Gratitude of Stories

People are a part of your story. It is what makes us who we are. And no matter how much we try to cut the string that is weaved into our memories, it will be there. Not as a haunting reminder, but as a gentle nudge. A nudge that has created a little more of who we are and who we hope to be. My sensitive nature has brought me confusion and heartache as I dig deeper into my own story that is created in the grand design of God’s story. And before I was ashamed of it. Until someone told me that my sensitive nature helps me see things that other people do not see. I see the heartache of a memory that flashes across a person’s eye before they tuck it away. I see the joy in a person’s eyes as they explain their blessings. I see the their story come to life as my mind creates pictures to follow the story. Walking around with a few Lahu students on the TLCC campus opened my eyes to the things I could not see and could not hear before. The struggle and the sacrifice that the students have made just to be here and learn about God. The hours of studying to better understand God’s word. The love they have for sharing God’s word beyond the TLCC borders. It is incredible and inspiring. I discovered a little more of how the lands crops are controlled. Water comes from the dam to fill the rice fields, but because the water amount is low in the dam, they may not get to plant again this year. They will have to wait until June to plant. Which means only one harvest for the year. Some of the garden beds are empty, and they have new baby pigs. We talked about cultural difference in marriage. How if a girl and guy hangout together alone, then they may not be allowed to get married in the church. It partly comes from missionary work, but also from Lahu culture where the men and women do not interact closely. At the end of our time with the Lahu students, one shared his story of being in Bangkok for sixteen years and making a lot of money. He asked God what he should do with his life, which led him to TLCC to learn more about God. The sincerity of his heart and the presence of God was in him. Even past language barrier one can see the love of God.

Sometimes I surprise myself when I share pieces of my story. I started burying pieces of myself the past couple of years to protect my heart from those who threw rocks towards my life story. We have continued in our Bible study of Owning Poverty, and I shared a few things about my family. As the words escaped from heart to audible words, I better understood my story. I understood things I saw as a kid that have shaped the core of who I am. The love and care that I have grown up with is something I am incredibly thankful for. I have fantastic role models in my life who have helped me see the world in new ways. The Bible study discussed the “us” versus “them” mentality of loving people. I pondered if I ever felt like my love did not reach someone because of a barrier of differences. My answer is no. I do not agree with everything that people do, but it does not mean that I separate myself from them because of it. I can still love beyond the perceived social or religious barrier. My family has shown me how to love beyond my means. To love and to serve people. I naturally have a love for people, and will never stop fighting for them. Even if they stop fighting for me. My grandparents have shown me what it means to be involved and to use my skills to help others. My parents have shown me what it means to be a hard worker, a learner, and a listener. My siblings have lived authentically and have modeled grace, resilience, and laughter. My cousins have shown me what it looks like to reconnect, even after being miles away. My aunties and uncles have shown me that it takes the support of a village to get anyone anywhere. I have incredible people in my life. As the stories come to life, I better understand how the things I have seen and observed even as a child have shaped me into the woman I am today. I still have a long ways to go, but I extend my gratefulness towards my family who has helped me along in my journey of life and self discovery.

With the help of Thippawan and Adele, we warped my vest weaving project this week. The loom has turned out beautiful and I am very excited to have it come together. Because of my wrists and elbows, I am unable to weave the full thing myself. I am incredibly thankful for the help. I wish I could physically handle working on it the whole time, but with papers due and many tasks that require my hands, it is difficult to do it all in such a short amount of time.

Tomorrow we leave for a Lahu village. The village is known for coffee growing and bamboo weaving. There will be no internet, so I will be off media devices for a couple days.

I extend my prayers to the Redmond community as well as the Linfield and Fox community who have experienced deaths in the last month. May the peace of God carry you through, even though it is the hardest to step forward.

Thank you everyone for your support in my sojourner journey. I am forever grateful.

Love,

Bethany

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