Church had ended and we'd eaten. We tidied up from the meal, pushed in the chairs, and piled into the van and trucks for the 20 minute trip home. It's become so routine we do it almost without thinking. Only this time was nothing like any other.
I was driving our truck with Hannah in the front holding the baby. We ended up behind Sanae who was in his pickup. We'd installed bars all around the bed of his truck and added benches because we use it as transport, which is common in Thailand. So it was loaded with happy kids when I noticed one of them was hanging off the back, outside the bars. They know better than to play back there and I pushed on the accelerator in an effort to catch up so I could admonish them to sit properly when we got to the T in the road.
As I got up closer, we saw the child crawl back inside the bars and sit down. But then I noticed something that made my heart jump ... it wasn't one of our kids at all. A grown man had crawled in there with them.
We still don't know how it happened but somehow this man had hopped onto the back of the truck, stayed there for a minute, and then crawled into the bed. There he was, sitting with our kids and I was having trouble processing the whole scene since they all appeared so calm.
Had Sanae offered this guy a ride? Was he aware he was on there? It took mere seconds to figure the answer to those questions out.
Because the next thing we saw was the man raise two sticks, both with jagged ends, and start swinging them at the children. He swung down and across and then back again. Sanae became aware of what was happening and came to a quick stop and I pulled up right behind him. Hannah and I paused to pray quickly because the situation was rapidly escalating and so many of our kids were in the crossfire. I jumped out just as Sanae and Waew got him out of the truck bed and the man took off for the cab. He crawled in while Sanae hurried around to the driver's side to prevent him from hauling away with all our kids.
Robbie had pulled up behind us by this point, and he went to Waew's side to help get the man out and I started moving kids out of the way and back to our truck. Suddenly the man came lunging toward the rear of the pickup again, still with his sticks. Robbie, Sanae, and Waew were trying to talk to him and they told him he was okay and attempted to make physical contact in an effort to subdue him. He hugged Robbie, Waew, and I (each in turn) and Robbie got the sticks from him. Then he and Waew started walking the man down the street in the direction of the police.
We got the kids back into the truck and Sanae and I both moved our vehicles around the corner and out of the middle of the road. Not too many minutes passed before Robbie and Waew were back, having turned the man over to rescue personnel who just "happened" to appear right when they were needed.
Everyone got back on the road and we made it safely home where everyone gathered to praise God for the protection He'd just provided. That man was totally gray in the face and was most likely strung out on drugs that were causing him to hallucinate. And the way he was wielding those sticks as weapons in the back of a small space with kids made it impossible to not recognize there were clearly angels there preventing the sticks from making contact. The kids were scared, but they stayed calm. They were confused, but they also saw the hand of God.
We don't go looking for adventure, but it finds us anyway. We try to avoid danger, but it's never far behind. We do what we can to protect the children, but it's God who does the "heavy lifting" as He proves over and again that nothing escapes His notice.
One of these days we're going to find ourselves bored. That day isn't today and it wasn't yesterday, either. When it comes, I'll be sure to tell you about it. Until then, just know we're over here (quite literally) living on prayer.