I’m going to be transparent with you and share a few of the hard earned lessons I learned today. I am going to make myself vulnerable for our mutual edification with a true story, so be gentle ok? I hope you can learn something from this like I did.
It was time for dinner and I just wanted to get it and get back home quickly. Here in Thailand, its much cheaper to eat at the market than to cook, so I usually go out for the family and grab a few things for dinner every so often. I guess I was distracted or maybe not thinking to deeply, but Brayden and I took off on the scooter and headed down the highway without much thought or preparation on my part.
I near the entrance to the University off of the major highway I was on and realize that my engine is beginning to sputter. I look down and suddenly realize that I’m out of gas. The light turns green and all of the other bikes and cars have to pull around us as my engine dies! I take a deep breath and calmly tell Brayden that we are going to have to walk across the highway to the other side. “Dad, what’s wrong?” he asks a little frantically. I reply, “Dad should have got gas at that last station and he didn’t so we are going to have to walk. Mai pen rai” which means “no problem” in Thai.
I reached for my phone to call Jacqueline and realized that I didn’t bring it with me. Doesn’t help to have a cell when you don’t have it in an emergency, right? So we parked the motorbike in the grass and walked onto the huge campus and down the main road. We began to make our way to the market when a student of my English class saw us and stopped. I told him what was going on and he took us on his motorbike to the nearest gas station.
Once he dropped us off, I realized that I did not have my key on me and would not be able to open the gas tank under the seat, even if I bought gas. I had turned the bike on yesterday and just kick started it to get it going and didn’t bother to take the key. In my mind, I didn’t like taking the key because I always had to remember to take it out of the ignition before I took off or else it would shake loose and land on the road. Hmmm, not a good day to not have it on me.
So once again I calmly told my six year old son that we would need to walk over to the church building on campus and see if someone was there who could help us out. We began to walk down the side walk when my Thai friend passed us again and stopped. I had to explain how I was coming up against the “perfect storm” right now and didn’t have a way into my gas tank or a cell to call my wife. He then offered me his cell, but I realized that I didn’t know my wife’s number because I simply stored it in my phone!! Thanks anyway. So I released him to go on to where he needed to be and assured him that we would be alright.
After passing a snake skin and some snake bones on the side of the road, which Brayden thought was sooo cool, we made it through the thick motorcycle traffic to the church building…no one there. “Ok, Brayden” I said calmly the third time, “We need to head over to the market and see if we can find a tuk tuk or something.” So, we walked a good ways before we realized that the clouds were black and small drops were beginning to fall. You see where this is going don’t you?
I was still intent on getting food and reaching the purpose for this trip in the first place, so I ignored the rain drops! We get to the outdoor market and stand in line for chicken falafel, which is a very rare find in these parts, when it eventually begins to pour. I don’t mean rain hard, but pooouuurrr! I’m talking floods in the streets kind of “pour”. Brayden ducks under the puny umbrella of the lady selling the falafel as we grab our order and double bag it. He surprisingly stays calm, enjoying the “adventure” of it all and we decide to just walk it out and get soaked. “Mai pen rai”….again!
We make it to the central plaza of the University and see a lowly “song taew” driver waiting out the rain. By this time, it’s dark outside and they are not running their routes anymore. I pull out some money and use my new Thai language skills to ask him to take us home. He sees the cash and bolts for the door motioning us to follow him. We end up making it home, I pay the man more than I should have, hand him a Gospel tract, and tell him that Jesus loves him in Thai. He gives me a strong “wai” and says thank you back to me in Thai.
We walk in the house, Brayden begins to tell the story of our adventure starting with “mom, we ran out of gas!” My wife lets out a deep sigh.
We eventually went back to the bike with some gas and I drove it home in the rain while Jacqueline followed me.
The morale of the story: What should have been a quick trip to the market and back took me alot longer than it should have, made me work harder than I wanted to, and cost me alot more than I wanted to pay. In the end, God still had mercy on me and redeemed the whole thing by allowing me to connect with this Thai driver and give him the chance of hearing the Gospel. In some weird way I wonder if all of this happened for him; at least that’s how I comfort myself for my lack of being prepared!