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  • Susan Brown

Choosing Happiness

Molly flounced down the stairs with an aggrieved expression on her smooth, pretty brown face.

“I not have,” she announced.

“I DON’T have,” I corrected automatically.  “What do you not have?”

“I don’t know English,” she said. “Put it down. Blue one.”

So we began our familiar game of 20 questions. I already knew the color, but blue is her favorite and nearly everything she owns is blue.

“How big is it?” I asked.

She measured a distance from the floor near her waist.

“What shape is it?”

She drew a rectangle in the air.

“Show me how you use it.”

She mimed taking off her shirt and throwing it into the imaginary object.  I had it.

“Your laundry hamper!  You don’t have your laundry hamper!”  Correct guess. She smiled her lovely smile.

“Yes.  You not give me.”

She had brought her clothes to me to wash that morning and I forgot to give her hamper back to her.

We practiced the words “laundry hamper” several times. I asked for the word in Thai, but she looked puzzled and shook her head.  She has never had one before and does not know what they are called.

That’s what life is like when you are raising children who don’t speak your language. It’s a continual challenge.  Twenty questions isn’t so hard, and we are all getting good at charades.  It’s difficult, though, when there are important lessons and you can’t teach them. Like yesterday when she said, “I not happy. I sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“School not good. You make me cut my hair,” her face wore the all-too-familiar mulish look she has when things don’t go her way.

“You can choose to be sad or you can choose to be happy,” I said. I painstakingly went on to explain that we tried many options, but nothing worked. The Christian school wouldn’t take them because they are so far behind.  Homeschooling had too much red tape to jump into this soon. The Lord clearly directed to this new home and to the new school. (Imagine the above with many small words and many motions.)

“God said this is your school,” I said. “God said to obey the rules and the rules say to have short hair.  If you say “yes” to God and ‘I will take this from You because I know You love me’ you will be happy. If you say, “I don’t have what I want and I don’t like it,” you will always be sad.

“You say ‘yes’ to God?” she asked me.

I thought of the day we left behind our home, our security, our children and our precious grandchildren. Life here has been a struggle with people perpetually taking advantage of our ignorance and cheating us.  We have had attacks on our character, and threats to our life. No stability. Even making ourselves understood is a major challenge. We have been so homesick for our loved ones at home. Many tears have fallen after watching the children on Skype that I won’t get to hug for at least another year.

But I also thought of the unexplainable peace we’ve experienced that comes only from God. I thought of the sweet fellowship Paul and I have had as we faced these battles together. And I thought of the children we have grown to love.

I smiled. “Yes,” I told Molly. “I said ‘yes’ to God. Because of that I can be happy, even when things don’t go my way. He loves me and knows what is best, so I choose to be happy because I trust Him.”

So thankful that is true — and thankful for the happy, fulfilling life we have here in Thailand.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Blessings from Thailand,


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