Sunday, March 3, 2013


Friday night, I walked past the boys dorm, headed for the chapel at around 8:25 or so. I passed Thara Eh Guh Nyaw, who was headed up to our house after the Bible study. "Tharamoo Heidi..."
"Na guh leh peh leh?" (Where are you going?)
"Chapel!" I called back over my shoulder.
"WHY?!" Thara EhGuhNyaw practically yelled.
I kept walking. "Because I CAN!" I yelled back.
We laughed.

I staggered back up to the porch at 11:20 pm Friday night, having finished the requested illustration on the blackboard in a timely 2 hours and 45 minutes. I collapsed in the chair, looked at my watch and shook my head. What on earth was I thinking? 
And, believe it or not, I laughed.

Sabbath morning, during the Sabbath school service, Michael Ross told the mission story. However, he had a different item to address first. A screen had been pulled down in front of the illustration on the board, but the power was out. No power, no point, if you get my meaning. So, up went the screen, and Thara Michael turned to the audience of children and teachers.
"Do you like this picture?" He pointed to my illustration.
"YES." Loud chorus.
"Do you think it's very good?" He looked at all of them.
He said a couple more things, and then asked, "Where is Thara Heidi?"
Eruption of laughter, and Hannah yells at him, "Tharamoo! Not thara!"
"Pardon me, pardon me," Michael says. "Where is she?"
*She* is in the front row, right underneath his nose. Nowhere to hide: he found me. "Stand up please."
I made a face. "Do I have to?"
"Yes, of course." Michael nodded with his usual enthusiasm.
No way to resist, either. Up I got.
Thara Michael talks on and on... "Don't you think she did a wonderful job? Isn't is pretty?"
Finally, he stops talking, and I look at him with a pained grin. "Can I sit now?"
He laughs. "Yes, you may sit down."
I fall to the floor in utter embarassment, and Anna grabs me, laughing. "Thara EhGuhNyaw translated what Michael said (Don't you think the picture is pretty?) as, 'She is very beautiful and she draws good pictures, too'!"
Yes...we laughed.

At a viewpoint coming back from branch Sabbath school, we gather for a group picture. Kay Jaw stands up on a stump in the back, making him much the tallest of the lot. I stood next to him on my tip-toes.
"Trying to be taller than me?" Hannah glares up at me.
"No, I'm already taller than you. I'm trying to be taller than this guy!" I glare up at Kay Jaw.
And we laughed.

Riding on the back of the station wagon, home from branch Sabbath School, I looked over at Sharon. "Oh woe is me! Lost and undone am I!"
Giant Despair was next. "Greatheart? Greatheart? Ever hear of Greatheart, my dear?"
And Diffidence. "Not in these parts. I still say there's something evil about his voice. I'm going to get my potions."
Then it was Mr. Fearing. "Oh me, oh my. Ohhhh, I go down, but I fear I shall never come up again! Oh me!"
Slaygood. "Greatheart, hm? Well, good: me loves roasted heart--and if thine be great, so much the better."
Joseph and Samuel. "Would you look at that?" "*sigh* Like a sheep to the slaughter. I fear we shall lose him ere long." "Aye."
Christiana. "Dear Mr. Gaius, I am a woman."
Samuel. "I'm sorry, I was drifting in my thoughts. What is the question?"
Joseph. "He was asking if we would like Grace, here, and her sister Martha, to join us for dinner."
"A young lady? To join us for dinner?"
"Yes. Are you interested, or shall I ask them both to sit with me?"
Sharon exploded, and my straight face faded.
We laughed. Hard.

Computer in lap, I sit on the porch. A string of boys passes the house. Maw Jo Nigh looks up at me. "Teacher, what do you do?"
"I'm sitting."
Saw Day Day repeats me, and I clarify in Karen. "May. Chin aw."
They laugh.
Maw Soe Thay is next. He tries a different way to ask the same question, hoping to get the real answer. "Teacher, where do you look?" (What are you looking at?) He's probably talking about what I'm looking at on my computer.
"I look at you," I reply with an arch smile.
Maw Soe Thay laughed. I laughed. Sharon laughed.

Thara Timothy comes up to the porch. "Thara Joko oh ah?" (Where is Harvey, in other words.)
I shake my head. "Thara Joko duh oh bah."
Thara Timothy looks utterly confused. His expression asks, "Where on earth did he go?"
"Ha lo gway. Thara Kelly." I tell him that Harvey went for a walk with Kelly Meyer.
Apparently I spoke too fast. Timothy leans closer and says, "Pardon?"
I repeated myself and off Thara Timothy went. And I laughed. Pardon?

