Signs of Spring

Happy springtime, friends!

Though I’m still getting reports of snow from Idaho, I have a suspicion many of you are enjoying signs of spring one way or another.  Perhaps not tulips or cherry blossoms, but we have our share of things budding here here in the village, both literally and figuratively.

The cliff notes: We just celebrated the end of the first full school year with our seven teen girls, wrapped up teaching at the local schools, welcomed a couple new adult (recovery) students into our midst, and are gearing up for the next school term beginning in May. Our house continues to be filled with happy sounds of teens and adults working on new leather and sewing projects, noisy ping pong games, guitar jam sessions and hyper neighbor kids.

Our team has been challenged to dream bigger than we had previously dared, specifically with the possibility of more teenagers interested in a residential program.  To that end, construction plans have been on hold as we wait for a land miracle, and we’re in a season of prayer about what’s next for the community, including prepping for even more of a houseful this next term.

More highlights from the last few months:

After a short break from rice season, we upped the ante a bit on the agricultural front. We rented a five rai piece of ground (about two acres) and made it a “family” project to plant sugarcane. (Two acres may not sound like much until you realize everything is done by hand!)  We earned the pity of the neighbors as they watched our ragtag crew try our hand at cutting sugarcane and going through the planting, fertilizing and irrigating process; most of the neighbors ended up pitching in to help us make it through. We’re now praying circles around this little plot of ground, believing it will provide ongoing lessons for the girls and others in the family of the value of laboring, sowing, praying, waiting and reaping. The goal is to direct any profit from this ground to a scholarship fund for the teens.

P.S. A special thanks to Courtney McCrea and Becca Sack for pitching in at the schools and in the sugarcane field during their visit!

The first rounds of career training seminars were completed over the last couple months. We started with weaving sticky rice baskets and bamboo fans – a skill that can be put to use immediately for personal use or for sale in the village. It’s also a skill that can be applied to making the tote bags and woven leather purses that will be marketed through Step Ahead’s “Itsera” brand. The next round of trainings will take place later this spring at which point we hope to move to real production.

On a parallel track, a few local teens and young adults in our community are diving into some entrepreneurial leather-working and metal-working projects which will largely be marketed through The Well/Narimon. We’re helping with some start-up materials and training, but they’re going to be teaching us before too long.

You might be wondering where all these teens are coming from. The majority come from situations where they didn’t dare dream about finishing school, be it due to family or financial pressures to drop out early. Now, our current seven have started laying down their “big dreams” – ranging from studying in America, to finding strong husbands, to someday having a house for their family.

Seeing their dreams grow is one of my favorite parts of our world here. And it’s addictive; we want to see it happen for all teens that come across our path. Realizing we can’t take in every teen (or we’d need to re-think our building plans!), we’re investing more time in building capacity to mentor teens that we meet through our times teaching at the local schools or other at-risk kids referred to us by neighbors and community leaders. There’s a huge need for more positive mentors and role models, and we’re praying more are being built up now.

Many of you are already an integral part of this unfolding story through your prayer and financial partnership. However, with these growing dreams comes the need for more miracles.

Would you consider being a part of the next miracles God has in store for this Khon Kaen community, either through additional prayer or financial partnership?

Jub and I will be making a trip to DC April 24 – May 6 to share more of the story of what God has been doing in this community, and asking for financial partnership as well. Let me know if you have time for a visit and we’ll start filling in the calendar! Also, if you’re interested in giving early, shoot me an email, or you can give through Servantworks (directed to The Well “Village Fund”).

As always, thank you for your friendship and partnership!

Much love,

Cori and the Isaan team