Our mission trip in March was to Thailand, the “land of smiles and beauty” with its glittering temples and beautiful scenery. We received a warm welcome to Thailand from our translator Daow who met us at the Bangkok airport.
The village of Huay Jor in the North of Thailand and right next to the border of Laos, was where we spent the duration of our stay. It is here that we had the pleasure of spending time with refugees from Laos known as the “Khumu” tribe. It is also where our translator grew up, so we were looked after very well! Our stay at the village had its challenges, and we had to adjust and became accustomed to the ways of living.
The Khumu people work very hard and earned very little, they live “a hand to mouth” existence. They moved from Laos to settle in this village and there are three generations living in the village. Some of the tribe have passes/papers that let them travel freely within Thailand but not all of them have this privilege.
Huay Jor is a mainly Christian village and we would do a daily prayer walk while learning about the history and struggles of the Khumu. While on these prayer walks we met many people that ran small businesses. Some did basket weaving, one lady made traditional garments, others were weaving straw panels for houses. We were told that they would take their produce to local markets to sell, but some struggled to go to the markets as either transport or age prevented them and they did not have the right identity papers. I would wake up to hear the farmers gather in the morning to set off to the farms. These farmers would work alongside each other to produce their crops. Others would go into the forest and hunt for food, mainly birds and rats, which were a part of their staple diet.
Over the course of the week we were welcomed into homes to pray for people, we ran a daily children’s programme at the church and did some community work. We were also involved in 2 church services and visited a ministry called Chiang Life Christian Centre that supports the pastors from the persecuted church in Laos. We met a missionary in Laos who travels over to CLC every Wednesday on market day, so that his work is not detected.
We met with Ton, a man who is respected by all the villagers. It became evident that the farming community would thrive more if they had better resources. Ton had the heart and vision to help his village become prosperous. The desire of his heart was very transparent, and he shared in conversation how financial help would benefit the local community.
Many of the villagers had visions of how to build their community up and help lift them out of poverty and when praying for the project back in the UK, God gave us words about agriculture and refugees so we named the project “Ruth’s Hope”, Providing assistance to refugees along the Thai border. After meeting with Ton, it became very clear that this village was the right place to leave the project money. After explaining what we intended to do, along with the conditions we expected them to meet, they managed to set up a bank account with 3 signatories and they are now in the process of setting up a committee of 10 people. The money will be used for business start ups and farming development projects. They were all so grateful and praised the Lord; he said this will grow and will certainly bless the people of the village.
One point that stood out to me was the village people and their humility. It is easy to see that they have a genuine heart for God. They were so generous with the little they had and always had a smile to comfort you. I felt so blessed by them.