Tomorrow will end our three day visit to our campus in Wiang Pa Pao, a project we sometimes refer to as “the farm.” While we do have some crops growing here – lychee, pumpkins, corn, chilies, cabbages and mulberry trees (for a small-scale silk production) – it’s the people that we’re here to see.
Tutu’s parents live here as caretakers, along with 7 widows, 8 other staff and two homes of 20 kids each. The homes are both sponsored by Wooster Grace Brethren Church, which has been a generous partner for many years. I remember when the property was fallow and abandoned, the large house which is now the Wiang Pa Pao 1 home in disrepair. Today it’s in great shape, something always under construction, and filled with laughter.
Last night we had dinner Tutu’s parents’ cottage – home-grown chicken, mountain rice and the best mangos you’ve had. We played soccer with the kids and watched them leap through the air catching a rubber band rope with their toes in a game that I could barely understand, much less attempt. We sang songs and walked hand-in-hand through the mulberry orchards.
Today we showed up around 11am to find that the pig for this afternoon’s barbeque had already been slaughtered, an apparent concession to the my kids’ western sensibilities. We didn’t complain; we’ve been present for the pig’s demise on a number of other occasions, and it’s a fascinating, but nasty business.
Staff and kids worked together to butcher the beast, and before long, the meat was portioned into large bowls where it was combined with garlic and chilies grown on our property, honey, soy sauce and other secret ingredients. The meat was hung on hooks inside a grill made from a cleverly-converted 50 gallon drum and cooked over charcoal and wood until the outside was glazed and crispy, and the inside tender.
Demonstrating once again the superiority of the New Covenant, we feasted on pork until we felt like pigs ourselves. We then escaped the afternoon heat, retiring to the newly-constructed chapel to play games and enjoy the two new keyboards bought by one of the members of Wooster Grace Brethren.
After exhausting ourselves, we returned to our rooms at a local mountain-side hotel and enjoyed a dip in the pool. Right now, Kori’s reading a book and all three kids are working on their summer homework. Tutu’s coming to pick us up for dinner soon, although I must confess I’m all that hungry. I just hope pork isn’t on the menu.
Tomorrow we’ll worship together, have lunch and then return to Chiang Mai. We’ll spend the evening with the kids from Doi Saket 2, and then before we know it, our time with Asia’s Hope Thailand will be over. On Wednesday, we fly to Bangkok for a couple of days of r-and-r, and then we’ll be headed to India for the next phase of our adventure.
I still have quite a few meetings with staff and visits with kids before I leave, but I feel like I have had a productive trip thus far. Beyond that, it’s been enjoyable. My family travels well together, and aside from a few surly moments from each of us at different times, we’ve not let stress on our bodies and minds discourage us or turn us against each other. I’m sure that before this is all finished, we’ll have our moments, but for now I’m feeling extremely blessed to be able to taste and see the fruits of the last decade’s labors. Thank you for your love and support.