The name Lori means "Crowned with Laurels", taken from a term used to give the winner of a contest a wreath on their head. It is not a wreath of leaves, but my Lori was recently "crowned" for a different honor many years in the making. For years, Lori has loved looking at the beautiful Akha headdresses on the heads of our close friends. But she wouldn't buy one.
Her reluctance reflected our ministry goal to incarnationally meet the Akha where they are spiritually, physically, emotionally and culturally. Although there were, and always will be, obvious differences between ourselves and our Akha friends, we did not want to show up and throw money around to make our outer appearance seem more seasoned, more accepted, than we actually were.
Our first truck was testimony to that, as was our first Akha home, and the fact that we didn't have a bathroom in our hut for the first year.
In the same way, we didn't want to just walk in and buy amazing Akha costumes and parade around in them as if we were Akha, we wanted to grow with our people incarnationally. Through the years we slowly received gifts of beautiful Akha bags and clothes, we purchased simple and then more ornate Akha coats and built our appearance as our language and relationships grew.
But Lori still didn't have a headdress.
A few months ago we were going through our things and came across some old US silver coins that Lori's grandmother had given her before she passed away. These pieces had new meaning to us after spending so many years inculturated with a people whose traditions lie in passing silver coins from generation to generation. We knew that we wanted to add these pieces to Lori's headdress when the day finally came.
And after 9 years of full-time service, after naming 3 children and spending countless hours laughing, crying, teaching and learning in the Akha language, the day has finally come.
We bought Lori an authentic Akha headdress (made of metal, not silver) which she will wear "out" for the first time at the Akha Outreach graduation 0n March 1st.
The process of buying a headdress is involved because once you have found one that meets your standards, it then has to be customized to fit to your head... which means more Akha community! So Lori brought out her new headdress at the Women's Conference last week and all the women joined in in customizing her crowning Akha glory.
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Even this headdress is something that we will continue to build into through the years. We will slowly add real silver pieces to replace the metal ones, attach additional silver chains and ornaments and personalize it to my beautiful wife.
But for now, our American Akha beauty is very satisfied.