Thanksgiving at Na Hui
We jounced along the rutted mountain road yesterday morning. I looked back through the rear window of our new pickup and counted children. Yes, we still had ten. They acted delighted to ride in the back of the truck — running with screams of joy to climb aboard when Brother Anond announced, “Girls will ride in the truck.” It looked like a hot, dusty, windy ride to me — but this was their second trip in the open pickup bed, and they were still happy to go with us. We hope to get a cover for the back soon, which may not be as much fun, but will surely be safer.
The pickup covered the short trip to Na Hui for Thanksgiving without incident and soon the girls were jumping out and greeting friends.
Thanksgiving is a BIG deal to the village people They love celebrations, and this one is centered around thanking God for the harvest. We could see the elaborate preparations the small village had made, and recognized friends from villages far across the mountains.
Soon the other kids arrived in Bro. Anond’s pickup and in the taxi, driven by So Pic. Other taxis arrived, too, hired to bring people from other villages. They save up for months for their own thanksgivings and for the money to pool to hire transportation for the trip.
We settled our kids on a tarp, spread out on the ground. I sat on a chair in the middle of them, beginning my job as a keeper of the peace. It isn’t easy teaching one child to behave in a church service. It’s even a bigger challenge with a about 15 or so little ones who don’t have a concept about how to behave in the services. Before the preaching was over, I had collected five pencils, (which had been used to poke people, not to write), a chain necklace (used for a tug-of-war rope), and numerous berries (used as juggling balls.) I also had collected four unruly little boys around my feet. Paul’s message was a blessing, I’m sure. I’m afraid I didn’t hear much of it, though!
We heard numerous specials, which are always a blessing. Our kids sang several times, and a group of children from Pa Sak #1 sang and also did a traditional dance set to a Christian song.
Then it was time to eat. They had constructed tables of bamboo and served meat balls, cooked in banana leaves, among other treats. As usual, we had a real table in a place of honor. We also had a multitude of extra dishes.
Yes, that is toilet paper on the table. Even in restaurants, you nearly always get toilet paper for napkins. It usually looks more like Kleenex, but I’ve seen it just like this.
We also had a special fruit called “nga.” They are the ones that look like strawberries with green hair. We learned how to say it in Thai class — or attempted it. It’s hard to say, with a sound we don’t have in our language. They are delicious! You have to cut them open, and the meat of the fruit just pops out. They have a taste and texture somewhere between a grape and kiwi — only sweeter.
After the meal, one of the church members gave away the decorations — which were food offerings — to people from the visiting churches. I brought home some freshly picked lemons and limes.
The thanksgiving season is exhausting, especially for Paul who preaches at a different one every Saturday. That is in addition to teaching the preachers Tuesday through Friday, preaching at a church somewhere in the mountains on Sunday, and then preaching at a prison on Monday.
This week they’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving on Tuesday, so the preachers’ school students will travel with Paul and Brother Anond to Pa Sak #2 for that service. I will be in language class, so will miss that one.
He and Anond will also be going to Burma tomorrow. After the prison in Fang, they will travel north to look at the 100 acres of land that the Christians there have offered to sell us. They have given us a special price, because they are longing to have a Bible school there.
We are so burdened for Burma! (I know it is officially Myanmar, but the people here call it Burma.) The people there are much more primitive and also much more hungry to be taught the Bible. The area of this parcel of land is near enough to China and Laos to make it accessible to preachers from those regions, too. There’s enough land to use for church camps in the future, as well as many other possible uses. Please pray with us for direction about this.
For more info about this, you can read Paul’s November prayer letter. Here is the link: http://gallery.mailchimp.com/df2e8cc0a25386cb7737b077b/files/Prayer_Letter_Oct_2013.pdf
As for me, my days are centered around language. No worries about getting enough exercise! I leave at 8 in the morning and walk a mile down to the road to get the taxi. After an often-grueling hour-long taxi ride, I walk another mile from the taxi stop in Chiang Mai to the school. Class is from 10 to 12 — and then I repeat the process. The last mile is the hardest. No only am I always hot and tired — but it is all uphill. I get back just in time to teach the English beginners at the school.
After that I pretty well collapse until time to teach English to the children and supervise their play time in the evening.
We have so much opportunity to serve here! As Paul says, there are more open doors than we can possibly walk through. We appreciate your prayers as we work out priorities and settle into a routine.
Blessings from Thailand,