I Just Flew Back From Kalemyo...
...and are my arms tired! The schedule was hectic and we only had electricity for an hour or two a day. I was able to send a couple of emails, but they were very short and I didn't really have time in my schedule for sending or receiving them. So there has not been a blog since I left. I did find TSO (tessa-oh, not tee-esso), but there are two or three places in the Kale area where email can be sent and received. The trip consisted of preaching and teaching. On the last day (Monday) there was time for some socializing, and I spent most of the day with Siang Hope's family.
The conference lasted for four days -- Monday through Thursday. In the mornings we studied "The Gospel of Free Grace" and in the afternoons we studied first the federal theology and then reformed church polity. The conference had a total of 90 church officers in attendance. The most reformed of the churches in MM continue to have some difficulty understanding -- or at least in implementing -- the basics of reformed church polity. We discussed two primary principles of accountable church government -- plurality of elders and parity of elders. There was considerable interest, but not as much time to discuss these things as we would have liked.
The Lord's Days
I was in the Kale area for two Lord's Days -- the 7th and the 14th. Both of them were very rainy (hmm, I wonder if that is where this season gets its name). Not just drizzle rainy, but very hard rains. The first we spent traveling to and from Let Pan Chaung and preaching there. I preached from 1 Samuel 14:1-23, "No Restraint To The Lord." I think more fellowship and festivities were planned, but rained out. The church at Let Pan Chaung presently consists of 24 houses (families). They don't yet have a church building, so they meet in the pastor's home. The Lord's Day I was there they were in his house and in front of his house out to the street standing around the windows, etc. Most had umbrellas. They have purchased the paddy field next to the pastor's house, and plan to put up a building. They can do most of the work themselves by going to the hills and cutting their own wood and having local people help to cut and plane it. But they will need some financial help with things like postings, zinc roof, nails, and a few other things they cannot do for themselves.
The second Lord's Day was in Tahan, where I preached from Hosea 6:4, "Repentance Like The Morning Fog." I did not preach in the evening either Lord's Day. The first day I was literally "under the weather" with a weather induced headache. It turns out that few or none of the Chin have heard of aspirin. On Monday I asked my driver to take me to a pharmacy, where I asked for some aspirin. Once they finally found it, they sold it to me by the tablet (5 Kys per tablet -- two for a penny). I got four, but I only needed two. They knocked the headache right out; but we surely take our western medications for granted. The second Lord's Day I simply rested all afternoon and attended worship in Tahan. One of the English students sat next to me in worship and translated for me.
The Evening Preaching
They referred to the evening meetings as "crusade" preaching. I'm not sure what else to call it. It was nightly preaching, with some singing -- the Chin love to sing -- but the meetings were not full worship services. There were no calls to worship, Scripture readings, etc. I had hoped that the preaching would be illustrative of what we were learning in the AM conference sessions on the gospel of free grace. The intention was to demonstrate how free grace should impact our preaching of the gospel. The evening preaching was much better attended than was the conference because it was open to the public. In fact, most nights it was pretty close to SRO.
Time in Siang Hope's Home
Like many cultures that do not have a written history, the Chin know their genealogies very well and in considerable detail. They find it strange that we use the same word for a grandson who is a son of a daughter and one who is the son of a son. The concept of "in-law" is foreign to them; and they can tell you without having to concentrate who is related to whom and how in their own village. Outside their village -- well, what difference does it make? Very tribal-minded. So on Monday Siang Hope's relatives came by his parents' house by twos and threes to visit and meet the foreigner. Also Lal Duh (pronounced "doo") spent most of the day with us, and Pastor Hmun of Hai Kawl came by for supper. We took time off from PaSiang's family to eat lunch with Len Thang and the pastors of MRPC. They gave an accounting of the conference and it came in only slightly over budget -- a great improvement over past years in which conference expenses have tended to be a bit on the "exaggerated" side of regular.
We continued our afternoon "vigil" at Siang Hope's parents' house, went to see the construction that is going on with their new house, and ate supper in their home. The Chin eat most everything either boiled or pickled. We had rice (of course), baby eggplant which they call bringel, cabbage, lady fingers (okra to southerners), and several other veggies. Quite a spread in Chin terms. Everyone stayed until about 6:30 or 7:00. There was light, i.e. electric power, for a short time, so we had a time of fellowship in Scripture and prayer before I returned to the hotel. It was really an enjoyable day off.
The Church Opening
On Saturday the 13th, I had the privilege to be the official "church-opener" at the new church building in Sadaw village. Some of my readers may have seen pictures of the partially completed building from my January trip. The Sadaw villagers finished the church building and asked me to "cut the ribbon" at the official opening of the building. The villagers built it pretty much by themselves. They did depend upon some expert labor for planing the floorboards and for hewing the support postings, but otherwise they did all the work or financing of the work themselves. Mission to Myanmar, in order to help the village celebrate, bought three pigs and the entire village of about 500 people ate Vawk Sa and celebrated the opening of the new church. The entire "road" (path) through the village was covered with banana leaves and bamboo mats and the people ate and talked about the blessing of having a new church building. Even the dogs ate the bones and I suppose rejoiced, in a dog sort of way. The Chin celebrate with a feast on three "natural" occasions -- the birth of a child, a wedding, and the passing of a loved one. When they can do so, they also make a feast day of the opening of a new church building.
More to Follow
But now that I am "home" I wanted to post to the blog since it has been ten or eleven days since I have done so. I have taken some pictures, so maybe we can also figure out a way to post some of them. Greek class begins again tomorrow morning, so it is nice to have at least a half day off before beginning again.