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Aquire Peace and Thousands Around…

What an incredible four months it has been. After living through the cool Thailand winter together for the last few months, we have all gotten to know each other quite well here at The Life Center. As we enjoy our last week together before graduation, I am reflecting on what I have learned this year.

Even among such a wonderful group, I have found myself asking for forgiveness, and retreating to my home on more than one occasion. I have learned more about myself, and more about those around me through this group of students. We have no former drug dealers, no current drug users, and no thugs. Only students. However, after a few weeks, its easy to see one another flaws, and shortcomings. Although very few words are spoken there is a code of conduct in terms of disciple and devotion. In this world, washing the dishes can even becomes a competition in showing worthiness to carry on the tradition being established among these students.

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Although at times words are exchanged, the students do their best to be attentive in both mind and deed. As a North American man, its easy to see competence a common cultural value. The pressures to show thyself approved in both word and mind. However, the deep pragmatism of the people here tend to focus their attention towards actions and deeds over words and philosophy. Although any religion can be highly theoretical, the average individual is focused on the day-to-day regiment.

The challenge is on to present oneself as competent by way of resourcefulness, adaptability and mindfulness. How to acquire competence?  By finding one who demonstrates and champions these disciplines. In our North American white collar world, we tend to pass on knowledge, information, critical, and analytical skills through books, education, meetings, training and seminars. However, personal access and proximity does not always have a high priority on the value scale in our culture, but the need and the expectation of competence remains. This reminds me of the universal value of mentorship and asceticism. These are issues of epistemology and vital for those who desire to do any kind of work among people.

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I constantly run into this fact as I tend to bring in my North American values and traditions with me everywhere I go. Recently, I was teaching English, and we came across a lesson I had prepared years ago on religion. As we reviewed new vocabulary, I couldn’t help but go on and on about Christian history associated with certain words, denominations and events. As questions regarding Christian history arose, so did my excitement about the subject. So, I decided to prepare a set of new lessons specifically focused on Church history starting with the early church, through the persecutions to the ecumenical councils etc.  It was 2am, and I finished my lessons. I woke up at 6am to exercise with the students. I was ecstatic, finally, I found something that I enjoyed and the students enjoyed. Usually, I have to be interested in whatever they are interested in, even if I don’t find a personal interest in the matter. After breakfast, I drove up to Temekerlah village to print off the lesson for the day. I made it back to the center just in time to teach at 9am. I ran to the pavilion where the students eagerly awaited. I started teaching about St. Ignatius, Nero, Trajan, Rome, Martyrs…etc After about 15 minutes the students where talking and laughing amongst themselves. My patience started to thin. Students would raise their hands, ask to go the bathroom, wash their face, get a drink of water…etc. Inwardly I was furious, but I tried hard to keep my composure. Defeated, I finally asked in if the students enjoyed the teaching. One student spoke up and said, we don’t understand. I realized, it was not of interest to them. I quickly closed the lesson and returned to my home, feeling defeated, and tired. The reality sank in, that in order to be appealing, I would have to teach in a way that was important to the day to day, stories, parables, and situations.

In the end, I am learning to not focus on what I can’t control, and to focus on today. I am sure I will spend the rest of my life on the journey, but it seems like the people here have a bit of a head start.

As St. Seraphim of Serov once said, “Acquire peace, and thousands around you will be saved.”

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As we close out in our last week together, a number of students have committed to return to The Life Center in June. About six students will live here in community in order to worship together, eat together and farm together. Three other students will go on to study the Bible in Chiang Mai at various Bible schools. Others will return home to work for Compassion International, or with the Royal Project of Thailand. It’s difficult knowing all these new, budding relationships will end in a vital way. Although we remain friends, the substance found in mentorship, community and life transformation. It’s a bit sobering for me. As a comfort, I am reminded of the words of Jesus Christ,

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:31-34

Jonathan Adam

 

 

Bala Village: January 2016 “Aquaponics and Local Veggies”

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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.

-Witoon Daleethong

Bala Village: December 2015

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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

-Witoon Daleethong

Bala Village: November 2015 “Thanksgiving”

Nov 2015,

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)

 

The Life Center Feb 2016

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?

