“Wait, Molly!” I called. “Don’t give out any more until I can help you.”
Poor Molly was mobbed by kids – their outstretched hands trying to reach into the sacks of hats she carried. I waded into the melee and tried to organize the crowd.
It’s Thanksgiving season and we were at Hoe La Bong to celebrate with the church family in the Pepto-Bismol pink building. We had a good crowd with every chair filled and many sitting crossed-legged on the cool tile floor. More people spilled out into the porch and still others gathered around the open windows.
I slipped my purse behind my back to ease the familiar biting backache from the blue plastic chair and sat back to enjoy the service. As usual, we had lots of singing – several congregational songs and LOTS of special music. We enjoyed it all, and enjoyed Paul’s preaching even more. Thanksgivings are such an opportunity to share the Gospel.
Then it was time for the feast. The church people stood outside at homemade bamboo tables to eat, but the people always insist on carrying a real table and chairs into the church building for us. We ate the traditional pork balls baked in banana leaves, and vegetables on rice. Our disposable plates were biodegradable. We ate off the leaves that the food came wrapped in. Very economical as well as, umm, green.
The large crowd kept getting bigger as word filtered through the village that we were there and doing medicine. Robert and Mary Hudson were visiting from America and lent a hand — or a couple of hands. Robert took blood pressures while Mary handed out soaps and vitamins. Meanwhile Lek translated and I dealt with the familiar complaints of backache, stomachache, itchy skin, etc. An “epidemic” of sore throats apparently hit a crowd of little boys who eagerly accepted the throat lozenges I gave out. I made a mental note to buy less tasty lozenges next time.
At last we were finished and I sent Molly out to get the hats and baby bags from the truck. We almost had a stampede! I intervened as quickly as I could to organize the distribution. Mary took the sack of baby-sized hats, I took the mediums and Molly passed out the larges to the bigger kids. In no time there were gone. I tallied up the hats later and discovered we had given out 90! I’m sure every kid in the village got a hat, not just the kids who were at the Thanksgiving service. But that’s okay. As long as they keep a little head warm we are content. I have a sneaking suspicion that a few parents might have sent kids through the line twice to get an extra for mom or dad, but we aren’t going to quibble about that, either.
A friend from America had sent a bag of scarves she had knitted. Mary attempted to give those out to the elderly folks, but many younger hands also managed to snag some. We have to say that her efforts were wanted and appreciated!
Mary and I had packed bags with a baby blanket, an outfit of clothing, a hat and a pair of socks for the babies. I also included a baby toy in each bag. We gave out all we brought – ten bags.
We traveled home on the curving mountain roads – all of us exhausted. The
next day, Sunday, was another busy day of service, though. We hit the road early, this time headed to the village of Plang Hok. Robert preached a good message and we adjourned to the church porch for lunch with amazing views down the mountain. The ladies in this village are noted for their ability to harmonize in songs and for their cooking. They always serve us many different kinds of foods. This time we had, among other things, several bamboo dishes. We had steamed bamboo and shredded bamboo cooked with chicken. We also had bamboo worms.
I don’t mind them fried. They look and taste like French fries. Steamed, however, they were a little too squishy for me. I sneaked mine over to Bang who thanked me and popped them into his mouth. Robert and Mary gamely chewed and swallowed theirs. I don’t think they enjoyed them much, though.
That evening we had pizza, which was much more agreeable to our taste buds. We had several birthdays in October while everyone was gone for school break, so we had a mass birthday party with pizza and birthday cake. William turned 20 – leaving the teenage years behind as the younger crew are entering them. Preston is 21 now. Lek’s wife, Jum, and I both had October birthdays, too.
Robert and Mary had brought gifts for everyone from America They brought the younger boys camo hats and facepaint, which were the biggest hit of the evening.
Monday we had our last outing before the kids went back to school and Robert and Mary went back home. We spent the day at the nearby lake where we rode bikes and swam. We ate in the little bamboo shelters at the water’s edge. Molly ordered for us, and I was curious about what we were getting. I lifted the lid – and some critters that looked like a cross between a grasshopper and a crawdad flung themselves out of the dish. I despise those things and can’t bear to watch the kids eat them live. Ugh. I try to eat everything I’m served, but I do insist my food be dead before I eat it.
We were sad to see Robert and Mary leave on Wednesday. We had a great three weeks with them and they were a huge help.
Tomorrow is another Thanksgiving service – and I have lots of hats to finish and more medicine to pack before I turn in for the night. This time we won’t have Robert and Mary to help and the children will be in school, so they won’t be on hand to help, either. I guess I’d better figure out a plan for distributing hats without being mobbed!