Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | June 29, 2014

Jungle Journal, April 22 – I’m Very Naughty!

What began as a learning conversation (three of our students needed to learn a little more about acceptable and unacceptable behavior at a Christian school) ended in scheming new ways for them to learn English.  Together we decided to institute an “English only” day until after we finished eating dinner.  The “punishment” for speaking Karen?  Those “naughty” students would sing us a special music in English before being allowed to speak Karen for the evening.

They tried, oh, how they tried!  But when it came time to sing special music, all twelve students stood sheepishly before us in our living room.  We laughed and told them it was okay because if the roles were reversed, we’d be singing, too!  The little group looked forlornly at one another, wondering what in the world they were going to sing to us when Momo offered to teach them their special music.  They agreed, and after hearing the song twice, and laughing heartily at the meaning, they sang it to us with gusto.  Moo Cheh even decided she was going to translate it into Karen for when they institute a “Karen only” day and we need to sing to them (the translation is complete, by the way…and I know how to sing it, too)!  So, for your amusement, I decided to include the words so you can enjoy our special music, too:

“I’m very naughty, I’m very naughty;

I’m naughty, naughty, naughty, naughty, naughty.

I’m very naughty, I’m very naughty;

I spoke ကညီ ကျိာ် today!”

(Guh Nyaw Gloh – Karen Language)

Life in the jungle is very good.  I’ve actually been struggling to know what to write about, since everything seems so normal to me.  We just go about living our daily lives, accomplishing our daily tasks – most of them exactly the same as what you do.  We cook, eat, sleep, work, play, bathe, wash our laundry, work in the garden or on special projects, get firewood, clean our house, and run errands.  I guess the only difference is how we accomplish our tasks, but the methods have become so normal to me I hardly think of them as unique anymore – except when I visit the U.S. on furlough.

Jason and Destiny washing dishes.

Jason and Destiny washing dishes.

Meme and Hannah watching as Memewah and Sarah tie trays of sliced and de-seeded bananas to the roof to dry.

Meme and Hannah watching while Memewah and I tie trays of sliced and de-seeded bananas to the bamboo rafters to dry.

And yet our lives are never boring.  Just last week Jason climbed the ladder into the house where Momo and I were working on projects.  From his pockets he pulled a large quantity of jungle mangos.  We were ecstatic and promptly decided to go pick more with the intentions of making fruit leather.  So, with several students, Momo, Meme, Memewah, Destiny, and I headed upriver to the mango trees.  Moo Yer climbed into the huge mango trees and cut mangos for us with his machete.  We gathered the mangos into a large rice bag as they fell to the ground.  But Moo Yer didn’t stop there; he also climbed several coconut trees and we returned home with the front end of the boat loaded with young coconuts, too!  As we watched the coconuts fall to the ground, Memewah shouted with great glee, “Ka-poom!  Ka-Poom!  KA-POOM!”  I couldn’t help smiling at her version of “Ka-boom!”

Our living room full of students washing, peeling, and slicing green mangos for drying.

Our living room full of students washing, peeling, and slicing green mangos for drying.

Moo Cheh and Vah Roh Oh laughing about something.

Moo Cheh and Vah Roh Oh laughing about something.

After drying the mangos in the sun, we store them and use them when making curries and soybean or sesame paste.

After drying the mangos in the sun, we store them and use them when making curries and soybean or sesame paste.

On our way home, Moo Yer steered the boat to shore.  Several students had found a mother owl with four babies in the nest and wanted to show them to us.  Moo Yer climbed the tree, and, to our surprise announced that the mother and two of the babies were gone.  Surveying the situation, we decided the mother had abandoned the two remaining babies, and so we decided to bring them home.  We turned our newest babies over to Soo Sah who has raised owls in the past.

The school building is nearly finished.  I was amazed at how quickly such a large building could be raised.  After the ground was leveled (that took the longest of anything), the posts went in one day.  The next day all the framework was completed.  The following day we cancelled school so everyone could help as the roof went on the main part of the building.

Leaves we gathered from the jungle to sew into panels for roofing.

Leaves we gathered from the jungle to sew into panels for roofing.

A stack of leaves being flattened before sewing.

A stack of leaves being flattened before sewing.

The classrooms/dorm, prior to adding leaves.

The classrooms/dorm, prior to adding leaves.

Aye Aye Poe, Baw Baw, and others splitting bamboo ties for tying the leaf panels onto the bamboo rafters.

