- Susan Brown
Nearing the End
The last week of my English class! Another of those bitter-sweet moments. (That reminds me, I never did try the bitter-sweet ice cream I see advertised everywhere.) We had a short class, then all three classes joined together for presentation of awards.
Mrs. Camp went first with her advanced beginner class. Two of the students had memorized the books of the Bible, so they received a Bible in English for their prize. I had a notebook and a gospel of John for my class, and Paul gave out English New Testaments to his.(Note to the Sherwood folks: Thanks for donating the Bibles and a special thank-you to Vickie Ragland who paid the exorbitant shipping price when I was ready to back out.) The students were so pleased with their gifts!
I wish you could have seen Isa — my most faithful student who has painfully struggled to learn a few words in English. He is the oldest student and a church member at Na Hui. He isn’t a pastor, but wanted to know more about the Bible. He talked to Anond at length about his salvation and is assured he is saved now. The others laugh at him good naturedly. They are always laughing and poking fun at each other. He is pretty funny, I have to say. When they were practicing their group song in English, Paul would call on different students to say the more difficult words. Isa would always try, but his words came out more like a bark, which would crack everyone up.
When I called him up to get his gift, everyone clapped and yelled for him. And he clapped for himself, he was so excited! I gave him a New Testament, because he had perfect attendance and worked very hard. His eyes shone and his nearly-toothless grin stretched all across his face. One of those moments that make the struggles worth it all!
After class I walked the mile down to the highway to catch a taxi for one last shopping trip at the day market. How boring my walks will be when I get home! On our nearby country road where I walk in Oklahoma I never have to walk around Brahma cows standing in the street or meet groups of orange-robed monks carrying umbrellas and cell phones. Strangers never call, “Where are you going?” like they do here.
When I went on the taxi to Macro on Thursday I had to hold onto the back. That taxi was old and made ominous sounds and tended to die when the driver changed gears. This slowed us down and traffic would rush up to the bumper — not so fun if you happen to be standing on the bumper! There were four of us on the back that day, so I couldn’t even hog the handholds. or wedge myself behind the ladder to make sure I wouldn’t bounce off.
But Friday I was able to squeeze inside. It was a squeeze! There were two Lisu women in tribal dress beside me. They certainly looked hot in their velvet, long-sleeved dresses and pants. The man across from me on the other side held a computer tower on his lap. Next to him were a couple of teenage schoolgirls, then a lady wearing a coat, (I was sweltering in the heat), and in the corner, a little lady in a brown print dress. Two older ladies and a mother with a small child filled in the gaps and a nice young man rode behind. I rode with the knob in my back (I ALWAYS get the knob. I don’t know what it is for) but I didn’t complain. At least I was inside.
If anyone can speak English, they will always practice on me in the taxi. Sometimes it is a challenge to figure out what we are talking about. I do a lot of smiling and nodding.
“You bin Itly?” the lady in the brown dress asked. “I bin Itly. Three years. Massage. Water, push push go. Water push, push back.”
I deciphered that she had lived in Italy three years doing massage, but I never figured out the pushing water part. I had a sudden vision of her going to Italy on a paddleboat, but discarded it as unlikely.
“You bin Hong Kong?” she went on. “I bin Hong Kong two years. You bin Japan? No? I bin Japan five years. You bin Franz? I bin Franz….”
We wended our way through the world as she told me of her adventurous past. She seemed disappointed in me that I didn’t seem to have traveled anywhere. (Although, as a matter of fact, I was at that moment in a foreign land!)
“When I young, I go, go, go,” she said. She pointed to me. “You — go, go, go.”
I assured her I would love to travel and maybe I could some day. Right now, though, I am looking forward to the long trip home in just two weeks. It will be so good to see our friends and family again, even though it will be hard to leave our new friends here.
Before then, though, Paul has one more week of school and the big graduation ceremony. After that is the ladies’ conference. I really want to be a blessing to these ladies, and speaking through an interpreter is always difficult. Speaking to the women with a man interpreting makes it even harder. This is an urgent request for prayer! Then comes the main Bible conference. There will be people from all over northern Thailand camped out in our mango orchard. It should be interesting!
Blessings from Thailand,