When people have been asking me about my feast plans for this year I have told them that I would be in Chiang Mai, because until very recently that was the plan. However, I found out very recently (less than a week ago, in fact) that instead of going to Chiang Mai I would be coordinating (if that is the right word) a feast site in Khun Yuam, a rather rustic and rural (and, from what I’ve heard, not particularly exciting) town in Mae Hong Son province, very close to the Burmese border and right next to a Karen refugee camp where some Sabbath-keeping brethren live.
Khun Yuam is known for being a backpacking trek area, with remote jungles, mountains, and rivers in the area that are exciting for those who are outdoorsy types of people. I’m not particularly an outdoorsy type of person myself, unless there are historical sites to see, and then I enjoy a good hike around trenches or fortresses or ancient ruins as much as anyone. This location appears to be more suited to the nature lover, though. Having never been to Khun Yuam, I do not have much to say about the area—I only have second hand information about it yet (and I will not, in all likelihood, have seen the place until the feast).
Therefore, it is not my purpose to talk about a place based on hearsay and gossip, but rather talk about what festival planning is required. For one, I will need to know (pretty soon, if at all possible) just how many people I will be responsible for at the lodging house there in Khun Yuam where services will be held. I have already made requests for a couple of students to help me with translation (the refugees speak Karen and would know Burmese as well, two languages on the very long list of languages I do not know). Fortunately, there are two or three students here qualified to translate from English into either Karen or Burmese, and their help will be needed. Additionally, I will need to come up with at least four messages for the Feast. I already have a few in mind—one on the Eighth Day and its symbolism (since that is one of the four days I will be running the show), another on the nuts and bolts responsibilities as kings and priests in the kingdom, another on the state of the world at Christ’s return (dealing with refugees, people who are traumatized, and a world in ruins), and another on what it means to be a sojourner here on the earth. Of course, there will also be song leaders to schedule (I might a couple of those, besides myself), special music to coordinate, and (maybe) events to plan.
I don’t know the brethren at all from the refugee camps, though as the person in charge of Legacy’s tape distribution network to Burma and the camps I have sent many letters to the camps and to Burma, and so the brethren there would be familiar with my handwriting on the envelopes and my typed letters with the tapes within. That said, it will be nice to meet them and get to know them a little bit. I don’t know what life is like in a refugee camp, but I imagine any time spent outside of those distinctly “temporary” dwellings in a guest house would be appreciated by such people. I know I would find such a thing to raise my own spirits, as life in a refugee camp strikes me as deeply depressing, though they probably have a great deal more cheer than I would, given our different expectations. Truly, for such people, the hope of a kingdom of righteousness where all peoples will be able to be free to obey God without the threat of tyrannical and abusive leaders is a message they are no doubt eager to hear, and eager to see. May His Kingdom come soon.