It has been a very interesting week here in Thailand. Edie and I both find it to be very pleasant and enjoyable to be here so that has been great. Our missionary friends and hosts the Callahan's have been super as usual. We really love them. But, there have been some challenges also. On the first day of training I discovered that none of the students had completed their pre-assignments because they were never handed out. It is too hard to distribute them to the men because they all live in rather remote areas of the mountains. We hope to solve that by passing out the assignments for the next workshop tomorrow.
In addition only about half of the men had passed the training on to others. It is one of the conditions of our training that they will all pass the training on to other pastors. We had a discussion together about that and I was able to be straight forward about our policy and the reasons for it, but at the same time being gracious and gentle. I think it turned out to be a good time for them to really think about God's calling on them to be trainers and the importance of the task. I emphasized their need to train others throughout the week. This afternoon, Thursday, they had a planning meeting and they all worked together in groups to make plans to do trainings in their areas. They all seemed committed to the task and we prayed for each training group. It was a special time for me to see them express that commitment and desire.
It has been quite a learning experience for me this week. Lahu, their native language, is quite different than English and is much more simple. The structure, subject, predicate, etc., is backwards to ours but they also often do not speak in complete sentences, leaving out verbs or subjects completely sometimes. "Go store" leaves you wondering if they are going, they already went, you are going or if it is a question. "Me store" is also possible but seems inexplicable to us. They must have some kind of contextual clues or body language to give meaning because it all makes sense to them. Anyway, it is hard to talk about studying scripture when it is difficult for them to even tell you what some phrases mean or when they do not have a word at all for some concepts. Often when they are faced with that they substitute a Thai word which makes it even more complex. In addition their bible is a translation of the Good News bible which is a poor version in English. Some of them use a Thai bible, which is excellent, but then they discuss it in Lahu. I think you can get the picture. But even with all of that the Lord has done a good work this week and they have made good progress in learning how to study and in getting excited about learning to study. I have learned by necessity some new ways to explain concepts and tools that will help me in future settings. God is really demonstrating His desire for them to learn and teach His people properly His Word.
It has been a long three weeks since we left home with lots of heat and long days. It is not as hot here but much more humid. We have had our ups and downs but are satisfied with what has been accomplished. We have enjoyed our brethren in each location. They have all become quite dear to us, and us to them. But we are getting tired and it is time to come home. Thankfully we planned a couple of days in Southern Thailand near a beach for some rest and recoup before we come home and hit the ground running. We are looking forward to a bit of time off and some good time together alone. We will let you know how that goes in a few days.