Back from the Twilight Zone

Back from the Twilight Zone

They call it the Twilight Zone — or at least, I call it that. The place where you feel suspended between cultures and time zones. Neither East nor West seems real.

I was there for a week or two when we came back to Thailand from our trip to America. A body clock set in the west and a heart yearning for those we left – but a life in the east with a calling from God and children to raise.

Life is approaching normal. By now we are adjusting — sleeping and waking up at the right times. Our palates are becoming accustomed to Thai food again.

And the kids are back. Nothing like seven teenagers to jolt you back into your reality!

They all grew while we were gone, and one in particular came back with a square jaw that had lost the soft roundness of childhood. Although not much taller, his shoulders look broader and he has the indefinable look of one who has taken a physical leap from a child toward adulthood. It was a sudden reminder that we won’t be having these kids forever. In another few blinks of the eye they will be grown.

Today we took them all shopping for school uniforms and supplies. We came home with new shoes in bigger sizes and stacks of white shirts and khaki shorts.   I was thankful for Pann’s help as we navigated the store aisles. It always seems a bit overwhelming, shopping for so many. Then a large children’s home came into the store. Dozens of kids marched in two by two, carrying baskets to fill with school supplies. Suddenly my chore didn’t look so huge!

We are also back to work with the churches. Paul spent several days in meetings with pastors and groups. They saved all their knotty troubles for him to unravel and set straight. He dealt with them patiently and faithfully.

Sunday we jounced along the rutted mountain road to the bright pink church building at Hoe La Bong. A group gathered there to hear Paul speak with William interpreting. Our kids sang a song they had prepared. As usual, we heard four or five other “specials,” too. The Lahu love to sing and do so at every opportunity. Jacob, the pastor, has a beautiful bass voice and we enjoy hearing them harmonizing.

Answered prayer – or rather, two of them. Transportation has been a problem here. With only one vehicle, Paul has had to drive everyone wherever they needed to go. When Paul is gone to preachers’ training, we have no other means of transportation than the expensive Grab (which took over from Uber here in Asia) or the steamy, packed song taus.

Thanks to several special donations, we were able to buy another motorcycle and another truck. Both were unusually good deals. We were particularly wanting a motorcycle for Kimmy to drive when she comes back to Thailand in November and were delighted to find one at a price we could afford.

The truck is older – a 2005 –but doesn’t have many more miles than our 2013 model. William can drive now, and will be taking over the job of transporting the kids to school and picking them up in the evening. We are happy to have a way to get around now when Paul is gone, and another vehicle for those all-too-frequent times when we have more people traveling with us to the villages than we have room in the truck.

Are you wondering why I didn’t mention driving myself? There’s a good reason for that! I’m terrified of driving here in Thailand. Perhaps if we move out to a small town or a more rural setting, I will attempt it. Here in Chiang Mai the traffic is just too crazy! Neither William nor Kimmy share my fear, so Paul will be relieved of much of the carting and fetching duties.

We are still praying about land and looking at options. We will be here in our rental house another year since school starts this week. It’s difficult to move kids in the middle of the year, so we will stay put a while longer. We keep looking, though, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a year to prepare a place to move to. Please pray with us about this need.

And another prayer request: We have another student who will be schooling at home with me this year. Andy earned his sixth grade certificate and will turn 15 in a few weeks.   Those two things enabled us to enroll him at the Thai informal school for classes one day a week to work toward his twelfth grade certificate. We’ve also scheduled him for tutoring in Thai and math at Kumon with Moses and Nora. I will teach him in English with them the rest of the time, using the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.

It will be a major help to us and will make schooling easier if he likes it. Also, if he is positive, the two promoting into our school next year, Molly and Jay, will more likely be coming with a good attitude. Would you pray with me that he would be happy with the arrangement?

Thank you to all of you who pray for us faithfully. God hears, and we see the results. And a big thank you for those who give so that we can carry on the work here! It was your gifts that bought school clothes and supplies today. You invested in the lives of kids who otherwise would have no future. God bless you for it!

For the youth group at The Door in Three Rivers, Oregon, who raised the funds for the motorcycle and for those donors who gave toward the truck – we give you an especially enthusiastic “thank you!”

We are happy to be here in Thailand, and we know it is those who are “holding the ropes” who make it possible. We appreciate each of you!