it was noted by my younger, taller, infinitely wiser than i was at twenty-one-year-old sister that ‘we’ have so much, and ‘they’ have so little, and how on earth (she queried) are we to go about solving this problem without thoroughly westernizing the world? i concur, having fallen completely and hopelessly in love with thai culture just the way it is (without losing my fondness for home and hearth, God and country, and the like. i mean, i love chocolate ice cream and i love rainbow sherbet, and i would never want my rainbow sherbet to become a little more chocolatey, just because i love chocolate more).
one of my endeavors (fully supported by my fellow health-conscious farang) has been to increase the numbers of fruits and veggies entering ALH from ‘zero’ to ‘some.’ is the never-ending quest to get a carrot into these boys just an example of western hubris? after all, the thai have been defying the Canada Food Guide for centuries (their food pyramid doesn’t even have a section for dairy), and they seem to be doing fine. sure, they’re a tiny people, but do we all need to be tall and fleshy? i really should research general thai health a bit more, because i’m sure that things like rickets abound, but based on casual observation, they really seem to be doing fine. my ancient friend who lives down the street is proof positive that some of them, at least, do grow old. is a good FoodSafe course what thailand really needs? i mean, i eat from street vendors, i eat food that i know has spent hours in the ‘danger zone,’ and my fragile farang system is fine. how much of what we think we need back home is just propaganda? sure, every one of the children at wat samet is in the lower growth percentile, but that’s because they’re poor, not because they’re thai. how do we help them in a way that’s thai? is it the best we can to do contribute money and Operation Christmas Child boxes? it just might be. i mean, we’re not all called to overseas compassion work, and helping the foreign poor doesn’t have the same soup-kitchen convenience as helping our local down-and-outers (i don’t say this to slam soup kitchens and the like at ALL, because i think these things are intensely necessary and that those who help out are examples of the good and shining in our country. i’m just pointing out that we can’t concretely, hands-on-ly help overseas in the same way of a saturday night).
sometimes i wonder what i’m doing here, because i’m just one person and not a very good one at that (and i’m not saying this so that the ‘every little bit helps’ and ‘i can’t do great things but i can do little things with great love’ comments will pour in, because i know all that…i really do feel useless much of the time). but then, a handful of the kids that i teach at wat samet have been coming to our wednesday kids club, and then to the youth group, and last sunday we had seven kids accept Christ, and whatever my cynical belief may be about the beliefs of children, these kids are all twelvish, and whatever my cynical beliefs may be about my presence here, they were all kids that i teach at the boys’ school. karen said to me ‘you’re only here [at wat samet] for two hours a week, and yet you’re such an incarnational presence…’ does that mean that i’m being Christ to these kids? that God is rewarding my faithfulness even if that faithfulness is liberally seasoned with envy and greed and sloth and…what were the other four? those too. does this mean that He really does use imperfect vessels to do His work, and that all my flaws actually can’t throw Him off? that His power really is made perfect in my weakness? is that why i feel so unworthy all the time, so completely and utterly failed as a Christian, just so that i will note the power of God held in this jar of clay? if i had been praying and reading my Bible faithfully and all the other good Christian disciplines since i’d decided i was coming to thailand, and then all these kids came to Christ, wouldn’t i pat myself on the back? wouldn’t i just think that i was the awesomest Christian alive, and thank goodness that God has a one such as me to bring light and salvation to the gentiles? but i didn’t, and i haven’t been, and i’m not likely to start now to any account. and yet…i have been used. i have been an instrument of God, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit. thank God.