“Sawatdeekha! Hello!” a cheery voice rang out in the stillness of the morning. It was just after 6 a.m., and I had laced up my sneakers as I got ready to head out into the village with my husband on our first morning walk since returning from meetings in the States. The cheery sing-song voice was that of Wassina, our neighbor across the street. She excitedly fumbled to open her gate and give me a hug to welcome me back home.
Just before we left to serve briefly in South Africa early in August, our career missionary, Shannon Sorensen, had taken the time to come over and help me communicate with this precious Thai neighbor. I started to understand how much she had been paying attention to us when she said, “I like the music I hear coming from your house.” The previous Sabbath evening, we had hosted vespers at our place. Quite a large group of Thai, Filipino and international members of our church family had come. Squeezed into our modestly-sized living room with an electric piano and many wonderful musicians, we had sung heartily for more than an hour. Nobody seemed to want to stop. This seems to have been a blessing to Wassina as well.
Each morning and often throughout the day, Wassina and I exchange friendly greetings. I observe the consistent and respectful care that she, along with several other neighbors, show daily as they prepare food and greet Buddhist monks who arrive at the end of our street each morning around 6 a.m. Often while I sit in my house having my quiet time with Jesus, through the open windows I hear the monotone voices of the orange-clad gentlemen chanting the morning blessing on my sweet Buddhist neighbors.
Wassina and I have exchanged little gifts, and I wrote a thank-you card for her expressing my gratitude for the blessings of a kind and thoughtful neighbor in my new country. Of course, I had it translated so that she could read it.
The seeds of friendship are growing, and I want to cultivate them with a healthy dose of Christ-like thoughtfulness. Wassina said that she likes American food, especially pasta, so next Monday we will share a spaghetti meal with my Thai friend in our home. In an earlier conversation, I had explained to her that we are vegetarian, and she was very interested because she is vegetarian on “monk days.”
I have been praying for every possible opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love and kindness to Wassina. I dream of the day when she, too, will join us for our hymn-sing and learn to know and love Jesus and His offer of hope and eternal life.