It is another new day with rain, and clouds hanging low around the hills. This part of the training is over and we are having a fun day today. Yesterday we said our good-byes and were very encouraged with the feedback we received. Having the language barrier gave Linda and I (Edie) a huge challenge in communication. The Lahu don’t show physical affection and are quite shy and reserved. It took 3 days of slowly and carefully trying to say we love you and care about you, but in the end they really appreciated our teaching from the bible. Our translator, who was wonderful and skilled, said keeping it simple like we did was different but so effective. She also said teaching the women to read and study the bible on their own was a new concept for them and really needed. When we come back to do another training, Linda and I hope to have our own group of trainers, who will then go on to train other women.
The training with the men went well, although it had its challenges. The men were having a good time and all seemed free to talk and laugh among themselves during discussions. With about 50 in the room it was a little chaotic. Many have not had training in studying the bible. One of the projects we did was a case study of conflict in the church. They tried to solve it from culture and tradition instead of going to the text to find answers. We hope as we teach them how to study they will have a new resource for finding the answers to life’s questions. They also resisted a bit the teaching on marriage, not liking the idea of a husband sacrificing to serve his wife. But I think they finally got the idea that we were not trying to impose our views on them but just looking at what the bible said. How they apply it in their culture may differ from how we do.
The group seemed very enthusiastic about starting a training network here early next year. We are excited to come and help them make good progress in seeing all their pastors equipped to teach and preach the word effectively.
The days were quite warm and very humid as this is their rainy season. It seems we are literally watching the rice grow before our eyes. Standing water is everywhere and people are always fishing in the water canals. Today 2 of us are going to a Thai cooking class. I am really looking forward to it. The rest of the group are going to see some tigers. Tomorrow I (Edie) head home. Al will stay for a conference on church planting next week and then have a chance to take about 60 leaders through the first Pathways workshop. It will be a great opportunity for him to initiate training across Asia.
Though we have really wondered if we were making any progress, as usual God was producing the fruit. We are so pleased with the prayers God has answered.