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Shirley and Steve Rees

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Welcome to Thailand
We were up and on our way to the San Francisco airport by 2:30 am December 6 and we arrived safely in Bangkok, Thailand shortly before midnight of December 7. Twenty-four hours had been swallowed up in the crossing of the International Date Line and only will be recovered when we cross the same line on our return to the US in January. Right now our body clocks are definitely off, wanting to sleep in the day ann be awake in the night, but soon the activity of this place will out of necessity remedy that.

The kitchen crew is up and at it by 4:30 am and the kids are off to school by 7:00. Our day begins early and by 9:00, it’s time for bed. Got to go, the day is begun!

December 10

Baby Bekah

Spent all morning taking care of little ones; Dok Mai is 2  and Bekka is 1 and Ting is 1 and John is around 6 and Mor Mor Chore is probably 3. Ting and John are both severely handicapped–victims of abuse and neglect. Bekah was born at 24 weeks and weighed about 2 pounds, but is an active, thriving little girl now. Dok Mai is the heart-stealer, a vivacious bundle of energy and Mor Mor Chore is definitely the man in charge. I went and took a nap after my morning with them!

Steve was at the lake helping to put in the plumbing for a toilet. The lake property is where the school has their open air church adn we get to spend Sabbaths in this beautiful, peaceful restful place. That’s tommorow–Hurray!

The Million Dollar View Church

Steve is in charge of music class and I am teaching English-speaking class to the Level One students. There are about 18 in the class, all ages, from the babies to teens. Makes for quite an interesting class! We brought 5 Music Recorders with us and the kids in Steve’s music class are really picking up on how to play them. We wish we had brought more. For Sabbath they are playing “As the Deer Pants for the Water” for special music.

We went to the open-air market yesterday afternoon–so many colors adn smells and flies. Some of the food vendors were quite diligent about fanning the flies away from their food, but most paid no attention to them. I know what vendors I would buy food from! Steve bought an iced frappachino for about $0.80 and I got a pineapple smoothie for the same price. Nice cool refreshment on a hot afternoon.
Last evening as I was going into the dining hall for devotions and dinner, Chokdee, the student pastor asked me if I would give the evening’s devotion. So much advanced planning! “Be ready in season and out of season” a friend told us once. That certainly applies here.
Time for bed, talk to you tomorrow–or soon — Goodnight!
December 13 – Monday
The girls pulled Steve and me aside Sunday evening and in whispered, conspiritorial tones told us MoMo Cat’s birthday was tommorow. Then they looked expectantly at us with a “what do we plan to do for her” look. Uhh! Well, let’s have a party. Okay–a cake? You buy? was the unspoken question — Okay  then now to finale a ride to town and not raise suspicions. MoMo is pretty much the only one who drives to Kanchanaburi or Bangkok for shopping trips and they are the only cities that have the supermarkets where one could only hope to find a cake or a cake mix or ingredients to makea cake!
Monday morning at breakfast Cat announced that she had to go to Kanchanaburi. She was taking Hannah to the bus depot for a trip to the Cambodian border to renew her visa. I said I would like to go if there is room in the car and get some fabric for sewing class and Steve said he’d like to go and see if he could find someone to fix the computer, so we along with a couple of the Bamboo School kids piled into the car and we all took off for town.
We found a somputer store, but after 3 hours, the computer was in worse shape than we brought it in — the guy only charged 100 Bhat (a little over $3) I guess you really do get what you pay for.
I found some material at the fabric store–one nice print and 2 sturdy cotton solids for making hot pads for the kitchen. 80 Bhat for a meter of the solids and 100 Bhat a meter for the print. Translated: $2.25 per yd. and $3.25 per yd. It’s been awhile since I’ve paid that little for good quality material in the States.
Now on to the supermarket–The Thai supermarkets are a lot like a WalMart Supercenter. Hardware, clothing and furniture to food. Traditional Thai food is cheap, but I was loooking for western food. Up one aisle and down the next; a confusing array of food all packaged up in lettering I could not understand, but finally someone who speaks and understands English. A cake mix – yes – follow me please. Sure enough, good ole’ Betty Crocker, 3 different kinds sitting up there on the shelf, pretty as you please. No wonder– 198 Bhat for a cake mix deserves a queenly throne. I picked up three mixes for all Bamboo School kids, and then went searching for frosting or powdered sugar to make frosting. Another kind lady took me over to where she assured me what she was showing me was frosting. The  plastic bag had a picture of a cake with frostin on it, but the disconcerting aspect was the English word “margarine”. “No, no,” the kind lady said when I showed her the word margarine, “frosting for the cake.”  I wasn’t so convinced, but picked up one 2 pound bag and then another for I had three cakes to frost.  I also picked up a bag of cocoa to make the frosting chocolate, but no success finding powdered sugar.  The Bamboo School girls with me assured me that I didn’t need sugar anyway because I had the frosting all ready to go in the bag!
                                          Sleeping babies all at the same time- a rare event!
Well well, so much for assurances. The “frosting” did indeed turn out to be 2 pounds of margarine; the cocoa powder was unsweetened, and I had no powdered sugar. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention so “mother” got to work. I mixed the 2 pounds of margarine with the pound of cocoa powder adn some coconut milk adn then some soy milk. Then I put them all on the stove and melted it together. The girls found some granulated sugar for me adn I poured that in– not enough to make it sweet, sweet but enough so it turned out tasting liike a surprisingly good dark chocolate. Jeremy said he had to come half way around the world to get a bite of the best chocolate cake he had ever tasted — and he was serious.
There wasn’t any cake left by the end of the evening. MoMo was pleased, the kids were happy; the floor was sticky with bits of chocolate and strawberry ice cream slathered here and there. Speeches of gratitude to MoMo had been given by several kids, tears shed and hugs given; a happy group trouped off to bed, but it was a while before the excitement settled down. A very good day – you might say!
December 16
Steve spent the better part of the day cleaning out the teacher resource room. It was an accumulated mess of out-of-date non-working computers; books that gave a new meaning to the term “book-worm” for shelf after shelf was full of books that had been mostly eaten up by worms. The bindings facing out from the shelves looked fine, but when you went to pull the books off teh shelf, they were all stuck together like glue and riddled with holes and disintegrating into moldy dust in your hands. We can still take these remnants to teh recyler and get money for them- which we did – to buy new used books that hopefully the kids will get more use out of than the worms. These books remind me of the story of Yashua confronting the Pharisees saying, “you look good on the outside but inside you are filthy.” If your life is just pretense when Yashua pulls you off the shelf, your true identity will be made known.
Steve finished loading the truck with worn-out useless things – broken wheelbarrows, rusted through 55 gallon metal drums  and anything else the recycler might want and off we went. The recycler paid us almost 600 Bhat for our junk. Close to $20 US for our trouble. Definitely a shower night!

For your information a shower at Bamboo School is not what the word would typically imply to a western mind. A bathing area is typically attached to an outside wall of the bamboo hut, usually about 4 feet square.

