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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In The Secret

In 1853 a high-caste girl named Ellen Lakshmi Goreh was born in India.  Her father was an Indian preacher, and her mother died when she was just 2 months old.  She was eventually adopted by the family of clergyman W.T. Stores and lived with them in England for some time.  She later wrote a hymn called "In The Secret of His Presence" which Hudson Taylor reported was the favorite song of his missionaries in the East.

I had downloaded this song onto my mp3 player, never having listened to the words until I was two weeks into my stay in Tamil Nadu, southern India.  The lyrics came alive for me in that place, as they still do here in Thailand.

It's my belief that this is a hymn that captures the prayer of the Orient.

In the secret of his presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus' side!
Earthly trials never vex me, nor my trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go,
To the secret place I go.

When my soul is faint and thirsty 'neath the shadow of His wing;
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet:
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet,
What He says when thus we meet.

Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;
Oh, how patiently He listens! and my drooping soul He cheers:
Do you think He ne’er reproves me? What a false Friend He would be,
If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see,
Of the sins which He must see.

Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,
You must mind and bear the image of the Master in your face,
Of the Master in your face.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'll Trade Pilgrims for Pine Trees

Though there was no Macy's parade, no pilgrim salt and pepper shakers in little black hats on the table, and everyone still went about their normal business of going to work and school, nevertheless, the holiday spirit was in the air.  Who would have thought that my first Thanksgiving in this tropical country would include pine trees and goosebumps?  

Today I visited Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, or in what I think is a funnier direct translation of the Thai in the sign, the "tallest realm in Siam". Height: 2565.3341 meters, or around 8416.4505 feet above sea level.  I guess if you built up a few clumps of gravel at the top they'd have to change decimals to accurately reflect the new height.

More than this prominent claim to fame, Doi Inthanon (pronounced Doy IN-ta-noan) boasts two even more interesting features.  First, it is the only home in the world for the Green Tailed Sunbird.  We saw one of these fiery little males flitting about at the summit this morning in the chilly air (Temp: 6 C, or 42 F), but too elusive for my photographic skills so you'll have to do with this image I took from Google.  They are even more brilliant in real life.

Second, Doi Inthanon also happens to share membership with only 0.3% of the world's other land surfaces that are known as cloud forests.  The frequent, heavy clouds that roll onto the mountain cover everything in mist, and subsequently cover everything in moss, including the ancient trees with even a few pine trees mixed in for a good wintry feel.  You can read more about cloud forests here.  

This year I'm quite thankful for the opportunity to be in Thailand, and for the unique and exquisitely-crafted place God has created here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Joy

No one had more of a reason to give up than missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd (1718-1747). In the 29 short years of his life, he suffered from constant physical illness and crippling pain from tuberculosis, was dogged by severe depression, and faced extreme trials and hardships in the wilderness. And yet his life and testimony have been inspiration to hundreds of Christians daring to be obedient to God's calling.  He touched the lives of Jonathan Edwards, Jim Elliot, William Carey, Robert Morrison, David Livingston, Gideon Hawley, Andrew Murray and so many others.  Why?

He had found his source of joy.

"Such fatigues and hardships as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter.  Formerly, when I was thus exposed to cold, rain, etc., I was ready to please myself with the thoughts of enjoying a comfortable house, a warm fire, and other outward comforts; but now these have less place in my heart (through the grace of God) and my eye is more to God for comfort.  In this world I expect tribulation; and it does not now, as formerly, appear strange to me; I don't in such seasons of difficulty flatter myself that it will be better hereafter; but rather think how much worse it might be; how much greater trials others of God's children have endured; and how much greater are yet perhaps reserved for me.  Blessed be God that he makes (=is) the comfort to me, under my sharpest trials; and scarce ever lets these thoughts be attended with terror or melancholy; but they are attended frequently with great joy (p. 274)"  [Quoted from]

Friday, October 28, 2011


More than 1/3 of Thailand is underwater now.  The monsoon season that is now tapering has dumped more rain over the central plains than has been seen in the past 35 years.  Central Thailand has been affected with severe flooding for several weeks, devastating millions of acres of rice and forcing evacuation of several areas.  One person with whom I work said his wife's family was just about to harvest their rice fields when the waters rose, destroying their entire crop.  The livelihoods of many people are in jeopardy.

The waters are draining slowly to the sea by route of three large rivers that all make their way to the heart of the country, Bangkok, before exiting into the Gulf of Thailand.  You may have heard the news that Bangkok is now experiencing flooding, and it is expected to worsen tonight and tomorrow as parts of the city are being evacuated, though even some emergency shelters have been forced to close because they too are underwater.  The shelves of every market are bare as people stock up on food and water to outlast the flood conditions that, if the levees do not hold the waters back, are expected to take up residence in the city for up to one month or more.

Though I am thankful to be dry here in elevated Chiang Rai, please pray for Thailand and for the Thai people who are acutely suffering and will continue to suffer after the floods reside.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This Isn't The Movies

Today I had an appointment at the U.S. Consulate to begin the process to renew my passport.  As they only take appointments two days a week to serve every American in the northern half of Thailand, I set my date several weeks ago since I knew I was making the three-hour trip this week anyway.

In truth, I've been looking forward to this day.  To be on "U.S. soil" even here in Thailand; to step into a zone where I am no longer the foreigner, but the citizen.  Just for a bit.  

I guess I imagined it like the movies - where a crisp American flag billows out front and that navy blue passport emblazoned with the gold bald eagle is the key to open up a secret members-only world.  Where not only would those who are on the inside with me understand English, but they would understand my ups and downs as an American living in Thailand as we shared a cup of tea.  Where I could be reminded of apple pie and Thanksgiving and pumpkin spice.

Well, today was nothing short of an American experience.   Although there was no American flag out front, the dark little entrance was flanked by two Thai guards and quite a lot of bullet-proof glass.  Upon admittance to the first room, I passed through a metal detector, and my purse and paperwork were not only x-rayed, but sifted through as well.  Among the confiscated contraban was my Kindle, a mini-flashlight keychain that incarcerated all my keys by association, my cell phone, gum, chapstick, and my nametag from the conference I am attending. 

