AT A GLANCE

serving in Laos

Laos is restrictive Communist country. Our team, limited in size as a team, so as to not draw too much attention, will begin to understand what millions around the world face in countries without many of the freedoms we take for granted. God assembled a team of young church planters spreading the good news among “Yellow Lahu" in Laos. Laotian Christians have experienced severe persecution including beatings and prison. Yet now, because of God’s grace, Communist authorities permitted a church build! Despite the Communist party officials watching their every move, churches in Laos are seeing inexplicable growth! The young, passionate church leaders recently located three previously unreached tribes, who have never heard the name of Jesus. They struggle at times to support their families adequately so your projects will help financially sustain young pastors risking it all for Christ. Some projects will continue our work of partnering with locals to develop small farms of mushrooms huts, mango orchards, fish farms, etc. that will also help the pastors gain favor with the community.

WHERE IS Laos?

Lao People's Democratic Republic, the “Thousand Elephants Country,” is a country in Southeast Asia. Neighboring countries are Thailand to the west, Vietnam to the east, Burma, China to the north, and Cambodia to the south. Laos is a landlocked, mountainous country, widely covered by largely unspoiled tropical forest. With an area of 91,400 square miles, it is slightly larger than the state of Utah.

CAPITAL 

The capital is Vientiane and largest city with a population of 810,000. Savannakhet is the second largest city of Laos. After the establishment of the ? Lao - Thai Friendship Bridge II in January 2007 which links Savannakhet to Mukdahan (Thailand), the economic capital of

LANGUAGE

Lao is the official language of Laos, which is spoken by 3 of the country’s 5.6 million people. It serves as the common language in this highly multilingual country with a population that speaks 86 languages. A vestige of colonial times, French occupies a special place in this multilingual country. In fact, French is doing better in Laos than in other Francophone countries of Asia. It is a required language in many schools, and about a third of students in Laos are educated in French.  However, English is becoming more popular among younger people largely due to its role as the language of international business, technology, and the Internet.

FLAG

The national flag, officially adopted in 1975, is the former flag of the Pathet Lao, consisting of three horizontal stripes of red, dark blue, and red, with a white disk, representing the full moon, at the center.

 

RELIGION 

Major religion Buddhism. Tribes, are almost exclusively animists, although influenced by Buddhism to some extent. About 2% of the population are Christians. Though religious activity was discouraged by the state from 1976 to 1979, freedom of religion has been legally guaranteed since the constitution of 1991. However, the government reserves the right to serve as the final arbiter of permissible religious activities, which the government loosely defines as those practices which serve to promote national interests. Religious affairs are overseen by the Lao Front for National Construction (LFNC), an organization of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party.

LITERACY RATE

The Lao literacy rate is 79.9%

ECONOMY 

One of the world's few remaining communist states and one of East Asia's poorest. Most Laotians live in rural areas, with around 80% working in agriculture mostly growing rice. Because industrialization is minimal, Laos imports nearly all the manufactured products it requires. Distribution of imports is limited almost entirely to Vientiane and a few other towns, and even there, consumption has been low. The hostilities of the 1960s and 1970s badly disrupted the economy, forcing the country to depend on imports from Thailand to supplement its daily rice requirements.The state has huge hydropower ambitions to become the "battery" of Southeast Asia. Outside the capital, many people live without electricity or access to basic facilities. 

Politics

The 1991 constitution provides for freedom of speech, assembly, and religion, although, in practice, organized political speech and activities are severely restricted. The reality of religious freedom is equally illusory, with imprisonment of Christian activists in recent years. Communist forces overthrew the monarchy in 1975, heralding years of isolation. Laos began opening up to the world in the 1990s, but despite tentative reforms, it remains poor and dependent on international donations. Public dissent in Laos is dealt with harshly by the authorities, and the country's human rights record has come under scrutiny. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have called attention to deaths in custody, torture, and substandard conditions in the Laotian prison system.

OTHER FACTS ABOUT Laos

WEATHER

Laos has the typical tropical monsoon (wet-dry) climate of the region, though the mountains provide some variations in temperature. During the rainy season (May to October), the winds of the southwest monsoon deposit an average rainfall of 50 to 90 inches (1,300 to 2,300 mm), with totals reaching some 160 inches (4,100 mm) on the Bolovens Plateau. The dry season (November to April) is dominated by the northeast monsoon. Minimum temperatures average between 60 and 70 °F (16 and 21 °C) in the cool months of December through February, increasing to highs of more than 90 °F (32 °C) in March and April, just before the start of the rains. In the wet season the average temperature is 80 °F (27 °C).

