This Friday our team packed and piled into a Song-tao to travel with the New Life guys to a remote hill tribe village in northern Thailand! We spent several hours driving and on the way celebrated our team leader's 50th birthday! What a place to celebrate!
Upon arriving at the top of the mountain we came to an understanding just how "remote hill tribe living" was going to look like. They set us up in the guest house - a wooden plank shack built up on the side of a steep ravine. It was so beautiful up in the mountains and the view was stunning! We explored for a bit and walked through some of the nearby village where we were invited into someone’s home and had the opportunity to pray for them! After cleaning up a bit and settling in we piled back into the trucks and made our way through the mountain tribe area, finally reaching another "nearby" church.
Once there we joined in praising God for bringing us all together in the greatness of His mercy. Afterwards we heard some testimonies, and then a message was preached by our very own Pastor Ad (keep in mind that it was all translated from Karen, Thai, and then sort of into English as a few of the guys and our translator tried to translate for us as the pastor was saying the next phrase, without being too loud to distract all the others gathered - they did a great job through the difficult situation). Many hours into the night we finally closed in prayer and where going to leave when an older woman from the tribe came running to collapse at the feet of Pastor Ad. It took a minute to get translations through but she had a very badly hurting leg and wanted prayer. So Pastor Ad grabbed myself and another and then we all laid hands on her and prayed for the healing of her leg. It was incredible - this woman knew God's
healing power and came Running to receive prayer - and she got it in 3 languages at once! Even though we all spoke different languages the spirit was upon us and agreement with each other wasn't even a second thought. A few minutes later the woman thanked us with tears in her eyes, joy in her heart, and praise upon her lips as she walked away healed! Praise the Lord for His healing power that old women come running to receive, and let this continue throughout our ministry here in Thailand!
Saturday we woke up early to prepare for a day "camp" for the village kids! It was exciting because the 8th of January is a national holiday that the Thai celebrate called, Children's Day! We found out just how much was expected of us as over 100 children showed up to spend the next six hours in our care! We split them up into four groups so that it was easier to handle and the New Life guys helped us by being "team leaders," rotating the groups so they all got to have fun doing different activity stations that we manned. There was singing, lots of games (‘duck, duck, goose’, relay races, soccer, musical chairs, etc), and face painting! Throughout the day we gathered all the kids together at few times to all sing together and to tell them some Bible stories, acting out Noah’s ark, the Christmas story, and the Good Shepherd!
That night we had church at the pastor's which we were staying and again had an incredible time joining them in worship, prayer and learning more about God as one of my teammates, Marissa, taught the sermon (it was interesting as she spoke it in English, O translated into Thai, and then the local pastor into Karen - making it very slow and we can only pray and have faith that what is said is translated correctly).
Sunday morning church came around and we did an
other skit, I shared my testimony - praying a blessing over them at the end and then the New Life guys did a song/skit as well. After Pastor Ad taught a very enthusiastic message about.. God... and then we presented the local pastor with a few gifts and thanked them and the village for having us. -We also had to explain that the Hawaiian calendar we were handing him was all ripped up on the front because a mouse had snacked on it three inches from my head in the middle of the night! Yikes! haha That last night in the village we had many "visitors" to see us off I guess- including termites all over the wall/building my group was sleeping in, a cockroach in Jacque’s bag, and our loud munching mouse! - at least they made for some good stories!
We also had an amazing time hanging out with the New Life/FCC guys! God has done such an incredible work in each of their lives. They also performed skits and songs and helped out with the kids through the entire weekend! It was so marvelous seeing them totally involved in the ministry right along with us. It was really a missions trip for them and it was cool to see how they came alive in that setting and their love for Jesus shone through in all that they did.
After the Sunday service we said farewell to the villagers, ate lunch, prayed over the pastor and his family and then loaded up to return to Abba House. While staying in the village it was so inspiring to see their hearts to serve those around them and to reach out in their community. We found out later that most of the kids we'd played with the day before were sponsored by Compassion, hearing some of their stories made my heart break, but then fill with joy knowing someone somewhere cared enough to send money for these kids to live. We also learned that the kids who weren't sponsored by Compassion, the pastor was personally paying to keep in school, clothed, and fed. This man and his family have literally been Pouring out all that they have and more to this village, and they are still in such need. The Karen hill tribe area that we visited has over 1,000 people, of which only 30% have been reached and have heard the Gospel. That's still 700 people who haven't heard of Jesus and what He did for them, and how much He Loves them!!! The pastor there needs help, he's asking for people who can sponsor kids, support his family and ministry, and he's also opening it up for someone to teach English for 3 or 6 months will all room and board covered, there's just no salary. He asked us to make his case heard and we are praying that by being the body of Christ we can fill these needs as it should be. Please pray about helping meet the needs of this pastor as he works to reach all the peoples of the Karen hill tribe, with God and the few other pastors he has discipled up there. Pray for all the people that came to the church services, and the kids that we spent the day with on Saturday, that they will continually be reminded of what they heard and that they will truly know and embrace the love Jesus has for them!