Once relieved of these dangerous items in exchange for a laminated card which assured me I would have them returned to me upon my exit, I was curtly waved through a heavy door into a breezeway where a sign instructed me to proceed through another heavy door and directly to Window 1.  More bullet-proof glass and the little dip in the counter like at the bank to slide things through to the other side of the window.  If I had been a green man-eating shark, they wouldn’t have cared less on the other side of the glass so long as I slid them the confirmation number for my appointment and my application for passport renewal. 

After a minute or two, a red stamp was applied to my application and I was told to proceed to Window 2.  One small step to the right, more glass, another counter dip.  The lady at Window 2 collected $110 from me and told me to go back out and wait at the white chairs in the breezeway until they called my name. 

A Thai TV station was airing an English travel show about Mauritania and also the Dow Jones numbers which were down.  Three Thai people were sitting a few seats away, talking in a dialect I couldn’t understand.  Over the loudspeaker, a name was called, and two of the three rose and rushed inside.  They were back out in just a few seconds with new paperwork to fill out to obtain a U.S. visa; apparently they hadn’t done it right the first time.

Finally my name was called and I proceeded to Window 3.  I was returned my old passport along with a slip of paper which I was instructed to bring back in order to retrieve my new passport in 1 to 2 weeks.  I found my way to the exit and once I was back out on the street, I found another window with a dip in the counter through which I exchanged my laminated card for my personal belongings, slid through the dip, one at a time.

Though it wasn’t the American experience I was expecting, it was American all the same: needing safety, trusting no one, and valuing efficiency over relationship.  It was a good wake-up call for me to remember that each culture comes with the good and the bad, and that if even my expectations of my own culture can be skewed, how much more I need to check my expectations of Thai culture. 

For now, I’m happy to be back out in Thailand, wreaking havoc in the streets with my chapstick and my nametag.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Migrant Workers

Check out this video from Mekong Minority Foundation about their program to encourage and assist Burmese migrant workers that come to Chiang Rai.  I love it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Just a few days short of 7 months in Thailand, I have my own sweet little space.

My first home in Thailand was with the gracious Coats family where I stayed and on whom I was completely dependent for three weeks, even while they were grieving the loss of their Dad/Grandpa.  They have been just as gracious every day since.  Then it was to a one-room dormitory where I passed my neighbor laundry man everyday on my walk to Thai class.  He was the first person to wave and try to talk with me in Thai everyday.  "Hello!  Where are you off to?"  "I'm going to study..."  Well, that was usually as far as our conversation got.  I'd like to go back and talk to him now that I can use more than a sprinkle of words.  Every Saturday morning I ate breakfast with Nit's precious family even if they had other company, and spent some quality time playing with her boys or throwing berries at each other from the tree out front.

After three months, I was blessed with the opportunity to house-sit for the wonderful Golin family who went home for the summer.  They let me take up their space and use their things, and even decrease their office by half to store my fridge and washing machine after they came back.  

And then the terrific opportunity to serve Pete and Mary as they went home to settle their last son into his first year at college.  Watching their home and dog was a close as I've been to really "home" here yet.  They have taken me into their family and lives and I am blessed by them everyday, even in their absence.

And everyday so thankful for the opportunity to be here.  I am so thankful for each of you who support me regularly or irregularly, and all of you who pray and follow my journey here.  And now I'm looking forward to this new chapter and everything it will bring...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Turn Left At The Pineapple

The building address system here remains a profound mystery to me.  A sprinkle of numbers and slashes, a few unpronounceable words, some commas and dots and abbreviations, and you've got an address.  Trouble is, it does little to help you actually figure out where your house is located on the planet.

Business cards here don't have the address of their establishment, they have a map drawn on one side.  See, because in order to get anywhere, you have to know how to get there from somewhere else.  Your friend doesn't tell you how to find their house with an address.  (You can't Google Map it anyway.)  They'll casually explain, in their normal everyday voice, "You know that coffee shop where we stopped last week after going to the bed sheet store?  Well if you go from there down the street opposite from the clock tower, keep going straight until you see a large pineapple and turn left.  You'll pass a shop selling tires [they failed to mention that there are two shops selling tires caddy-corner to each other] where you turn right about half way before you get to a video rental place.  My house is about 400 meters down and has a purple gate [matching the gates of several neighbors]."  

Right.  All I have to do is figure out where the bed sheet store was, retrace my steps back to the coffee shop, and start looking for pineapples and tires.  Oh yeah.  The bed sheet store is around the corner from the noodle shop where we went that one time...

So, I am filled with wonder when that little red metal box attached to the outer surface of the gate in front of the house is not empty.  Mail.  How on earth did it know to turn left at the pineapple?

Today, as I pulled up to the house I am watching for another week, I noticed with astonishment a manilla envelope peeking out of their red mailbox.  I unpacked my car from the day, carrying two large bags, a laptop, a coffee cup and two umbrellas and keys, and leaned over just right so my thumb and forefinger could slide the envelope out of the slot.  Slid open the gate, jumped over the mud.  Said hello to the dogs, unlocked the door.  Plopped everything down.  

And that's when I noticed:  the envelope was addressed to me!  Not only did it find it's way from Seattle to Thailand, but it made it's way through the cryptic corridors of the Thailand Post to Chiang Rai, my friend's house!  My mail (only the second piece I've gotten since coming) came to their house.  I'm calling it a bona fide miracle.

What's more, the envelope was full of notes from all of you who have been thinking of me and praying for me over the last several months.  What a precious gift that the Lord knew I needed.  Thanks so much for your encouragement, prayers, and blessings.  Sometimes I feel pretty far left of the pineapple, and pretty out of touch from so many of you that I love and miss.  What a wonderful gift for the Lord to bring you all the way to me today.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I've been stuck on 2 Corinthians 4:7 a lot lately:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

What's so jarring about this particular verse, of course, is that it does not say that our treasure is the surpassing power of God.  But, on the contrary, our treasure is in the jar of clay, a humble, fragile structure, easily broken and cast aside.  My treasure is my weakness.  I should delight in my weaknesses (as Paul says later in 2 Cor. 12:9-10) because it is through my weaknesses that God chooses to show his surpassing power in and through my life.

