United Methodist Missionaries serving in Thailand

United Methodist Missionaries serving in Thailand

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We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission

We serve with the Thailand Methodist Mission
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Monday, April 16, 2007

Celebrating Thai New Year in Li, Thailand

Thailand has three New Year celebrations: the Solar Calenday New Year's Day (Jan. 1st), Chinese New Year, and Songkran (Thailand's New Year). Songkran is by far the funnest of them all. Songkran is supposed to be a few days of celebration during the second week of April, but different communities celebrate on different days, so it is really stretched out to two weeks. During Songkran, all the children and some adults (women more than men, from what we observed) go out to the streets and throw water on each other. To the right is one of the "water crews" in Li, Thailand, which is up in the Northwest region of Thailand. Li was where we celebrated Songkran because we were helping with an English camp at the Li Happy Methodist Church. While there we were soaked everyday. We were told that Songkran started on the 13th, so we did not think anything of it when we placed our luggage in the back of Pastor Wirot's pickup. Little did we know that all of our luggage would be waterlogged by the time we reached the church (All except Sherri's clothes, she was smart and wrapped all her articles in plastic.) As you travel, you see children and youth stationed by 55 gallon barrels filled with water by the roadside, and they use their buckets with great skill to aim their water at moving targets. They usual hit their mark too. There are also many, many pickup trucks with 55 gallon barrels of water in the back and a crew to throw water. They form mobile watering units that get anyone wet who was able to avoid the roadside crews. Anthony was a favorite target, being a rarity in Li with his light colored skin and blonde hair. Anthony enjoyed Songkran and became quite skillful with dousing people with water too.
While in Li, we were able to help with an English camp. Li Happy Methodist Church has three Philipinos Christians who are members there and teach English at the local school. Faith, Reya, and Richard provided the teaching the first day and the children had a lot of fun. We also had help from a team of young adults from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) that helped on both days of camp and did most of the instruction on the second day. It was a great blessing to work side-by-side with them and it was an inspiration to see these young men and women serve the Lord here in Thailand. The camp was a great success.
Li Happy Methodist Church is also the site of an orphanage which the UMC supports through GBGM and through the tremendous financial and prayer support of the Korean United Methodist Church of Detroit, Michigan. Most of the orphans come from hill tribes that have settled in the mountains of this region. This orphanage not only houses and supports orphans but also provides transportation to school and back for hill tribe children as well as paying their school fees and provided lunch. Because of their ministry, many children have access to education and a better future as well as being brought up in the faith of Jesus Christ. KUMC of Detroit has provided funding for dormitories for the orphans and this will help them to expand the ministry.
We help to support a young teen girl called Mandeegok (with Sherri in this picture -- they are greeting each other with a wai), who is a Christian girl who lives at the orphanage. She is a cheerful, loving, and very helpful teen, always finding ways to help by serving meals and cleaning up. We invited Mandeegok and her friend to come to our place to visit and we hope they will come. Mandeegok has never seen the ocean, nor has she traveled away from her region of Thailand, so coming to Chon Buri would be an expansion of her world.
We spent 7 days in Li and we are now enjoying being back home where they are just starting to celebrate Songkran. I guess we will be soaking wet for another week. We will need to be careful when driving the motorcycles, because it can become dangerous when the water bucket squads target us. So we will just have to drive very slow and become very, very soaked.
Songkran provides a great time to witness about Jesus. The idea behind all the water is that the water makes you pure as you begin a new year. Of course we know that mere phyical water does nothing to cleanse sin-stained souls. We tell them about Jesus Christ who is the Living Water, who cleanses us from all unrighteousness and gives us new life in Him, so we will never thirst again.