All 72 of our children, new and old, arrived safely recently. The breakdown is 10 college students, including Thaa, Saa, Wi, Mao, and Pat, our new college students who will attend college in Buriram a few days from now.
We have 28 girls in Bethel, including 8 new girls: Mai, Mae-Lee, Mi, Net, Di, Dow Lek, Yupa, and Bee. There is one new boy in Bethesda named Chai, and we have received 22 little kids into Bethlehem House.
The elementary-aged children have already changed the dynamic here very much, almost entirely for the better. We are very busy, of course, especially with the little kids. Noot is doing a great job under Yao’s supervision and is ably assisted by Yokie, P. Baa, David, and Sharon. Witoon, Doi, Jonathan, and all the college students have willingly and cheerfully helped in numerous ways. Noot’s love for the kids is an inspiration to all of us. I am delighted with the family atmosphere and the interaction between the older and younger children.
Our children come from a wide variety of tribes and cultures, and some of the precious little ones have heart-breaking backgrounds. One little girl (aged 10) and her sister (aged 8) were treated abominably by their stepfather three years ago, with their mother’s co-operation. Mai’s (Alae) mother committed suicide a few months ago, and her father is serving a long prison sentence for a drug-related crime. We found Mi literally sitting in dirt by the side of the road near Krasang. Her mother is an alcoholic, and her father has abandoned them. Each of our children has a sad and deprived life experience to date. It will be a huge challenge to undo much of the wrong foundations laid down in their young lives and equally challenging to lay down a healthy, God-honoring one.
Kaimuc (translated Pearl), our tiniest tot, was devastated by an incident in school. The other girls in her class refused to sit or play with her, saying that she was ugly due to a slightly darker skin color than their own. Non Lek, one of our new boys, overhead the comments and immediately sat down beside her, patted her on the shoulder, and said, “Never mind; I’ll sit with you.” It was just like what Jesus has done for so many of us!
The evil one is not indifferent to what we aspire to do here. A few of the tots were frolicking happily like a gaggle of little ducklings in the nearby reservoir when they got into difficulty; thankfully, Thaa, David, and Jessi were alert to the brief and real danger involved. We had to be wise and at the same time firm in dealing with a local couple who are Buddhists and animists after they sent their three children to us covered in amulets. We did not want to offend them or lose the little children, as the family live in a tiny shack made out of rusted corrugated iron sheets. Yao dealt with the situation very well and to everyone’s satisfaction.
Most of our children received very good exam results; Duan (3.85 and 1st in her class) and Mae Yai (3.71), two of our college students, did particularly well. Bec Yai (3.87) achieved first place in his grade 11 exams, and Thong and Buyae were second and third respectively for the third time in a row. We are very proud of them. A special mention must go to Thiew, Mika, Miew, Nook and Um, who are not academically gifted, but through diligence and hard work improved their average scores quite considerably. We are equally proud of them!
We are excited by the unprecedented challenges and opportunities this year presents to us. At the same time, we are acutely aware of the enormity of the challenge and that without Him we can do nothing of lasting value!
Please pray for us.
Yao, Witoon and Ewe, Noot, Charles and Yoke Fong, David, Doi, P. Baa, P. Jim, Jessi-Ann, Jonathan and Sharon