We were out of pampers. There’s nothing you can do when that happens but make an emergency trip to town to get more.
So I loaded a few kids up in a borrowed truck (because Robbie’s in Chiang Mai with our truck and our van is in the shop for the second time in a week) and headed that way.
As I was driving down the road it quickly became apparent it was busier than usual out there. I was weaving around motorbikes and dodging bicyclists, who twice darted out into the road unexpectedly. Stray dogs added to the traffic and it just seemed we weren’t going to get anywhere fast.
I ended up behind a huge truck carrying a load of sugar cane stacked impossibly high and pieces were flying back and hitting us. Wanting to get around it, I moved cautiously out to see if I had a clear path to pass him. That’s when I saw that a motorbike had just gone down with a lady now sprawled in the road amidst oncoming vehicles. Her shoes were scattered and she was in danger of being hit.
But then she scooped herself up and hobbled off the road to where a few people standing nearby walked over to help her. The traffic, however, just kept going. Mr. Sugar Cane seemed to think it was nothing to sneeze at, because he didn’t even noticeably hit his brakes.
We pulled to the side, saw she didn’t look seriously injured and that she had a squad of people surrounding her so we did what we could to help … we prayed.
Throwing one last look her way, I pulled back onto the road, getting us out of that dangerously congested area. I drove on toward the store, now even more alert to the people around me.
I noticed a guy sitting on a motorized cart with a child perched on the back looking like one draft of wind might blow him right off. But the man was driving along smiling from ear to ear for no apparent reason.
Then I passed a truck filled with probably 20 or more men wearing what basically amounted to ski masks. What made it more peculiar, however, was that they appeared to be sitting on mounds of cardboard, which looked like they could slide off at a moment's notice.
I saw a mom with three kids astride her motorbike while also balancing the evening’s groceries. And a boy who appeared to be not much older than 10 who buzzed down the wrong side of the road on another motorbike. A grandma was walking carrying two heavy-looking baskets balanced across her shoulders. She looked tired.
It was when I saw a man driving a tiller right down the middle of the road, just as if it were a normal vehicle, that it hit me what an almost other-worldly experience it is to live in a country so different than your own. Even three years later, there are just days when I’m struck by how unlike my homeland it is here.
But then I came home after getting the much-needed diapers and my house was full to overflowing with kids who wanted time, attention, and a listening ear. One teenager who wanted to share something she was worried about. Another had a rash on her face and wanted to know if I had a remedy that might help. All of them just wanted to spend time hanging out and enjoy being together.
And that’s how I know that no matter how different life looks in various parts of the world, humankind is very much the same everywhere.
Same needs, same hopes, same desire to belong and to be loved.
I’m thankful to live in a part of the world, so outside my familiar, that it’s hard to ever forget this world is not my home … I’m only passing through.
May God use my pass for His glory.