The Fine Citizens of Maul Zawl and Zatual [David’s 4th Blog from Myanmar]

30 Nov

The Fine Citizens of Maul Zawl and Zatual [David’s 4th Blog from Myanmar]

One of the smaller citizens of Zatual Village

When I first met the Christians in Myanmar ten years ago, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. They all seemed to be perfect disciples. But over the years as I’ve become more familiar with the saints here, I’ve realized that they fight, and often yield to, the same temptations that plague saints elsewhere.

Sunday was an especially painful reminder of this, as I served as an arbiter between a husband and wife who direct an orphanage that we’ve visited many times and supported for quite a few years—until we learned of their recent divorce because of his alleged repeated unfaithfulness. I’ll spare you the painful details (and please don’t ask me), but I sometimes find myself feeling guilty for always telling you only the uplifting stories and happy endings. We suffer through many disappointments. Like the many pastors who had already counseled them, I was not able to lead them to reconciliation.

On Monday we once again packed our rented Land Rover and headed for the mountains of Chin State. After a three-hour bone-jarring ascent up a one-lane dirt and rock-pocked road, we arrived at the village of Maul Zawl, home to about 240 souls, all professing Christians, and all very poor by any standards. Our Village Development Fund (now merged with our Micro-Loan Fund) has borne more fruit in Maul Zawl than anywhere else, and needless to say, we were warmly welcomed by the whole village on this, our third visit in three years.

Since we first started helping the very poor Maul Zawlians help themselves, their lives have significantly improved. We provided funding and they provided the engineering and labor to bring running water into their village via PVC pipe and public faucets. For hundreds of years previously, the residents carried their water in buckets from several miles away.

They also have electricity because of a generator we funded, and every simple wooden house has one fluorescent light. Everyone on the grid pitches in to pay for the diesel fuel that powers the generator. That generated electricity also powers the village’s single television, and the village chief told me they so enjoy watching reruns of my Sermon on the Mount video series (translated into their native language of Mizo).

Maul Zawl also has its own primary school, whose teacher is paid because of a rice enterprise started through a loan from Heaven’s Family.

The village is also now blessed with a nurse whose training we paid for, and who has charge of a village pharmacy made possible by a Heaven’s Family micro-loan.

Perhaps the most successful thing we’ve done in Maul Zawl is offer every family—about 50 in all—a micro-loan to help them start small businesses. That experiment, begun less than a year ago, has resulted in a measurable increase in the village’s prosperity. Most of the small businesses that have been started are agricultural, including the growing of tomatoes, turmeric, bananas and yams. In one year the village has gone from two to eight families that own a motor scooter.

Our team needed those motor scooters, as the road from Maul Zawl to the next village on our itinerary became too rutted and narrow for our Land Rover. Just five miles of scootering brought us to Zatual Village, where the people speak an entirely different language than those in Maul Zawl, one known as Zang Ngiat. We spent the night in Zatual, which has benefitted similarly as Maul Zawl because of our Micro-Loan Fund. I’ll tell you more about our night in Zatual in my next blog. Below are some photos from our day. — David

This was the nicest part of road today, before we turned off to ascend into Chin Mountains. Today’s travelers benefit from the shade and magnificence of trees that were planted long ago by farsighted British supervisors.

During last year’s visit, Jeff Trotter took portraits of all the Maul Zawl families, which were received as treasured gifts this year when we gathered in the village’s Methodist church. The village has one other church, which is Wesleyan.

During last year’s visit to Maul Zawl, we met Van Thang and her husband. She was very ill, and we sent her 500 miles away to Yangon for a diagnosis, which turned out to be patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a persistent opening between two major blood vessels leading from the heart. We were blessed to pay for the surgery she needed via our Critical Medical Needs Fund, and you can see in the photo the scar below her neck from her surgery. Her heart is better, but she told me she is having some other problems, so I’m hoping we can send her back to Yangon soon for more tests.

This is Esther Van Nei Sui, age 22, Maul Zawl’s newly-trained nurse, standing beside her certification at the village pharmacy. Because of a Heaven’s Family grant, she has been trained in pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, infectious diseases, first aid, care of the elderly and those with disabilities, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, family health care, maternal health and contraception. Esther took my blood pressure and it was good.

This is about as far as our Land Rover got us on the road to Zatual

In Zatual, Jeff also handed out portraits that he took last year. This man got plenty of laughs when we noticed that he was wearing the same t-shirt that he wore in his portrait last year, only then it was white!

This is the Baptist church in Zatual at which I preached from the 8th chapter of Deuteronomy about how God tests us through both adversity and prosperity. Zatual has experienced both, having had 3/4th’s of their homes destroyed by fire about ten years ago, having suffered rat-induced famine about three years ago, and now enjoying new prosperity. Because of profitable small businesses, 13 Zatual families now own motor scooters, 11 more than one year ago.

These orange roots are from turmeric plants. They are one of the new crops that micro-borrowing Zatualians are growing that are helping them prosper. Turmeric is dried and ground into powder to be used for a coloring and flavoring in Asian cooking.

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