FOOD

Lao people enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs, for this reason they appear in almost every Lao meals. Meat and fish are usually grilled or steamed as a result, the meals are fresh and the dishes low in fat. Lao cuisine has many regional variations, due in part to the fresh foods local to each region. Lao food is traditionally eaten with sticky rice using fingers. In the countryside, people all eat family style, sitting on the floor, sharing a few dishes.

CULTURAL DO’S AND DON’TS

Laotians consider the head to be sacred, so it is not acceptable for a younger person to touch someone else’s head unless first asking permission to do so (even in the case of examining a head wound etc.) A senior person can touch a younger person’s head if it is to bless them, or ruffle their hair out of a sense of playful affection. It is considered impolite to cross your legs while sitting in a chair, or point to someone or something with your toes. It is considered impolite to step over someone’s legs, arms, or body or to step over food.

SAFETY

Don’t go anywhere alone. It would be preferable to have a group of 3, one being a male. Don’t be in an isolated place with nationals or with minors. Always stay close to teammates taking care not to get separated from your group. Be on guard, aware of your belongings and what is going on around you. Hold your backpack in front of you when out in public. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Don’t carry a lot of valuables on you (expensive watches, jewelry, phones, computers, cameras, etc.) Put money in several places on you. Carry a copy of your passport with you at all times. You don’t need to carry your passport every day, but make sure to put it in a safe place. If you’re not sure what is allowed, ask a team leader or missionary.

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Time Zone: ICT (15 hrs. Ahead of PST)

Country Code: 856

Currency:  kip

Electrical Outlets: While the outlets will mostly accommodate American plugs, any appliances you bring need to be dual voltage because Lao standard voltage is 230 V while the  US uses 110V.  The photo shows the wall receptacle design usually found in Laos. They accommodate both flat prongs (like in the U.S.) and round prongs (like much of Europe.) You may want to bring a Type C plug adapter Note: some outlets have allow only two prongs.

adaptor c.jpg
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SHOPPING

This will be limited to mini mart type shops and maybe some handmade tribal wares. The best shopping available will be in Chiang Mai, Thailand where we will have opportunities to visit the famous Night Market where all sorts of items, from local handicrafts, to knock-off branded goods are available. Most of the time bartering is expected so ask your hosts for advice on this.

CLOTHING GUIDELINES

With regard to clothing, MODESTY is of EXTREME importance.  Neither underwear nor midriffs may be shown. And nothing form fitting, guys or gals. No scoop neck/ low necklines for gals. Take your cues from the nationals in the varying situations you find yourself.

Work Clothing: Jeans, “scrubs,” or active wear. Yoga pants are permitted if worn with a long shirt to completely cover the rear. Closed toed, sturdy shoes. T-shirts or basic crew necks. No shorts or sleeveless/tank tops for women. Men may wear shorts. Any writing on shirts should not contain anything offensive, crude, provocative, political or inflammatory.

Casual Clothing: Nicer outfit for outings and excursions, like jeans or capris and a polo shirt or nicer crew neck.

Church/Dining Out: Church: Clean jeans with nice t-shirt or polo shirt and tennis, skate or deck shoes for men. Below knee dress/skirt with t-shirt and flip flops or sandals. Note: we don’t want to “out dress” the locals.

SHOPPING

This will be limited to mini mart type shops and maybe some handmade tribal wares. The best shopping available will be in Chiang Mai, Thailand where we will have opportunities to visit the famous Night Market where all sorts of items, from local handicrafts, to knock-off branded goods are available. Most of the time bartering is expected so ask your hosts for advice on this.

CLOTHING GUIDELINES

With regard to clothing, MODESTY is of EXTREME importance.  Neither underwear nor midriffs may be shown. And nothing form fitting, guys or gals. No scoop neck/ low necklines for gals. Take your cues from the nationals in the varying situations you find yourself.

Work Clothing: Jeans, “scrubs,” or active wear. Yoga pants are permitted if worn with a long shirt to completely cover the rear. Closed toed, sturdy shoes. T-shirts or basic crew necks. No shorts or sleeveless/tank tops for women. Men may wear shorts. Any writing on shirts should not contain anything offensive, crude, provocative, political or inflammatory.

Casual Clothing: Nicer outfit for outings and excursions, like jeans or capris and a polo shirt or nicer crew neck.

Church/Dining Out: Church: Clean jeans with nice t-shirt or polo shirt and tennis, skate or deck shoes for men. Below knee dress/skirt with t-shirt and flip flops or sandals. Note: we don’t want to “out dress” the locals.