Bamboo wall are on three sides tucked under teh thatched roof for protection from weather. The fourth side is enclosed with a shower curtain hung on a bamboo pole. The floor is a square of cement with a drain pipe that just directs the water from your bath away from the hut down the side of the hill. There is a 30 gallon trash can taking up one corner of the bath. this trash can is filled with water out of which you dip bowls full and pour over yourself. You dip and pour, dip and pour until you’re washed and rinsed and ready to sweat again.
The boys and girls of Bamboo School go to the river for their baths. Only the teacher’s bamboo huts have the “luxury” of enclosed private bathing. When our trash can is near empty of water, we do have to go and fill it up, but a small price to pay to have water available at your hut, especially after a hard sweaty days work!
December 17
Sewing class is going well! I have 2 students, Canagee and Leslie. Leslie is teh school nurse and is married to PoKwarlay and they have a baby boy named Orion. This Sunday I will begin teaching 2 new students, Julie adn NamPueng. With only one sewing machine I’m just teaching 2 at a time (or at least that is the plan). I took apart a skirt I brought with me and made a pattern from it. Next week we’ll go to the fabric store in Kanchanaburi and buy fabric to make all the girls matching skirts. MoMo has great expectations! There are 19 girls. (Take note of the word “fabric”–you have to go to other stores for the rest of your sewing needs.)
Steve is progressing with teh music class. He now has taught them to play “As the Deer Pants for the Water” and “Hodu Lai Adonai”. When the kids are home from Thai Government School you can hear the musical squeeks and sqeals of recorders all over the campus. Steve is working on making some flutes out of the native bamboo as well.
Last night we had our second terrific rain storm. (It is supposed to be dry season; someone tell the weather man.) Around 1:00am we woke up to the sound of a torrential downpour followed by thunder and lighning. Then the roof started leaking right over my side of the bed–drip drip. The beds are built in so you can’t move them. I moved from left to right only to have the drips follow me–Can I sleep on your side of the bed Steve?
Fortunately it was a fast moving storm and soon we drifted off to sleep again. Today has been cool and overcast. The sun never broke through. Not a good day for making bread. MoMo wants us to have an Erev Shabbat service so Steve set about making Challah bread; but he is having difficulty finding a warm environment to induce the yeast to rise. It is either too hot or too cold. Where’s the baby bear’s soup that’s just right?! 
The kitchen crew is finishing the last of the Sabbath cooking preparations; the clean-up team has swept and mopped the dining hall floor; the Sabbath table is ready with candles and flowers, the grape juice and the bread –all waiting for the time of blessings. The bell rings and the kids quickly gather in teh dining hall. As is their custom before breakfast and dinner there is a time of worship before eating.ChokDee begins playing the guitar and the kids erupt in song–three songs, a prayer and all eyes turn expectantly to the table–and so begins our “welcome the Sabbath” service. The candles, songs, blessings, bread, juice–eagerly the kids participate. It’s obvious they don’t understand completely, but their whole-hearted enthusiasm is delightful. 

The Karin people don’t eat bread as a dietary staple and they definitely don’t pull off chunks as it is passed around. So this was a new experience that was met with much timidity. Most took very small pieces but a few of the boys enjoyed the abundance of Yashua with substantial chunks. The other kids nervously giggled each time someone took a big chunk- I think maybe they were expecting someone to scold them for their “greediness.” When no words reproof came, you  could see wishfulness in eyes of “why didn’t I take a bigger piece.” (The bread was delicious!)
After dinner adn clean-up we put on some music and taught the dids who wanted to learn 2 Hebrew dances-“Kadosh” and “Henei Ma Tov”. 8 Karin girls joined Steve and I and teacher Hannah. They learned really fast – much faster than I ever did! Then the girls sang and danced to some traditional Karin tunes. It surprised me how their dances are so reminiscent of Pacific Island dances; like Hawaii’s Hula dancing. We truly had a joyous Sabbath celebration. 
December 18–Sabbath
Wake up is a little late on Sabbath—7:30 instead of 5:30. Before 9:00 the kids are ready to go to the lake property for church. Many have begun walking and we’ll pick them up as we meet them on the side of the road. 52 kids loaded into 2 Toyota pick up trucks — an impressive site indeed!

It’s so beautiful and peaceful here; gentle cool breezes flowing off the lake , the Boganvilliea, poinsiettas and marigolds abloom around the church walls. What a place to spend teh hours of Shabbat. We went back to school for lunch and then came back to the lake for afternoon activities– mainly swimming– first the boys and then the girls. 

We did have a little excitement during church service this morning. A snake came slithering down the pathway and took up refuge in the rocks that line the path directly across from the entrance to our open-air church. The kids got all excited with the goys quick to pick up rocks trying to chase it away or maybe even hit it and kill it. The snake was pretty quick at dodging, thus avoiding its demise, but all during the remainder of the service it played peek-a-boo with us. There are around 200 varieties of snakes in Thailand with some 70 of those being poisonous. It’s no wonder everyone was excited. When we came back in the afternoon the snake was nowhere to be seen.

December 19   

The fellow in Sai Yok that really knows about computers is open all day on Sunday – we have not been successful in our other attempts to find him open – we are hopeful today is the day.  We ask MoMo Cat for the car to go to Sai Yok.  “Take this patient with you to the Sai Yok hospital for an x-ray and pick up another patient in Bong Ti and take to the hospital for an x-ray also,” she says.  We load up with our translator, Chokdee, and our patient and head for Bong Ti.  The man we are picking up suffered a pretty severe head injury the day before while carrying a basket of corn he stumbled and fell head first on a rock, ripping his head open down to the bone.  Cat and her EMS team responded to that emergency call and took the man into Sai Yok hospital.  The nurse at the hospital poked around in his wound with her bare fingers and then finding nothing amiss stitched him up and sent him home!  Cat thought he should at least have an x-ray so she is sending him back today.

We drop them off at the hospital and then head for the computer shop.  The fellow is in and he does know what he is doing!  After checking a few things he informs us that the power unit that accepts the computer electrical cord is non-functioning and needs to be replaced.  He doesn’t have that particular part, but he gives us an address of a shop in Bangkok that can help us.  Who knows when we’ll get to Bangkok! It does seem fixable though and that is the good news!!
We drive back to the hospital and our patients are waiting for us. The woman, Chokdee tells us, probably has TB – the hospital took a culture and we’ll know the results in a few days.  In the meantime they send her home with a surgical mask to wear over her face.  No x-ray for the head injury patient, just a new dressing and home he goes.

There are so many dogs in Thailand.  They lay in the road daring you to run over them.  Taking the work crew up to the lake this morning we hit one. Not intentionally – the silly thing got up and began moving to the side of the road as we approached and then changed it’s mind and we couldn’t avoid hitting it.  We heard it tumble under the car and come rolling out the back end.  When we looked back it was sitting in the road looking quite dazed, poor thing gave one pitiful yelp and then hobbled off.  On our way back from dropping the boys off at the lake – there the same dog was, lying on the side of the road this time looking like nothing had ever happened.  I do think I saw it gives us a doleful glare as we passed by though!

    Our hut – the shower room is to the behind-left of the trash/water can

Sewing class was this afternoon – 6 girls showed up.  I showed them how to thread the machine, thread the bobbin, cut, put together pieces of material together, pin, sew straight seams, make hems, and each girl made a little bag.  Some will stick with it and actually learn to sew, the other girls I’m not so sure.  That poor machine surely took a beating today!

The kids are doing great in music class.  MoMo wants to have a Christmas concert so they are practicing Joy to the World and doing quite well with it.  Christmas isn’t a big deal here which is nice.

