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Young woman speaks about Bible Women Training: "Part I"

by Jessica Yang


At the end of March, 60 women from Laos participated in the United Methodist Women’s Bible Women training in Thailand (see article), a country where the women felt they could meet, learn and discuss issues safely.  Their home country is under communist rule and stories of Christians jailed or displaced for their faith are not uncommon.


The trainers were Hmong-Americans from Wisconsin, including Kady Herr-Yang, a Women's Division director who initiated the training of women.   Ms. Herr-Yang’s 14-year-old daughter, and 11-year-old daughter, accompanied the group then went back to their mother's homeland of Laos to see how women and children live in the present day.  This is their report to the Women's Division board of directors meeting in April 2005.  

My trip to Thailand and Laos was a very exciting trip although I didn’t think it would take a total of 17 hrs to get to Bangkok, Thailand.  Boy, that was one very long plane ride, but I did have a great time. At Tip Hotel, where the training took place, I thought it was wonderful and they had great food to eat although it made a lot of the women sick. We got to go shopping daily on errands with the help of tuk-tuks.  Tuk-tuks are little motorcycles with a big covered cart on its end to seat people who needed a ride. After the training, we headed for Vientiane, Laos.  At Laab Xaab (which means 1000 elephants in Lao) Hotel, we checked into nice rooms with comfortable beds to sleep in.

Early Saturday morning, we headed to the mountains to visit two Hmong villages. We made a stop along the way to visit a Lao Kang village who were new United Methodists.  The pastor’s wife was a friend of my aunt and was at the Bible Women training.  When the van stopped and we got out, my mom took out a black suitcase full of school supplies. There was a crowd of children, youth and women gathering around the suitcase.  I bet they were wondering as they gathered around us, what was in the mysterious suitcase. Then, my mom finally opened it and the children found out that there were school supplies in it. They were overjoyed to see so many things, but were shy at the same time. One by one, my mother and I started handing out the supplies to all the children. It was a wonderful sight to see. They thanked us a lot. I was just so happy that I was giving them the supplies. This sight reminded me of when Jesus fed the 5 thousand hungry people with fish and bread. I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful and memorable experience.  After that, we headed to the Hmong villages in the mountains.

Finally we arrived.  I can’t believe how sad it was to see the living conditions that the Hmong lived in. Compared to our lives here in America, the Hmong in the mountains were very opposite. When we took our trip to the mountains, which by the way, was a very bumpy and long trip, I saw many kids with dirty faces, some with dirty clothes and others with no clothes or no shoes at all.  They were walking along the dirt road to somewhere.  Some looked unhealthy because they had big bellies and some looked very skinny as if they were starving, which I’m sure maybe they were. 

The van we rode in dropped us off at a village and stayed there to wait for us. We walked to the village’s church and explored in it for a while. It was small and dark but I’m sure the people there were glad to just have a place to worship God. It was built on dirt—no cemented floor.  Its location was behind the pastor’s house—on their land—maybe.  It was as if they were purposely hiding the church from the public.  I’m sure there was a good reason for the church to be so hidden.  The children there were so short and little, but their age was old. Some of them were 14 years old and shorter than I am. This tells me that in Laos, they have very poor health. Our chores were nothing compared to their chores. Our chores are simple like doing the dishes and vacuuming. Lao Hmong children have to carry their brothers and sisters on their back for who-knows-how-many-hours and take empty gasoline containers to fill water in.  I saw a little girl—not much older than I am, carrying two full containers of water on her shoulder. The two containers were hooked one on each end of a bamboo stick and carried on her shoulder.  I was afraid the stick would break and make all the water spill all over. The kids there had to help work in the fields for food.  The families pay to get filthy well-water to cook food in and to drink. In that village, there was only one well that they were able to get water from.  The well belonged to the family that dug it.  So, they turned it into a business and collected money from the villagers to get water.  Do they bathe?  In dirty and probably contaminated water without soap? They live a poor life.

I am glad that God is with them and glad that they are United Methodists.  I hope United Methodist Women can give these Hmong people, especially the children hope for a brighter and healthier future.  If not a lot, at least some clean water for them to drink, and for Free.  Thank you Women’s Division and United Methodist Women for giving me the opportunity to see the life that I could be living in right now.  Every time I think back to the little girl carrying those two heavy containers of water, I think that, that could have been me.  Instead I am here with all of you.  I thank God and United Methodist Women.  Amen.  


 
See Also...
Topic: Bible Children Education Health Women Youth
Geographic Region: LaosThailand
Source: Women's Division
 
 

arrow icon. View Listing of Missionaries Currently Working in: Laos    Thailand |   

Date posted: Apr 25, 2005