My skirt was coming adrift — but at least I was sitting down. How could I get up, though, without losing some crucial parts of my attire? Then the unthinkable happened…..
The big day had arrived — along with about 400 people from all our churches. We were both too sick to be excited about it, but knew we would have to make an appearance. It was a celebration of the New Year and also a time when they gave honor to the leaders, which included us.
Paul had come down with a sinus infection after riding in a too-cold truck to Burma and back. I fell ill with what I thought was carsickness, but must have been a virus since it kept on after I stopped moving. (Two days of carsick-i-ness. Bleauh!)
We could hear the sound of people arriving, so we prepared to go down for the festivities. The orchard was full of cars and motorbikes and the trees were full of children. My friend Ma Ta called out to me — which they do instead of knocking on the door. I went out and found her on the porch holding her beautiful native costume. She handed it to me and I deduced I was to wear it for the ceremonies. That settled it. I’m getting my own tribal dress! She never gets to wear hers because she always has to loan it to me for special “dress” occasions.
With some difficulty I struggled into it. This time she brought me her skirt, too, and I put it on. My skirt has ties and can be pinned, but I thought I had the Lahu skirt, sewn into a big circle, figured out. I twisted it around me securely, figured out the button arrangements on the overdress and set off for the show. And it was quite a show! I took out my camera to get pics of them marching toward us, but discovered that I had neglected to put the card back in. No pics.
They marched in, wearing the tribal black suits and dresses ornamented with pom-pons, braid and silver doo-dads. Many of the ladies wore the tall, beaded, traditional hats. (I’m going to have to get one of those!) Each church group marched up, bowed to us, then did a cultural dance. The drums beat the rhythm, helped along by the gongs and cymbals. It was interesting — so much so that I forgot for awhile about feeling queasy.
I also had something else to think about. My skirt became less and less secure as I had walked to my chair. I tried to unobtrusively fix it, sliding my hands under the front flap of the heavy, black overdress and tucking for all I was worth. No good. I would just have to stay put until no one was looking.
Then one of the ladies came to me, took my hand and pulled me up. I was surprised, but had just enough presence of mind to hang onto my skirt with the other hand. She led me out in the middle of the dancers. Obviously I was to join the dance — but how could I do that with my skirt falling off? Another lady reached for my other hand, but I couldn’t afford to let go. Finally they saw my predicament and burst out laughing all around. There, in front of everybody, lady #1 lifted the overdress (So thankful I had worn a blouse underneath!) and did my skirt up right. She twisted it and tucked it until I could not breathe and wondered about my circulation. But it stayed put! I joined them in the shuffling dance around the tree and gift table.
Then came the hand-washing. They passed by, one by one, pouring water on our hands. Some poured it from pitchers made from gourds. Some poured from pop bottles and others from bamboo stalks made into water jugs. Then they all came through again, shaking hands with us.
Singing (of course) and then Paul preached. He wasn’t feeling well at all, but couldn’t resist preaching to this crowd. He gave a good message of encouragement to them. Afterwards we retreated to our room — both too ill to think of eating the interesting-looking special meal. Well, normally it would look interesting. With my queasy stomach, interesting wouldn’t be the word….
Now it is Sunday afternoon here. I’m much better, and Paul is showing signs of returning to the land of the living. We both stayed home instead of traveling to the church service, though. And we have opted out of going to the fair with the kids tonight.
Next week is supposed to be an easy one. (We know better than to count on it.) The kids are back in school, but the preachers’ school doesn’t start for another week. Maybe we can even get away for a day or two. Maybe.
I do have a special prayer request. You may remember Kittipong, who was nearly abducted when we were here earlier in the year. His sister stole his id card from their ill mother and sold him to a woman who then showed up and tried to take him. The mother took him back to live with her when she got out of the hospital.
But — I asked about him yesterday and learned that the mother is dying and is barely functioning. If she dies, or becomes too ill to protect him, the woman is likely to try again to claim Kittipong. Bro. Anond said he would call someone who lives in his village to see about him. Maybe we can take him back. Please pray for this precious child’s safety! It doesn’t bear thinking about what his life will be like if he is sold into the sex slave trade.
Other prayer requests:
We have crazy amounts of turnover in our staff. We need folks who will settle down and stay — and will be diligent in caring for these kids. We don’t know yet whether our houseparents are coming back from their break. We do have the possibility of a young man who speaks both Thai and English who is interested in working with us. Please pray for these things!
We lost our wonderful cook and helper, Di Se, but to a good cause. She is getting married. She has been a “mother” to little Gracie, who was much attached to her. At two Gracie is too little to understand where Di Se has gone. It was so sad to see her looking around this morning at church — obviously hoping to see Di Se. Prayers for her appreciated!
Blessings from Thailand,