Today didn’t go exactly as planned.
I don’t think there are any level roads in Chin State—you are either going up or down a mountain. For some reason, none of the roads follow the gentle slopes of the rivers. And the four-wheel drive vehicle we’ve rented, an older Pajero, apparently hasn’t been used for some time for what it was built for.
This morning, making one of those long mountain climbs, our engine overheated and a water pipe burst with a cloud of steam. So after some young guys from our destination village eventually arrived on motorcycles to take us the rest of the way, we left our driver to jury-rig a solution with a piece of PVC pipe.
Our destination village was Cindwe, to which a dirt road has just recently been carved out of the mountainsides. But when Heaven’s Family-supported national missionary Kenneth Chan Hmung and his wife, Tin Suh, first arrived 7 years ago, the only way here was via a 2-day walk from the nearest road, up and down mountain pathways.
Before Kenneth and Tin Suh came, there were no Christians or churches in Cindwe, a riverside village of 100 families in the middle of nowhere. Kenneth and Tin Suh were compelled to move here by God’s love for the lost. They’ve experienced continual undeserved persecution. They’ve persevered. I’m so proud of them. They are people of who the world is not worthy. My eyes are tearing up as I write this.
For the past 6 years, Kenneth and his family have been sustained on $50 to $180 per month, made possible through faithful Heaven’s Family sponsors who, in order to lay up treasure in heaven, have chosen to make earthly sacrifices.
But no one has to wait until heaven for some reward: Kenneth’s church has seven families plus a number of single folk, most converted under his good ministry. In the last couple of years, two other church-planting missionaries, from different denominations, have moved to Cindwe, and they are also beginning to reap the harvest. All three pastors are working together. All three were waiting for us at Kenneth’s little house where we shared a meal. (And all three are excited to receive micro-loans to start small side businesses to supplement their meager incomes.)
Our jury-rigged Pajero eventually arrived in Cindwe late in the afternoon, and our short time in Cindwe had to end. We knew we had a long journey back to our lodging place in Mindat. All of us took a quick trip down to the town bridge to take the family photo at the top of this blog.
As we were saying our goodbyes, two men rode up on a motor scooter, typical Myanmar plainclothes police—little guys who love to use their power to hassle and extort good people. One was half-drunk. I’ve been dealing with them for years in Myanmar. They started asking Kenneth questions. They wanted to know about the foreigners. What were we doing? I told them I was an American spy who had come to take over their country—starting in their very strategic village—by blowing up the bridge we were standing on. Their limited understanding of English may have saved me.
I asked them who they were. They said they were police. I asked them where their uniforms were. They said they were secret police. I wanted to kick them. (I’m not as sanctified yet as you may think.) Kenneth’s diplomacy saved the day, and after giving them my name and passport number, we were on our way.
The many stops needed to add water to our Pajero’s radiator made our long return journey even longer. Still jet-lagged and sore from clinging to motorcycle seats, Stephen and I stumbled late at night into cold beds in an unheated room shared by the biggest grasshopper either of us have ever seen. I fell asleep happy—glad to have resisted the temptation to kick some secret policemen.