The group of "distinguished visitors" gathered for the celebration
The school established by American Baptist missionaries
Looking out from the village
Back towards the end of the cool season here in Thailand, I accompanied a few of my Karen Baptist brothers to a church celebration in a village north of Chiang Mai. I stayed at the pastor’s home, and as we arrived, he was working on finishing a picnic-style table where we could all gather and dine together. It’s as if I have entered a different country. I didn’t meet an individual there who spoke Thai as a first language. The school in the village (Mae Pakhee) was started by American Baptist missionaries, and eventually turned over to the government. While staying just one night, I was given the privilege of sleeping in a little area that was open on the upper floor of the house. The evening is simple. You eat dinner, you go for a walk up to the church, where you gather for worship with others in the village. This is a celebration. The church is celebrating its 45th anniversary. And we worship together. Following worship, we make our way back to the pastor’s house, and settle in for the night. With no furniture, except for the picnic-style table, it is simpler to head for bed, as you know that the morning will come early. As I drift off to sleep, I’m occasionally wakened by the crying baby, or the dogs barking, or the roosters crowing, or the pig snoring. Yep, the pig snores. I thought it was amusing at first, and then I was thinking about bacon.
In the morning, we head to worship at 6am, and it’s a bit chilly. As I sit there, praying and listening, I find myself a bit overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness to these people. Though the world (my world) would see them as abandoned, they know God’s presence, power, and faithfulness in the midst of what we would consider hardship. I am humbled by the joy with which they live everyday life.
Following worship, we headed to a simple breakfast of rice soup, and then headed back to the pastor’s home. We didn’t realize that the pastor’s wife had prepared breakfast for all of us as well, so, living out my inner Hobbit, I had “second breakfast.” Worship this morning would last three hours, as we celebrated the anniversary, gave thanks for God’s faithfulness in this place, and looked forward to seeing what God will do in the future. All of the past pastors were in attendance, and as I prayed for them, I was thankful for God’s calling and faithfulness in my own life. If I am honest, I was not looking forward to going on this trip. But, I am so glad I went. Even if the pig snores.
Grace and peace,