Loud laughing sounds in my ears. I turn and see Saw Day Day, giggling his head off, dancing around in the driveway, trying to get away from Maw Soe Thay. They chase each other around the house, making unbelievable noises. Why? I suppose the three or four ripe bananas Saw Day Day was holding had something to do with it. They disappeared around the other side of the house, ran under the house, tripping over things and giggling in a very strange--and very loud--way.
Sharon looked at me out the window. And we laughed.

Jason came out of the house, carrying several assorted containers and bags of frozen bananas. Will paused on the porch. "Will that be enough?"
Jason shrugs. "Don't know. If it isn't, we'll just add more coconut milk."
"If there is enough, maybe somebody will get some other than just you and me." Will stepped off the porch and slipped his shoes on.
Jason turned around as he walked. "Well, I was thinking more like, if there's extra."
I laughed.

A huge crack of thunder rumbled the ground underneath me as I made it up to the front porch after worship last night. Rain poured down, and I managed to get under the porch cover before getting too wet. I ran into the kitchen. "Hannah! Do you feel like going for a walk with me?"
Her face changed three different expressions. "Now?"
"Yes now. Just a short one, like down to the hundred acres and back."
"Actually, I really do."
Never mind that it's 7 pm. Out to the porch we went. And down into the wet night I went.
Hannah stopped on the porch. "Heidi!"
I turned around, rain dripping off my hair. "What?"
"No umbrellas?"
"Are you kidding me? Of course not."
We came running back up the road a few minutes later, barefoot on the pavement, soaking wet. We walked up to the house with Landon's flashlight blinking at us.
Yes, we laughed. So did the other people who were on our porch.

They say a merry heart is like good medicine.

And perhaps, just perhaps, I need these memories, these moments of laughter, to get me through the separation coming in a week and 5 days.

God's way is always best. He brought me to Thailand. He's brought me through Thailand. And now He's taking me home.

It's been a hard fight...hard for God, hard for me, hard for my guardian angel, hard for others. But it's been worth it...and there's very little I would change.

And the miracle of it all is that the Lord has brought me from cowering to courage. From pain to peace. From fear to freedom.

And, most tellingly, from lamentation to laughter. From heart-break to happiness. Empty to full.

This I don't understand.

But I'll tell you this.

I'm a paradox.

And it's only thanks to God that I am.

I'll tell you something else.

God wants you to be a paradox too...

And only He can make you into one.

How about it?

"I will change your name... you shall no longer be called wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid... I will change your name... your new name shall be confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one; faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks My face..."

Getting ready to take school photos...

All of the girls...

All of the boys...

There they all are! teachers...

Tharamoo Hla Tee and a KG class.

Inge, Michael, Brenda and Hannah with the IMM students.

Tharamoo Hla Tee with another KG class.

All of the teachers...

Thara Dah Bu with grade 6.

The third KG class.

Thara Cha Gu Gu with grade 8.

Tharamoo Eh Do Say with grade 7... the infamous grade 7, there they are.

Thara Timothy with grade 3.

Tharamoo Beh Paw with grade1.

Tharamoo Hazel with grade 2.

Tharamoo Ida with grade 4.

 Thara EhGuhNyaw with grade 5.

The illustration that took forever. Kelly Meyer was preaching on the culture of Heaven that Sabbath, so he wanted the world in a corner, and the rest of the board to be heaven...

Tha Tha Aye. 

Ready for branch Sabbath school...

I've not only managed to infect the Steck girls with riding all over the car instead of in it, but Sharon's also wearing a pair of very LARGE sunglasses now. Namely because they fit over her glasses, but hey...

Kay Jaw and Maw Jo Nigh.

Thara Eh Guh Nyaw.

Something was funny...

Group picture! 

Sharon, Naw Lah Moo, Mah Lah Gee, and the only other student in grade 7 whose name I don't know...

Paw Wa Wa, Maw Shwe Way, and Kay Jaw.

Mah Lah Gee and Naw Htoo Paw.

Paw Wa Wa.

Paw Wa Wa and Naw Lah Moo.

 Headed home....

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This was really random, but I happened to see your blog on one of Sean Nebblett's blog lists. I found it interesting that this post was named "Paradox," when I recently just posted one called "Heartache Paradox." So I thought I would check it out. My first impression was: good writing, a running theme of laughter...but when I got to the end, it hit me. I, too, am leaving the Philippines in a week. I haven't been out in the countryside as much as it appears you have, and I doubt I've been here near as long (just over two months), but nevertheless, the experience here has changed me. And then about a new name...and seeking God's face...that is exactly what God has been teaching me this very week. Praise the Lord for His perfect timing! It was no coincidence that I read this post. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to meeting you in heaven some day...