the morning of the 25th we prepared for a long trip southwest to Chiang Mai city and northwest to Musikee. Leaving Chiang Rai at 10am we arrived at The Life Center at 9pm on the night of the 25th.
As we settle back into to our lives here at The Life Center, we are thankful and remember all those who have partnered to enable such wonderful things to take place. Ahka, Lahu, Karen and Foreigners such as Nate, Stephanie and myself had the opportunity to join together in fellowship in a country where ethnic lines are clearly defined. February truly has been a challenging yet exciting month for us.
Until next time,