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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

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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,

Jonathan Adam

 

The Life Center 2016

I cannot believe that one month has gone by since my time in America. As usually, I had a wonderful time and have returned to a busy season at The Life Center with Tatumo, Tatupa and 11 great students!

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I must say that after two very frustrating years of groups, we are pleased to welcome a number of students who really are seeking direction, instruction and mentorship. In my 6 years of knowing Tatupa and Tatumo, I have never seen them more happy with their students, nor have I seen students quite as happy to be with them. I am excited to have the opportunity to both teach and live among some of the most amazing up and coming leaders I have met here in Thailand.

So, lets get to know this years group of students!

Worachai and Sombaht, two of the older students, decided to come and be mentored with Tatupa since last August. They also function as group leaders who assist Tatupa in all things, whether that is leading worship, being among the students, or carry out daily chores.

Jerry, a student from Tatupas village, was actually delivered as a baby by Tatupa. He comes from a very broken home, but has found his peace in living in Christian community among others.

Gwa, a student from the Bor Keaw area, is a quiet and reflective guy. He spends most of his time alone and has a huge crush on Tatu, Tatupa and Tatumo’s daughter. He has opened up over the last few weeks, but is still working to integrate into the group.

Wee and Guitar both come from Animist/Buddhist backgrounds. Guitar, and also Sombaht have both spent time in Temples as novices in the past. They have both started their journey into the Christian faith. Guitar is only 16 years old, and is very much his age! But Wee and Guitar are learning how to experience their faith and make it personal. I appreciate their bravery and willingness to open their hearts to something new and life changing.

Fah, Noo and Her are shy guys, I don’t yet know them too well but they both very young, helpful and always smiling. In fact, Her’s name in Karen, Nikomwe means “Smiley!” He is quite the athlete as well! Noo is attentive and helpful. Fah is young, I believe he is 18 or 19 years old.

Jah Rune, the oldest student in the group, comes from the farthest village from Tutumo and Tatupa’s center. He comes from a village about 3 hours away near the City of Mae Hong Son. He is diligent, helpful and praying to be an active member and participant in his village church, and an agriculturalist.

Finally, Toh the ONLY woman in the group is not only brave, but strong! She can survive among 10 energetic and very outgoing men. She is attentive, helpful and really desires to deepen her faith and be in Christian community.

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I am so privileged to be among such wonderful men and women. Please continue to pray for us as a group and a team. Pray for guidance and direction. These men and woman are not just here to learn, but to be mentored. We may, or may not extend the time frame for the program this year. Looking forward to watch how God works!

-Jonathan Adam and your friends at The Life Center

 

Bala Village: Oct 2015 “Rice Harvest”

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The harvest season is truly a special time to be human.  Not only is it a time when we are rewarded with the fruits of our labor, but also the time when we are humbly reminded of the limits of our labor.  While we must do our part to reap the product, we are ultimately dependent on conditions outside our control.  While life in the “developed” world can create the illusion that we are the masters of our own survival, our friends here in Bala village live their lives on the front lines of reality.  They have much to teach us about faith and the miracle that is a year’s harvest.  This month we look back on a season of hard work, and forward on the coming rest period, but most importantly we thank God for the rain and sunshine that will feed this community for another year.

The following is an update from Dara, Witoon’s sister, sharing some details of a Lahu rice harvest.  (scroll down for English translation)