Where all the dishes are washed

Because of the rain, the mosquitoes are reviving as is the malaria threat.  We’re glad we brought some electrification units with us.  They’ve caused quite a stir among the kids who come up to the table where we’re sitting using the devices and they say, “I want clean blood, shock me,” as they hold out their arms.
Not everyone gets “shocked.”
For more information on these devices do a search for the “Dr. Bob Beck Protocol.”

December 21

Sunrise View from the Porch of our Hut

There is a lot of help at Bamboo School now. Ryan and Jessie have come in from Korea until the end of the month, two sisters Rochelle and Janelle from Australia are here until February and the older Bamboo School kids away at university or jobs are coming home for the holidays- we’re filling up!

Beautiful Hibiscus off our Front Porch
MoMo Cat came home from Kanchanaburi yesterday with 20 meters of material to make all the girls Karin sarongs that they use as skirts. The fabric shop owner sold her the material- a nice cotton print for 35 Bhat per meter–WOW! I had asked her to get some zippers for me as I wanted to show the girls how to put in zippers–I’ll have them make zippered bags. She brought home 10 – 8″ zippers and told me the fellow only charged her 3 Bhat each. (It’s roughly 30 Bhat to 1 USD) Yesterday Canagee and I designed a shirt we can make to wear with the skirts. It turned out quite well, despite not having a pattern. When we get them all made, I’ll take a picture of the group and post it. Stay tuned!

Railroad Along the River Kwai
Steve made himself sore moving huge rocks around at the lake yesterday. They are building an altar like Elijah’s with twelve stones as part of the landscaping at the lakeside church. When he went to bed last night, he said, “I didn’t think I worked that hard today, but my back is telling me different.” I rubbed some essential oil on his back and prayed for his back to be strengthened and restored. He slept well and is much more limber this morning.

The school received a surprise delivery yesterday. A lady contacted Cat and said that she heard about Bamboo School and wanted to donate some things. Two delivery trucks for CocaCola showed up with the back ends loaded up with boxes and other assorted bags and packages. This morning Cat is discovering computers and desks, an office chair, lots and lots of clothes and shoes, blankets and linens and all kinds of useful items.  YHVH is Good–All the Time!

There are twelve kids at Bamboo School who need a sponsor.  Becoming a sponsor means a financial committment of about $225.00 per year per child, that helps to pay for school fees and buy school uniforms, (Thai government schools require fees and uniforms, going to government school is the only way these Karin children refugees can ever hope to get a permanent Thai ID card), as well as food, also that you develop a relationship with the child you sponsor – like becoming an auntie or uncle writing letters, sending special gifts, visiting even – just so the child knows that there is someone outside of Bamboo School who is interested in them and loves them.  If anyone is interested and we hope that there are at least twelve of you, let us know and we will send you more information and pictures of the children that need sponsors.

A Budhist Monk Waiting for the Train

December 22
If there is ever a sustained rice crop failure in this part of the world these people will starve!  Rice is the featured and preferred breakfast, lunch and dinner food.  Lately morning glory seems to be at the top of the vegetable list.  Morning glory and I are having trouble getting along – if you catch my drift!
Music class is practicing their two songs for the Thursday night concert at the Elephant Park, “As the Deer Pants for the Water” and “Joy to the World.”  (I’ll load a video clip when I get to the internet cafe, check back in a few days)
Bekah, the youngest member of Bamboo School started walking last week.  Each day she gets more sure of herself and ventures farther.  Tonight before worship she and DokMai got ahold of two recorders and were playing around with them, blowing and pretending they were playing music like the big kids – they actually were making sounds!  They were really cute to watch until Bekah fell with the recorder in her mouth. Ouch!  MorCherie quickly picked her up and comforted her, but that was the  end of the recorder playing.
Pastor Nathan made an interesting comment the other day that I’d like to pass on and think about with you for a bit.  He said he learned a long time ago that you come to help, to volunteer, but not to join.  This simple statement has caused me to do much pondering and has helped me immensely to more thoroughly enjoy my time here at Bamboo School.  Here are some of my thoughts.
To join something- there seems to go with the joining an unspoken personal permission to make or suggest changes.  Most things we join there is already a set order that we are expected to follow.  The change we might want to bring isn’t always accepted or wanted or welcomed by the leadership of the group we’ve joined or want to join.  We might be able to accept this lack of acceptance of our great ideas for awhile, but sooner or later a confrontation seems to happen if we hold onto the idea that because we’ve joined this thing we have a right to promote change.  Often, it seems as I think about this, that splits, dissolutions, divorces, separations, enmity is the result.  When we don’t like the decisions of the leadership of the organization we’ve joined, we leave that group and go about setting up our own organization that we can be the leadership of and then people can come join us – only to have this cycle begin all over again, for you will reap what you have sown.
I am thinking that if we changed our attitude to that of a volunteer, “I’m here to help, to support you.” Just imagine what kind of dynamics that attitude would put in place.   For me it has taken away that challenging “need” to suggest and want to implement changes that suit my style of thinking and doing.  There is a definite peace that come with, “I’m here to help anyway you can use me.  I’m not here to change your thing or even make suggestions, I’m here to support you!”
So please don’t ask me to join your thing for if I do then I’ll think I’m free to activate changes that might put me at odds with you.  Let me just support you with, “I’m here to help.”

December 23
Steve, Ryan, Addajoe, Kwala, Misery and Leeda finished building the altar out at the lake property.  They hefted some pretty  big stones!  Actually 7 huge stones formed the base, 4 large stones built up the top and 1 smallish stone was used as a stabilizing wedge – this one was dubbed the tribe of Benjamin.  12 stones in all, a representation of the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel.
The Altar of Elijah–12 Stones
This evening the kids went caroling.  Cat and her team had been called out on an accident so there was just the green pickup to haul everyone into Sai Yok where we had the caroling engagements.  These kids know how to pile in!  Ryan was the driver and I was riding shotgun – away we went, but very slowly, all the kids wanted to be on the  first bus into town – a 20 minute trip into town took 40 minutes.  The kids were so enthusiastic about their school night foray to Sai Yok, they sang – at the top of their lungs – all the way to town.  The next day Mrs. Happy, (she and her husband own the store where Bamboo School buys a lot of supplies), called Cat and asked, “when are the kids going to come and sing for us?”  They had heard us singing the evening before as we passed them on our way to Sai Yok. 

