I feel as though I started my Thailand trip today. The congregation presented me with a love gift of $4,195.00. With other money I have received, the total is more than $5,000.00. I am humbled by this kind and generous response.
I celebrate my 25th year as pastor of FBC this year. I have been able to experience many amazing and diverse things. The world has come to me. Now I am headed out into the world.
I have been collecting all sorts of items in anticipation of the trip: passport, toilet paper, insect repellent, camera, t shirts that “breathe”, collapsible water container, flashlight, flip flops, lightweight rain gear, cargo pants that convert to shorts, hat and skin lotion. I have shots for Hepatitis A and tetanus, pills for typhoid, prescription sleeping pills (for the many hours and time zones in the airplane) and high test medicine in case of diarrhea.
I have watched videos on You Tube about Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur and the camps I will be visiting.
I have been requesting Karen members to help me by asking “If you were going with me to the border, what would you tell the people?” I have had some interesting conversations.
Pastor Hsa Moo from First Karen Baptist Church is putting together a video of greetings from Karen in the frozen tundra of MN to relatives and friends in the tropical camps. I will be delivering letters from Karen members of FBC to their family and friends in three refugee camps.
I will bring Good Life Club packets (put together by the Merry Marthas) to the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) in Chiang Mai. FBR is an organization that courageously serves internally displaced people inside Burma. They set up basic health and dental clinics a 7 to 10 days march into Burma. They provide the children with what we would call a vacation Bible School. The packets have simple hygiene articles, vitamins, a little toy and postcard of encouragement.
I hope to visit Winston Win who now lives in Mae Sot. Winston was the first person from Burma to come to FBC. Because of him and his insistent invitations to others, the Karen community found its way to MN. I also am hoping to catch up with Hnin Nu, a member of FBC, who is volunteering with the Karen Women’s Organization for five months.
So. Here we go.
–Pastor Bill Englund