Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | October 21, 2013

Bangkok Adventure

Warning:  This post is long, but I’m so excited to tell you about how the Lord has been answering prayers for character transformation and for language learning that I just had to share the whole story.  Sorry I don’t have pictures…my camera battery was dead and I forgot to take the charger.

~*~

After Jesus cast the Legion out of the demoniac, he sent the man back to his own people as a missionary.  Jesus’ instructions?  “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”  Mark 5:19.

Those of you who know me best know that I am naturally a quiet, timid, shy individual – the home-body of all home-bodies.  As a child, I hid behind Mama when we went places for fear whoever she was talking with would notice me and ask me a question; I reveled in the day when she and Papa considered me old enough and mature enough to stay at home while they both were away.  I was always content in a corner with a book or one or two close friends.  I liked being home, was fond of family vacations, and enjoyed visiting my grandparents and cousins, but traveling for any other reason was never really my thing.  Music stretched me so I was comfortable in front of people – so long as I didn’t have to speak.

But I was afraid.  In fact, I was so afraid that for several years I was terrified to go outside of the house alone, especially after dark.  I had an active imagination, and I imagined all kinds of bad people or evil spirits were out there ready to grab me.  I overcame my fear of demons and the dark long before I did that of people.  Thankfully my parents helped me take the first step in overcoming that fear by consistently reminding me to look people in the eye when I spoke with them, and to speak loud and clearly enough that they could understand.  No mumbling allowed!  That was a step, but it didn’t solve the problem.

At some point I recognized that my fear of people was preventing me from being who God wanted me to become.  I decided to accept an offer to work at Mothers Market (a small health food store and deli owned and operated at the time by a couple from our church).  Stalking shelves and working on the closing checklist were my favorite activities since they rarely involved speaking with customers, but I chose to spend a good portion of my time taking orders in the deli and ringing people up at the register, both of which usually included carrying on “how’s the weather” kinds of conversations.  I became very good at covering up my fear – I’m sure few customers ever recognized my extreme discomfort in talking with them – but much of the fear remained.

Dealing with this fear was one of the most compelling reasons I chose to attend Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism (AFCOE) – after all, I’d have to face it as we were going door-to-door and meeting one new person after another.  This fear was also the reason I adamantly refused to go to Ouachita Hills College (OHC) for so long – canvassing was part of the curriculum, and the thought of walking up to a complete stranger and trying to sell him or her something (even something I believed in) filled me with panic.  But the Lord sent me to OHC, and He sent me out canvassing.  It never was my favorite thing to do, but even then I did find a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction that I didn’t experience elsewhere.

So that’s my background information for those who don’t know me so well.  This report on my Thai journey is a declaration of the great things the Lord has done for me and how He has had so much compassion on me.  To see where He brought me from and to know that, although He still has much work left to do in me, He’s making progress in transforming my character truly fills me with joy and thanksgiving.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had spent lots of time traveling around Siem Reap with Khone (Khen’s sister).  A significant portion of our travels revolved around her preparations to travel to Norway for a couple months to visit her sponsor who has kind of adopted her like his own daughter.  Her flight to Norway left Bangkok at 9:00 on Sunday, October 20th.  She didn’t want to stay in Bangkok by herself for the weekend (I certainly don’t blame her!), so at first her sponsor wanted her to fly from Siem Reap to Bangkok to make things easier for her; but we couldn’t find a decent flight after sundown on Sabbath, and flying on Friday defeated the point of avoiding staying alone.  So, to make things easier, I volunteered to go by bus with her to Bangkok and make sure she got to the airport on Sunday morning.

We purchased our bus tickets on Thursday, and by 8:00 Friday morning we were on our bus headed the border.  By noon we had arrived.  We has just finished the transactions for departure from Cambodia when my phone rang.  It was Jive telling me that our housing arrangements had fallen through, but that was okay because Joper, a Filipino friend of theirs, was at Asia-Pacific International University in Bangkok and would arrange a place for us to stay.  She promised to send me his phone number so we could contact him with Khone’s Thai SIM card once we crossed the border.  I thanked her and hurried to catch up with Khone and the rest of our fellow bus travelers who were beginning immigration into Thailand.

Unfortunately, something happened and I never received her message.  I sent Emily a message with Khone’s Thai number so they could send the message to Khone’s phone, but my message also never went through (lesson learned – don’t try to make arrangements in No Man’s Land between two countries…strange things happen to cell phone signals).

When we reached the head of the line for foreign passports, the immigration officer who processed Thai passports waved me over to his line since no Thai citizens were passing through at that time.  He smiled broadly, rattled some things off in Thai to me, grinned at my confusion, then told me, “I am allowing you to immigrate as a Thai citizen, so now you speak Thai.  You do not need to speak English or learn Thai because you know it already since you are a Thai citizen.”  We laughed, and he returned my passport, stamped and ready for my Thai travels.  Oh, if learning a language were only that easy!

Once in Thailand, we enjoyed a plate of friend rice and Pad Thai while waiting for our minivan to Bangkok to arrive.  Little did we realize it would be our last real meal until the following evening.  Finally we climbed aboard and headed for Bangkok.

As we approached the city, I began to realize that we wouldn’t be hearing from our friends back in Cambodia (at this point I didn’t know that Emily had never received my message with Khone’s Thai number).  I talked with Khone about our options and we decided to stay at the hotel recommended to us by Tim and some of my other friends.  Thankfully I had a copy of the email which included the hotel name and address from my friends on my computer.  We showed the address to our driver, and he decided to drop us of at the point in our journey nearest the hotel since he wouldn’t actually pass by the hotel.  He told us to find a taxi, pointed in the general direction we were supposed to go, and drove off.  I couldn’t see the hotel – only chain link fences, parking lots, cement walls, houses, and multiple-story buildings.  I turned to Khone, as was my habit from being dropped off in canvassing days.  “Let’s pray.”  So right there on the side of the road in the middle of Bangkok, we prayed together that the Lord would be with us and guide us to where we needed to be.  Then we started walking.

