the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Bamboo Shoots and Girl Scout Cookies...

Right now America's supermarkets are overrun with cute little girls in green and Thin Mint Cookiesbrown uniforms selling one of America's favorite treats... Girl Scout Cookies! We were so excited to be around during Cookie Season because the year just wouldn't seem complete with out a box or two of Samoa's and Thin Mints.

Really, I mention Cookie Season because it reminded me of a conversation Paul and I had a few months ago. We were talking about what an amazing experience it has been for us to live in an Akha village. The Akha life is so intertwined with the natural world and the changing of the seasons. For example, most of the people in our village earn a living by picking tea, but we observed that at various times throughout the year many opt for other more lucritive opportunites which nature presents to them. One day we found that instead of going to the tea fields everyone had gone to the bamboo forests around our village to harvest wild bamboo shoots (the edible root of a certain type of bamboo) which they sold to someone who came around in a big truck at the end of the day. And just a few months ago, we experienced broom season when everyone harvested wild grasses to sell to broom makers.

As Paul and I were discussing this aspect of Akha life, we were having a hard time finding the right words to explain this phenomenon to Americans. Even agricultural endeavors in America have become a science. Something as simple as planting some tulips can turn into a major research project. Which type of bulb is appropriate to my region? What type of fertilizer is best? When should we plant them and how deep? Can I buy tulip bulbs on eBay? What will shipping charges be? And the list goes on! In the end, we decided that the best American equivilant to Bamboo Shoot Season was Girl Scout Cookie Season.

It does seem a bit silly to speak about Akha culture and Girl Scout cookies in the same breath, but hear me out and you'll see what I mean. Cookie Season is one of the only things in American culture that we don't plan for. Ask anyone (except, of course, for a Girl Scout) when Cookie Season is and no one will know, but almost everyone takes part in this honored American tradition. One day those cookie tables appear in front of the local supermarket and you say to yourself "Oh, it's cookie season again.... They haven't discontinued Samoas have they? Phew! I'll take two boxes!" From our observation, that's how bamboo shoot season comes about. The Akha do not plant or tend this crop, nor do they worry about when it will arrive. One day they see that the bamboo shoots are ready and they take advantage of this God-given harvest.

I can't help but think of what Christ said .

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