By Christina Woodall

Hey everyone! It’s crazy to think we have started the month of December and entered the Christmas season. All of us over here are in shorts and t-shirts playing in waterfalls and hiking through the jungle, which is not quite the same idea as wearing coats and beanies while playing in the snow. Here’s an update on Friday’s (11/29) and Saturday’s (11/30) adventures.

On Friday midmorning we piled on to a tractor and in the back of the pickup truck and headed off to a rice field. We were given the opportunity to help harvest rice with the community we had worshipped with the night before. Harvesting rice was such an interesting experience that we are all so thankful to take part in.

The music men in the village followed us around playing their instruments and singing. It was incredibly encouraging to see the community coming together to harvest one family’s field and then move to the next field together to help everyone out. Then the family whose field was being harvested would prepare lunch and dinner for the work party. So at lunch we went to a family’s house and ate with them on the floor of a bamboo hut that is elevated off the ground, a very ethnic Karen meal. Backtrack to before lunch: we all went to a waterfall behind one of the music men’s fields. It was absolutely beautiful, most of the group climbed down to the bottom, but a few of us stayed near the top and fished around for crawdads with two kids that followed us around. I never heard the little girl’s name but she bonded with Makayla and Hannah and the little boy Paluhyuh (spelling might not be right) bonded with Nate and I.

It was really hard to leave this small village that we had only spent 24 hours in but after lunch we headed for our next stop: Bueng Klung! We stayed in Bueng Klung for 2 nights at Eliyah and his wife, Cat’s house. Eliyah is the Free Burma Rangers’ head medic and one of Dave Eubank’s closest friends. I wish I could describe him but he is honestly indescribable but definitely memorable! This stop was super special to me because I read the Free Burma Rangers’ book, Rangers in the Gap, which is a group of biographies and Eliyah’s was included! When we got to their house dinner was already prepared! They were so generous and treated us with great hospitality. As we were all settling in and relaxing, Oswald came and told us “the kids were waiting for us at the church.” So we had an impromptu worship service with about 30 kids that night.

Saturday morning started with the sound of roosters crowing and children laughing. After breakfast our plan was to go to two schools in Burma and worship with about 300 kids between the two schools. When we went into Burma and went to a school that was empty, because we all forgot there is no school on Saturdays. Our plan changed, which seems to be the theme of our jungle road trip, because Eliyah just found out a friend of his had died and he had a funeral that day. So he took off to the funeral and we went to a Compassion International group with about 75 kids who get together every Saturday morning. We had a lot of fun encouraging the kids and the teachers. Even though we didn’t speak the same language we all could laugh and share smiles.

After hanging out with the Compassion International kids we went back to our place in Bueng Klung and had some time to relax and have quiet times or play with the kids. That night we got to celebrate a Karen holiday that kicks off the Christmas season: Sweet December. It was a bizarre celebration. The started the gathering which was in the church around 7 with a message from the pastor and a prayer of blessing. That was followed by a variety show of different performers that you can come and go throughout the night. Our team was asked to share so we did our drama and sang a song. Quincy then gave a message to close the ceremony at midnight. Even after we asked around for the meaning of the holiday and purpose for the ceremony we never found an answer. We spent most of the night on Cat and Eliyah’s deck singing, laughing, and making lots of memories.

It’s hard to believe we are almost done and finishing up our trip! I’m so excited to see everyone and share the rest of God’s incredible work in our lives!

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