After a stay at the fabulous ‘Moss’ Hotel in Mae Sariang, the group left early Thursday morning for better digs. After a early wake up call 5:30am, we visited a camp for displaced people. Despite extremely rough conditions, (no vegetable gardens, rice patties, patures for livestock and and constant threats of violence, these people showed an amazing resilance and hope in God.
One of the highlights of this visit was Noah, Deanza and Kate leading the nursery school (ages 4-6) in head, shoulders, knees and toes! The kids got a little stuck on the eyes and ears and mouth and nose part, otherwise they were very quick studies! We also toured the camp, prayed w/ the pastor and donated supplies. Though the visit lasted only a little over an hour, it left a lasty impression on the whole team.
Next we set of for M– L- refugee camp which sits on the Thai side of the Thai-Burma border. This camp was unbelievable, in terms of its size, sophistication and poverty. First of all, the camp has been there for more than 20 years and now has more than 50,000 people living there. Most of the people living there are from the Karen State, just over the boarder, however there is a broad sampling of ethnic groups from all over Burma.
At M– L- camp is the KKBBSC, or the Karen (something) Baptist Bible School and College, (sorry, I forgot what the second K stands for!) This Bible school was amazing. It boasts three different majors and more than 300 students are enrolled. The school is led by very devoted and extremely well educated men and women. David noted that their library was quite expansive, definitely besting Quest’s literary inventory. These students come from camps all over Thailand to learn. It did not seem like an easy task as they were constantly cleaning, singing, studying or in class, not having ESPN and Comedy Central probably helps one’s work ethic. After dining with some of the teachers, we settled down for a good nights sleep. Most of the noted that we slept better on the wood floor of the Bible school than at the Mae Sariang Hotel de Moss. (It just smelled too much like Tacoma, yuck…sorry if you’re from Tacoma).
This morning we awoke and were greeted by a very very good meal. I had been craving bananas, for various reasons, and sure enough there were bananas a plenty. So far today I’ve eaten four or five, I started getting loopy after the third. Additionally, there were home made DONUTS!!! As they say in Thai, we were eem! (full & happy). However, our happiness was soon replaced w/ nervousness as we immediately went to perform in front of the entire Bible school, all 300 students. When I say perform, I mean sing 3 songs, read a psalm and share a sermon. This may not sound extremely daunted for those of you gifted w/ musical talents, however in our group was a bit lacking. Thankfully, we made it through the service and the songs. David did a fantastic job of preaching out of Exodus, chapter 3. He made the correlation that because so many members of the American church do not understand true suffering, we have great difficulty understanding the heart of God. Whereas those like the Karen people who’ve endured oppresion and strife since 1949 have a truer understanding of God and His will. Good job David!
After the service we prayed w/ the handicap refugees, most victims of landmines and disease. Then we took off and arrived safely in Mae Sot. I like to call it the Juarez City of Thailand, nuf said. We had a leisurely afternoon and Western style dinner after a few meetings w/ some of the NGO’s in town. (The next time you’re in Mae Sot, check out Bai Fern and order the Bai Fern Delight Pizza. They stuff Canadian bacon and cheese inside the crust! EEM!)
And thus we arrive here at the lobby computer at the DK Hotel in Mae Sot where I will bid you adieu as I am search for some late night ice cream.
Please keep the team in your prayers. Pray for health and a shared vision.
But even more than that, PRAY FOR PEACE, HOPE AND PERSEVERANCE FOR THE KAREN!!! Karen has been under attack since 1949, yet still resist. I’m reminded of our nation’s brief stuggle w/ the British that lasted only from 1775-1786, a fraction of the time the Karen have fought for their right for peace, freedom and their ancestoral lands.
For anyone that read this far, thanks for your continued support, it is extremely encouraging to know that there is an army of people praying for our team!