Our Night Out Carolling

We met Cat at the 7/11 in Sai Yok, everyone off-loaded the green truck and as many as could got in Cat’s truck, the rest walked about 10 minutes to our first singing engagement and Pastor Malcolm and his wife CJ’s house.  Jerry and his wife Nok were there as well – both of them are big supporters of Bamboo School.  The kids sang several songs and the recorder group played there specials and then we were off to the elephant park.  The elephant park is where tourists can come and experience elephants up close and personal, including a trail ride and a river crossing.  The people who take care of the elephants are a village of Karin refugees from Burma.  Many of the Bambool School kids have relatives  who live in this village and work at the elephant park.  It was plainly evident that it was a great joy to bring the school to sing for their families.  We went from bamboo hut to bamboo hut – 17 in all – singing, playing recorder specials, praying.  Steve was asked at one house to play a solo.  Quite a few families made special requests which the group was only too eager to accommodate.  Some people gave money which Cat used to buy ice-cream for the kids – a special treat.
It’s hard to explain what I experienced as we walked through that village singing for these displaced peoples.  17 homes built of bamboo, mostly thatched grass roofs, a few with tin, almost all had at least one electric bulb, but a few only lit by candles, they are living one day at a time – doing what they can do to survive in a world that seems not to care that they too are a persecuted people.  It’s a simple life, everything is done on the floor, eating, sleeping, sitting – not a lot to move if you have to go in a hurry.  Their food is simple, mostly rice, some vegetables, occassionally some meat, they bathe and wash their clothes in the river.  It’s a survival mode of life for who knows if they will be here tomorrow or be alive tomorrow.  These people know the brutality of man against man first hand.  There villages in Burma have been burned, their family members killed, they’ve been forced to flee from their homes, there life is very much about today.  They work for about 80 to 120 Bhat a day – that’s equivalent to $2.75 – $4.00 USD. 
They didn’t know about the lunar eclipse in conjunction with the shortest night of the year, they are not waiting with baited breath for the impending division of Jerusalem, there life is very much about now, not tomorrow or yesterday, but now. 
What will Yashua find us doing when He does finally return?  As Oswald Chambers says in, “My Utmost for His Highest”, will He find us ministering in the mean (ordinary) streets among the mean (ordinary) people, sharing His love, His compassion?  Will the world know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another? 
In the simpleness of this place I find myself asking, what really matters?
The prophetic march of end-time events?
The “correct” Biblical calendar?
The sacred name controversy?
The debate over the divinity of Yashua?
Or fulfilling the words of Yashua; go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and preach that the kingdom of Heaven is near, heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, cast out demons, freely you have received, freely give – the world will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.
If you are finding yourself caught up in the plethora of prophecy tauting correctness then I would say to you, “simplify” – now, today and then go to the mean streets among the mean people, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (you can find them right where you live) and let it be said of you that the world knows you are a disciple of Yashua by the love you have for one another!
December 24
John is a six year old boy who lives at Bamboo School.  His mother who abandoned him at birth had ghonorea when he was born, as a result he is blind and deaf and has ceberal palsy as well.  Hannah, the teacher from Australia, has taken over John’s care.  She told me that God had been speaking to her about caring for “the least of these” and John is one of “the least of these,” she said.  I must say he is thriving under her care.  He is much more content and happy than when we first came.  Different kids are assigned to take care of the babies – the helpless – and the kids assigned to John were doing their best, but it was quite evident that John needed more.
Hannah and John at Sabbath School
John likes sensory imput he can feel or taste.  Stand him up by a wall or a pole and soon (if he is content) he’ll be sliding his big tongue back and forth across the wall while his eyeballs roll back in his head in a pure expression of ectasy.  Hannah takes him swimming with her and you can hear John chuckle with delight.  When you pick him up to carry him someplace he’ll wrap his arms around your neck and maybe give you a big, sloppy kiss too!  Until Hannah started caring for John I must admit I didn’t see him as much besides a burden.  I look at John differently now so when a new teacher showed up this week and said to me last night while we were singing for the families of the elephant park– “we need to pray for John to be healed.” My reaction and response to her surprised me and her too! “Yes we can pray”, I said, “but we should first seek God’s will for John and then pray that.”
“Of course it’s God’s will he should be healed”, she said. I responded, “But John is a delightful little boy and he teaches the kids so much – Have you watched how they interact with him and he with them?”
“He might be cute and fun now,” she said, “but what about when he’s 30, he won’t be so easy or fun to take care of then.” I said to her, “Maybe we need to look at John for the delightful boy he is right now – Maybe John is fulfilling God’s purpose in him just the way he is.” He teaches us patience, caring, fortitude, longsuffering; John effectively teaches us how to love and be loving.
John, besides all his other troubles, has a brain aneurism. The doctors gave him a life expectancy of 5 years – he has already passed that by a year. Would it be wonderful if John were soveriegnly healed by God/YHVH? Absolutely yes! But can I see the beauty in John as he is now and love him unconditionally as a child of our Heavenly Father now? Or, is my love dependent on a physical healing?
Do we press God in our prayers demanding what we think is or would be the best before we have taken the time to discern His will? Are the emotions of our hearts and our intellect determining how we respond? Or are we learning to listen to the heart and voice of God/YHVH?
It goes again to the words of Jesus/Yashua, “I only do what I see my Father do; I only say what I hear my Father tell me to say.” We lay down our right to ourself and take up our cross and follow our Messiah.
This teacher said to me with tears in her eyes, “I have such a burden for John.” I responded to her, “Then maybe YHVH has given John to you for prayer – and care.”
She immediately took this to heart and began helping Hannah with John’s care. As the days have passed, I see such a love from her for John. She is now seeing the beauty of John as he is and she  – in fact all of us – are being changed by YHVH through this small boy.

December 25

It was Cat’s idea to take the English tradition of Boxing Day and apply it Thai style. Traditionally Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when you would box up all you extras or whatevers and then go give your “boxes” as gifts to those less fortunate than yourselves (at least that’s how I understood Boxing Day when it was explained to me.)
Bamboo School’s version: On Friday the cooking team prepared all kinds of food including Christmas cookies, no-bake oatmeal cookies and banana bread. But instead of serving all this food to the kids and us, it was divided up and put into baskets for the poorest of the poor in our near-by villages. The baskets were filled up with rice and fruits and vegetables and sweet treats and other assorted gift type items for the children of the families. Then Sabbath afternoon some of us went into the villages and passed out the baskets to 8 families—30 people in all. The gratitude these people expressed was overwhelming, bringing tears to the eyes of most of the group.
That evening the kids had their feast and received their Christmas packages, but the lesson of the day was learned—we take care of those less fortunate than ourselves, and we are blessed in the process.

Ryan was the “Ho Ho” man passing out presents to the kids
This area of Thailand has quite a bit of farming. The Karen refugees in this area work the farms to earn their daily bread. Now that the harvest is over, there is little work for them until about March. It is a hard 3-4 months for these families. They forage in the jungle for their greens, but it is the rice that they really rely on to fill out their diet.
Portions get pretty meager and many times parents go without to make sure their children have something to eat. $50 US can buy a 50 Kilo bag of rice that goes a long way to fill empty stomachs. If you would like to help support these poor families for the next three or four months you can go to and get the information on how to forward the money on to Cat. She will then buy and get the rice out to the families that are needing it.
December 26

Today is a sewing day. Cat bought material to make all the girls Sabbath sarongs. All the girls want to make these sarongs in the style of Nam Pueng’s. She is one of the older girls and her sarong has a waistband with a clasp and ties, and is sewn so it remains closed and doesn’t come accidentally undone. So instead of this project being one simple straight seam repeated 19 times, it has become more involved with fittings for dart placement and waistband measurements, and ties and buttons and buttonholes. But first, I had to figure out the pattern. It’s amazing what one can do when you have to because there are no other choices.
Between getting all the girls measured and cutting the material into size and appropriate lengths I only managed to get one sarong made. I’m not quite sure what the girls were expecting. I think maybe that I was supposed to have them all done by that evening—well it didn’t happen, but progress was made. I figured out how to sew a sarong like Nam Pueng’s.
Steve is getting a real education in the fine art of building with bamboo. He’s gone out with some of the boys into the jungle to fill their “material order” and get the correct size and lengths of bamboo for the current project. Back home you go down to Home Depot. Here you go out into the jungle– Quite a difference. And here, the isles are not level—they go up and down—steep up and down!

Technology meets Jungle…and Loses!

