Special treatment

Every now and then we try to visit an Isaan church to see whether we can support them in children’s ministry or not. A while ago we visited one of these churches. On the way back, I told my husband that I felt like a queen there.
Because of our status as teachers, we automatically have a high position in the Thai society and are treated with a lot of respect. Which is a good thing! However, this often gives me an uncomfortable feeling. Not accepting this status and respect is not appropriate. So the best thing is to go with the flow.

That particular Sunday was no exception; as soon as we entered the church, people brought us glasses of water and put fans on the floor around us. While entering, our baby started crying and one of the ladies grabbed her out of my arms to comfort her. The reverend who was preaching had trouble finding the scripture, and uncomfortably mumbled an apology towards us worrying what my husband must be thinking?
When I go outside with our crying daughter, someone drags a chair outside and once again brings me a glass cold water. A woman stands beside me waving some cool air to me with a book. I offer to do it by myself, but based on her surprised face I think I made a cultural mistake. Oops.
After church it’s time for a meal. A couple of the dishes and desserts are bought especially for us. Actually I’m not too happy about that since I know our children won’t eat it all. The children spill the glasses of water, but the people clean it with a smile: “May pen ray” (“it doesn’t matter” – we hear this expression all the time). After the meal we go back to the car, escorted by almost all church members. Of course without doing the dishes…

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