“Blessed is he that considerate the poor. The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive!” Psalm 41:1,2
Just came out of MeDeLeGwee village after spending one full week with them. What an experience is ours! I could never tell it in full color!
First of all it was BletJhaw’s idea, a stroke of genius, to reach out to that village, and his idea was straight from heaven. The week started out really rough, because we needed time to prepare, but had no time. We had just been exposed to Meningococcal Septicemia, a deadly and contagious bacteria, and were trying to get everyone who had contact with this man to take prophylactic antibiotics including the children. BletJhaw and myself were the most at risk. I realized this was another attack of the devil to dishearten us and hinder our work.
We were already weary from a relentless schedule of travel, patient care and Bible studies, but we arrived in MDLG Wednesday morning and immediately went to work cleaning up the large wooden house that we would stay in.
The floors were swept and scrubbed with water, the kitchen needed extra work. At least there was an outhouse even though the bamboo walls were shredded out!
This house had been empty for quite some time, because of a death in the family, but it was the best house in the village and perfect for us. The villagers helped us carry in supplies. They marveled over all the food and especially the propane tank and cook stove. I had my box of medicine and intermittently treated patients throughout the entire time.
We noticed that a few people were busy sweeping under their houses already because they knew we were going to help them clean up their village. Wednesday through Friday we helped each family sweep and scrape under and around their houses.
Animal dung was thick everywhere. People were collecting tons of cow/pig/chicken dung for their gardens before we threw it all away.
I got my education about pigs this week – stuff that I really didn’t care to learn about! Pigs were tied up under every house, others just showed up everywhere. As we swept the ground they squealed a lot because cleaning was not a priority in their lives! Pigs carry flees and we got all bitten up! What whelps and what itching!
We began cooking for the evening meal at about noon. Thara Jerry, (BletJhaw’s brother-in-law) was the chief cook. We assisted him. The propane burners were not big enough for our huge pot, so we used the open fire. Every evening the food was wonderful and the people came. We had enough food for everyone – around 40 people.
After eating we had worship, which was the most important part of our program. The people loved our singing! BletJhaw played the guitar and the 3 of us sang our hearts out, some songs in English, most in Karen. The people never heard singing like this before and they love it! God helped me to speak each night on their level. These people knew nothing about God. What a delightful privilege to be the one to introduced them to God, The first night was: “Who is God, Why worship God?” followed with a brief health talk on the importance and care of the teeth. The next night: How to pray to God and the health talk was on water inside and out. We were thrilled at their eagerness, fixed attention and interest.
We gave each family their gifts of basins, dippers, laundry soap, bar soap, hair shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Such excitement prevailed!
The next day we noticed that people had their fresh laundry all hung up on bamboo railings in the sun!
Mothers were giving their children baths with soap before bedtime! They came to dinner and worship clean and sweet smelling!
Sabbath was disappointing. We had announced that at 8a.m. we would go to church in BYT and would take anyone who wanted to go. I had prepared a special sermon for them that would build on the topics already discussed.
We ate our meals at another house each day because this family supplied our rice. This village has no machine to pound the rice. It is done like this for 40 minutes or more to supply a family for a day.
As we were opening our mouths to begin eating on Sabbath morning, a pig was being slaughtered by strangulation next door! Oh the squealing and squalling! The sights and sounds of the way they were doing it turned my stomach and I was unable to eat. As the rest of the people were eating their breakfast, that big fat pig was placed on bamboo rails just outside and the people were scraping the fur off with their machetes – you see they use every part of that pig accept the fur. The big pot was boiling over open flames all ready to receive the flesh of that pig. The smell was dreadful. So this Sabbath day the village of MeDeLeGwee was planning a big feast! Someone’s relative had already arrived in a truck early to deliver alcohol and some of the men were drinking at 7:00a.m. Wouldn’t you know it. . . . . . .Nobody got in the truck with us to go to church in BYT.
The next week was a lot more promising. We got to know the people better every day and they became very dear to our hearts. One lady followed me everywhere. I really love her!
I don’t know if she was curious, or just wanting to help. Later I found out that she was the village thief. Nobody trusted her. There was also a young man there who occasionally would loose his mind.
The people told us that he would go into houses and just throw everything away so we tried to be careful with these two people.