For me, it's easier to visualize how this works through physical weakness or circumstances in life that I can not change.  These are things which I (wrongly) think of as being outside of myself and how I relate to God.  I understand that I should delight in difficult circumstances because they are opportunities for God come into the situation (as if he wasn't already there) to show his power by doing something that I am unable to do.  But what about spiritual weakness?  Should I really delight in my inability relate to God in the way I know he wants me to?  To be unfocused in prayer?  To utterly fail to thank Jesus sufficiently for all that he's done on my behalf, let alone failing to thank him even for providing for my basic needs day in and day out?  For my lack of discipline?  For my doubts and apathy?  Are these treasures??

Yes, I think they are.  Because, at the end of my life, I want to see clearly that it has been Jesus all along who is the only one sufficient to bring me through.  I can not do it.  I don't have the strength myself.  A resonating theme with the prayerful words of a song my church at home in Manhattan, Kansas will be singing in just a few hours:
The sun comes up, its a new day dawning,
it's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
let me be singing when the evening comes.

Dear Jesus, let me be singing when the evening comes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Meet Kina

Meet my newest appendage, Kina.

I have had her for almost two weeks now, and so far I have ascertained that her passions are:

  • Chewing on whatever may be closest to her mouth
  • Licking it if she gets in trouble for chewing
  • Killing anything made out of fabric
  • Chasing motorcycles
  • Food of any shape, size, or taste other than her own
  • Always having me in her field of vision, or better yet laying directly on top of me
  • Drinking only dirty water
  • Destroying cockroaches
The last one is much to my joy, although "destroying" may be too thorough of a word, as all of the unfortunate roaches that have met with Kina so far have only been severely maimed so that I've had to finish them off with the plunger.  Even so, more have met their demise in the last two weeks than in the previous month.

A friend of mine bought her in the Night Bazzaar last year, and now I get to keep her as my friend will be returning to Australia.  She knows a few words and her name, although it's amazing how much her comprehension improves when there's food nearby.

The only things that have been destroyed so far are a stuffed toy that I gave her and the flip cap of my toothpaste.  Eh.  At least she had minty breath for a while.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Mien Wedding

 The Milagros Sponsorship Program run by Mekong Minority Foundation works by providing scholarships to minority hill tribe students to go to school from eighth grade through graduation from University.  It is a great program which enables young people to get a good education when they otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity.

This past Saturday morning, Bluak, a young man in the program from the Mien tribe, was married.  The wedding was held in the open-air dining room of a resort with a central pond surrounded by grass and small bungalows.

The bride and groom in traditional Mien clothing.
Now, to be fair, I've been to plenty of church services and other events here to know how things generally operate.  Kids run down the halls.  Cellphones ring, and are answered and talked on in the midst of the service.  (Generally with a hand covering the talker's mouth to be "polite".)  People moving around, getting a drink of water, going to the bathroom.  But I have to say, even this was a little bewildering for me.

When we arrived just a couple of minutes before the ceremony was set to start, the dining room was still relatively empty and we chose a table near the front.  Not to worry, we had plenty of time to enjoy the ice water and pork rinds waiting for us there before the ceremony actually did begin.  A lady was playing hymns on the keyboard and the MC was talking non-stop into the microphone the whole time.

Once the ceremony did start, the only change was that the bride and groom were up on stage.  People still talking and walking around.  Waitresses in t-shirts and cut-off jeans refilling ice buckets.  Liters of pop were brought out to all the tables mid-way through and the sharp hiss of a newly opened bottle could be heard periodically throughout the room.

The dining room during the ceremony.  Notice the wrapped headpieces the Mien women are wearing in the back row.
My table during the ceremony.
Not even their parents (who were the only ones facing forward for this event) stayed put.  During one part of the ceremony, the bride and groom came and knelt in front of each of the parents, touching their feet as a sign of respect and presenting them with a garland.  The bride's father was just returning to his seat as the new couple arrived at his chair.

Granny even got in on the action.  At one point during the pastor's message, the groom's granny came up to the base of the stage, beckoned him to come over and kneel down so she could whisper something to him before she turned and walked out of the room.  I think she must have asked him to do something for her by  the conflicted expression on his face, but the MC waved his friend back into position as he went off to do the errand himself.

I just giggled to myself and had another sip of icy orange soda.

All in all, it was a wonderful event, and our group was even honored with a picture on stage with the newly wedded couple (but not until Granny had all the family pictures she wanted).

Granny in the front wearing the white skirt.  All the Aunties off to the side.

At the end, we stayed at our tables and had a delicious six-course feast while the bride and groom visited each table and hand-delivered a commemorative key chain to every guest.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Thing About Culture Shock

is that it is so shocking.  It always takes me by surprise.  Just going about the day, minding my own business, and  wham, it hits.  Like a train.

The experts say that people living overseas go through stages of adjustment to their new culture.  In the first stage, everything is an adventure: buying soup in a bag on the street, navigating the city, intelligibly asking the price of some unknown fruit and getting an intelligible response, and being able to pull out the right amount of colorful bills and coins to pay for it.

About 6 months in, some of the newness burns off and culture shock sets in.  I guess I'm right on schedule.

The train hit me the other day as I pulled up to a red light.  According to the traffic timer, it took 126 seconds of waiting for green for me to transition from placidly taking in the views on my way to Thai class to simmering irritation that the basis of the Thai road system is built on U-turns, which is why only one lane of traffic is able to go at a time.  The turning lane is so full of cars needing to U-turn that oncoming traffic must wait at a red light.  Hence, at a 4 way intersection, each light is red 3 times longer than it is green.  Seriously?  Is this really the best method?

When the light turned green, three dozen vehicles in a spectrum of shapes, sizes and degrees of wear sputtered back to life as their owners ground into first gear.  Then the inevitable long pause just a couple of seconds later as those gearshifts were jammed down into second.  Black exhaust plumed out of a large truck loaded down with old plastic for recycling as it inched forward in front of me.  A string of vehicles that had begun using the shoulder as a third lane of traffic (to circumvent the long lines already waiting at the light) aggressively cut into my lane between the motorcycles whizzing around us.