เดือนตุลาคม เป็นเดือนแห่งการเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิต เก็บข้าวโพด เกี่ยวข้าว เป็นเดือนที่ชาวบ้านยุ่งกับการเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิตของตนเอง เมื่อข้าวโพดแก่แล้วก็ต้องรีบเก็บไปขาย เพราะถ้าทิ้งไว้นานต้นก็จะล้มแล้วจะทำให้เก็บยากมากขึ้น ยิ่งกว่านั้นชาวบ้านต้องการข้าวโพดที่มีความชื้นน้อยที่สุดเพราะถ้ามีความชื้นน้อยจะได้ราคาที่สูง ส่วนข้าวนั้นก็เหมือนกับข้าวโพด เมื่อข้าวเริ่มสุกก็ต้องรีบเกี่ยวข้าว เพราะถ้าไม่รีบเกี่ยวก็จะทำให้เมล็ดข้าวตกหล่นง่ายจะทำให้ได้ผลผลิตไม่มาก นอกจากนี้เมื่อเกี่ยวข้าวเสร็จแล้วก็ต้องตากข้าวที่เกี่ยวทิ้งไว้ที่นาอีกประมาณ 2-3 วันเพื่อให้ข้าวนั้นแห้ง จากนั้นถึงจะเริ่มตีข้าวได้ ในช่วงเวลานี้สิ่งที่ชาวบ้านกลัวมากที่สุดคือฝน เพราะว่าถ้าฝนตกลงมาจะทำให้ข้าวที่เกี่ยวทิ้งไว้เกิดความเสียหาย เช่น ข้าวจะเริ่มงอกใหม่ และถ้าข้าวไม่แห้งก็ตีข้าวไม่ได้ จะเห็นว่าเดือนนี้สิ่งที่ชาวบ้านต้องการคือแสงแดดไม่ต้องการฝน ดังนั้นชาวบ้านจะรีบเก็บผลผลิตดแข่งกับสภาพอากาศ เห็นได้ชัดเจนว่าอาชีพเกษตรกรเป็นอาชีพที่ต้องพึ่งพาสภาพอากาศเป็นอย่างมาก

เดือนนี้วิทูรย์ได้เก็บข้าวโพดขายบางส่วน และบางส่วนเก็บไว้สำหรับ แพะ ไก่ หมู ส่วนข้าวก็เก็บเกี่ยวเป็นที่เรียบร้อยแล้ว ขอบคุณพระเจ้าที่ปีนี้ฝนไม่ตกช่วงเกี่ยวข้าว และได้มีโอกาสช่วยชาวบ้านขนข้าวโพดขายโดยรถที่ได้รับการสนับสนุนจากผู้อุปการะที่ทำให้มีโอกาสได้รับใช้

“October is the month for harvesting corn and rice.  All the villagers are busy in their own harvest.  When the corn is ready for sale, we must rush to pick it because, if not, the corn stalks will fall down and be hard to harvest.  Moreover, the villagers want the corn to be dry because it will get a better price at market.  Like corn, if the rice is ready, we must rush to harvest it.  If not the rice grains will drop easily and will not get a large amount.  Next, after harvest we must leave the rice stalks in the sun for 2-3 days to make then dry. After that we will thresh it with a machine to separate the seed from the stalk.  At this time the villagers will worry about rain because if it rains, all the rice will be lost.  For example, the rice will start to sprout, and if the rice is not dry we cannot thresh it. This month the villagers want the sunshine, but they don’t need rain. So, they will hurry to harvest in a race against the rain. The life of a farmer is always dependent on the weather.

This month, Witoon sold some corn and kept the rest for the goats, chickens and pigs.  Our rice is already harvested.  We thank God that this year it did not rain during the harvest!  Witoon also had the opportunity to help some villagers take their corn to market using the new truck.  We thank our donors for this special chance to serve our community!”

-Dara Daleethong

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Step 1: Rice is cut with a small sickle blade

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Step 2: The cut rice is laid out in the field to dry for 2-3 days.

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Step 3: The rice is collected, bundled, and carried to the threshing station.

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Step 4: Dried rice is fed through the threshing machine to separate the grain from its stalk.

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The finished product! The rice will be stored like this and milled before use.  For Lahu people, rice is life!  This harvest will feed the family, 3 meals a day, for the coming year.  We thank God for another years provision!

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We are grateful for this opportunity to use the new truck in service to the community! Here, Witoon helped deliver corn to market for villagers without access to a truck.

Bala Village: Sept 2015 “Giving Thanks”

This month’s update comes from Dara Daleethong and highlights some exciting new developments at the farm.  Please scroll down for the English translation.  Enjoy!

