We rested very comfortably on our sleeping pads in our sleeping bags under our mosquito nets, and awoke very early (around 4:00am) to the sounds of crowing roosters, snorting pigs, barking dogs, and the happy voices of children waking up to the new day. It took a moment to remember that we were in a bamboo house in the middle of a refugee camp. Then we just settled in to lazily listen to the sounds of the camp awaking. The guesthouse is situated beside a river which lulled us back to sleep between cock crows. We could smell the wood fires being built to cook breakfast, and every hour between 4:00am to 6:00am we could hear the camp 'clock'. The time was communicated throughout the camp by striking a bamboo pole three or four times quickly (to get everyones' attention), and then slowly beating out the appropriate hour.
We were up by 7:30am, and downstairs for breakfast by 8:00am. We found that we were sharing the guesthouse with guests from Korea, and visited with them briefly. We then feasted on noodles (like Ramen noodles) wtih vegetables and pork and a soup for breakfast. We told Pastor Robert (our host) at breakfast that the sound of the water was very peaceful, but that the sound of the rooster was not so peaceful. He said, "Oh, the rooster is very happy! The rooster sings because he is not breakfast today!" We all laughed at that.
After breakfast we shared a devotional time as a team with some songs. Then we walked around the camp nearby the guesthouse. The camp holds around 9,000 people, so we could only see a very small portion of it. We found small shops, and purchased oranges that are very sweet and juicy, shrimp chips, and flip flop sandals. We took photos, and tested a few words in the Karen language such as, "Wra La Gee" for "Goodmorning", and "Da Blu Do Ma" for "Thankyou".
We were also visited at the guesthouse by a couple of other friends, Pastor Edmond (who is Karen) and Pastor Geoffrey (who is British). We were also visited by Saw The Wey and the choir from Cristos Mission. The sang several Karen songs for us, and it was fantastic! We then helped the Partners staff to deliver some jackets to students in a nearby school.
We then had a truly AMAZING adventure! The Partners staff informed us that we had time to visit a nearby waterfall before the evening festivities, so we jumped on that opportunity!. We drove in the truck for about 20 minutes to the other side of the camp, and then began our hike. The first part of the hike was quite challenging, as we had to cross a swinging extension bridge over the river which was quite high and quite long. Once over that, we meandered through the bamboo houses, and then treked the steep climb up the mountain for about another 20 minutes. The waterfall was BEAUTIFUL, and we all went swimming in the pool, washed our hair, and showered under the falls.
We arrived back at the guesthouse around 5:30pm to enjoy a terrific Karen-style dinner of rice, vegetables, and pork. Then we walked about a mile again to the evening festivites. Terry spoke a 15-minute message, and Hosanna performed a ballet dance in traditional Karen attire while Brandon accompanied her on guitar. The audience was truly amazed at the dance, as they had never seen ballet before, and the children were imitating it.
Then the choir contest began! There were ten choirs from various churches in the camp, as well as other villages, in the competition. Each sang the same Karen song, and then were judged on their pitch and timing performance. Gifts were presented to each choir, and trophies were presented to the top three choirs. Jocelyn was requested to present the 1st-place winner trophy.
The festivities ended around 11:00pm, and we made the mile-long walk back to our guesthouse by flashlight and headlamps. The stars in the sky were incredibly beautiful, and we enjoyed the walk. Then it was off to snuggle in our sleeping bags for a good night's rest, as we will attend THREE church services tomorrow.