Guest blogger: Amy Hettinga
Daily life is unique to each culture and community. We are becoming more aware of this reality as we live in Thailand and visit various communities of people. Many factors affect the way each culture does things: weather, religion, income level and traditions.
Rather than just a day trip to a Lahu Village in northern Thailand we stayed there overnight to allow Nate to teach a group of Lahu pastors on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hmmm. That meant that all eight of us rode in a taxi-van into the jungle hills wondering what it would be like. We were spared two things I was concerned about (monsoon mud and night mosquitoes).
What we found was a very different way of life than what we know. These villagers live simply. Village life could be compared to permanent camping with crop farming and lots of chickens, pigs, dogs and cats. The people are kind. We could not communicate using words since our family doesn’t speak Lahu or Thai. A Christian family let us take over their one room living space – a room on stilts with a roof and shutter windows. The son and his young wife had to walk through our room to get to their tiny bedroom. The young daughter came in and out to see us and to borrow Isaiah’s toy tractors. That’s community living!
We felt grateful for their hospitality. They had so little, yet they shared freely with us. The bathroom was down the stairs and outside – a cement room with a squatty potty and a bucket of water to use to self-flush the hole in the ground (very typical Thai bathroom, yet this was more primitive). We never did find a place to wash our hands in clean water. Another Christian woman graciously prepared meals in her home for us – rice, eggs, pork, leaves, vegetables and fresh fruit from their land.
We slept on the mats we brought on the wood floor of our room – all eight of us plus the young couple who lived there. It never cooled off at night. Our skin felt sticky. Did I say we slept? I meant we dozed off and on between sweating, hearing the rooster below us crow throughout the night, and the feeling of tiny ants crawling on our legs. But eventually the sun rose and we could hear villagers feeding their chickens and pigs and starting a new day.
We were not sure what the six kids and I would do while Nate taught for eight hours. My babies were hot, tired and cranky (the rest of us were too, but we tried not to show it). Much of our time was spent tending to their needs.
In that kind of heat with no aircon we had little energy. We took lots of short walks with our umbrella stroller along the dirt paths of the small village. We smiled and waved at the people tucked in their huts; grandfathers had infants slung on their backs; dogs followed us in packs; the preschool classroom had no walls so we could wave and hear them sing Lahu songs to us through the chain link fence; motorcycles zoomed by loaded with two people and farming supplies; women looked at us with curiosity and returned our smiles.
Having little Levi and Isaiah with us warmed the people to us like nothing else could. The Lord knew that all of us needed to go stay in this village so we could see their life and see God at work.
The men Nate was teaching were obviously filled with Christ. They are learning through solid Bible training to understand the gospel and to teach it to their various villages. The power of God is here!