Aye Aye Poe, Baw Baw, and others splitting bamboo ties for tying the leaf panels onto the bamboo rafters.

Tee Moo, Momo, Memewah, and Moo Yer splitting more bamboo ties while enjoying one of the Nebblett family's CDs.

Tee Moo, Momo, Memewah, and Moo Yer splitting more bamboo ties while enjoying one of the Nebblett family’s CDs.

Destiny peeking through the floor at Momo and the others.

Destiny peeking through the floor at Momo and the others.

Say Ploh, Vah Roh Oh, Moo Ler Bweh, and Saw Jayn scaling the rafters.

Say Ploh, Vah Roh Oh, Moo Ler Bweh, and Saw Jayn scaling the rafters.

Jason and Destiny delivering more leaf panels.

Jason and Destiny delivering leaf panels.

Esther Paw helping tie down the leaf panels.

Esther Paw helping tie down the roof.

They completed this side of the roof and half of the other side in one day.

We completed this side of the roof and half of the other side in one day.

Jason and Destiny observing the progress.

Jason and Destiny observing the progress.

All I can say is that God is so good to us!

Sarah, Destiny, and Hannah playing bamboo "gee-tars," as Destiny likes to say.

Sarah, Destiny, and Hannah playing bamboo “gee-tars,” as Destiny likes to say.

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | June 22, 2014

Jungle Journal,  March ?? – The Whiteboard “Rat”

It all started when “Daddy” (Mr. Sharon) and “Momo” (Mrs. Sharon) left for Mae Sot on a visa run.  The remainder of that Thursday proceeded as normal, Jason and I sharing responsibilities of teaching five classes to twenty-seven students, supervising the work program, cooking lunch and dinner, and managing the four little girls, two of whom decided to be naughty.

Friday morning dawned earlier than usual.  Through some misunderstanding, the girl students who have been sleeping in our house woke up around 4:30 in the morning and began their day at a normal level of volume.  By 5:00, all four of the younger girls (including five-year-old Hannah and two-year-old Destiny) had been thoroughly awakened and all hopes of them sleeping longer fled.  Once again, the two naughty ones from the day before continued their behavior and I didn’t dare leave them alone for a moment.

After morning worship and breakfast, rather than heading out for work, most of our twenty-seven students packed their bags and headed back to the refugee camp for the weekend (Although sorry to see them go, I was exhausted and relieved).  Jason and I hauled the whiteboard up the hill to his house where we’ve established a temporary kitchen.  As he cooked soybeans for soybean paste, our nine remaining students gathered around and we drilled them on some basic English conversations.  Fortunately Destiny slept through class and lunch preparation, which made for a cheerful little girl the rest of the day.

By 2:30 that afternoon, Jason and one other student followed the other eighteen who’d left earlier.  Lah Cher took charge of Sabbath cooking.  I was so thankful for him all weekend – he was a huge help!  I gathered the four younger girls and the remaining seven students, most armed with machetes, and headed down the trail to the river.  Razor-sharp sand grass grew along the trail, nearly covering it in some places.  While the girls and students attacked grass with machetes and threw it down into the river, Destiny waded in the shallow water while I kept watch.  Within thirty minutes of machete swinging, the pathway had been cleared and we headed back up to the house.  I walked with Destiny who was determined to climb the hill by herself while everyone else hurried up ahead of us.  As we straggled up to the house, Hannah met me at the porch railing, wailing at the top of her lungs.  “Sarah, I’m scared!”  Startled by her sobs, I knew something must be wrong.  “Why are you scared?”

“There’s something in my room!”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know!  I think it’s a rat!”

I hurried up the ladder and she threw back the curtain door.  I looked inside and, sure enough, I saw a large furry creature huddled on the floor.  What should I do?  “Hannah, stay away from your room.  I’ll get Lah Cher.”  The thought that a healthy rat wouldn’t just sit there like that did cross my mind as I hurried back to the railing.

Several of our girl students sat downstairs in the shade under the living room floor.  Maybe one of them could get Lah Cher while I stayed with Hannah and Destiny.  “Rat.”  I said, “Do you understand rat?”  They stared back at me, then one nodded her head and a smile of comprehension lit her face.  “I need Lah Cher to come.  It is in Hannah’s room.”  But no one got up, so I decided to get Lah Cher myself.  Then I saw Esther Paw crossing the bridge.  I hurried to meet her.  “Esther Paw, do you understand rat?  Rat?  I need Lah Cher to come kill a rat in Hannah’s room.”  She also stared at me blankly until one of the other girls under the house said something.  “Oh, yes, teacher!  I understand.”  She turned around and hurried back up the hill.