In the end, I made it to the intersection just as the light clicked back to red and I felt the timer smirk down at me as it restarted its countdown at 126 seconds.  The irritation was still there, but laced with a distinct feeling of tiredness over the surprise I still feel when a scenario like this takes place, even though it happens several times every day.  Longing for the familiar - where reality meets my expectations.

In the end, culture shock is just a phase, too.  So for now, I'll use each of those 126 seconds to remind myself of all the things I love about Thailand, and just plan to leave home a little earlier in the morning.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deep Waters

See the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
ever while their thirst t'assuage?
Grace which like the Lord, the Giver,
never fails from age to age.
~John Newton

"...but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers."                
Psalm 1:2-3

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Another Day

Spent yesterday in meetings with 15 other people representing 4 nationalities, 8 ethnic groups, I'm not even sure how many organizations, and one very big God.  With an average of 3 languages spoken by each person, but no one with the same combination, communication flitted back and forth seamlessly as we work together to advance our work into areas not yet reached.  There are some amazing perks to this job.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

I have moved from Temporary Residence #1 to Temporary Residence #2 this week.  Quite an upgrade - complete with a kitchen!  I didn't realize just how excited I was about it until I found myself with a cart full of ingredients for cookies of the chocolate chip variety.  You don't know what you're missing until you go without.  Hello cookies, I've been dreaming of your chewy chocolatey goodness.

Ten life lessons learned from baking chocolate chip cookies:

1.  Appreciate life's simple pleasures.  When God gives you chocolate chips, make cookies.  (But only with half of the bag because they are too expensive to admit how much you might have paid for them.)

2.  Be prepared.  Otherwise, you'll end up with something other than cookies. 

3.  Let others help you.  Even an oven needs assistance from a tank of propane now and then.  And, think outside the box. 

4.  Sometimes, even simple things may throw you for a loop.  It's okay if you can't mentally convert 350*F into Celsius.  That's what Google is for.

5.  Balance is important.  And everybody has something unique to contribute.

6.  It's good to mix things up.  Just make sure your 110V mixer is connected to a converter before you plug it into a 220V socket.

7.  Even your best intentions may start to melt and slide all over the place.  No worries.  Just smoosh them back up.

8.  Appreciate God's perfect timing, even when cookies in the oven take longer than planned.

9.  If you can't stand the heat, sometimes you have to take a break and get out of the kitchen and close the door behind you.  And trust that what's going on in there is what's supposed to be going on.

10.  But sometimes, if you can't stand the heat, just eat your cookies in front of the fan.

A big, huge thank you to Tim and Jeana for going to America and graciously lending me their home.  Tim, Jeana, I know you're not even off the plane yet, but I'm thoroughly enjoying your house already!  You guys are the best!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jungle Pigs and Chicken Beaks

This past week I went with Boon, Pong, Nan and Reed up to an Akha village in Mae Yao district reporting that they had some pigs with pneumonia. MMF works with several villages in Mae Yao. This was the first time I had been up to Mae Yao since I've been here, and also my farthest trip into Mae Yao, and it was fun along the way to catch glimpses of villages I visited last year.

As we passed through the village of Moh Pii (Spirit Doctor village), the last landmark on the path that I recognized, heavy rain began to fall. It wasn't long before we were spinning wheels in the deep mud ruts that were cut into the steep mountain path. We were stuck.

We attempted the steep pass several times with all kinds of ingenuity, including the two other guys and me bouncing up and down in the bed of the truck (Nan was sensible and stayed inside) as Boon revved the engine and sent mud flying everywhere. In the end we parked the truck at the bottom of the hill and walked the rest of the way to the village.


When we arrived in the village, we were told that indeed, there were sick pigs, but that they were all (with the exception of 11 small-bodied pigs) out in the jungle.  Fences and pens to contain the village's cattle, buffalo, chickens and pigs are a rarity out here, as most animals are allowed to run wild and forage for their own food.    I have no idea how the villagers know how to find them or even which animal belongs to them.  Many times, when they slaughter one of the animals for food, they go out in the jungle and hunt it like a wild animal.  

We treated the 11 metropolitan pigs living in the village and after a hearty lunch of rice, barbecued wild pig, vegetable soup and scrambled eggs we sat down with he villagers and discussed how they could treat the sick pigs as they found them in the jungle.  (How the people of the village  know they have pigs coughing in the jungle I haven't figured out.)

Finally, we reached the truck after climbing what seemed like uphill both ways and headed back down the mountain.  We stopped in one final village where chicks were suffering from an outbreak of mucocutaneous lesions around the face and beak.  They are eating fine and the mortality rate is low.  So, not Newcastle.  Any ideas?  It looks like some kind of herpes or papilloma virus to me.

Two days later and my legs are still sore.

6/7/2011 Update: After doing a bit of research about what might be ailing these avian babies, it seems as though the chickens are suffering from... chicken pox.  I wonder if they're as itchy as I was when I had it. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lost in Translation

I saw this at a friend's place tonight and just couldn't help but empathize with this guy.  
Language is so funny!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three Months

Three months in Thailand has flown by.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be here and to get to know some wonderful people.  Here I am with my Thai language teacher, Ploy.  She has been such a blessing to me, and I am so thankful for her.  We study at a coffee shop inside the rear gate at the hospital near my house.  All the ladies know us there.  Coincidentally, just outside the gate is a row of coffin shops... Not sure what that says about the hospital...
Ri-en pasa Thai gup Cru Ploy (Studying Thai with Teacher Ploy)

Rainy season has begun here, with consistent heavy rains that soak the ground and then steam the air when the hot sun reappears.  This morning the rain is deafening on the tin rooftops in my mubaan.

Rain clouds over my neighbor's house

He keeps his bike dry under the awning

Sunday I renewed my visa by crossing the border into Tachilek, Myanmar.  This town is just a few kilometers away from the epicenter of the March 26 earthquake.  Victims of the earthquake continue to suffer, many without homes which is becoming a larger problem with rainy season setting in.  The wet streets of the market were lined with everything imaginable for sale: shoes, bags, electronics, motor-scooters, ice cream, dishes, sunglasses, pirated DVDs, bedding, cell phones (the "Nikia" seemed to be a pretty popular brand) tourist trinkets and animist ritualistic artifacts like monkey skulls and amulets.