It is amazing what you can do with bamboo. You make all your studs out of the larger bamboo. And then you make stringers out of the smaller diameter pieces. For your “plywood” you get the really large bamboo and start going through all the joints and making splits through the joints with a machete; about ¾” apart. When you have all the joints split up, you split one of the sides clear down and through each joint. Then you roll the piece out flat and voila! –You have bamboo plywood that is amazingly strong. It bends a little as you walk on it but it is very strong. We call it Karin plywood here.
December 27

Market scene where much of our food comes from.
Tonight for our after dinner activity, Cat announced that it was Thai language night – the kids were going to teach the Teachers Thai. She had four to six kids gather around each teacher and then the teacher had to tell the students what they words and/or phrases they wanted to learn in Thai so as not to get taken advantage of by the Thai shop keepers, tuk tuk taxi drivers, how to order at a Thai restaurant, where’s the hong nam (bathroom) that sort of thing. Cat is a jokester, she told Steve to ask Amortai (his student teacher) what the Thai word for pumpkin is. I was down in the sewing room so I didn’t hear this exchange, but Cat soon filled me in on what all the laughter was about. Her apartment is directly above the sewing room and since the floors on the residence halls are bamboo we carried on a nice little conversation about Steve’s delicate predicament. (Let me explain about the bamboo floors – The planks are only about an 1/8th inch thick and they are not interlocked so you can see through the separations and even pass things through the slits – needless to say not much sound insulation.) Cat proceeded to tell me this story: several years ago an agricultural expert came to Bamboo School to help for awhile. Several Bamboo School kids were assigned to help him. At the end of the day one of the boys came to MoMo and asked if Teacher (the ag expert) was a pumpkin farmer. Why, she asked. Well, the student replied, he kept saying “pumpkin” all day long. Now for you to get the reason for Steve’s delicate predicament you need to know what the Thai word for pumpkin is – pumpkin in Thai is fauck. (Yes, like our English version of that word, but a little bit more aw sound and less short u sound.) Amortai was insistent that Steve say it correctly and Steve was just as insistent to say it not so correctly and Cat was having a good laugh at his expense!

Amortai and team teaching Steve Thai

The lesson did move on to more helpful words and phrases. Steve has such a facility for languages, he picked Thai up quickly and I’m sure next time we’re in town he’ll probably use some of his new knowledge.
December 28
Wow! The month is almost gone and in a few days it will be January 1, 2011. Happy Gregorian Calendar New Year everyone!
Last night it actually got cold! It doesn’t take long for it to warm up during the day, but we all got chilled in the night. If the houses were all enclosed it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but these bamboo huts are built for hot weather – everything is open for the pleasant breezes to blow through, so when it’s cold those breezes blow through as well. At morning worship this is the picture that greeted my eyes:

The boys are cold this morning!

Every day the girls come home from school, they find me and ask how many did I finish today? MoMo Cat has started calling my little corner of the teacher’s resource room “The Sweat Shop”, for it seems like, lately that’s where I find myself from morning to evening to bedtime! But my finished stack is now taller than my “to make” stack except that we got a new girl at Bamboo School this weekend and Cat said she needs a sarong too! I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever finish all the projects that keep piling up before we leave. Besides the sarongs, there is material waiting to be turned into Sabbath blouses to go with the sarongs. And there are little skirts to make for the babies, and scrub tops to make for all the EMS volunteers; MoMo wants to use a nice distinctive Karin print to distinguish them from the other teams. And then there are all the other daily repairs to keep up with that the kids are suddenly bringing to my attention now that they know there is a seamstress in the camp.
There is one girl, Canagee that is learning all about the sewing machine and is progressing quite nicely in her sewing skills. If I can get her far enough along, I’ll pass some projects on to her—especially the mending. She in turn can teach some of the others after I’m gone.
Steve worked at the lake today—shoveling up dirt to fill in the rock planters he and the older boys also built today, which means they had to go out to the jungle and get the rocks to make the planters with. They don’t have Home Depot carts out in the jungle either. One of the other volunteers from Hong Kong—Sarah, planted some Bougainvillea and other plants and shrubs to help beautify the lake property. They really did have a nursery so we didn’t have to go into the jungle for the plants.

Scenic drive on the way to Sai Yok

Then he and Kwala went to Sai Yok taking rubbish (that’s garbage for you in the USA) and recycling in and loading up 10 bags of Portland cement for the trip home. Cement for more projects and always rubbish runs into town—The recycler is getting to know Steve on a first name basis and even gave him and Kwala some banana cake she had made for her “regular” customers for New Years. The dump is several acres just off the road behind a hedge of trees and bushes where you go and throw off your trash and someone comes along every few days and burns most of what will burn. It’s usually smoldering somewhere most of the time. There is not much in the area of waste management here– Lots of little fires along the side of the roads for burning up “rubbish”. Steve’s been really good about getting things cleaned up—always finding something for the recycler. Our new/used book fund is growing nicely thanks to his efforts.

 January 3

Puko, Thacoo and Ethamoo –  girls gone tribal!

Steve is finally doing more of what he thought he was coming to Thailand for – nursing care.

Cat has been away quite a bit on one mission or another and Steve is picking up the slack for after-hour emergency care. Cat was in Bangkok last Thursday when a EMS call came in about 9:30 p.m. so Steve and Canagee responded. The man was having great difficulty breathing and it was decided to take him on in to the hospital in Sai Yok. The Thai nurses at the Sai Yok hospital treat the Burmese patients very badly and acting true to form they refused to admit the patient – said to come back in the morning because they didn’t have anyone to take care of him. So they brought him back to the Bamboo School clinic/hospital and Steve stayed down in the hospital administering breathing treatments throughout the night. First thing in the morning they took him back to the hospital and this time the nurses said that they wouldn’t admit him because he didn’t bring his sputum samples with him. Steve finally got them to admit the man promising that he would go get the cups and make sure they got to the hospital that day. It turns out that the man most likely has tuberculosis – we have since found out.

Another sad event for the EMS team was a call they answered a few days ago for a young – 19 years old – girl in severe distress. They ended up transporting her to Kanchanaburi, a victim of poisoning. As the story has unfolded it appears that the poison was self administered in a suicide attempt. Her boyfriend “went away” and she was not able to cope with the rejection – finding a jug of weed killer she drank a sufficient amount to accomplish the desired result, but death by this method is agonizingly slow – it’s sure but slow. For the past few days since the initial incident her body has been slowly shutting down and last night Cat received a call from her distraught father saying he needed to get to the hospital as his daughter was almost gone. There is no cure or antidote for this type of poisoning – so with time for second thoughts are there any? What agony and distress for everyone, waiting for death, knowing it’s coming and there isn’t anything one can do to prevent it.

Dr. Cozy, a pediatrician from the States was here this weekend giving the kids a check-up – in her opinion Zac’s heart murmur (he’s had from birth) has gotten louder since she was here last to check so Steve has taken him to the Sai Yok hospital this afternoon for a second opinion.

Shirley’s “sweat shop”
New sarongs for the girls

On Sabbath, out at the lake, sitting on the cool tiles of the open-air church, Cat asked us how we were feeling. As she went from person to person responses came like “privileged, happy, blessed, glad” and then she asked me, I was hoping she wouldn’t call on me as I was sitting behind her out of sight but “teacher Shirley, what are you feeling?” I didn’t want to answer because my response was going to be out of character with all the other happy responses given so far – I could have lied about my feeling and kept the happy mood going, but I chose to answer truthfully, “impatient.” I said. (Upon reflection I think I was more sad than impatient, but nonetheless.) After a couple of moments of silence she asked, “why impatient?” I said I am impatient for my Savior’s return, I would have preferred Him coming last year.”

