Dear Support Family,
Greetings to you all from soggy Chiang Rai. It’s been unbelievably wet this year. Rain, rain, and more rain. Of course, flooding has struck in the central plains and to some degree in some of the Northern lowlands as you may have read. Though we here in Chiang Rai are not submerged yet, it feels like the river bank could overflow any moment. Everything is slippery and mouldy and soggy. This year we went straight from the cool season in late February/early March to the rainy season with regular rains starting in late March. The good news is that is has not been so hot – which these parts are known for in the months of April and May. Also, the uncontrolled burning and smoky air typical of the dry season never took place. So we are thankful for that.
One result of all this rain - or at least a partial result - is the slow pace of our building project at the Family Learning Center’s new campus. It was my hope, as part of the building committee team, that we would be essentially finished by now and spending the rest of the summer tidying up, finishing the driveways, planting flowers and trees, and moving in. As it turns out, three of four planned structures are just about finished, but we are a long ways from finishing the fourth which is an assembly hall/cafeteria that also houses the kitchen, kindergarten, and PE shower rooms. Needless to say, the school will not move to the new location yet. So classes start this Fall in the same rented facility. But we plan to move into the new campus in time for the new semester in 2012.
Actually, the delay in moving might be a good thing. Funds have continued to come in from all over the world (some of you have been part of that blessing), but only just ahead of our payments. If we had been able to move any faster on the building, then we would not have had the funds to pay the builder. Please continue to pray for us on this massive project. The government officials say they are coming in early September to inspect the new facilities and we are still about US$60,000 short.
As if keeping up with MMF ministry tasks and the Chiang Rai International Christian School (CRICS- FLC) wasn’t enough, I have found myself involved in a new situation. This, I brought onto myself with absolutely no outside catalyst. Well, not quite. I am thinking it was probably God. It all started with a Sunday sermon a few weeks ago. I had spoken on Matt 25: 13-24, the passage where Jesus talks about the separation of the sheep and the goats. The message God gave me from this passage, wasn’t a message about judgement and doom. But about what it is that Christ looks for in his followers. All the things that the “sheep” were praised for in that passage had to do with compassion and love. Jesus used examples of actions that clearly showed where their hearts were. He didn’t say, “Well done, you preached great sermons.” Nor “well done, you evangelized 100 people” or “cast out demons”. All of those are good things, but those are not the examples he used. Instead Jesus said, “You clothed the naked, you gave drink to the thirsty, and shelter to the homeless”. Wow. Have you ever thought about that? Jesus is concerned about our hearts. Do we truly love Him and do we care about his creation and his people? The other things can be done without hearts of compassion and love, but caring for the really destitute needs to be done from the heart. In preparation and delivery of that message, I felt pretty much like God had spoken to me. So it was kind of powerful - if not to anyone else, at least to me.
So what happened next? On my way to work on my bicycle one day soon
afterward, I felt compelled to stop and visit a homeless woman who has moved
into a public shelter. This is a simple little 4-post structure with benches along
the 2 sides for people to sit in while they wait for a bus or for the rain to
stop. So one day, I asked Nit, MMF’s
director, to go with me to make friends with the woman. After our first meeting, I have
stopped in to visit probably 15 times now.
Na Bu is from the Red Lahu tribe. She obviously had experienced some
serious trauma of some kind in the past.
She may have been a prostitute and she shows signs of someone who has
done drugs, though now I am pretty sure she doesn’t use anything other than
coffee and homemade cigarettes now.
Na Bu is obviously mentally disturbed. She lives in the middle of rotting food and trash that she has largely created herself. Some days it’s hard to make sense out of what she says. The faithful dog that stays with her has become her hero and sometimes her god. She talks of conflict with others including royalty and celebrities. But I am convinced that with some care and regular medication, she will be able to get out of this situation. It doesn’t appear that she has any family to take care of her and the government social services haven’t found her, so I’m feeling like God has given me the task of befriending and possibly helping this woman to teach me something – though I am not sure what. We’ll just have to wait and see what that is.
It seems that my letters always have a story of someone who has experienced crisis in their lives. Some of you may remember Jee May and A Pae, two people I have mentioned in previous letters. They are both doing really well now. In fact Sam and I just stayed in a house with Mijum’s family, the woman who looks after A Pae and A Pae is already speaking to me in Thai. And she’s playing like the little girl she is! Wonderful. Thanks for your prayers.
Once again, thanks for being a part of our lives and partnering in serving the Lord in Chiang Rai. You are a blessing. I continue to pray that we can, in turn, be a blessing to others. Thank you!
Scott and Tan Coats