Today we are going to travel back in time to share an encouraging & inspirational adventure that I feel very privileged to have experienced & I know you will find very inspiring…
I have brewed an interesting tea blend for the occasion; Apple, green & black tea combination with a freshly baked Gf Date loaf (still warm) with lashings of butter.
The tea is very different, not sure of the success of this combination with the first sip but it becomes tastier with each ensuing mouthful. The date loaf is ridiculously delicious!
Our reflective destination…
When I was living & working in Penang, Pearl of the Orient I was invited to travel to Khon Kaen in Thailand to share in the work amongst those living with leprosy.
This trip was of immense interest to me, since I was a small child & had first heard the stories of those suffering from Leprosy in ancient biblical texts, my heart had ached for those who were excluded & isolated from their families, friends & communities.
Because of the stigma & fear that this disease incites in communities. Naively, I hadn’t realized back in 1980 that it was still causing havoc in peoples lives to this day!
I traveled on a fascinating train journey, passing farmers working in rice fields with water buffalo, through exotic villages & towns sprinkled with the glorious colors of a tropical country side….from Butterworth, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand.
Then continuing the journey from Bangkok arriving in Khon Kaen to stay with my friend who had given the invitation. The next day we took a drive out to the Leprosy community, which was quite a distance from the city into the county side.
The community were very excited to have a new visitor & had prepared a delicious Thai meal to share with us. Afterwards I was given a tour of the compound. It was very impressive in its self sufficiency & ecological sustainability.
Asian vegetables, tropical fruit trees, chickens, fish, goats & pigs were all being farmed & used by the inhabitants of the compound, as well as, the excess being sold to local markets for other provisional needs. I was so impressed with this work & excited that it was now directed & sustained by the community itself!
A very humbling moment
But the most humbling moment for me…was when it came time for our departure to return to the city.
A little lady, with the marks that herald leprosy, walked up to me smiling & carrying a huge basket overflowing with fresh tropical fruit & vegetables, meat & eggs as a gift for me!
This was in appreciation for visiting them…She had given me her full week’s food for simply coming to visit…
However my friend informed me, that it wasn’t just a simple visit for this community, it was so much more asit was total acceptance & not rejection, it was the display of love & not recoiling in fear.
It was inclusion & not exclusion in socializing over a meal & it was the gift of dignity that the visitation displayed, that had touched the hearts of the whole community…at the time I had not realized the impact that a simple visit to this community would have!
This became a defining moment in my life!
When I returned to Australia…I became an educator for The Leprosy Mission, in between family & work commitments.
The Leprosy Mission is a global Christian organization that brings awareness & medical facilitation, dignity & empowerment, social integration, research & resource mobilization with compassion. And they reach half a billion people in the world annually who suffer from this disease!
Bringing awareness to their work, especially here in Australia, became my passion…which led to other amazing adventures that will be shared in future reflections…
This passion has lasted to this day…though I can no longer travel to far off places (reasons shared in Focus )…I can continue to support this important ministry through prayer & in sharing my own resources.
Over time I have seen Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) become an effective treatment & cure for halting the progression of the disease with research continuing to hopefully one day create a preventative vaccine.
Did you know that there is a diagnosis of Leprosy made every two minutes & that there are over 220,000 new registered cases each year…50% of these cases are children (WHO Refer.) Some are from the poorest countries in the world but others are in our own countries! So much food for thought…
This w generosity continues to impact my life to this day…let us be mindful of the lasting effects that a simple gesture can have…a visit, a gift of love & the sharing of a meal…
Until next time,
Jennifer is a published author, discover more in The Book Nook
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