Crisp, cool, mountain air flowed through the lattice-work walls. The tile floor felt cold on my bare feet. (It’s not polite to wear shoes inside — especially not in church!) Sunday morning found us at Pa Sak #1, meeting with a church building full of smiling believers.
I sat in a seat of honor by Brother Camp in a chair near the platform, facing the choir. Beside us were rows of men and boys. Women and girls, dressed in their best clothes, sat in rows across the aisle. About 100 people or so were in attendance.
The La Hu love to sing, and their choir sang joyfully and beautifully. Then came a special presentation. They ceremoniously made a little speech of thanks and blessing as one by one, we were presented with a gift — lovely handwoven scarves. The men received tan ones, and I have to say Paul’s looked spiffy with his suit coat. Mine is a pretty pink and complemented my black blouse nicely.
Then there were new year’s gifts of what looked like toiletries done up in little bags. I couldn’t follow what that was about, but apparently every family in the church received one.
More singing, the offering bag on a stick passed through the congregation, more singing, and then the preaching.
Paul preached a wonderful message on growing to be like Christ. The people were attentive as he told why that should be our goal, and how we can get there.
Afterwards the people came by and shook our hands, telling us “Aboo e jah,” that useful word that means “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you.” Some said, “Aboo e jah meh,” which means “thank you very much.”
Then came lunch on the porch of the church. They eat sitting on the floor, but in deference to our western habits they brought a table and chairs for us. The food was different, but good. We had rice, of course, and a dish of vegetables that were all strange to us. Anond tried to describe the vegetables, but we were not much wiser at the end, although we gathered they were very healthy for us. More “lettuce” which we are pretty sure is a type of spinach, and pork cut into tiny pieces and fried. We had a egg dish that was sort of a frittata, too. For dessert — bananas. They have a large banana grove near the village. These are the big bananas like we have at home, not the tiny sweet ones we’ve been eating here.
It is still a bit unnerving to me to eat while people sit and watch us, ready to serve us if we should need anything. It seems so rude! I would much rather eat with them. But that is not how it is done, so I ate my food and smiled a lot, hoping they would see my appreciation. While we ate, the children serenaded us as they had children’s choir inside the church building. It was sweet to hear them belt out the songs at the top of their lungs. They do sing out!
Pa Sak #1 was the first of our churches to be established and it is the largest. They have a large and active membership and a nice big building. Sherwood folks will be interested to know that the half walls are made of rock. When Brother Anond visited Sherwood in 2003, he noticed our rock building and got the idea of using rock to make the larger building they needed at Pa Sak. The people chipped the rock out of a stone cliff near the village. They hauled it to the church site and cemented the rock together into walls. The top half of the walls are made of lattice work so that it stays cool inside, and it is topped by a metal roof.
Back in the car, we edged through the village of bamboo huts, going slowly to avoid the dogs, chickens, and children playing on the steep and rutted lanes. The houses are close together here, not set in rows, but arranged at random, as if some Monopoly houses had been tossed in the air and left where they landed. Then it was back to the steep and narrow mountain road. The scenery is breathtaking — and very near the car. The road hugs the mountainside and the cliff drops off on the other side. Bro. Anond is a good driver — for which I am thankful! When we met cars coming from the other direction, it took some tricky maneuvering to pass without a quick side trip down the mountain!
It was a blessed Lord’s day with God’s people here in Thailand.
For our move today (Monday). We especially need prayer that we can get Internet service functioning — which is iffy right now.
For wisdom for purchasing the items we need. I’m not sure how we are going to manage curtains, since the walls are concrete blocks. Don’t see how we will manage without them, though!
Blessings from Thailand,