When the dirt road ended today, Stephen and I once again jumped on motorcycles whose fearless, young drivers took us on a deep descent into a distant valley, across a river on a swaying suspension bridge, and up a narrow ridge. As the day waned, 180 citizens of Cho Yain Village were waiting on a hand-dug soccer field to welcome us, many of whom were dressed in their tribe’s traditional clothing, ready to dance. And, after a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father of Jesus, dance they did. At their insistence, I joined them—after they first appropriately dressed me. Ah, the simple pleasures!
We were, as usual, the first white-skinned people most had seen. They were excited not only about that, but also because they knew we were coming to help them help themselves. After a dinner of rice, local fish, and mystery foods, we started with a well-attended church service at which I preached about God’s promise to bless the work of our hands. Chin people have a beautiful child-like sense of humor, and my illustrated example of the man who waits, head tilted back, for a fish to jump out of the river, fly up the mountain, and land in his open mouth, was a great hit.
In the morning, we met with the elders and made them the offer they’d been hoping for. Heaven’s Family will loan them $5,000 for one year, enough for them to make loans of about $300 to half of the villages’ 35 families. If the elders repay their loan, we’ll offer them a second one that is at least twice as large, enabling them to make second and first loans to every family. This strategy provides enough incentive to insure repayment. Cho Yain’s elders were thrilled. Gifts to Heaven’s Family’s Micro-Loan Fund make this possible, and the money never stops being recycled.
There are only about 10 business possibilities for families to choose from, and most involve growing cash crops or raising animals and transporting them to the nearest market, which could be more than a day’s walk away. But how much more exciting could it be for some of the world’s poorest people to leave slash and burn agriculture, subsistence farming, and food insecurity for growing cash crops and making profits for the first time? Imagine what a loan of $300 looks like to someone who only sees the equivalent of $600 pass through their hands in a year’s time.
Below are seven of my favorite photos from our stay in Cho Yain. Hope you are enjoying this journey with me!