ในเดือนนี้ชาวบ้านเริ่มเก็บผลผลิตทางการเกษตรแล้ว เช่น ขายข้าวโพด ราคาข้าวโพดในปีนี้ถือว่าดี เป็นช่วงที่ชาวบ้านเริ่มมีรายได้หลักเข้ามา ซึ่งเป็นรายได้หลักในตลอดทั้งปี แต่ชาวบ้านบางส่วนที่ยังไม่ได้ขายข้าวโพดก็ยังรับจ้างเก็บลำไย

เดือนนี้วิทูรย์ได้เชิญชาวบ้านมาร่วมงานฉลองขอบคุณพระเจ้าสำหรับรถยนต์คันใหม่และบ่อปลาใหม่ หลังจากที่ชาวบ้านได้ทำงานหนักมาตลอดหลายวัน เราก็ได้ใช้เวลาร่วมกันในการกินและพูดคุย เป็นวัฒนธรรมของพี่น้องลาหู่ที่จะมีการเฉลิมฉลองขอบคุณพระเจ้าในโอกาสพิเศษ เป็นวิถีชีวิตที่บ่งบอกถึงการมีส่วนร่วมของชุมชน เป็นการสร้างความสัมพันธ์ที่ทำให้รู้ถึงความเคลื่อนไหวของแต่ละคนในชุมชน ส่วนรถยนต์นั้น

“This month some villagers have started to their crops, such as corn.  This year, the price is good. For most, this is the main income for the whole year.  However, some villagers who are not selling corn are still picking longan.

This month Witoon invited the villagers to celebrate and give thanks to God for the new truck and the new fish pond.  After the villagers had worked for a long day, we had a good time talking and eating together. This is Lahu culture that we will celebrate and give thanks to God for a special time and blessings in our lives.  It shows the lifestyle of community participation.  It is a time to build relationships between villagers and help them know how their neighbors are doing right now.”

-Dara Daleethong

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The local government has named P’Witoon’s center as one of four demonstration farms for our subdistrict! This past month they supported Witoon’s work by digging this large new fish pond!

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P’Witoon stands by the new dam for scale. This pond will hold water for irrigation during the dry season, provide fish for the family, and serve as a nursery to stock future fish ponds throughout the community!

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Rabbits! Witoon is very excited for these new additions to the center! Rabbits are easy to raise, require low inputs, and a healthy protein source for farm families!

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Witoon has taken great care in designing this rabbit paradise.  The mystery trench from last month’s update runs along the perimeter of the rabbit enclosure. The foot of the fence is buried to keep out predators, but the trench is left unfilled so the rabbits can follow their instincts, running laps around the pen while “feeling safe like they are in a tunnel”.  The inner wall of the trench allows plenty of space for burrowing.

Here, we celebrated the recent blessings of the truck and fish pond by sharing a thanksgiving meal with the community.

Celebrating the recent blessings of the truck and fish pond by sharing a thanksgiving meal with the community.

Bala Village: August 2015

This months update comes from Dara Daleethong.  Please scroll down for the English translation.  Enjoy!

หลังจากการทำนา ชาวบ้านจะว่างงานเป็นช่วงรับจ้าง เช่นรับจ้างเก็บลำไยตามสวนต่าง ๆ ซึ่งเป็นกิจกรรมหนึ่งที่สร้างรายได้ให้กับชาวบ้าน ชาวบ้านจะออกจากบ้านแต่เช้าตรู่และขึ้นรถรับเหมาเก็บลำไยที่ผู้นำที่ได้ติดต่อสวนมารับชาวบ้าน เพื่อไปเก็บลำไย จะได้รับเงินตามปริมาณลำไยที่เก็บได้ ถ้าใครเก็บได้มากก็ได้เงินมาก ใครเก็บได้น้อยก็ได้เงินน้อย ต่ำสุดจะได้คนละ 300 บาท สูงสุดได้คนละ 500 บาท