A few minutes later, wondering what was taking Lah Cher so long, I looked up the hill and saw Esther Paw struggling to haul the whiteboard down all by herself.  I started laughing.  Then I noticed Memewah up by Jason’s house.  “Memewah!  There is a rat in Hannah’s room.  Tell Lah Cher to come kill it!”  Memewah started shouting and Lah Cher came running as fast as he could.  He captured the creature, which proved to be something other than a rat.  It was about a foot in length, and had semi-long brown fur, a four-inch rat-like tale, and large buckteeth.  It reminded me more of woodchuck.  After we all looked at it, he took it and disposed of it.  Then Esther Paw, the other girls, and I all looked at each other and laughed.  Even though we all babbled on in our own languages, we understood perfectly what we were talking about – the confusion between “rat” and “whiteboard.”

When Daddy and Momo finally returned that evening, we certainly had story to tell!

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | June 17, 2014

Jungle Updates

Since my move to the jungle, my communication has been very limited.  Other than a trip to Mae Sariang to give Papa a birthday call using Skype (I only sent two urgent emails), this is the first time I’ve personally accessed the internet since March.  Yes, missionaries do still go places beyond the reach of internet and phone service, and even electricity.

Where do I start?  A lot has happened these past three months!  I’ll tell you what I can remember – but a missionary once said that either the reports were good, or the work was good, so if my reports aren’t good, just remember the work is!  (I’m back in Cambodia for a few days with enough free time on my hands to make some retrospect reports.)

Although we started hot season with great intentions of good records, that turned into another one of those wonderful ideas that never actually happened.  I think a minimum of 60 students (I’m probably way underestimating) passed through our hot season English intensive classes.  Fortunately they weren’t all here simultaneously!  Some decided to become long-term students.  A few who initially planned to stay all year decided we didn’t offer what they were looking for and returned home (most were scared off by our work program).  We watched one potential problem after another choose to leave all on his or her own – God does wonders through prayer, and we were praying only the right students would stay.  We wrote, tested, refined, and rewrote our schedule until we finally found something reasonable and balanced.  We learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work as far as teaching methods and ideas – and in the interlude between the end of hot season classes and the beginning of all-year classes, we were able to put together a month’s worth of lesson plans based off our hot season teaching experiences.

This hardwood took every single one of us to move it out of the way!

Busy during afternoon work time – this hardwood took every single one of us to move it out of the way!

Momo drilling Aye, Aye Poe, Noung, Oi, and another short-term student on phonics.

Momo drilling Aye, Aye Poe, Noung, Oi, and another short-term student on phonics.

When I first answered God’s call to help here in Thailand, I said I would stay for the hot season intensive classes.  Then I would evaluate the situation and decide whether to return to Cambodia or remain in Thailand.  The knowledge of God’s leading slowly became evident during my time here, even though I can’t say exactly when I realized the school would be unable to continue if I left.  So rather than leaving this project stranded while I start a new one, I have decided to stay in Thailand until God leads me elsewhere.  (I must admit that I giggle from time to time since I think I’m the only one who actually thought I’d stay only a short time – everyone else just assumed I was coming permanently.)

So as not to weary you, I will break this update into several shorter ones.  I even discovered how to control the date and time for when my new posts are published for public viewing, so I will space these out for your convenience.  Just remember when you find a new post on the blog, it doesn’t mean I’ve emerged from the jungle to put it there!

Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | June 16, 2014

Ming Chem

At times like this, my heart aches, but I know nothing I can say will relieve the pain in their hearts.  Oh, won’t you help finish God’s work so God can end sickness, suffering, heartache, and death?

Khen and Khone’s mother, Ming Chem, died early in May.  You can read a little more of the story on Andrew’s blog: A Life Worth Remembering.  Please pray for the family during this difficult time.  Seventeen-year-old Sa and nine-year-old Srei Pov, Khen and Khone’s two younger sisters, now live in the WPY orphanage.  Khone has returned from L.I.G.H.T. training in the Philippines and is struggling to know what to do next.  Khen has six weeks left before finishing her high school education.  Pray especially that God will make His love unmistakably known to each one of them personally.

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