What a sensational, sunny morning for a motor-scooter ride, I thought to myself, as every mile proved more interesting than the previous one. I was following a two-lane “highway,” a rural Burmese road that became increasingly narrower and potholed as I journeyed past endless rice fields, villages filled with waving children, and a row of towering mountains on the right that paralleled my track. Soon our entourage turned towards those mountains to follow a winding, upward path—a former road carved into the mountains during World War II, deep into a region that no Westerner had seen in six decades. I felt adrenalized.
As our jeep and motor-scooter convoy crossed the state border at the base of those mountains, I silently prayed. We were entering an area that is off-limits for people like us. Our destination was a remote village named Mual Zawl, which means “beautiful hill” in the local language. There, more than 200 thankful members of our spiritual family were waiting for us, people whose primary means of survival is cutting and burning patches of mountain forest in order to grow rice.
Through a Burmese friend, the chief of Mual Zawl had contacted Heaven’s Family about a year earlier, appealing for rice, because most of the village rice crop had been consumed by rats. We helped them through our Food Fund. We also learned that since 1937—when the village was founded by thirty Christian immigrant families from India—the inhabitants have trekked two miles to reach a source of drinking water, and then trekked two miles back. So we also helped them through our Village Development Fund with money to purchase two miles of plastic pipe as well as cement for two reservoirs. We traveled all this way to see the finished project and meet some people whom we love but had never met.
The entire village population was waiting for us when we arrived. As soon as our team gathered together, the village chief led everyone in a prayer of thanks. He then showed us the seven public water faucets located throughout his village, which consisted of forty simple wood-frame houses scattered on a mountainside. I noted that the village contained two churches, one Wesleyan and one Methodist. Everyone (regardless of their church affiliation) was very thankful to have access to drinking water right in their village. They served us a simple meal of rice, along with the special luxury of boiled chicken, prepared especially for us.
Before we left, we passed out stuffed animals to all the younger children and photographed families, in hopes of returning next year with portraits that will be treasured by folks who have never owned a photo of themselves. As we said goodbye, I wondered if I would ever see them again this side of heaven. I’m so glad God gave us the opportunity to serve them here on earth.