If someone had told me it was going to be 34 degrees up there, I would have thought they were exaggerating. Thailand is a tropical country. We don’t have indoor heating in houses or cars. Banana trees pop up voluntarily in the yard. Orchids used to grow wild in the forest until they figured out that Americans will pay fifty bucks for one. We don’t get frost at a latitude of 18 degrees north of the equator. But during a week in early December when 100 staff, residents and scholarship recipients went up to Doi Chang Mountain in Chiang Rai for our New Life Center Bible Camp, an unexpected cold front had come down from snowy China. And it really was cold in our breezy mountaintop huts at night! Thankfully, the camp was able to provide extra blankets. And the warmth of our love for one another overcame our reluctance to get out of bed.
Breathtaking mountain views greeted us each morning as we thawed in the warmth of the sun, reminding us of the goodness of God. Daytime activities included art, beaded crosses, parachute games, tie-dye, sports, manicures, and sensory stimulation activities including slime and kinetic sand. One afternoon, the group went to a local coffee plantation to pick coffee and hear the testimony of the tribal owner’s journey to faith and the subsequent development of a fair trade business that now employs hundreds of villagers. Over meals, high school residents got to know college scholarship recipients and ask them questions about what college is like and how they negotiate living on their own. In the evening, we had singing, a Bible teaching, a Christmas gift exchange and skits by the bonfire. And on Sunday, one of our staff and I had the privilege to baptize eight girls who had encountered the tender love of Jesus and decided to follow him. One was a graduate of the New Life Center who asked to come back to be baptized among her NLC family.
As you celebrate Christmas and New Year, may you remember that you are part of a community that stretches around the world. The threads of your love and support are intertwined with all of us at New Life Center so that young women can achieve their dreams, and positively transform their communities. Thank you for being a part of our story. And may you have a blessed holiday season.