Lectionary Selection: Luke 4: 1- 13
Prayers for Laos:
Dear God I feel your presence in the children and single mothers I meet in their desparation. Although suffering in difficult circumstances, their gentleness, love and hope reflect your holy spirit and are an inspiration to me. Please be with them and give them strength. Amen
Mission Stewardship Moment from Laos:
Two days ago I met an 11-year-old girl named Duane while doing my volunteer work in the surgery department of the local hospital. Duane had a mouth and eye injury that required an operation. Duane came to the hospital with her mother who is about 30 years old.
Duane was scheduled to have her operation on Friday afternoon and she was waiting with other patients and their family members for her surgery. As they were waiting with nothing to do, the patients and family members joined our social work student volunteers' hospital psychosocial services in the hospital hallway.
On this day, we were teaching patients and relatives how to make paper bags. We brough old newspapers and magazines, scissors and glue and they learned to make paper shopping bags with the recycled material. This is a very simple activity that they can do at home, and they can sell these bags to the shops in town for 1000 kip (about 12 cents each). Everyone who participates is very excited to earn this amount. This is also one of the activities in the Dongkhoi Development Center and is a good stress-reducing and calming activity for people who are worrying or anxious.
Duane was a bit shy at first and her mom also appeared very humble and modest. They were, however, the first to sit down to see what we were about the teach. Duane was very keen to learn and she learned fast, as did her mother. The two of them finished the most bags; at least 4 bags each, more than the other participants.
Then we moved to making a poster about our activities. We asked Duane to color the poster and she was very eager to do it. She and her mother worked for over an hour with enthusiasm.
I got the play doctor uniforms including a hat and an apron for her to put on and when we called her "little doctor" she smiled beautifully.
Eventually we left the hospital and Duane had her surgery as expected.
The next morning we returned to the hospital to see her and the other patients and to do activity with them again. Duane had her operation the previous day and was now waiting for the doctor to check on her recovery.
As we visited with her and her mother we began to learn more about their situation and understand that they were experiencing very difficult circumstances.
Duane's mother said she has another child who is 7 years old and she and her husband are divorced because he cheated on her. She remarried a much older man who she hoped would be more mature but this seond husband drinks a lot and is not responsible. So he does not make any money for the family but demands more money from her.
Duane's mother has ended up raising these two children herself. In order to provide for her children, she works in a shoe-making factory, but has recently had to quit because she is alergic to the glue. And now that Duane has had this operation, her mother must temporarily stay at home so she can look after Duane.
Despite all these difficulties, Duane's mother remains determined and hopes she can get a job in a sewing factory when Duane has recovered.
Although she has had a very difficult life, and faces overwhelming responsibilities and uncertainty, Duane's mother remains calm, gentle, and uncomplaining. Despite her vulnerability, Duane's mother is determined and her spirit remains strong and through her love she is raising two beautiful little children including Duane despite her adversity.
Disciples and UCC mission support makes possible our social work extension in the hospital. This support has made it possible for these volunteers to learn practical social work skills while studying for their college degrees. Most importantly your support helps us infuse the spirit of service into the training of these future social workers while also encouraging and giving hope to real people like Duane and her mother.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Xuyen Dangers)
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More information on Laos:
Global Ministries Missionary(ies) in Laos:
Xuyen Dangers is a social work supervisor in Laos who trains Social work university students as interns in Donkoi Children Development Center.