ข้าวที่ปลูกในส่วนวิทูรย์ออกมาดีมาก และในเดือนนี้ที่สวนได้ปลูกชาเพิ่มอีกประมาณ 4,000 ต้นซึ่งได้ปลูกชามาหลายปีแล้วแต่ละครั้งที่ปลูกจะประสบปัญหาความแห้งแล้งเพราะไม่มีน้ำเพียงพอ จึงทำให้ต้นชาส่วนมากที่ปลูกไว้ตายแต่ปีนี้ขอบคุณพระเจ้าเพราะว่าพื้นที่ที่ปลูกชานั้นมีต้นไม้ใหญ่หลายต้นที่สร้างร่มเงาให้กับต้นชาได้ หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่าปีนี้ชาที่ปลูกไว้จะทีโอกาสรอดสูงกว่าปีที่ผ่าน ๆ มา และขอบคุณพระเจ้าสำหรับความเมตตาที่ได้ประทานรถยนต์ ISUZU SPARK4x4 ให้ ซึ่งจะเป็นรถที่ใช้สำหรับขนกล้วยขาย โดยรถคันนี้จะเป็นส่วนหนึ่งในการับใช้ที่สร้างรายได้ให้กับชาวบ้านเหมือนอย่างที่พระเจ้าได้อวยพระพรผมเพื่อที่ผมจะได้เป็นพระพรให้กับผู้อื่น และให้เห็นถึงความยิ่งใหญ่ของพระเจ้า ดังที่กล่าวว่า“ขอให้เรายึดมั่นในความหวังที่เราทั้งหลายเชื่อและรับไว้นั้นโดยไม่หวั่นไหว เพราะว่าพระองค์ผู้ทรงประทานพระสัญญานั้นทรงสัตย์ซื่อ” (ฮิบรู 10: 23)

“After planting rice, the villagers are free and can find work picking longan* for other farmers. This is an activity which makes a good income for them.  After contacting a longan farmer, they will be picked up by truck in the early morning for a day’s work down in the valley. The villagers will get money depending on how much longan they can pick. If they can pick a lot, they get a lot of money, but if they can pick little, they receive little.  However, at minimum they will get 300 baht per day (10 US dollars) and 500 baht maximum (17 US dollars).

The rice in Witoon’s farm is growing very well!  Moreover, this month we planted around 4,000 tea trees!  Actually, we have planted tea trees almost every year but because of the hot weather and lack of water, most seedlings die.  Thank God that this year we could plant in an area with a lot of big trees to make shade for the tea plants.  We have hope that many tea trees will survive this year.  Moreover, I would like to thank God for his mercy.  He gave us a new ISUZU SPARK 4×4 pickup for carrying bananas to market! This truck will serve people by providing income for the villagers.  As God has blessed us, we hope to be a blessing to others, and to see how great our God is.  As the verse said, ‘Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise.’ (Heb 10: 23)”

-Dara Daleethong

*Longan are a large cash crop here in Northern Thailand.  While these small fruits are eaten fresh during the picking season, most are peeled, pitted, dried and sold to the Chinese market for use in traditional Chinese cuisine and herbal medicines.

The beautiful rice fields!

The beautiful rice fields at the Highland Sustainable Development Center!

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The new truck perfect for Witoon's needs as he serves his community!

The new truck is perfect for Witoon’s needs as he serves his community through agriculture!

This table really exemplifies Witoon's vision for his center:  Family and friends sharing in the bounty of the farm and forest, a celebration of Lahu local wisdom, and satisfaction with what God has provided.

This table really exemplifies Witoon’s vision for his center: Family and friends sharing in the bounty of the farm and forest, a celebration of Lahu local wisdom, and satisfaction with what God has provided.

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Stay tuned for next month’s update…

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to discover the purpose of this mystery trench!?

Bala Village: July 2015

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This month’s update comes from Dara Daleethong!  Scroll down for the English translation. Enjoy!