Tachilek market

Bags and bags of mushroom: big ones, short ones, fat ones, lacy ones...

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

If you have never experienced exhilarating cliff-hanging moments, an impetus for rock-solid determination, agony, confusion, and frustration and near-despair all wrapped neatly into one event, I highly recommend taking a turn at attempting to navigate the governmental system of a foreign country in a foreign language.

Just shy of 3 months in-country, after 2 applications, 3 visits to the appropriate office, hearing different things from 6 people, 4 pictures taken, countless copies made, paperwork redone, and white-out liberally applied, I have successfully obtained a much-needed work permit.

It's a good day in Thailand.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Come Awake

It's still dark here this morning as I prepare to go to the combined-church sunrise Easter service in Chiang Rai.

He is Risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday

I once heard a sermon on why we call this day "Good Friday".  What's so good about it?  After all, it's the day our Jesus, loving and lovely, was mocked, beaten beyond recognition, suffering physically and spiritually until his final breath.

It makes me think of Peter, who protested his unworthy feet being washed by Jesus just hours before events were set in motion for Jesus to be crucified.  He said Jesus would never wash his feet, to which Jesus replied, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

"Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and head as well!"

It's the ultimate gift: to have seen Jesus humble himself for our sake, take our punishment, die in our place that we may have abundant life.  It truly is the best day all humanity has ever witnessed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

As Bright As The Promises Of God

Three weeks has passed since the earthquake in Myanmar (Burma).  There are still several thousand people homeless in the aftermath, and without clean drinking water.  It seems as though the earthquake has disrupted something relating to the natural water sources in the area.  Since the quake, the clear streams have now become murky and foul-smelling.

With everything going on, I've been thinking a lot about Myanmar lately - its history and current situation and the battles being fought inside those borders- both physical and spiritual battles. And the history of the Karen people.  I work with Karen people on this side of the border, but the Thai Karen have only been in the country for less than 100 years.  They originated from the Tibetan plains centuries ago and settled in Burma, but they came to Thailand as they fled from the Burmese mountains.

Recently a documentary was released, capturing the plight of the Karen in Burma.  It is a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking story.  You can find the 45 minute video free here: The Road.  Please, please watch.

And the spiritual battles have raged there as well.  Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma from 1815 to 1850, spent his life in pursuit of Burmese and Karen souls knowing Jesus.  He faced severe hardships, harsh imprisonment, loss of loved ones (including his first wife and second wife and several children), and countless discouraging reasons to quit.  And yet, his course was sure.

"If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings."

"In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, Our course be onward still; We sow on Burmah's barren plain, We reap on Zion's hill."

"The prospects are bright as the promises of God."

I'm not sure how these thoughts fit together.  The earthquake seems to have shaken up more than just the geography - it has shaken up my heart and mind to ponder the history of a nation so acquainted with suffering, and yet marked by God's grace.  Oh Lord, I pray for Burma.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

Last week was my big debut into animal health training in Thailand.  I took 3 days off of language study and went with Peter and Boon up to Doi Wawee again to hold a training for the villagers selected by their communities.  We had approximately 10 people on the first day, the second and third days we lost a couple, but gained a couple of people brought along by other participants.

Practicing observing a group of buffalo in a rice paddy.

Peter helping to read the thermometer after a successful data collection on a pig.
They were most interested in learning about diarrhea and pneumonia in cattle and pigs, so that's what we taught about.  Everything from dissecting a pig (which we later ate in a curry over rice) to see the lungs and intestines, to learning how to take a temperature, to doing a physical exam by observing the animal far away, to using flow charts to determine the best antibiotic to give, to outdoor hands-on practice of giving injections.  It was a great time, and I learned as much as everyone else.  I even learned some new words and got to practice my Thai!

With some Karen ladies who kindly let us give their pigs injections for practice.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Myanmar Earthquake Upadate

More light is being shed on the earthquake that happened here Thursday night.  It seems as though parts of Eastern Shan State suffered the worst.  It's a difficult situation because although we are only ~50 miles away from the main area of need, it is a border that is very difficult to cross.  And even the bridge that physically connects Myanmar and Thailand was damaged: vehicles can not get across, only foot traffic can pass on it now. I'm copying a summary written by a team member here at MMF of what we know so far as we look for ways to serve those in need.

Some of you have been wondering about the earthquake that took place in Eastern Shan State of Myanmar Thursday evening local time.  It was apparently two earthquakes about 30 minutes apart, but the second was more like an aftershock.  There were a lot of aftershocks which were quite light. Today we have felt a couple too.  The authorities have said that we will have more yet.  

The quake was about 7 on the Richter scale and the epicenter was located 10 kms down from the surface about 35 - 40  kms North and a  bit east of Tachilek, a large township center across the  border from the Thai town of Mae Sai.   We are located in Chiang Rai which is about 90 kms south of the epicenter.  Though we were shaken up,  there is no damage to speak of where we live.  

Today,  it appears that initial assessments show that the greatest damage and loss of life is in and around the Shan town of Ta Lar,  where several dozen structures collapsed and at about 50 are dead and more hurt.  A nearby town of Mine  Lin which is much older also saw much damage but the death toll is only about 15 person.  The smaller villages and communities are not likely to have resulted in too many casualties because the houses are wooden or bamboo.   

However,  we have heard of one exception so far,  A Lahu church collapsed during the earthquake while a service was going on and 25 persons are reported to have been killed with many more hurt.

Thank you for your prayers for the people who are suffering in Eastern Shan State in Myanmar.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Repeat After Me

It is a humbling experience to learn a new language.  Especially when you don't even know the alphabet.  Especially when the alphabet has 42 consonants which are divided into 3 classes.  Especially when the vowels are just little squiggles above and below any of the 42 consonants, or when they come before the consonant but you pronounce them after it.  And especially when the letters make sounds you've never made before.  Language study: Day 1.  My teacher has me repeating after her and practicing my letters and words over and over in pencil, just like a small child.  I've learned, among a few other things, to say and write, "The man is in the car."
The coconut smoothie helped.

