Healthy New Year!


Healthy New Year!

Victor Siniyu, along with his wife and children, are happy to see the end of 2014. That's because this year has been filled with doctors and hospitals and treatments—and fear. It all started 8 years ago in Bungoma, Kenya, when Victor was 23 years old. He noticed an open sore on his chest. Medicines didn't heal it; instead, it just got bigger and uglier. There were no doctors near his village and traveling to the nearest hospital was financially impossible. So Victor just made the best of it and tried to keep living a normal life.

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From 0 to 25 in under 4 months!

In August, Ashok heard about Ajala*, a village 16 miles away that was so isolated that no roads went there—only foot paths. He also learned that no one in that village of very low caste families that work as field laborers knew about Jesus. The Lord burdened Ashok with their lost state, and he began praying for them. Soon he knew that he must also go.

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The Business of Doing Your Business… [David’s 7th and Final Photo Blog from Myanmar]

All told during my travels in remote Myanmar, I visited 15 villages where Heaven's Family is serving. In one of those villages, Maul Zawl, we began working about 4 years ago. Among other things, we offered $100 to $200 agricultural loans to every one of the village's 39 families.

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Caucasian Jesus Doesn’t Care! [David’s 6th Photo Blog from Myanmar]

One year ago, Heaven's Family provided a grant for two of Khua Hrang's most promising young people, selected by the village elders, to attend 6 months of nurses' training and 4 months of a hospital internship. Pa Ling, age 26, and Zung Pan Men, age 19, can now diagnose and treat common ailments and tropical diseases. And they have just opened a for-profit medical clinic and pharmacy in Khua Hrang courtesy of another start-up grant from Heaven's Family. Today I visited them.

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A Putrid Flower that Makes Money [David’s 5th Photo Blog from Myanmar]

It took us 11 hours of driving mountain roads and jeep trails to get to Khua Hrang, a village in the middle of nowhere where 1,600 people live, most of whom were waiting in a long line in the dark to shake my hand when we arrived. Last year, during my first visit, they had done the same. They are grateful, in light of this year's poor rice harvest, for Heaven's Family's rice bank in their village that makes it possible for them to purchase rice at a significant discount (for more info about rice banks, see my last blog).

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The White Guy, Fred Flintstone Tricyles, and a Japanese Bomb [David’s 4th Photo Blog from Myanmar]

Today's adventure required that we travel the day's final 12 miles on motorcycles to reach the remote 300-year-old village of Dongvaa. As far as any resident could recall, I was the first white-skinned visitor. So it was a big deal to them. When our team arrived at the village entrance, about three hundred people, dressed in their finest, were lined up to welcome me and shake my hand. But first, the village headman lead everyone in a prayer of thanksgiving, and a local church choir sang a hymn. Then I shook 300 hands, the children being last of all, who were lined up by their height.

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The Demise of Slash and Burn [David’s 3rd Photo Blog from Myanmar]

Chin State is all mountains, and its people are mostly slash and burn subsistence farmers. Every year, the able-bodied of each village spend months cutting down acres of forest using nothing more than hatchets. Substantial logs are hatcheted into smaller pieces to be used for cooking and heating. Smaller branches are left behind, and in March, hillsides are burned to clear the land. Then, either corn or rice are planted, but the soil can only sustain one year's corp. So the next year, more forests have to be cut.

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Peanut Profits [David’s 2nd Photo Blog from Myanmar]

Last year's arrival at Tluang Khua was unforgettable. As the first white-skinned person to visit this very remote village, I was greeted with the firing of a shotgun, a garland of flowers, a long reception line, and traditional Chin dancing. I also recall the village tradition of publicly broadcasting through loudspeakers a reading of the entire Bible during December nights, a devotion that allowed me little sleep at the chief's house. This year, thankfully, they took one night my request.

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Pigonomics [David’s 1st Photo Blog from Myanmar]

Over the past two weeks I've been navigating jeep trails carved into the steep mountains of Myanmar's (Burma's) Chin State, visiting remote villages served by Heaven's Family. In some cases, when those trails have become too narrow for our Land Cruiser, our team of three has transferred to motorcycles. The going has been slow. At the most, we've advanced 90 miles in 10 hours.

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