We arrived safely late Friday night into Bangkok and then on into Chiang Mai on Saturday morning. It was a long and brutal trip and I have lots of aches and pains to show for it. Our aging bodies don't handle these long flights quite like they used to. Our room is nice; clean and comfortable although the bed is the usual Thai bed: hard as a rock. It is only a short ten minute walk to the training center.
It is fairly hot here and very humid since this is the wettest month of the year and it rains almost every day. But it is beautiful and green and we have enjoyed a couple of adjustment days before we had to start the conference, which begins today. There was a meal and worship service last night and we really enjoyed it. At the meal the Lahu were mostly shy and afraid to come up to us. One young woman that we sat near slowly moved away and finally got up and went to another place. They are timid because they cannot speak English and do not know what to do with us, something I can identify with myself. As the week goes on, I am sure this will improve. At the the worship service the singing was fantastic, rich with great harmony. The Lahu are excellent singers. We were given a song sheet, mostly hymns, and sang along although we had no idea what we were singing. We had about half the preaching translated so got the just of the message and afterward we had a chance to greet people. It seemed to break the ice somewhat.
Yesterday, Sunday, we attended a local church. I thought what I could catch of the translation of the sermon was very good. After the service we went to a man made lake next to a new subdivision that is under construction to have a baptism. The water was chalky brown, but they were not deterred. I think the people were happy that we were there to celebrate with them.
Our host missionaries, the Callahans, have been super in caring for us. This is a special couple. They are rather ordinary Minnesotans, he was a technician for a phone company and she was a secretary, and in their early fifties felt God calling them to missions. But we are so inspired by their deep love for God and the Lahu people. They have taken on huge responsibilities and have flourished not because they were well trained or gifted, but because they have great dependence upon God. They are a great example of what God can do with anyone who is willing to depend upon Him and follow His leading. We have grown to admire them so much. I love to be around people like this! What an encouragement.
Please pray for us as we begin the conference. Edie and her partner Linda will be working with the women in the afternoons while Mike, Mark and I will teach the whole group in the mornings and the men in the afternoons. Our goal is to introduce them to what we do in our training workshops and to excite them about learning to study the bible well. The Lahu are a gentle and humble people and we want to teach in a way that fits with their culture. We have a lot to learn about how to communicate well with them not only in words and ideas but also in manner and character. Thanks for standing with us.