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. - Job 8:7

Saturday, February 26, 2011


We went up to Wawee yesterday to see some of the work going on there.  It is about an hour's drive from Chiang Rai and up a mountain called Doi Chaang (Elephant Mountain) where the area is extremely famous for their coffee.  First we went to see the chief of the village there, and ended up talking with him for quite a while about animal health problems in their area.  Last year they had Foot and Mouth Disease in their cattle and a serious pneumonia in their pigs.  They treated the sick pigs with antibiotic, but several still died.  It is relatively uncommon for cattle to die of FMD here, since it is endemic and most of the animals have some immunity, but Wawee has not had much of the disease in the past, so they did experience some losses since their cattle were naive.  This year they are battling cattle with swollen throats, which could be a myriad of things (liver fluke, hemorrhagic septicemia, etc.) but it is difficult to get the people to think systematically.  They only see a swollen throat, and stop looking for other signs.  They don't know if there are any other symptoms.  We were always taught in school that you'll miss a clinical sign only because you didn't look for it.
Here I am with the chief of the village in his home and our visitor from Toronto.

We stopped in town to have lunch at a little open-air restaurant where the proprietor of the establishment had decorated one side of the dining area with dead examples of the local fauna.  Don't worry... they weren't all on the menu.

The corn cobs on in the top left give you an idea of the size of some of these crunchy critters.  The bug on the top right is a beautiful rhinoceros beetle!

The bottom right corner shows some light switches and outlets for perspective.

On the way back down the mountain we took (in 4-wheel drive) the road that leads to the village Doi Chaang.  We stopped at a little area and had a cup of their famous coffee and had a look around.  Coffee beans are grown in the red fruit pods on bushy plants.  The seeds are extracted, dried and then roasted.

Coffee beans drying in the sun.  
Overall, another successful day in Thailand!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It is time to get blogging again!  In my defense I was (and still am) bridging the gap from living in Kansas, America to living in Chiang Rai, Thailand.  This is my first post from the Eastern Hemisphere!

I've been in Thailand for 5 days after an uneventful 46 hours of travel by car, plane, taxi, truck, and feet (traveling on foot with 135 lbs of luggage is a difficult feat, even if you never leave LAX... no pun intended).  Here's the rundown so far:

Friday:  I arrived in Chiang Rai with all of my luggage amongst hundreds of soldiers dressed in khaki uniforms milling around the airport and lounging at the arrival gates.  After collecting my things from the baggage claim, Mary and Wynn greeted me and we headed for town in their truck.  As we left the airport, several military men in green camo were stationed at regular intervals in the ditches along the road.  Apparently, a member of the royal family was due to arrive the same evening.  Later, a dear friend Nit and a new friend Jan took me to dinner at a Chinese restaurant which rarely has an open table.  The food is cooked in a make-shift kitchen at the opening of the storefront where passers-by can take a look and come inside to dine around plastic stools, walls that were white long ago, and a cement floor. We had fried whole fish, rice, a type of Chinese sausage wrapped in pastry and then fried, and stir fried greens.

Saturday:  I awoke Saturday morning to a cacophony of barking dogs and loud music piped out from the Buddhist temple nearby.  The Coats family with whom I am staying this week had arrived home from Chiang Mai during the night.  Mary picked me up and we went into town where I learned a few of the landmarks and walked through the main market.  Lunch with the Coats family was at another restaurant, also cooking their chicken coconut soup near the sidewalk so hungry walkers could order as they passed into the store to sit on plastic stools.  In the evening we drove out to Chadri's sister's house for MMF fellowship which happens once a month.

Sunday:  I went with Taen to a Thai church where the sermon was on the good gifts God gives us.  I understood a couple of words thanks to the Christmas carols I had learned in Thai last year.  Mary and Wynn had picked up visitors from the airport the night before, so after church we met them at a very fancy tourist resort to have lunch at the buffet.  All you can eat for 150 baht, which is around $5.  In the evening many of the missionaries gather for a time of English fellowship at the same church I had been to in the morning. We had a meal together afterwards and I met several of the people with whom I will be in community.

Monday:  After morning devotions in the office with my new team there, I traveled with Peter and his visitors as well as Boon up to Mae Sai to see the agricultural work going on there.  I met a Filipino missionary named Jethro who speaks at least 6 languages.  We also visited another missionary family who just received a load of goats into their brand new barn the day before.  The animals had spent 18 hours on a hot truck, but overall they looked pretty good. A couple of the kids - only 3 or 4 days old - had come down with Sore Mouth and were having trouble nursing.  It was a sweet time to be there for the inception of a work God has called this family to for so long.  They have no experience in goat raising, but they have a vision for helping national pastors to make a living using goats so they can continue to preach in the villages.  The national pastors have a very hard life - moving from one village to another to preach, always sacrificing their own livelihood in order to do it.  We met up with Mary and Wynn at the night market to have a dinner of kabobs, smoothies, onion rings, and some other things I couldn't name, but were quite tasty.

Tuesday:  Nit, Don and I traveled to a conference hosted by MMF for national pastors all over northern Thailand.  They had gathered to have an annual review of the projects they were running with the help of MMF in their communities and to share ideas with one another.  Most of the pastors were Hmong, but there were also a couple of Karen and Akha pastors as well.  Each of these men have a burden to reach other people in their tribes with the Good News, and do so without any pay, often sacrificing what little they have on earth to do so.  Their rewards will be great in heaven.

Wednesday:  Today I will meet with Peter and go to the language school to see about getting a tutor.  There is one very good tutor named Ploy or Floy - I can't really tell what her name is - it's more like a soft P like Pfloy - that I would like to inquire about.  It is easy to get caught up in the work that is being done and the work left to do yet.  Please pray that I have a great aptitude for learning language so I can learn quickly and get to work here.  I'm excited for the days ahead.

Here's a picture of me at a waterfall I visited with Nit during the pastor's conference on Tuesday.  What a beautiful place God created here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Counting Down!

It is really happening!  I leave for Thailand on

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Weakness (Part 2)

Gladys AylwardThis post is a continuation of On Weakness (Part 1) on the life of Gladys Aylward, written by Jack Voelkel.  You'll definitely want to start at the beginning if you missed the first post!

