Sunday, April 21, 2013

Graduation and After

with the IMM class

The above pictures were taken at this year's graduation.  After graduation, there were less students around, so they were able to take more trips, such as to the waterfalls.

how to make room for everyone

of course, when there was work that needed to be done, they each had more to do

Working with other volunteers gives great learning opportunities

When fires got too close to the property, more learning opportunities presented themselves. When the teachers and students burned their slash-and-burn hillside for planting mountain rice, we ended up being facing a little more learning than we wanted.

The fire jumped the fire break on one end - where nobody saw it. I was running behind my intended schedule - and had a view of the fire just late enough to see that it was starting to grow in the wrong direction. I told Schane that I was going to take a look at the fire - just in case. When I told him that, he immediately thought - oh no, here we go again (it's a long story, but last time I had told him that it had also been too much learning).

I took a hoe and a rake, and left a rake for Schane to take. Soon we were working our way up the hillside getting the fire controlled ( successfully this time, thanks largely to the previous learning experience). I broke my rake, so Schane gave me his. After a while, I broke that rake too. Schane gave me the hoe and went back for another one. I had sent a student to tell a teacher about the uncontrolled fire - he came with a crew and soon had the rest of the fire controlled. Then we all went to the Steck's house for some much needed water.

At the Steck's house, we found Schane and a few students mopping up a fire in the banana orchard beside the house. When Schane had returned there, he had found the orchard burning - soon to threaten the house. We were sure glad I had broken the rake at the right time - that fire would have most likely reached the house without Schane's intervention.

After that, the hillside fire jumped another fire break, and we ended up having a large crew scrambling for a few hours to control it. Fortunately, we kept the fire away from anything important. That day had to be experienced to be really appreciated - with a simple change of wind or timing, it could have turned out far differently.

the crew did back-burning to protect this mango orchard

I got a few good hikes in during the last few weeks. I think my favorite was exploring up a stream, going from waterfall to pool to waterfall to pool more than a dozen times. It was a fun challenge - challenging enough that I don't have pictures though.

On my last Sabbath there a few of us went to a favorite rock outcropping.

360 from the rocks.  Last year when I was here with Preston, I was on this same tower of rock.  I stood in a place that I thought was solid enough, and tried to get a picture.  The the rocks under my feet rolled off the edge and into the chasm below - both of the rocks went.  I thank God that I didn't go with them, and was able to come back this year.

fun vine to climb and descend
Now when I go hiking here in Canada, I feel that something's missing.  There are no vines to climb, and no bamboo tangles to struggle through.  However, I led a group of PAA students on a hike yesterday, and I'm sure they would tell you that there were obstacles enough on the trail we took.  It's time for someone to spend some time on the Rose Swanson trails with a chainsaw...  Anyway, I'm sure glad they were good natured.

critters and flowers

blue hooded lizard

Tokay geckos  -  their mating call is spelled different ways by different people.  To me the mating call sounds like "uh-oh" repeated several times.  Funny how similar it is for people.

So, I showed the IMM students the Metamorphosis DVD.  As they were watching it, I found this tired butterfly in the other room.

I saw one of these bugs climbing a wall with its house on its back

Some of these pictures, and others, are ready with Bible verses on them.  Click here to find them.


Students have come to Sunshine Orchard from a variety of backgrounds.  Many of them came in animistic fear of a multitude of spirits.  Some were chained by addictions to the betel nut and tobacco they had been using since early childhood.

I have never been to any villages in Burma to see the environment these students come from.  However, my camera has.  Naw Dah Blet was going to her village for a cousin's wedding.  As usual, she was taking a backpack loaded with medical supplies for her village.  She was willing to add my camera to her luggage, so now I understand a little more about life in Karen villages.
en route to her village

Looks like Dah Blet's village is more well-to-do-than many.  A lot of villages don't have much wood - they mostly have bamboo construction

Here comes the groom - having a little difficulty walking

the bride and maids


the strings she's wearing are to keep the spirits away

Dah Blet, back from her village during school break for more medicine

I encourage you to read Gayle's article about Dah Blet at if you would like a better description of how many Karen kids grow up.

The awesome news is that, like Naw Dah Blet, many students who have come to Sunshine Orchard have been freed from their vices and fears.  They now desire to share freedom in Christ with their friends and family.  This March, more than a dozen students decided to formally show their commitment to God through baptism.  Many of them did so in spit of strong pressure from their families not to.

Other blogs from people at Sunshine Orchard go into more detail about this - giving some of the students' stories - you can go to and explore the links to find them.

Saw Esso about to get baptized - it's rare to see him without a smile

nice backdrop - very well recorded
Inability to use her legs didn't stop Kaygee from being baptised
comfortable observer
bath time

Just after the baptism, the guys at the cattle yard next-door brought their water buffalo down to enjoy the river.  The event was finished - the results had just begun.