Report Date: April 23, 2012
Report on STM trip to Huay Sai Village
In February 2012 a group of 12 people from City Bible Church in Hamilton and St Andrews Church in Waipukurau visited Thailand to install a water and sanitation system in the remote village of Huay Sai, North Thailand.
I was really excited when I heard at church about a mission trip to Thailand. I had just come home from six weeks working in India and really felt God calling me to carry on serving him in this way, so I decided to go on the trip. As it got closer to heading off I started to get worried about going as we were told in more detail about the work we were going to be doing; digging three kilometres of trenches, installing a water tank, running pipes throughout the village, installing toilets and sharing Gods word with the villagers that couldn't speak any English.
I went not knowing what to expect, sort of hoping for the best but expecting the worse. Arriving in the village I was rather surprised. It was a lot better than I had anticipated. The people were decently dressed and they took pride in their homes. A shower and toilet were there ready for us to use, all we had to do was get the piping put in place so that we could have running water.
This meant it was straight to work, in one afternoon of full-on labour we managed to get the water flowing. This moment was unforgettable. The villagers were amazed at what we had achieved and were so happy. Immediately they were bringing containers to full with water and taking them back to their houses.
As time went by, we were right on track with the project. The tank was coming together and trenches had been dug for the piping, temporary taps had been installed so the villagers could access the water, and bathrooms were being constructed.
The filter tank had been constructed and was ready to plaster. Julia Shepherd and I were given this job. Julia plastered inside the tank and I plastered the outside. First we were told to do four to five coats of plaster and to let every coat dry before doing the next one. But whenever Boss man came to check on us he would say "no sleeping" which meant to just keep going. He then told us to keep applying plaster until there was nothing left in the bucket. I found it funny that their instructions kept changing.
One night the villagers gave us a taste of their culture as they showed us things that they had made. I think we pretty much bought everything they had to show. They also showed us their traditional dance that they perform at every celebration wearing their traditional Red Lahu outfit. The next night we introduced the villagers to some Kiwi culture; we sang a Sunday school song with the kids in English and Thai and then the boys on our team all ripped off their shirts and tried to perform the Haka. It was so funny watching the villagers laugh at our boys; they seemed to really enjoy themselves.
The day we left Huay Sai was sad for us all. After packing everything up a few of the villagers came to see us off. We had a time of prayer and Pastor Willy prayed for us in Lahu as he has "very small English but God understand Lahu". We taught some of the villagers how to give a goodbye hug as a hand shake wasn’t a good enough way of saying goodbye to our new family.
One person who had a really big impact on me was our friend Beep Beep. We didn't know his real name but he ran around saying “beep beep”, mimicking the motorbikes that drove past, so that's how he got his nick-name. He had a disability and we could tell straight away that he was an outcast in the village. We were challenged to pray for him every time we saw him.
We soon noticed Beep Beep slowing down. He began sitting by the campfire at night and on the outskirts of the kids programme which we ran. I really felt that God was working in his life in some way. On our second to last day there he was limping really badly. Julia managed to get him to sit down and he showed her where he was hurting. Julia and I felt that we should try to ease his pain.
We washed his feet and cut his very long toenails; we then bandaged his feet up and asked him to keep his feet dry. As we finished we could see the delight in his face, the simple fact that someone had actually cared for him must have been new to him.
Since leaving Thailand, I have shared with lots of different people about my experiences in the village. I have learnt to be more open about what we did and what we are continuing to do.