The War

The Mandarin liked to talk with her. He spoke of his long years of education in the Confucian classics. As Gladys listened, she came to appreciate the Confucian ethical content but noted the lack of a provision of spiritual power such as she knew through the Holy Spirit, the missing hope of forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ, and a total absence of expectation of life beyond the grave.

He also shared news with her: the periodic flooding of the Yellow River, the problems of poverty and ignorance of the populace, but most of all the invasion of the Japanese with planes and troops coming ever nearer. She felt more and more identified with the people and decided to become a Chinese citizen.

One day the Mandarin invited her to a special dinner. The prison warden was there, as were other officials, and several wealthy merchants. Then he stood and gave a speech:
From the other side of the world Ai-Weh-Deh journeyed to China, owing allegiance only to her living God. She brought her Christianity to Yang-cheng. She had not sat hidden inside a temple contemplating how virtuous she was. She had unbound the feet of infants. She had helped the poor. She had visited the jails. She had taken orphans under her roof. She had nursed the wounded.

Her faith was alive. More than anyone the Mandarin had ever met, Ai-Weh-Deh demonstrated the power of love. She loved China so much she became a citizen…The Mandarin admitted he had debated with her the merits of her faith against the merits of his old Confucius ways, a hundred times. But Confucianism lives in my head, not in my heart, as Christianity does in Ai-Weh-Deh and her converts. [As a result] I wish to become a Christian! (Wellman, p. 155).

She made friends with officers of the Chinese Nationalist army, led by Chiang Kai-shek. At one time she thought she was in love with Colonel Linnan who wanted to marry her. But she realized they had two very different goals in life, and above all, he was not a Christian. Through Linnan she came to see that China not only faced the danger of the Japanese invasion, but that another Chinese army, the Communists, while now collaborating with the Nationalists, would one day provoke a civil war.

Meanwhile the war uprooted people. Four times Yangcheng was bombed and overrun by the Japanese; each time the people returned when the invaders left. Then one day Gladys was informed that the Japanese had put a price on her head; her friends urged her to leave. As the invading army came closer, she gathered up her children and made preparations to seek sanctuary in the far West in Xian. Other joined them. A whole orphanage was entrusted to her care. Soon she was leading 100 children, some of them mere infants.

The prison warden wondered what to do with the prisoners. They couldn’t travel in chains. Custom dictated that he behead them all. Shocked, Gladys presented a scheme to the Mandarin to place them under the care of relatives who would be responsible for them. No one took Feng, the leader, so she did, and he was a great help to her on the long march to safety.

The Long March

“You can’t go by the roads,” her friends warned her, “or the Japanese will see you and strafe you with their planes.” Through little used trails and over high mountains she led her brood. Their cloth shoes wore out, the small children began to cry, and all were hungry. Arriving at the broad Yellow River, she asked herself, “Whatever can I do now?” Then, unexpectedly, the Nationalist army allowed her to use their boats to ferry everyone across.

Once, while alone, some Japanese soldiers saw her and tried to shoot her. Running into a field of grain, she escaped, though bullets tore through her clothes and one plowed a furrow in her back.

When they finally reached Xian, Gladys was exhausted and ill. She collapsed and was in a semi-coma for weeks. She had a fever of 105 degrees, typhus, pneumonia, and malnutrition. Finally she recovered, and was happy that all the children had been received by one family or institution or other.

She continued working with refugees, lepers, anyone who needed help. She brought to the hopeless the hope of Christ. An American doctor observing the lepers, noted: “Their bodies are so contorted with disease, they cannot kneel. Their hands are so crippled, they can barely receive the elements. Yet their eyes flame with joy and hope. All because Gladys Aylward brought them Christ” (Wellman p. 190).

Once on a long trip she found a Buddhist monastery hidden in a deep valley amid high mountains. She was surprised to discover that they were expecting her. “Here at long last is the messenger we have waited for,” they said, as they accepted her message of salvation through Christ (Wellman p. 191).

Back in England

Her friends insisted she take her first furlough after 17 years, to see her family and recover her strength. Through a popular biography (The Small Woman by Alan Burgess); a Hollywood movie of her life, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman, which received numerous awards;[i] and a BBC interview on “This is Your life,” she became an international figure. She was invited to many places to tell her story and dined with such dignitaries as the Archbishop of Canterbury and even Queen Elizabeth. For a time she was possibly the best known missionary in the world (Tucker).

Elizabeth Elliot recalls a conversation she had with Gladys after hearing her speak in Canada:
I sat on the sofa and talked of missions, missionaries and particularly of single missionaries. I had been widowed four years earlier, and she, of course, had never married. Not that she had never thought of marrying, however. She told me how she had worked happily for six or seven years in China alone, when a missionary couple came to work nearby. She then began to ponder the privilege that was theirs and to wonder if it might not be a lovely thing to be married.

She talked to the Lord about it. She was a no-nonsense woman and very direct and straightforward and she asked God to call a man from England, send him straight out to China, straight to where she was, and have him propose. I can't forget the next line. With a look of even deeper intensity, she shook her little bony finger in my face and said, "Elisabeth, I believe God answers prayer. He called him," and here there was a very brief pause and an intense whisper, which carried more power than her loudest voice. “He called him, but he never came” (Elliot).

The Last Days

But after ten years in England, China beckoned again. Gladys settled in Taiwan, and once again began working with orphans. She opened the Gladys Aylward Orphanage, and within days it was filled with children. She used her fame and prestige to raise money for them. When the burden became too great as her strength began to fail with increasing age, the Lord sent Kathleen Langton-Smith from England to help her with administration. Then one day a wealthy man came to her with a proposition. “I’m opening a very large orphanage and am looking for children to care for,” he informed her. “Oh, what a blessing,” she replied. “I’ll give you most of mine and Kathleen and I’ll only keep twenty babies for ourselves to care for.”

On New Year’s morning, 1970, just one month shy of her sixty-eighth birthday, after speaking to soldiers' wives at the American army base, Gladys went to bed without supper, and later that night slipped into the presence of the Lord she had served so faithfully. Her body now lies in a marble tomb on a hill in the garden of Christ’s College at Taipei, the capital of Taiwan (Swift).

