Thailand Newsletter #5
Leigh Anne: As the F.A.I.T.H. conference commenced on Monday, several of us helped Don set up as attendees arrived. As soon as they were registered with properly spelled nametags (quite a task in itself!) and had received their packet of materials, the conference was off and running.
Chandler, Cindy, Rusty, Susie, three Burmese caregivers and I alternately entertained ten precious little children. We started out playing with the children in the large hall on the third floor of the hotel. After a hotel guest complained of the noise, we were sent to the fourth floor soon to be booted to the top floor of the hotel, a rooftop floor with a beautiful view that overlooked the city of Mae Sot. After a morning of songs, Bible stories, puppet shows and anything else we could think of, Susie drove us through the downtown area of Mae Sot. Of course, because of the water festival, the children and the Burmese caregivers who sat in the back of the truck were soaked to the bone by the time we returned to the hotel. Chandler, Cindy and I were not too keen on getting wet so we safely sat inside the truck. After an afternoon of swimming in the pool (a first-time experience in a pool for most), the children were exhausted and all piled in one hotel room to take a nap. Ten little bodies, sleeping on three twin-sized beds was quite a sight to behold--what a luxury for those who normally sleep on floor mats in homes with no air conditioning in this blazing heat.
On Wednesday, the last day of the conference we looked up to see one of the conference attendees with his five-month-old baby. I asked if he would like to leave him with us, but he shook his head no. No diaper bag or list of care instructions, not even a word but simple trust in our ability to take care of his little one. And what a sweetheart! We couldn’t help but adore his plump arms and legs, his beautiful full lips, almond shaped eyes, and unceasingly calm demeanor. It was sad to say goodbye to all our little friends especially our little baby.
On Thursday we visited Burmese refugees that live in a shantytown just a few minutes from our hotel. The town was built on the river around thirty years ago on a small slice of land that floods so often that it cannot be used by the owner for anything else. He rents the land to these people for $3.00 a year per household. Lean-tos made of corrugated/particle board houses about 125 people. Months ago, Rusty coordinated our visit with the American missionary couple who live on the property. While Rusty, Tracey, Don and Priscilla played games outside with one group of children, Cindy taught the children about proper hygiene. Chandler, Rhonda and I taught the story of Jonah and the whale, and shared the story of creation from the wordless child evangelism fellowship book. Chandler then shared the gospel using the Evangecube—a seven-picture cube “puzzle”. When we asked if anyone would like to accept Christ, a young girl raised her hand. As our Burmese translator prayed the prayer of salvation with her, she invited Jesus Christ into her heart. It was such a thrilling opportunity to share the truth about God’s love and forgiveness with these sweet children!
Tracey; I’d like to share two humbling moments. On Tuesday afternoon I was doing street evangelism in a small hut community and my team approached a young lady returning from her mile walk to get fresh drinking water, what made it special was she was 8 months pregnant and it was 100 degrees outside. We spoke to her in the road and she accepted Jesus Christ…..while that is special it gets better. She offered to finish her walk and show us where she lived. Her husband was home so my team again used our newly learned FAITH training and spoke to him as well. As we were presenting to him she poured us all a large cup of water. I did not have the heart to drink from the gallon of water that she walked in 100 degree heat a mile to purchase. She needed that water more than we did! Her generosity was touching.
These people live in huts with walls of cardboard and plastic bags but were so inviting and shared with us what little they had without hesitation. Another humbling moment was after spending the morning with the children in the Shantytown on Thursday. Once we sent the children on their way, an elder came back with several large bowls of a sweet warm soupy treat for all of us. Again, so much generosity and appreciation from these people. Oh, and the pregnant mother I mentioned (this was her first child) had not one thing in her home that suggested she was about to have a baby. In fact, the babies and small children in the Shantytown do not even have diapers! Believe me, just pick one up and you can tell. These people have nothing, but give everythingJ