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  • Susan Brown

Set-Backs and Progress

Where was a red song tau? I trotted down the busy street, dodging cars, bicycles and tuk-tuks which all seemed intent on running over me. I was going to be late and I needed to find a ride fast.

At last I found one. “Can you take me to the Pro Language School near the Maya mall?” I asked the driver in Thai.

He shook his head. “I don’t go that way,” he answered. He pointed ahead and I jogged on to the next red song tau.

A song tau is a small pickup truck with a covered bed which holds two bench seats. That’s what song tau means – two seats. They are the main public transportation here. I had caught a green song tau by our house and rode it to the big market. Now I needed to find a red song tau that would deliver me to the language school I was checking out.

At the third try I found a driver who agreed to take me to the language school. I tried to chat with him in Thai on the way, but we didn’t get far. He did pick up that I am a Christian.

“Prah Yesu?” he asked.

“Yes,” I cried in delight. “Jesus.”

He wore a string tied around his wrist to ward off evil spirits, so I knew he was a Buddhist or an animist. He scrabbled in his glove box and handed me a book. A Bible, I thought. Someone has been sharing the Gospel with him. I turned to try to find a scripture. But something was wrong. I flipped to the front. Not a Bible – a book of Mormon.

I had absolutely no words to explain to him the difference between Christianity and Mormonism. Frustration welled up like a tide within me. I’m here in a country with few Christians and I can do so little. I had only been playing with the idea of taking another round of Thai lessons. I quit playing and made a decision. If the school worked out at all, I would go – even though it meant twice weekly journeys by tiresome song taus. I will learn to speak Thai with reasonable fluency or die trying.

I can take a class now thanks to Shelby Banks who has come to help me teach the kids. She’ll be here six weeks or so. She hasn’t recovered from jet lag yet, but immediately jumped in to help me anyway. With her help I will have time to work on Thai and on my big writing projects.

And take an occasional nap.

Our new kids, Moses and Nora, are picking up English quickly. They are also a big help to me. Since they don’t attend school with the other kids, they cheerfully help with the housework so I have time to teach them. They will progress even faster with Shelby to take a teaching shift.

Moses is 18 and attends the Thai informal school one day a week. It’s somewhat like GED classes and he is working toward his high school diploma. The other days he studies English with me.

Nora came too late to enroll in the informal school, and the kids’ school refused to take her a week after school started. No problem. She is 15 and legally doesn’t have to attend school. She will just study with me until November when she can join the informal school class.

Shelby will supervise them in the afternoons while I am at Thai class. A few weeks after she has to go home, another young friend, Kimmie Hasselbusch, will come from Ohio to stay with us and help. She will be with us for several months. I am so thankful for these ladies who have a heart for missions and are willing to help with the often-unglamorous job of caring for young teenagers.

In other news, the brakes went out on the truck this week – thankfully not the day Paul was traveling to visit churches in the mountains. It will be in the shop until Wednesday, so we won’t be able to travel to a village this Sunday.  We will have services at home and William will translate.  He does a good job and it’s excellent practice for him.  Perhaps the Lord is planning a training day for a future translator!

Tomorrow is the day we planned to celebrate Molly’s fourteenth birthday with an outing. We won’t be going to a waterfall as we planned, but we girls will go do some shopping – by song tau.

As usual, we have had disappointment and difficulties these last few weeks, but every one of them has led to blessings. What a comfort that the Lord knows the way we should take. He leads and never fails to encourage us. He is good!

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