Sabbath Here, Christmas There

Sabbath morning (December 26th) here in Thailand was the evening of Christmas (December 25th, not to be confused with Christmas eve) in my home state in the US. A few of my family members were gathered at my grandmother’s house on my dad’s side of the family, and I got up early and had a short devotional time in prayer and reading, having already arranged to chat with them through video (or voice) call on facebook. Not seeing any of them on facebook, I got out my new phone and tried to text my dad, and found myself having difficulty. The text message had no spaces or punctuation, and did not send. I tried to call, but the call would not go through. Then I got out the instruction booklet, dialed the necessary code, and finally managed to get through to my dad. He got onto facebook, where we tried the voice call (if not the video call also), but, as was the difficulty the first time I called him a couple days or so before, he could not hear me. I think I could not hear him, either. Finally, I decided just to call them on the phone, and keep it short. He put me on speaker phone most of the time. The phone was passed to my sister and then to my grandma, and maybe to my stepmother somewhere in between—I’m not sure. I talked with them for about twenty minutes to half an hour, wished them all a merry Christmas, and told them I loved them. After hanging up, sent them a follow up message, and went about eating some breakfast—warmed up leftover soup and waffle, and watching The Book of Acts. think I watched some of it in the morning, anyway.

Then I prepared myself for church. At about 9 AM, I went outside to get the motorbike started. I turned the key and turned it, trying hard to get the engine to start, until my fingers were sore from the pressure. Thinking that maybe I was not strong enough, I came inside to get some pliers or some similar tool, and tried with that to turn the key, but to no avail, though I did succeed in bending the key a little. I had even tried pressing the start button. I nearly gave up, but decided to call the missionary who had loaned me the bike, to ask him if there was something I needed to do to start the bike before turning the key. If he had told me, I had forgotten!

He confirmed that there was, that I needed to hold down the break on the left side and press the start button.  After trying that, I got the bike to start, though the engine stopped after it had idled too long while I was putting on the helmet that was also borrowed and probably adjusting my bag, too. It was OK. I had been warned that would happen.

Wanting to start on flat ground and not to crash on the way out, I started to push the bike down the driveway toward the road. The hill was not very steep, but the bike was heavy, and wanted to go down without me. I found myself having difficulty holding onto and controlling it, and dropped it on its side. I don’t remember if I opened the fence before I got down the hill, or if it was when I was trying to lean the bike on its kickstand to open the fence that it fell over, though vaguely I seem to remember the latter, but am not sure. I do know that there were dogs outside the fence, and I was trying to wait for at least one of them to go away. I didn’t mind two of the others so much, though I didn’t want them to bother me.  I had packed some treats, just in case, but didn’t need to use any.

The cat had rubbed against my ankles that morning, and I had already changed my socks to keep its scent from exciting the dogs or causing them to come after me, but one of the dogs was playful kind of friendly and the other just plain pitiful. I saw someone had covered that thin dog with a shirt, and was relieved to see that someone else was taking care of it, though it does seem to be at least one of the neighbor’s dogs.

While the bike was still on the hill, I picked it up and tried to get the engine started again to make sure it worked. Unlike the first time, it made noise, but wouldn’t continue to run, so I made the foolish decision of trying to give it a little gas. Though the kickstand was down, it didn’t stop the bike from ripping free of my grasp (I think I let go for fear of being dragged along with it.) and taking off toward the road, where it stopped short and fell over.

I probably left quite an impression on the dogs that were watching me and been quite a sight to the neighbors. I picked up the bike, praying that it would still work, set it on its kickstand in the middle of the road (or very close to the middle, if not exact), put on the helmet and closed the fence, then got on the bike (I might have had to turn it around, but I’m not sure), kicked up the kickstand, and finally got set out toward the church. I looked for the hill to turn onto, but didn’t find it. However, when coming toward a bridge, I felt a sense of familiarity and recognition from my first Sabbath here and headed onto another side road, which did lead to the academy campus. I passed an elderly lady who seemed to be motioning in the other direction. She looked familiar, like one of the church members (or attendees) or someone who had been to the wedding. I kept going down the road a little ways and then turned around. Not sure where to turn, I passed the lady again and turned up a road, until I found a familiar building from my first visit to the campus, and parked there, and then made my way, walking, to the church.

