January found most EMA staff at the EMA conference, held this year in Wattana Village in Mae Sot, Thailand. This annual event brings staff together for encouragement, teaching, and a chance to gather face to face. With offices in Thailand, Myanmar, and the US, it’s vital for EMA to get together and connect with staff from each of these sites instead of choppy Messenger calls or fuzzy FaceTime sessions.
Depending on what table you sat at during meals, you would hear various languages in conversation: Thai, Karen, Burmese, English, maybe even a little Spanish or Urdu. These people all bring a unique perspective based on their local cultures, traditions and upbringing. And bringing all these variables together under one mission is both challenging and rewarding.
The theme this year was “EMA Culture”, with Pastor Rob (Director of Donor Development) encouraging us to keep our minds and actions to be focused on the common vision. As we discussed some of the challenges of working amidst all these very different variables, it was clear that the love that we have in Christ is the glue that holds everything together. Love is the ingredient that makes our differences compatible. To reinforce the lessons we were learning, Pastor Rob asked us to do several tasks outside of the session time: serving a specific person daily, taking time to hear somebody’s life story from another culture, and personally remembering the reason we are each working with EMA.
During devotions the final day, Dr. Sha shared a successful medical story that showcased the culture EMA strives to achieve. A girl, nearly dead, arrived at our remote clinic. Our PA students successfully stabilized the girl before transporting her the 7 hours to the T-RAD clinic. Now in the middle of the night, dedicated doctors and nurses completed lab tests and within an hour the girl was conscious. Recognizing she should be transferred to Yangon, leadership in Chiang Mai were consulted and agreed, and soon our driver and a nurse were transporting this child to Yangon for more intensive care.
A saved life. This is not possible if any link in the chain is missing. Not possible without multiple cultures working together towards the common goal.
And one day there will be a big feast in heaven, where guests will attend from every nation, tribe, people and language (Rev. 9:7). Here at EMA, we get a small taste of what is to come.