The abject poverty, the destitution, the hopelessness, the rejection just because you are ill-favored people; it’s hard to put into words my feelings about man’s inhumanity to man – but yes, I would have preferred my Messiah returned last year. The street news on the Thai – Burma border is that war is imminent, between the Burmese army and the Karin Resistance forces. The Burmese have finally gotten the Karin army cloistered in a narrow strip along the Thai Burma border and the Burmese are feeling pretty confident that they will be able to wipe the Karin out at long last. Bamboo School is a stone’s throw from the Burma border – Cat has an evacuation plan in the event the Burmese army crosses the border to route out the Karin. But I think of all the Karin families that have made this area their home away from home. We went to the Bong Ti Baptist Church Friday night for their New Year’s celebration party. Couldn’t understand a word of what was going on, but everyone was sure having fun, all kinds of skits and music from the kids, our recorder group even performed a special number, lots of food and drinks, but the Karin who are this church are right in the path of an advancing Burmese army. The kids at this school – all of them – have suffered at the hands of unrighteous men – how long Abba must the wicked reign? How long until there are enough martyrs under the altar? How long before Yashua returns and every knee bows before Him?

Friday afternoon “goof off!”

Yes, for a hurting world, maybe I used the right word after all; I am impatient for His return!

January 5

Yesterday was a 22 hour day for us! We left Bamboo School at 2:00a.m. and got back to Bamboo School at midnight. About two weeks ago we discovered that we were 4 days over our visa. Thailand only gives entry visas for one month unless you have made other arrangements. Our options were to pay the overstay fine at the airport when we leave and get an overstay stamp on our passport which would mean we would need to renew our passports when we got back to the states so we could get into Thailand the next time we want to come or go to Thailand Immigration office and apply for an extension or change our flight and leave the country early or make a border run. We decided on the last option. Cat was going into Bangkok on Wednesday for a doctor’s appointment so we went with her and got on the 6:15a.m. bus at Ekami Bus Terminal heading for the Cambodian border.

Having grown up during the era of the Viet Nam war this was quite an experience heading for Cambodia. As the bus went along through a very lush, agricultural countryside I tried to imagine what it was like to be one of the women in their peaked straw hats working in the rice paddies when suddenly the sound of gun fire comes to your ears and you fall down in the rice paddy trying to protect yourself from the spray of machine gun fire. I tried to imagine the terror of that scene or the panic of wondering if your children were okay or the horror of seeing a soldier or a friend or family member die in the exchange of bullets. Having never experienced that reality I could not imagine it in my mind. I do not understand war. As I watch people in the different countries Steve and I have traveled in it seems to me anyway, that the majority of people just want to live their life, raising their children, going to work, eating, sleeping, laughing, loving. Usually, it seems to me again, that just a small segment of society propagates war that the rest of us are forced into. The king of Thailand is trying to recover from being poisoned by his own son. The son is anxious to assume the throne and promote his agenda which is diametrically opposed to the course his father has pursued for the last 60 plus years. The king has always favored and helped lift up the people of his kingdom; the son wants to rule by military dictatorship. While the king is hospitalized the son is making alliances with Burma – a military dictatorship. If the son gets his way there will be war. The people are already demonstrating – the yellow shirts against the red shirts. With the son ruling as a military dictator the chances of all foreigners being expelled is very high. With the threat from the Burmese army to overrun the Thai border in pursuit of the Karin people and the son attaining the throne of Thailand and becoming a military dictatorship Bamboo School is in a precarious position. What happens to the kids if MoMo has to leave the country? What happens to the kids if Bamboo School is taken away or destroyed? Please remember to pray for the teachers, the leaders, the kids of Bamboo School, that our Heavenly Father continues to hold them in his hand where the enemy cannot snatch them away.

“Welcome to Cambodia” border gate with casinos in the background
We got to the Cambodian border around 10:40a.m. About a half hour before the border our bus driver stops the bus along the side of the road and motions for about half a dozen people to get off the bus. They comply and we go on leaving them by the side of the road. About 5 to 10 minutes later we come to a military checkpoint – a soldier gets on the bus and begins to check everyone’s papers, he finally gets off the bus and we travel on. In a few more minutes we stop in front of a store in this city we’ve just come into and the same 6 or so people that he made get off the bus before the checkpoint are waiting to get back on the bus. Our driver opens the door and in they come and travel on with the rest of us to the Cambodian border. Evidently that had no papers and if caught would have been detained by the police. This happened on our return trip as well. The bus drivers seem to take care of the illegal’s – they are probably paid to do what they do, but no matter, it was interesting to watch this game of cat and mouse. On our return trip one man was not told to get off by the bus driver before the checkpoint and when the police went through the bus checking papers he was taken off the bus and detained by the police.

Us – at the Thailand/Cambodian border

The immigration lines were long and we ended up missing the 1:00 return to Bangkok bus. We saw it driving past the market on the way out of town, we ran into the road and tried to wave it down, but the driver only gave us a startled look and proceeded on. So we took the 2:30 bus back to Bangkok. It turns out this bus was the local one and not the express bus – a 4 hour trip turned into a six hour one with the driver stopping at every stop and then some between Cambodia and Bangkok. And then to boot we didn’t even end up at Ekami, but at the Morchit bus station. We were to meet Cat at Mission Hospital and Steve was not going to take a taxi or a tuk tuk so we started walking – trying to find the BTS (the sky train). After several inquiries and quite a few blocks we got to the BTS station – 30 Bhat for two tickets. Got off at the station the BTS attendant said was the closest to Mission Hospital and then tried to find Mission Hospital – walking again. Steve stopped to ask a security personnel – who didn’t have a clue – and while he was trying to figure out what we were possibly requesting of him a tuk tuk taxi showed up – talk about opportunist – “sure, sure I know where it is, I take you for 100 Bhat.”

“I’m not taking a tuk tuk,” Steve growls. “How much longer are we going to walk around this city, making Cat wait for us while you try and figure out where the hospital is?” I ask him as I climb into the back of the tuk tuk. “He better not take us to any factory stores,” Steve says as he joins me in the back of the tuk tuk. Before Steve got in he negotiated the driver down to 60 Bhat. A mile or so up the road our tuk tuk pulls into the front entrance of Mission Hospital. Cat was out front waiting for us – she had left her phone at home that day so keeping in contact and getting help was pretty much non-existent. When she found out we had come into the Morchit bus station instead of Ekamai she said if she had known she would have met us there as that was on our way out of town. We didn’t know we were ending up at Morchit until we got off the bus! “Why didn’t you just take a taxi from Morchit to Mission Hospital,” she asked when we told her of our night’s adventures, “it would have only cost you 40 Bhat.” I just looked at Steve and kept my mouth shut – sometimes its better that way!

We got the stamp and our visas are good until the 19th of January.

