I wrote this message two weeks ago, but due to some internet connection problems, have not been able to send it until today. Here it is!
It’s October in Chiang Mai, and that means the rainy season is coming to an end. The rice in the paddies surrounding the city is waist high and turning yellow; it’s time for the harvest, and preparation for “winter”. While I welcome the cooler weather, it’s always a little hard for me to say goodbye to the rain, as it won’t come again to clear up the skies until late April…!
My day to day work at the New Life Center is virtually 100% administrative. Most of the time I am at our office, working on outcome management reports, developing proposals, and/or following up on a program issue or training need. But once in a while, I do get to spend time with the residents, and I just love these opportunities.
Last week I had the chance to take 8 residents out for a short hike up the Doi Suthep mountain. The base of the trail is just five minutes away from our main residential facility, and I thought it would be fun to introduce these new kids to the place and get a chance to talk together outside of the formality of their other activities. This particular trail is short, but it’s full of the lush tropical flora and fauna that is present throughout northern Thailand. On the way up, the kids stopped to pick banana shoots, long pea pods, and other types of grass and leaves that they like to eat (!) At the top of the trail, we sat on some ancient, massive rocks next to a waterfall, ate snacks, and talked together.
One by one, each resident started to ask me different questions, and they were all fully engaged in the conversation. “Jane”, a 15 year old victim of forced labor and who was almost beaten almost to death by a violent step-father, asked me the following:
“Where do languages come from? Why do we have different countries? How did God create the world? Why did God create the world? Why do we use the word “father” and “mother”? Why didn’t we choose some other sounds for this word? Why do foreigners have such funny noses, like yours? Why are there different tribal groups?”
“Nancy”, a 16 year old victim of forced prostitution and human trafficking, asked me:
“Where does the word ‘Christmas’ come from? Why do we give presents at Christmas time? Do you think I’ll be able to do well when I start school again?”
As we sat and talked together, my heart just delighted in these girls, in their questions, and in their desire for life- even though they’ve come out of such horrifying situations. I prayed that God would help me answer their questions and nourish their hearts. But I just delighted in the opportunity to sit there with them, listen to the sounds of the waterfall, and be present with them at that very special moment.
Just as we started hiking back down the trail, it started to rain- a heavy, unexpected mountain downpour. The girls grabbed banana leaves to cover their heads and we all started hiking/running down the mountain. And as we splashed down the trail, through the mud, listening to the sounds of the waterfall behind us and the rain hitting the trees in front of us, the girls spontaneously started to sing one of the worship songs they’ve learned in Thai since arriving at the New Life Center…
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases - His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning, new every morning
Great is Your faithfulness, oh God
Great is Your faithfulness…”
The sound of their voices was so precious, and I was struck by the absolute joy of that moment- that these beloved girls, who have come out of such horror, could choose to sing praises to God as they laughed and jumped and splashed down the side of the mountain in the rain.
Your faithful giving to the World Mission Offering allows me to be a witness to, and a part of, God’s work here in Thailand at the New Life Center Foundation. I pray that you also may find the joy of the living Christ, our resurrected Lord, despite whatever tragedies you have experienced in your own life.
Thank you so much for your faithful support of me and my colleagues around the world. Your gifts make a difference and result in transformed lives of many persons, including the precious residents of the New Life Center Foundation.
Blessings to you in this season and always.