‘Afraid of what?!’ I looked puzzled into the dark-coloured eyes of one of our 12 year old Sunday school boys. He comes to Sunday school together with his younger brother and younger sister every week. Today his younger sister was worried, but wasn’t able to tell what was wrong. Her older brother thought she was afraid because of the kuu-maan-thoong….Something I never heard of before.
The boy repeated the word. But I was still puzzled: ‘I never heard of it. What is it?’. The boy said that it was a child that his father brought home from the temple. I found it almost unbelievable, since this is a poor family with already 6 children, barely able to live. Another mouth to fill would be too much. I became curious. ‘My father took two children from the temple, but they are both death already’. O help, I thought, while a strange feeling started to appear in my stomach.
I asked more questions. What I understood was that the children were born too early, died and were brought to the temple. People are able to take this children home to take care for which gives them prosperity in life.
I started to understand why his younger sister was worried, a dead child in our house would worry me as well. The boy promised me to bring one to our house to look at. O help, I thought again…
The boy kept his promise and came by with his school bag….`Is the child in that bag?’ I asked. Yes, it was. My heart was pounding. Relief filled my whole body when the boy took a doll out of his bag. This was the child and the other one was still at home.
He explained that the spirit of a dead child is in it. The spirit helps him to be good at school. He even talked with the spirit and the spirit told him that she knows God as well. Wow, this was something I never had come across before.
Later, I asked my language helper about this. She explained that people buy this specific doll and bring it to the temple. A monk will bring a spirit of a child that is aborted or still-born into the doll. People will bring the doll home and take care of it, so the spirit of the child gives them prosperity. For some people a serious business.
Again, I understand something more of the Thai culture. Again, I see a worldview so different from my background. Again, I see a longing for help from outside the world we see. Again, I ask God to show His Presence.