We hadn’t gone far when I realized we were in a residential area with no taxis anywhere in sight.  Khone suggested we try walking in a different direction, so we turned around and went that way.  As we walked, I saw a house with a mechanic-like shop out front and three young men sitting around talking.  I looked at Khone.  “I think we should talk to them.  Maybe they can help us find a taxi.”  I started walking their direction.  Khone looked at me a bit incredulously.  “Are you afraid?”  “No,” I smiled back at her as I continued walking.  “We already prayed that God would be with us.”  She trailed along behind me.

I approached the three young men, and, not knowing what else to say, asked, “Do you know where we can find a taxi?”  The young men glanced at each other, then the one closest to me said in flawless English, “Where do you want to go?”  “Nasa Vegas Hotel.”  He nodded his head.  “Yes, I can help you.”

He turned his motorbike around, we climbed on the back, and off we went through the streets of Bangkok.  While we drove, he asked us all the typical polite Asian questions: “Where did you come from?  What are you doing in Bangkok?  What do you do in Cambodia?” and more.  Then he said, “I know where your hotel is.  I will take you there myself.”  A few minutes later he dropped us off on the front steps of the hotel, refusing the money we offered to give him for his kindness.  With a smile and a wave, he drove off.

Khone ran next door to a convenience store to purchase a couple things while I checked in.  By the time we finished, it was already sundown.  We hadn’t packed food since we had planned to stay with Donna and Jive’s friend, but God is so good!  Inside the hotel room was a whole tray of snack foods like nuts and crackers, and we had some leftover fruit we’d purchased on the road earlier in the day – maybe not the most healthy way to eat, but we didn’t go hungry and we didn’t have to pay for the snack foods until we checked out.  We thoroughly enjoyed our evening meal in the hotel restaurant after sundown on Sabbath evening.

Saturday night, as we were preparing to get Khone ready to climb on an airport-bound taxi at 5:15 Sunday morning, we discovered that the safety box in our room – with our computers, passports, and all of Khone’s travel documents – had developed a computer error and refused to open when we entered the digital code.  We reported the problem to the ladies at the front desk.  Once again we were so thankful that the Lord prompted us to open it the night before instead of the morning of departure.  About two hours after our discovery, a man finally opened the box so we could retrieve our items.

Thankfully everything went smoothly on Sunday.  I made sure Khone was on the correct taxi, then returned to our room to finish getting ready for the day and packing up my things.  When I went to check out, the lady at the desk called a taxi for me so I would go to the correct bus station.  She also wrote a note in Thai for me which said, “I want to go to Siem Reap, Cambodia,” so I could show it to people at the bus station, purchase the correct ticket, and get on the right bus.  I was very thankful for that note!

But I was even more thankful to get back to the border where I could communicate with people.  I discovered once again that my language skills are improving.  I was able to arrange for a taxi and carry on a 15-minute conversation with my moto driver in Khmer.  In fact, I didn’t know he could speak English at all until he switched languages himself.  I spent more on the taxi than I should have, but I was so thrilled with being able to communicate that it didn’t really matter to me.  Next time I’ll be better prepared with the price – it’s all part of the learning process.

My taxi driver dropped me off in Siem Reap near Psar Jas (Old Market) and I found a tuk tuk driver willing to take me back to WPY.  Once again, I was able to communicate with him completely in Khmer, and we arrived safely home right about sundown.  The tuk tuk driver, who had never been here before, looked around with wide eyes.  “Ot cliech?” (“You’re not afraid?”) he asked.  I was able to look him in the eye and truthfully respond, “Ot cliech.” (I’m not afraid.)  If he’d asked me that a week or two before, I’d have answered differently…but that’s for another post.  I smiled as I thought of how the clearly I have seen the Lord work in our lives and walked to my house.

~*~

At our family Christmas gathering last year, Gramma looked at me and said, “Of all my grandchildren, my little Sarah was the last one I would have ever imagined would go as a missionary to another country.”  When I look back at where the Lord has brought me from, I can agree with her.  But because His strength is made perfect in weakness, I am able in His strength to do the impossible.

Oh, and by the way, Khone arrived safely in Norway and is ecstatic at the prospects of seeing snow.


Responses

  1. Hi Sarah, this is a very heartwarming story. Thank-you for sharing it. You have conquered your fear of speaking out in front of others, and I can really appreciate that. As I read about your feelings as a child, you described me.. I was the same way. I will remember this next time I have to go in front of a group of people and speak.
    I’m glad all your travels went smoothly.. and God led you to find help in kind, good people.. Praying for you, and Laura, and all those who are there.
    Liz Allen~

  2. Sarah, you truly inspire me! Despite not being an extremely shy individual, I could relate to your struggles in the canvassing work. Praise God that He doesn’t leave us the way we are! I’m encouraged. 🙂

  3. Sarah, what a beautiful, true story! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and actions with us. How God has changed you to a woman of boldness, courage and faith!
    God is so good. Everything is at His command. Your trust in Him in all things is exactly what HE wants.
    Your time as a missionary is so priceless. Bringing others to the Lord, following God’s will and showing His love is what He desires.
    It all will bear much “fruit” and He will say,
    “Well, done thou good and faithful servant.”

    Darlene


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Categories