I’m on a 10 hour lay over in Seoul Korea all alone again. Making friends is one of the saddest parts of being human because we all know at some point or another we are going to have to leave them. Still, love is the greatest asset that God has given to us. The love that stems from friendship; I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’ve spent the past 2 weeks and 4 days in Chiang Mai. During these past few weeks I’ve gotten to experience some of the work Aunt Nruag does here in Thailand. Before I start though, I would like to introduce Aunt Nruag to some of you who don’t know her. She is a women who fears the Lord. Not the kind of fear that you get when approached by a lion or a tiger, but the kind of fear that coincides with reverence, respect, and pleasing an all powerful, all knowing, and ever present God. Aunt Nruag is blessed with the gift of prayer. Throughout the day she is constantly praying. In the early morning I can hear her praying. After breakfast we have morning devotions where she takes prayer request. Throughout the day wherever we go she prays. What she is known for is her kwv txiaj. She has speakers attached to the top of her vehicle and we’ll be driving throug aHmong village where she’ll be rocking the mic. During my time with her, I got to see four villages. One village was known for its beautiful roses. For Hmong village standards it is known as one of the more prosperous villages. This Hmong church was built by Koreans. We visited them because we’ve heard that the church is falling asleep and not growing. What I mean by falling asleep is that the church isn’t being opened on Sunday’s because no one is showing up. Upon arrival of the church, i could see that it was still an infant church, without strong understanding of the Word. Without a strong understanding of the Word it lacked leadership. Without leadership it was difficult for this church to stand on its own two feet. That’s where Aunt Nruag comes in. She gave them a message to never lock the church doors on Sunday no matter how few people show up. We traveled to many other villages. Each with its own particular set backs.
I was blessed with the opportunity to teach at the local church here. I was surprised that so many people showed up to church. My entering this village was unexpected from the congregation, but the youth came in full armada. I spent the next 8 hours teaching. My calves were killing me. Some of the elders would ask me if I was tired and if I needed a break, but being Hmong we are taught to be polite beyond our comfort zones. So I answered, “No, I’m fine. I can keep teaching.” It was first time I’ve ever taught for 8 hours straight. I know I shouldn’t be surprised because with God anything is possible, but I was still a little shocked at how tentative these young people are. They had pens and paper out taking notes on every word that was exiting my mouth. The following day I taught again for 8 hours and the young people had lost no fervor in learning. The people here are like a sponge, ready to absorb any knowledge that comes their way. Teaching was a great learning experience for me. I don’t fear teaching, it’s speaking 100% Hmong without adding any English that worries me. I’m glad the congregation was patient with me. My trip here ended with the youth throwing a feast. They were going to kill a dog and cook it for my going away feast, but there were a few girls who refused to eat dog so we ate duck and tilapia.
A Village called Thakohai
These past few weeks I’ve been living like a nomad without a true home. I’ve been literally living out of my backpack. Today I travel to the fabled Laos and got to step foot on the soil where my parents came from. This time I wasn’t traveling alone anymore. I was traveling with a few of the band members from Thakohai Evangelical Church. As we crossed over the Mekong River, a feeling of melancholy poured over me. This is the river where so many of my people lost their lives fleeing from their war torn country. We entered into Laos without any snags at the border, except for the two taxi drivers who were about to fight over whose customers we were. The drive to Thakohai was brief. They said it was quite a ways, but the sentiment of entering a new country made the time pass by swiftly. When I came to Thakohai we rode a rough ferry across a body of water. Then we rode on a tiny tractor rigged with wooden wagon attached. I spent the night at the pastor’s home. The Pastor’s name is XF. Pheng. He was a younger looking fellow. I would have to guess that he was little younger than me because his older brother is the lead guitarist and he’s a year older than me. Many people here seem to think I look young for my age. They’ll ask me if I’m 23 or 24. I’m not sure if I look young or if they look more mature, but the people here are under the impression that all American born Hmong look young for their age. My guess would be that the years of weathering the sun and farming the earth has taken a toll on some of them. It’s the rainy season and Laos seems to be a lot rainier than Thailand. The entire town feels like a mud puddle.
On the way to Laos I was intercepted by a group of believers headed towards a revival! So I tagged along. These young people know how to worship. No projector, no lyrics, but their voices were shouting out to God like no other. This was unlike any revival I’ve ever been too. There was no free time. It was back to back sermons and teachings. They don’t mess around here. The students had their ears glued and were lapping up every word that the pastors were spewing. Its inspiring see how hungry these young people are for the word of God. I feel ashamed that many of us believers in America are so full of the “Word” we go into a food coma and forget the prime directive. Next stop is a small village called Thakohai.
This is the day I left Khon Kaen’s Bible College. I loved the atmosphere and the students made me feel right at home. My job here was to help students with English. Helping the students here convert English to Hmong verbatim helped the students understand how backwards the English language is from their native tongue. Which I think helped them understand it better. I’ll have to admit that this has become one of the saddest trips I’ve ever made. I’ve been trekking along town to town… making new friends everywhere just to leave them.
Students here enjoy college life. They wake up every morning at 5am and get ready for breakfast; which they prepare together. Everyone cleans up after each other and the atmosphere is extremely friendly. I got the opportunity to speak with some of the students and they enjoy being here away from home. I asked them why and they said that its a change of pace for them. Back home all they would be doing would be farming and here they get the opportunity to learn and converse with other students who have the same interest. Most students here plan on going back to Laos to do their ministry. Half of the students at this school are Hmong and the other half are Lao and Thai. The young adult Hmong from Laos speak the most fluent Hmong. The Thai young adult Hmong on the other hand generally speak very poor Hmong. Most are worse than me. On Saturday’s the students are sent to community churches to help out with the children’s ministry. Most of the children who attend are not Christian. The kids are fed and given multiple activities. As I sat there and watched the kids play I thought to myself if ministries like this would work int he U.S. but came to the conclusion that it would not be possible. Our kids back in the States don’t roam freely and parents wouldn’t approve of strangers watching their kids for several hours. Never the less, it seems like we in the States need to become more creative and reach out to those who don’t know the Lord.
I cut the strings shortly after that post. I decided that even though my Uncle meant well, it does not set a good example for those who are new to the Faith. Currently I’m in Khon Kaen, I’m at a CMA school. I had a great time sharing stories with the students here last night. They are very attentive and have millions of questions about how we live in the States. I’ll be here for about 5 days. The administrators have given me a place where students can come and practice their English. It’s extremely hot here and when you try to take cold showers, only lukewarm water comes out of the shower heads, but at least I have shower heads. Today I’ll be traveling with some of the students to the churches they are helping.