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  • Susan Brown

Back in the Saddle

“That electric wire is down,” Paul said. He stopped the truck and scanned the steep mountain road. “Can you see where it goes?”

The pole leaned sideways toward us and the wire sagged downward. We all peered out the truck windows and tried to see the wire in the camouflage of leaves and small branches that littered the road. We didn’t want to run over a live wire!

“It’s okay,” Paul said at last. “I see it. It goes down in those bushes over there.”

The storm that ripped through the jungle mountains the night before left considerable damage behind. Workers from the villages had cleared the bigger tree limbs from the road, though, and we made it the rest of the way without trouble. The village would obviously be without electricity, but they would be able to cope with that. They don’t have air conditioners, electric water heaters, or kitchen appliances. They could still cook on their open fires. The lack of electricity wouldn’t slow them down much.

Our friends from Plang Hoc were waiting to see us. Children on the church steps grinned and waved. They had survived the storm just fine. Someone in the village below them had lost their house as the wind blew down the bamboo walls, we learned, but all of our people were okay.

We were early so listened to the choir practicing. A movement outside caught my eye. The bright red lychees on tree just below us on the mountainside shone in the sunlight – and swayed suspiciously. Monkeys in the tree? I stepped over to the window, which was open to the air, free of glass, and leaned out to get a better look. Not monkeys. Little children were in the tree, no doubt after the lychees. One little guy who looked to be about four or five bounced vigorously on the branch he was straddling. No need for an expensive bouncy horse. He was having fun riding his branch. I just hoped his arboreal “horse” wouldn’t throw him. The tree was on a steep mountainside. He would have quite a tumble if he fell.

Soon it was time for the service to begin. The pastor led in memorized Scripture passages and then the model prayer. Songs followed, of course. The Lahu are musical and there is always lots of singing in the church service.

Paul is making do with a part time interpreter for a while, and Aidonkom wasn’t able to be with us today. William stepped up, though, and helped us out. He translated into Lahu as Paul spoke a few words of encouragement. Then pastor Sabat preached a message from John 14:6. We couldn’t tell exactly what he was saying, but it sounded good from the Scriptures he referred to.

More songs followed the message and it was time for lunch. The ladies bustled out to prepare it for us. I leaned weakly against the church wall on the porch. I gulped in the clear mountain air and tried to banish the nausea that had afflicted me since our travel up the long, twisty road. Car sick. Bleauh.

This sickness had persisted all during the service and showed no signs of leaving. Perhaps, I thought, I was really sick – not just car sick. I brought medicine to give out, so decided to doctor myself. A couple of the little black carbon pills soon had my wonky stomach back to normal and I was able to eat lunch, although only the crisp, fresh watermelon tasted good to me. 

After lunch it was time to do medicine. Everyone, almost without exception, wanted stomach medicine and “hurt the back” pills. Some of the folks were obviously “shopping,” stocking up on medicine while it was available for free. I didn’t blame them. It would be hard to be ill and not have the means for even over-the-counter relief. I would want to have some on hand, too.

I gave Bandaids to a mother for her child’s sore toe – and then had the line re-form as people lined up for Bandaids.

“Here, Bang,” I said to our 13-year-old. “Give out these Bandaids to everyone and give them a little bottle of alcohol and some cotton balls.”

Most of the kids are visiting family in their home villages, but Bang is the son of our workers and came with us on Sunday. Usually he is off playing during medicine time, but because my other helpers were gone, he stepped in to help. He gave out the Bandaids, alcohol, vitamins, and soap to everyone while I listened to specific complaints and gave out medicine for the ailments.

After we finished, we loaded up the truck again and started back down the twisty narrow road. I carefully looked forward – not down or out the window – to avoid a return of the waves of nausea.

It was a profitable morning and a blessed service. Although we enjoyed our trip to America and loved seeing our families, we are glad to be back. Thailand is home, now, and serving our wonderful God by serving these precious people is our calling.

Soon the children will be back, along with two new kids. We will have a busy week with dental check-ups and buying new shoes and school uniforms. Then school will start and life will busier than ever as I will be homeschooling our two new family members, beginning with basic English. I’ll be thankful for visitors from America who are coming to lend a hand.

Life is full, and God is good!

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