I’m thankful for God’s protection that day. I had arrived earlier than I expected, and sat through most (if not all) of the Sabbath school lesson, not understanding but a few words that I may have picked up. I became thirsty, and felt anxious to leave for that and other reasons, too,  but I prayed that if God wanted me to stay for whole whole service, that someone would offer me water. God answered as I was on my way out, there was some water that some were refilling and a lady asked if I wanted a cup as I walked toward them. She gave me a cup and I poured some water into it. As I was drinking, though, I noticed something in the water, and then realized there were actually many. Was it ants? I’m still not sure what was in the cup, though it looked like the cup should have been clean. I drank a little bit more, dumped out the tiny bit that remained, picked the strange things out of the cup, and put the cup into my bag for later.

I met some old acquaintances from my first camping trip, and their families, talked briefly, and settled into the back of the church. There, we sang, prayed, and I gave a small tithe from an SD card that I sold to a missionary.

I had purchased the SD card to go with a cheap video camera that I had purchased, but I dropped the camera once or twice and the color and video quality was bad after that, though it worked well for recording shortly before the quality turned really bad. I had brought the SD card with me, and had been praying for an opportunity to sell it or to do something with it. Another missionary was talking with our leader here about the price of an SD card here, and I told him I had one to sell. It was new, only used a few times/for a short time. I had thought it was about 8 dollars and was going to sell it for the equivalent of about 3 USD in thai baht, but told him to give me what he thought was right. He wanted me to set a price, and I wasn’t sure, so even after telling him this, I looked it up to see what it would cost at Walmart and it cost less than I thought (even if I had paid that much, but don’t remember), so I sold it to him for 50 baht which is about $1.40. I wasn’t sure if I needed to tithe, since this sale could have been considered as me getting back some of what I spent, on which I had already tithed, but decided to tithe anyway, just in case. I know that the Lord will bless.

The special music was in English. Two children sang, “Jesus loves me.” I didn’t understand most of the sermon, though picked up a little of what the woman translating was saying. I should have moved in closer. Later, though, after the closing hymn and prayer, when we were leaving, I picked up from another conversation that the sermon was about Jonah. I spoke briefly again with the old acquaintances and was directed back towards the bike. On the way back, walking alone, I heard the click click click of claws on the sidewalk and turned around to see a dog following me. Meeting my gaze, the dog stopped in its tracks. It didn’t look unfriendly, but just in case I started to open and reach into my bag to give it a treat, but it turned and walked away before I could get the treat out, so I let it be and continued toward the bike.  The exercise both ways was good for me, and I considered going back to the campus later to get some exercise, but have not gone yet.

I stopped too close to the fence outside the studio. I opened the fence and think I backed up a little bit, but not enough. The turn was too narrow, and I stuck my feet out to keep from crashing into the tree branches that had come down, but brought the bike safely up the hill.

I spent the rest of the Sabbath watching The Book of Acts, reading, spending a little time outside, and resting with the Lord. I am very thankful for God’s protection from the dogs and from my driving, and for protection on the road, and for getting me to church and back safely, for familiar faces and special music in English, that church was open, for the water (and the bathroom that I found on the way out, though I did not read the signs first and used the boys’ side) and for all that He taught me, for a few things came to mind when watching The Book of Acts, and maybe a few other times, too, and for the conversation with my family. Sabbath was mostly peaceful, and yet refreshing. I am so thankful for Sabbath.

“Therefore, while the promise to enter His rest remains, let us fear that none of you should miss it.” (Hebrews 4: 1, HCSB)

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].” (Isaiah 58: 13 & 14, KJV)

Note: At some point in the morning, I did feed the fish and the cat before I left.

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