Thanksgiving at the Mission
Crowds of people, dressed in their best, found their seats in the greenish light of the make-shift tent. A tarp overhead protected from the heat of the tropical sun and rows of borrowed chairs provided seating for about 400 people who came to our Thanksgiving celebration.
Thanksgivings are big events in the tribal villages in the mountains. Each village has its own day set aside, and last Thursday was our day. It was the king’s birthday, so school was out and everyone had the day off — a perfect day for our celebration.
The day began early. About 7 a.m., the first of the visitors started arriving. Anond and his troop of helpers had been up and about since 4 a.m. getting the grounds ready. Paul was up in the early hours, too, going over his message again and praying for God’s blessing on our outreach.
By 9 o’clock, everything was set up, and people continued to pour in. Some came in hired red taxis — which are really just pickups with a covered bed and bench seats. Others came on motorbikes. Numerous trucks, some ancient, some new, arrived overflowing with people riding in the back. They came from remote villages all over the mountains.
What a blessing it was to see them all! Paul and Bro. Anond have often traveled for hours to reach just one village. Now the villages were coming to them, eager to hear the message of the Gospel.
We had English-speaking guests, too. Joseph, a young man from Nigeria who plays soccer for the Thailand team and who teaches in nearby Mae-Tang, came. He occasionally comes to our church services here at the children’s home. Two of my classmates from my Thai class also joined us — finding us, believe it or not, by my directions!
The service started with singing. And continued with more and more singing! Choirs from each church and several combined choirs followed one another to the platform to perform their songs.
At last it was Paul’s turn, and he preached a good Thanksgiving message. It is always difficult, because every sentence must be translated twice — into both Thai and Lahu. But Paul is getting pretty good at it, and the message flowed without a hitch.
After the message we had more singing, (and m-o-r-e singing) and then lunch.
Our lunch was a cut above what the other villages served. Everyone had a bowl of rice noodles and pork, as well as the regular pork balls and rice. Vegetables and chicken patties also graced the table. And for dessert — cookies. Well, they called them cookies. They were giant bags of tubular things that tasted a bit like Corn Puff cereal. We had chocolate ones. They tend to get a bit distasteful partway into the huge bag, because so many hands of uncertain cleanliness have dipped into them to pick a handful. However, we got ours from the start of a new bag, so all was well.
After lunch some of the guests went home, but most stayed for the games. Soccer, volleyball, and ta-claw games played simultaneously. Paul played soccer with the boys. They were really impressed that “Grandpa” could play so well, and keep going through the whole game.
More of the group left after supper, but there were still many who camped out on the grounds. They came for extra teaching the next day. Paul taught about 60 people all day long in a seminar on the Christian life. It was much on his heart, because we have heard of so many of the Christians falling back into the sinful, immoral culture in which they were raised.
On Saturday morning, the Bible school room was still crammed full of people ready for another round of teaching. After lunch, the last of the group headed out. Our Thanksgiving was over.
The village churches had saved for months out of the slender offerings given by their poverty-stricken members. They used the money to hire taxis and pay for traveling expenses to come to our celebration. What a blessing that so many came and eagerly heard the teaching from the Word.
Everyone was already talking about plans for the next big event — our Bible conference in March. Once more, the mountains will come to us, and we will have throngs of people to reach and teach arriving on our doorstep.
Thank you for helping making this ministry possible!
Blessings from Thailand,