Chiang Mai Outreach #1
On Sunday, we spent our last morning in the Mae La Refugee Camp spending time with the community and fellowshipping with them. A group of us were put in charge of teaching the children at the last minute and I was able to teach some kids that were around the age of 12. I used some of our VBS materials to tell some stories and had the opportunity to share my testimony with the kids. After Sunday School, we went to their Sunday worship service and were welcomed to sit up on the stage as a whole team. It was very interesting to watch how the people interacted with the church service and with each other. Dan preached a sermon on Jonah and it was surprising how engaged the people were even though they were getting the sermon second-hand through a translator. After church, we were fed lunch and then we got on the road to travel to Beung Klung.
We got into Beung Klung around 11 pm and quickly tried to get our mosquito netting and beds together, so we could get a good night of sleep. Our host was so kind and fed us an amazing breakfast and then we quickly left in trucks to travel to Lay Tong Ku, which is a small village about an hour away from Beung Klung. The whole team traveled in the bed of two trucks for an hour to get to Lay Tong Ku. The drive there was absolutely amazing and it felt like we were driving through a scene in “The Jungle Book”. When the staff had told us that we would be staying in the jungle on our road trip I didn’t believe them until the drive to Lay Tong Ku. That drive was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. To be able to just put aside all of my fear and to just experience what was going on around me. It was one of the first times that I didn’t let my fear get in the way of my experiences.
When we arrived in Lay Tong Ku, we were pleasantly surprised by the hospitality that the people showed us. We were staying in a medical center and some of the people that worked there already had hot water and drinks waiting for us when we got there. We found out that we would be putting on a VBS later that day, but before that we had the opportunity to go to a waterfall. This waterfall was almost indescribable. It was so incredible and we were actually able to climb up the waterfall because of the type of rock that it was. Usually rocks that have water on them all of the time are really slick, but that was not how this waterfall was. The rocks had almost a “sticky” feeling to them so we were able to climb up and explore safely. I can now say that I have taken a shower and done my laundry in a waterfall in Thailand and that is just the coolest thing. God’s creation is so incredible and it was really shown that entire day.
Once we got back from the waterfall, we found out that we would be doing the VBS a couple of hours earlier than was planned. We got changed and quickly made our way to the school that we would be doing the VBS at. We had an entire plan as to exactly how the VBS was going to go and as soon as we got there, our entire plan blew up. A lot of us were very discouraged and were having a lot of trouble being okay with the plans changing, including myself. But, as always, God took a bad situation and made the best out of it. Even though our entire plan was thrown away as soon as we got there, God used our team to throw together a VBS that was fun for the kids. The story team and I were able to share our stories that we had prepared and they were well received by the kids, which was very encouraging since nothing seemed to be going right. At the end of the VBS, we were all very encouraged and really saw God working through us to share with the children.
We had been told earlier in the day that we would be gathering with the local believers and participating in some sort of church service with them. When we got back from the VBS, we were informed that an older lady from the church had passed away that night and we were invited to go to their house and grieve with the family. We were picked up by these small tractors that had wooden beds on the back that we all sat on. When we arrived at the woman’s house, we really didn’t know what to expect, but we were told to just be there and to be ready to share at any moment. We were very surprised to see how the family and the local church reacted to the death. They didn’t seem to be very sad and we think that is because they knew that she is in a better place now.
We did the drama for the family and the local church, which then turned into many people sharing, singing, and just enjoying the company of one another. It was a really cool experience because there were so many different languages being spoken and we were able to share some songs with the family. Claudia shared her testimony and Ionela sang a song in Romanian. Dan kept encouraging us to sing songs together as a group and we stayed at the house well into the night.
Throughout these two days, our entire team saw God working in many different ways. We were all very encouraged by the end of these two days and we were ready for what God had in store for us during the latter part of our road trip. Even though there were many times that we were hot, tired, and uncomfortable, it was extremely encouraging to see how much of an encouragement we were for the family with us just being there with them. Our time in Lay Tong Ku was definitely one of my favorite parts of the road trip because we got to see God working and we were able to encourage a local church through their time of mourning.