January 8

The Well

 It was decided that we would spend all day Sabbath at the lake, a picnic, swimming, games and craft activities; the kids were really excited! All week the different classes of kids had been practicing something special to present for this Sabbath as MoMo Cat wanted to dedicate the Lake Church to God this Sabbath. Steve and the boys have been hard at work getting the well finished – which means a roof. Kwala, Misery and Steve designed a bamboo roof, quite ingenious actually how the Karin use bamboo for all sorts of construction purposes. Pretty much the rule of thumb around here is “if you can’t build it with bamboo, you don’t need it!” For the well roof they gathered 4” diameter bamboo from the jungle and then split it down its length – the one half was placed up and the other half lapped over the first half only facing down – much like how clay tiles are applied on roofs. To hold the bamboo lengths in place a split length of bamboo is placed at the bottom that also serves the purpose of gutter as well as place holder. The roof structure was a little shaky so Steve put up some wire cross bracing that firmed the roof up nicely. The boys take special delight in cranking the wire tightener so who knows how long it will last before the wire breaks under the increasing tension!

Ethamoo, Pukio and Thacoo show off their new outfits!

Ethamoo with her personal flotation device!

 I finished all the tops for the girls that I am going to make – this trip anyway! The fabric for the blouses is an absolutely misery – you just look at it and it ravels so I am french hemming all the seams. The girls looked really cute in their new duds! The style of tops aren’t what they are use to wearing so most of the girls showed up this morning ready to leave for the lake church with T-shirts under their new tops. Later in the day I realized that they had a design to their apparel, for after church service they took off their new tops and sarongs revealing T-shirts and shorts – immediately ready to go swimming. These kids, I think would live in the water if you let them! Not all the kids bothered with T-shirts and shorts though – we had a few nude bathers, mostly the younger set, and several opted for their fancy new Christmas underwear as the latest style in swimming apparel.

For the different class presentations I have to share one with you – Jannell’s class had prepared a skit on “Jesus Feeding the 5,000.” The children obediently filed up when their skit was announced and then seated themselves like the multitude on the hillside in the Bible story. Then Jesus came and stood before them, opened his Bible and began to preach. I couldn’t help myself this picture struck me so funny, “Jesus has a Bible,” I said, and then Ray, who was also laughing, said, “And he’s preaching from Matthew.” Jesus was very serious and took his preaching very seriously, the multitude though was getting a little ancy so it was a good thing when the loaves and fishes showed up and everyone got to eat.

Steve’s music group – not everyone brought their recorders!

DokMai adding musical accents

Last evening was our last Erev Shabbat. The kids have really gotten to look forward to this time. At breakfast they were asking Steve and me if we were going to make the bread today. Then in the afternoon the girls who work in the kitchen were singing “Shabbat Shalom” they have really taken a liking to that song. I had help in setting up the Sabbath table, getting the candles ready and the wash basins and the cups for grape juice and the cloth for the bread. The first Erev Shabbat there was half the bread left over, and each Erev Shabbat the amount of bread left over has gotten less and less until this week there wasn’t any left over. The kids have really developed a taste for Sabbath bread! They are picking up the “Bread Came Down From Heaven” song as well and they really like to do the Shalom to each person with their hunk of bread. At first they were shy about breaking off chunks of bread, but I am here to tell you that the shyness for most of them has disappeared, now I have to keep them from taking half the loaf! Raising their cup of grape juice for the wine blessing is done with a great deal of enthusiasm too – LaChaim, to Life, they all shout before we drink it down. We bless the kids under the tallit each Erev Shabbat, first the boys and then the girls. They all crowd under and Steve puts his hand on each of them and blesses them, there is such an eagerness in their eyes when we do this, I just love their enthusiasm!

Bekah joins the musical action

Of all the aspects of the Welcoming the Sabbath service, the one that never fails to touch my heart is the hand-washing part. When we were in Israel two falls ago, Kaye and Martin taught us their hand-washing liturgy and we have since used it every Erev Shabbat. We have been teaching it to the kids here at Bamboo School – it goes like this; I dedicate these hands to Messiah Yashua, the hope of glory, to serve Him and Him only. We have a basin filled with water and an empty basin set out on the table. The kids all line up and one by one they place their hands over the empty basin as Steve pours water over their hands and they dedicated their hands to the purposes of Messiah. At the end of all the kids and everyone else the empty basin is now full of dirty water. It’s so prophetic to me – as we dedicate ourselves to Yashua the dirt is washed away and then we partake of the bread that symbolizes his body, for He said that “I am the bread of life – eat of Me and live” with clean hands – we have exchanged the profane for the holy.

We end the evening with singing “Shabbat Shalom”. The kids have really got this one down and the Hai! At the end is loud and boisterous! I love Erev Shabbat’s!

January 9

Shirley with Cerewan and Dang.

We leave Bamboo School tomorrow. It’s been quite an experience! I have been doing some review of the last four weeks and in that mental, emotional review I was reminded of the story in Exodus where it is said of the Israelites – “and they went around the mountain again.” When one is taken from one’s comforts and habits and traditions and thrown into a situation that is completely foreign it is then that one can begin to know what the weak spots in one’s personality, relationships, flexibility / adaptabilities really are. I told Steve after I had been reviewing my personal state of the past month, “I think I’ll have to go around this mountain again.” I missed the soft comfort of my bed, familiar food, a language I can understand, I miss my children and grandchildren and friends, I miss a real shower and hot running water and clean dishes and toilets that flush and something besides rice for breakfast. I did a fair amount of mental grousing for which I am ashamed for to grouse means that you are not living in the reality of “now,” but wishing, hoping, complaining that your reality were different which it cannot be because what is is what is. When we live in the now and accept what is as our reality there is a great peace and contentment that comes with knowing that you are in the will of YHVH at the present moment and He has orchestrated your circumstance to bring about His purpose in your life – to believe less than that would be to say that He is not in control of everything and you have assumed the role of God in attempting to declare your reality which is not a reality at all, but only a wishing that what is were something different. Peace, joy, happiness and all the fruits of the Ruach are manifestations of the reality of “living in the now.”

I will miss the loud, enthusiastic singing of these delightful, naughty children. I will miss their shy smiles and clasped hands about my waist. I will miss the whispered, “I love you teacher sowre.” (Sowre is their adaptation of Shirley.) I will miss their gentleness and sweet spirits. But they are children like children everywhere who have to be told more than once to do their chores and clean up their sleeping place and wash their dishes and like children everywhere all the stunts and shenanigans they do to get out of what they are suppose to be doing. This afternoon we ran out of water, this happens when the village below us turns on the irrigation valves, since we are at the top of the hill – no water makes its way up here – so the boys are suppose to carry water up from the well. Tell them once and they act like they are on their way to the well, but it soon becomes apparent that they are down in front of the hospital playing kickball! Go tell them again and they act like they don’t understand you so I take away their ball. 15 minutes later a call outside the teacher’s room window, “Teacher, brought up water, have ball back?”

Steve trying to get Eggleedoh to smile.

We are leaving Bamboo School having taken on the responsibility of sponsoring three children. Cerewan is 12 years old. Her father is from Burma and her mother died shortly after they fled the country. Dang is 15 also a Burmese refugee with a mother and 4 siblings, her father having died when she was quite young. Eggleedoh is 6 years old and his story has changed from when he first arrived. MoMo is now in the process of uncovering the truth. He was in the hospital with malaria fever this week, but was well enough to go to the lake with the work crew and enjoy some swimming after. If anyone would like to establish a relationship with any of these three we would be happy to forward your letters and whatevers along with ours. It would be fun for the kids if some similar age young people from outside of Thailand would correspond with them letting them know what life is like in a different part of the world. You can send your “whatevers” to us at: P.O. Box 503, Bangor, CA 95914, and we will make sure the kids get them.

