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Moments with missionaries: Joel Nitz

Strawberry fields forever in Vietnam

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Despite COVID-19 restrictions and obstacles, our mission to the Hmong people in Vietnam moves forward. We are in our second year of online instruction for our Hmong students.

Recently I taught a course on the book of Psalms to our 57 students. My partner Bounkeo Lor taught a class on Christian stewardship. His brother Ger Lor taught on the Augsburg Confession.

About half an hour before each class began, I opened the Zoom classroom. Students like to check in early, talk to each other, catch up on news, and say prayers. I get to practice my limited Hmong vocabulary by greeting the students and asking them questions.

Training for 57 Hmong leaders continues in Vietnam, with classes mainly conducted online through Zoom. A new group of 60 students started studying this past February.

On the day of the final session of our Psalms class, one student showed us a blessing from her garden. Ntsuab showed us a basket of strawberries. I quickly consulted my Hmong-English dictionary to find the Hmong word for strawberry. “Kuv nyiam txiv pos nphuab (I like the strawberry),” I said to Ntsuab.

Then I decided to change my Zoom background to show a basket of strawberries. The students smiled and chatted about strawberries. More students entered the classroom and probably wondered why I featured a picture of strawberries.

The class continued for two hours. We reviewed and celebrated the message of the psalms. One student remarked, “I never realized before how much the psalms talk about Jesus.” He had learned the chief message of Scripture and the psalms.

When we concluded, the students regretted that we couldn’t study more of the psalms. We focused our ten sessions on just 12 of the 150 psalms. I also regretted that we could not study more of the psalms but promised we would do so in the future.

I said, “Each psalm we studied is like a sweet strawberry. They are delicious and we want to eat more of them.”

“Yes,” said one student, “I wish we could have eaten more strawberries in this class.”

Our Hmong students remain eager to learn God’s Word. We finish one class. They want another class. We study one book of the Bible. They want to study the next book. We cover one topic. They want to hear all the topics.

Our brothers and sisters in the Hmong Fellowship Church have the desire of the psalmist who wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey (strawberries?) to my mouth!”

Author: Joel Nitz
Volume 109, Number 06
Issue: June 2022

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