Tuesday was our last day, and the people all needed to work in their rice gardens that day because the deadline from the government for burning the mountainside was Thursday and they had a lot of work to do. Everybody asked us if we would help them. We decided we could make closer friends with them if we worked along with them. I was really not prepared for this kind of work, but I have always wanted to work on the mountain rice.
Off we went up the tangled jagged jungle mountains to work. I was the only gulawah, (white person) of course. At 64 years old I was more than twice as old as most of them. I was the only one who did not wear pants, and I did not have the rubber boots that keep you from slipping on the steep mountain or sinking into the swamps. The men kept telling me that the mountain is tall and I will be too tired. They were all really worried about me going. People my age stay home and don’t do this work, they are weak and tired, but BletJhaw told them I was strong, I could do it – no problem. It is true, I am really strong and used to climbing the mountains, in fact I was not as tired as some of the other women, but I do not like the steep downhill grades. I found out that our job was to cut and clear a wide path around the mountain rice garden. This would serve as a fire block when they burned all the dead trees that had been cut for the garden. We did not have any fancy tools, but cut down lengths of tree branches and left some leaves on the end to be used as brooms. a few people had hoes.
I was amazed as the men went ahead with their machetes, cutting down small trees, bushes and weeds. The rest of us swept them away along with all the dead leaves on the jungle floor. A wide clear path was made visible right before your eyes! Of course the dust and bugs were thick as we swept vigorously with the tree branches. Everybody was itching all over and we had itch bumps on top of the already existing pig flee bites! I really loved working with these people until we came to a steep escarpment.
The men and boys leaped right down it like mountain goats. The women went around the side escaping the steepest portion, but still it was very steep and all the little trees had been cut down leaving hardly anything to wedge your feet on, only loose dirt! My flip flops were so old and smooth on the bottom just like a pair of snow skiis! At one time I lost my footing and went sliding down rapidly a long way on my bottom! Quite amusing I suppose for everybody else. I still had a long way to go straight down, but finally made it.
Many people were at the bottom watching, not making fun only feeling sorry and wanting to help! Lovely people! I wasn’t the only one with a mishap that day. Some were stung by dangerous caterpillars, we all were itching quite a lot, and BletJhaw cut his finger badly on a long dry stem. One man, we’ll call the jungle medic, grabbed a certain weed that I have learned stops the bleeding.
He scrubbed it in his hands until the green juice dripped out and then plastered it on the finger. A lady took his machete and cut part of her shirt off at the bottom to be used to tie the weeds on.
Now at the bottom of this mountain was a tiny flow of water where someone placed a split bamboo. We got a cool drink, using leaves as cups. Then they cut down banana leaves and laid them down for a table and cut some smaller leaves for plates.
We sat down and ate rice and chili. What a beautiful spot for a picnic. Finally we cut and swept some more, every step is steep up, down, or sideways.
BletJhaw, Jerry and I hurried all the way back to the house to prepare the evening meal. This would be the last meeting together. The food was exceptionally good this time.
Also the worship was the final, most powerful, heart touching worship of all about Jesus loving us so much that He was willing to die for us. A story they had never heard. I wish you could have been there! The Holy Spirit surely was! We ended with the health talk about the 8 natural laws of health. Next we gave T-shirts to everybody and took their picture.
How happy they all were! Our hearts were knit together in love. I then used my computer to show all the pictures I had taken during that week, of the cleaning, the people, the children and the mountain sweeping! Even some videos. They love it, staying late to hear some more singing! We finally had to dismiss them to their homes. I would like to think they hated to see us go. We packed all our things up, gave away the remaining food and waved goodbye. I can still see all those dear people wearing the blue shirts we had given them, hands in the air waving goodbye.
I stand amazed and breathless at the way God uses simple ignorant people like us with very little talent and makes something powerful out of it for His glory!
“He, (God) corrects our erring piety, giving the burden of the work for the poor and needy in the rough places of the earth, to men and women who have hearts that can feel for the ignorant and for those that are out of the way. The Lord teaches these workers how to meet those whom He wishes them to help. They will be encouraged as they see doors opening for them to enter places where they can do medical missionary work. Having little self-confidence, they give God all the glory.” CH 26.3