ขอบคุณพระเจ้าสำหรับสายฝนที่ตกลงมาอย่างต่อเนื่องต้นข้าวโพดทีแคระแกรนได้กลับฟื้นขึ้นมาใหม่ทำให้ชาวบ้านมีความหวังมากขึ้นไม่ใช่แค่ข้าวโพดเท่านั้นกล้วยเมื่อได้รับน้ำทำให้ได้กล้วยที่ใหญ่น่ากินอีกด้วยทั้งนี้สิ่งที่สร้างความดีใจให้กับชาวบ้านได้มากที่สุดคงหนีไม่พ้นการได้ทำนาหลังจากได้เตรียมนาไว้ดังนั้นเมื่อฝนมาชาวบ้านจะยุ่งกับการปลูกข้าวทุกบ้านจะเร่งปลูกข้าวให้เสร็จเพราะเป็นช่วงที่ต้องทำนาแล้ว ดังนั้นชาวบ้านจะช่วยกันปลูกข้าวของแต่ละคน วันนี้ปลูกของฉันพรุ่งนี้ปลูกของเธอเรียกว่าการเอามื้อเป็นการแลกเปลี่ยนแรงงานในการปลูกข้าวเมื่อมองไปที่นาแต่ละแห่งจะเห็นต้นข้าวที่ปักลงในนาเป็นที่เรียบร้อยและรอผลผลิตที่จะได้การทำนาเป็นเรื่องสำคัญมากเพราะเราจะปลูกข้าวไว้เพื่อกินสำหรับ1ปีเพราะฉะนั้นเราจึงต้องทำนาทุกปีและชาวบ้านต้องการกินข้าวใหม่ที่อร่อยเป็นปีต่อปีเพราะข้าวเป็นอาหารหลักที่สำคัญที่สุดสำหรับชาวบ้าน

ส่วนวิทูรย์ปีนี้ได้ทำนาทั้งสองแบบคือการดำนาและการทำนาโยน เพราะต้องรอฝนถึงจะไถนาและเตรียมนาได้ดังนั้นเมื่อฝนตกจึงต้องรีบเตรียมพื้นที่ทำให้ไม่สามารถทำนาโยนได้ทั้งหมดพอดีกับที่ชาวบ้านเหลือกล้าข้าวจากการปลูกเราจึงได้กล้าข้าวฟรีและชาวบ้านได้มาช่วยกันดำนาให้กับเรา ส่วนพื้นที่ที่เหลือก็ได้ทำนาโยนเมื่อย้อนดูเหตุการณ์ต่างๆ ที่เกิดขึ้นทำให้ได้รู้ว่าพระเจ้ารักและไม่เคยทอดทิ้งเรา และมีเวลาของพระองค์เสมอดังที่ในพระคัมภีร์ได้กล่าวไว้ว่า “มีฤดูกาลสำหรับทุกสิ่งและมีวาระสำหรับเรื่องราวทุกอย่างภายใต้ฟ้าสวรรค์” (ปญจ 3:1)

“We thank God that the rain has come and the corn is no longer stunted. This has given the villagers a renewed hope for the harvest.  Not only has the corn recovered, but the bananas are also big and delicious to eat. The villagers are very happy because they have finally had enough rain to plow their rice fields and plant rice.  Every household hurried to finish planting their rice because it is already long past planting season.  Everyone works together to share in the rice planting.  It is an exchange of labor, so, if today we plant my rice field, then tomorrow we plant your rice field.  If you visit our rice fields now, you will see all are planted and waiting for the harvest in November!  Planting rice is very important because we need it to feed our family for a whole year.  We look forward to delicious new rice year after year because it is so important to our diet and culture.

This year, Witoon had the chance to plant rice by two methods; the traditional transplanting method and the newer throwing method.* Because the rains were so late this year, Witoon could not prepare enough seedlings to use the throwing method for all of his fields.  Thankfully, he was given rice seedlings by another villager that were left over after planting. Then, they came to help plant the rice as well! For the rest of the rice field he will throw the seedlings. When we look back, we can see that God always loves and never abandons us; he has a time for everything.  As the verse says, “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.”(Ecc 3:1)”

-Dara Daleethong

*For those of you interested in the finer points of rice planting:  Traditional planting involves the manual transplanting of 3-4 week old rice seedlings in the flooded paddy fields.  Using the throwing method, we start the seedlings in shallow trays and transplant at 2 weeks by throwing them like little darts into the mud.  This method is gentler on the young roots and on our backs!

These new terraced rice fields have been carved out of the hillside entirely by hand!   Here, Witoon and his neighbors work to level the paddies and prepare the soil for planting.

These new terraced rice fields have been carved out of the hillside entirely by hand! Here, Witoon and his father work to level the paddies and prepare the soil for planting.

Jon loves to plow the rice fields!

Jon loves to plow the rice fields!

Everyone comes together to share in the planting.  It's hard work but great for building community!

Everyone comes together to share in the planting. It’s hard work but great for building community!

"Throwing" Rice

“Throwing” Rice