In an interview during her later years, she had expressed her surprise at God’s call to serve Him in China with all her educational limitations. She confided:

I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China. There was somebody else…I don’t know who it was—God’s first choice. It must have been a man—a wonderful man. A well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing…And God looked down…and saw Gladys Aylward (Thompson, p. 183).

Reposted for non-commercial use with permission from  Copyright InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA. All rights reserved.

On Weakness (Part 1)

I was recently asked to name a few missionaries that have been my favorites to learn and read about.  Instantly, Gladys Aylward came to mind.  Her story is the unlikely hero; used despite her weaknesses.  She was acquainted well with suffering, but her trials only served to refine her heart and character and deepen her faith.

Jack Voelkel wrote a wonderful piece about her life, so I'm reposting it here.   You can also read about her life in her biography, The Small Woman.
Product photo

The half-starved Chinese prisoners in Yangcheng were rioting. In the center was a man with a large bloody kitchen meat cleaver. All were shouting. Several men had already collapsed on the ground, mortally wounded. The warden called to A-Weh-Deh, “Go in and stop them!”

The woman known to foreigners by her English name, Gladys Aylward, stood trembling at the entrance. “Why me?” she gasped. The warden challenged, “You tell us your God is all powerful. Is He or is He not?”

“He is,” she declared, seeking to bolster her courage, as she stepped into the sandy courtyard. “But only through the help of Jesus will I prevail, for the Gospel of God in our Bible states, ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’”

One pair of eyes after another eyed the “Foreign Devil.” Hardly imposing, a whisper thin woman about thirty years of age, standing 4’10” tall, Gladys spoke to the man with the cleaver with unexpected authority, “Give me the cleaver,” she commanded. Astonishingly, he did. Then to the prisoners, “Now form yourselves into ranks and tell me what this is all about.”

The Call

Gladys May Aylward was born on a cold February day in 1902 in London. Her family were hardworking, honest people, and faithful in their attendance at the Anglican church. Gladys never forgot the day when in Sunday School the clergyman spoke of missionaries who worked far off in China. She left the church in a daze, her mind whirling. From then on she dreamed one day of serving the Lord there, even though she had to quit school to go to work at 14 and had no money.

Twelve years passed but the call remained steady in her heart. She applied to the China Inland Mission, but was turned down. “You really don’t have the capacity to learn a difficult language like Chinese,” the principal told her as kindly he could, “and we prefer candidates who are younger and more able to adapt.” 

While working as a parlor maid for Sir Francis Younghusband, a famous military officer who had served in the Far East, she discovered that he had an impressive library, from which she borrowed liberally. Then one day she learned of Mrs. Jennie Lawson, an elderly widow working as a missionary in China, who had written, asking for someone to go and help her. Gladys saw this invitation as her opportunity. She wrote Mrs. Lawson, and started putting a down payment on a railway ticket to the coast of China which, though more dangerous, was half the price of the sea route. After working extra hours and week-ends, virtually spending nothing on herself, and then selling her hope chest, she had enough for the passage by year’s end. “Bundled up in an orange frock worn over a coat, Gladys was a curious looking traveler, resembling a gypsy more than a missionary” (Tucker p. 250). 

On October the 15th, 1932, Gladys set off on the long train journey to the land of her calling. She knew that she had no money to buy food on the way, so packed her suitcase with corned beef, baked beans, fish, crackers, hard-boiled eggs and other items. She experienced mixed emotions on the journey. She felt very much alone, but had an abiding peace that she was doing the will of God. She arrived in China on the 8th of November, 1932 (Preacher’s Blog).

An overland trip of a month took her to Yancheng, where she met the widowed Scottish independent missionary then in her seventies.

The Inn 

Mrs. Lawson’s missionary strategy was to establish The Inn of the Eight Happinesses. Yangcheng was an overnight stop for mule caravans that carried coal, raw cotton, pots and iron goods on six-week or three-month journeys. Lawson and Gladys provided forage for the mules, a nourishing supper, and then would entertain the men with Bible stories as a Christian witness.

As time when on, Gladys became fluent in Chinese and learned to work with Lawson who was in increasing stages of dementia. She died, a short time after Gladys’ arrival, thus leaving her to manage the inn only with the help of an older Chinese helper. One day she was visited by the local Mandarin (magistrate), a man held in the highest honor and even fear by the local citizens. He asked that she assist him by becoming his “foot inspector,” making sure that the new laws against the ancient custom of female foot binding were being complied with. As a result, A-Weh-Deh (“the virtuous one”) became increasingly known and respect by the citizenry not only of Yancheng, but also of the villages in the whole territory.

Wherever she went, she not only examined feet, but also spoke of the Lord Jesus and the salvation He offered to all who believed. “After 2,000 years, the Gospel had finally come to these mountain villages, and it was she, a tiny woman from a modest house on 67 Cheddington Road, delivering it in a sing-songy mountain dialect of Chinese” (Wellman p. 103). Only two years before she had been a parlor maid in an English manor. Over the years, little groups of believers in each of these villages began meeting together to worship the Lord—fruit of her ministry.

It was during this time that the Prison Riot occurred. Noting the miserable condition of the prisoners, the basic cause of the riot, she insisted that the warden allow the men to work to provide better clothing for themselves. She was able to secure two looms for them to make cloth for clothes and to sell, plus a mill for grinding grain. She encouraged hygiene and visited often to speak of Jesus and to encourage them. One man who responded was a leader named Feng.

One day she saw a poor woman sitting by a wall with a small, very dirty child. “Is that your child?” Gladys asked her. “It looks very sick.” “What is that to you?” the woman replied with hostility. “Do you want to buy her or not?” Shocked at the idea of selling a human being, Gladys asked the price. All she had was nine pence. The woman agreed, probably sure that the infant would die anyhow. Though Gladys gave her the official name of Mei-en (“Beautiful Grace”) she always called her Ninepence. This was the first child she adopted. Soon she had more, many more, especially as the country erupted into war.

To be continued...

Reposted for non-commercial use with permission from  Copyright InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA. All rights reserved.