Well, this is our last post from Thailand (we will most likely do a conclusion when we get home) we hope you have been blessed by the reporting of day to day Bamboo School events and the insights gleaned along the way. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again sometime soon!

January 10

Some memorable moments of yesterday.

Maymayoo enjoys a splash in the lake

 Most of us went on work details at the lake Sunday morning – any time at the lake is a good time for the kids (and the rest of us too!) For the first couple of hours everyone was working hard doing their jobs with great diligience, but the gentle lapping of the water at the lake shore could finally be resisted no longer and one by one, two by two the kids began to skip from their jobs and slip into the lake.  In their haste to join their compatriots in the lake the kids working up on the hill came running down the hill taking a shortcut through the newly planted garden.  Our fiesty New Zealander, Margaret, who was in charge of planting and maintaining the garden that day was calling out to the kids, “get out of the garden, don’t walk in the garden.” She and her team had worked all morning in the flower garden surrounding the outside of the church wall planting bulbs. She repeatedly told the children to use the path and stop short-cutting through the garden and the children acted like they didn’t hear her– granted there is a language barrier, but they all got the point when she picked up a bamboo pole and went after them with it. She didn’t actually hit anyone, but they sure got the message and stayed out of the garden (at least for a couple of minutes).

MoMo Cat got out the de-worming medicine a few nights ago and all the kids are reaping the benefits. The hong nam block–Whew! Anyway, this morning MorMor Chore (he’s 4 years old) was out playing when suddenly he sat down and put his fingers down his throat–after a few seconds of gagging, up came a worm about 8″ long. The kids were simutaneously awed and grossed out.  Steve saved the worm in a jar with water and showed it to all the kids after dinner and told them this is what they get if they eat the fish and chicken from this area.  I think some became vegetarian converts after that show and tell!

I saw my first cobra today as we were driving back from the lake. It was crossing the road and when it became aware of the truck coming, it flared its hood for a second and then like a flash of lightning slithered away. A couple of days before, Steve had seen another one on the side of the road with its hood also flared. I sure wouldn’t want to meet one up close and personal.

There are 3, what the kids call “crazy people” who live in the village close by. Tonight, during worship, a man all dressed up like a muslim “freedom fighter” slipped into our dining hall while we were singing a song during our worship time. His head and face were draped in a black cloth with only slits for his eyes to see through. He was wearing a black cloak and yellow print boxer shorts. On his head he had a head lamp and in one hand was a water scoop while in the other he carried a toy machine gun. As the kids continued to sing, he began to dance around and raised his gun into the air “shooting” it. I thought he was one of the older boys acting out some kind of object lesson for the devotional, and as I had the video camera with me, I started recording this rather bazarre object lesson. When he knelt down in a professional military position for firing an automatic weapon and then aimed and fired at me, it was then that I realized something wasn’t quite right. Steve got up at that point and also thinking it was one of the older boys, told him to stop; he had carried this charade far enough. It was then the kids began to shout out, “he’s the crazy man–the crazy man”. Steve escorted him down the hill and back to the village.

Someone put toilet paper down the western style toilet and plugged it up. No one seemed to know what to do to solve this problem so it waited until Cat got home from a medical run. Immediately she took charge–getting the special wire they use for these situations from the special place she keeps it stored at the hospital. Diving in, she quickly cleared the obstruction. “I’ve done this a few times, digging out the poop. Anyone want to take an apple from my hand now?”  she says as she goes to wash. Margaret looks at me as Cat walks away and says, “We’d have called a plumber.”

The boys are cleaning up the mess–all the kids work good when Cat’s around–much less than that for the rest of the teachers when she’s gone. They uncovered a centipede hiding under the bathroom sink. It’s a big fat one and it takes quite a stomping from the bathroom floor squeegie before it’s toast! Nagay said he was bitten by one once and almost died. Lots of things can really hurt you around here!

Tonight at dinner:
“Are you really going tomorrow?” Cher eh Moo asks me.
“Yes,” I say.
“You come back?”
“Yes, we come back.”
“When you come back?”
“I don’t know, but we will come back.”
“I miss you teacha.”
“I will miss you too, Cher eh Moo.”

Margaret washing Ethamoo’s hair

 Margaret took it upon herself to erradicate head lice from Bamboo School–at least for a day or two. Yesterday afternoon, she was combing and picking and applying the insecticide. Today at the lake, she took each child and shampooed their hair, then sent them into the lake to rinse off. Some of the girls came back for a couple of shampoos–she even got the boys shampooed. The boys don’t seem to have a  problem with the lice.

Cement mixing tub turned kayak

 The kids use anything that floats for a “personal flotation device”–whether it’s a bamboo pole, or an empty jug tucked under their shirt or a string of empty water bottles all tied together around their waist. They swim across the lake courageously with their dubious supports. I’ve wondered about their chosen floatation devices failing and what would happen then, but so far my worries have been groundless.

A favorite among the boys is to take the cement mixing tubs and use them like a kayak, paddling them with a bamboo pole. If anything, the kids are certainly creative and resourceful. One of the boys, I think it was Pordah or maybe Aglutoo, took a black plastic trash bag and turned it into a diving bell! I saw him going out into the water with this bag and my first thought as he wrapped himself up in it was, “get that bag away from that boy–he can suffocate wrapped up in it like that,” but before I could act, I saw the bag puff up with air and then the bag began moving out across the lake. In a few minutes a little brown head pokes out the side and the bag is refreshed with air and away they go again. I don’t recommend any of my grandchildren try this stunt!

Steve and MorMorChore collecting rocks

 Last night around 9:30pm I passed the most favorite after hours gathering spot and Hannah, Ray, Ayelle, Janelle, Rochell, Amy, Kwala, Darkoo and a few others were singing and playing the guitar and laughing and I stopped for a moment to listen and then came on up to my house and crawled into bed.
I must be getting old!

January 14
40 hours after we left Bamboo School we landed at the San Francisco airport.  Whew! what a trip.
It’s cold and wet at home and it feels and looks like it has been cold and wet for a while.  We are slowly getting our feet back under us – readjusting our body clocks and digging warm jackets and wool socks out of the winter clothes box.  It’s interesting to note that when we left for Thailand we were thinking warmth for that was our reflection of our northern California environment, but in Thailand we needed our summer options for the weather was high 80’s – low 90’s with humidity.  On our return my thinking was still a product of my environment, carry the light jacket – pack the warm one, no need for socks – wear my Tevas.  When we landed in Japan it was 29 degrees F and the airport was cold and the rest of the trip didn’t get much warmer. Our environment seems to produce tremendous impact on our thinking.  Upon returning home we were bombarded with news reports of the shooting in Tucson and everybody and his brother’s interpretation of the long and the short-term political and religious effects of this event.  We, as a people, have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the events of our environment that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture.  And in my opinion the bigger picture is this; Matthew 10:6-10 “but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.  Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey or even two tunics, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.”

It’s good to get out of one’s accustomed environment every now and then and be reminded of what the truly important things are.
Thank you Bamboo School for helping us remember what Yashua was all about and what we as His followers should be all about.  We love you and miss you terribly already!!

To everyone who supported us with prayer during our journey we are so grateful and thankful to YHVH for you!  May YHVH continue to hold you in the palm of His hand where He has promised that the enemy cannot snatch you away!

Shirley and Steve