Elephants and Friends
Now I know what it feels like to be struck by an elephant.
We were at the elephant camp with our guests from America and had just finished watching the show. These are talented pachyderms! They kicked soccer balls, played with a hula hoop, and painted pictures, among other feats. Afterwards, we walked along the pathway from the showground. I felt like someone was in my space and looked back to see an elephant right behind me. He sniffed around with his trunk, obviously looking for a handout. His handler was with him, and I fear he also was looking for a tip. Unfortunately, I had neither cash nor bananas. I held up my empty hands to show the elephant. You could see the disgust in his eyes. He thumped me on the shoulder, clearly saying, “What a cheapskate!”
It didn’t hurt, but I certainly felt it. Those trunks are powerful. All the rest of that day I wore a circle of elephant drool on my blouse. That was a first! Always something new in Thailand.
We’ve enjoyed the visit of Robert and Mary Hudson from Oklahoma. They arrived eager to help in any way they could, and they have been a blessing. It’s given us a taste of what it would be like to have someone working with us here.
They barely had time to recover from their trip before we were heading to the mountains for services. Lek wasn’t with us as we traveled to Long Hkoad, so our guys could not preach. The pastor preached in Lahu, though, and we enjoyed the many songs they sang. They served us lunch – Robert and Mary’s first introduction to tribal food – and then we did medicine. Paul showed Robert how to take blood pressures and Mary managed to make friends with the ladies and children, in spite of the language barrier. She truly cares about people, and it shows, even without words.
She made friends just as easily with the ladies at Mae Ai as we went to preachers’ training the next week. It was a terrific week. I have so missed getting to go along with Paul and teaching English to the guys. This time we had men from Myanmar and Laos. Again, the Laos preachers had trouble getting through and only a few were able to come. We still had a good group of 15 from both countries.
The double translation was necessary because Lek doesn’t speak Lisu. Besides, there were guests from another village who spoke only Thai.
And that was exciting. Matthew, the pastor of this church and one of Paul’s students, had asked us to pray for an evangelistic outreach he was sponsoring in a village over the mountain. Many there responded when they heard the Gospel. These four were leaders of the village who had come to learn more about Christ. Much work lies ahead to make sure these are genuine conversions and that they are grounded in the truth. We are excited, though, to see God working among the hill tribes and to see the evidence of the pastors’ zeal to spread the Gospel. Please pray for these people who are professing newfound faith in Christ.
The next week was a busy one of catching up on work here at home while the kids are gone, and taking a few days to show the sights to Robert and Mary. It was a fun and refreshing time. I was glad to have help getting projects finished up — hats ready to distribute at the Thanksgiving celebrations, baby bags packed, medicine bagged and sorted. She also helped me work ahead on my English teaching supplies. I’m sure when she thought of coming to Thailand to help serve, she probably didn’t imagine spending time coloring pictures, but that’s what was needed, and what she did!
And today the children are coming home. Well, four of them. Tomorrow we are invited to a Thanksgiving service in Hoe La Bong. That’s Jan’s village and we will be bringing her back with us. Jay lives nearby, so we will pick him up, too.
It’s quiet right now as Paul and our guests have gone to get Molly, Danny, and Andy. Or it would be quiet if a work crew wasn’t digging up the street with a jackhammer. They are replacing water lines. Sure hope that doesn’t mean they will cut the water off.
The kids start back to school on Nov. 1, and Robert and Mary will fly out the day after. Life will get back to normal – except normal here is always unexpected. You never know when you will be thumped by an elephant!
God is good – and life is good here in Thailand.