Thanksgiving at Plang Hoc
Ma Li shivered. “Cowd,” she said. That “l” sound is so difficult! I put my arm around her thin shoulders to warm her up. She slipped her arms around my waist and clung to me, as usual. Ma Li has had a deficit of hugs in her eleven years of life, and seems intent on making up for lost time. I am happy to help her with that!
I was comfortably cool in this village on top of a high mountain, but the kids were freezing and huddled around me like little sheep. Pretty soon, though, the lure of games and exploration drew them into their usual perpetual motion.
Saturday was Thanksgiving at Plang Hoc, a village with views to take your breath away. The church sits at the top of the village and amazing beauty waits outside every single one of the open, glassless windows. Before you can enjoy the scenery, though, you have to climb three steep, narrow steps. (Note to self: keep up the stretching exercises. Must remain nimble!)
Plang Hoc has had a troubled history with an acrimonious church split because of a pastor that veered into false doctrine. A court decision left the property with the faithful members, but the departing group stole the chairs and the pulpit on their way out, as well as painting graffiti on the building. For a while that group also intimidated the small church with threats of violence, but the situation seems to have calmed down. They are still small and struggling, and in special need of prayers.
Because of the lack of church furniture, Thanksgiving guests sat on the floor. I was happy to merit one of the few plastic chairs. Besides being easier on the back (and backside) I was better able to keep tabs on the kids from that superior height. We are engaged in an ongoing struggle to learn proper church behavior. Aside from suspiciously frequent trips to the outhouse, they did very well.
The service started late (not an unusual occurrence) so we had opportunity to listen to the choirs practicing. It was quite a concert. Brother Anond arrived with a guest, a young lady who works in the women’s prison where he has a Bible study. She has been asking questions about the Lord for some time, and last night was ready to surrender. Please pray for this new believer, Noi. Her mother is a devout Buddhist, so she knows she has some serious trials ahead.
Paul preached a wonderful Thanksgiving message of grace and salvation. What a blessing! We heard the choirs again, and then had the special Thanksgiving meal.
The meatballs were “pet” this time. That means HOT. I actually liked them better that way. We also had cooked bamboo, “barbecued pork,” and various other goodies.
Then home. Traveling here is adventure in faith — especially since the new pickup came on the scene. Paul drives fearlessly, but I’m afraid I don’t ride along that way! The roads to most villages are steep and curvy with unprotected drop offs at the edge of the one-lane roads, but Plang Hoc has the steepest and most curvy, I think. On the way back, we had to pass through a village which was also having a big celebration. Traffic was crazy, and so was the driving! There was no room for more than one car at a time, so we had to keep backing up the mountain, to find a place with enough shoulder to pull over to let oncoming cars pass. Exciting, since we had no way of knowing who was coming the OTHER way around that curve we were backing through. The bed of the truck was full of children, which made it even more nerve-wracking to think of a crash. I tried to concentrate on the beautiful scenery, instead.
We did make it home without incident. Bro. Anond left right away for another opportunity to minister that he didn’t want to miss. He was asked to preach at a nursing home, we think. It’s a place where there are 300 people in wheelchairs. No matter how busy he is, Anond never passes up an opportunity to share the Gospel.
I spent the afternoon working on Thai. It is much harder than I expected, and the words won’t stick in my head unless I pound them in. Also, when I try to use the words, people don’t seem to understand what I’m talking about — which is a bit discouraging. I keep plugging along, though, and eventually hit the right tone, so they figure it out. It’s a new experience for me to be in the bottom half of the class. Learning has always been easy for me. Maybe I needed this class to teach me patience with MY students! Paul spent the time studying Lahu.
Then we took the evening off and watched a movie together. Well, actually it was a dvd of “Route 66” that we brought with us. That’s as close to a day off as Paul has had since we’ve been here, I think.
All too soon it was time to head for bed. Sunday morning starts early here with a 7 o’clock church service. Good think we don’t have far to travel for the service!
Blessings from Thailand,