Sunday at Bethany
The smell of woodsmoke wafted through the open windows and the gaps in the bamboo walls, and my bare feet ached a little from the rough cement floor of the church at Bethany. This church is smaller and poorer than some of the others. They are trying to build a new building, but for now are in this humble one made of bamboo rather than brick. The windows have no glass, but just rough bamboo shutters, propped open with sticks. The platform and choir loft are entirely of bamboo — including the floor. It bounced alarmingly as the choir took their seats. Bro. Camp preached on Sunday, but chose to preach from the cement floor rather than to climb up on the rickety and bouncy platform.
The people, as always, smiled and greeted us with loving enthusiasm. I did my best to talk to the ladies as we waited for the service to start. I know just a few words. One of them is ya-pa-eh, which means “little boy.” Also, dat-ja, which means everything from “I like it,” to “it’s good.” So I was able to say “dat-ja ya-pa-eh” to the lady with a small boy on her lap. She smiled and nodded, so I think I got it across that she has a cute little son. He was adorable, but very naughty during church, as were the rest of the eight or so children in the service. They sat on the cement floor and talked and crawled around during the service, which is entirely acceptable here. If one got too loud, his mother would tap him on the shoulder and point out the door. Out he would go, not to be seen in church again that day.
The men and the women sit on different sides of the church, and I was happy to sit on the ladies’ side rather than on the platform with Paul and Bro. Camp. My friend Ja Hay, one of my two students, is the pastor here. He’s the one with the speech problem so that it sounds like he is holding his nose when he talks. They seem to understand him without problem, though. He has not been to school all week. I told him (through Anond) that I missed him. He said that his wife was in Burma and so he could not come. Not sure why his wife being gone kept him home, because his children are evidently grown and the dat-ja little guy is his grandson. Maybe he has livestock or something that need to be cared for and Bethany is far enough away that he would have to stay at the school rather than commute.
Ja Hay asked prayer for their church building project. They have a new building started, although it looks too small already. The churches all contributed to help them raise funds to build, but they don’t have enough, he said. The new building will be of block. They have the supports and roof up, and part of the walls, which they have obviously been doing themselves.
Then came lunch. As usual, the people went to a lot of trouble and outdid themselves cooking for us. We had grilled pork, which was actually pretty good. I’m getting used to the greens. We had a couple of new dishes. One was a dish of cooked tamarinds. I think that’s what they were, anyway. They look like snap peas, but are totally different. They grow on trees here. These are cooked and taste just a little sweet. You have to eat around the big, hard seeds, but they are delicious! I was wishing for a doggy bag to take some home. We also had a type of small, black bean. The lady who put it on the table pointed it out to me and made smacking sounds, rubbing her stomach, so I knew that it was a delicacy. It wasn’t bad, and, being forewarned, I made a production about how good it tasted.
Of course, the people all sit and watch us eat, so I am careful to show enjoyment of the food. So far we haven’t been fed anything we wouldn’t consider food — or, at least, I haven’t known about it if we have. And that’s the way I prefer it!
The children were a little reluctant to have their pictures taken, until I showed the first one his picture on the back of my digital camera. After that, they flocked around, posing and smiling, then rushing over to see the picture. One lady went out and rounded up her grandson so I could take their picture together.
The trip back was a squeeze with five of us in the tiny car, but the scenery was amazing! We went back to the condo to get on the Internet. I was too tired by that time to write a new blog, or you would have read this yesterday. Or the day before. I still get confused trying to remember what happened when and in what relation to the folks at home.
Now it is Tuesday morning, and I just finished my first class of the day. I’ll post about yesterday, Monday, in my next blog — coming soon!
For WiFi, so we can keep in touch with everyone at home.
For consistency for the students. Some are here faithfully, but we have a lot who come and go. Tuesdays are particularly hard, because they travel here from home and get here late.
Blessings from Thailand,