by Jeff Silkwood, PR Liaison for GNPI-Thailand
Bamboo worms are not what I was expecting to dine on when I agreed to travel to a remote Karen village in northern Thailand. I was invited by a team of workers from a local Thai church in Chiang Mai (a large city also in the north part of Thailand). I was surprised when the worms really did not taste bad at all. In fact, after the first grub, I found myself asking for another. I was told by Tee, who is the wife of the pastor from the church in Chiang Mai, that the Bamboo worms in the village were the best that could be found. I thought, if I am ever going to try a bamboo worm, it might as well be one of the best you can find.
Tee grew up in the Karen village that we were visiting and, in fact, still had much of her family living there. She and her husband have arranged many trips back to her home village to teach English at the local government school. While teaching English, they also were allowed to teach Bible stories and sing songs about Christ’s love for people. It was on one of these mission trips that I was asked to help. I was asked to take pictures, teach English, and show a film on the Solar Kit developed by GNPI. (keep reading to see the 30 second video of the Solar Kit in action below.)
The village was without power, except for a few solar panels used to charge car batteries, which in turn powered light bulbs in some of the homes. This was the kind of village the Solar Kit was developed for. On September 15 I packed up all the equipment I thought I would need and headed up the mountains with the church team.
The first night there we were all introduced to the families we would be staying with. I was staying with Tee’s sister and her husband. They showed me to a mat on the floor next to a window, which was nothing more than a hole in the wall. They gave me a mosquito net and a couple of blankets as I prepared for bed. It reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents worked in a Thai village in another part of northern Thailand. The cool, night air was filled with sounds of insects, dogs, and pigs looking for places to sleep.
We spent three nights in the Karen village teaching English and sharing the story of Christ with the children. On the second night, I had the opportunity to use the Solar Kit. It was a great success.
Word had gotten out that a movie would be shown at the school, and children of all ages came out of the woodwork to see it. Some children were able to stay for the whole show, while others stopped in for only a few minutes as they hurried about finishing their tasks before bedtime. At any one time, there were around 30 children present. All were fascinated by the movie, and by the expressions on their faces, you would have thought each one was competing in a world championship staring competition.
The video shown was a cartoon bought from CBN Siam. They provide good, Christian material for the ages that were going to be watching the video. The cartoon show told the story of Christ, leading up to and including his death and resurrection. It was a good reinforcement to the Bible stories told during the days’ activities.
The Solar Kit system worked remarkably well. In fact, many children asked if another video could be shown. Although I planned to show another video, we ran out of time before I had the chance as we had to return to Chiang Mai.
The Sunday after our return to the city my family went to the Thai church. While there, the pastor invited me again to the village, this time at the end of the year. He stated there was another village he wanted to go to, along with his wife’s home village. He said, “It will be another good place to use your video system to show the message of Christ”. This time I plan to take the whole family with me. Sadly, Bamboo worms will be out of season by then. That’s okay though, as there is always something new to try in the villages of Thailand.