Down The Road of 1800 Curves
Eighteen hundred curves. I held on to the door handle of the truck and leaned. Yes, I believe there are at least that many!
We set off on Sunday morning on the road of 1800 curves. Our destination — Cornerstone. It’s a little Lahu village in the far northwest of Thailand, so close to Myanmar that you can see it in the distance. Paul preached there a couple of years ago and had the thrill of preaching to people who had never once heard the Gospel. On that trip we also went to Yapeneh, a village nearby, and he spoke to a crowd at the home of the witch doctor’s son. Paul has been itching to get back ever since.
And last Sunday was the day. We thought we were going to make it a long day trip, as we did last time. At the last minute we discovered that we would spend the night, and that we were taking the young preachers with us. We didn’t know until we were loading the trucks that several people from the churches near us here were coming, too.
I hurriedly packed a bag and threw it in the truck, hoping I had everything we would need. (Vain hope.) Since we were taking both trucks, ours and Bro. Anond’s, I was able to have the front passenger seat. Good thing. I am prone to carsickness and have more than once become very ill on the way home from our travels to Myanmar. Evidently the front seat did the trick as I was fine. Not so with some of our other passengers, particularly the ones riding in the bed of the pickup. Poor Jakah!
“Uh- oh,” Paul said. “I hope Jakah is all right.”
“Mai pen rai,” the guys in the back seat said. Loosely translated, that means, “He’s okay.”
“What makes you think there is something wrong with him?” I asked.
“He’s hanging out the back of the truck throwing up,” Paul replied. Oh.
We couldn’t stop because there was no shoulder on the road, only one sharp curve after the other. At last there was a place to pull over. Bro. Anond pulled off ahead of us — and one of his passengers immediately bailed out, losing his breakfast on the way. Several others tumbled out of the packed trucks, taking deep breaths and looking more than a bit green.
After about 4 1/2 hours, (during which time we had many sick and saw other travelers stopped along the road throwing up) we arrived at the village. They prepared lunch for us, which we ate in the house where they have been holding church services. In spite of the difficult journey, everyone tucked into the rice and pork with spicy vegetables, their appetites apparently unimpaired.
Then we had a service. Paul preached a great message on the model prayer. I could tell that several people were moved by it, especially John, one of our Bible school students. He is the oldest of the group that went and is the least educated of all the men. His wife recently left him for another man, so he lives here and works as a groundskeeper. What a blessing to see the Lord touching hearts! And you never know. It may be the oldest and the slowest learner who the Lord uses in the greatest way.
We had several songs, of course, and each of the students gave a testimony.
By then it was late. I had been looking forward to an overnight stay in the village. However, I had second thoughts after visiting the public restroom.
It is located on a steep slope behind several other houses. I thought about the fact that I would likely have to get up in the middle of the night. How would I find my way to this spot? I had forgotten to bring a flashlight. There was no latch on the door. It was just a piece of tin hung with cloth hinges. What if someone walked in on me? It had an eastern-style toilet, which is set flat on the floor. I had a rather dangerous mishap as I tried to manage the affair, slipping and nearly falling. In fact, it was only sheer determination that kept me from landing in the thing. (Shudder) In my frantic attempt to regain my balance, I bounced off the wall and hit the low-hung roof. I thought for a moment the whole rickety structure was going to fall in on me as it shook like an earthquake had hit it. Manage this in the middle of the night? It was hopeless.
I meekly asked the Lord to get me out of this predicament. I could handle sleeping on a bamboo floor with the other ladies and the critters. I knew very well, though, that I would be awake all night thinking about going to the bathroom.
And the Lord was gracious. I didn’t say anything about my concerns, but Bro. Anond said, “The people are having the students and the others stay in their homes, but there is not enough room for everyone. There is a guesthouse in the Thai village down the road. You can stay there.”
How good the Lord is to me! One of the men asked a question with a worried expression.
“He says no air conditioning in the guest house. Is that okay?” Anond translated.
“No problem!” I exclaimed.
And we found the guest house. It was a tiny cabin without such frills as air conditioning. Or luggage racks. Or closets. Or soap. Or…. Well, let me shorten this by saying it had a bed and a tiny western toilet.
And that made me happy. It also had a shower, but no hot water. The bed was a rock, but I slept soundly, nevertheless. The next morning we went out to the tiny porch and saw this magnificent view.
It cost us about $10 for the night’s stay. We thought it was a good deal.
We returned to Cornerstone that morning and held services at the site of their building. They have the pillars and the roof up, but lack funds for the floors and wall. Paul preached another good message. The people seemed to appreciate our visit so much! They are without a pastor, and they have been through a really rough time.
Please pray for this small group of faithful people who need a pastor to lead them and a place to worship together. Their prayer request for themselves was first for a pastor and then that they would be able to love one another and to stay together. Their third request was for funds to finish their building.
It was afternoon by the time we were ready to leave Cornerstone. The plan was to go to three other villages.
“You never been this way,” Anond told us. “They call this ‘road of 3,000 curves.’ Sister Pat Hollady came here before. Ooh — she get very sick.”
We didn’t say anything, but loaded up once again. Not with a great deal of enthusiasm, I have to admit. Nearly twice as many curves as that monster road we had driven yesterday? Didn’t take a prophet to foresee more people hanging out the truck being sick. I hoped I wouldn’t be one of them. Paulo, one of the students, was from this area so he rode with us to direct us.
We drove back down the curvy road, watching for the turn-off. We kept asking Paulo — is it this way? Here? He smiled (he has a lovely smile) and said, “No.”
At last we saw that we must have missed the turn. We were headed home. By that time it was too late to turn around, so we drove on back. We were disappointed to miss the other villages, but the Lord knew best. We did arrive home safely, which we might not have if we had taken the other route late in the night as we would have had to do.
Besides Cornerstone Baptist Church, here are some more requests for our praying friends:
*For our Bible Conference week after next. I will be speaking to the ladies for the first two days. I feel especially in need of prayer!
*For direction for the ministry in Myanmar.
*We still don’t have house parents. Please pray that the Lord will provide good, loving people to fill this important role.
Thanks for your part in this ministry through your prayers and your giving!
Blessings from Thailand,
Here are two of the little girls from Cornerstone village.