Tuesday, 09 June 2015 15:29

The joys and sorrows of life here

Written by Iliya Stefanovich

As we tentatively stepped into the crowded temple, we were ushered to the sit in the front of the room on the floor. Monks arrayed in bright orange robes sat cross legged across from us following a voice leading them in a chant. I scanned the rows and saw him. He looked solemn and emotionless, yet sorrow could not be hidden from his eyes.

His hair and eyebrows were shaven. To help his fathers’ spirit get to heaven, he had to participate in the event as a monk.

I wondered what he felt, his spirit already renewed, having to take part in something he knew was not to be true. He had prayed so hard for his father to be saved.

Death. It comes so suddenly. So unexpectedly at times, yet leaving lasting pain for loved ones left behind. Last month one of our dear students Ranger, lost his father through a traumatic event. For a Burmese family, this means double the work, double the poverty. At the tender age of 12, this young boy got to experience more loss. Now he is left with his mother and older brother. We got to attend the funeral with some of our students to offer support.

After the ceremony, we drove down to the cremation center where the villagers walked around the building where the coffin lay, 3 times, holding on to a rope. No tears were shed. Each held their emotions back, silently grieving the loss of a friend. Each then laid a flower into the coffin and washed their hands in a basin of “holy” water to prevent the spirit of the dead man from following after them having had contact with his body.

Two weeks after the ordeal, Ranger returned to visit. I was amazed at how quickly his smile and boyish energy returned. However, there is still grief there that needs to be healed. Please keep the boy and his family in prayer.

We are blessed to see how the Lord has opened up the hearts of the parents in bringing and encouraging their children to come our Saturday English school. It took time to build trust and relationships, and now, here they are! Our school has grown from 10 to about 50 students who come consistently. Here they not only learn English and do activities, but here the gospel in their own language! Please pray for them to learn English and understand the good news.

The village we live in has become our latest target in reaching the Thai children with the gospel. Every Thursday, a group goes out to lead a Bible club in the school courtyard. The children come early, waiting eagerly by the door, excited to see people who care and want to spend time with them. Much wisdom is needed in carrying out the message in a way that will be understood by them.

The Lord has also blessed us with two volunteers from America and Germany, Oksana and Henry, who have come for a few months to serve with us. Please pray for them to they adapt to the culture and find Gods will regarding the duration of their stay. Both are considering longer term.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’

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